In Which There Is More Good News From the North

1 June 2003

Mark and I went running errands yesterday and came back with exactly one metric ton of food. As usual, I have been a complete sucker for the produce. The combination of stores (normal grocery and Trader Joe's) didn't help there. The "to cook/bake" list is rather long. So, of course, we're going out for supper tonight with Wendy and Daniel. Naturally. The logical thing to do when you have a ton of food in the house.

Got home to find an acceptance e-mail from Challenging Destiny, a Canadian print mag, for my short story, "Dark Thread." Woo! Cool. "Dark Thread" is a grown-up short story set in the same universe as my first two YA novels, Fortress of Thorns and The Grey Road. It was also a story I finished during my very first week o' stories, and yes, it was the one Timprov was right about. (Like that narrows things down.)

I was amused, sending this out, because I was printing it out when Timprov came wandering down the hall, and I looked up at him and said, "Maybe the Canadians will like me." I meant this to be a matter-of-fact statement. Evidently it came out more plaintive than I'd thought, because he said, "I like you!" in a really worried voice, and gave me a hug. (But the Canadians did like me. So I got that and a hug.)

I've just recently started doing paper subs to foreign countries. In fact, this is the first one I've gotten back. I suppose I could take that as a good sign. I didn't want to mess with IRCs before, but there are enough good markets (especially in Britain) that I don't want to entirely ignore them. E-subs are a goodness, though. E-subs are our friends.

Anyway, another sale, woohoo!

I finished reading Sarah Zettel's The Usurper's Crown yesterday, and I have to say, I don't understand why she told this story in this order, first book, then prequel, then sequel (but that's later). I can understand why someone might tell a story in that order, but this story, no. It seemed like neither story was as strong together as they would have been separately. And it's fairly clear that this was the intended order, considering when they were published and the notes in the non-book part of the first book. (You know what I mean, where it indicates other books in the series? I believe this book was indicated as coming soon.)

I think if you're going to label something as a prequel, it requires more in relation to the other book than a sequel does. You can have a sequel that does not stand alone at all. I don't think that's the case for a prequel, or rather, I don't think it's a good idea: some later readers will want to read them in chronological order rather than in publication order, and that's not entirely unreasonable. I think that if you publish something as a first book-prequel series, you should be able to read them in either order, but that you should also choose publication order to be beneficial if at all possible, if you're publishing them successive years or close to it.

Maybe I'm just picky.

Anyway, I've gotten a good chunk of the way through Peter Dickinson's The Gift, and I'm enjoying it well enough. The premise isn't particularly new, but it has sucked me in quite neatly so far. Why didn't I read Peter Dickinson when I was a kid? I don't know. Just one of those things. It's entirely possible -- probable -- that my grade school library didn't have any at the time, because I read essentially what was there.

Mark got a new network card for his birthday, so he's been making that work, and then making other stuff work, and we've been a bit up and down this weekend. He seems to be happy with his new toy, though, and that's important.

I did some editing yesterday as well as the inevitable new work on the Not The Moose. I think it must say something about me that I'm much more comfortable writing zealots, fanatics, and obsessives as main characters than I am writing slackers. It's not even that they're more interesting. It's that the slackers always break my heart, unless the plot allows me to de-slackify them. And sometimes it does, partially, and sometimes not so much.

I should do another week of stories. That would be cool. But I've got a few other things to do before that, to say the least. I'll just finish the Not The Moose, edit the Reprogramming and maybe one or two other books, see what a couple of interesting people have to say about a couple of interesting things. And that's only on the writing front.

I'm really happy in novel mode, when I let myself be. I don't have seven stories I want to sit down and write today (or soon). I want to sit down and work on the Not The Moose today, and that's what I'll do. But it's another one of those grass-is-greener things -- I can see the appeal of the short stories, at the very least.

Also, I have to get used to the idea that the total number of stories I have in circulation is not going to be monotonically increasing. Whenever I sell a story, I feel like I should replace it on the market with another story. And while this isn't a bad urge, it's not strictly necessary, either. Nothing in the world says it has to work that way. I'm still working. I'm doing other important work things.

Also, I'm considering sending out a few of my older published stories to markets that take reprints. If anybody has a good idea why I shouldn't do this, please share. Otherwise, it seems like a decent idea, getting paid for a story twice. Getting another set of readers for it. That seems like something I could handle.

This business is so slow. And when the writing itself is not going well, it is a lot of work for me to maintain positive attitudes in the rest of my life as well. I become internally scowly and funny-lookin', and my voice sounds funny, and I drive myself nuts, which leads to the belief that I drive people nuts. (Obviously. I'm a people. QED.) When the writing is going well, it's much easier to see why people would not be driven nuts by me -- because I'm not driven nuts by me, and once again, I'm a people. (Although when it's going too well, that also can be problematic, if I'm not around people who support and enjoy each other's enthusiasms.)

This doesn't seem quite fair. It seems like I should be able to sit myself down on bad writing days and say, "Yes, but look how tasty your rosemary buns are! And your hair is all soft and pretty today, and you haven't got hardly any ink on your hands." (Chronic fountain pen user. It's inevitable.) "And here is a short list of people who have indicated that they like having you around. Now, sing one of those old folkie songs again. There, isn't that nice?"

It doesn't seem to work that way. Maybe in an Anne Lamott writing book, but not here.

Happily, there seem to be things I can do to make the writing go well, or at least go better, and it does so much of the time, so I can appreciate other things most of the time. And even bad writing days don't diminish the value of hugs. Good thing, too.

Today is not a bad writing day. Today I can handle this field's speed (or lack thereof), because I know that in a minute, I will get a hug, and then another one, and when I'm done with that and clean and dressed, I can write some more about Edward making his silly little sample circuit work and Robert being kind of psycho and Inkeri being psycho back, but much more subtly, and it'll be good good good. And people will bother to ask hard questions, and there will be much happiness. And I will also fix phrasings and clarify relationships in a book that's already done, and that will be good, too, if not good good good. I had hoped that getting better at editing would mean that I enjoyed it more. Ah well; one can't have everything, or so I'm told.

Sometimes when I list off this kind of gibberish, I'm giving myself a pep talk: see, self? It will be a good day. But sometimes it's for all-you: see, other people? It will be a good day.

Either way, I hope it works.

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