This is Why We Drive Them Everywhere

This is Why We Drive Them Everywhere

Sometimes I’m just astonished
by how splendid these children
have become

I can see in the tilt of her head
the generosity of his laugh
vast dimensions they already hold
unfolding daily; impossible geometries

all I want is to float beside them
enjoy each moment, each exhaled breath
and bask in what gorgeous creatures
are emerging – but that

would be creepy.
so I smile and say only

“Yes, sweetheart.
We can talk more later,
if you like.”

Mary Anne Mohanraj

Make a note

I feel you, Colm.


I’m reading a Murderbot novelette, and I keep having ideas for my space opera series — not even the novel I’m supposed to be actually finishing now, that I’m almost done revising, but the related series that is just a big jumbled mess, and which I wasn’t planing to even look at again until September or maybe October, and part of me wants to stay up and write some more right now.

But the rest of me says that I have to be ready to go get on a tour bus at 9 a.m. tomorrow, to go see Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, and that will undoubtedly spark lots more ideas, so just — make a note, Mary Anne.

(Yes, the rock used for dwelling walls on the indenture planet should have invisible inclusions that glow brilliantly when you sing to them, and it’s tied up with their religion but will also make for an awesome ceilidh scene when the pregnant Sri Lankan girl shows up there, cold and lonely and broken-hearted…)

Make a note, and then go to sleep. You’re still jet-lagged, and you were rather desperately short on sleep coming into this vacation. SLEEP.


In the hotel bar

I’m in my hotel bar, having a cider and reading the next Murderbot book, and the guys chatting at the other end are speaking in a language I don’t know, maybe Danish or some such, but then they said ‘Game of Thrones’ and a few minutes later ‘sci-fi’ and now I’m intensely curious what they’re talking about, and I kind of want to name-drop spending half an hour chatting with George this morning, but that would be a jerk move, interrupting their conversation, so I’ll just sit here enjoying my cider and my book and being slightly bewildered at my life. 🙂



Starting the day with fiction writing

Note to self: When you start your day with even an hour of fiction writing, you feel like you’ve already ‘won’ the day, no matter what else you do or don’t accomplish later. Prioritize it.

Liminality revision: Up to 45K solidly revised. I had sort of given up on actually finishing this novel revision before I left for Ireland Sunday evening, but maybe I can actually do it? Hm.


E-mail triage tracking report

E-mail triage tracking report:

8/7/19 — started at 1625 e-mails — down to 1373 after 90 minutes working side-by-side with Stephanie.

Massive progress, very heartening, but of course, we’re mostly going for low-hanging fruit at first — tons of totally random political, fundraising, etc. messages that I somehow just got too harried and didn’t delete the first time through. So it’s very fast now, and I’m expecting it to slow down.

I also have checked for and cleared all the academic e-mails, and scheduled the GLAS meetings into my calendar, etc., which is a great weight off my mind. No snakes lurking on that front. Onwards.

I have gotten totally avoidant about e-mail over the last few years, but this is really helping — having an accountability buddy, essentially, who meets me at a specified time, and then we sit down to do e-mail. Like going to the gym with a friend. Of course, this is a paid buddy, so it’s a little more like a personal trainer at the gym, but same basic principle.

Getting my digital life in order — once we finish the e-mail (FINISH THE E-MAIL! WHAT A LOVELY THOUGHT!), I hope to move on to her helping me organize my physical office. And then Stephanie and Heather can take over organizing my Trello board and task lists? And so on.

We’re hoping Stephanie will also be able to be my main e-mail point of contact for business-related messages, with close friends and family writing to a separate account, to reach me directly.

Also with academic e-mails, library trustee e-mails, and SLF e-mails also going to separate accounts, or at least being directed into separate folders that I work on at specific times? We’ll see how that goes!

Clearly the current system of it all coming in as a big jumble and I glance at it and then don’t deal with it because it’s all too much and too overwhelming was not working. Almost anything would be an improvement, I think. 🙂

  1. #blog

A memoir, in its own way

Jeremy has delivered the final, indexed and fully designed, text of Feast of Serendib. I am feeling weirdly emotional about the whole thing. My cookbook makes me want to cry. I’m not sure that’s normal.

It’s a memoir, you know. In its own way, though not exactly the sort of memoir I learned to write in my creative nonfiction class. But I think I’ll send my professor a copy anyway…


A very writerly day

Plan for today — I owe Pem a press release and Jeremy John Parker back cover copy for Feast, so those are the two priorities (after coffee and breakfast!). I’m going to take a little time to try the map endpapers thing, but if it doesn’t go smoothly within an hour or so, I’m going to give up that idea, and just call the cookbook done. DONE? That can’t be possible. Check back later, folks. I also need to write a few organizational e-mails for the SLF, re: volunteers and fundraising.

