I got some great news this morning that I can’t talk about yet, burble burble. Soon.
In unrelated but also good news, I have hired a very part-time, very underpaid social media person for all my orgs. We will try to get her better paid as quickly as possible. Yay, Irene Victoria.
I am also in the midst of hiring a very part-time person, ditto wildly underpaid, to help me keep track of my schedule, essentially, and make sure that important things get done on time. Yay, Heather Rainwater Campbell.
I continue to find Christopher Pence essential for 16 hrs / week of household management and other locally-based assistant work. AND we have a cleaner who comes twice a month. Isa comes and for a few brief hours, peace and gorgeous cleanliness descends on the household. Thankfully, we can pay them both appropriately.
Apparently I would lose my head if it weren’t attached. I suppose doing five different jobs does take some extra coordination. Is it 5? I don’t even know. Let’s count:
– director, SLF (reading series coordinator, Deep Dish)
– director, DesiLit (publisher, Jaggery)
– director, Maram Makerspace
– library trustee
I think I can legitimately count that as 7, actually. Some of these are more part-time than others, but STILL.
It feels a little ironic to be creating a Sri Lankan jungle game in the midst of New England hills and trees and snow, but also oddly good. A little attention to environment, please; it determines so much.
Breakfast of “Mike’s Mess” with artist Kat Weaver.
Here’ s another ADD-thing maybe, this one writing / agent-related. I work in a lot of different areas, and it turns out that the literary agenting world is REALLY not set up for this. When I was last agent-hunting, Benjamin Rosenbaum was strongly advocating that I find an agent who could represent all the varied things I do. That sounds great, but the thing is, what I do is REALLY varied.
My attention scatters hither and yon, and as a result, I am working in the following fields: science fiction, fantasy, mainstream lit, memoir (two different ones), cookbooks, and kids’ lit (picture books, middle grade, YA). I also write poetry, but it is perhaps my salvation that I don’t even try to publish it properly, but just post it here. I dabbled in playwriting for a year, but thankfully managed to set it aside. Mostly. I keep fighting the urge to write a graphic novel; it’s a good thing I can’t draw.
I don’t know of ANY agents who actually represent all of that. I’ve asked around, a lot! Agents tend to specialize, which makes sense, because they need to know their sub-field really well in order to keep up with what’s happening there. So in the end, I decided to pick SF as my major focus right now, and choose an agent who was good at it.
Russ Galen is, in fact, GREAT at SF/F, and I feel very lucky to have him as my agent. He’s helped me see where my first attempt at a SF novel went wrong, and the version I’m working on now is, I think, much better. On my good days, I’m quite hopeful that I can write a good SF novel and he can sell it. (Last night I was being very mopey about that whole endeavor, but Kevin talked me down from the ledge.)
Russ has given me permission to go find other agents to represent anything else I do, but unfortunately, that’s turning out to be really difficult. Most agents would prefer to represent an author entirely, so a lot of people will just say no straight off, when they hear that Russ is representing my SF/F.
After talking to some more agent friends, it seems like I MIGHT be able to find someone to do just my kid lit, so I’m agent-hunting for that now. But agents are really quite resistant, even in the initial inquiry phase, which is disheartening.
Agent-hunting is maybe not quite as terrible as job-hunting, but it’s close. I think I’ve been spoiled because I’ve never really had to do it before — I got my first agent through editing a book with Bob when he was still an editor, and I got Russ through an introduction from a fellow writer. I’ve never done a real agent search before. It sucks.
Anyway, to come back to the writing-in-many-genres thing — a lot of people would say to just pick one and stick to it, that it’s almost impossible for someone to do well in multiple genres.
But almost impossible isn’t the same as impossible, right? Iain Banks / Iain M. Banks published in both mainstream lit. and SF. Ursula K. Le Guin wrote SF/F, published as mainstream, and even did a lovely children’s book (Fish Soup) that I’m insanely fond of. Michael Chabon writes mainstream lit. and superhero stories and Frankenstein baseball. (Yes, I am aware that these people are exceptional. Sigh.)
I am *trying* to focus. I am. But sometimes my brain just spins out in other directions. On my good days, I’m hopeful that it all goes together in some sort of hodgepodge that I hope will work synergistically.
My work does center around certain things, no matter what genre it’s in: Sri Lanka, domesticity, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, immigrant / refugee / nationalist politics, polyamory, food, gardening. (A bit of climate change too, as it intersects with postcolonial concerns.)
I mean, that’s a weird mix, but it’s me, and I can hope that there’ll be *some* crossover in readership across genre borders. I think I don’t really have a choice about writing all of that, honestly — I can’t seem to stop working in multiple genres. Maybe someday it’ll all come together in a glorious explosion.
But right now, it makes agenting / marketing much harder than it would otherwise be. Sigh.
