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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...


A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> solipsistic

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.)

(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.)

I recently found out that a big hairy audacious dream of mine just moved one huge important step farther towards reality: my novel Ice Will Reveal has been accepted for publication by Hadley Rille Books, with a tentative publishing date of early 2013. I am, how can I put this...oh hell, why not: verklempt. It’s actually kind of hard to describe exactly what it feels like, but I kind of want to, which is why it’s taken me a week to actually blog the good news. I know...metaphors to the rescue! Ok, then: my feelings about finally becoming a published author are a spicy, complex goulash: there’s a good solid base of lots of “squee! I’m gonna be a REAL author!” type excitement, of course, and a decent amount of pride; but also a good splash of anxiety (will anyone buy my book? will anyone like it? will anyone even read it?) and a generous dollop of trepidation around all the new things I’ll have to learn (marketing, self-promotion, blablabla). Spicing it up further are a sprinkle of validation and relief that the next phase of this long journey has finally been achieved, mixed with a pinch of amazement and a bit of self-chastisement at how long the process has taken so far and how much longer it will yet take before the book is printed and in a bookstore or library (or someone’s e-reader). And I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s also a zest there of nervousness about going the independent small press route instead of continuing to try to break down the doors (or glass ceilings, or whatever) of the big publishing houses.

But enough about goulash, let’s switch metaphors, shall we? (It’s my blog, I can do what I want to!) It’s been such a long and winding road to get to this critical juncture of “yay, someone wants to publish the novel I wrote”, and it feels important to take a look backwards and see how I got from “writer” to “author”. So let me lay out some of the journey, both as a hopefully useful reminder for myself and in the vague hope that perhaps it might be useful to other people for whom this kind of project doesn’t go quickly or easily either. (I know I suffered at first, and still do in my more gloomy moments, from the “I must not be very good at this if it’s so hard and it takes so long” syndrome. It’s a sucky syndrome. Try to avoid it.)

Ice Will Reveal (which used to be called something else entirely until it was pointed out to me that I’d unintentionally used a double entendre as my title—doh!) is my first novel-length work. In fact it’s so long, it’s practically two novels, but that’s a whole other blog post. It’s my newbie novel, my MFA equivalent: it’s the project with which I learned how to elevate my craft from “unconsciously incompetent with the occasional flash of competence” to “conscious incompetence with slightly more frequent flashes of competence”. I started writing it sometime around the end of 2003, triggered by a series of entertaining emails back and forth with a friend of mine where we each recounted the ever more epically heroic and over-embellished achievements of our individual characters from a D&D game we were playing (yes, yes, I’m THAT kind of geek...but in all fairness I can say that this novel bears only the very smallest resemblance to either D&D or to that long-ago game). At that stage in my life, I had a fairly absorbing day job as a Licensing Manager for a calendar company and was the mother of a young preschooler. I didn’t write very often or very much at a time, but I was determined to try to produce a longer piece of work. I had always been interested in and good at writing (in fact, I started out as a Creative Writing major in college before getting wildly distracted by academia for oh, roughly a decade), but I’d never written anything as big as a novel before (though I’d read a half a zillion of them already.) In what I used to sarcastically refer to as “my copious spare time”, I started reading books about writing and participating in online critique groups. Eventually I found myself some in-person writing buddies too, all of which helped a lot.

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