The Next Big Thing

Because Sacha Siskonen is not my real friend, she tagged me in this self-interview project called The Next Big Thing (link will take you to her Big Thing post).  I think she did this so she could make fun of me for not yet having a book when her (awesome) chapbook (that you should read) comes out this year.

TNBT is a remarkably neat idea, a sort of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for contemporary writers.  I lost several hours of my life clicking back through links to see who’d tagged who, and I added about a thousand titles to my “Want to Read” list.   At any rate, here are my responses to the boilerplate.  I decided to write about my (almost complete) short fiction collection rather than my dissertation, because it’s closer to the finish line.

What is the working title of the book?

The Noble Art of Falling.  It’s named after a still-unpublished bit of flash fiction, but the title coalesces the three themes that drive the book: economics, relationships, and the making of art.  I suppose it should be “the dismal art of falling,” given that econ is the dismal science (how much do I love that moniker?), but it’s not a depressing book and therefore couldn’t live up to such a sadface title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I blame Sacha. We exchange stories weekly, just to give each other deadlines to work toward.  When she critted the Noble Art of Falling flash, it had a terrible working title (“The Hollow Girl and the Boy Who’s Always Falling”); she told me said title had to go.  Anyway, we were out to lunch (chilaquiles, naturally…yes, I am obsessed) when I told her I’d retitled it to “The Noble Art of Falling.”  She said, “That just gave me chills.”  Sacha hates most things, so when she actually likes something, I pay attention.   The title locked all my stories’ themes into place.  That was the moment when the work changed, when I stopped thinking of my stories as a series of Word files and started imagining them in book form.

What genre does your book fall under?

Fabulism?  Magical realism?  What are we calling it today?  Eh, let’s just go with fantasy.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’d want Chicago people.  Tracy Letts and Amy Morton, plus Improv Olympic’s TJ & Dave (who would be encouraged to stray from the script).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

There are three themed sections: 1) Free-market capitalism is a beast, 2) relationships are entropic, and 3) making art will take everything you have, then give it all back, only it will be so transformed as to be unrecognizable.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Some of the stories in the collection are redrafts of terribly old pieces that I thought had good bones.  The earliest draft of the earliest story dates back to 2004, but I only began seriously working on my short fiction after Clarion, which was summer 2011.  So, about two years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Every story has a different antecedent.  I tend to write through other people’s stories.  The novelette at the end was written through Micah Dean Hicks’ “Butcher’s Chimes.”  Another piece was written through Helena Bell’s “Robot.”  A few stories were written through Kij Johnson (At the Mouth of the River of Bees), another few through Cat Valente (Ventriloquism).  It’s definitely the sum of my recent influences.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?

One story involves a girl who is also a wall.

One story guns for Lovecraft.

Many stories have pets, especially ugly pets or evil pets.  In one, the story is itself a pet.

Across the collection, more people have wings than don’t.

One of the above is a lie.  (Which is what happens when you let a nonfictionist write fiction.)

Will your book be self-published or presented by an agency?

Oh question, how funny are you.  When Sacha originally offered to tag me, I said “sure, that’ll make for an amusing blogpost.”  Then I scrolled through other people’s TNBT posts, had a panic attack at the brilliance on display, and sent her a midnight email along the lines of “I am a fraud please don’t tag me I don’t have a real book because it has not yet been validated by publication.”  She mocked me very sweetly, as she is wont to do, and so I’m writing this post against my better judgment.   I haven’t even started subbing the thing yet, although I have a loose deadline of March 1, when I plan to begin that process.  I have three stories left to revise.  Wish me luck!

My tagged writers:

This meme has been making the rounds in indie lit circles but I haven’t seen it crop up on too many genre writer blogs (I use both those terms, “indie lit” and “genre fic” in the loosest possible sense; I know such categorizations are absurd).

So, Brooke Bolander.  You went to Taos Toolbox Kij Johnson’s novel workshop and outlined a novel, no?  Also, your stories have been doing brilliantly this year.  I’d love to know what you’ve been up to lately.

Rahul Kanakia, you post briefly when you complete a book-length project, but I’d love to see an extended take on one of your many projects.  (Apologies if you’ve already been tagged and/or have no interest in this project.)

Helena Bell, I secretly hope you are working on something longform, because I will be first in line to buy it.

Micah Dean Hicks, I will also be first in line to pick up your collection, Electricity and Other Dreams, out from New American Press this year, and I know you have an agent shopping your novel.  If one of those works isn’t the Next Big Thing I’ll eat my hat (and it’s a very fluffy hat).  Apologies if you’ve already been tagged.

