June 22nd, 2009


[links] Link salad flails to find Monday

A reader reacts to Mainspring Powell's | Amazon thb | Barnes & Noble | Borders | Audible ] — They couldn't finish it. As I said in comments recently, I find bad reviews far more interesting than good ones. This is no exception.

I before ELanguage Log on (misconstrued) grammar silliness. I say "potato", you say "potatoe".

Who decided the day should be divided into 24 hours? — A Straight Dope classic. As usual, blame the Babylonians. I'm personally more fascinated by the consistent persistency of the seven day week cycle.

Painted Green — Some thoughts on Iran. (Via A Tiny Revolution.)

?otD: How many Mondays in a month of Sundays?

Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride, 10 minutes of stretching and meditation
This morning's weigh-in: 220.0
Currently reading: Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread of omnibus edition)

Originally published at jlake.com.


[process] Forecasting Endurance

Most of the time when I'm working on a piece (short story or novel), I can forecast the length pretty accurately. In fact, I can write to length at need, which is sometimes handy in short fiction marketing. (See my previous posts on "span of control" for some further insights into this.)

Endurance has been a bit of an exception. The book is proceeding at a pace which seems very organic, at least to this draft. I wrote the outline, I know what's coming, but I've been so focused on the scene-by-scene stuff that I haven't developed good sense of the size of the overall arc. Fred is in something of a panic to get this book out before the cancer hammer comes down, methinks. So for no particular reason, it came to me in the shower this morning that this first draft will be about 160,000 words long. As I plan to deliver the final draft to Tor at less than 135,000 words, that's fine for my process.

I could be wrong, a lot wrong, in either direction on that first draft length. But for now I'm willing to put that stick in it and call that an aiming point.

Originally published at jlake.com.


[cancer] Big pink hammer hanging over my head

A bit of interim updatery on the cancer front:

None of the material facts and ambiguities of my case have changed in the past couple of weeks. In summary, we have three areas of concern, and several paths towards an outcome.

There's a small (0.5 cm) spot on my lung, which may be just old scar tissue. We don't have good prior imaging for reference on that one.

There are multiple sites in my lymph system which are not strongly represented, meaning that if they are tumors, they're very small. These may have been a transient infection at the last time of imaging.

There's a somewhat larger (1.0 cm spherical) spot in the upper lobe of my liver. That's new from last year's scans, and while neither of my docs has so far been willing to conclusively call it cancer yet, there's no credible alternate theory, and a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that it is.

The next set of steps include a general physical today, to baseline my glucose, cholesterol and other general health indicators before any cancer treatments. (Last year's surgery played merry hell with my insulin levels, and at the time, we had no baseline data, so it wasn't clear if I was pre-diabetic prior to surgery.) Lab results are already in, glucose levels are excellently appropriate, cholesterol levels are iffy but not disastrous.

Thursday morning, very early, I have an MRI here at OHSU. That is another attempt to determine the status of my liver spot. As I understand this test, the results will either be continued ambiguity, or confirm that it is a tumor.

Next Tuesday (6/30), I have a second opinion followup with an oncologist at UCSF. Again, my understanding is that the outcome will either be continued ambiguity, or a more aggressive diagnosis.

Around mid-July, if we're still not at a firm diagnosis, I have another CT scan, specifically to review the three sites of interest and see if any of the spots have grown or progressed. That would confirm their tumor status.

Insofar as I can tell, no one is prepared to rule out cancer. We don't have an alternate theory on the liver spot. But as my oncologist said, we don't do chemo just because we're worried about something. I don't see another outcome (and neither does my cancer surgeon, he's more confident of the diagnosis), but they want more data to confirm the diagnosis and the treatment plan.

Once the treatment plan starts up, all bets are off. Most likely path is liver surgery, followed by chemotherapy once post-surgical recovery has proceeded far enough. That will sideline me for weeks with the surgery, and slow me down considerably for six months or more with the chemo.

If none of these steps finalizes a diagnosis, I'm not sure what will happen next. I'm absolutely unwilling to walk away from a novel spot in my liver. Especially given my established cancer history.

All of the above decision points and next steps have made forward planning a bit of a bitch. Working on the initial draft of Endurance right now is purely an act of faith on my part. I've stopped doing any travel planning post-WorldCon, for lack of desire to accumulate nonrefundable tickets I'd just have to ditch. It's affecting Day Jobbe commitments.

I call this "the cancer hammer." I'm waiting for the hammer to come down (or, possibly, be taken off the table). The uncertainty is challenging as hell.

So I live, I love and I write.

Originally published at jlake.com.