Coming Along, Bit-by-bit

Recorded a great episode of the podcast with Benjamin Rosenbaum this morning, think we’re really getting into some nitty-gritty stuff that will be hopefully useful and of interest to writers. . Hoping to start releasing those soon, at least teasers.

I think my framing of all this has also finally crystallized. When I started the summer, there was sort of a murky sea of work and projects and I didn’t really know what was where. Sometimes you only learn by doing, you know? And it’s become clear that the podcast with Ben is really very distinct from the podcast with Kel Bachus, so okay, here we go, I’m apparently planning to launch two (2!) podcasts this fall.

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This is what I’m envisioning right now for organizational structure for two podcasts, a magazine, and a teaching org:

• The SLF (non-profit supporting speculative arts and literature) –> Portolan Project (free creative writing and lit education) –> “Mohanraj and Rosenbaum are Humans”: (podcast about SF/F writing, arts, culture and community)

• The SLF –> Maram Makerspace (local community makerspace that may someday be a physical entity, but is already offering classes, both in-person and virtual) –> “Show with Kel” (which needs a title, we should work on that, where we talk about making, crafting, creating businesses, gendered modes of production, trans concerns, and art)

• Serendib (my own brand, I guess, though it sounds goofy to say that) –> co-sponsors “Show with Kel”

• Serendib –> Maram Magazine, also co-sponsored by the SLF as part of Maram Makerspace (Rosa María Quiñones, Erica Jenks Henry, Alli Bax, Julie Chyna, Nivedita G Ramgopal, fyi — and please get on the Slack today, if you can, if you haven’t already — hoping to start the brainstorming conversation there tomorrow, defining the shape of this magazine. Kel Bachus, I’d love to have you join us on this, if you’re willing. Low time-commitment, I promise!)

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It’s all quite complicated, in part because some of my staff are getting paid part-time, and so we need to think carefully about what organization has ‘ownership’ of various projects, and especially where it’s appropriate to have them paid out of the nonprofit SLF account versus my personal small business account.

One of my big goals for this year is to get all the accounting into tip-top shape, transitioning from it being a host of scattered notes in my office to having an actual bookkeeper tracking it all month-to-month and an accountant to make sure I do all the tax stuff correctly. (I have a bookkeeper now, need a preferably local accountant at some point, if people have recommendations.)

It’s a lot! And much of it is still in really inchoate early stages. But it’s coming along, bit-by-bit, and I’m trying not to be overwhelmed by the size and scope of the dreaming. Still kind of think I could use a small business partner of some kind, someone with some real concrete business background, ability to draw up business plans, etc. But Kel promised to hook me up with an incubator group for advice; maybe that will be enough.

Recording Episodes

Benjamin and I have now recorded several episodes of our podcast, and I think it’s going to be entertaining? Maybe?  I grabbed a couple screenshots while recording last time, and now I have to make Ben pick one of his that we can use. Hopefully he likes one.

And I have to do the same, of course…but I think mine is likely the first one of these three, since it’s the only one where I’m actually looking at the camera. Although that’s not necessarily so important? Hm.

Running Frantic

Whew! I was running a little frantic, trying to get some Sri Lankan curry powder packaged and out the door before my 10 a.m. appt. to record a podcast with Benjamin Rosenbaum, and I was just getting ready to drop Ben and Darius a note asking if we could possibly push it to 10:30, but then I went to go check the calendar for something else entirely, and saw that we had actually scheduled today for 11 a.m., because Ben had a thing, so whew.

Packages are all done now (and look, I figured out partway through that if I sealed them with washi tape and wrote a label to go over it, that would hold the not very sticky washi tape in place and look v. pretty) and out the door, waiting for pick-up…

…including a big mask order — 4 LotR masks and 4 Dr. Who masks. Someone is going to be geeking out when they get this. 

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Now I just have to pick out a topic for today’s recording. If you have an opinion, feel free to weigh in! I’m going to take 15 minutes to walk through the garden, take some photos, drink my coffee, and breathe.

Possible topics…

Humanism:

– what does it mean to be human as a SF/F writer? Post-human / far future / Singularity / Plurality University / etc.