I’m going to steal a page from my poet-friend Annah and add that if any of my other writer-friends decide you also want to try this out, just let me know and I’ll be happy to tag you!

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Vegan cooking with food processor.

For the holidays, my grandma and I swapped expensive objects we couldn’t use.  I’d purchased a pair of decent running shoes, but the arches proved to be too high and they killed my feet. Around this same time, Grandma bought a food processor.  She makes her own bread, plus dog biscuits for the dog, and dozens of other things besides – cooking-wise, she is the real deal.  After a few uses, she realized the processor she’d purchased was too small to make her usual batch size.  Neither food processors nor running shoes are easily returnable after obvious use.  So I lugged the shoes back to AZ and gave them to her, and she gifted me the food processor, which I lugged back to Chicago.  Had to check my bag because, blades.

Why did I want a food processor taking up counterspace in my teensy kitchen?  Well, as noted in the resolution post, I’ve been talking for ages about attempting veganism.  I grew up vegetarian and I’ve always been lousy at cooking meat—hate doing it, actually.  Grosses me right out.  James and I mostly eat vegetarian anyway, but once a week we’d make a giant batch of something meaty and hearty for him to take to work.  It got to the point where I categorically refused to cook the raw meat parts.  I’d compile an enchilada casserole, but only once he’d cooked the ground beef.  Even then, I’d eat on the meat meal once, nibblingly, then give the leftovers over to him.  This is an absurd state of affairs.   Hence, time for a two-week vegansperiment. Why two weeks?  Eh, it was arbitrary.  I figured I could eek out two weeks worth of meals before the fresh veg got wilty and bemolded.

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Verdict thus far?  Mixed bag.

The food processor is a wonder.  Fastest apple crisps and veggie soups ever, and it did okay on the green smoothies, too.  Thanks, Grandma!

But.  Eating out is nigh impossible, and it’s the major form of socializing for my cohort.  I absolutely could not avoid dairy, and after I tripped up there (early on in the game), it was a slippery slope to fish.  I wound up giving myself a free pass for meals out, but I did generally make healthier (and at least ovo-pescatarian) choices thanks to being a bit more conscious about what I was stuffing in my face.

The first week went famously.  I was in love and never wanted to eat anything but vegan stuffs forever and ever.  Then a week in, I went to this insane exercise class at the university gym, a crazy ab-intensive strength training thing, and… Well, let’s just say I broke myself.  I’d been running and spinning, but I hadn’t done serious muscle-building in ages.  Messed myself up but good.  Kept waking up at 4am starving.  Dreamt of protein in animal-shaped packages.  Actually, I mostly dreamt of chilaquiles.

Which is ultimately what I ate.  Two days after Hell Workout I gave up and ordered a massive and completely not vegan plate of chilaquiles at the nearby Latin American restaurant and immediately felt less like death.  So, experiment fail, I suppose, but lesson learned, too.  When it comes to lifestyle changes, one at a time please.  I’m hoping to get my weekly workout routine consistent while eating lowfat, and I’ll try the vegansperiment again when my body remembers it has muscles and rather likes the using of them.

Vegan cooking with food processor, the meal plan.

All the above backstory aside, though, I did learn some excellent new recipes, so I figured I’d post the meal plan for the vegansperiment.  I’ve numbered the meals, and I made them in quantity, so a single meal fed James and I for 2-3 days (sometimes more).  In supportive-but-independent James fashion, he made himself massive tray of not-vegan enchiladas and took those to work, which is probably why he didn’t accidentally starve himself to death.  Sigh.

Meal 1: Fake-y bahn mi.  Portobellas, whole-wheat baguette, cilantro, pickled carrots w/ ginger and garlic, Sriricha.  Results: Seared the portobellas in teriyaki sauce, pickled some shredded carrots in rice vinegar, then made sandwiches.  I am in love with these and definitely prefer them to any meat ones I’ve tried.

Meal 2:   Fake-y New Frontiers salad.  While I was home in AZ, Mom brought home several delicious salads from our local health food store.  One of them I liked so much I attempted to recreate it.  Dressing: maple syrup, mayo (I used an olive oil mayo; couldn’t find veganaise), cider vinegar, pepper, sage, lemon juice  Veg: Garlic-roasted cauliflower, and sweet potato, steamed broccoli, green onion, red pepper  Other: raw pecan, dried cranberry, black bean, brown rice Results: delicious, but I made WAY too much.  Like, two weeks’ worth.  I was sick of it halfway through the leftovers.

