cafenowhere: close-up photo of champagne cork (champagne)
JJ and I received our contributor copies of Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation, edited by Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland. I knew Upper Rubber Boot produces good-looking books, but the cover for Sunvault by Likhain is even more gorgeous and vibrant than you'd expect from the press photos.

village built on water with numerous multiple-story buildings graced with vertical and rooftop gardens

"Strandbeest Dreams" is a five-page poem inspired by Theo Jansen's Strandbeests, elegant kinetic artworks that Jansen aims to make self-sufficient and one day release in herds on beaches.



Because humans are not very good at letting creatures exist for their own sake, I imagined any such herds would be pressed into service, perhaps as beach cleaners. From one of our family vacations to a beach of Lake Michigan, I knew there would be plenty of clean-up for 'beests to perform on shores carpeted with zebra mussel shells. 

mounds of zebra and quagga mussel shells washed up on Lake Michigan

JJ has long admired the Strandbeests. When he found out Theo Jansen would be giving a lecture at the University of Iowa, he insisted our family attend. Jansen spoke of the 'beest evolution in a couple of different ways. Strandbeest enthusiasts all over the world download plans and create their own versions of the 'beests, often improving or customizing the designs. This is one mode of evolution. (Our family has actually bought and constructed two mini-Strandbeests, but we followed the instructions as closely as possible.) Another form of evolution is Jansen's pragmatic recycling of damaged, failed, or retired 'beests for parts. Subsequent generations may use the same PVC pipe "bones" or plastic pop bottle "air bladders" as their "ancestors" did.

Our poem posits both methods at work in our imagined Lake Michigan cleaner 'beests. The steward of the 'beests is a Latina scientist with lupus. Initially, the scientist (called The Hands) does not understand the titular 'beest's idiosyncratic malfunctioning, but eventually she applies her own experience of chronic illness to formulate an explanation and possible solution.

text reads "Star-lit, lupus-bit, The Hands reviewed the last few screens of diagnostics" over swirly yellow background

I have a different form of lupus than The Hands, but I'd really been wanting to write about the lengthy road to diagnosis for a host of autoimmune disorders. I also wanted to acknowledge the agony of these often invisible illnesses while honoring the achievements of folks suffering from them. It's not that good comes of the illness, but that we find and create good in SPITE of the illness, often using skills we've developed to cope with our illness. The distinction is fine, but important.

Our poem incorporates Spanish, pseudo-code, and the kind of medical questionnaire I've grown to despise. We were very careful with the formatting of the code, because, even though it's made up, the steps must be precise. If one has any hope of debugging a program (or navigating the health care system, for that matter), one must follow protocol, no matter how arbitrary that protocol may seem. Formatting turned into a big deal for the poem as a whole. Fonts, emphasis, columns and rows...we tried to maximize every inch of the page to reflect transitions in physical space, mental states, between languages and the narratives structured by differently purposed systems. That meant some back-and-forth in the copyediting stage, but publisher Joanne Merriam was very accommodating and conscientious, even when, late in the game, J and I decided we couldn't possibly use the word micron. No, it had to be micronewton.

Obviously, this was an incredibly personal poem for us. And our first poetic collaboration! We hope you enjoy "Strandbeest Dreams" and all the solarpunk speculations that Sunvault has to offer. 

cafenowhere: close-up photo of champagne cork (champagne)
Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Edited by Phoebe Wagner and Bronté Christopher Wieland, published by Upper Rubber Boot Books, Sunvault promises "a revolution against despair. Focusing on solutions to environmental disasters, solarpunk envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom."

I'm proud that my poem "Strandbeest Dreams," cowritten with my husband, José Jimenez, is included in Sunvault, alongside work by Nisi Shawl, Daniel José Older, Bogi Takács, Jaymee Goh, and so many talented folks.


cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
This poem originally appeared in Weird Tales in 2009. It will always have a soft spot in my heart because Ann VanderMeer was editing WT then, and I'd been desperate to sell her something since her Silver Web years. (She read a *lot* of crap from me, and she was always very kind.) The poem is also reprinted in my first collection, The Haunted Girl.


