Even in a little thing
3rd April, 2017. 9:54 am.
Blogging has had to fade into the background recently. First I didn't have time to read blog posts and then I didn't have time to write them. Now you can begin to see why. Or rather, you can see about 1/8 of why. http://www.gillianpolack.com/for-my-next-trick-in-2017/
The health stuff is all still happening. At least, along with it, I now have the joy of more real life. I'm hoping that, along the way, I get to see some of you!
Read 3 Notes -Make Notes
20th March, 2017. 8:44 pm.
Right now, I spend between 30 minutes and 180 minute a day, every day, answering questions, listening, chatting about subjects of concern. Mostly from friends, but also from friends of friends. Sometimes it's work related, sometimes it's personal.
I've always done this. Everyone does. It's a part of normal life. It's just that, for me, the amount of it has changed. And the tone.
So many people are telling me (mostly with their tone) that the world is an appalling place and they want to check before they do this or do that, or they need more options, or they want to touch base with me because I know what I'm doing, or... so many things. Most of my convalescence was spent giving cups of tea to friends and hearing their problems.
The subjects change. Mostly the "Let me give you something back" subjects change. Right now, everyone who drops in feels they must comment on my place or my lifestyle. A couple of months ago, they all felt my health required assistance. I don't find surprised comments that "Your bathroom is cleaner than mine" or "How are you going to eat that food?" useful, but it makes the person giving them happy.
They often want to talk about how to change the subtle bigotry they've only just realised they have, or how to deal with the loss of a job, or ask me to listen to them about their illness, to hear about their workplace or what to do with a daughter who's too bright for her teachers. It's the everyday. And there's so much of it.
Qualifying this helps me realise that so many people are talking to so many other people right now. This is not happening publicly. It's happening to me more than it used to. Maybe I'm not the solitary spinster any more. Or maybe people are just talking.
I find I babble my news at a great rate, for otherwise I don't get to say it. So many people think they're listening to me when, in fact, they're talking about themselves. I occasionally want to pose a flash test question "What were the three major health problems of the last 12 months?" "What am I doing in August?" "What's happening with my novels?" Instead I infodump and hope I'm heard. This is the pattern of my childhood: everyone wanting to talk to me and only select people listening.
I'm not sure I understand it yet.
When I die, I want my friends to tell stories of my life and of me. Right now, though, I just want to understand why the increase in conversations. A few years ago I was lucky to get one a week and now I'm back to my classic Gillian life of having all the most interesting conversations. Like everyone else. It makes me feel human. Almost normal. I do think it's the state of the world causing it, though, and not the state of the Gillian. This is why I need to understand it.
Read 5 Notes -Make Notes
8th March, 2017. 10:08 pm. Just thinking
I wrote this before I did all my travels. Given it's IWD today, it's not a bad time for pondering from my (very female) perspective. In case someone thinks it clever to say that men can say things exactly as good and as clever (or as bad and as stupid) this is entirely true and equally entirely irrelevant. For I am saying this. And I've listened politely to the silencing in its very canny joke disguise for years, and I've decided that it's time to mock it instead. So let me sympathise in advance for anyone who wants to be clever and sarcastic, for they will be mocked. Today, you see, I'm all about choosing narratives and not accepting the ones we don't like. That's what my thoughts boil down to, for those who'd rather read the executive summary and then sit down with a good book and some coffee.
Like all of us, I’m struggling through the mess that is our world since Trump and the neo-Nazis entered power. It’s easy to feel disempowered and small. It’s easy to see all the things that could lead us into a place of no return. It’s easy to see the danger of belonging to a minority, to see the system failing, and to despair about being human.
There are some differences between now and 1938, however. Those differences aren’t in the rise of the idiots. They’re in us. They’re in places where we can talk out of the public eye. I discovered yesterday that talking out of the public eye and carefully planning a rise is how the current crop of idiots gained power. That’s the bad news. The good news is that their work was not the only critical changes to our society that take place just out of sight. That other stuff gives me hope.
Let’s start with the less-hope. So many people are fighting using the old paths of fighting. The ones that haven’t worked terribly well. A bunch of my friends feel very strongly that punching Richard Spencer is the right thing to do. Another group feel that joking about punching is the right thing to do. Me, I feel that these two groups are missing the wood for the trees. They’re focussed on an immediate feeling of relief from this intolerable hate. The feeling that they can discipline Spencer and his ilk into place.
