Light in the abyss

Lately I have been feeling like a WINO — a Writer In Name Only. Since my trip to “Mars” in January I’ve been spending a lot more time being an Author (traveling, speaking, signing) than being a Writer (actually putting words on paper).

The Author thing is a lot of fun and very rewarding. I got a thank-you card from the Clarion West students for the talk I gave there, which was extremely touching, and the feedback I’ve gotten from my Mars talk at the Nebulas has been overwhelming. The Mars thing has been my entree to so many experiences I would not have had otherwise — the TV appearances, my turn on stage at Ignite Portland, the Shuttle launch, and many more. But it’s also quite tiring. It seems to take me a week or so to completely recover from a trip out of town, even longer if I gave a speech, and in the last few months I’ve found myself heading out again right after that. So I’ve only been writing once a week, at the Tuesday afternoon writers’ coffee shop get-together. If it weren’t for that goad I probably wouldn’t be writing at all.

I really feel like a wimp by comparison with Jay Lake, who seems to write every week more than I have in the last six months, despite the ravages of chemotherapy. His amazing persistence in the face of the many blows cancer has dealt him is awe-inspiring.

I did write an outline and the first ten thousand words of a YA SF novel and got them critiqued. Based on the feedback I received, it needs a lot of work, and I’ve been reluctant to tackle that. I just need to pull up my socks and do it.

I also wrote two short stories in that time. One of them, “Citizen-Astronaut,” won second prize in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest (I just got the prize package of Baen books and schwag) and is currently seeking publication. The other one, “Floaters,” just today sold to the Drabblecast podcast. It should appear in August.

And I’ve kept the stories I wrote last year (and earlier) in circulation. “Finding Joan,” the story I read at Wiscon in 2009, sold to the new online market Daily Science Fiction, which hasn’t yet begun publication but pays eight cents a word. Another story was rejected with a note that described it as “powerful,” but too disturbing for the editor because it raised personal issues. I have high hopes for that one.

On reflection, I guess all in all I’ve been doing pretty well.

The Author thing continues. Tomorrow I head to the Washington coast to be “writer guru,” along with Jay Lake, at the annual Writers’ Weekend. Two weeks after that is the Mars Society convention, and three weeks after that we leave for Australia.

I hope to do some work on the YA SF novel while traveling. We’ll see.

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