Lament for a One-Legged Lady


A mortician's daughter,
she always assumed
the empty cello case
in the secondhand store window
was a voluptuous coffin
propped open to release
the velvet-kissed ghost
of a one-legged lady.
She'd inch into the display
and rifle through the loose pages
of that lady's last will and testament,
tilt her head to listen
to the stale whispers
of sheet music.
As she pondered this foreign script,
the meaning of bereft and
blackened circles
trapped within lines,
she wondered where the corpse went,
half hoped it had escaped,
like these winged spheres
breaking free
of five brittle bars.

 

cafenowhere: frog, arms crossed, sitting on a rock (chillin)
May is always a hectic, though usually pleasant time for our family. Last week, we attended the Rainbow Graduation ceremony at the university where JJ works. We didn't know anyone graduating, but we went to be supportive and to show our kid some positive role models. Ash was suitably impressed and is now working with eir school's gay-straight student alliance to organize some special recognition for the queer 8th graders "graduating" this year. Ash also turned 13 last week, so we took em to dinner and gave gifts. Eir school had its last dance-party of the year on Friday, so e went to that. Then over the weekend, we had a party in the park so Ash could celebrate eir birthday with friends. Then there was niceness on Mother's Day, including Ash's gift to me: a white elephant sculpture about 7 inches high.

This gift was especially meaningful because, on Friday, I finally got back to work on the historical elephant prose-poem-whatever I've been blocked on for months. As of this morning, I've drafted two of four (possibly 5) sections. It feels more "itself" than any previous version, so I'm hopeful that this time I've got it right. I may be able to get a complete draft by end of week, barring any more allergy-induced headaches.

This afternoon I have a dermatology appointment. Because at some point previously I decided I would FIX ALL
 THE THINGS WRONG WITH ME.  I am no longer so enthusiastic, but I suppose it's for my own good.  



cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)
Today I'm working on what I envision as a tripartite poem. Each piece is inspired by a different word. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might remember, during Sirens 16, my note to self consisting of "sidekick wingman scapegoat."

Each piece should work as a standalone poem. I toyed with the idea of using the triolet form for each but decided the repetition wouldn't advance the theme. So for the first poem, I'm now experimenting with The Bop:

6-line stanza presenting problem
refrain
8-line stanza exploring or expanding on the problem
refrain
6-line stanza presenting solution or failed attempt(s) to solve

I think the form could work for all three poems, but I won't lock myself into that decision just yet.
cafenowhere: screen cap from tv show Hannibal, the mythical ravenstag framed by broody blue forest (ravenstag)
Am I getting the hang of this? I don't know.

My most important goal is to revise a chapter of Border Blaster every week. Mid-month, I decided I could probably handle two chapter revisions per week. Almost immediately I had a week jam-packed with "life stuff," in which I got little work done. So I ended up with four revised chapters in February, five as of today.

I sent out three story subs, which was only possible because I got a couple of rejections and re-subbed those. I haven't finished any new stories. (Total to date: 6 subs; 2 rejects; 5 pending)

Looks like I only sent out one poetry submission, and it was reprints for a non-paying antho by a publisher I admire. (Total to date: 5 subs; 3 rejects; 1 sale; 1 pending) But I wrote 1 and a half new poems. It may sound silly, but I feel really good about that half. It feels like a "big" piece, not just long, but...significant.

For my activism goal, I read and reviewed Locked Down, Locked Out by Maya Schenwar. And, incidentally, got the public library to purchase another prison-related book: Dress Behind Bars: Prison Clothing as Criminality by Juliet Ash.

Although
Tweetie has Spring Break in March, this month's schedule looks much quieter for me, and thus (I hope) more productive.

What progress have you made with your goals? What have been your stumbling blocks, and what can you learn from them?

