Okay, my brain is melting, so I have requested one more day of extension on my deadline (that was originally supposed to be Saturday). I kind of HATE missing deadlines, it makes me super-frustrated, but I am also trying to not rush my damn writing anymore, which has, in retrospect, been a problem for years and years, at least since I finished the Ph.D. program.
On time is important, but good is better than being perfectly on time. And I made good progress today, and I think I will be able to hand in this draft tomorrow, if all goes well; nobody on the project is harassing me about my tardiness, this is all me and my stupid brain, so it will be okay.
After I hand it in, we are probably going to have another week or two of working together on the draft, making everything mesh, though I’m not sure if that will be immediately or will kick in a little later. At some point it will be out of my hands. Which means that one way or another, soon I’ll need to figure out what writing project I’m working on next. Options:
a) go back to SF novella, do another (final?) draft — the bones of plot are all right now, I think, thank god, but I need to work on the prose (make beautiful and subtle), the density of characterization, and the persistence of the themes
b) go back to SF novel, try to push through to end of the first draft (at around 50K now, if I’m remembering right)
c) change gears entirely and lay out the bones of the domestic resistance nonfiction book — running for office posts + cooking + gardening + trying to keep ourselves reasonably together in this political environment
Totally not sure which to do next. Feel free to opine, though mostly I am hoping it will magically come clear to me while I sleep.
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Curry and Politics

Plan for today: eat too much breakfast. Okay, that wasn’t in the plan, but was predictable, even inevitable, given how well last night’s pork curry came out, and I even had rice cooked already, so, you know, that’s how it goes.

New plan: Go change into exercise clothes, take laptop down to treadmill, finish coffee and an episode of Grey’s, then switch to writing for an hour. Set treadmill down to 2.0, a comfortable walking / writing speed. I used to do this a lot last year, but have gotten out of the habit, but if I’m going to be writing more (and sitting more), I need to do more of this again. Not all writing can happen in the magic shed. (No, I don’t want to move my treadmill to the shed. The shed would be appalled.)

At 10:45, run Kavi to her soccer game. If I’m feeling like I need a break, watch the game and chat with parents, otherwise, sit in car and write some more. Deadlines are unforgiving (although I have already written my editor and requested an extension to tomorrow, sigh).

Game should be done by 12:30, bring her home, have a modest lunch to hopefully balance out the massive breakfast. I hear salads are nice. Write for another hour.

2 p.m. – take a break, go to VOICE political meeting, see what they’re about. They’re looking for candidates to endorse in the next election, and while I’m not running in the next round, I’d like to see who’s involved with this group and what they stand for; that hasn’t been clear to me yet.

rest of day: write write write

(There is nowhere in the schedule for dealing with the sink of dirty dishes, but look at me, blithely ignoring that. Hush, voice-of-domestic-requirements. You must be subordinated to writing today.)

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Math math

Developmental stuff and teaching kids in larger classes where you just don’t have a lot of time or resources for differentiation is so interesting and also so frustrating.

At age almost-9 and 3rd grade, Anand has 2 pages of math homework most nights. (Insert standard rant about how elementary school homework studies show that assigning homework at this age is more likely counterproductive than useful, and wondering what pressures are on teachers that so many of them persist in assigning homework anyway, etc.)

Last year, we mostly didn’t have him do homework because his teacher didn’t care if it was done or not. The year before, we had a teacher who cared a lot, and would make Anand skip recess to do it, despite our protests to the teacher / principal, and so we regretfully made Anand do homework at least some of the time, and it was often an hour-long misery fest for everyone involved.

But this year, everything’s different. The homework is super easy for him; Anand can do all the actual multiplication in his head in a few seconds. But it turns out that if he isn’t resisting, or crying, or goofing off to extremes, or otherwise trying to find ways to be less incredibly bored by it, Anand can actually power through a page of it in 2-5 minutes. (Mostly depending on whether they make him draw the arrays or not. Drawing takes time.) It’s a useful life skill to be able to power through super boring stuff.

So mostly, we sit down with Anand, have him do it, he’s done in 5-10 minutes, and it doesn’t feel like torture, so he’s not super-resistant to doing it again the next day (though we do get a few big sighs). And it’s not torture for us either, which is not an insignificant blessing; our days are long and hard enough, thanks.

And yes, it’s still probably a waste of all of our time (see rant in first paragraph above), and we do have to periodically have conversations with Anand about why they make him do so much repetitive math, in-school and out, and we are really hoping that at some point this year he tests into a faster-moving math that is teaching him things he doesn’t already know. Anand has decided that he’s actually going to try on the test next time, because maybe it will be less boring if that happens.

