A Small Refuge

It’s amazing what I’m able to do when I don’t have to interact with other human beings or commute to work! :p

I retweeted a bunch of things on twitter to keep the algorithm from sleeping on me. Don’t want to lose my numbers there but not really in the mood to chat on twitter right now. Anyway, I have so many things I want to accomplish by year’s end so it’s good to be sparse. By Wednesday I’ll think of something safe and inane enough to tweet.

Things done today

  • Watched Masterchef Australia. Made me somewhat nostalgic.
  • Wrote a poem.
  • Started a design for a new watercolour painting.
  • Edited my Gothic article for submission. There’s a September 15th deadline but I have things I’m attending then, so I’m aiming to submit it by Friday.
  • Worked on my monograph Chapter Two AND revised my proposal yet again.
  • Wrote about 749 words in Rosemirror.
  • Did Laundry.
  • Finished reading two books from start to finish, started reading a third book.

All of this was made easier by the fact that mostly all I had to do was heat up food today. I did fancy up a dessert earlier though: pan-grilled figs w/ a small scoop of Haagen Dasz ice cream, half a teaspoon of double cream, half a teaspoon of raspberry jam and 3 medium strawberries sliced and plated fancy-like. I took a pic of it, when I feel like uploading it I’ll append it to this post. Blame Masterchef Australia for putting ideas in my head. I also added a tablespoon of low-fat coconut milk to my curry mee gravy for dinner.

What I ate today:

  • Breakfast: Oats (0.25 cup of dried oats, 0.25 cup of low fat milk, mineral water, vanilla, lakanto) + 1 Granny Smith’s apple (small). French-Pressed Illy Grani Deca Espresso Decaffeinated coffee (I grind a batch of beans every five days or so to save time).
  • Lunch: Chicken Balti w/ 1 cup of long grained basmati rice, a quick salad of diced carrots, cucumber, onion, mint leaves w/ lemon juice, lakanto, salt and pepper. Dessert: Aforementioned pangrilled figs w/ ice cream, 3 strawberries, 1 teaspoon double cream, 1/2 teaspoon raspberry jam (sugarless)
  • Tea: 1 raisin scone, 1 teaspoon double cream, 1 teaspoon raspberry jam.
  • Dinner: Curry laksa
  • Supper: 1 mug milky decaf (using the Boncafe freezedried decaf grains) sweetened w/ Lakanto, 3 hup seng crackers.

Calories: 1678

I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a cup of rice at lunchtime because it keeps me from being too hungry and I snack less. Today was optimum because I had 6 meals. Two substantial ones, while the rest were in small servings. So my blood sugar’s good.

Listening to: Under Wraps — Her’s

A Cautious List of Accomplishments for 2018 (so far)

As the year begins its gradual slide into the next quarter, I thought it would be a good idea for me to list down my accomplishments for the year. It’s easy to dwell on defeats and I’ve been feeling very defeated by life. And this has been a year of bereavement and disappointment. But, other things have been happening as well. It’s just like 2016, that other year of bereavement — and I felt I was bloody under-performing for most of it but I had publications nearly every month. I look back in awe at that year but it was also really emotionally exhausting and harrowing. I had less publications in 2017 which was my year of illness, but two of those publications were in Clarkesworld and that’s definitely something to write home about. No meteoric rise to fame, me. And I still don’t have an agent. But I haven’t done too badly, all’s said and done.

Fiction/Poetry

  • 2 pro publications, 1 semipro publication (Fiction).
  • 4 fiction acceptances  (2 pro, 2 semipro)
  • 3 queries for a full for Watermyth, which I finally finetuned enough to be ready to be sent out as a full.
  • Reached 80k in Rosemirror in about a fraction of the time it took me to get there with Watermyth. I’m counting that as a triumph since I’d like to be a novelist who completes a novel a year if I could just bloody get an agent argh.
  • 1 poetry acceptance
  • 16 poems written so far.
  • The most poetry submissions in a year. Pity they’ve almost all been rejected.
  • 7 new short stories drafted or partially drafted so far.
  • 2 interviews this year for me as an author: 1 podcast/radio, 1 in the national papers

Academic

  • 5 sole-authored academic articles submitted (one was rejected)
  • 2 co-authored academic articles submitted (one as corresponding author, the other submitted by the student)
  • 1 book chapter written from scratch and submitted.
  • 2 conference papers written from scratch and presented (with very positive feedback)
  • Monograph proposal submitted  FINALLY and now in the process of finalising sample chapters to be sent for peer review. I guess that’s an achievement even though I feel very unsure/insecure about my chances? But at least I pushed this through the door, I guess.
  • Making connections with other universities through conferences and collaborations.
  • 2 research grant proposals submitted (one rejected, one pending). I’ll likely submit another 2 before the year is done because I need to head a research grant or 2 again for academic survival.
  • 3 PhD students submitted their dissertations. This one is HUGE, I feel.