The trouble with this, of course, is that they’re not Spencer’s victims. The person who punched him and the people who joke about punching him and others are saying it from a position of relative safety and privilege. There are two real questions here:
1. When someone punches a bigot, who does the idiot hurt? Not the person who punches. We’ve already discovered that people who can punch are often able to defend themselves. When Spenser went home, did he hurt anyone there to let out the emotion of being publicly humiliated? Did he hurt anyone outside the home? It’s not the joy of vindication that matters, it’s not having people who hate the bigots unintentionally (in fact, with the best possible desires in the world) hurt the victims of the bigots. Create more hurt. Add to a culture of hurt. The place we’re living in currently has a culture of hurt. We have to choose how we subdue evil with a mind to that. The aim of that punch was to help, but there are other ways of helping, ones that may not make anything worse.
2. What I read yesterday was an interview with three people who had left the alt-right. They’d grown past their anger and into the world most of us live in. One of them pointed out the long path Spencer and Bannon have travelled to reach where they are, and how carefully planned it is. They pointed out that Spencer was about to stand for government and had probably found a place where he could get in. That punch would far better have been another action entirely, something that would help in preventing him getting into public office. Research Watergate-style rather than instant emotional gratification. Finding out what Spencer’s plans are and making sure they don’t hurt anyone else is the best route of all. Not as easy or as emotionally satisfying as a punch, but better for everyone else.
One of the reasons many people don’t take this route is because a lot of our narratives push the punching. Our TV, or books, our online chat – they all have more narratives that push for immediate emotional response than ones that push for the more complex reaction that puncher needed.
There’s another thing they give us, however. They leave out how to handle hate. They tend to favour certain groups (the white hero, for instance, the male protagonist). When they have non-white, non-male, narratives tend to have a limited range of virtuous characters, and those characters have a tendency to not carry the really debilitating emotions, the ones that so many of us carry that prevent us from playing an active part in halting the dissolution of the difficult to the dangerous to the disastrous.
I’ve begun to notice a change in this. This change is where I place some hope for the future.
Yesterday I was watching the latest crop of superhero TV (and this is where you find out why I watch so much of this kind of work). There was a Jewish superhero in a very recent episode of Arrow who actually followed a path I emotionally resonated with as someone Jewish. I thought I’d never see the deeper levels of Jewish belief and how tikkun olam operates placed into a superhero story as if it belonged. In Arrow (which is a terribly dire show in a bunch of ways) the Jewish superhero laid down his arms for a while, because he had to be true to what he was and his super hero heritage gift would have led him astray, for it was broken. He had to find another path to do what he wanted to do if he wanted to reform the world. I don’t know if we’ll be shown that path, or if he’ll come back with his weapon made true again, but that a minority could have an emotional trajectory that was true for his background is important.
I saw new politics in more shows than Arrow and I’m beginning to see them in novels. Caitlin Brennan’s House of the Star, for example, is technically a quest/adventure, but the whole outcome concerns resolving personal hate based on stereotyping. These changes in narrative are gentle and often under the surface, but they’re there. There have always been these themes, but they’re in greater abundance right now. It’s not a minority preaching: it’s the majority. And it’s not done as preaching: it’s enabled as narrative choices.
I don’t know if these story choices will change the choices people make in real life or how they’ll change them, but this particular path wasn’t available in the late 30s. Nor was it able to respond so very widely and quickly, with such an audience.
The turnaround in many our creative arts right now is very fast. From the moment the decision is made to fund a season to the moment that season is released is astonishing for superhero shows such as Arrow. Movies had fast turnaround in the 30s, faster than now, but it’s not movies that are calling the cultural shots. We all still follow movies, but the everyday conversation has turned to the TV series, especially the ones that we share internationally, through places like Netflix.
International current conversation based on storylines that have been decided during the time of our recent political past? It’s up to the millions upon millions of viewers how this is interpreted and what it means for our society. They might choose to support Trump and Turnbull. They might choose to punch someone in the face. Or they might spin off in an entirely new direction.