Poetry News

Feb. 8th, 2016 04:58 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hannibal's couch)
In case you missed the announcements on Twitter and FB, a new poem of mine is now online: "Coffee Shop Painting" appears in Issue 16 of Devilfish Review. This poem is about painting with coffee as a magical art form. I suspect it's partially influenced by viewing my mother's sketchwork when I was a child. She used charcoal instead of coffee, but it still seemed like conjuration to me.

And since the deadline for nominating works for the Rhysling Award is coming up (February 15!), I'd like to point out that I had three poems published last year. "Levity" and "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" are eligible in the short poem category, and "glass womb" is eligible in the long poem category.

Thanks for reading!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (garcia)
I started the new year with a completely new daily routine, embarrassing in its simplicity: sleep as late as I fucking need, get up and get fully dressed (down to shoes & earrings), have a small meal, start knocking items off my week's to-do list. I'm still trying to understand how much I can reasonably expect to get done in a week, especially given the unpredictability of depression. But my recurring items every week are to revise a chapter of Border Blaster, sub a poem, and sub a short story.

I'm up-to-date on chapters, I've made 4 poetry subs, and I've subbed 3 stories. (I suppose technically, I could also count the 3 stories I contributed to an anthology project as "subs," but it's not like I'll get a rejection, since I was invited to participate.) I've got this week's story sub lined up, but I'm running out of poetry inventory.

I also resolved to focus my activism efforts on prison reform this year, with one signficant action every month. In January, I wrote letters, which was easy enough. This month I'll read and review a book, which has had a spin-off action: I ended up requesting that the local library buy some more books on the issue.

I still fret that I'm not doing enough. "I could do so much more if I just tried," I say when infected with brain weasels. But now I also have the agendas from previous weeks in my day planner, with all those neat lines run through the accomplished items. So I know I'm doing *something*.

Sometimes I think we get too focused on whether or not we did the Thing we said we'd do, rather than remembering the impulse behind the resolution. Eventually, I may run out of poems to send out, and failure to sub isn't something to feel bad about, not if my motivation was "be better about getting my work out there" or "stop self-rejecting." Likewise, I am not wearing real shoes today (opted for socks and house shoes) or earrings, but I have butt in chair and I'm working. It's a routine, not a requirement. And sometimes that's enough.

For those of you who made resolutions, what's your progress been like? What have you learned?
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
Poetry Notes for "Aboard the Transport Tesoro"

In November, my poem "Aboard the Transport Tesoro" appeared in Issue 7 of Uncanny Magazine. Now it's available to read for free online or listen to in a podcast.

The idea for the poem came to me on one of the many nights I lay awake in bed, in pain. I'd tried ignoring it, then meditating through it. I'd taken various medicines. I had my heating pad. I'd tried stretching out, scrunching up, lying on my back, belly, side. Nothing helped. To think of something other than hurting, I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could've done that day to trigger the pain. Nothing stood out. Eventually, I started to wonder what I had done, ever, in my life, to bring on this pain. Had emotion metastasized into physical ailment? Had I committed some sin or transgression? Was I being punished?

Pain makes me weird and illogical. (Or maybe that's my Catholic upbringing?)

These addled thoughts intersected with a conversation I'd seen on Twitter, about the difficulty of venerating elders (or ancestor worship) when your family is problematic. How do you overcome (or maybe just put aside) a history of conflict, or even abuse, for a continued relationship with the deceased? Can you ever trust them, let alone honor or respect them?

I wondered which of my ancestors might be inducing my suffering, and what they were trying to convey through the punishment. Only my grandmother seemed vindictive enough, but what had I done to piss her off this time? She held a grudge like a tick with lockjaw, so I supposed it could've been something I'd done in the past. But surely she knew my heart had changed over the years. I actually felt closer and more sympathetic to her than ever before. Maybe she was only acting out? Maybe she was hurting too?

And if I was so adrift, I wondered, how much more complicated could ancestor worship get in the future? With life-extending medicines and procedures, we might know our great-greats much more intimately, for better or worse. I imagined what it'd be like to have a wonderful, nurturing relationship with a great-great, and what I'd be willing to do for her when she finally passed.