Personal

  • My 6th month of calorie-counting every day, despite sourpuss naysayers (there’ve been many!) and various temptations.
  • I have lost 13kg since last year. It’s not a constant because I might have lost more had I not had weeks when I was travelling, at buffets, or had more than 2 cheat days in a row. But I’ve learned to forgive myself for these days and just get back on that horse.
  • Weightloss has resulted in: looser clothes, blood sugars reducing to the point that I no longer need insulin, a better heartrate, regular periods (albeit scanty-ish) again after having a fright for two years. I think my days of heavy periods are drawing to a close though, and well, I’m 43 so that’s to be expected.
  • I don’t know if I want to call my most social year to date a “success” because I feel grief has made me more social and that could be me running away from sadness. But it is true that I have been able to make more connections this year because I’ve been able to let people in to a degree I haven’t been able to since my return from Australia in 2011. I don’t know if it’s because grief broke me or what. But I finally feel like I can cautiously have friendships again and don’t feel like I’m going to implode. But careful, open communication and checking in with people seems to be key — so far. Also I guess, having people understand I’ll need to go off the grid every now and then as we grizzled introverted hermits need to do from time to time. I also need to acknowledge that I am bloody paranoid and can be quite skittish and that is something I need to constantly check in myself. But I do feel that I have climbed a huge mountain in terms of interpersonal communications this year and came down on the other side. So a cautious pat on the back for that?

I suppose at some point I’m going to look back in awe at what I’ve achieved this year. But right now what I’m feeling is tired, and frustrated because I don’t have more fiction/poetry acceptances, that my academic submissions have not been accepted, that I still don’t have an agent (I’ve been querying for over a year now). I also feel like I haven’t lost enough weight but that’s good because it’s motivation to keep going. I have a lot of weight to lose. It’s not a vanity thing — it’s because I want to ensure I am taking good care of my internal organs and not putting too much of a strain on them.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Reading a bit, writing a bit, and then to bed.

Listening to: Sheherazade: Ouverture de feerie — Maurice Ravel

Morning Acceptance Notes

Well, looks like last night was a busy one for my inbox!

First, an acceptance for my “Ulek Mayang” revision (FINALLY) from Kaleidotrope, a really respectable semi-pro magazine that was namechecked that one time on Kirkus Review (along with Clarkesworld during a month when it had one of my stories in it!). If that was not enough, the wonderful Fred Coppersmith also accepted “Archipelagic Constellations”, my origin story epic poem of the Bunian Empire. Some of that origin story made it into “Violets on the Tongue” as well as the Admiral Zhen-Juan novelette (“Liar, Liar, Your Station’s On Fire”) that’s now sitting pretty in a slushpile somewhere but this one has the visceral and raw first person narrative so I’m really happy it finally found a home.

The sad news is that both will come out only in 2020. Oh well, at least I’ll know 2020 has two things of mine in it!

(I deleted snark about other stuff because we are supposed to be avoiding snark and whines on this version of my blog)

This story has a complicated backstory: I wrote Ulek Mayang in 2015 because a Brazillian magazine requested a story of mine they wanted to translate. Sadly they took so long (and have yet to bring that issue out) that I offered them Sang Rimau instead and started lobbing Ulek Mayang at markets in late 2016. It came close at so many places — ridiculously close! But has apparently now found a home with an editor who accepted it without reservations. FINALLY.

Oopsies, some snark came along with that. Sorry, I have strong feels!

