Squawk woke me at 5am this morning (needing moral support to make it through a fart — we both survived physically unscathed, despite her fears to the contrary), and as I always do I checked my phone. My phone is my brain these days. I can't tell if she's really hungry or just fussing unless I know what time it is now and what time it was that she last ate, and yes, I know I have a brain for just this circumstance but did you know brains don't function quite so awesomely after a few days (let alone months) of sleep deprivation?
Anyrate, that's all beside the point, because in checking my phone I found not only the time, but a rather attention-grabbing tweet:
"First They Came…" has been short-listed for an Aurealis Award!
I am so chuffed that even though I got Squawk safely back to sleep, and even though you must always, always, always sleep when the baby is sleeping, I haven't been able to close my eyes for the buzzing in my blood. I pretty much currently look like this (sans the rabbits):
I can't lie: this photo was taken well before hearing the news. I really do get this excited by finding Red Tulip Elegant Rabbits in white chocolate. Especially since my local supermarket only started stocking Easter chocolate a week ago (omg why you make me wait so long?) and they've treacherously elected not to stock the white one at all (omg why you hate me, coles?).
The last week has been somewhat of the hard-slog variety, for a variety of baby-related reasons. Or rather, for a variety of baby-modified reasons. Heat waves aren't fun at the best of times, especially when you don't have air conditioning (and our place doesn't even have access to the cooling southerly breezes) — but when you're cuddling a baby for an average of 50 minutes of every hour, it gets even less so. Similarly, RSI is whimper-making, but when it's caused and aggravated by constantly picking up and holding and settling and soothing and putting down a baby, and there's simply no option of ceasing that activity… Well, you get the picture.
I'm currently wearing a splinted brace on each wrist, a compression band on my right forearm to alleviate the tennis elbow, and I think I need to add a brace to my left knee as well. I'm more neoprene now than woman…
But, to balance things out, the world has been sending me happy-making news regarding my story, "First They Came…". There's some news I'm not yet at liberty to discuss, but among that I can talk about is this wondrous review by Tsana Dolichva:
A really beautiful story that subverts expectation in unexpected ways. It started as a tale of a Melbourne in which shyness had been classed a disease, but it ended as so much more.
…I know which future Twelve Planet collection I'm most looking forward to now.
The story has also been nominated for a Ditmar, and I have to admit the thought of anybody reckoning the story as worthy of attention makes me stupidly happy. (For those keeping count, it's also eligible for the Chronos Awards.)
Given its theme, it seems supremely fitting that the way this story is gathering attention is quietly, gently, quietly.
It’s something I’ve heard at almost every point of wanting and trying to build a writing career: you have to be active on the internet.
…But it comes at a cost. There’s the inevitable time pressure, yes, but then there’s also the noise.
At that time, I was trying very hard to balance my internet time. Not to restrict it, as such, but to make sure I was getting a good signal to noise ratio and — more importantly, for me — make sure I didn't feel guilty for not paying attention when I needed the time apart.
And then I promptly fell off the internet altogether.
I've been reading all my usual streams, and very occasionally tweeting when the mood took me, but mostly I haven't been blogging because, well, Life.
The biggest but simplest attention-occupier has been, of course, my TPP collection deadline. I swore to myself when I was writing Shadow Bound that never again would I sell something I hadn't already written. Now, even at the time, I knew this for an empty promise, but still. The very first thing I did was sell a four-story collection having only written one of them. Er, yeah. The first story of the three I owed, "The Briskwater Mare", came with great difficulty. Much, much difficulty. I wrote 40,000 words of false start before I finally found the story (which ended up being 11,000 words long), and it took me a good two months more than I'd budgeted (and I'd budgeted a lot of slack and generous leeway, because I know my process). Oops.
