Year to Date 2014

And the latest in the ongoing saga of my writing life…

2014 Stats:
Stories Circulating: 5
Rejections: 15
Sales: 0

Nano 1: Within These Walls – Second draft in progress

Nano 2: Cuckoo – Second draft in progress

Much less of everything this year: less writing, less revising, less submitting, even less reading (103 books, as opposed to last year’s staggering 127). There’s very good reasons for a lot of that, the main one being that I started a new job about a year ago which involves writing a lot of mini biographies, roughly 200 words per person. And I’ve written close to 1,000 of them in the past year, which is not just 1,000 flash pieces, it’s 200,000 words. That’s the length of two epic novels, and it means that several times every day I have to consider how to craft a new piece from scratch. There’s just not a lot of creative energy left after that for novel writing. And this coming year is going to be very similar, lots of mini-stories at work, not a lot of time or energy for writing in my off hours. But after this coming year, I should be done with the bulk of the project and be ready to shift to more of my own work in 2016.

On the other hand, I’ve started working with a writing group, some fabulous people I know from my MFA program in Colorado. So the aim is to rework my two novel first drafts in 2015, get them as good as they can be, and then move on to new novels in 2016 while submitting the first two.


On Lazarus Long and doing well

Over the past week, I’ve had a number of different conversations with friends and family that made me realize how lucky I was that my parents taught me certain life skills, and how few people get that kind of grounding in basic competency.

I remember reading a quote by Robert Heinlein in college and checking off which of his list of essential skills I did or didn’t have, and wondering what that said about me as a person (It didn’t occur to me at the time to question what the list said about him as a person): “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Let’s face it, I’m probably never going to butcher a hog.

But I still believe that there are certain areas where everyone needs some basic knowledge, the areas that used to be covered by home ec. and wood shop. I’m not talking about being able to design your own clothes, bake croissants, or craft a piece of furniture from scratch, although kudos to you if you can do any of those. But if you can’t sew on a button or mend a tear, you don’t get to choose when you’re done with your favorite clothes. If you can’t use a hammer and screwdriver to tighten something that’s coming apart, you have to replace a whole bookshelf when all you need is a ten-cent screw. If you can’t follow a simple recipe, you’re at the mercy of takeout and microwave meals, with all the harm to budget and waistline that entails.

And the thing is, it’s really easy to learn all of this when you’re nine. But when you’re an adult, it’s hard to find the time and the teachers to learn these things, and it’s embarrassing to admit you don’t have some basic skill, if you even realize this is a skill that can be taught. So why aren’t we teaching these things to kids, regardless of gender? Why isn’t this a priority anymore?

Reinventing home

In the past few months, I’ve gotten a lot of fantastic and much-needed furniture upgrades: new nightstand, new bookshelves, new futon, new chairs, and today, a kitchen table. And invariably, I spend the first few days gazing at them from afar, liking how they feel in my space but almost feeling they’re too nice to use, until I slowly start incorporating them into my life. Is it just me, or do other people do this?

On the other hand, with this latest addition, I finally feel like I have a beautiful and completely adult space that’s a home to me and is welcoming to others. Clearly I’m going to have to start inviting more folks over…