August 30th, 2016

From food to fiction - updates

I don't know what came over me today. I had a giant list of things to do and I've only done maybe 25% of them. I've instead found my cooking from wherever it was hiding. Between Saturday and today I made all my meals for the week, created four wholly new sweet dishes using kom fruit (it's a new variety and the grower says I'm the first person to say "I'm cooking with it" and was very delighted to receive some of the liqueur), made two not-new dishes with mandarins and contemplated the possibility of purple carrot cake.

Very little of this is for me. I've always loved cooking sweet things more than eating them. Some of this is for New Year, which is in a few short weeks and which will be busy. I also think my students will get much cake on Wednesday. That still leaves a fair amount of cake. Anyone who wants cake between now and then... I have much. And some of it is very experimental. Not just the kom fruit dishes. I wanted to know how far I could reduce the bad cholesterol in cakes and what one needs to do to replace butter with olive oil. I've stored the flavour and timing issues, but I've still got a couple of textural issues to work through. What this means is my banana bread and muffins are both gorgeous, but my mandarin cake is very wet.

And I do know what's hit me, if I'm honest. Same thing as on August 8. August 8 was the secular anniversary of Dad's death and the religious anniversary started at dusk tonight. My instinct always knows these days. I don't need to check the calendar - I find myself doing things specially, ready.

What I'm pleased about with today was that I could cook. I don't need to eat, but I do need to cook. And the last few years have not been good for cooking sprees. So I got through today with much less grief than usual and I have so much to do tomorrow that I'll get through that as well. And I'll be fine.

Cooking time for me is also thinking time. I fed all my friends throughout my first PhD because I needed loads of thinking time. Most of my friends refused my cooking for the second because they were trying to help me, not realising that they were damming my creative processes. This time I've just done the cooking and not worried about who will eat it, and thus I've done some very solid creative thinking.

Today I made progress with one of the characters for my novel. All the depressing mortality stuff is happening this year and feeding into this novel. This isn't the 17th century novel. I talked to my editor about the latter and he entirely understood that I would have trouble meeting the deadline, so we've cancelled. I will still write it, but it's an energy-intensive novel and I need to heal properly first.

What does this mean for my fiction over the next eighteen months? Nothing for the longer fiction. Those novels are still coming out. They're written and just need final edits. While the 17th century novel was due next April, it wasn't coming out until at least 18 months later. This means I only have 18 months more scheduled publications. Then I'm back to normal, since normal for me has fewer contracts than I've had recently.

For shorter fiction, I've got a couple of pieces without homes, which is very unlike me. This is because I couldn't go hunting homes for tales while I was on death's door and then I forgot I had the stories.

I'm not ready to find them homes yet. Two of them were requests. The first didn't fit the final volume and so was returned to me unencumbered with regrets by everyone. The other is a lovely idea but a complete failure as a story (which is a potential problem when someone asks for a story and I am dreaming of other tales entirely - I really am more comfortable with novels). And the last is rather experimental and I haven't sent it out far because I suspect belongs in a collection dedicated to the alternate history that it expresses. I need to write more stories set in that universe, and then find someone who wants a collection.

The bottom line is that only one of the three stories needs a home and I'll worry about that one when things calm down a bit here. It's set in the same Australia as a novel I want to write one day, and the background for the novel is all planned and bits of the novel are sketched. It's even mentioned in Langue[dot]Doc 1305, so the idea for this pocket universe has been with me for a while. This means that it, too, can wait. If I spot a home for the short story or someone asks to see it, I'll act, but otherwise I'll wait.

I don't normally have short stories sitting around, so I'm enjoying the experience. If it ever becomes a regular experience, I shan't be so untroubled, but right now, it's a first for me. I don't write many short stories and they mostly get published promptly. And people hold them over me forever. 'Horrible Historians' and 'Impractical Magic' both follow me about as if I have them on leashes.

That reminds me, Bob Kuhn (a US/Australian voice actor) kindly did me an audio version of 'Impractical Magic'. I decided to wait until the novel was out before I released it, but publishers fell through for the novel and so it languished, unheard (or mostly unheard, a select few friends in fandom have had access for various reasons). It won't languish too much longer, for the short story's prequel is The Wizardry of Jewish Women and this novel is at the printer and will be launched by this time next week.

What should I do with the audio of the story? My first thought was to put it on my website. I'd really like to raise enough money to get a fan from this part of the world to Helsinki for the Worldcon next year, however, so if anyone you know would like to host my story for up to a year, they can do so for a small donation to GUFF. If more than one person wants to host it, then the largest donation wins. I'll make my decision on the fate of the story tomorrow week.

(no subject)

I've only got lemons and a single blood orange left. I cooked an extra bit pf preserved citrus this morning, though, because I decided that my cake this Rosh Hashanah needs to be decorated. Officially, that makes 8 recipes from 2 types of fruit.

I do feel better for it, even though it means I'm still in my PJs trying to catch up with work. If I can catch up by 3 pm, then I get to make that purple carrot cake...