Record Breaker

4 June 2002

Yesterday I got five rejection letters. Five. I do believe -- and my oh-so-slightly-obsessive records indicate -- that this is a personal record for me. I'd gotten four once before, but I don't think five. I have no idea how people who don't send things back out right away cope with sending big batches out. It was just overwhelming to go through the market list, compare to where I've sent the story and where I currently have stories, customize the cover letter, hit print, and then have to do it again four more times. But all five are ready to go this morning.

And I get a juice. Mark says that whenever I break rejection records, I get the consolation treat of my choice, and what I want, I think, is a Jamba Juice. So. Don't know when I'll get that, but I do get it.

Mark is the rule maker when it comes to writing-related celebrations and consolations around here. He's not a Lingen except by marriage, so he's not as good at it as those of us who've been doing the five day rule for years. But he also doesn't have any ulterior motives. So he made the "five celebration basic novel rule," and now the rejection record rule.

But, hey, it could be worse, right? Of course it could. And if it is, I get more juice.

We interrupt this Morphism for a public service announcement. It's about balding. Guys: many of us do not care if you are balding. Do not care, do not care, do not care. I tell you three times and then some. Do not care. So. If you think that shaving your head is the solution to your woes, please watch a few episodes of Star Trek, and ask yourself this question: "If I shave my head to conceal my receding hairline or generally thinning hair, will I more closely resemble Jean-Luc Picard or a Ferengi?" This is important. It is much, much worse to choose to shave your head and look lumpy and odd than to be balding. Trust me on this one. I'm not saying that nobody looks good with a shaved head. I'm just saying it's something to consider well beforehand, and then consider well every time you go to do it again.

Ahem. We get sidetracked around here from time to time. Sorry about that. One of the nice features of yesterday was that I gave up on waiting for The Jewish Americans to arrive and took The Chinese Americans to the post office to mail to my parents and various small cousin types. And the mailbeing there treated me like a celebrity. I mentioned that they were my books, I had written them, and he ran his finger reverentially along the spine, sounding out my name. Yep. That's me, the name on the spine there. It was clear that English was not his first or perhaps even his second language, so I could see why it would seem even more miraculous to him that someone could string enough words together to make a whole book. That was pretty neat.

I signed the books for the people I sent them to. Never done that before. I hope to keep getting better at it, but I also hope my learning curve is fast. It's okay to be effusive on the title page of your book, I think, when you're talking to your folks or your favorite rellies. You maybe want to keep things a little simpler for the folks in line at B&N, but I'm a ways from that line, so in the meantime, I need to just let myself gush for a few lines, I think. It'll be okay.

Yesterday I read How Malaya Is Governed, a charming first edition schoolbook from 1940, for Malaysian students who were part of the British Empire. It contained such wonderful pronouncements as, "British protection is valuable in a world becoming more militaristic." (Well, sure, it took the Japanese longer to tromple all over Malaya than it would have if they hadn't had the Brits, but....) I'm now reading Francine Prose's Bigfoot Dreams to try to give her a chance to redeem herself. Because Hunters and Gatherers was, oh. So bad. So very bad. It had a few nice moments in the middle, but generally, really bad book.

I've decided that it's not that SF books tend to have better character development. It's that they almost always give you something else. An idea, a conceit, a world, whatever, so even if you're not thrilled with the character arc, you have something else to poke at and play with. This doesn't always redeem the book -- it often doesn't, actually -- but it makes it a bit more fun while it's bad.

Like "Attack of the Clones," for example. I'm trying not to think too hard about "Attack of the Clones," because I'm afraid it sucks so much that it will retroactively leak suckage all over the original trilogy. Consider. When we first saw Obi-Wan, he was wearing scruffy earth-toned robes. Fine; he lives in the desert. This is sensible desert wear. Come to find out it's not that, it's that that's what Jedi wear. The Jedi, you know, the people the Empire has been systematically hunting down and killing, supposedly? Those Jedi? Yeah. That's like coming into Berlin 1939 in side curls and a prayer shawl. Idiotic. (And, incidentally, why are all the Jedi so scruffy? "Good haircuts, huh. Detergent, huh. A Jedi craves not these things.") So you've got this guy running around in a Jedi suit, the locals refer to him as a wizard, and he has cleverly hidden under the name of Ben Kenobi, rather than calling himself Obi-Wan Kenobi. (If you've heard Denis Leary's bit about Marv Alpert's hotel pseudonym, it applies here.) Why are the local Imperial officials not calling this to someone's attention?

Sigh. But enough of that. I'm trying hard not to think about it too much. Nor about how the Vader/Skywalker character arcs just don't match up. Nor anything like that.

Mary Anne had a lovely picture of her new bookshelf/cabinet unit. And I was jealous. It was elegant, well-done, filled but not too cluttered. And I knew that I would never again in my entire life have a piece of bookshelving that looked even remotely like that. Never. Those lovely bits where she has a plant or a bit of knick-knack instead of books? Forget it. Our plants and bits of knick-knack are going to have to go either in front of the books or on different pieces of furniture entirely, because we just have so many books that they are going to fill up the bookshelves as soon as we get more bookshelves. Anyone who has been to our apartment can testify that books dominate the decor. We have nine six-foot bookcases filled to overflowing with books, stacked on top with books. We have not yet gotten to permanently stacking some books on the floor. It's only a matter of time in this apartment, though, because we really have no room for more bookshelves, and that doesn't mean we're going to stop getting more books. We don't even have all of the books that I already own and would like to have around. Some of them are at my parents' house. And I just have the feeling that it's not going to let up. The only way it might is if we put bookshelves in everywhere we can possibly think of putting them, when we move in, and then let those spots hold plants and knick-knacks while we get more books.

I guess I'm okay with that, but I really wouldn't mind something like Mary Anne's got for awhile. It looks so nice.

I've been thinking about domestic stuff a lot lately, about decorating and so on. Even a bit about landscaping. You know the bit in "The Birdcage" where Robin Williams says, "And Albert's so maternal he's practically a breast"? Well, I'm so domestic I'm practically a whisk broom. But it still terrifies me to have all of this stuff ahead of me. The couch, for example -- the idea of a new couch was like this abyss before me. Did we want a sofa bed? A futon? A regular couch? How long a couch? What colors? To match what? You don't just buy a couch and keep it for a year, so we're looking at a decision that's going to affect the way our home works a good ways into the future. And that's scary. So many parameters. Don't want to clash with the current armchairs, but I don't want to work specifically around them and be dissatisfied with the new couch because it's the best we could do matching the old armchairs. I've got time to think about this. But still. Oof. And then it gets me thinking about buying a house, which makes me want to go fetal. I hate house-hunting. I really, really hate it. And the paperwork for buying your first house is genuinely terrifying. Not beyond me. Just terrifying.

But the idea of painting, now, that's cool. Being able to paint walls as I'd like them, and do what my mother calls "window treatments" (which sounds like a medical regimen to me), and all of that. It's exciting. Actually having a house, okay. That I'm looking forward to. It's the process...and some of the related processes...expensive related processes....

Okay, but focusing on today, that's important. Very important. So. Today I'm walking over to the BART station, mailing my five stories, and heading up to see David. Working on "Fair Use" and "The Children's Village." Making pasta and salad for dinner because I have a powerful craving for it, and I have those little grape tomatoes that you can pop into the pasta at the last minute so that they're hot but not wrinkly and smooshy.

I love those things.

Focus on the grape tomatoes, yes. Not on five rejections or mounds of work or terrifying domestic territory or sickness/unhappiness among loved ones. Grape tomatoes. Yum.

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