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21 July 2010 @ 11:02 am
Light in the abyss  
Lately I have been feeling like a WINO -- a Writer In Name Only. Since my trip to "Mars" in January I've been spending a lot more time being an Author (traveling, speaking, signing) than being a Writer (actually putting words on paper).

The Author thing is a lot of fun and very rewarding. I got a thank-you card from the Clarion West students for the talk I gave there, which was extremely touching, and the feedback I've gotten from my Mars talk at the Nebulas has been overwhelming. The Mars thing has been my entree to so many experiences I would not have had otherwise -- the TV appearances, my turn on stage at Ignite Portland, the Shuttle launch, and many more. But it's also quite tiring. It seems to take me a week or so to completely recover from a trip out of town, even longer if I gave a speech, and in the last few months I've found myself heading out again right after that. So I've only been writing once a week, at the Tuesday afternoon writers' coffee shop get-together. If it weren't for that goad I probably wouldn't be writing at all.

I really feel like a wimp by comparison with jaylake, who seems to write every week more than I have in the last six months, despite the ravages of chemotherapy. His amazing persistence in the face of the many blows cancer has dealt him is awe-inspiring.

I did write an outline and the first ten thousand words of a YA SF novel and got them critiqued. Based on the feedback I received, it needs a lot of work, and I've been reluctant to tackle that. I just need to pull up my socks and do it.

I also wrote two short stories in that time. One of them, "Citizen-Astronaut," won second prize in the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest (I just got the prize package of Baen books and schwag) and is currently seeking publication. The other one, "Floaters," just today sold to the Drabblecast podcast. It should appear in August.

And I've kept the stories I wrote last year (and earlier) in circulation. "Finding Joan," the story I read at Wiscon in 2009, sold to the new online market Daily Science Fiction, which hasn't yet begun publication but pays eight cents a word. Another story was rejected with a note that described it as "powerful," but too disturbing for the editor because it raised personal issues. I have high hopes for that one.

On reflection, I guess all in all I've been doing pretty well.

The Author thing continues. Tomorrow I head to the Washington coast to be "writer guru," along with jaylake, at the annual Writers' Weekend. Two weeks after that is the Mars Society convention, and three weeks after that we leave for Australia.

I hope to do some work on the YA SF novel while traveling. We'll see.

Elf M. Sternbergelfs on July 21st, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
Ya. In my case, it was being laid off from a relatively cushy job to one that's high-pressure, high-demand, all-the-time. The in-between time was filled with "OMG, no money!" neurosis.

I wrote three chapters of a YA experiment that seemed to be going somewhere. Had a cute scene where the heroine's father explains how Darwinism kept him honest all those years-- a doomed darling of a scene, for sure-- but I'm just tuckered these days.
kathrynmicekathrynmice on July 22nd, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
I think the phrase you are looking for is . . .
. . . "I am very flattered that you thought of me, however, I can't do [fill in the blank] at this time. Please think of me in the future."

When I had sewing students and needy SCAers all around me clammoring for garb I finally realized that I had no time of my own for my own projects. And had had no time of my own for about a year. I earmarked one weekend a month as MINE. Now I can shift my weekend a weekend or two either way but I never have more than 6 weeks without a weekend of MY OWN.

You might try thinking in those terms. I suspect that a nice cozy weekend in your lovely, tidy house with your favorite keyboard and slippers will be wonderfully productive. Not to mention the smell of home canning wafting through the whole house.

Try it, I think you will like it. Oh, when I am vacationing with friends, which, admittedly I haven't done in years, I earmark a whole day of my own to recharge and get my center back. You can do that on the road too.


beamjockey: zeusaphone rockin'beamjockey on July 22nd, 2010 12:37 pm (UTC)
At the Mars Society convention, every second person in the elevators will have done a stint in one of the Mars research stations. (And most of them will, I imagine, have their own Powerpoint shows.)

How will you distinguish yourself? Perhaps wearing a funny hat is a good idea.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on July 22nd, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
That's what I would have expected, but here's what it said in the invitation: "MDRS and FMARS are the 2 things most people know about the Mars Society, and few people within the society have actually been to MDRS (let alone FMARS) and your presentation covers it all and really shows what a mission is like." I was surprised. I guess it's like Clarion / Clarion West... although hundreds of people have attended, the number of Clarion grads at any given SF con is not that large.