How long have I loved story? Since forever.
– Jane Yolen, Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft
There’s some drama in the taxonomy community in Twitter regarding the taxonomy methods in this paper that came out a few days ago.
I don’t know anything about taxonomy, but look at this:
Someone named a species of parasitic wasp after Escape Pod?! How absurdly COOL (and fittingly SF) is that?
It is internet official now, which means I can announce it — I am one of the new associate editors for the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast magazine Escape Pod!
I’M SO FLIPPING EXCITED, YOUDON’TEVENKNOW. (Apologies to Shiv and Phoebe for drawing over their bios a little.)
Excuse me while I go squeal some more in the corner.
I didn’t make it out of the semifinals for the Podcastle flash fiction contest, and I got waitlisted for Viable Paradise.
I was a reasonable level of bummed, but honestly, that feeling was outweighed by burgeoning feelings of… momentum? possibility? improvement? And maybe, even, dare I say, pride? Making it to the semis is nothing to sniff at, and I’m in excellent, talented company on the VP waitlist. (They tell me that many of the submissions relegated to either of those categories are publishable. Whether I can find a place to publish my submissions is another matter entirely.)
In the face of these (I hesitate to call them failures because they don’t feel like that, though ostensibly, that’s what they are. Let’s go with rejections. That seems more accurate, and it’s good for me to make that distinction for myself.), I keep reminding myself, it has only been about 1.5 years since I started writing seriously, with the aim of improvement and (hopefully) eventual publication. I can see how much better I am now compared to when I began. I’m starting to write things I actually like, things that I believe in. It’s a good and delicate feeling. In MRK parlance, I’m leveling up.
And on the heels of that thought is the reminder that it has been two years since I left medicine.
Last year, this point in time passed without much acknowledgement on my part. At least not out loud. I noted the timeline, of course — I wonder how long it’ll take until July no longer reminds me of radical change. When the heavy heat of summer is no longer associated with the lifting of weight. But I let the month slip by without talking about it last year because I felt like I had talked about it enough.
And honestly, there were still nights when I would startle awake thinking my pager had gone off. There were still mornings when I would wake up and wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing. It still felt new and fragile and a little unreal.
There are days that still feel like that, but they’re far and fewer now. In the weird stutter-skip slippage of time, it feels like a lifetime ago. (Except, of course, for the occasional moments when it feels like it was yesterday.)
I still don’t feel any regret about my decision to leave medicine. I don’t think I will. Even though whenever I think about it (which is, again, far and few now), I do so carefully, gingerly, tenderly, on the look out for any points of pain.
And I suppose there are echoes of pain. Fracture lines that haven’t set quite properly. The anger is fading, though there is still some bitterness. But not about the leaving. More so about the staying for so much longer than I should have. One day, I think (and I hope), I’ll be able to forgive myself for that.
I’m a semifinalist in the Podcastle Flash Fiction Contest!
There was some stiff competition, and I’m excited that I made it through. The next rounds are going to be tough — there are some awesome stories in this contest!
If you want to vote, I think you can do so in the semifinals and finals without having voted in the first round. It takes place in the Escape Artist forums, so you’d need an account (and a first comment) to participate. All the stories are anonymized and the writers revealed only after the rounds are over. The semifinals start tomorrow!
Tonight, I have a little writing group meeting with a couple of newly-friends I made from the MRK intensive weekend. We are all applying to Viable Paradise this year, so we’ve set up weekly meetings to check in with each other and give critiques with quicker turnaround than our other groups.
And in that vein, I suppose I should tell you I’m applying to Viable Paradise this year.
I’ve hinted at the fact that I was working on an application to something for a little while now. I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to be secretive about it.
Well, scratch that. I felt like I needed to be secretive about it because what if I didn’t get in? Then I would feel a little bit like an idiot, and I would have to deal with hypothetical disappointment. From whom? I don’t know. Most likely from myself, but that I’m projecting onto other people.
None of it makes any sense, but that’s just how my jerkbrain works.
I’m still holding onto a lot of fear in my heart of hearts. Fear of disappointing anyone. Fear of wanting anything too much. So much fear.