ANYWAY. I also FINALLY got a rejection from first agent to ask me for a partial of WATERMYTH. She’s also the first agent I ever queried as she’s been Dream Agent at Dream Agency since 2009. Only took nearly a year but I was very happy with the rejection as it was very kind, very incisive and very encouraging. So, that’s former Dream Agent who seems a lovely person but is Dream Agent no more. Pity, would have been nice to work with her. But! I really like and approve of the two agents who now have my full manuscript and I really really really am crossing my fingers so tight right now that at least ONE will say “HELLO I LIKE THIS”. But I dunno. This has been a one year journey and I don’t want to get disappointed by hoping too much. Basically now it’s all about seeing who responds first. I also have other queries out.

On the academic front I also got very very minimal edits back on the Malaysian Gothic chapter I’m contributing to a Cambridge Scholars collection compiled by the lit team at another university. They also had some very nice things to say about my work which really soothed my rather wounded ego.

I also have feelers out on another thing but again I don’t want to expand too much hope there because that will only lead to disappointment. But it’s time to take  serious steps to get out of this inertia I find myself in. I deserve so much better than what I have right now and I have to stop undervaluing myself the way my fellow Malaysians tend to undervalue me. So. Here’s to cautious hope and more methodical/hard work.

Going to continue working on the Psychogeography article now. Oh, some words in Rosemirror first!

Friday Fatigue: Working Uphill

Today I am very slooooowly trying to add words because fatigue has set in. I did quite a lot this week, however. So it’s lunchtime, which always feels furtive and illegal in this particular month. Fusilli, tuna, capers and rocket salad. Also peaches in syrup:

 

I’m fueling up before the next batch of work so I’m also writing this blog post to keep track of my progress.

  1. I submitted the Alaya Dawn Johnson article after addressing peer review comments and revising bits of it.
  2. I submitted the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie article.
  3. I’m now powering through peer review comments/rewrites/edits on my Angela Slatter + Yangsze Choo psychogeography paper. Got confirmation from the Project leader and editor that I don’t have to change errything and can defend some of my choices. That was a relief! She’s surprisingly easy to work with and I say this with a chuckle because I was absolutely terrified of her when I was a PhD student at the school. Anyway! Onwards to powering up for these edits;.
  4. I hit 40k words in Rosemirror and am now halfway towards 50k words!
  5. Got my Regency horror story up to 3k words!
  6. Grading and doing the supervisor thing.
  7. Steady work on monograph proposal.
  8. Survived a meeting though I’m still upset about that. I’m not upset about the news, what we have to do, or what our esteemed chairperson told us. I’m upset by the shenanigans that happened after she left. But I mean it’s basically the same bs on a different day so what else is new.
  9.  Got enough sleep for most nights though my sleep sched is slightly off because of being upset. Anyway I also decided that I should wake up between 530-630am most mornings because that extra 30-90 mins of sleep? It counts.

Right. Now back to work on the Psychogeography thing, and Rosemirror.

And here’s the snazzy meter for Rosemirror. Going according to schedule. I write fiction as a warmup to writing academic stuff. Sloppy writing indeed. I seriously doubt these hot air blowing sorts write as much. Nor do I believe they write/research/edit methodically/daily in the manner of my creative cohort who juggle both academic work AND creative writing. I know who my tribe are — we straddle both kinds of writing.

46370 / 120000 words. 39% done

Monday Rosemirror Draft Zero Check-in #1

I’m going to post these check-ins every Monday, hopefully. I have a target to finish Draft Zero of Rosemirror by the end of July so that I can revise it at leisure in August and then have September-October free for short fiction and monograph. I’ll still be working on articles and the monograph regardless but it would be good to hyperfocus on it. In November I finish the story-arc of Masks of the Apothecary.

So anyway, woohoo I reached 40k words today 🙂

40341 / 120000 words. 34% done!

I have a lot of other updates to make but right now I am very full from awesome dinner, very satisfied with my progress, and very sleepy. Going to work a bit more on my Regency horror in Sesen story, and then sleep.

Listening to: Rue de cascades: Naomi — Alessandro Simonetto

Rainy Day Writing Update

I’m sick and feverish today, having caught the flu from someone or other. So I allowed myself to sleep in until 6am today since it’s a public holiday, and it helped. Back to waking up at 5am tomorrow though, I think.

Despite this I got a lot done. Perhaps because I got extra sleep. Or maybe it’s just that staying away from social media’s helped me focus and be more peacefully productive! Also, decaf has become a thing since last week and I’m happy with the flavour of the decaf instant I chose (Boncafe). It has tiny amounts of caffeine that seems to agree with me in that I feel slightly more alert.

