Misc

Follow-up with surgical oncologist today. All looks good, and she graduated me to once a year follow-ups. Onwards.

Generally feeling harried this week — thanks to Paul for being flexible and letting me push photoshoot another week to next Wed. Eases my mind, and means that I can write tomorrow morning instead of running around doing stupid stuff like eyebrows and hair and nails. Huge thanks to Malon (he knows why!). Thanks to Christopher for spending most of today doing work that I know is not his favorite (but he did great with it). Thanks to Kevin and Jed for letting me vent at them when I was totally stressing out last night.

Sometimes the little hamster wheel in my mind threatens to spin out of control, but luckily, I am surrounded by kind, competent, and helpful people.

Tropics

Back deck tropicals — mandevilla, bougainvillea, duranta, plus a Christmas cactus (slightly different category). It’s lovely going out on my tiny back deck and being surrounded by a little taste of the tropics.
 
I’ll be bringing them in for the winter soon, but not quite yet. I have been limited in my love of tropicals by only having one sunny room suitable for overwintering them, although I do have a friend who has kitted out a room in her basement with grow lights, which is giving me IDEAS.

World Fantasy Program

World Fantasy has asked if I could add another panel, and I said sure. This is my program now (November 3, San Antonio) — hope to see some of you there!

Gender Fluidity in Fantasy
Friday 10 a.m., ExecSalon 2 (Ardath Mayhar) (WR)

Our genre is in a unique position to illuminate rather than conceal the variations in our sense of gender. The Tiptree Award regularly honors stories and novels that explore and expand the idea of gender — an idea that has had a secret history all its own. What does this look like in fantasy? How are today’s authors using, or mis-using, this keystone concept?

Pat Murphy (M), Eugene Fischer, Karen Joy Fowler, Mary Anne Mohanraj

*****

History — Secret, Hidden or Otherwise
Friday 4 p.m., ExecSalon 2 (Ardath Mayhar) (WR)

Secret history is a tale where what actually happened in our world happened for very different reasons. It can also be a hidden history of events that happened in another culture whose import was ignored altogether, covered up, or simply misunderstood in the main historical narratives. Can a secret history bring to light a true aspect of history that wasn’t known or acknowledged before, or might it be a simple retelling of acknowledged aspects of history newly reclaimed and fully fleshed out to see the real truth behind the chapter in a history book? Does this relate to our concept of “The Other,” and how? Our panelists continue to define terms and tropes for discussion during the convention. [This program is part of a series. We know there will be overlap, but please try to stay with the topics outlined here.]

Fran Wilde (M), J. L. Doty, John Crowley, Ian Drury, Mary Anne Mohanraj

Ties That Bind

I’ve added “Ties That Bind,” to my website, my second Wild Cards story, published a few years back. You could read it as a stand-alone, but I’d strongly recommend reading “Sanctuary” first. You don’t need to have read anything else from Wild Cards to enjoy these (although, of course, I hope that you’ll catch the bug and go read lots of them afterwards…)

This piece finishes with a proper ending, but if you want even more, there will be more of Natya in _Wild Cards: Low Chicago_, coming out July 2018.

Varied Plans

Plans for today:

– plant three peonies (Moonstone, White Cap, and Koningin Wilhelmina) and four clematises (Josephine, Edda Boulevard, Bee’s Jubilee, Petit Faucon)
– spend at least 20 minutes on treadmill
– finalize last edits to cookbook and send to layout guy, eep.
– chair union communications committee meeting (do *you* want to be on the union communications meeting, UIC faculty member? I bet you do!)
– teach Butler’s _Bloodchild_, workshop paper drafts
– cook a pot roast for family (and eat some)
– finalize hotel / flight plans for my cousin’s wedding
– attend a Holmes school diversity council meet-up (just the first hour of it, 7-8)
– attend a League of Women Voters’ new member wine and cheese (missing the first hour and attending the second, 8-9)

(garden / exercise / writing / community service / teaching / cooking / family logistics / community service / community engagement)

Shed

You’re in Santa Fe and craving spicy, delicious, homestyle New Mexican food. Go to the Shed, a circa 1692 hacienda, a little earlier than you actually want to eat, because there will be a wait. Give them your name and take a pager; use the hour to wander the tempting plaza shops nearby, considering just how far you can stretch your budget. (There will be a wide array of price points, so for just a few dollars, you can find a nice souvenir of your visit.) When your pager goes off, come back (you’ll have three minutes, so don’t go too far!) and let them lead you through the building to your seat (duck your head as needed to pass through the low doors — though they weren’t a problem for me!) to a cheery, colorful space (or eat outside, if the weather permits).

We tried both stews / soups (I was waffling, and eventually ordered one, but they kindly brought me a sample of the other) — both good, and the Nixtamal corn in the red chili posole is a nice element, but the roasted green chili one (with potato and pork) is truly delectable. The cheese-stuffed poblano will be mild by comparison, but still tasty. Enchiladas and tacos arrive smothered in red sauce, green sauce, or (my recommendation) both. You’ll leave stuffed and happy.

Copyedits

My plans to triage e-mail were foiled by the Email Game glitching, argh. But I got my copyedits of the cookbook back from Kat, so spent an hour and a half doing a first pass on them, mostly approving her changes.
 
