Translocation across time

Blog

I used to live several blocks from my current place. Moving back here after four and a half years feels exciting and familiar. My time in Seattle was a wonderful adventure, but it is so nice to cook dinner with friends and family most nights. It means easy access to my friends’ cats, and just seeing all these different people every day in the square and on the subway. Same drugstore. Same grocery store. Most of my friends here haven’t moved. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much in the past five years. I guess it’s slowly gentrifying. The subway’s a bit more crowded, and the traffic’s a bit worse. I think.

What’s different? My job is from home now. I have a roommate I adore, and new in-laws close at hand. I’m working on my manuscript again, but I’m still working on getting my new routines down. The house has made a lot of progress, but there’s so much more stuff to organize. I have a new desk! It’s smaller than the last one and doesn’t have storage on the side, but it feels more solid and it looks cuter. I’m building a new computer to write on and giving the old one to my mother.

The biggest adjustment, though, is having one shared bathroom for the house. It means a little more forethought when you take a shower or need to use the toilet or brush your teeth. And if that’s the biggest adjustment to moving cross-country, I am a very lucky woman.

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We’ve landed

Blog Writing

I’ve moved to the Boston area. This was an insane cross-country move that John and I prepped well for but was still a massive stress producer. We still have boxes around the house, and I don’t know where many of my physical possessions are. I am sleeping a ton, and trying to get things done in a responsible and deliberate fashion. I’ve been pushing myself too hard though, so my body’s shut down on me a few times.

Being a remote employee is different. I have an ideal routine set up that I haven’t been able to follow yet. In the morning after I wake, take a brief walk. This is to replace the commute in my head. My psychologist recommended this as well as doing something at the end of the day. Then do work in the morning until lunchtime. Most days I’ll eat at home, except Wednesday Lunch Dates, where John and I will attempt to scope out restaurants in the area. Half an hour after lunch, I’ll head to the YMCA and either do cardio or weights. It can be tough to figure out which to do each day as I’m starting up: I’ve gotten out of shape, so soreness happens a day after lifting sessions. That should get me out of the house daily if the morning walk didn’t happen.

I worry that all my thoughts are scattershot and that half of what I say or write doesn’t make sense. I haven’t been able to write much, because getting work figured out was the first priority. Now I have to fight with myself to write again. I’ve worked on making concrete the rules of the world that I’d abstracted in my head. Scrivener is great for picking through a manuscript, but I want to make a printout and mark up where to inject more background and details. There’s something nice about seeing rainbow sparkly ink on white paper, instead of comments and highlights on a screen.

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Another perspective on my work

Writing

A week and a half ago I discussed my manuscript with my friend N. N is a literary agent who does nonfiction. She also does editing for her agency. However, she reads hundreds of novels every year, mostly genre ones. She was curious about my second draft because she’d heard me kvetching about my novel for two years, so I gave it to her and hoped she wouldn’t vomit.

N had a lot of encouraging feedback and advised me to submit a later version of the manuscript to agents, though we still don’t know whether this manuscript is romance or science fiction. Right now, I’m leaning towards social science fiction because a lot of the plot explores societal issues. The novel wouldn’t work without the love story, but the manuscript doesn’t always have that in focus. We were trying to figure out comps, and N said Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which surprised me a lot. I don’t have cool transit modes or branding or conceptions of cyberspace. I guess both books are about the strangeness of capitalism, though.

N and John detected a lot of the same weaknesses in my manuscript. The ones they agree on make sense to me and are going to need some work. There were some things they didn’t agree on (some content on one scene, the length of another), which I found more interesting and less likely that I’d revise. I have a to-do list of things to fix, but I’m not entirely sure what the best way is to fix two of them. I also have a lot of prose to fix. Time to roll up my…I don’t have sleeves, it’s summer!

I’m also in the middle of a cross-country move, so my environment is chaos. I’m hoping to get settled in without too much more incident.

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So much to read

Blog

I haven’t done any book reviews in a while. I think I just burned myself out a bit. Writing a full review takes a bunch of thought, and I was beginning to wonder where interests conflicted. I already do The SFRB Recommends, I told myself. Asking more of myself isn’t the best idea right now. From now on on this blog, I’m only going to review books I bought.

I went to Powell’s City of Books and bought a whole bunch of books to send to Boston, so I have something nice to look forward to after I move. These books are loaner copies. I want to introduce more people to science fiction with lots of feelings. They include Rachel Bach’s Paradox series, some Ann Aguirre Sirantha Jax books, Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Echo 8, and Linnea Sinclair’s Finders Keepers.

 

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Integrating feedback

Writing

My favorite reader and I sat down and discussed the current manuscript draft. He brought up several kinds of issues. Most of these I agreed needed fixing.

  • Fairly easy name issues: Some names are inconsistent, so I’ll want to make those are all correct and as non-confusing as possible. Additionally, two characters have similar names, even if it doesn’t come up often. I should rename one.
  • Prose issues: I have some language tics that can make the prose confusing. Also, I should use more French.
  • Emphasis issues: There are things I bring up early on but it’s not clear at all why they could be important.
  • Issues I am not sure how to fix yet: There’s a character who doesn’t have an arc, and a few other things like it.
  • Issues I’m not sure if I agree with: I’ll wait on my other reader’s feedback and quiz her on these (as neutrally as I can). They concern some world details and other ambiguities.
Sylveon image
Plus français, si’l vous plaît! Image from DBX Fanon

I am so thankful for his feedback. He enjoyed the novel, so I consider it a success already. Writing is interesting in that people have wildly different success metrics, even for the same author. Example: I believe success is making this manuscript something I and John would enjoy reading. Mom thinks success for me would be selling lots of copies. I’d rather not take that kind of pressure, thank you.

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