I’m relieved to hear the…

I'm relieved to hear the grad students aren't striking -- mediation apparently went well yesterday. Can go teach in peace today. Hooray!

Also pleased to be invited to join another AWP panel: Friday, 12-1:15, Room 106, Colorado Convention Center, Street Level F148. Writing South AsiaIssues of Representation and Identity. "South Asian writers have taken the Western literary world by storm in recent times. But this recent popularity gives rise to new challenges. How do you represent contemporary South Asia in authentic, original ways and stay commercially viable? How do you write for a Western and a regional audience at the same time? How do you balance the political and aesthetic? Come hear writers of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Sri Lankan, and Indian origin read and discuss their fiction."

And also good this morning was George R.R. Martin sending me revision notes for "Sanctuary," for Wild Cards. (I realize I don't have to type out his full name every time I mention him, but it's just so cool that I'm writing something for George R.R. Martin, I can't resist. Also, I'm having dinner with George R.R. Martin (and a bunch of his fans) on the 18th. Envy me.) Mostly minor revisions that will make the story fit into continuity better (and incidentally make it longer -- it's now broken into two parts, and the finished story may approach novellette length :-). Plus one puzzling problem that I have suggested a possible solution for -- we'll see if he thinks it works.

As always, starting to think about story makes me crazy, makes me want desperately to be writing. Which I basically just can't do right now -- there just isn't time. This is still the semester-from-hell, and will be until the end of April. I've made no headway on my big stack of papers, and I have a conference in Denver this weekend -- I'm going to have to take them with me and hope that I can grade them on the plane or some such. Or in the room, early in the morning, since I'm used to getting up at 4 a.m. (Lori, doesn't that sound like a fun roommate? :-)

I'm just counting the days 'til the semester ends. I do love teaching, but I want my life to be a mix of teaching / fun admin (I do love doing programming) / writing / parenting / partnering / and even housework. A well-balanced mix, and one that includes 10-20 protected hours every week for writing. That doesn't sound like too much to ask, does it? Given that I'm supposed to be a professional writer and all. But right now, it's just impossible. Which makes me want to punch a wall.

I expect to have grades in by April 30th. And then it's writing writing writing all summer long. Plus packing, moving, house decisions, and all the other stuff of life, of course. Sigh.

Still, my firm goal is to finish a book this summer. I have too many in the works. To that end, what would you most like to see me finish? (If no one votes, I will assume that none of you actually like my writing, and will curl up in a little ball of despair.)

  1. Arbitrary Passions -- nonfiction memoir about love and nationalism, with some poly stuff in it
  2. The Arrangement -- threesome novel that I was supposed to publish four years ago, that I'm now finally going back and revising to make me, not the publisher, happy -- connected to Bodies in Motion
  3. Rasathi [probably not final title since no one likes it but me] -- YA fantasy novel, vaguely Sri Lankan-ish, possibly first of trilogy
  4. Jump Space -- space opera novel, also poly, based on published story
  5. [untitled new novel] -- mainstream book, about family and war and terrorism -- connected to Bodies in Motion
  6. Writing Your Identity -- writing book, covering all the regular bases of plot, etc., but with an identity-based approach, and a lot of exercises to help develop character with identity issues in mind
  7. Domestic -- series of poems on domesticity
  8. How Not to Cheat On Your Husband -- chick-lit-style poly memoir
Listed in rough order of how far I've gotten on them. The last one, I have nothing but a title. :-)

13 thoughts on “I’m relieved to hear the…”

  1. I have to apologize, I haven’t finished the draft you sent me of Arbitrary Passions (only so much reading I can do on the computer), but I loved what I read of that.

    I admit, sometimes life can get crazy, and you can’t always do what you love as often as you like (yes, even as a singleton, this happens to me more than I’d like). It should get easier as the kids get older and are more able to entertain themselves.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    I keep walking up to people with older children and asking them, pathetically, if we really do get more free time once the kids are in school. So far, they’ve all said yes. (As they cautiously inch away, taking their children with them…)

    Kavi starts kindergarten in 2.5 years. Anand, in 4.5 years. The question is, will we survive that long? Will our careers? (Kevin is at least as whiny about not getting math done as I am about not getting writing done.)

  3. That’s one thing that worries me about my hypothetical kids. I do want kids, but at this point its looking less and less likely. and I see how busy people who have parters are. I think everyone worries about how the kids are going to affect their lives and how they are going to affect their kids. (I also suspect this is some of the popularity of preschools)

    But after working in a library for five years, I can tell you that kids grow up like *that*, and that you will look back and wonder what happened. They will be in school before you know it, and you have been able to get good childcare as well….

  4. Hm. Difficult choice. I’m going to vote for Rasathi. But all of Arbitrary Passions, The Arrangement, Jump Space, and How Not to Cheat were close seconds.

  5. Would it be cheating to vote for “all of the above”? They all sound like things I’d like to read.

    I suppose if I had to pick, I’d vote for The Arrangement or Rasathi.

  6. Kind of surprisingly to me, the ones I’m most interested in are #5 (the family/war/terrorism novel) and Rasathi.

    I think Writing Your Identity would be a really useful and good book to have out there, but it overlaps some with Writing the Other, and much as I like your nonfiction, I think I’m more interested in seeing more fiction from you.

    I still think the How Not to Cheat title, and the checklist opening you described, would make a fun novel.

    … But I also think there’s value (especially to your peace of mind) in getting stuff off your to-do list; so if you feel like you can get Arbitrary Passions and/or The Arrangement finished to your own satisfaction with a relatively small time investment (compared to the others on the list, I mean), then it seems like getting those done and off your plate would be a good thing.

  7. I agree with Jed about there being peace of mind in finishing projects that have been languishing for too long. But the heart wants what it wants… and if you’re not feeling passionate about some of these projects, I’d put them aside for the ones that still make your heart race. 🙂

    I have loved the concept of Arbitrary Passions since you first mentioned it. However, from a strictly publishing-minded perspective, YA fantasy is super hot right now, so finishing Rasathi might be a good idea, too.

    All of these books interest me, though I think a book of poetry might be the hardest to sell. (Sorry, it’s hard for me to think only creatively and not in terms of marketing.)

    I guess the questions is: what are you feeling most passionate about? Followed by: what would you like to accomplish by the end of the summer? Having completed a book, or having a book that you can start shopping around?

    I, too, hope there will be more time once the babies are older. But I also know I will look back on these crazy days and miss them. 🙂 Take care!

  8. Lenore Jones/jonesnori

    I’m voting for Rasathi, too, though they all sound interesting. I hope you find time to work on them soon – you sound horribly busy. I hear the tension about it in your words.

  9. I would say, as a publishing person, to put off Writing Your Identity until you have more books with big houses under your belt — it will be easier for you to sell it at that point.

    I agree with Kristina about the book of poetry being hardest to sell. I would think that #5 or reworking The Arrangement would be your best bets in that regard.

    But that is just speaking practically. From a strictly creative standpoint? Do what speaks to you right now.

  10. Write the one that’s speaking to you. Or if they are all equally chattering away, Rasathi, because niche YA seems like a good way to get a new book contract going.

  11. I’m voting for Rasathi, too. Enjoyed the story, would like to see it finished. I also think for some reason that this is the story that will benefit the most from your mommy role… not quite sure why I think that.

    I liked Arbitrary Passions a lot, but felt it needed a bit more sharpening. That happens more easily after you get more distance from it.

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