Back to school

We went to the school’s welcome event, where we found out class assignments. Kavi was pretty upset (cried a bit, though she was trying to be brave) when she found out her three best friends were all assigned to another class together and she was separated. Poor munchkin — I would have been CRUSHED by that in elementary school. (Katharine, can you imagine?)

She did cheer up eventually, though — it helped that two of them showed up after a bit, and were very happy to see her, and one is coming over for board games on Saturday and the other is meeting her at the pool for swimming on Sunday. They had a good gossip on the playground for half an hour or so, and I think all will be well.


Anand was SO nervous about going back to school, poor munchkin. It turns out he’s assigned to Ms. C., Kavi’s teacher from that grade, and we’re a little worried, because Kavi thought she was strict. I have no idea how Anand will respond to strict — maybe the structure will help him? I don’t know. We’re all just crossing our fingers. But to give you a sense about how’s he’s thinking about it, after we said hello and exchanged a few sentences, we moved off — and then he went back to her. I followed, and he said, in his brave little six-year-old voice: “I may not be the best student right away, but I’ll do better after I settle in a bit.”

Oof. She smiled and assured him that he didn’t have to be the best at anything, which seemed to make him happy. So, fingers crossed, internet. Think good thoughts for our little monkey. He really does want to be good — pictured here with his kindergarten teacher (Kavi’s too), whom we all loved. He was so happy to see her.


Everything is better with swinging.

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Has the role of the editor changed in this brave new world? Twenty years ago, if you were editing stories or essays or book-length works, you had a far smaller pool of writers to draw from than you do today. You *had* to do developmental editing, I suspect, in order to get enough work of high enough quality to publish. Now, if I put out a call for submissions, I get three or four times as many subs as I would have twenty years ago. Many of those I can’t use, but the percentage of already-great pieces has gone up; I don’t need to spend as much time doing developmental editing as I used to.

There’s a hunger for content (free-ish content, preferably), as seen in online venues like the Washington Post and New York Times opinion pages, who are publishing new material daily. Their editors, I suspect, don’t have time to do a lot of developmental editing; their role, I think, has morphed to something else, something closer to a content curator. They receive a wealth of publishable quality submissions, and their job becomes one of choosing the best among them, the most pertinent, timely, unusual, striking.

Which means, for writers, that it’s on us to up our games. We have unprecedented access to publishing, in ways that would’ve been unimaginable twenty years ago. Editors and agents are available online regularly, for questions, for advice. We can self-publish our own work too. But the ocean of content is vast, and the challenge now is to rise to the surface, to send your little essay or story boat skimming along the top of those waves, so it will actually be seen and read.

In other words, maybe I better send that essay to my workshop, give it another pass and polish, before I submit it again. It was pretty good to begin with, but I imagine it could be better.

Late summer / early autumn

Added some hardy mums, which I’m hoping will come back next year (the garden store said plant before September 15 if you want them to come back, and when they grow green in June, cut them back hard, so they’ll bloom in the fall). The various sedum are starting to flower, and the roses are still blooming, if less floriferously than in spring. I should have fertilized them, I imagine. The bachelor’s buttons are enjoying a second flush, delicate and spidery. And the dahlias are blooming — oddly, I am sure I planted at least half a dozen dahlias, but have only noticed two blooming so far. VERY strange. Did I plant them too deeply? Did I dig them up earlier, thinking they were weeds? It’s disconcerting. Still, I’ll enjoy the ones I have.

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Plan for today; routine bloodwork, doctor’s appt., Herceptin, Garden club meeting @ 10 — takes me through to noon. Then I’m home — prep for classes (need to scan in and send students a reading for Thursday in case they haven’t gotten their textbooks yet), go back to revising. Stop for the day @ 3; I promised Anand that we would play some Mario together today, and I want to putter in the garden for a bit. So not a long work day, I think, but right now, I just want to go back to sleep. Sigh. Tea. Tea will save me.


Traditionally, I buy new folders at the start of each semester, and was delighted to see that PaperSource has a new celestial line — I now have starry folders and pencils to go with the constellation pen Devi got me for my birthday. It seems like a good sign for the semester. 🙂

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First classes went well today, I think — I am trying having the students write their names on cards and prop those on desks, and I think it will help me with remembering their name and also help keep me from using a name they don’t go by (just because it happens to be on the official roll). Win-win. 

Other than that, pretty standard — we discussed an Iroquois creation myth in my early American lit. class, and covered Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden,” and a bit of Benedict Anderson’s thoughts on what defines a nation (from _Imagined Communities_). They’re still a little quiet overall, but it’s only the first day; hopefully, I’ll get them loosened up soon. 🙂

Came home to get groceries, have lunch, write for a few hours, but will actually go back to campus in the evening; we’re having a meet-up for the creative writing students. I was going to bring cider, but couldn’t find it at the store, so will bring lemonade instead. Ah well! I’m thinking I may take any interested students to the Green Mill sometime this semester; it’s been a long time since I went to a poetry slam. 🙂  Scott Woods, thinking of you!

