May 5th, 2010


[links] Link salad likes living in Portland

The Two Bucket Theory of Language and Writingjimvanpelt is wise.

SiWC Tips 'N' Tricks — Me, featured on the Surrey International Writers' Conference blog.

Dark Faith Roundtable — A group interview with Gary A. Braunbeck, Nick Mamatas, Catherynne M. Valente and me.

FogCon — I've been asked to mention a new con in the Bay Area, FogCon, March 11-13, 2011. I might actually managed to be there.

The Straight Dope is deeply snarky about D&D — A classic column from 1980. (That's the dateline, internal text suggests later in the 1980s.) He's talking about my era of D&D/AD&D, and it's stupidly funny snark.

joe_haldeman explains the economic stimulus — Heh. (Thanks to lt260.)

Truman's Moral CourageHe signed the first executive calling for "equality of treatment for all persons in the armed services, without regard to race, color, religion or national origin" on July 26, 1948 -- a scant few months before a presidential election, with polls showing 82% opposition to the idea in the country. Can you imagine a president today having the courage to do such a thing under those circumstances? Are you listening, Mr. Obama? Do the right thing, not the expedient thing.

Michael Brown: Obama Wanted The Oil Spill To HappenEx-FEMA director Michael Brown today claimed that President Obama waited to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico because he wanted an excuse to shut down offshore drilling. Is there some kind of a contest for how crazy you have to be in order to be a conservative? Heck of a job, Brownie. And they say irony is dead.

The authors of Arizona's immigration law retreat — A good read for those of you who persist in the delusion that the Arizona immigration law was anything but racist grandstanding.

Conservative Latinos Rethink Party Ties — Strangely enough, racist grandstanding has consequences. (Thanks to shsilver.)

Not All Americans Are Equal — More principled consistency from conservative America. Yet you think you're the good guys?

Christian right leader George Rekers takes vacation with "rent boy" — Loves me some family values. Look, over there! Teh gay! Let's persecute! I see nothing but bigotry and hypocrisy in the anti-gay movement. (Thanks to danjite.) And a bit more of a funny on this from Language Log.

Secret Christian donors bankroll Tories — Christianism in the UK. My favorite bit: [Philippa Strud] once explained that it was "massively important" for Christians to engage in politics because "we have a unique understanding of the value of human beings". Right. Because no one who isn't Christian can understand the value of a human being. At least she's honest in her bigotry. And what is it with conservatives and the word "unique"?

?otD: What's your favorite city?

Writing time yesterday: 2 hours (WRPA, not new wordage)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.5 (interrupted)
This morning's weigh-in: 235.6
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 4/10 (fatigue, GI issues)
Currently (re)reading: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett


[cancer] Sometimes you win small, in big ways

Yesterday was the best day I've had in weeks. Woke up from a solid night's sleep. Very productive at the Day Jobbe. Got in a bit of emergency parenting. Managed two hours and a bit more of writing related program activities. It's not new wordage, but it counts. Some continued GI distress, and my usual fatigue patterns, but that's pretty much the new normal. And I sold a story to

So, yeah, good day.

Of course, that meant a ragged night's sleep last night. Woke up at 2:45 am with a headache. Gave up on trying to sleep at 3:30 am. Today will not be quite so swell.

However, today will be substantially improved as calendula_witch returns this afternoon. shelly_rae will be back tomorrow night. Friday, of course, is infusion session eight nine of twelve. [ETA: Ah, chemo brain.]

There is a potential wrinkle in the wind, as mononucleosis may be going around the_child's class, with a confirmed case in the sibling of a classmate and a couple of suspected cases among her peers, so some chance exists I've been exposed. I will be calling into the oncology unit today for advice, as I believe there is a fairly simple blood test for this if they want to check me.

If it ain't one damned thing it's another. And so on and so on, scoobie doobie doo.


[writing] Once in a lifetime

Yesterday I did a bit of back-of-the-envelope math, and determined that dividing my lifetime earnings into my lifetime hours of working at being a writer mean I've netted about $5/hour since 1990. If I only do the math for the years since I began to sell professionally, leaving off the 10 years of apprenticeship, workshopping and frustration, that number shifts to about $10/hour.

Sobering? Maybe. But then, I haven't ever looked to this to put the beans on the table. And that can be a bit liberating. A Much Bigger Name Author than I told me in private a couple of years ago that they envied me my flexibility to write what I wanted, as they felt stuck writing their Successful Series and working in their Successful Series Subgenre. I pointed out they could weep all the way to the bank while I am hanging on to the low-midlist with a fingertip death grip. We agreed that we envied one another's problems.

Chris York refers to this as "trading up to a better class of problems." I would love to be wrestling with the things that worry and bother Big Name Authors. The things that worry and bother me would have been the subject of deep envy in my self of five, ten and especially twenty years ago. And we all sound like we're complaining about winning the lottery, if you're a hard-working writer waiting on the result of your forty third agent query whilst staring at a pile of short fiction rejection slips.

Sometimes I think I make it look too easy. "Oh, hey, Lake sold another damned story." But for my 250 short fiction sales, I have well over 1,000 rejections, more than 100 of them from Gordon van Gelder at F&SF alone. I've never sold to him, but I keep trying. To this day I have over 200 unsold short stories, virtually all of them permanently and rightly trunked. I have a handful of novels in the trunk, at least one of which will never see the light of day, several more only if I ever feel moved to redraft them from scratch. (As if I have the time...) I really, truly did spend 10 years (1990-2000) workshopping, writing, submitting hundreds of times without any success whatsoever, before my voice matured enough to be worth an editor's trouble.

All that for $5 an hour?

Hell, yes.

And even if the market belly flops and I fall off the bookshelf, I'll keep writing, and submitting, because that's what I do. I'm a writer. Writers write. Even when chemo keeps my fingers away from the keyboard.

It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that happens to take a lifetime to get right.


[personal] Another dream log

The dream in my head when I woke up:

I'm in an industrial zone. It's a ravaged, Rust Belt sort of place, the kind that saw its better days when car headlights rode outside the fenders and men wore pork pie hats. The streets are wide and littered. Alongside the road I'm on is an elevated railway, though for some reason I want to think of it as a straight line rollercoaster. A line of men and women is gathered alongside me, waiting to mount rickety, corroded steps to a platform along the railway. They're all pilots and astronauts, each wearing a uniform from somewhere in their career. I see WWII Army Air Corps pilots, WASPS, Vietnam guys, Apollo astronauts, Gulf War vets. It's like a history of American air power on the foot.

Above us in the sky floats a line of B-25 Mitchell bombers. They are moving far too slowly for airspeed, as if they were hung from blimps. Some are complete, some are damaged, some are so skeletal as to be nearly wireframes of themselves. As they drift past the platform, the generations of pilots step aboard them. They are flying to wherever it is that aircraft go after they die, sort of like that scene in Porco Rosso.

I weep for them.