Posted by: julia
on Nov 25, 2011
Yes, it’s that time of year again. I really like having a day specifically to focus on the things I am thankful for in my life. I try to bring a general sense of gratitude to every day, and with my new appreciation of appreciation as a tool for social change, I also try to verbalize the appreciation of the things or the people I am thankful for to their source as often as I can. But Thanksgiving (and the days around it, which inherit many of its holiday characteristics) is a day to really focus on feeling that thankfulness all day and in as many ways as possible.
For me, spending time with family and friends on Thanksgiving is a huge part of what I am thankful for in my life. I actually like my family, and generally enjoy everyone’s company. Unlike a lot of other people (who have many more negative emotions associated with their families and family gatherings), I look forward to family rituals and events. I’m excited and thankful that I get to go over to my parents’ house and help cook (and eat!) the traditional Thanksgiving foods. I am thankful that we always make such delicious food, and that we so much enjoy spending time together making and eating it. I love the ritual of it, and that it’s something I get to enjoy over and over, not just once.
Watching my sister-in-law wrangle her two kids on Thanksgiving Day also reminded me that I’m incredibly grateful for how far I’ve come in my own parenting journey, and how much autonomy over my own time and body I’ve finally gotten back. It was not that long ago that I was chasing toddlers, dealing with baby schedules and kid food and having to focus on keeping kids entertained, all the while yearning to have a non-fractured conversation with the people I loved. Now that I can finally relax and not have to pay attention every moment to what my kids are doing or needing, I find myself much, much happier. So I am thankful, oh yes I am thankful.
Posted by: julia
on Nov 17, 2011
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reading, and its place in my life. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how it was being a voracious reader as a kid that made me want to be a writer, and about how these days I write a lot more than I used to, but in “olden days” I used to read a whole lot more than I do now. I miss reading. I miss that feeling of diving into a book and not coming out for hours and hours, finally surfacing blurry-eyed and satisfied out of story world into the “real” world, ready to dive into another story.
Reading used to be my main form of entertainment, my go-to activity whenever I could sneak it in. But then life got a lot more complicated and full of other distractions, and my reading time evaporated. (One of the things I truly hated about grad school was how it destroyed my ability to read for pleasure. And one of the few silver linings about breastfeeding both boys was that I could sometimes still read with one hand, so even if I wasn’t sleeping, at least I was reading.) I still read now, but if I’m lucky I average around 2 books a month (I’m not including all the other forms of reading that I do all the time—everything from Facebook to blogs to online articles to magazines to unpublished manuscripts that I’m critiquing.) Since I belong to a book group, and we read one book (almost always a non-genre fiction book) per month, and that accounts for about half my book reading every month. If the stars align I’ll also squeeze in at least one other book each month, sometimes a non-fiction book, sometimes a genre novel. And then every once in awhile I get on a reading tear (usually when I’m on vacation or hooked on a particularly easy-to-blow-through series) and read 2 or 3 non-book group books per month. But that’s still not that many, and it feels like far fewer than I used to read.
So I was doing some math, just for fun, on the way to book group the other night. And the math blew my mind by giving me some actual data to play with. Let me ‘splain. Going with nice round numbers, let’s say I read around 25 books a year. I’m 42 now, so again going for the nice round numbers, let’s say I’m blessed to live another 50 years to the ripe old age of 92 and still able to read books that whole time. (It could happen—my Grandma is 90 and still reading up a storm.) That means, at my current rate of reading, I will be able to read approximately 1,250 more books before I die. (Yes, I know that the older I get, the more “free” time I will probably recoup and be able to use for reading, so it’s very possible that my reading rate will go up as I age. But for the sake of simplicity I am going to ignore that possibility for now. I’m also willfully ignoring the possibility that I will die sooner—or later, God willing—than 92.)
Posted by: julia
on Nov 07, 2011
(Sure, I know it’s a week overdue, but better late than never, right? Right.)
The 2011 World Fantasy Convention (or WFC for short) was held in San Diego this year, right before Halloween. This was my third year going to WFC, and I have to say this con is probably my favorite now (though Worldcon has also proved to be pretty awesome most years too, and I’m not knocking Worldcon). WFC is smaller than Worldcon, and feels more like a “trade” con than a “fan” con (though of course we’re pretty much all fans of science fiction and fantasy as well, it’s how we got where we are as writers or editors or agents, so the distinction is a bit blurry). As far as official activities go, there are panels and readings during the day, all kinds of events and parties after hours, an art show and autograph session and an awards ceremony, plus lots of just hanging around in the hotel bar or the con suite or the hallways or the dealer’s room (which is 98% book sellers) and talking to people who float by. The purpose of all of the activities and the con as a whole is to inspire, instruct, provide food for thought and most of all encourage connections and conversations amongst like-minded folks around topics of mutual interest. It’s really amazing to me every time how great it feels to be around this particular set of like-minded folks, this wonderful tribe of geeky, word-centric, “speculative fiction” book-lovers and book-makers.
By now I’ve been to enough cons enough times that I’m finally starting to get to recognize and feel comfortable around a broad set of my fellow tribefolk. I feel like some people also recognize me, and that I actually belong to this tribe more solidly than I felt when I very first started going. And it feels especially great to have my own “posse” of writer-buddies that I regularly meet up with and pal around with at cons—that itself is definitely a pleasure in its own right, not only because they are all kind, brilliant, and endlessly interesting creative people, but also because with a posse, I completely bypass all those social anxieties about whether I’ll have someone to room with, or sit with, or eat with or drink with. (Yes, even an extroverted “people person” like me has social anxieties like that!) Now, after a few years of going to cons and being at least mildly involved in online social networks with other writers, I feel a lot less like a “wannabe” and more on the road towards “professional”, especially this year when I was finally (finally!) able to announce that I have a book of my own coming out. (Next year I’ll probably feel even more that way, especially if I have actual ARCs of my book to wave around.)