ADD meds report, about 3 months in:
So, I’ve been taking Vyvanse for a while now. I like it. I still find myself a little unsure of whether I ‘need’ it — various things I’d read said that the nice thing about ADD meds is that if you started taking them, you knew immediately if you needed them, and I don’t think that’s the case for me. Maybe I’m an edge case, or maybe I have developed good compensating skills in 47 years, or maybe I have the kind of job that lets me function productively despite the ADD, or all of the above — I’m not sure. I can certainly manage without them.
But I still like them. There are two distinct positive effects I can point to:
– about half an hour or so after I take them in the morning, I start feeling noticeably more relaxed. That surprised me, because my understanding is that what I’m taking is a form of ‘speed,’ which I’d expect to be the opposite of relaxing. My best guess, though, is that what the med does is reduce the stress of the cognitive load of distraction / switching attention. Because it makes that so much easier, the end result is that I feel less stressed. I hope I explained that clearly; it’s a little convoluted, but it feels right.
– when I start working on something that’s logistically complicated — a host of e-mails and FB messages and digital notes and paper notes all related to one project, which need to be sorted and assembled into some kind of coherence and then posted to a wide variety of places, keeping track of them all so I don’t duplicate or forget or put the wrong thing in the wrong place — it’s much easier. Before the meds, I found that kind of thing intensely stressful, and it would make me panicky (though I was reasonably good at shoving the panic down and getting through it somehow). Now, it’s straightforward — I just do it, and while it doesn’t make the work of it any less, the meds seem to remove an extra layer of franticness, which I think must come from the added difficulty of switching between many different types of input and output.
So that’s the good. Then there’s the ‘I don’t know yet,’ which is writing. Between everything else that’s going on, I haven’t actually done the kind of sustained novel-writing that I hoped the ADD meds would help me focus on. I haven’t even started, really. I’ve been finishing up Wild Cards and other smaller projects, and there were three international trips and Christmas and it’s easy to come up with reasons (excuses), but the end result is that I just don’t know yet how Vyvanse affects my novel writing. Hoping to change that in the next month; we’ll see. More on that anon.
What about the bad? Well, it’s not super-bad, but here’s a few more things I’ve noticed:
– if someone (usually Kevin) tries to talk to me when I’m deep in work mode, working a complex problem, I have a hard time pulling out of it to even speak to him, and I have to suppress a bit of crankiness about it. Mostly this isn’t a problem, as I try not to start on complex projects when I’m likely to be interrupted, and Kev and I both try hard not to interrupt each other during work time, but occasionally he needs to ask me something logistically important (like who’s picking up the kids, etc.). It’s a small, annoying thing.
– after about 8 hours, when the Vyvanse is wearing off, I’m definitely cranky, and try to avoid my family for 20-30 minutes until it wears off. I think that must be the return of the cognitive load, the stress of switching attention being hard. I’m trying harder to not work in the evenings, which is good for me overall anyway, and that does help.
The appetite suppressant effect is much less noticeable than it was when I started, by the way. I still don’t feel super hungry at lunchtime, but I’m not as likely to just forget to eat as I was originally, and what I eat at breakfast / dinner easily makes up any missing calories.
And that’s where we are. I like Vyvanse and plan to keep taking it.
Last night I went to a reunion dinner for my high school, Miss Porter’s. My parents sent me to an all girls’ high school over my fierce objections — I wanted to go the local Catholic school with my friends. I think they sent me mostly because they were worried about me getting in trouble with boys at a co-ed school; they had gone to single sex schools in Sri Lanka. (They had no idea what was to come…)
In the end, they decided that Porter’s had actually made me too feminist and independent — tough on immigrant parents! But for me, it was one of the best experiences of my life; that all-girls’ environment made it possible for me to speak up in class when I got to college in a way I think I’d have had a lot more difficulty with otherwise. Porter’s really does train leaders, and I’m seriously thinking of taking Kavi back to CT next summer for their summer leadership institute (can also visit my parents in the process).
I’m probably not going to send her there for high school — we’d need serious scholarship help, for one, as it is not cheap; my parents could barely afford it back then, and I’m not a doctor and tuition has gone up! And right now, I can’t bear the thought of sending her away to boarding school. (I was a day student). And we moved here in part because our local public high school, OPRF, is really excellent.
But I had such a great experience there (once I got over the misery of being a weird brown girl who didn’t know what to wear and didn’t fit in at all — thank god for a Star Trek geek to bond with freshman year), that I still waver sometimes. And maybe Kavi and I will start fighting all the time once she’s a teen, and the distance would be a good thing? Two strong-willed women in the same house….
Well, we’ll see what the future brings. She’ll only 11. In the meantime, it was truly lovely to be reminded of all the sweetness of those days at MPS, and to get to know a few other alumnae a little better. Now I’m wishing I’d made the effort to go out for a few of the reunions.
Also, host Sophia du Brul fed us incredibly — awesomely garlicky edamame hummus, chicken marbella (which I haven’t had before, roasted with olives, capers, and prunes! yum yum yum) with couscous and roasted vegetables, followed by a limoncello tiramisu. Her table setting was also so ridiculously pretty (with daisy-embroidered napkins!) that I was just entranced.