There’s maybe 1-2 hours’ worth of actual work to do still, focused primarily on needing to add some more food notes for unfamiliar-to-Westerners ingredients that were added in the second edition. Also need to add page breaks. But when those are done, it’s off to Matt at Inkspiral, the layout guy.
 
Note for those self-publishing or small press publishing — if you don’t have a publisher taking care of these elements, you need to do all these jobs yourself, or pay someone to do them, if you want a professional-looking book.

Time is a Finite Resource

I spent an hour fretting at Jed last night about how I still am failing to manage my time well. Kevin asked me recently if having an assistant actually was helping me get writing done, or if it was just helping me find more household projects. Some of both?

For much of the last month of having Chris to help, I’ve been going through, room by room, organizing all the neglected spaces that had been quietly driving me nuts, but which I had no time to knock into shape.

There are four areas left — our big shared medicine cabinet (which I think I can knock out myself in 15 minutes), the kids’ board game / art supply area (a Chris job, probably for this week), my own art supplies (mostly need labelling and consolidating into some sort of logical structure, and mostly needs to be done by me, probably a couple of hours), and the kids’ toddler toys (Chris got through the bulk of them, but there’s another hour or two left to do, and then maybe an hour of my figuring out what gets donated, what gets kept). We could go *years* without organizing any of this, which I know, because we have. But it *bothers* me. It distracts me.

Jed said when we were talking last night that I seem to have a real problem getting to writing when I’m faced with mental or physical clutter. This is SO SO true. I know people who can happily write (or do math!) in chaos, but I am not one of those people. A monk’s cell sounds very appealing right now. (Lorena McKennitt has a great song, “Skellig,” based on the dying words of a monk who lived in such a cell, sometime in the 6th – 12th century.)

My head is filled with nattering. The schedule for all the events I need to organize or attend in the next few months. The projects I want to work on — some writing, some not. Home decorating and upkeep — the garage door needs fixing, the stencils I bought need painting, etc. and so on. This and that weed in the garden.

The worst is the massive and stressful backlog of e-mail — the vast majority of which is completely non-urgent, but right now, I’m not completely sure there isn’t something important I’ve forgotten in there, and it is causing a big knot of tension in my back.

I have got to figure out how to put all that aside, somehow. My strategy for the last two months has been to actually do the neglected work, with Chris’s help, to clear the decks. And we’ve gotten so much done, which is great, but one of the problems is that when one head gets chopped off, seven more spring up in its place. Work expands to fill the space, and then some, unless I’m very, very careful. And it is truly great that there are so many exciting and interesting things to work on, but time is a finite resource. TIME IS A FINITE RESOURCE. I may need to get that tattooed on my forehead.

I was talking to one of George’s assistants last night (George has several fabulous assistants, and some of *them* have assistants now), and it turns out that George has much the same problem. We have the same kind of personality, spinning off ideas ourselves but also eager to leap into other people’s projects when asked (sometimes when not even asked), to help out.

Much of what his staff has to do these days is manage his schedule and tell him he is *not allowed* to add anything to it without checking with them first. Yes, George, we see that there is a blank day on Wednesday right now. You *could* put something in there. But what you’re not thinking about is that you’re scheduled for seven straight days before Wednesday, and seven straight days after Wednesday, and we left Wednesday blank on purpose, so you could *rest*.

I forget to schedule time for rest.

But mostly, I forget to schedule the writing first. And I think I need to shift over to that. I feel like I have all the pieces in place to really have a novel be well-supported, to have a chance of taking off; people love the 20,000 words of the book that I’ve actually written — but all of that does me absolutely no good unless I finish writing the damned novel first.

Have you read _I Capture the Castle?_ A truly wonderful book, esp. for anyone in the creative arts. Huge spoilers follow, although the book is delightful even knowing this. There is a father, who will not finish his book, out of fear, etc. There is a daughter, who LOCKS HIM UP until he finishes his book, bringing him food and water as needed. Sometimes I would like to be thrown in a pit until I finish my novel.

Aside from all the professional concerns, I am not happy unless I am writing regularly. I’m just not. Posting nonfiction thingies to Facebook like this assuages the urge a little, but it’s like scratching a mosquito bite — it helps a little, but doesn’t do anything to solve the underlying problem.

You can’t really do much of anything about mosquito bites, but I should be able to block out three hours every morning to write. Whether Chris is here or not, I think I need to try, for the next month, just heading out to the porch once the kids are off to school — it’s nice and clean out there already, no clutter to distract me. Leave him a list of things to do, or if he’s not coming, leave the dishes in the sink and the e-mails unread. Have Kevin turn off the internet from 8 – 11 in the house.

There are 411 messages in my inbox. I somehow managed to schedule a doctor’s appointment for my kids for yesterday, while Kevin was teaching and I was in Santa Fe, because I had failed to put the Santa Fe trip in the calendar. Thankfully, they let me reschedule it, but if I start dropping balls like that, our lives will totally fall apart. My plan for the next 2-3 hours is to try to use the Email game to either boomerang or archive ALL of them. Not actually deal with any of them, which is what slows me down, but triage, so I know there isn’t a lurking bleeder in there.

Once that’s done, write. Just write.