Meal 3:  Potato leek soup.  Baked the potatoes first, seared the leeks in olive oil, dumped them into box veggie broth, then immersion blendered the whole thing until creamy, no dairy required. Results: Delicious and hearty, especially with Chicago’s recent cold snap.

Meal 4:  Roasted red pepper soup.  Same as above, but with red peppers.  Results: Same as above.

Meal 5:  Spicy peanut sauce over rice noodles with baked tofu and green onion.  Results: peanuts noodles were amazing; I wound up eating them with handfuls of fresh spinach.  The tofu…not so much.  I have yet to find a tofu recipe I like.  I adore tofu in curries and such; I order it often when I eat out.  But man, it is rough to make store-bought tofu taste anything other than blandy McBlanderson.

Meal 6:   Mushroom risotto. Used veggie broth and no parm.  Results: I have to say, since risotto mostly tastes like the stock one uses to cook it, this recipe was much the worse for wear.  I need to invest in some better grade broth next time, or make my own.

Meal 7:  Pineapple-cilantro-avocado guacamole w/ white corn tortillas.    Results: Used too many jalapeños and cauterized my mouth.  Oops.  But tasty.

Meal 8:  Pan-fried potatoes with rosemary croutons in olive oil.  Results: Exactly as good as that sounds.

Snacked constantly, too, mostly on nuts.  Granola or shredded wheat for breakfast, and then midday snack was a green smoothie.  I went with the cucumber/ginger/rice dream/apple/kale combo.  That habit, I’m keeping.

Reading Diary 2012, June-December.

People keep posting their reading lists, and since I’m always curious what other people are up to reading-wise, I figured I’d do the same.

Last year, I tracked my novel/story collection reading along with a bunch of ephemera, including: 1) the online magazines and blogs I check/read regularly, 2) all the review copies I picked up at AWP (which I read over about a month), 3) department-related readings (papers by colleagues, job candidates and guest speakers), 4) books I skimmed when I rebuilt my SF-themed composition course over the summer, and 5) crits for friends (I’m reading several novel-length works for friends at the moment, and I have a shortlist of people whom I’ll happily read short-stories for anytime).  I scrubbed all that out of the list below, for brevity’s sake.  Also, from Jan.-April I was reading for doctoral exams, and in May I hadn’t yet started logging my reads.  So this list is Dec.-June only.  I should have read more, but is there ever enough time?  Was shooting for 30 books a month/a book a day, since that was basically the reading load of exams and (like a crazy person) I thought I could and should retain that quantity; even counting all the extraneous reading, I ultimately didn’t even come close.  I’m reconciling myself to reading slower (and hopefully better) now, though, which is an odd take-away from the exam binge, but oh well.  Better luck in 2013, I suppose.

December

Something Happened, Joseph Heller

Bizarro story collection

Haunted Houses, Lynn Tillman

Through the Drowsy Dark, Rachel Swirsky

Honored Guest, Joy Williams

Tongue Party, Sarah Rose Etter

The Pornographers, Christopher Grimes

White Cat, Holly Black

Companion to an Untold Story, Marcia Aldritch

Art of Fiction, David Lodge

Hologram for the King, David Eggers

November

Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser

Book of Horrors (anthology)

Jaggonath, Karin Tidbeck

Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, Catherynne Valente (reread)

Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland, Catherynne Valente

Nova, Samuel Delany

Shape of the Signifier, Walter Benn Michaels (reread)

Postmodernist Fiction, Brian McHale (reread)

October

Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang

Book of Ghosts, Baring-Gould

Loteria, Pelayo

Clockwork Phoenix 1 (anthology)

