April 29th, 2010

a-links

[links] Link salad searches for its birth certificate

Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitts - An interview with the man behind the woman

Andrew Wheeler on How to Train Your Dragon — My second favorite movie review ever, when he says: "In short, if there had been any doubt that animated movies today are made entirely by geeks who still haven't gotten over being picked last for kickball, How to Train Your Dragon provides yet another object lesson."

Thieves have taste for fine cheeses — Bwuh? (Via Freakonomic.)

Scientists find water-ice and organic material on asteroid — I told you guys to clean up after that party.

Death & taxes: 2011 — (Via Dark Roasted Blend.)

Steele's 'biggest gaffe so far' — I hadn't realized the GOP had been in denial about the arrant racism of the Southern Strategy. Insofar as I can tell, that's been one of the cornerstones of modern conservative electorical success.

The Politics of Contempt — Daniel Larison, normally a reliable independent thinker, joins the chorus of disingenuous conservative voices pretending the new Arizona immigration law is reasonable and just. No racism here, move along, nothing to see. That's mighty white of him.

?otD: How would you prove your citizenship if stopped by the Arizona law?



4/29/2010
Writing time yesterday: none (chemo brain)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (interrupted)
This morning's weigh-in: 231.2
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 4/10 (fatigue)
Currently (re)reading: Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

jay-sad_devil

[cancer|process] Fatigue and writing

Sold some stories yesterday. I'll announce when things are fully official, but I placed a linked quintet of shorts with an upcoming antho, and sold another short to a print periodical. Happy days.

Meanwhile, writing fails to continue. This is turning into a real issue, one with bifurcated roots.

Sleepfail again last night, as two nights ago, does not help. Lately I've lost control of my sleep feedback loop and either sleep 8.5-10 hours (usually with the help of Lorazepam, which makes me crazy — I detest any sense of chemical dependency in myself) or 5-7 hours. In other words, too much or too little. Oversleeping leaves me logey and slow. Undersleeping leaves me exhausted and wired in all the wrong ways. Naps help, but as I said, I've lost control of the process just now.

In a larger sense, increasingly deep fatigue is a cumulative effect of my chemotherapy. (As previously noted, some effects are episodic, some are continuous but essentially flat, and some are cumulative.) Add that to the stress of serial medical crises over the past eight weeks (my bad cold, Mother of the Child's hospitalization, tillyjane's hospitalization), and I've pretty much run out spoons in a system sense. Just getting through the workday is a major achievement now. My 3-4 pm writing time has all but collapsed, as has my alternate 3-4 am writing time.

This is completely unacceptable, but damned hard to fight. For one thing, I have contracted deadlines I need to meet. Yes, I have some room to negotiate, but one of my cardinal rules is don't miss deadline. Reliability is a big part of how I've made my way in the field thus far. Furthermore, those deadlines exist for a reason, and it's not simply to give me something to angst about in the midst of chemotherapy.

So I'm caught between my bone-deep professionalism, my need to write, and my wretchedly unreliable body. No answers yet except sheer force of will, but if I can have an open (ie, non-infusion) weekend without a medical crisis (for the first time in two months!) I can make up a fair amount of ground.

Grr.

child-on_plane_in_China

[child] She amazes me, again

the_child was just here, knitting something involving four needles (no, I don't know what) in the aftermath of her math homework. She started talking about writing. First, she asked me about point of view. She didn't quite have the formal vocabulary down, but she had the idea firmly in hand. We walked through first and third, tight and distant, and did a little storytelling by example. Then we talked about second person, and sensory detail, and how it all fit together.

She asked me about landscape and setting, and how those descriptions were affected by point of view choice. So we talked through some of that, did a little more storytelling. I dragged out a Terry Pratchett book, and we discussed examples.

Her next question was about what happens when an editor receives a book that they thought was well-written, but they just didn't like. We talked about taste, craft and quality, and how manuscripts can be passed between editors and agents for those reasons.

Her final question was whether being a writer had changed the way I look at books, whether I paid attention to how things were being done instead of the story. I told her that one of my great delights these days was a book that caught me up so much I paid no attention to craft.

I have sat through weekend long seminars with adult writers who couldn't coherently discuss these aspects of fiction. My twelve-year-old is thinking it through, on her own initiative. She has resolved to pay attention to her reading and see what she can learn about writing.

I am amazed, and proud to the point of tears.