It’s not all types of shows and books. But it reaches a lot of viewers and readers. And it’s carrying politics that‘s personal. Where decisions have to be made by individuals, not by someone important in another city. It’s not politics of the papers: it’s politics of the people. We have a potential game-changer.
Read 2 Notes -Make Notes
23rd February, 2017. 7:13 am. Updatery (finally) - the pattern of the everyday
I'm popping in for a quick update, because I made a list of tasks I have to do before Monday week. Just the big tasks add up to a month's worth, and they include 2 interstate trips (not popping over the border ones - overnight and over-weekend ones) so I thought I should at least catch everyone up before I immerse myself in my little ocean.
What my little ocean means is that I'm talking a lot about some things in public and am silent on others, simply because my mind is focused on some things and the others will have to wait. It's not that I don't care!
There's a lot of work in picking up my books and moving on, I find, for instance. When I innocently posted that the remainder of my Satalyte books arrived, a lot of people got into touch with me privately, wanting copies. ('A lot' in this case is about 2 dozen, but they mostly want the same book, of which I have 4 copies.) As each conversation happens, I work out what can be done and what can't. It's complicated. My best bet is still to get my Satalyte novels back in print.
I've worked out why so many people ask. People put off buying my novels because other novels were on lists, in reviews and etc. My fiction was in the back of their mind, but not a priority. We all have books like this. Novels we must have but which have to wait til after we've caught up with the notables everyone else is talking about. But because Satalyte had a big hiccup last year and wasn't at some critical events, and because I had a ginormous hiccup and couldn't act as a liaison with my publisher (though some people asked me to, even in hospital), and because the distributor mucked up and books were not in bookshops (easily bought online, but not in most brick and mortar bookshops) my readers obviously thought "Time later. Gillian's stuff doesn't go out of print." Which it doesn't normally, for normally it has higher sales than most small press work. Cellophane's print run was used up without it reaching bookshops, after all.
But life is not normal for books at this time. We're in one of those periods when many publishers have to make tough decisions. At times like this the book-buying pattern for my novels works against most of my readers.
What is this pattern? A relatively large number at release (less for Satalyte books because Satalyte didn't understand this about my novels, because, to be honest, it's an unusual pattern for small press, and their PR was set for other purchasing patterns) then steady but slow for a bit, then faster for a couple of years, then steady but slow. Then very, very slow (trickledom) unless something comes up to bring the volume into the public eye. I keep expecting something to do that for the US edition of Baggage, because it explains a lot of stuff that's happening now (background reading for times of shock!), but writers and editors don't really control these things.
My selling path is not the first 6 weeks, but the first three years. Bad for prizes and grants and income of all sorts, but it's what readers do. I grumble from time to time, but I deal. Except this time it's readers who grumble, for their path is unattainable and they really want those books. Which is a wonderful thing... and also quite difficult and time consuming for me.
This is how I'm working at the moment. I think of something and get stuck on it or into it.
It's not a bad approach. My list of tasks (mostly 3 hours work each, but a couple are ten minutes and one is 4 days) must be completed within 8 days and is fifty items long.
I plan to stay sane by hanging around on the net while I do the non-brain tasks that require my computer, or when I need a 5 minute break. It does mean, however, that my mind will be focussed and I'll miss entire subjects and I'll be living in a strange place. This is good news, to be honest. It's the old Gillian. The Gillian who accomplished miracles. I look at my list and say "Welcome back." I'm going to do such very good work over the next few days. Unless my life radically changes, I'll have time for LJ and catching up with friends again after that. I miss you all. I read your posts when I can (which is not often enough) and then don't have time to comment.
I made the list when I was planning Women's History Month this year. I took an honest look at the list and realised that I needed to mostly skip WHM year, too. If anyone who has been a part of it in previous years would like to send me something (or had an article caught up in the dangerous mess that was March last year) let me know. I'm very happy to host reflections (not PR for books - actual essays, and by people from a range of backgrounds - that was my plan this year - to take things wide) but I can't chase them or edit them. I admit I am not the old Gillian. I can't pull 24 hour days every second day for a week to get everything done.