Onwards to the writing productivity report!

1. Today I wrote around 2500 words in Rosemirror. My goal is to hit 40k words by Sunday.

32820 / 120000 words. 27% done!

The aim is to write 10k words in Rosemirror per week till I hit my draft zero goal of 120k words. Then I’ll take a month or so off from novelwriting to rest my brain before I dive into Masks of the Apothecary in November. That’ll be my NaNoWriMo project this year.

2. On the academic front I’ve done more work on the monograph proposal and chapter I’d like to send to the editor by mid-June. I had to fulfill certain other obligations first but I’m on track for the proposal now. Chapters have been outlined, I’ve read most of the corpus and I know which bits from my dissertation I’m incorporating and how I’m expanding on the work. It’s sort of like writing another dissertation but not really because a monograph is a different beast altogether. I put together different monographs in the past but never completed them. This one feels more…focused? That makes me glad but also a little terrified of rejection.

3. I also started work on the Alaya Dawn Johnson article that came back relatively unscathed from peer review. It isn’t much work required and I already covered the bigger requests from Reviewer #2 who had some good insights. Hoping to deliver this week because next week will be all about the monograph, edits on the Malaysian Gothic chapter I submitted last week and I need to start writing the NK Jemisin paper I’m presenting in July.

4. My plan for May was to write two short stories for the #12for12in2018 challenge because I need to make up for not writing anything in February and March. Well, it turns out that the second May story wants to be a novella. 2nd May story is based on my #NightMarketDays twitter IF which I halted earlier this year because it seemed to want a larger canvas. I guess a novella would be that canvas. This one is based partially on my teenhood in Sungai Petani, Kedah so it is sort of YA! Yikes! Also based on my own music nerdery and the stories I wanted to write in fantastic landscapes surrounded by paddy fields. I read a lot of hikayats and traditional folktales in my teenhood and so this is definitely going to be a very Malaysian novella and it’s causing me to introspect about my life.

HOWEVER. This is not what I wrote today! Today I started my 3rd May story and it was a hop, a skip away from “What do I want to write today ah?” to actually hammering out a Regency-inspired story, set on Sesen. I mean, if you’re going to copiously rewatch both the movie and miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice this was bound to happen. And to be honest, I’ve been wanting to write some Regency stories set on Serolar since I was a teen. So I’m quite excited about this. So far, there are four Sesen short stories I’m working on this year. Two set on Serolar, one’s  a naval adventure set out in the Archipelago, and one more story set on Lusini I’ve yet to finish. I consider this a nice warm-up for November when I’m diving back again into the world of the Yrole Triptych!

And that’s today’s productivity update. I aim to do more!

Onwards to dinner: rice, sambal sotong terung pipit, stirfried french beans w/ beef, and maybe telur dadar (Malay omelette). I’m sick so I don’t think I’m bothering about being under 2k calories today. Got to keep up my strength.

As it turns out I’m sick enough that I couldn’t be bothered about cooking two additional dishes. Besides, with the addition of terung pipit (tiny eggplants that look like peas, ergo pea eggplant) and cherry tomatoes I figured I got enough vegetables there. There were more vegetables than squid actually. So, half a cup of rice, a third of a serving of sambal sotong and a slice (heel of loaf) of bread to wipe up that tasty gravy from the wok was good enough for dinner. And I’m under 2k calories! Phew! (I know I say I can have over 2k calories but the thought of having two cheat days this week made me feel quite miserable!)

I may yet make the telur dadar tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel when I wake up. Very sleepy now.

Listening to: At The Still Point — The Story

December is Here! December is Here!

Phew, I had quite a November. As of right now, I have presented two conference papers (wrote one from scratch, got it solicited for a journal issue, still waiting to hear back), written 20k words in Rosemirror, and have 13 stories out on submission. Plus work on academic writing.

In December, I fully intend to continue working on Rosemirror, bringing it up to between 50k-60k words which is a sweet spot for the ending of a narrative arc. Then I can revise and add more words in 2018, with an estimated finish of 120k words, same as Watermyth.

So, to help keep me motivated, I’m going to be posting my Rosemirror-drafting progress here. It would be really nice to end the year with this because then I’d feel like less of an abject failure 🙂

Write along with me if you’re also trying to catch up on your wordcount! <3

20083 / 50000 words. 40% done!

Word progress meter available here.