Stephanie is coming by around 8 to work on e-mail triage with me. I am just drowning in e-mail; it feels ridiculous that I have literally hired someone to answer e-mail for me, or at least delete no longer relevant / important things, but this is where I am, so. My hope is to sit next to her and work on map stuff, answering questions as she goes through it. Are there any tricks to teaching someone how to process someone else’s e-mail? Guidance would be welcome, as this is not a skill I know anything about. (Alyshondra, is this something you do for Mary?)

At 10, I go meet Lori for a writing lunch, and while I am looking forward to talking to her while we eat, I am also planning to actually write, as there is still some hope of finishing the novel revision before I leave the country on Sunday, which is going to need concentrated effort this week.

2 p.m., I pause the writing to talk to Benjamin about our potential podcast interview project. It is always a delight talking to Ben, so whether we get work done or not, it will be good. 

I think one of my strategies for better happiness along with productivity going forward is simply to spend time with good friends when possible. Sounds simple, but surprisingly hard. Given the busy-ness of life, sometimes that will only happen if we can work together, so hoping that working together doesn’t wreck any friendships! (Also must remember to schedule both a monthly lunch date with Amanda, and bring back Tired Moms’ Night Out. Wine with the girls = good.)

At 3, meet Roshani to get her help with a comic-related story thing — she helped me brainstorm it before, but then I didn’t WRITE IT DOWN, so I’m hoping we can recreate it. And then my tentative plan is to finish reading the big stack of Ms. Marvel comics that Julie loaned me, so I can give them back to her tomorrow evening at writing workshop.

A very writerly day, full of friends. It sounds LOVELY. Onwards.


Ahead of the Little America profile

Just had a good conversation, that I’d been afraid would be fraught. It started out with me a little shaky, honestly — my voice was sort of wobbly on the phone when I explained the issue.

I’d been approached some months ago to be part of the Little America project by Epic Magazine. They’ve done some profiles of immigrants, as a deliberate humanizing counter to the conservative nationalist media narratives, and they were expanding that into a book, and wanted to know if I’d be willing to be interviewed.

I took a look at the profiles online (link in comments), and really liked what they’d done there. Brief, first-person accounts, compelling and sympathetic stories. Good work, great mission, so I said yes.

There then followed a series of interviews, and this is where I started to get uneasy, because after initial wide-ranging conversations, they mostly focused on my erotica writing in my 20s — which, okay, is a significant part of my life, and I can totally understand why folks might want to write about it and include that somewhat unusual story in this kind of collection.

But a) it was a long time ago, and I honestly have forgotten a lot of the details, so I got a little stressed when they were pressing me for what I or various other people said, b) I started fretting a bit that it might turn into some kind of exploitative scandal piece, which would be deeply irritating, and c) I was mostly worried that somehow, in the many hours of interviewing, I might have said something that could be interpreted in such a way that it would hurt my parents or the rest of the family.

They finished the interviews this past week, and scheduled a photo shoot for tomorrow (Monday). I started fretting immediately, and by Friday, was worried enough that I ended up writing to them and asking if I could see the draft before they published it. They said no, which honestly didn’t surprise me, as I think that’s pretty common for journalistic interviews — you don’t want the interview subject to slant the narrative to make it extra-favorable to them. Fair. If they’d just said no, though, I might have pulled out right then; I was considering it.

But the editor of the project offered to talk to me and go over the rough contours of the piece. She was kind enough to make time on the weekend for that, which is really going above and beyond, and I hope her bosses appreciate her. And we just had a great conversation, and I’m now reassured that the finished piece will be honest, sympathetic, and mostly not focused on my parents. Whew.

There’s a few sentences about how my parents reacted when they first learned that I was writing about sex and putting it on the internet, but nothing they haven’t heard me talk about and write about before. I think it’s okay if their friends hear, yet again, that my parents were not thrilled about that. 

There is some sexy stuff too, but y’know, that’s fine with me. Some of it was a long time ago, and I may have had trouble remembering the details, or even remembering what it felt like to be that somewhat hormone-driven girl. But it was obviously a significant part of my life, since I spent close to a decade as a sex activist. And I still think it’s incredibly important to normalize talking about sex, which is such a huge part of human life and society. And of course, also talking about queerness, and poly, etc. and so on.

So for this particular piece, I’ll take off my politician hat, and my mom hat, and my professor hat, and my foundation director hat, and even my science fiction hat, and will drag that dusty sex activist hat out of the closet.

Hopefully it still fits.