February 19th, 2012


[links] Link salad for a tired Sunday

Publishing and Permission — M.K. Hobson on the writing mind.

Shelf-Conscious — Writers and their books. (Via [info]danjite.)

Sing, sang, sungWhat the linguist notices here is that the system of around 200 irregular verbs in English is so complex and hard to memorize that native-speaking professional journalists and editors are unable to pick the right preterite form for extremely common verbs.

Confused ‘The Artist’ Patrons Demand Refunds, Didn’t Know Film Was Silent — Um…

Striking multiple-exposure photo of air traffic by artist Ryu HoYeol

The Tea Party’s war on mass transitHouse Republicans try to gut federal funds for subways as they extend the culture wars to urban policy issues. As tipster [info]threeoutside says, "[T[he middle-class and upper-lower-class people who are pushing this shit. Do they have an image in their minds of what they want their world to be like?"

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage — And therefore the conservative response is to limit access to contraception. Hey, GOP, this is reality calling. Hello? Anyone home?

Santorum’s Gospel of Inequality

?otd: Worn out?

Writing time yesterday: 3.5 hours (Sunspin revisions)
Body movement: n/a
Hours slept: 8.25 (solid)
Weight: 237.8
Currently reading: 1491 by Charles C. Mann


[personal|cancer] Stress, cancer and me

I slept over eight hours last night, and still woke up tired. Last week was a very tough week, combining business travel, the slow reveal of my new and ambiguous cancer status, and a Friday evening spent in the ER with a close family member. My schedule has been very off its norms, as have my eating habits. As a result, my weight has shot up again, which happens when I am eating from stress, eating out of the house, eating carelessly, and eating at odd times.

In broad terms, eating is my go-to compulsive behavior in response to stress, rather than drinking or otherwise acting out. This is probably the largest unresolved self-care issue in my life which is within my behavioral control — unlike, say, the cancer, of which I simply have to endure the vagaries.

There's been plenty of good stuff as well. Personal life is going well, writing life is going well, [info]the_child is doing well. But none of those things grant me more sleep or repair the gaping holes in my schedule or fully balance out the high stress stuff when it hits.

As for the cancer, I haven't had a meltdown over the new round of information. I think I've been too busy to do it. I keep expecting to hit some stumbling block and just lose my shit. Cancer does have that effect on me, especially around the time of diagnosis. On the other hand, being a cancer patient has pretty much evolved into my ground state. The human mind really can routinize almost anything.

In any case, I'm seeing both my medical oncologist and my liver surgeon this Wednesday, and that may be enough to trigger me.

The advantage of a meltdown, of course, is the massive release of the rolling boil of stress and fear and despair that cancer induces in me. If I don't find a way to let all that out, well, then I wind up doing things like eating too much. The disadvantage of a meltdown is, well, it's a meltdown. I act like I've lost my mind for a while, and I'm embarrassed later. And it's a tossup whether a meltdown is best performed alone or in trusted company. Not around [info]the_child, however. I am the dad, and while I am not afraid to show weakness, being human and all, losing my shit in front of her is just a bad idea.

So I wander tired, fat and cancer-riddled through my days, waiting for the emotional mugging I can see lurking in the shadows.


[writing] The state of play

So a bit of writing updatery. This is for my benefit as well as for your information.

Calamity of So Long a Life is nearly done. I may be through the revisions today, having about half a dozen revision notes left, plus a couple of word hunts to do. There are two exceptions to this hoped-for state of done-ness.

One, a common thread in my last-first reader feedback arises from people having a bit of trouble about what are essentially deep structural choices in the book. This decomposes into two issues. First, the narrative is structured thriller style, with multiple separated plot threads featuring characters who are ultimately going to converge on a common conflict point, but because this is a multivolume story, they don't all do their converging in Calamity. That has left some readers feeling a bit confused about how character A relates to, say, character D. Second, because of the multivolume nature of the project, the various plot threads don't all come to neat resolution. I don't really know how to address the questions being raised without seriously altering the structure, which would compromise my vision of the books. Instead I've done my best to tweak the narratives. It feels a bit like putting a band-aid on a broken bone, given that some surface polish doesn't really change the structural issues.

Second, I am still wrestling with the whole reading aloud question (as recently discussed here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]). Per a commentor's suggestion, I've downloaded an application called GhostReader, which I tested with some good effect on my draft of "The Woman Who Shattered the Moon." I have another ten days before my (self-imposed) deadline to have this manuscript into la agente, which is probably enough time to run the whole thing through the text-to-speech app and listen to it. I'm just having to speak sharply to myself to convince me that this is going to be a worthwhile use of another week and a half of my precious writing time.

Once Calamity is turned in, I'll spend the balance of my time through the end of March working on several other projects. These include a book synopsis for Little Dog with J.A. Pitts (urban fantasy about a Portland werewolf with achondroplastic dwarfism), as well book proposals for the Antarctica project (nonfiction about going to extremes with cancer) and a possible collection of my flash fiction.

On the short fiction front, I have three requested stories to write, though two of them aren't due until much later in the year. One is a religious themed piece, one is another Cthulhu pastiche, and the last is a novella for the Fathomless Abyss project.

Come April, I'll dive back into Sunspin, where I'll need to write about 100,000 words of first draft to round out book two, Their Currents Turn Awry. I've budgeted April and May for that, though it will probably not take me two months. Plus at some point copy edits for Kalimpura will turn up, as well as page proofs for the Endurance paperback release, and I'm sure other miscellaneous items as well.

My writing year beyond May is unclear, because with the new cancer information, the odds that I'll be going back into treatment in late May or early June are pretty high. That means another six months or so of productivity lost to surgery and chemo. As I did in 2011, I structured my 2012 goals as a forked path — the healthy goals and the cancer goals — and I'll still meet my cancer goals regardless of what happens.