But if not, I think we can survive this.

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Lauren Underwood for Congress

Last political post for the day, I promise, but here’s another campaign I’m super-excited about. Lauren Underwood is a nurse who worked in the Obama administration as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, now running for Congress in the IL 14th district (which includes parts of Naperville, along with a host of other towns) against a Republican incumbent.

I was tremendously impressed by her. Smart, to-the-point, with strong answers to audience questions — this was at a local meeting of Indivisible. Love Lauren’s positions, and think she’d be an incredible advocate for progressive vision in Congress. Please consider supporting her campaign with cash, phone banking, door-knocking, etc. and so on — whatever works best for you! Link to campaign in comments!

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The kids made the chocolate cake from a box, pretty much entirely on their own, and having a lot of fun doing it. Well, I sprayed the inside of the pan with Baker’s Joy, because you have to push the spray thing a little harder than is comfortable for Kavi. It’s funny the things that are still surprisingly hard for her — often not what I’d expect. They did everything else, though, including dropping an egg on the floor and cleaning it up.

We then did a sort of improvised cake toppings bar. I took some frozen berries, cooked them down with the leftover champagne from the morning’s garden club mimosas, a few squeezes of lime juice, brown sugar, and some crystallized ginger, to make a gingered-berry-champagne compote. I also melted some chocolate chips (a couple minutes at half power in the microwave), set some of it aside for the kids, and stirred in some chili powder and salt to what was left to make a salted spicy chocolate sauce. Then set those out along with some ready-made frosting and sprinkles, so that everyone could have cake the way they liked it.

The box cake was still a little fluffy and light for my tastes — I like my chocolate cake to be denser. But the flavors were delicious, Kevin agreed, and the kids were happy with their version too (heavy on the frosting and sprinkles), so I’d call it a pretty decent success for birthday-cake-from-what-we-have-on-hand-because-we-are-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-store.

Happy 48th, Kev. We love you.

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Three hours yesterday writing in the shed + four hours today writing in the shed. Shed good. Very focusing.

I’ve gone through a host of critique comments from Acorns workshop, Deborah Elaine Moeller, and Jed Hartman (thank you all!), and the novel-turned novella-turned 45K word thing, the novella now retitled _Kriti_, has finished another pass. It is better.

I don’t think it’s final quite yet, but it’s starting to take the right shape, I think? After spending much too long in the wrong shape. I am seeing consistent themes carried through now. I have pruned away excess plottiness. My protagonist actually protags, although maybe more in a lit fic kind of way that a more typical space opera kind of way.

I have no idea who will want to publish this little thing, but that is a question for another day. Now, send it out to beta readers and forget about it for a bit, switch back over to all Wild Cards, all the time — I have a 9/15 deadline on that story, and I have quite a ways to go on it. I couldn’t seem to focus while this was in my head, though. There are apparently limits to how many worlds I can carry in my head at any one time.

Coffee, a few e-mails, read workshop stories for our in-person meeting tonight, and then Wild Cards Wild Cards, Wild Cards.

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K.C. Ball

The Speculative Literature Foundation is saddened to hear about the passing of K.C. Ball, winner of the 2012 Older Writers Grant, and juror for the 2014 Older Writers Grant and 2014 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds grants. K.C. was an excellent speculative fiction writer and a keen juror with sharp insight. Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this time. We hope young and old continue to be intrigued, captivated, and entertained by her stories for years to come.

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Deep Dish September

Delighted that radio personality Niala Boodhoo will be joining us to host the next Deep Dish reading for the SLF! We’ll be featuring authors David D. Levine, Mary Robinette Kowal, and myself (as editor of Survivor), along with Chris Bauer and Steven Silver. Fun times in the city!

Volumes Book Cafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee
Thursday, September 6, 7 p.m.

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Reading Day

Plan for today — oh, I am torn between reading and writing. I think mostly reading, though — I want to finalize my syllabi, which means reading through a bunch of short stories to see if I want to switch any out for the ones already listed. And I may HAVE to finish reading Charlie Jane’s novel first, or the frustration will swallow me whole. These characters I already love are in dire straits, and about to be more so.

(One of the things I particularly like about this book is that when terrible things happen to people, they have to deal with the emotional / mental consequences of that for the rest of the book. It’s not just skipped over.)

At 10 a.m. I’m being interviewed here at the house by a local paper, though, and they’re bringing a photographer, so probably the day will actually start with a quick straightening-up pass. Although I’m not even going to try to address the stacks of books and papers everywhere. Children’s toys can be tossed in a storage bin, though.

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