September 26th, 2011

a-links

[links] Link salad curses your sudden but inevitable betrayal

Reading in Public: Advice from the Pros — Alex Bledsoe collects some commentary in mini-interviews.

A baby sea-serpent no more: reinterpreting Hagelund’s juvenile Cadborosaurus — Some biology and cryptozoology neepery for you.

Space station dweller shares orbital views

Saudi women to be given right to vote and stand for election in four years — It would be very easy for me to be sarcastic about this in comparison to the deeply retrograde ambitions of the American Taliban within the GOP, but honestly, this is something to celebrate. Juan Cole comments further on this.

Presidential Candidates’ Positions on Gay Rights — A handy and interesting chart. No real surprises.

Our budget problem in two charts (and one issue) — (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

Fla. GOP sweats over Social Security — Is it possible that for once the GOP’s nutball rhetoric might actually have consequences? Normally they have a permanent “get out of jail free” card from Your Liberal Media and the voters at large for their bizarre crap.

DNC Chair: All GOP candidates are “the same”“It doesn’t much matter which one of the Republicans gets nominated because they’re all the same,” the Florida Democrat said. “They are all embracing and bear-hugging the Tea Party. Moving to the right – they can’t move to the right far enough.”

Birther Civil War Breaks Out Over Marco Rubio — Extremist idiocy breeds extremist idiots.

Obama says Republicans would ‘cripple’ America — Well, yeah. Look what they did to the country the last time they were in power. Why anybody who cares a whit about our future as a country would vote Republican is beyond me, on the simple face of the recent historical evidence.

?otD: Feeling the serenity?


9/26/2011
Writing time yesterday: 5.0 hours (novel outlining and short story revision, WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (solid)
Weight: 222.2
Currently reading: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

writing-retro_spaceship

[publishing] Strange Horizons fund drive

Signal boost, and, well, because they’re worth it

Long-time online magazine Strange Horizons is having their annual fund drive once more. They’ve always relied on crowdfunding to pay pro rates, and have become a leading market for both aspiring writers and established pros. Click on over drop ‘em a dime if you got one.

Also, I’ve donated a prize, as have many other folks. So there’s some fun and cool stuff waiting for you once you’ve donated.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

writing-genre

[writing] Catching up and falling behind

I got a fair amount done yesterday. More work on the collaborative novel outline, some work on several other projects, and quite a bit of time combing through my old cancer blog posts with the interests of building an index to my cancer blogging, and pulling together an outline for a potential nonfiction book based on my blog posts.

What I didn’t do yesterday was lay down significant new fiction wordage. This despite a need to continue developing the outline, and a short story commitment which is due shortly. My right brain didn’t want to cough to life for that.

This is what I often call WRPA, or “writing related program activities.” Things which are a part of writing, but are not drafting or editing fiction. WRPA is important, and I used my time well yesterday. But it still bugs me that I did not commit new fiction.

I’m under so much stress right now from the cancer issues, and it leaks into my writing work. I despise and resent the disruption. Still I recognize it as part of my own processing.

Weirdly enough, even though I was resisting drafting fiction due to cancer stress, I spent considerable time with my old cancer blog posts, starting from April, 2008. Lot of cancer stuff, and a lot of stuff about [info]calendula_witch. That brought back a lot of difficult memories and weird life echoes.

This feels like it will never end except in my death. Which is true, in a sense, and possibly quite literally so. Meanwhile I write and keep writing. Or try to. Even when I can’t write.

So, yesterday, I caught up and I fell behind. Today, who knows?

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

cancer-scars

[cancer] The strange emotional terrain of cancer

Recently I was chatting online with a friend who has a rather different cancer course than mine, and faces even deeper challenges than I do. We were talking about the emotional context of cancer, how it inflected her primary relationship and had played a key role in the destruction of mine, and how difficult it could be to find support for the fear, desperation and depression that can grip one.

I mentioned that I had rather disturbed my therapist with a recent comment that it would almost be a relief if I received a terminal diagnosis, because at least then I would know what was going to happen and plan accordingly. My friend almost burst out through the chat window, explaining she’d had the very same thought, and wondered if she was just nuts.

As I said to my therapist at the time, no, of course I don’t want a terminal diagnosis. I want to live on in health, very badly do I want that. But what both my friend and I are reacting to in having such thoughts is the profound uncertainty and complete loss of control that cancer brings into our lives.

This is so hard to talk about. That comment about a terminal diagnosis would seriously freak out my friend’s partner if she made it aloud. It would seriously freak out my family if I just dropped it in conversation. The people around me so desperately need me to get better, to be well, to stop living under daily threat. For me to confess such a despairing thought is a direct challenge to what their heads and hearts need.

But the despair is real. The risk is real. The reality is huge.

Often when I talk about this, I am reminded by whomever I’m talking to that we are all mortal, that we could get hit by a bus at any time.

Ok. Listen carefully to me, people.

Fuck that noise.

It does not help, and it’s specious besides.

I am 47 years old. According to the Social Security Administration, the odds of a generic 47 year old American dying within one year, of any causes, are 0.4208%. Slightly less than one in 200. (Assuming I’m reading the table correctly.) They don’t get significantly stronger over the next few years of middle-aged life.

My personal odds of dying within the next five years are 70%. That’s seven out of ten odds.

Take your proverbial bus and shove it. That’s not a meaningful comparison, and it sure as hell doesn’t make me feel any better when someone trots it out. The overwhelming majority of people don’t wake up thinking that at least if they got hit by a bus their life would have some certainty and some closure. They don’t have any reason to.

When you live with cancer, especially an aggressive (in my friend’s case) or persistently recurrent (in my case) cancer, you walk with death on your shoulder every minute of every hour of every day of your life. Every time I look at my daughter, I wonder how much of her life I will get to be a part of. Every time I talk to my parents, I wonder how they’ll survive my funeral if I should die before them.

Is it any wonder we have these odd ideas about dying?

Cancer produces some strange emotional terrain. It produces some strange thoughts, that we can feel guilty, or even crazy, for thinking at all. It opens deep wells of loss and regret that will never be filled, even if we survive.

If you know someone with cancer, one of the best things you can do is make it safe for them to think and say these things. Don’t deny it, don’t talk them out of it, don’t tell them it will be fine. For frick’s sake, don’t tell them that any of us could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Just accept their words with love and friendship and an absence of judgment. Because these are ideas and thoughts that if swallowed up can consume a person from within, until they feel like a hollow shell of desperation.

Some journeys you never come back from. But sometimes the people around you can help you on your way.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.