Archive for January 26th, 2011

Tant de choses à faire

Word count: 42491 | Since last entry: ?

I see I haven’t blogged since January 2. Sorry about that.

I’ve been having a busy, complex, and fulfilling life. Been plugging away on the YA novel, 500 or so words a day most days; I’ve missed three days so far this year but I said I wasn’t going to be doctrinaire about it.

I got my first acceptance of the year: SF short story “Into the Nth Dimension” to DAW anthology Human for a Day. Also some rejections. Did you know that Clarkesworld has two different form rejection emails? Like Realms of Fantasy‘s “blue form of death” and “yellow form of promise,” one’s more encouraging than the other, but the difference between them is pretty subtle. The more promising one includes the words “your story was close” instead of the other one’s “your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now.”

Some of the rejections have carried more sting than others. I’m very frustrated by the publishing industry right now but I’m trying to channel that frustration into productivity rather than despair. Sometimes it’s hard.

A lot of Kate’s and my time this month has been spent working on a big non-writing-related semi-secret project. We expect to hit a major milestone on it this week. It will continue to occupy a big part of our time for most of the rest of this year.

We’re also doing a lot of travel planning. Even though we are not planning to leave North America, it’s going to be another big travel year. Right now we’re working on nailing down flights, car, hotels, and other details for the Radcon/Madrona Fiber Arts weekend (February); Potlatch, FOGcon, and the week in between (March); Kate’s trip with our niece to Disneyland (April); my “endowed speaker” gig at Buena Vista University in Iowa (April); a research trip on the tall ship Lady Washington (April or May); and a trip to Eastern Oregon (June).

I’m going to be doing a lot of teaching/workshopping/mentoring this year. In addition to the trip to Iowa, where I will be delivering the annual Stollee Lecture and working with English students and faculty (my Clarion West classmate Inez Schaechterle is an English teacher at BVU), I’ll be a workshop group leader at the Cascade Writers Workshop in July (where there are still seats available, by the way); I’ll be doing writers’ workshops at Potlatch and FOGcon; and I was just invited to appear as a guest pro at the Alpha Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Workshop for Young Writers in Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t be surprised if I did writers’ workshops at Wiscon, the Worldcon, and OryCon as well.

Kate and I have been watching the DVDs of Day Break, a 2006 TV show that was canceled after five episodes although a full season of 13 was completed. It’s a taut, smart show about a cop being framed for murder in contemporary LA who is, for reasons as yet unknown, living the same day over and over. We really liked this show on its frustratingly-curtailed broadcast run and are looking forward to finally finding out how it ends. We also watched episode 1 of Portlandia, which — although it skewers Portland in a loving and painfully accurate way — was too slow-paced and disjointed to be really funny, so we won’t be buying the remaining episodes from iTunes.

We’ve also seen some local theatre, including Captured By Aliens!, a late-night semi-improvised serial comedy about six contestants on a reality show who discover that they have actually been abducted by aliens. We saw the first week’s show and it was a complete hoot, a bit amateurish but full of heart and brains. We will unfortunately miss week 2 (January 28-30) but plan to attend the week 3 show on February 4. The series concludes with week 4 (February 11-13).

There’s also been a lot, and I mean a lot, of day-to-day Stuff To Do, so much so that I’ve actually been feeling rather oppressed by my ever expanding Things To Do list. Which is absurd, given that I’m retired and can spend my days exactly as I wish, but there it is. I had an important realization about this last night, though.

Throughout my working career, on every single project I ever participated in, we spent a huge proportion of our time developing requirements, whacking the requirements down to something that could be implemented within the time and resources available, tracking performance against plan, whacking the deliverables down yet again as the actual work involved became apparent, and deciding which of the thousands of acknowledged bugs could be “deferred” (which, more often than not, meant “never fixed”) in order to ship something resembling the promised functionality on something resembling the promised schedule.

Acknowledging that there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything we wanted to do, no matter how important it might be, was always a big and unavoidable part of my working life. And yet somehow I think that in my personal life I should be able to get it all done. I don’t have a program manager to help me track my progress and reassess the feasibility of my goals, and I don’t have a lot of externally-imposed deadlines to force me to cut down the deliverables and finish something, so the to-do list just grows and grows and grows. I’m not yet sure how I will incorporate this insight into my daily life, but I think it’s significant.

Apart from all that… I have no money problems, I am in great health, and my personal relationships are going well.

I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.