Pale King, DFW

Anna Akhmatova complete works

Tony Hoagland essays

Cloud Atlas

Orange Eats Creeps, Grace Krilanovich

Foundation, Asimov

Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams

September

Not Dead Yet, short story collection

NW, Zadie Smith

Kij Johnson, At the Mouth of the River of Bees

Ann Radcliffe, On the Supernatural in Poetry

HP Lovecraft, On the Supernatural

Amber Sparks, May We Shed These Human Bodies

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tanglewood Tales

August

Barthelme, Snow Queen

Valente, Labyrinth

Mercier and Camier, Beckett

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, William Gass

The Man in the High Castle, PKD

Among Others, Jo Walton

Caitlin Kiernan, Two Worlds In Between

Above, Leah Bobet

Brave New World

July

Colson Whitehead, Zone One

Clive Barker, The Great and Secret Show

Millhauser, Enchanted Night

Charles Baxter, Burning Down the House

Mrs. Bridge

Writers of the Future 2011 anthology

Men, Women, and Chainsaws

We

The Thorn and the Blossom, Goss

Chandler, The Long Goodbye

So You Know It’s Me, Oliu

Map of the System of Human Knowledge, Tadd Adcox

June

Damon Knight’s craft book

Elizabeth Bear, Range of Ghosts

2666

Deerskin

Twice 22 Bradbury collection

Wave in the Mind, LeGuin

Air, Geoff Ryman

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Best Of anthology

Elif Batuman, The Possessed

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism

Mechanique: Tales of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine

Cambridge Companions to Allegory, Fantasy, and SF

Theory of Prose, Viktor Shklovsky

That was fun.

Tim’s reply to my reply is here, and I am entertained.

Now, a reply to a reply to a reply!

I fell like most of the neurosis on display in the previous post is 9/10ths the luxury of dissertation leave.   Time away from teaching has allowed me to ramp up my processes, let them proliferate so’s I can see what sticks.  Usually, when I’m juggling a timesink work life (teaching, editing, etc.) alongside my a writing life, a more organic process like what Tim describes has been crucial to keeping my sanity.  Actually, his process was pretty much exactly how I muddled through Clarion: lots of half-started drafts until something lodged in my brain enough to get my attention.

Certainly lovely having a blog-conversation, though.  I get bored sometimes, babbling into the void.  Of course, I also find myself needing to drop off the face of the planet and deal with real life sometimes, which makes it rough holding up my end of the conversation.

Speaking of disappearing off the planet’s edge: Cat Valente has returned to the blogosphere.  Day = made.

Brain decryption.

So the most excellent Tim Who Is a Fox emailed me concerning resolution 5 and noted the following:

“I like keeping lists and notes, but my problem is I almost never go back to look at them. I keep story beginnings as files in my story folder, but I often lose track of those too. I know I am only really working on a half-dozen things at once (“working on” loosely) but my projects folder probably has hundreds of things in it, between finished things and other files and whatnot. Maybe I should resolve to go clean that up once a month so I don’t lose track of the things I really want to keep track of.”

The man has a point, and I am new to this tracking game.  I have friends who rely extensively on Dropbox.  I have friends who are Excel junkies.  Luddite me, I have 9 billion Word files (I’m not proud), some of which I’m slowly, bitterly converting to Excel.  My submission tracker is one of these; my wordcount tracker is another.  Excel is infinitely superior for managing anything involving numbers.  If I can track my finances with Excel, surely I can also track my subs.

But those are the obvious ones.  What about weirder things writers might want to track?  I mean, I’m desperately curious what people track, and how, and why.  In the hopes that other people on the Internet will take up this question and maybe offer suggestions, here’s what I’m doing now, for better or worse.

  •  Wordcount tracker (stolen from Kanakia)
  • Submission tracker
  • Author bios (I try to keep a stable of a dozen of these so that when I do pick up a pub I have one at the ready.  I had several boring bios go out before I realized I was wasting an opportunity for playfulness.  This habit’s stolen from James.)
  • New words.  Every time I hear or read a word I don’t know, neologism or otherwise, I log it.  Tracking from May until Dec of 2012 netted me 11 single-spaced pages of words.  I’ve been entering in their definitions, slowly; I’m up to N.  The plan is to print them out and spend a week or so memorizing the fun ones.  I started up a new New Word list for 2013, and duplicates don’t bother me.  Every time I hear a word and look up its definition, it lodges a bit more fiercely in my brain.  The act of logging these seems helpful, and my active vocabulary does seem to be slowly improving from story to story.
  • Interesting concepts.  Sometimes I run across something that is just plain fascinating, but it’s neither a word nor a quote.  I’ll look up some additional info and then sloppily copy paste the whole mess in to my Interesting Concepts file.  This is the file I think I’m least likely to use comprehensively, but I did return to it hunting for story ideas a few times.  It’s more like a grab-bag, I suppose, and I just try to keep it well stocked.  Again, I reset it; there’s a new file for 2013.  I’m hopeful that the arbitrary year-end switchover will prevent this system from descending into chaos over time.
  • Quotes.  This may be my favorite useful useless file.  This is where I keep potential epigraphs and quotes I may want to use in future works of criticism.  The 2012 file is all about suicide and grief.  If I wanted to add epigraphs to my dissertation, I’d have multiple options to choose from.
  • Book log/Want to read file/Music, movies, and artists.  I have three files just tracking books I’ve read, books I’d like to read (usually ones I’ve read reviews of on Strange Horizons or HTMLgiant or one of the other lit sites I read regularly), and then a dump file for other other art forms, since I’m absolutely worthless at keeping up with anything but the scene lit at moment (granted, for me that’s trying to keep up with nonfiction, genre fiction, and the novel/short-story markets…and I occasionally pick up books of poetry, too).
  • I have four separate idea files: fiction, nonfiction, criticism, and poetry.  Self-explanatory.  Organized by year.
  • I have three title files: unused titles, filler titles, and title brainstorms.  Unused titles are weird turns of phrase I save for a rainy day.  Filler titles are basically Madlibs riffing off of existing titles:  The [Job Title]’s Daughter being a classic example, although I try to only save genuinely interesting frames.  Title brainstorm is when I have an existing story but hate its title; it’s the place where I experiment, sometimes for pages, looking for the right collection of syllables.
  • I keep my fiction, nonfiction, and poetry separate, in folders marked by year.  Each category has subfolders for early drafts, however long; when I get serious about revising or completing a story, it gets its own folder, which then gets moved to a folder pompously titled “short story collection” (essay collection, poetry collection…you get the idea) like that will ever happen.  But hey, these are the tiny hopes and dreams that keep me motivated.

