Finished proofing Perennial (and apologies to my Paradise Lost lunchmates for my pulling it out and working on the proofing during lunch, but I am feeling time pressure for all kinds of things). I just have a few edits to send to the layout person. Then there’s all the illustrations to do. I’m going to try to add botanical colored pencil illustrations to the start and end of each chapter.
I am entirely full of imposter syndrome about this. I can’t draw! Except sometimes I like what I draw. But maybe everyone else thinks they’re hopelessly amateurish, and they are just too nice to say so. Maybe I should hire a real artist instead of even trying to draw something.
But for this book, which is such a ridiculously personal book (it’s the breast cancer romance intercut with the poems I wrote during treatment), I think I’m pretty convinced that even if my drawings are terrible, there’s something worthwhile about having me be the person who does them. I’m having an oddly emotional reaction to the whole thing.
I suppose that’s part of what’s good about doing small press, that it gives you the freedom to make choices that may not be the conventional commercially safest choice.

I.S. again

Someone asked me last night at dinner whether I had any tips for dealing with imposter syndrome, or if I even had it at all. And I realized that there are lots of areas where I actually don’t suffer from imposter syndrome anymore.

After 10-25 years doing this, I have quite a bit of confidence in my ability to teach a 50-minute lit or creative writing class, for example, one that will be both worthwhile and entertaining for the students. I have confidence in my aesthetic judgement regarding popular fiction, and most literary fiction. (The more experimental end of things, I’m less practiced in.) The basics of putting together a perennial flower garden, or organizing a home efficiently, or throwing a dinner party.

But there are so very many areas that I do still have imposter syndrome with. Anything visual arts-related, for example — I have no confidence in my aesthetic judgement there. Vegetable and fruit gardening. Photography. Parenting, which is an ever-moving target. Politics. Cars!

Here’s my cure for imposter syndrome: do the work for at least ten years, and then see where you are.

Like an oncoming train…

Kavi’s 10th birthday wish list:

Selfie Stick
Sewing Stuff
Giant Stuffed Animal (Preferably Unicorn)
Gumball Machine
Emoji Pillow
Lava Lamp
Lego Set

(I had to look up what Orbeez were. I do not think she needs a Fitbit. The cell phone isn’t happening until middle school, no matter how much she asks. She also sent a picture of something that is either a huge make-up kit or a huge art-supply kit; I can’t tell. We’ll see what she says. Either is probably fine, though. I can feel her tipping towards teen-hood in this list, and I’m not ready.)


I think my morning lecture on incorporating layers of identity into your character-building went pretty well. I rambled slightly, but not overmuch, and given that this is also the end of the semester, a little rambling is, I’m afraid, to be expected. And I gave them handouts, which are more concise and coherent. 🙂

That was followed by four critiques, which went well; these folks are at a level where they’re already doing most things well, so one can go into the stories with a surgical scalpel rather than a hatchet.

We then had two hours of free time; I meant to use the first hour on catching up on e-mail, but I appear to have used it mostly in arguing with people on Facebook (about the racial and economic justice importance of incorporating high-density housing in Oak Park). Flashbacks to campaign season. Luckily, deciding on things like the Albion development is not actually my job, and I can, in fact, walk away from the arguments if I need to. Look at me, wisely walking away.

My plan for the second hour of free time was to take a quick swim in the rooftop pool, and possibly have a bit of a lie-down before the next lecture, when DongWon Song will teach us how to pitch properly. I told him he could use me as an example, which means I need to come up with a pitch for one of my novels-in-progess. How’s this?

“It’s post-colonial SF — aliens have brought waves of indentured servants, humans and otherwise, to their region of space, and exploited their labor for generations. But now the Overseers have left, and the humans, other indentured aliens, and natives must try to build a stable society in the midst of species tensions and hatred.”

I think I’m supposed to keep it to two sentences — the next one would be something like: “Our protagonist is a young woman, descendent of indentured servants, now caught up in a revolutionary movement that will put her life, and the lives of her romantic partners, at risk.”

That is a very rough draft of an elevator pitch. Feel free to suggest tweaks. 🙂


River Walk

Dinner last night was at a restaurant overlooking San Antonio’s River Walk, which is just a treasure, and developed originally as a WPA project. If only we had as much investment in our infrastructure today! And this bit of history makes clear how it only takes a handful of committed citizens to make drastic change — most folks just aren’t paying attention. Look at those voting numbers!

“1936: Texas Centennial. Jack White, manager of the White Plaza Hotel, visits City Hall to urge clean-up and beautification of the river. White and the Mexican Businessmen’s Association stage ‘A Venetian Night’ on the river- the first river parade…

1938: The full esthetic potential of the river becomes recognized. Congressman Maury Maverick, Mayor C.K. Quin and a group of citizens, headed by White, push for development of the river. October 25. A special election is called to approve a tax of .015 cents per $100 valuation to raise the $75,000 needed to leverage $325,000 in WPA funds for river work. The tax passes 74-2. 71 voters live in White’s hotel.”


In San Antonio, staying at the Drury Hotel, which is a converted old bank building. The stained glass is gorgeous, but I’m actually even more struck by the massive half-dressed men who flank the door, offering frugal (and slightly ungrammatical) advice. “Thrift drives the nation tomorrow.” Nation of tomorrow? Nation to tomorrow? Hm.


New game Lanterns is fun. You nominally are competing to create the most beautiful lantern display before the harvest festival, gathering honor points, though mostly it’s a logic game about color / pattern matching. The illustrations are lovely. Age 8+. That’s Kavi doing her wicked smile face on purpose, after spending quite some time waffling over which card she could place to cause mommy the most pain.

Heading into summer schedule…

Okay, planted some hostas given by a friend (yay!), watered front and back yard (mostly watering in new plantings) and hanging baskets on porch, dug out some culver’s root that’s in the wrong place, to move to the back.

Then wrote overdue WC bios for two characters and sent to George, sent Russ my new “Indenture” several pages from ICFA (is it a short story? a novella? a novel? I don’t know! Maybe he can tell me), and gathered my post-it notes for the other novel, Shattered.

Lunch break with Madam Secretary, bonus load of dishes, followed by a bit of dandelion and thorny stuff (I don’t know what it’s called, but I hate it) weeding, and then I’m thinking maybe a glass of wine and more writing on the porch.

Paint and Wood

Little project. Eventually, if budget allows, we’d like to do a big corner built-in china cabinet in this area. But we had a chest that we’ve used for about two decades now, and a few weekends ago, someone in a local group was selling this bar cabinet for $50.  At parties, we’d been running very short of serving space, so…

It’s not my favorite kind of wood, sort of glossy, but a coat of paint later, I quite like it. (I am not a wood purist — sometimes I like to strip paint off to reveal really nice wood, but mediocre wood, I am quite happy to cover up with paint.) I may add a stencil pattern to the top eventually, stars or flowers, but I’m going to live with it for a while first.

(Muralo Paint, 0620 Star-Studded)