I suspect I should've done admin instead of writing a novel over the summer. I know I was writing a novel because I thought I had a contract for it, but I still wouldn't have regretted writing that novel. Nor the other one that forced itself out of me when I was convalescing. For one thing, those novels aren't nagging at me now, when my focus must be on other things. Everything is easier without the particular haunting a novel brings.
On another note, people keep trying to teach me my own subjects. This year I'm getting more non-Jews wanting to tell me what being Jewish is, for instance, and fewer men wanting to tell me how to be a woman. This is relative. It doesn't mean a diminution in the latter. I'm also finding more people from the Left are happier with general statements of "We are all individual" than with me asserting what my particular background and experience is.
Because I stop and explain whenever I can, there are some interesting outcomes. The biggest in terms of time (which is, after all the core subject of this post) is that I'm there for an awful lot of people behind the scenes. Especially writers. I'm one of the people they can ask questions of if they realise they have blind spots, or on whose shoulder they can cry on if other people are doing to them what similar people are doing to me. This is not one of my fifty tasks for the next ten days: this is my everyday.
I keep missing things I shouldn't miss, but this is why. If there's something I need to know about you and your life (or something I'd like to know and have missed) I'd be extremely grateful if you could tell me. I'm a bad friend right now, but I do miss you all.
Read 21 Notes -Make Notes
20th February, 2017. 1:18 pm.
Livejournal is playing up something chronic, and so is my life. This is a classic Monday, in so many ways.
Everything that happens right now is haunted by the sad fact that My ISP insists that an urgent fix of a telephone line is one that takes 2 weeks. I'm trying to decide if I prefer the Telephone Ombudsman or a new ISP. I'll wait a fortnight and see. First, I need to get my landline back. Second, I need to sort out all kinds of things. Even for me, this fortnight is busy. It's so busy that I've already written 2/3 of my Patreon and most of my History Girls article, and they're not due until next week. I won't have writing time next week. I will, however, be travelling to two different parts of NSW.
My eye update is that the left eye's problems are entirely transient and will fade away in the next few weeks. The right eye is intransigent and will go blind, but we can delay this for a bit. Maybe quite a bit. Maybe for years and years. They caught it early because I have a clever optometrist. The next six months will see what the long term will bring. Since i only actually need one working eye, this isn't as bad as it could be. My life is full of typos right now, however, for both eyes are sulking. It's a great relief that one will be fine soon.
We have bushfire smoke, so my place is closed up and I can't enjoy the rare cool weather. Also, I'm on medication for it. I was rather worried until a friend said "Look, there's smoke" for my symptoms have changed now that the rest of me is stronger. The strange pain no longer slows me down, for as long as I do everything in a smoke-free environment there is no pain. That's the good thing. The bad thing that Canberra - otherwise such a good place to live - gets the smoke from most directions, since it's nestled in a dry mountainous area. So it's here until we get massive rains, and they're not likely for a week or so.
I'll be in Armidale on Sunday/ Monday - it has a climate a lot like Canberra's, but has smoke from stoves in winter rather than bushfire smoke in summer. Canberra used to have the winter smoke, so I know it affects me less. Which is irrelevant, for it's summer. Oddly, my friend in Armidale will be in Sydney and we're teaching in the same building the following Saturday. Also at the same conference in September. So I get to see her, regardless.
I have most of the remnants of my Satalyte novels back as of half an hour ago and discovered that the one issued last year wasn't put in for the Aurealis. This means that it's not only any lists of things people should read. The Wizardry of Jewish Women was so very well received by readers, that this is, for me, a great disappointment. I've got my rights back and I need money to get to Helsinki so... I'll make it available for a limited time, I think*, so that people who really feel that my work is worth considering for Ditmars and Hugos (all three of you!) actually get a chance to get hold of the novel and assess it fairly. I just need to work out the best way. Probably a notice and a paypal address and a week of my time. I'm open to other suggestions. Except setting up as a business and issuing my own work - I know my limitations! The suggestions should solely be to get the work into the hands of readers who otherwise would have read it anyhow but who were putting off buying it and lost the chance. I'm hoping that, one day, I'll get it back into print, but I need to explore avenues properly for that. It's just that this is the only year it will be a new volume. (And if any of you would really like it, we can talk, for maybe one on one is the best way to go. The book isn't in print after all and this is not a new edition of it.)