Fear of disappointing anyone is somewhat straightforward. I have such a great support system and so many people who believe in what I’m doing, and I don’t want to let them down.
The fear of wanting something too much is a bit of a strange one. As though, if I admit that I want something, the universe will somehow conspire to take that thing away from me. And/or, if I admit that I want something and then don’t get it, I have to admit to myself that I’ve failed. Whereas if I never actually say that I want anything, if I never actually admit it to others or to myself, I can always maintain the illusion that I didn’t want whatever it was to begin with.
But the terrible, insidious thing about this fear is that it presumes failure on my part to begin with, doesn’t it? My jerkbrain has already decided that I’m not going to be able to accomplish whatever it is that I want to accomplish. It’s already decided that I’m not enough. This is one of the bits of self-sabotage that I have the most trouble getting over.
So. I guess that’s why I’ve decided to tell you. I don’t want to be held hostage to this fear.
I am applying to Viable Paradise this year. I’m nervous and excited, and I want to get in so, so much. That part is out of my hands, but I’m working hard to put together a good application. And I’m trying to get a handle on this fear. I don’t want to let it stop me from doing the things that I want.
Another rather productive week.
I finished drafting another short story. I like it, but it’s not as long as I originally wanted. Many of the short stories that I’m writing right now clock in at 2000-3000 words, and I’m trying to structure one of 5000-6000 words. Oh well. I’m still pretty happy with how it came out.
I also outlined a different story that’s an expansion of one of the pieces of flash I wrote last October. I’m playing with rearranging the narrative timeline — I don’t want to tell it linearly — but I also don’t want to turn it into a series of confusing flashbacks. Part of the solution there is I have to figure out where (or when rather, as in when in the timeline) to start the story. I’ve written parts of it already, but I’ll likely end up scrapping what I have so far and starting over.
But as Brandon Sanderson says, Every word is valuable.
Why is writing a cover letter (or personal statement or the like) so much more difficult than writing just about anything else? The first draft always sounds like a prolonged apology. I am terrible at talking about myself without immediately diving into self-deprecation. This is one of the many reasons I hate it when interviews or conversations include periods of time where I’m just supposed to monologue. I invariably feel like I’m taking up too much time and space.
I’ve been so socially/culturally trained to downplay my achievements and desires and expectations that I can’t even be forthright about them to a metaphorical piece of paper without apologizing for having them in the first place.
I have not been very good about blogging in between these writing recaps. I’m also kind of rethinking whether or not to do the weekly recaps. I started these as a way for me to track progress and keep in mind what I’ve accomplished during the week, but it all feels so vague and hand-wavey since I can’t really share the stuff I’m working on here.
In any event. Had a productive week. I finished the piece of flash I was working on for submission, got some eyes on it, and am going to do a final polishing pass before submitting (likely tomorrow).
Now that that’s done, I have to work on my application for a writing workshop this fall. I’m nervous about that, but I’ve gotten very good feedback so far, so. Worst case scenario, they say no, right? (I love that that phrase is used as a friendly platitude. Most days, I can take it as such. Some days, my brain is like YES YES THAT WOULD BE THE WOOORRRRRRST.)
In other news, had the first meeting of the new writing group yesterday. It was fun and productive. We did some structured critiques and caught up on life since the intensive. I think this is going to be a good thing.
ALSO. Butterscotch Shenanigans released Levelhead into early access on Steam on Thurs! If you like challenging platformers a la Super Meat Boy, you should check it out. There’s also a level-editing component, so it nicely fills the Super Mario Maker shaped hole in the PC market. I got caught up in the excitement of watching the launch, and lost a good day and a half to it. (See it here. Link opens a Steam page.)
This upcoming week is going to be a busy one. Lots of life stuff scheduled, which ends up breaking up my day and making it so I feel less productive. I’ve also lapsed somewhat in the writing of morning pages. Probably something I should get back into, though right now, my brain is saying we’ll be okay without them. But then, I’ve heard that before.
Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.
The more Resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you — and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art