Though I was still in excruciating pain, the poem came together very quickly after that. I got out of bed and wrote it down. I don't know how long it was before the pain subsided enough that I could sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I moved a couple of lines and typed it up, and it was done.

I don't see anything romantic about pain or suffering. If it were up to me, I'd have slept pain-free and never written the poem. But I do feel a grudging awe for the alchemy of poetry, which can take something as stupid and pointless as my pain and transfigure a bit of it. From lead to gold seems too self-congratulatory. So...shit to Shinola, maybe.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
This week I had two poems published!

The first, "Aboard the Transport Tesoro," appears in Uncanny Magazine, Issue 7, alongside work by fellow poets [livejournal.com profile] mariness and [livejournal.com profile] sovay. Also, I'm pretty tickled to share a ToC with Yoon Ha Lee, a Sirens guest of honor. By chance I was invited to join him and two other Sirens for a last, con-lagged lunch at the airport. (Hope I didn't get him sick.)

"Aboard the Transport Tesoro" grew from my sickbed thoughts about chronic illness and ancestor worship. I got up and wrote it in the middle of the night, cleaned it up, and sent it out. Quickest turnaround between composition and publication I've ever had!

The second poem, "glass womb," is online at Interfictions. This poem has perhaps my longest turnaround between first draft and publication. It took me a really long time to find the poem's final form. I can't say why exactly, why it never clicked, why I never abandoned it. I think I had to wait for tumblr to be born and show me pictures from the Mütter Museum and the specimen still lifes of Frederik Ruysch.

And that's my good news for the week!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
I like to learn new words. Not from word-a-day websites or calendars, but from my own reading, where context is more likely to make the new word stick. This week, three words impressed themselves upon me, three lovely little morsels of brain candy.

1. Jerboa -- I encountered this noun while reading Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns (a somewhat misleading title, btw). The jerboa is described as a desert rodent with a long tail, and the jerboa is caught and cooked in a (much maligned) stew by folks traversing the desert. I assumed the jerboa was a mythical "smeerp" type critter that resembled a squirrel or chinchilla. Then I saw a picture of a real-life jerboa online. And was instantly, retroactively revolted at every mention of the stew. I think it's the tail. And the long skinny legs. And the skin on its bat-like ears. Considering how many of the online mentions of jerboas emphasize their cute-itude, I suspect I am in the minority with my revulsion, much like [livejournal.com profile] snowy_owlet and her feelings toward sloths.

2. Caudillismo -- I've seen (and looked up) this word many times before, from my general interest in Mexican history and the polysci copyediting I did years ago. But it never really stuck until this week, when I came across it again in Shadows of Tender Fury: The Letters and Communiques of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. A caudillo is defined in the book's glossary as "a charismatic political leader who derives his power from his military experience, prowess, and bearing." So caudillismo is that form of leadership. Why should the term stick now, when it never did before? For one thing, you're familiar with the idea of "my TV (or book) boyfriend"? Well, Subcomandante Marcos is my Rebel Boyfriend. Any word I learn from him has instant cachet. Also, the fact that the book has a glossary means I can flip back and refresh my memory, and the memory is further solidified by the look of the formatted text.

3. Sankofa -- This is an Akan word from Ghana that I learned from reading "lifestream," Sofia Samatar's account of the Princeton symposium "Ferguson Is The Future." I see from several online sources that, roughly translated, sankofa means "reach back and get it" and is associated with a proverb along the lines of "there's no shame in going back for what you forgot." Most often sankofa is symbolized by a bird flying forward while twisting its head back to take an egg in its beak. There's a picture of the symposium poster in Sofia's post, and it includes a different sankofa symbol near the center: the twisty, twirly heart-shape. The concept of sankofa, of retrieving precious things from the past, resonates with me partly because of the research I've been doing on Sara Estela Ramirez, a nearly forgotten rebel poet of the Mexican Revolution. Much of her poetry was published in newspapers, which are so ephemeral, and even more so when they are of and for a marginalized population, as was Ramirez's writing for Mexican exiles living in South Texas around the turn of the 20th century. I can't even find a surviving photo of the woman, though I've seen several of her contemporaries. I would very much like to reach back and retrieve ALL the work of this amazing antepasada.