In good news, I'm giving a keynote speech about the origins of fairytales (the Medievalist gets to talk!) in April. I'm teaching grammar and punctuation in Sydney in March (income and friends, all in the one weekend!)
My essay in a George RR Martin volume is at the printer and will be out soon.
And I forget the rest... my mind is already thinking about things I have to do before my 2 pm meeting. Welcome to my life.
*ETA: I'm not sure I can do this, legally. If anyone knows, I'd be very happy to find out!
Read 5 Notes -Make Notes
30th January, 2017. 12:00 am.
This last fortnight has been full of emotions and difficulties relating to antisemitism. A lot of half-hidden stuff has been thrown into the light of day due to some vile politics and far right action (also far left action - it's complicated). This means many Jews are talking publicly about things that have been private worries for a long time. Because I'm open about my religion, I've been caught up in a lot of discussions. Today, someone on FB was lost - they saw that their Jewish friends were hurting and felt helpless. I answered them.
My answer was specifically about antisemitism and Judaism, but so much of what I said applies to so many groups. Right now, a lot of people are hurting. My first thoughts (the ones from FB) are below - I thought it might be handy to repeat them here. If they're useful, feel free to share them. If they're not, then don't. If you can add more, please do. Political action is the stuff of a different conversation. This one is about things one can do and things one can avoid doing as a private individual.
Whatever you do, though, don't do what several people have done to me. Don't say "I hurt worse than you." In fact, don't compare hurts at all, if you can help it, especially if they're quite different in kind. If you're in deep water and can't swim, both of you drown if you ask someone who's also drowning for help. Help yourself and (if you can) get help for them, but don't turn the focus on you in the conversation where they finally admit what's happening. At this moment and for these particular things, leaning on the friend who finally admits "There's something wrong" may push that friend closer to the edge.
Most of us who are dealing with racism and bigotry right now have had to deal with it all our lives. The way it's appearing now is scary. The way it undermines all our lives - our sense of self, friendship, safety, future - is what causes the fear. That's why this post is not about everyone sharing their hurt - it's about ways in which one type of hurt can be helped a bit. It's about reducing fear.
And now you have some contexts, this is what I said on FB:I'm not sure that saying stuff* to us helps that much, but there are a heap of things you can do, both for Jews and for everyone else being targeted at this time.
Not making victims feel the brunt of your anger at the treatment others are meting out is a help - we end up carrying the worries for everyone because so many people "know you'll understand - I can talk to you about this where I can't talk on my blog or to my other friends."
Everyone who speaks up in public takes a bit of the pressure off and means that the emphases of public discourse shift and become less damaging. If someone is antisemitic, talk to them if you can, because it's less of a risk for you to do so than for your Jewish friends.
Don't make your Jewish friends be Judaism 101 for you at a time when they're struggling (I get so much of that!!). An awful lot of people are suddenly discovering Judaism and antisemitism and want me and others to guide them through the initial learning stages. I keep wanting to ask "But don't we have enough to handle?
I'm still on the receiving end of a lot of judgements and so are other Jews I talk to - people want me to be Jewish in their particular way in times of stress, and to react to things the way they think I should. I suspect it would reduce the fear somewhat if we weren't packaged and expected to be this or that. It would also help if we didn't get all kinds of people saying "So and so has it worse" and "You've had your turn." These things are true of all the groups currently being targeted (by no means only Jews) - we can't live as stereotypes and the public doesn't seem to leave us space to be individual or to support us because that doesn't fit with the general feel of what victims ought to be and do.
And now you have a bunch of random notes and a footnote, which means I can get back to work. My week has been unduly disrupted by racism.
* egs of things people have been saying "Oh God, is this really happening!" and "I can't deal with it." and "I don't know how you cope." and "This is horrendous." On the other hand, one of my friends was spot on when they brought me food and hugs and let me ramble on until I'd unwound some of the tension. Another friends sent me a present in the mail, entirely not related to this, and that present has become my knight fighting all the evil. So saying stuff and doing stuff helps, but it needs to be the right stuff. (and yes, that was a joke)
Read 1 Note -Make Notes
15th January, 2017. 11:22 pm. Some thanks (and also some whinges, because I'm at that stage)
My life is still happening too quickly for comfort. Also, I keep losing handholds. It's not easy right now. My life is on fast forward and for every small good thing that happens, I get three large bad things.