This post makes me sound all Beautiful Mind or something.  “And this bit of yarn connects my story’s subtitles to the Kennedy assassination, and this Word file contains the decryption key for the final sentence of Kryptos.”  It isn’t like that.  I may chuck all these processes tomorrow; I’m committed to none of them.  I just had a small mental breakdown post-exams, and all I could do was start tracking my process like it might save me.  And it sort of has.  I know more now about what it takes for me to write a story.  What does it take?  A billion Word files and a whole lot of Internet browsing, panning for sparkly ideas.

kryptos

When you read (paper, e-pub, or mindless Internet consumption), do you even try to fight for recall and critique, or do you immerse yourself and allow yourself to just be entertained?  Oh man, and even that makes it sound like a switch can be turned on and off when of course we’re always doing both.  But I think mostly I simply got tired of not remembering the vast majority of the information I was consuming — especially after the Harrowing, aka PhD exams, when I read too many books way too quickly.  Now, I want to read well, which means read critically and with a high rate of recall.  The only way to do that, for me, seems to involve producing a critique, or at least logging a summary of the best bits so perhaps I can find them again if I need them later.

So…what do you do when it comes time for you to write (creative, critical, or otherwise)?  What’s the relation between your reading and your writing?

Those pesky resolutions.

I’d resolved not to do a resolution post.  Then I re-resolved that if I did one, it’d feature this image:

MjAxMi03ZThhOWU1OWY3OGJlYzAw

My resolutions have been the same for years and they are basically the same as everyone else’s New Year’s resolutions, so I’m not sure I see the point of this exercise anymore.  I suppose it’s nice as an auto-reset button, like how the switch between semesters functions as a chance to rethink choices and routines.  Too, it feels like an expected personal-blog cliche.  Then again, who doesn’t enjoy the schadenfreude of watching someone berate themselves for poor life choices?  (Halfway through the list I will inevitably devolve into second-person so as to better berate myself.)  Goals for the new year:

  1. Daily writing routine.  I did pretty well this year, but I wish I’d learned Excel sooner and started logging words that way.  I really think quantification is key (and bless Rahul Kanakia and Annie Bellet, the examples who first started me down this path.  Their stats blogposts still blow my mind).  I wrote much more frequently when I was tracking daily wordcount, and the writing dropped off when I didn’t.  It’s strange how merely tracking something can make you want to do it more often.
  2. Exercise.  This has gone fabulously since I got serious in May, but I want to purchase some real spin shoes, since they’re supposed to make a big difference.  Also I’ve added running back in, and I want to keep it. My kid brother gave me a bunch of dubstep, and it’s absurd how much longer I can run against repetitive untzing. Untz untz untz.
  3. Diet.  Eat less over-processed speed dreck.  Perhaps try that two-week vegan challenge? Living with James has cut my drinking down to less than half (a combination of him not being much of a drinker and me being generally happier). I usually bullet-point a “drink less” resolution, but this year drinking less would equal not drinking, and I like the occasional alcohol, so forget that.
  4. Spend less.  Again, quantifying made all the difference this year:  Tracking expenditures on a spreadsheet made me not want to spend money because anything I bought I’d have to enter.  I worry a bit about the diet changeover—switching to less processed food will likely increase our expenses.  Probably a worthwhile trade-off in the long run, though.
  5. Log everything.  Files I keep: New Words and their definitions; a Book Log of everything I read; Bizarre Concepts I stumble across on the ‘net, etc.  Lists are things of beauty.  I’m sure I’m reading more because I log every book I read.  I’d like to blog those books as a retention aid but I’m not sure in what format.  Kanakia’s Blotter Paper and Siskonen’s Unfinished Book Reviews are terrific formats; I want something low-stress like that, something I’d keep up for the joy of it.
  6. No more lazy revision or procrastinatory blogging.  Revising (or blogging) over my morning coffee would be a useful habit to cultivate.  Then work out, then write new stuff.  After that I can return to revising if need be, but: new words every day really needs to take precedence.  I tend to fall into revision holes for weeks at a time, which is pure procrastination.
  7. Submissions.  Fifty rejections in 2012, which means I’m submitting much more than I used to.  Keep subbing, even (especially) when the rejections try to break you.
  8. Draft your dissertation, dahling.
  9. Detachment.  If I could make one resolution to bind them all, it’d be this:  To do whatever I’m going to do without agonizing, without anxiety, detached from outcome.  To care only about the work (or the exercise or the diet or the relationship) for its own sake, because it is valuable for me in this present moment.  (Not because other people have expectations.  Certainly not because 16-year-old me had tyrannical ambition.)  To read well because I want to read well, not to complete an assignment or prove myself a serious scholar.  To write the best work I can, not because I want it to sell, but because I want to make something beautiful.  For me at least, high word count is not an intrinsic good, nor is maximizing submissions if it means subbing work I don’t believe in.  I will commit to writing as daily practice, and let go the rest (and yes, that includes future rounds of WotF, and even the !@#$ing Campbell).  If I do nothing else this year, I will do this.
  10.  Indeed, I aspire to be the person this cartoon is shaming. I probably shouldn’t do resolution posts.

Campbell.

I’m in my second year of eligibility for the Campbell.  I didn’t put my name forward last year because I had only the one publication and felt foolish with such a short bibliography.  I rather regret that decision now, because I have (very suddenly, it seems) acquired more publications, and perhaps if I’d been more self-promotional sooner…

Eh, who am I kidding.  I’m lousy at networking-type stuffs.  Witness me and Writers of the Future:  I was listed as a finalist, met a bunch of terribly kind people on the messageboards over there, friended a bunch of new SF/fantasy authors on the Facebook—and then I (of course) went all Internet-shy and proceeded to respond to zero of the many friendly overtures made. What is wrong with me?!  Granted, this was about the busiest holiday season I’ve ever had, and I’m only now getting my feet back underneath me.  This time last year featured some fifteen-odd posts over Winter Break.  This break?  A measly one.  I blame time-crunch as much as social anxiety.  But oh, that social anxiety, it is a menace.  So: If you were sweet and lovely and reached out to me, I thank you, I really do, and I really do want to get to know you (waves at Alex Kane).  Perhaps at Worldcon?  I am much more extroverted in person, I swear.  I will hug you even if we’ve only just met.

Okay.  The Campbell.  My info is listed here.  And looking at that page, I have to say: it’s enough.  It’s enough just to be listed for such a magical thing, just like it’s enough to be a WotF finalist.  I never dreamed any of this would even be possible, back when I was racking up rejections, back when I applied to Clarion for the fourth (!) time.  And look at the company I get to keep: I see a Bolander up on the list, She Who Is a Serious Contender and only in her first year besides.  And there’s Damien Walter Grintalis, who I’m secretly rooting for because I’ve admired her stories all year, plus she just broke in to Lightspeed.  She clearly puts in the work, and okay, she writes stories I’d like to have written, so of course I love her and think she should win.  So very many people whose work I’ve adored are up on that list…

Some absent names surprise me, though.  Where’s Helena Bell?  Hell, where’s the rest of my Clarion class?  Peta, Andy, Chris, I’m looking at you especially (and I know I’m missing a bunch of you…Dennis?  Tim, are you eligible?).  Surely you are not all outside the window.  Send the email; get your names up there (so you don’t live to regret it next year, like yours truly).

Okay, end well-meaning lecture.

Tonight I go sleep with visions of sugarplums (or Hugo statuettes, if you prefer) dancing in my head, because I’m listed on the Internet for the Campbell.

Also: I am back in Chicago.  Let the wild rumpus commence!