Have you learned any new words this week? What made them stand out for you? Maybe you made up a new word? Please share in the comments!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
Many thanks to Alexa Piper (@ProwlingPiper) for making me dust off Ye Olde LJ by issuing this challenge:

Go to the 7th page of a work in progress, go 7 lines down, post the next 7 lines, then challenge 7 other writers to do the same.

So here goes, a little more than 7 lines (so as not to cut off mid-sentence) from Border Blaster, my current novel in revision:

At [Mettie's] words, Keegan’s boys sauntered closer, nostrils flaring, biceps flexing under their tweed coats. Their menace was slightly undermined by the odd gait of the musclehead closest to Aurelia. Maybe his fancy cowboy boots were too tight.

Behind her, Aurelia heard Davis getting out of his squad car. He donned his hat as he hurried to the gate. Their new company only unsettled Mettie for a moment.

“So you got thugs and coppers in your pocket, do you? Then I’ll talk to the papers,” she vowed, pointing at the doctor. “You know it was some hot-shot reporter at the Chicago Tribune got Doc Porter’s license revoked in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, don’t you?"


I was challenged via Twitter, so that's where I'll tag 7 buddies to continue the fun. But by all means, feel free to play in the comments!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (neon sign)
Bogi Takács ([livejournal.com profile] prezzey) recently featured my poem "Golden Age" in eir #diversepoems recommendations on Twitter. Knowing how much Bogi appreciates bonus notes, I thought now would be an excellent time to elaborate on my poem, which originally appeared in Devilfish Review.

A note about the venue: Okay, coolest name ever! And some kind of cephalopod on their banner? I was sold! But when I read the editors' profiles, I realized they too are from the Rio Grande Valley. That definitely influenced my decision to send them "Golden Age."

I titled this poem "Golden Age" because I thought a certain type of science fiction becomes really appealing when one is first coming to understand mortality, specifically the mortality of our older loved ones.

Diabetes runs in my family. The grandmother I grew up with had Type 2 and her brother had Type 1. He needed regular injections, and the needles frightened me. I don't actually remember him doing the blood test strips, but he'd already lost an eye from diabetes complications. His glass eye was another fright to me, especially when he didn't have it in the socket or he took it out to tease us kids. Not understanding the difference between the two diabetes and seeing the common problems they caused my grandmother and her brother, I had a constant background worry that my grandma would get "as bad" as him. (And, in fact, she did have a host of health problems, related and not to the diabetes.)

Bogi mentioned the code-switching in the poem, and honestly, I had to go back to see what I'd done. I knew I'd used Spanish, but I'd forgotten how I'd had the child and Abuela go back and forth from English to Spanish, the give and take that was necessary to have that conversation between a mostly English-speaking Latina child and her mostly Spanish-speaking grandmother. That bilingual waltz was so ingrained in my childhood--and continues to this day between me and my mother-in-law--that it naturally emerged in the poem.

I had a difficult relationship with my grandma. In my opinion, she was not a good mother and she was unfairly thrust into the role a second time when my parents separated and she became responsible for us kids most of the time. I've written unhappy, even angry things about Gram, so I was glad to write a small, intimate remembrance that condenses the tender moments we shared.
cafenowhere: teacup brimming with mysterious violet liquid (psychedelic tea)
I'm pleased to report that my poem "Levity" has been accepted for issue 6 of Through the Gate. "Levity" is a short, whimsical, non-angsty piece, and I look forward to sharing it with you. :)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Yummy!)
Settled in for the long haul of novel revisions, I know what *I'm* doing for the next few months. So I want to hear what everyone else is doing!

Artists, writers, editors, musicians, creatives of all kinds: What are you working on now? What's going well, what's giving you conniptions? What are your short-term goals?

Pics, snippets, links all welcome in the comments!
cafenowhere: Latina in surgical gear examining something up close (lana parilla)
I've started no new reading since last week, just chugging along with the same trio of books. Since I have a novel revision looming, however, I've been unable to disengage editorial instincts as I read.