I want to thank a few friends for making big differences. Other people get thanked in other places but these people in particular need thanking here and now, because they're the reason I'm not drowning in the impossibility of events. There is no reasoned order in these thanks and I'm pretty sure I'll wake up at midnight and think of something else that I should have said. I need a cuppa, though, and to edit for another hour before bed, so this is the best I can do.
I've not talked about all the events in public because my life is back in soap opera zone, and honestly, it's all a bit much. The people in my life matter now more than they ever have, for they're what keep my rocking boat (and my mixed metaphors) stable in some very rough waters. Being alone can be difficult at times like this, so the fact that I'm seldom lonely and even more seldom desperate is a tribute to my friends, wherever they happen to live.
Every single one of you who has supported me on Patreon, read and talked about my novels, chatted with me on social media, come to a talk or a class by me has made a professional difference to me as well as a personal one. Doors shut for me where they should open - this is Australia and this is a difficult time to be of my age and of my background. Your support reminds me that I'm good at what I do and that it's worth persevering. The financial aspect helps me add just that much more to my life, as well. As I keep saying, the 'that much more' this year will be Continuum and WorldCon. As I also keep saying, I'll keep on working on finances, because to have a break from the incessant battles here, and to give a paper and be on panels and spend quality pub time with friends will then help me keep going when life does its thing on my return.
The friends who give me library lifts and hospital lifts and appointment lifts - I can now do these things myself (and, in fact, I do, as will be attested tomorrow morning, where I will daringly do it all on foot, without a single bus), but it makes it so much easier emotionally to have friends with me and to know there's help if I need it. I didn't realise just how much the weight of 2016 bore on me whenever something medical comes up. This weight is getting lighter because of your support.
I don't get a vast amount of public affirmation. This is going to continue at least until I find new homes for my books, and probably after that. What this
means is that when someone says something like S said to me privately the other day (that people should be considering History and Fiction for a Hugo, not just a Ditmar) it means a great, great deal. I generally don't get considered for awards, so being told that something is worth it makes me feel much better about, in this case, all that time spent on something that will neither bring me money nor job. (The job it was likely to bring got scuttled by our lovely cutbacks to universities - I'm still getting interviews and I'm still not getting a job - I guess it's possible, but right now, it doesn't feel
possible, which means the comment that the book is considered that good by some readers is rather more important to me than it would be if it were just another academic publication. Not many people will read it, so it's not going to be on lists. But it's nice to know that a friend whose brain I trust thinks I do work of that quality. Likewise when L told me privately I was the best book doctor she's ever seen - this means so very much. (And I am now thinking of myself as a book doctor - more of the timelordliness)
Another bit of affirmation that means a lot comes from the editors and writers who've supported me the last few days. I suddenly have four books out of print and several more that had homes and now don't. Two of these novels were just barely beginning to be seen and both included things Jewish, which took some courage in the current climate - now I get the public knowledge of being Jewish without readers getting access to the novels, which kinda sucks. The behind-the-scenes support I've been getting has made just the biggest difference to my capacity to keep looking for solutions and to deal with inevitable downsides. This is one of those moments when individuals in our industry really shine, in a gentle and supportive way.
Thank you all!
Read 8 Notes -Make Notes
13th January, 2017. 8:52 am. My life is still bizarre
One thing I can say about my life is that it's not dull.
I'll just stick to the most life-changing of the news today, for I don't want to write a three thousand word update. I'm telling everyone that right now, every single cent I get through Patreon (except the bits that go to the tax office, obviously) will go towards me getting to Helsinki, for I really, really need to spend quality time with my friends. I also have a paper to deliver there. I'll need to find other finance as well, as well, because a few hundred dollars is not going to get me even close, but if I have to, I'll borrow. Alas, for it not being a major birthday year for I can't say "Give me money instead of presents" Anyhow, Helsinki is how I"m going to get through everything else. And Continuum. I've already paid most things that need paying for Continumm. My everyday is very parsimonious for I'm determined to do these things.