No writing today

Well, no writing today, beyond the promised less-than-15-minutes of Tremontaine proofing. This is not a pattern I want to continue. 🙁 In the morning, I bought some mums and planted them, and got my nails done so they looked respectable for teaching, and picked up new folders and dry-erase markers for first day of classes, so it was all very pleasantly autumnal in a way, esp. since the weather was beautifully crisp this morning — cardigan weather. That was fine.
But I didn’t end up writing in the afternoon as planned. It’s mostly ’cause I had underestimated how long getting my course materials together would take, revising dates and then printing and stapling syllabi and first day handouts. Since classes start tomorrow, getting that done was an obvious priority. That ate up the afternoon, possibly because I was watching Orphan Black while doing it.
I really have to think about this whole watch-tv-in-background-while-doing-tedious-tasks thing; Kevin says it really slows me down, and I think he may be right. (On the plus side, OB appears to be as good as all the TV folk I talked to this WorldCon said it was. I’m about five episodes in now, so no spoilers, please.) The course prep didn’t get finished until dinnertime, and then I had to feed the kids and myself (Kevin was on campus teaching today), and then I went out and watered my sadly neglected garden and most especially the new mums, and then I went and had a celebratory dessert and drinks with Roshani, who has just started a new job, which doesn’t happen every day.
So it’s all fine, but tomorrow, I’m blocking out the afternoon to write. Four solid hours, folks. Let’s get this revision DONE.


The problem with planting lots of veggies for the first time is that it’s really easy to lose track of what they all are, which also makes it harder to figure out when to pick them. (Anand is also VERY eager to pick things, which adds to the challenge.) The tomatoes I know, but I almost roasted the cucumber, until Kevin realized it was a cucumber, despite its squash-like shape.
I can tell the butternut squash (which I’m planning to just scoop the seeds out of one half, slather with melted butter, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon, and then eat it with a spoon for dessert). The other squash? I think the round green one might be acorn — how do you know when it’s ready to pick? And the green one that’s shaped like a butternut, but has more yellow flesh? No clue…but hopefully, they’ll all be good in soup, because that’s where they’re headed.
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Review of my SF work

Still kind of astonished by Isha Karki’s review of my recent SF work. It’s humbling to see a reader paying such close attention to your work, to see that at least some of what you were trying to do actually made it through.

“We see the direct influence of the Sri Lankan civil war in Mohanraj’s work, especially ‘Webs.’ Katya’s question to Anna haunts Mohanraj’s universe and echoes beyond – “Anna, Anna, what have I ever done to you?” – directed both at attackers and silent bystanders.”

Reasonable Plans

I am home, and have an unscheduled day, and I kind of want to do ALL THE THINGS, but I am also recovering from a cold, which mostly means my sleep has been really disturbed for several nights due to much coughing (despite propping myself up semi-upright on kazillion pillows). So I am kind of bone-tired. But I want to garden and swim and unpack and revise for hours and hours and…

…will readjust expectations to what I can realistically accomplish, and try to take it a little easy, so I don’t start the semester’s teaching tomorrow already wiped out. That would not set things up well.

Plan for today: Swing by kids’ camp to pick up the birthday present we bought Anand (a used animation studio set-up, because he spent obsessive hours and hours doing Lego animations this summer, a real creative outlet for him), also grocery store to get a few things (and maybe a FEW mums, because my will is weak). Kevin teaches today, so I have to be here this afternoon, since the kids aren’t in school ’til next week, but I do want to get my nails done nicely for first week of classes, so may swing by and do that.

Then home; at noon a pair of high school students (Roy and Jack) are coming by to do some weeding for us, re-do the dates in my syllabi and print them, because that has to be done before tomorrow. Then I’ll be spending the rest of the afternoon working on writing. A tiny bit of Tremontaine revision, because Racheline asked so nicely, and then hopefully making serious in-roads on the Wild Cards story revision. I’m guessing George is going to be too tired to look at it today anyway, so I have another day or two before he starts pestering me for it, but if I can get it in BEFORE he starts pestering, that would be better. I would like George to think of me as one of his GOOD writers. A steady, reliable type, that’s me. 🙂

There is, of course, a ton of post-WorldCon chatter going on, and it’s tempting to spend the day just hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. But I will be strong. Or rather, I will let the Self Control program be strong for me — I’m going to post my last few WorldCon pics, and then I’m turning off Facebook ’til dinnertime. New patterns for the fall semester — daily exercise, much less FB, much less tv, more reading, more family time. Heck, I might even try to use that intradental brush my dentist keeps telling me is better than flossing. What the heck. Fix all the things.