Cartoon in the New…

Cartoon in the New Yorker -- six suits sitting around a business table, and one says, "We need a leader who is not afraid to dream incremental dreams." :-)

And okay, it's funny, but actually, I think it's also a good point. You need the big picture dream, sure, the vision of a world-spanning sf arts foundation that has a massive budget and does uncountable good things, changing the face of the genre as we know it. But you also need to be content with the tiny steps, the excitement of giving your first award, your first little $250 grant, and all the little ones that come after. You have to be the sort of people who can get really into figuring out whether it's better to spend that $250 on helping a student afford Clarion, or giving a grant for older writers (perhaps people in the 60's or older, who have just published their first pro sale), or perhaps offering travel funds, for a novelist who needs to get to New Orleans to take photographs to help with the setting of their ghost story. Little things, all of which help in small ways. They don't seem like much, but as a writer, an extra couple hundred dollars to help with my travel to Sri Lanka to research my novel would be certainly appreciated. Hooray for incremental dreams, is what I say.

Which is good, because right now my life is incremental. In bits and pieces, we recovered most of my music. Today, the Blowfish authors are finding me -- and please, please, if you have a blog of some sort, please post a note asking them to contact me. Something like "Mary Anne Mohanraj has had a hard drive crash and lost her manuscript and tracking information for the Blowing Kisses anthology -- if you are one of the accepted authors, please contact her at m@mamohanraj.com." I'm living in a certain kind of professional fear right now, that I'll only be able to get in touch with 20 or so of the 30 authors -- since I don't have my tracking sheet, I don't even remember all of their names. And that I'll miss some, and have to go to print eventually anyway, and then those authors will contact me after the book's out, asking plaintively, what happened? Didn't we have an agreement? And there won't be anything I can do at that point, so I really really want to find them all now.

Today I also try to put together my dissertation manuscript again. This involves going through the stories I posted to my readers' list, gathering them all, making a manuscript. Hopefully not finding that I've missed any, that I somehow did a massive revision of something and didn't send it out. It's possible. :-(

There is some good stuff, though. My scale at home claims that I'm now at 149. And while it's not an entirely reliable scale, that's certainly a couple pounds lower than it claimed I was a few days ago. It could just be water weight fluctuations -- except I've been drinking masses of water, so hopefully not. In any case, it's better than it going the other way. I'll know more next Wednesday, when Sarah puts me on the digital scale at the gym again. But it is encouraging, if nothing else. Makes me feel like going to bed a little hungry last night was okay. Oh -- and I wanted to reassure y'all, because Karina thought 1000 calories was insanely low and was fretting a bit, that I think it's just that low because I'm so small. Remember, I'm only five feeet tall. If you're taller, you shouldn't be trying to eat so few calories. I'm afraid I don't know what the ratio is, though.

Final note for today is that I'm going to try to draft something today or tomorrow for the Fourth Genre essay contest. Up to 6000 words, unpublished. I don't have any creative non-fiction I'm actually happy with, but I have a couple of interesting starts. It's worth giving it a go, I think.

There's a $10 entry free, which is reasonably standard for literary fiction contests. I'm curious what would happen if we held this sort of contest at the Foundation and had an entry fee requirement; it's the sort of thing that sf writers tend to squawk about, getting all compulsive with their 'money flows to the writer' credo. There's a very different mentality in literary fiction circles, perhaps because the writers are all very aware that the little magazines are shoestring operations, whereas in the genre, there's still the idea floating around that sf/f magazines are commercial entities, and if they can't pay for themselves, they deserve to crash and burn. It's almost moralistic in tone sometimes, that response. In any case, I've never paid an entry fee for a contest myself before -- clearly, I inherited some of the genre attitude towards them. But I'm getting over it -- as long as the fees themselves seem reasonably small, and the contest seems sufficiently interesting/prestigious, and if I have the money to spare that month, I'm just going to do it. We'll see what happens.

6 thoughts on “Cartoon in the New…”

  1. Before anyone takes that out of context—”Mary Anne says money shouldn’t flow to the writer! Boycott the SLF!”—I wanted to note (I’m obviously not speaking for Mary Anne, but I know she’s aware of the history) that the “money flows to the writer” thing has a very good intention: it’s a nice compact sound bite that was created as an educational tool in response to the numerous scams out there, in which the writer is required to pay for everything with the expectation that they’ll receive fame and vast financial returns. A lot of writers have lost a lot of money on such endeavors. (And I think maybe a lot of sf people tend to get especially upset about being scammed, tricked, or otherwise taken advantage of. I know I do.)

    So in my opinion, it’s usually a good slogan, especially for educating people who are completely new to the business and don’t know about the scams. But yeah, it would be nice if there were more awareness that slogans aren’t Universal Inviolable Truths, and that money not flowing to the writer doesn’t necessarily indicate a scam: that there are lots of legitimate writerly activities that don’t involve any money (such as donating a story to a worthy endeavor for no compensation of any kind), and even some legitimate activities that involve the writer paying (such as some contests—as M noted, more in the literary world than in sf—and self-publishing (and even some forms of “vanity” publishing) when you know what you’re getting into and what the likely risks and rewards really are).

  2. You no longer have a post office box or a postal address listed on this site, do you? I can’t find one. What if someone wanted to send you a penny or two to help with the trip to Sri Lanka? How would they do it, if you don’t say where the cash should go? (Or the Christmas cards, for that matter.)

  3. That’s a good point, GAC — I really should get a P.O. Box again — I was holding off for a while, because I wasn’t sure I was staying in Chicago. But it does seem like I’m sticking around, doesn’t it? 🙂

    Actually, I think I’ll just put up my address. I was hesitant to do that while I was a woman living alone, but now Kevin’s here to protect me :-), and frankly, I’ve had to put it into enough registration things that I’m sure you can find it on the net if you spend any time looking. So I’ll go ahead and add it to my top page. It is:

    Mary Anne Mohanraj
    812 W. Van Buren, #2G
    Chicago, IL 60607

  4. It also helps that I live in a very secure condo building, and you have to go through two sets of security doors even to get to the apartments…

  5. Thanks. I might slip a ten spot into the pot for the cause. I like you and think you are talented; and though I have no need to know you personally, I see a lot of potential in the MM that I know via your journal. You deserve a trip to spicey Sri Lanka.

  6. That’s very sweet, GAC. Maybe I should start a ‘send Mary Anne to Sri Lanka’ fund drive — I’m really not having much luck trying to find grant money to help with it. It should be reasonably cheap to live there for a month or two, but the airfare is like $2000. Ouch.

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