Problematizing My Problematizing and Other Tales

Academic Writing Goals, Travels, Writing Action Plans, Writing Goals

Today’s title brought to you by the fact that this Helen Oyeyemi article that I was supposed to submit to a bucket list academic publication two weeks ago is still being revised. Because I reread some of the core texts and my research/thoughts have so far evolved since I submitted my PhD dissertation.

I *was* going to turn that dissertation into two monographs, *was* going to take a sabbatical this year so this could happen. Alas, life dealt me with more than one curve ball. My sabbatical was “postponed” unless I could jump into a time machine to prove I had 5 ISI/SCOPUS publications. So far to date I have 1 ERA/EBSCO etc indexed publication, 3 scopus publications and that’s not enough. I *may* have 4 Scopus publications, I’m not sure.

So I sadly declined to jump into a time machine, and decided not to go on sabbatical. Maybe I’ll try again in ten year’s time, if I’m still alive.

Anyway, with my current health scare, I had to streamline a lot of my impossible projections and expectations for myself this year. So it would have been a wasted sabbatical. Life truly works in mysterious ways. Still, it’s been a very bitter pill for me to swallow. Because I promised myself my 42nd year of life had to be extraordinary — since I was destined to spend the rest of my life alone. I don’t want to grow up an old, embittered spinster with nothing to live for.

I was going to go to Venice, or Helsinki, or New York, or Paris. I *was* going to go to Helsinki and Queensland this year.

What happened? Health scare which led to a six month course of antibiotics, plus steroid inhalers which fucked me up to the extent that I now have palpitations and irregular heart rhythms. So far September has been a month of going to two hospitals more than once, multiple tests and we’re still not getting to the bottom of why my heart won’t behave itself. Oh, and all of my hard work losing weight? Down the drain. Within the course of six months I put on 8kg and now don’t even have my usual physical mobility so I can swim off the kgs. I’ve had to learn what my body can do and what it can’t do so I can remain moderately fit. I still have a good resting heart rate of between 60-71bpm (it goes down to 58bpm when I sleep), but I have also lost my ability to swim breaststrokes like a swimming pool monster. Now I’m more a timid and frail old lady doing timid laps. Well, I was. I’ve decided to stop swimming until they figure out what is wrong with me. So I just walk laps in corridors now. Faithfully, dedicatedly. Every day.

Every night, a sense of terror that I won’t wake up if I fall asleep. Every night, my heart feels strange, like it’s not mine. Like I’m not in this body that is not mine.

I must have faith, I tell myself. It might be nothing. I’ve stopped the steroid inhalers. The antibiotics end in October. My lungs are clear, kidneys slightly battered from years of diabetes but still okay and functional, liver’s on the borderline but still okay, and at least one hospital has declared my thyroid function is okay.

That’s all well and good but mystery heart is still being mysterious and I could write a story about how my heart is really a garuda wanting to take wing and bring me up to a magical empire or kingdom where I can be a badass superhero, but the truth is every night I am whispering into my pillow, please be okay, please be okay, please be normal. Please let me wake up tomorrow, I have too many stories to write, too many articles to finish, too much inside me I want to share. Please don’t let it end here.

Tell me, when you contain all of these emotions and thoughts, how can one ever have ordinary conversation?

So I suppose this is a letter, in lieu of a conversation.

I am okay because I am determined to be okay.

I am not okay because I do not know the future and that’s terrifying.

All I know is what I have had in lieu of an extraordinary year:

I’ve written some extraordinary things that I am rather proud of. I cleared myself of accumulated debt which means that for the first time since I returned from Australia, I’m feeling comfortable — but still not flush enough to be able to move out of my apartment. Sigh.

In lieu of finding a better place to live in, I’ve stayed in some pretty awesome hotels that I really enjoyed. Some, like the E&O and Lone Pine, I’ve been “pining” after since I was a kid growing up in Penang. It was magical despite the health fears. No regrets. I needed those time outs. Oh, I also flew business for the first time in my life. It was a local trip and I booked two months in advance so it did not wind up costing too much.

