Get excited and make things.

My friend and fellow grad student Gina got addicted to sewing last year, and over the past few months she’s turned her tiny studio apartment into the home of high-end sewing porn.  She has multiple sewing machines, a serger, an entire case of feet (I want a zipper foot so badly)…  It’s amazeballs.  She invited me over for a sewing date yesterday, so me and my sewing machine showed up on her doorstep at 11:30 and didn’t leave til after 6pm.  I have not had so much fun in a long time, and now I want us to drop out of school and open an Etsy store because that would go well, right?  Sewing fantasies aside, this is what Gina taught me how to make:

Tan buttercup purse.

I am totally in love with it.  It is spacious, and has a little magnetic clasp inside, and the internal pocket matches the external fabric, and oh it was so fun to make!

Inside of purse, with pocket.

So now I am addicted, and I want a billion sewing pr0n objects–or, my very own versions of the random objects I saw lying about Gina’s house. She’s unbelievably clever at reading craft blogs and viewing Internet vids, then modding other people’s concepts to suit her purposes…she totally had a system whereby she never had to actually cut anything with scissors.  She used a little supersharp pizza-cutter thingamawhatsit to cut patterns–cut prep time in half, or more.  I guess it’s a quilter thing?  Anyway, I was impressed.

Next up, a large tote for carrying school stuffs.  It will be made out of these fabrics:

Light pink on the outside, dark for the lining.

I have a million school-related things I ought be doing, and stories as need revising, but it’s lovely every now and then to take a day and make a thing.  A whole, complete thing, a thing that has use-value, a thing I find aesthetically pleasing.  A thing no one will ever critique!  If this is what I end up doing with my vacation, I am totally okay with that.

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Big day, it is GINORMOUS.

Today was a big day. First off, I finished and submitted my first new story to Clarion. It is 1,600 words and I wrote it in under 24 hours, and it got very few first reads because I didn’t realize I’d be turning in until I had less than four hours to work if I wanted to make deadline. Signed up this morning for a 5pm turn-in, knowing I had a working draft. Workshop ended at 1. Inhaled food, buckled down ’til 4, called first readers in a panic (sorry, Dan P.! Thanks, Rhin!), then cleaned up typos, buffed, polished, and printed 18 copies. It was a whirlwind, and wow am I glad I have a week before I do that again. Next time will be smoother, with a bit more lead time. And then I went out and had a few beers with the other submitees, which was just lovely. These people who I can’t talk about? They are THE BEST. They know everything about everything: markets, structure, lyricism, noir…just super sweet all around. I feel a bit outclassed and outgunned, and it’s a great feeling.

But that wasn’t even the ginormous news. You guys, I sold my first story. To Daily SF. It’s an SF story, dubbed the sad robot story. And it is indeed the third story I’ve written around, about, or in context of Matt Wilson, to see publication this school year. That guy, he makes a damn good muse. He will lord it over me when I get back to Chicago, too, to be sure.

Added humor value: This was the story that got me a very sweet rejection from last year’s Clarion (the one with GRRM). Many thanks as well to Strange Horizons, who wrote extensive notes on their rejection of it–I took them all, and lo, Jed was totally right about everything, and it sold.

Anyway, I am on cloud 9, but also beyond the pale sleepy. I’m going to go read a few stories a kind Clarionaut let me borrow for the evening, and then to bed. Tomorrow: baby’s first critique. Here’s hoping it goes swimmingly!

I care about this alot.

Clarion is around the corner, and my motto is taken from Hyperbole and a Half, because it seems appropriate. I give myself permission to love everyone, to love every second of this time, to flail around in joy, to fail big.

Update on goooooals:
Weight loss: success. Down 7 lbs. since coming back to AZ. That Lose It program has really helped, and I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing or starving myself. It’s a nice feeling.
Exercise: success. Have used the gym membership 17 times since I got it.
Alcohol: fair to middling. Am still drinking, but three or so times a week, and only one drink in an evening. This is a HUGE cutback from the 3-5 drinks a night that were my norm last semester. I am less depressed, less ill, and I feel capable of focus in a way I haven’t in months.
Writing: Middling success. Two revisions I adore (one on a new story–about etiquette and terrifying three-headed angels), two chapters on the novel, and four new drafts to tinker with. And the start of a revision on the girl-Jesus story. And I sent out one of the revisions a few weeks ago and still have not heard…will update when the reply arrives.
Food: success. Have been eating MUCH healthier. That could all disappear if the Clarion cafeteria food is as terrifying as rumored, though. I’m hoping the Trader Joe’s (walking distance of campus) can get me by if the “free” food is too unhealthy.

I don’t think I could be any more prepared, all things considered. I have a daily writing habit, a daily exercise habit, a packed suitcase, and an open brain. What else am I missing?

No good, very bad month.

March is the month when people find out awards they didn’t get, colleges they didn’t get into, workshops and jobs that gave them a pass, internships given to someone else.  Everyone’s depressed and licking their wounds, Spring Break is in sight but too far away, no one’s gotten enough sleep in weeks.

Third try, and I didn’t get in to Clarion this year. I am disappointed and terribly frustrated, despite the knowledge that it’s a crapshoot, taste of the judges, etc. I got waitlisted in ’06, with a story I wrote in undergrad, but I’ve been flat-out rejected twice now (’07, ’10). Now, I KNOW my writing has improved over the past five years. I got into a PhD program, ferfuckssakes.  But the fact that speculative is inadmissible to graduate-level workshops doesn’t help–it’s hard to improve when all I can do is a self-crit.  I want to form a speculative fiction crit group something fierce.  A project for next fall, perhaps.

I woke up to an email from the summer subletter I thought was a sure thing saying that she had found another place, so once again I’m staring down the prospect of paying $1500 for an apartment I’m not living in.  And this morning I had perhaps the third most awful student interaction I’ve ever had, ever.  I’m going to be spending more time than I wish figuring out what to do about it, self-criticizing, replaying the incident in my head ad nauseum.  One more thing I don’t need.

The (few) bright spots: I survived the insane quantity of work I had to plow through this weekend. Nothing got done well, but everything got done, which I need to learn to live with.  And I got into a department reading with the shorter of my two Clarion pieces, so at least that story won’t be a wholly wasted exercise.  I finished a new essay for Urrea, too, something that I may be able to turn into a memoir chapter.  I like its form, even if the content is still all over the place.  I’m not proud of it, but…yeah.  Is done.

The mantra is basic: writing is hard.  One step forward, two steps back.