The two bits of everything else you most need to know are:
1) Satalyte has closed, very suddenly. Four of my novels are out of print and several others are no longer safely contracted. This includes the novel I have been writing so frenetically this last month and the one that was going to be released next month. I'm going to give Patreon supporters a taste of the latter, because I can and because it will make me happy to. Thank you, friends who pushed me into Patreon, because it's really nice to be able to say "You can't buy the novel yet due to forces beyond my control, but look, meet the heroine and her pet pirate." Every woman above a certain age should have a pet pirate who can cook.
I was going to put together short stories and find a publisher for a collection and, of course, do something about my strange novel (I now have 50% of beta readers reporting back and it is indeed, strange, but potentially very good) but my focus for the immediate future has to be with those other eight novels. I do have a nibble of possible interest in the strange novel, but the nibble is for later in the year. This actually suits me, for the strange novel needs a break and an edit and, of course, I have the various crises to solve.
If someone had a secret desire to put out a collection of my short fiction and confided it to me, I'd smile at them sweetly and talk terms, but otherwise, the short stories will wait. Except, me being me, they won't entirely wait. I'll look at what I get in the mail next week and computerise them and let everyone who guessed the number of survivals correctly see a couple. If any of them are particularly amusing or appalling I might share them elsewhere, for early fiction has its own joys and I wrote the missing fiction between my seventeenth and twenty-fifth birthdays. And if it turns out that none of the stories Mum found is the missing fiction, then I shall laugh, ironically, for forty-one of my stories will be gone, which is what I thought happened years ago. Next week I get the surviving old short stories in the mail. Mysteriously, some of them turned out to be financial records from a decade ago. These will not be in the mail.
The world of publishing is full of good people. I'm already under serious consideration by a couple of places I would be very proud to be part of. This means that, two days after hearing the news about my novel, I'm up to the waiting game. If I was taken in/on/up by either or both those places, I would be very, very happy for they're such good people.
So, nine novels and a bunch of short stories... so much stuff. Thank goodness for the generosity of people in our industry - for at least I'm not having to tear my hair out. (I may still have to, but the big thing is having my work seen - if it or I doesn't quite work for the organisations in question, that's just normal and I move on.)
So many people have asked about buying the novels they'd intended to buy that were pulled under with Satalyte. I checked online this morning and a very few print books are still available, but the ebooks aren't. Everyone's selling the last of their stock and then that's that. I've emailed Satalyte to ask if there are any copies I can buy, for I sold almost everything over the Christmas period (still need to get paid for that by the host bookshop!) but I haven't heard back from them. If I end up with copies to sell, I'll let people know. Getting those four novels back into print is my goal, though. I'd settle for three of them, to be honest. The Art of Effective Dreaming
may well be cursed...
2) I had an urgent check up for my left eye this morning, for it was showing wispy blood, but it's a perfectly normal detachment of the viscous layer. As long as it doesn't turn into retinal detachment, I'm fine, but I'll be a bit tired for the next few days. That's the good news.
The better news is that it's just as well that this happened for (and this is where the bad news comes in) my right eye is being clever again. I have the beginnings of glaucoma. I also have a brand new blind spot, which means I need to be a bit careful walking down stairs and try to avoid walking into things, which I'd already discovered.
What does all this mean for my life? 2017 isn't going to be any easier than 2016. Hard work doesn't always get rewarded. And my friends are wonderful. In other words, life as usual. New problems in all the old spheres. Still no permanent job, but, hopefully, a bit more paid work this year than the disaster that was last year. The uni has already advertised two very cool courses for me (a novel-writing one and a food history one).
I'm happy to answer what I can if you have questions about any of this news. I will not, however, talk in public about what Satalyte did right or wrong. This helps no-one. There are over forty authors who need to find new homes for books - to me this is what we should be focussing on. I'm the one with the most books affected, but I'm not the only author who had more than one book with them. I'm hoping we all find new homes, quickly.
I'm very happy to have a cuppa or a chat with other Satalyte authors and share options and sympathy.
And, for any friend who wants to check up on me personally, given the challenge that this week has been, I have the most amazing coffee that a friend brought back for me from Bali and I have such a big chocolate stash and if I get the right fruit today I might make a cake. Let me know you're coming though - I'm juggling a lot of things right now and will make the time to see friends, but I do need to know when they're coming.
Read 19 Notes -Make Notes
29th December, 2016. 2:52 pm.