Not quite Paris but it may be better because I’ll always love Penang more than I love any other place on the planet.

Oh, and I finished Watermyth. Finally! I queried Watermyth! Finally! But now I’m still improving it because I’m problematizing my problematizing of certain tropes through the novel. And new perspectives keep happening. But, it’s done. (If only I was able to stop tweaking! Argh!). I’m hoping to send more queries this weekend.

..and I supposed one may say all of those publications were rather extraordinary. But I barely filled a thimble. My entire publishing output since 2007 is less than some people publish in a year. Oh well. At least I do have people who seem to like what I write. That’s awfully nice.

And now, I need to get back to that blasted Helen Oyeyemi article where I am still problematizing my problematizing of her texts. It’s got to be good because goddamn it I’ll conquer bucket list publication somehow. *shakes belligerent fists at the world*

This wasn’t exactly what I was planning on writing but *shrug* …hasn’t exactly been a planned year. But I’m resilient and not willing to give up without a fight. So heart, if you’re a garuda, you’d better fight along with me. We’ve got some more awesomeness we need to achieve. Goddamnit we’re owed some awesomeness.

 

August 2017 Writing Roundup

Academic Action Plans, Academic Writing Goals, Writing Action Plans, Writing Goals

I won’t have much to report for September since I haven’t really been submitting short stories this month. Been focused on the novel, teaching/academia, academic writing and my health. However, August was a pretty busy month for me. So let’s see what got done!

  1. Submitted three short stories.
  2. Got back 2-3 rejections (lost count, could be more).
  3. Got an acceptance for The Dark! Remember the postcolonial Gothic MURDER PONTIANAK PLAY? Yep! It’ll be out later this year!
  4. Did a substantial amount of work on Watermyth during my 1 week Penang writing retreat/vacation. (Still working on it, tbh. I’ve taken to revising the novel in cafes like a stereotypical author. Mostly because a change of scene was needed.)
  5. Brought two academic articles to the “close to submission” point. But then I wanted to send them to higher tier/indexed academic journals so now I am still perfecting them and changing formatting/style to suit journal house styles.
  6. Worked on my Millennial Malaysian monograph.
  7. Oh and it was a helluva month for publications. I had a short story in Clarkesworld (Reversion), a reprint in Lackington’s (Auto-Rejection: An Outro), a poem in Strange Horizons (Tinwoman’s Phantom Heart), also a microblog post for Strange Horizon’s fundraiser. Putting the other months of the year to shame! It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster so I’m glad things are quiet enough in September that I can take some time off from social media to concentrate on myself and my health/goals.

Well, that’s it for August. September seems to be a “no short story submission” month so my September roundup will likely focus on the novel and my academic writing.

August in a Nutshell: Keeping It Simple, Preserving my Health, Energy and Emotional Equilibrium

Academic Action Plans, Academic Writing Goals, Writing Action Plans, Writing Goals

I had grand plans for August which included concluding work on my Malaysian Genre monograph, and finalizing revisions on Watermyth which is still out on query with Dream Agent. To be clear, I’ve been revising the dratted novel for two years, but the panic adrenaline of querying revealed to me how I could make it better — it never ends!

Anyway, I also wanted to submit academic articles and short stories.

But health threw a spanner in the works. I’ve been suffering extremely bad acid reflux due to medication and stress. So bad, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was sent to ER in an ambulance. That’s kinda a wake-up call.

Then, the research institute said they wanted final reports for our research project on the 15th and not the 28th.

I promptly gave up after that.

Not on the monograph, but on finishing the monograph in August. It needs more work anyhow. So I’ll do it slowly but by next week I should have sent the book proposal to my targeted publisher (they don’t need the whole book just a targeted completion date plus other info).

Work on the novel’s progressing nicely. I’m reasonably optimistic I’ll be satisfied with it by the 28th of August, barring life’s vicissitudes.

I’ve also submitted a three-act postcolonial Gothic play although that might get rejected by tonight or tomorrow night (can never catch a break with this pub *laughsob*. One day. One day!)

