Yesterday was sort of an intense day, even though I was working at home. I wrote the final scene of Wild Cards story and sent it off to my incredibly patient editor, Melinda Snodgrass — and may I just state for the record that I hate being the last writer to get her stuff in, and for the editor to have to send me e-mails asking when is it coming, Mary Anne? I am going to try to my damnedest to not have that happen again, bah. I would much rather be the *first* to get her story in.
I actually find the collaborative writing of Wild Cards (and Tremontaine) quite stressful and anxiety-provoking in a very specific way that is different from my own individual writing. And I say this even though I love being part of those projects and plan to continue with Wild Cards.
A lot of it is coming into established worlds, that have a lot of fine detail that I’m not intimately familiar with, and feeling very tense about not remembering every little detail (my memory is notably worse than average) — just feeling lost and afraid of getting things wrong.
It’s not a rational fear, because the editors are very used to the writers getting details wrong, and expect to have us correct things; revision is a big part of the process. But I am….not very patient with myself when I don’t get things right the first time? I think that’s maybe it. When the e-mail arrives in my inbox with the corrections, I tense up, and sometimes even have a hard time making myself open it. I need to be more comfortable with making mistakes.
Getting started is the worst part, though. Every single time, when I actually start drafting, it’s fine. But the anxiety can send me into DEEP procrastination mode, where I try everything avoidable to keep from actually starting writing. I mean, it’s stupid — I literally walk around the house for 12 hours assiduously cleaning and organizing (yes, I organized the tech drawer with ALL the cables yesterday) while thinking, “I should be writing that scene. I should be writing that scene. Mary Anne, stop doing this, and go write that scene.” For hours and hours, with the stress levels increasing. The brain is a wacky and avoidant thing.
I think the ADD meds might be helping a tiny bit. Not with the avoidance, but at least when I actually start work, I now fall right into it and get it done quick, as opposed to getting distracted with twenty other thoughts in the midst. Interesting.
I finally got the scene written and sent it off, and then spent a few more hours avoiding writing my IAC grant application. Grateful that they have it due at 11:59 p.m., rather than at 5 p.m. I follow the same guidelines for my students, when I can. It is kind.
More anxiety there, of a different kind, wondering if I should send them creative nonfiction or science fiction. I spent a few hours revising my memoir, getting 31 solid pages of it, before realizing that they actually probably wanted published work in the application (because they ask for ‘date completed’), not work in progress. So then I switched to sending them “Plea” and “Webs” instead.
I am proud of those stories, but I don’t know if the IAC jurors will be open to science fiction — but that is what I’ve mostly published, the last few years, so I suppose that is what they get. When I got the grant before, in 2005, it was for an excerpt from Bodies in Motion; I don’t really have any comparable mainstream lit. published work right now. I could’ve sent them the Roxane Gay essay, I suppose. Oh well — too late now.
Feeling sort of pummeled and exhausted today, but hopefully it’ll be a less stressful day. Little bit of prep and grading now, then take kids to get passport form signed (stupid complex process, gah), drop them at school, go teach.
Then a fun event this evening — I’ve been invited to play a game of Machine Learning President (politics and money) with Max Temkin and his crew. (Max is the creator of Cards Against Humanity — I met him last year through Mary Robinette Kowal, when we were serving together on the Museum of Science and Industry Department of Next board.) More on that anon; should be interesting.

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