It's interesting how major life changes affect things. I'm still not back to regular blogging, but I'm working furiously at a range of things, which hopefully will bear fruit this year. I'm unfinancial (which was inevitable this summer) but between Patreon and a couple of other endeavours, I hope to change this.
What I like about Patreon is the giving back side of it. When I put up my second recipe for December, a chat about it ensued on Twitter. I'll send out a new year's gift along with my January material, because anyone who supports people in the Arts deserve extras.
My extra for the day is a surprising insight into Trump and Brexit and Hanson and their ilk. I've been trying to find out what narratives lie behind the success of these figures and ideas. Most people have focussed on the narratives as given by the Farages of this world, but those came from somewhere and reached fertile ground. The fertile ground was obvious in some senses, and those aspects have been discussed - things like socio-economics. But some of the fertile ground has to come from narratives. The stories of the powermongers fit in with the stories people expect to see: this is critical to achieving votes.
I've seen mentions of studies floated around: that false news is more likely to be believed by some people than others, for instance. This just reinforced to me that I was missing narratives. It means that there are entire groups of public narratives that look daft and angry and destructive to me because I don't have matched narratives for them. In fact, my narratives encourage me to debunk them and criticise them and resize them. I've seen this narrative differential in the Middle Ages. Not as marked for our medieval evidence is mainly literary and the society itself wasn't, but enough to make it clear that stories count. So many men would have stayed at home and not crusaded without a certain type of saints' tale and the chanson de geste. This has been so clear to me for a while that, when asked by various people (because of my interesting past) what they can do personally to change the current situation, I always say "Use your writerly power to cahnge the narratives." Sometime they see instantly what they can do (on social media, for instance) and sometimes we talk longer. Still, I was hampered by not having seen enough narratives personally to understand the problem.
I'd love to say that I'm hampered no longer, but I know where to look, at least. I've been browsing in the book sales and I'm reading some Tamil pulp. And that's where a slab of the missing narratives lie. They were never going to have been actually missing. They had to be major. They include things like daytime soaps and tabloids.
I don't know why I didn't think of pulp. Maybe it's because, in Australia, there's a nice intellectual move to bring back pulp. Except it's not really pulp, it's a revisited thoughtful homage to it. It's pulp resized...
Tamil pulp is real pulp. There is a mixture of melodrama and everyday that entirely ties the voters to those who shout the messages.
I suspect that there are many, many sources of these narratives, and that the access we have to the cultures of our ancestors through the marvels of modern media reinforces some of them.
Someone must be studying this and, when I'm ready, I'll hunt out the studies and find out how it all fits together. My thought of the day is how relieved I am that it *does* fit together. Of course, it doesn't make this world of ours a gentler and kinder place, but at least I can understand why the unkindness is so sharp right now and why a whole heap of people in a large number of countries seem convinced that they need to hurt themselves and their friends by taking quite specific political action.
We still need more robust narratives to change the world. But it helps me deal when I can see where the complexities come from. It's not the false news: it's the people who see it as authentic news because of the way its expressed fits the news narratives they've been taught to accept through the political narratives they've been taught to expect... through their reading.
I have two volumes of translated Tamil pulp. It's going to be good for me. And I admit, it was a choice between these and the Australian equivalent, which (if the book sales are telling me what I think they are) were James Patterson, much erotica, and Westerns.
I needed to read these two volumes anyhow: the insights are a bonus. Another bonus from them is that I think I'll expand this idea and talk about it for my patrons. Show them how a Tamil pulp story led me to this point.
In the meantime, though, I have to work on fiction, for there's a lot of fiction to work on. This isn't the strange novel - this is an old new novel ie it's for Satalyte, which means, unless it's so horrendous that my editor screams and tears his hair, you'll see it in print sooner or later. Later if I spend my time here rather than there!
Read 6 Notes -Make Notes
22nd December, 2016. 4:25 pm.
Back A Page
I just got back from the doctor. Nothing new to report, except that I'm apparently rather wonderful at managing things. She has loads of suggestions for improving day to day stuff and next year we will have a Plan.
There was a considerable wait to see her, so I solved a Novel problem. Null time is the best time for sorting out plot issues.
Read 4 Notes -Make Notes