On the reading front, I’ve already read a fistful of books and novellas. I am up to 78 books read. Enjoying Roshani Chokshi’s Crown of Wishes right now, and I have When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon on my iPad’s Kobo reader. Delightful!

On the publication front, I am Miss Published In Clarkesworld Four Times. I feel I deserve bragging rights especially since it’s been such a rough year for me healthwise. Let a girl enjoy her successes when they come.

What’s even more awesome is reader feedback coming in for Reversion. I was really nervous about it because I’ve been norty. Oh so norty. But people seem to really like it? Yay! Well, the critics haven’t weighed in yet so I’m nervous but you know, I don’t write for critics. I write for dreamers and weirdoes like me. 😉

Also, I am still very happy that POC Destroy Science Fiction got the recognition it deserved by being nominated for the British Fantasy Award. It’s not quite the same as being nominated as an individual but since my story was one of the most fantasy-ish in the volume, I can’t help feeling verklempt. Also, it’s a huge jump from thinking I’d never get nominated ever to having something I’m in get nominated. It gives me some hope, I guess. And small amounts of hope can be a good thing.

I guess this is it for now. I got no time to pretty up this blog. I know, semester break but I always seem to be super busy during semester break trying to meet my writing, research, reading and submission quotas.

But. Deep breaths. August is also about self-care, getting well, resting so I can survive the incoming semester. So. Cannot push myself too hardlor.

July’s Nearly Over: A Postmortem of Sorts

Academic Action Plans, Academic Writing Goals, July 2017 Writing Schedule, Writing Action Plans

July ran away from me because of trying to do various things. I visited my father in Sabah for about 5 days. It was a good catch-up with family but his health condition made me very sad.

I’m also under a lot of stress which resulted in weird physiological symptoms inclusive of palpitations and swelling feet. I’ve identified (sort of) that a lot of this is anxiety-driven because I am actively trying to finish two books right now (academic monograph + novel). That’s a crazy amount of pressure to put on oneself let alone someone not at optimum health conditions.

Slowly but surely, the work has been getting done.

Right now I have more or less drafted 4 out of 5 of the monograph chapters (I always leave the introduction to last). I have decided to postpone (YET AGAIN) my Oyeyemi monograph till next year. I feel the Malaysian monograph is more urgent and more needed right now.

As for submissions, I have 7 short stories and 1 novella out on submission right now. And I have at least three short stories coming out in the not too distant future. Not too sure about the fourth accepted short story.

Basically my modus operandi right now is to continue doing the work while being kind to myself but not too selfish I am not kind to others as well. It is so easy, when caught up in the work, to forget the human aspect of it, and to connect more with others. I’m slowly relearning this.

Health is also a major priority right now, both physical and emotional health.

And this is all till July ends and I’ll post a roundup of what I’ve done. Call this my accountability blog 😉

Writing and Academic Goals for July

Academic Writing Goals, Writing Goals
  1. Continue drafting my Millennial Malaysian Genre monograph — refers to works written in the 21st century, not just millennial-age authors. I’ve got two chapters to go. August should be about revisions. This seems to be going relatively well!
  2. Finalise revisions of Watermyth (it’s pretty much mostly done but have ideas on improvements). Almost there!
  3. Submit two academic articles. Jeepers I have been sitting on this for months!!
  4. Finish grading this week. By tomorrow!!
  5. Finish drafting new hard SF short story I started yesterday.
  6. Finish revising Venetian romantic fantasy to be submitted sooon.
  7. Start drafting Rosemirror. Honest to goodness I am so excited about this. Watermyth ends on a bit of a cliffhanger so I’m dying to dive straight into What Happens Next On This Glorious And Romantic Adventure.
  8. Work on revisions to one short story I have a revision request on. Don’t want to keep editor waiting too long. This is actually one of my top priorities.
  9. Start work on expanding a clockpunk alt-history short story to a novella because I pitched this earlier this year and don’t want to keep publishers waiting. Planning to deliver in September so that should give me time.

So far I have drafted 7 short stories in 2017 (plus one novella), but two of those are only partially drafted. Most of the rest have been sent out with one already accepted.