In Which February Is Instructed Not To Let The Door Hit It In The Butt On Its Way Out

28 February 2003

Some days being an optimist is a full-time job.

Yesterday, I got a 13-month rejection on Reprogramming. The letter was dated December 28, but it was postmarked February 25. It was fairly positive, and the comments made it clear that the editor had read my book and not just the synopsis. And I'm generally happy with the direction my career is going and even the speed at which it's going that way.

Still, getting a novel rejected is not a fun thing. Ever. In any way. And while 13 months meant that I was ready to let somebody else take a look at it (I had to focus very hard not to type "take a swing at me," and I just want you all to appreciate that effort), I also didn't really want to have to go over it again and figure out whether I want to focus on agent queries or on getting it to another publisher, on whether the agent who was interested before is actually interested now that she has the book, etc. I had needed to query her, because the time frame in which she had said I should expect to hear from her had passed, but I was putting that off, because, well, as I said, I didn't really want to add another book to my work list. So. We'll see. At the airport waiting for Mark, I came up with one fairly quick thing that I can do that will address a problem that almost every reader has had with timing plausibility. So there's at least one edit to do. But taking care of this book is kind of merging with the rest of the list, not taking over top priority.

Feh. Novel rejections. You notice how I jump straight from rejection to what I'm doing with it next? This is because what I'm doing with it next is sufficiently consuming of time/attention that I don't have to spend as much on "My novel got rejected, dagnabbit." Which is all for the best, I think, that I have something else to focus on, I mean. It's more thing, you know?

Tomorrow it will not be February, and I believe this to be a good thing. Lions? Lambs? This is the Bay Area. The weather here has all the energy of a tree. No vertebrates allowed.

On the up side, Mark got home in a safe and mostly timely fashion, and it's a good day for the Gritter family: Grandpa Gritter is out of the ICU and home from the hospital (yay!). And also it's Jeff's birthday (yay!).

And there's stuff to read: I kind of enjoyed this week's Scifiction (although I like the synaesthesia story I haven't written yet better, modest girl that I am), and then...well, hmm. If you'd told me I was going to really enjoy reading an old Esquire profile of Mr. Rogers, I'd have called you a rotten liar. But there it is, and it's pretty good.

Also, I figured out what it is about the Bay Area: the liberal straw man lives here. A lot of the political non-argument discussions I've been in lately have involved people saying, "Is that a problem? Does anyone really believe that?" And every time I have to say, yep. Believes it, protests on its behalf, writes letters to multiple local papers about it, refuses to acknowledge that anyone who doesn't believe it genuinely likes peace, love, or fuzzy little puppies. Every time someone comes up with an argument that makes his/her opponent look absurd, and you think, "Psshh, none of the liberals really believe that, that person is just setting up a straw man" -- nope. The liberal straw man lives here.

I suspect that the ultimate conservative straw man is Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka (I hope some of you are blessed enough not to know who that is). Can't prove it for sure, though. And he visits here often enough to protest -- maybe straw men are drawn together. I don't know.

Yesterday in the grocery store, there was a woman with a parrot on her shoulder, and I realized that I do believe in the social contract after all. Because this woman brought a parrot into the grocery store. Forget what I said when I was a snotty 16-year-old libertarian: there are some things that you do implicitly know, living in a given society, and one of them in this society is that unrestrained animals (especially those who can fly away and not be easily caught by [flightless!] humans) are not to be brought into places that sell food. Nononono. We do not.

I don't care how well-trained that parrot was. I had a dog who was the sweetest, brightest dog (and please note that dogs can't fly) that there has ever been to date (Did your dog invent a barter system?), and I recognized that other humans had no reason to know that she could behave herself if asked to trot unrestrained at our heels through the grocery store. So I didn't bring her. Not because there was a rule against it, although there probably was. Because I could not reasonably expect other people to know how things were with her. It was beyond the boundaries of normally acceptable behavior.

And as much as my snotty 16-year-old libertarian self wanted to sneer at the idea of implicit contracts, they're all over the place, and they're perfectly all right. Better than written contracts in many cases. Necessary for the smooth functioning of a civil society. Yarg. A parrot. In the grocery store. Noooooo.

Okay. So. For today: optimism. (She said, gritting her teeth.) Work on DBM -- I got major insight as to how to handle one of the characters, so that'll make it easier to finish and to edit what I've already done. Work on the fairly small (but now seemingly crucial) edit to Reprogramming and perhaps other edits as well. Finish Crazy Time -- I haven't been all that keen on reading it, although it's a Kate Wilhelm, simply because the main character is so persecuted and (reasonably) spends a lot of time disbelieving her situation. I have more disbelieving of the situation yet to plow through. It seems realistic, and that reminds me that realism is vastly overrated in some regards. Also there are some little things that need doing -- stamps that need buying, for example -- but I don't know what'll get done when, and I'm trying not to care too particularly much. I'm trying to keep perspective on whether the towels get washed today, this evening, or another day entirely.

Perspective is right up there with optimism sometimes. Luckily they seem to be complementary jobs for me.

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