For example, Mouseheart, the read-aloud I've been doing with Tweetie, begins with a prologue. I've heard so many agents and editors advise cutting prologues and just start the story already that I automatically question the necessity of such intros. As I near the thrilling conclusion of this middle-grade talking-animal fantasy, I've pretty much decided that this book did not need a prologue. So the question is, why use one? In this case, it gives the reader a more swashbuckling hero at the start, and it introduces a feudalistic fantasy element that the publisher might think helps distinguish the book from other talking-animal stories, which...maybe not? LOTS of books take animal "kingdom" literally these days.

(Also, at some point we need to talk about why we give our kids a steady stream of feudalist-inspired battle-and-intrigue fantasies, especially when YA novels are so dystopic lately.)

And despite my ranting last week about the awful female character, I continue reading Valley of Bones. What's interesting is that Gruber can write great female characters--when they're positioned as maybe villains, maybe victims. Not your typical noir femme fatales, much better than that. In fact, in this very book, he presents a really fascinating woman, Emmylou, telling her own story of how she got caught up in huge, possibly supernatural events. But this Lorna character he's created... She's the love interest of the male lead, Paz, and she just revolts me. The one thing that might have made me sympathetic to her--her mother's death from cancer and her own consequent hypochondria--is just buried under racism and classism and fat-phobia and superiority. I've tried to interpret her as a variation on a theme--how is she like/not the "villain" here?--but it's exhausting.

So I'd have cut Lorna out completely. :D But something else I might cut from the story are the numerous excerpts from a supposed history of an order of nuns. One or two have been useful, but I'm not sure why we couldn't get the same (much-abbreviated) info via the point-of-view characters. I like to withhold judgment on such things until I finish reading the book and I see how it all (might) come together, though.

Because I've been reading this book so critically, I've also realized that Lorna's pov is written in present tense, whereas Paz's is firmly in past tense. Going back to the first book, I see Gruber did the same thing there, alternating between tenses for the two leads. Here it bothers me, and I think it's because we're already veering between past and present in Emmylou's account of how she got involved in these murders that Paz is investigating, PLUS we have those excerpts of nun history. So, I'm feeling unnecessarily tangled up.

All of which contributes to much wariness as I contemplate the third book in the Paz series. I think/hope that having worked through this second book, I will be more willing to bail on the third if it annoys me half as much. :D
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (xmas)
Some of this info is listed in my previous "Brain Weasels" post, but I know folks are busy and have a lot of reading to do. If you're voting and don't yet have my collection, I can email you the eligible pieces from The Haunted Girl.

Rhysling-eligible poems
nomination deadline Feb 15


Long form
"Teratoma Lullaby" in Stone Telling
"Una Canción de Keys" in Strange Horizons
"Backbone of the Home" in Mythic Delirium

Short form
"Golden Age" in Devilfish Review
"Love Letters for the Itinerant" in Liminality
"Geminids" in The Haunted Girl
"Ankhst" in The Haunted Girl
"Empty Nest" in The Haunted Girl

Eligible Fiction, Short Story
nomination deadline for Hugos, Mar 10; for Nebulas, Feb 15

"Bilingual, or Mouth to Mouth" in The Haunted Girl

Respect

Dec. 26th, 2014 02:14 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (writing)
Something I've noticed and really appreciate in the reviews I've seen for The Haunted Girl--and I know, I said I wasn't reading reviews and I WASN'T but I've had to break down and at least skim some, for marketing reasons--is that folks are careful not to make assumptions about what and how much is autobiographical and what's fictional. It's hard to explain how grateful I am for that. Like a sunburn gone unslapped, a bruise unpressed, a chink in armor respectfully avoided.

When "The Skin-Walker's Wife" was first published, a few folks looked at me differently, as if I'd confessed something they weren't comfortable knowing.