Luckily, it has, even in draft form, received the stamp of approval for going in to the collection, so now I only owe two more stories. I'm currently working on "The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood" and, er, guess what? Yeah, it's coming with difficulty. So much for hoping the rest of the stories would just pour on out of me, eh? Oh well. I shall valiantly take comfort in the idea that stories which come with great difficulty are because I'm opening a vein or otherwise pushing at the boundaries of my comfort zone. Or something.
I've also, at the editor's request, written a story for an upcoming issue of ASIM. It was perhaps foolish of me to say yes, given I was already stressing over my TPP deadlines, but, well, see above re empty promises and you can extrapolate that to "I'll sell anything I can, and we all know it, right?" Unlike "The Briskwater Mare", this story came without too much trouble, although worryingly it was a rather angry story, instead of the light or humorous or even just sardonic story I was thinking I'd write. Luckily for me, the editor loved it anyway, and all that remained was to edit it (an easy enough task) and come up with a title (a task so fiendish and horrid it had no less than four people staring blankly at walls and blinking at each other, at a complete loss, for months on end). We threw so many suggestions back and forth at each other, all of them plausible and all of them workable but none of them perfect, that I was genuinely beginning to wonder whether I could send a story to print as "Untitled", or some other such meta commentary. But in the end, through gratuitous/desperate wiki'ing of large-scale abstract concepts, a title was found, and it was perfect.
The story shall be called "First They Came…", and it's going to appear in ASIM issue #55, which is due out … well, now-ish, I think.
That's most of the writing/publication news out of the way. There were also other reasons for my silence, most recently due to the Melbourne International Film Festival, during which I decided to see ten films despite a) my deadlines b) my insufficient energy levels and c) Melbourne raining on me every time I left the house.
One I can most heartily recommend is Ernest & Celestine, a charming little story about a mouse who doesn't want to be a dentist and a bear who wants to be a musician. It's just the perfect amount of whimsy and heart-warming, and don't be fooled by the narrative simplicity: there's a very rich world thought out in this one, and although it's never over-explained or harped upon, there's social commentary on the topic of prejudice, ignorance, bigotry and the value we place on various professions.
And speaking of kids, my other, biggest news (which I've oh-so-cleverly buried at the bottom of a very long post where no one will see it) is that I'm going to have one of my own.
It's due around New Years, we decided not to find out the gender until it learnt of the concept of daylight, and the grandmothers-to-be are both beyond excited and into downright agitation.
I am lifting my head from the morass of editing this one story I never want to see again1 and drafting this other story I don't want to have to write2 to tell those who find such things interesting that there's a new interview of me up online.
This one is a little different, being an audio interview for the Galactic Chat podcast, so you actually get to hear my voice. I'm a little nervous about this aspect of it, because I absolutely loathe the sound of my own voice on playback. Does anyone else ever suffer from this dissonance? I swear I don't sound as plummy in real life as I always end up sounding on playback. Or at least, I don't think I do, but who knows?
Anyway! The interview is live, and we touch on the Binding books, and my collection for the Twelve Planets series, among other things, and I had a whole heap of fun conducting the interview, so head on over for a listen!
This is completely normal and an encouraging sign that the process is all working out as expected. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. [↩]
So how dull do deadlines make my blog, huh? The answer is, apparently, very.
The past month has seen me squirrelling every spare minute into writing a commissioned short (which I intended to be a touch on the melancholy side of light-hearted, but which actually turned out to be … angry). The pace I set myself to get it done was somewhat faster than normal, because I was worried about it eating into my writing-for-TPP time, so it's been a pretty gruelling month, and I've been frothing at the mouth with envy for those who don't have time-gobbling dayjobs. Yeah, I know, we've all been there, if we're not all still there.
Sometimes I can't help but think Plan B1 is a trap.
Things may2 continue to be dull around these parts for a while to come, since the deadlines are by no means satisfied and my own personal neuroses brought on by needing BUFFERS whenever I start to consider numbers as targets require feeding in the face of the deadlines. I'm more active (if barely) on Twitter, which lets me dip in and out as it suits me.