-> Ben: you asserted that we were humanists in the first episode. I think this is interesting; it’s not a label I identify with, not because I have any strong aversion to it, but just because I’m not sure what it means. I sort of associate it with the 15th century and with putting Man atop the Great Chain of Being, but that’s obviously not what you mean by it. Let’s also talk about what the label means.

Pandemic:

– how people manage risk

– how we’re handling all this personally

– how you and Esther and the kids are doing (if you’re comfortable talking about Esther as therapist and your relationship stuff and your synagogue work, all of that would be interesting, I think, and I’d do the same from my end with Kevin and Jed and the kids and teaching)

– how Switzerland and the U.S. are handling coronavirus differently (I have no idea what’s happening there, actually)

SF & Writing:

– maintaining SF community during a year-without-conventions (Mary Robinette)

– writing during all this

– motivational structures

– the frustration and grief of a delayed book launch; plans and strategies for handling it (Liz Gorinsky)

Teaching:

– Swiss and American educational systems during the pandemic

Domestic:

– domestic labor during the pandemic (the big chart)

Misc:

– international guests (Yudhanjaya, Aliette — fold in pandemic check-ins — New Zealand (Toni, Jed’s friend, etc.))

Three Seperate Podcasts

I think I’ve sorted out in my head that it really does need to be three separate podcast / video series:

– Mohanraj & Rosenbaum Are Humans (co-hosted with Benjamin)

– Serendib (needs title beyond that?)

– the SLF podcast (needs a title for that too, I think)

I also think there will be overlap between these, and we may end up using clips from some in others at times. It seems a little nuts to start not just one podcast, but three at the same time, but we don’t have to release them all at once, and there’s some efficiencies there as well, I think.

So, that’s the overarching thought. Ben and I have started recording, I’m hoping to record some episodes of Serendib with KelPooja, and others in the next week, and we have a backlog of SLF videos which are in the process of transcription.

More soon, but if anyone reading has thoughts you want to throw out there, feel free. This is all very much in flux right now, creative ferment, utter chaos. Something like that. 

Mohanraj and Rosenbaum are Human

Started a shared doc with Darius and Benjamin with podcast notes. I continue to be slow to adapt to this brave new world of shared docs and such, but I’ll get there. It just makes me anxious — what if someone deletes something important? There seems to be a lot of trust involved in working collaboratively in the cloud. I need to figure this out for fall semester, though — there’s a good chance my classes will be online, and students can do great work with shared document note taking, I know.

(We’ll know more about who’s teaching online and who’s teaching live in a few weeks, but right now, I think the priority at UIC is looking like the classes that need to be live will be live (such as science lab classes), some that are being designated as core to the ‘freshman experience,’ will also be live, and very few others will be.)

That said, the podcast development is fun and exciting. In case you’re curious, here’s what’s in there so far:

Mohanraj and Rosenbaum are Humans

**1) Show Ideas**

– how people manage risk

– how we’re handling all this personally

– how you and Esther and the kids are doing (if you’re comfortable talking about Esther as therapist and your relationship stuff and your synagogue work, all of that would be interesting, I think, and I’d do the same from my end with Kevin and Jed and the kids and teaching)

– how Switzerland and the U.S. are handling coronavirus differently (I have no idea what’s happening there, actually)

– maintaining SF community during a year-without-conventions

– writing during all this

– motivational structures

– the frustration and grief of a delayed book launch; plans and strategies for handling it (Liz Gorinsky)

– Swiss and American educational systems during the pandemic

– international guests (Yudhanjaya, Aliette — fold in pandemic check-ins — New Zealand (Toni, Jed’s friend, etc.))

– domestic labor during the pandemic (the big chart)

**2) Show Ideas with Potential Guests**

(*confirmed interest)

– Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and Cadwell Turnbull on post-colonial island SF

– Charlie Stross and Alex Gurevich (*) on economics in a pandemic world

– Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz (*), Eileen Gunn, Ellen Datlow, Susan Groppi, Neil Harrison, and Jed Hartman (*) on history of online magazines / Strange Horizons (break out SH separately?)

– Ellen Datlow, Sheila Williams, Neil Clarke, Vanessa Rose Phin, on magazines in a pandemic world

– Mary Robinette Kowal on virtual convention culture and practices

– I’d like to talk to John Scalzi about something. Not sure what. 

And then there’s even a table where I’ve started logging episode notes.  It is very sketchy right now, but it will get filled out!