I imagine all emotional writing is in some sense autobiographical, and for sure, I put a lot of myself into the individual works, not really thinking about what would happen when they were collected. And no doubt some critics would say that if I wasn't ready for folks to ask uncomfortable questions, I shouldn't have published. But (and so) I am really glad that readers have been more compassionate, and I hope that any uncertainty they feel, as to where the line between my memories and imagination falls, enriches their reading experience.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)
I have depression. It's worse in the winter. It's especially bad around the end of the year, when I start seeing "Best of" lists and begin taking stock of my own accomplishments, "or lack thereof!" as my brain weasels are eager to interject.

I always feel like I haven't written enough, I haven't published enough, I haven't submitted enough, I haven't whatever. You might think that having a collection released this year from a publisher I deeply admire would assuage the self-doubt--after all, it's a physical thing in the world I can touch; I didn't have to bribe or murder anyone for it--but oh how wrong you'd be!

(Er, about the self-doubt being assuaged, not bribery or murder.)

For the fucking record, in addition to The Haunted Girl, I had five poems published this year:
"Teratoma Lullaby" in Stone Telling
"Una Canción de Keys" in Strange Horizons
"Backbone of the Home" in Mythic Delirium
"Golden Age" in Devilfish Review
and "Love Letters for the Itinerant" in Liminality

Earlier, I thought it was only three poems, because depression is an unjust editor or a stuck delete key or something.

I don't know how many poems I wrote, but I wrote one novel and three short stories. (Doesn't matter that the book needs major revisions, it's drafted and that's nothing to sneer at. Doesn't matter that one story is an utter failure. It was also an experiment. Shut up, brain weasels.)

I am bad at keeping track of subs, but I'm pretty sure I made at least six, and four of those were to new-to-me markets. I'd forgotten some of those, too, before I checked my sent emails. [Update: managed 2 more subs before year's end!]

I put together an author website (which needs to be updated) and created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I did a Goodreads giveaway.

These are just the writerly things I accomplished (and can remember). And writer is only part of who I am. But next time I feel crummy about what I did or didn't do professionally in 2014, I can look at this entry and tell the brain weasels to fuck right the fuck off.

Hmph!
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
Last week, a storm knocked out our home internet access for three days, so I wasn't able to post a reading update. That I was as frustrated as I was suggests "Wednesday Reading" has become a habit for me, which is good. I think it might be especially helpful during the winter, when seasonal depression makes me feel as if I have nothing worth saying aloud, let alone worth blogging about.

On the read-aloud front, Tweetie and I finished Forest of Secrets by Erin Hunter. YAY! The review is here on Goodreads. My relief was short-lived, however, for Tweetie smuggled into the house the next book in the series, Rising Storm. I think it's better written, but maybe I've just been beat into submission. We are on Chapter 8 of that. Sigh.

In my own reading, I finished Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem and really liked it. Lethem uses the dystopia to more metaphoric ends than most novelists in the subgenre. The laconic prose and swift pacing pleased me. I'd call it literary spec fic, because the science fictional aspects aren't explored in much detail. How our protagonist got into his mess is less important than his reactions to it, and the novel cuts off before we learn whether he succeeds in his rebellion.

For sure, the book had flaws: the women were one-dimensional--when they existed at all--and, as I point out in my Goodreads review, there were elements of transphobia, ableism, and fat-shaming. I was able to read past the first problem because, let's fucking admit it, I've had to do that all my life. The other gross elements I endured because (1) I came to the story with a certain amount of privilege and (2) I thought of them as authorial intrusions rather than part of the story itself. The metafictional aspects of the story (what is the nature of reality? how do we impose order on the contents of our consciousness?) sort of lend themselves to making that distinction, I think.

Now I am reading a poetry collection, Grace Notes by Rita Dove.

I put off starting Grace Notes until I finished a poem of my own yesterday, since I didn't want any "mental interference." I'm interested to hear: how many of my fellow writers avoid reading certain genres when they're working? If you're writing a short story, is reading short stories a problem? If you're a science fiction novelist, do you find it best to avoid SF while you're drafting? Or does reading within genre while writing that genre help in some way? Feel free to share your experience in the comments!

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August 2017

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