Resplendent in my Bachelorette Fortress of Nerdcore Solitude

Having a restful weekend so far, although I’ve already opened up one of my articles in progress to do some work on it. No rest for the wicked, obviously. I did get 10 hours of sleep which I desperately needed after a week of sleep deprivation. Yesterday I had no sleep at all apart from a quick 1 hour nap. I feel I need a pat on the back because I didn’t cancel my lunchtime appointment at Dolly Dim Sum with a cool academic from another university. It was a neat 3 hour lunch — both for social reasons and for academic collaboration reasons, and I greatly enjoyed both the company and the conversation. Also, not doing solo dim sum meant there was more choice of dim sum without my completely smashing my calorie allowance. It helps that both social meals this week were with people who are also counting calories or otherwise dieting, haha.

Today I: watched 3 episodes of Westworld, did three loads of laundry, and have been reading The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker, which is a rather fun read.

Oh, and I sent an email to the nice Dublin Worldcon admin about the status of my membership, paid my September installment plan and…I guess I’m going after all. I did cancel my reservation for Eccles Townhouse on Monday so I think I’m going to wait till January to see what the Concom have reserved for accommodation. Might be good to get a closer room to the Con site.

The sad thing about this is that now I can’t go for the Spain conference. Simply can’t afford Australia, Spain AND Dublin in the same year. :/

I could perhaps do Dublin and France.

#

I nearly thought of schlepping over to Tiffin this weekend but too much in need of introversion downtime after a week so active/social, it was like I was a PhD student again (I was waaaay social as a postgrad — outings, and reading groups, and dates, oh my). The only person I’ve talked to today was the nice grocery delivery boy. Bought a nice rib-eye steak for tomorrow 😀

Anyway, it was GREAT being social again and having great conversations. It does mean a lot of adjustment has to happen on my part, after being in seclusion for so long. I also need to look after the fact that if I have too much interaction I get skittish and cagey and paranoid.

But I guess it’s good I’m mindful of the pitfalls and my own faults. Thank heavens for small mercies?

Other news: Despite cheat week the scales report my weight has not gained, not really. But the coming week will be atonement week. Today is not a cheat day. Nor will tomorrow be a cheat day. The aim is to do 6-7 days at under 1700 calories. Although I may tiptoe over to Tiffin on Thursday again.

Listening to: Faded in the Morning — Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Still having UMO withdrawals)

The Perils of an Unnaturally Eventful Week

I feel I got my chain yanked in a major way the past weekend which wound up in me making some prematurely drastic decisions like not attending Worldcon. I won’t say much about the chain-yanking but yeah, I don’t really foresee myself backtracking on not going to Dublin. Might have been nice, but I really do want to see other parts of Europe. Or save money.

It’s been an eventful week and right now I’m “overclocking” (as a past acquaintance would say). Haven’t slept all night — just been mulling over all the things after a lovely night out at Tiffin. My brain and body is just computing how social I’ve been lately. It’s a bit of a culture shock considering my prolonged hermitude outside of work since I returned to Malaysia (apart from my brief social stint in 2015 that didn’t end well).

Anyway, decided to just start the day. Have another meetup — hoping I won’t be a complete vegetable. My adrenaline high might last me till about 2pm though.

Bright side — this is a great way to reset my internal clock.

In other news, I really need to start paying more attention to red flags before things accelerate. Anyway. I’m going to be deleting chunks of past posts that were the result of yanked chain. I am taking into account said red flags now and will initiate self-care mode of vigilance.

I Think It’s Perfectly Clear, We’re In The Wrong Band

It’s been a trying and tiring post-concert day. But I did get a chunk of reading and planning done for the monograph, also set up the next fairytale salon and did some wrangling. Sad that I haven’t done any fiction writing this week. I’ve been too mentally and emotionally unsettled by [redacted]. So much so that this week has become a Cheat Week. At this rate I’ll put on a kg. Sigh.

I was nearly about to just give up on Watermyth but Agent Bro sent me such a strange rejection that’s now transformed into a revision request that I realised I have so much more work to do to get more unequivocal responses. All of the personals I’ve received so far seem to be saying the same thing. They seem to love the prose, the worldbuilding but they don’t seem able to connect with the style. I suspect some of this is because I *am* trying to do something very different with narrative. I really need an agent who is a hybrid between literary fiction and speculative fiction, someone who will appreciate what the novel is trying to do. But what if I never find that agent? And on the other hand, I do acknowledge that the novel needs some dramatic heft, and I could lose a few of the perspectives like nice Agent Bro suggested.

I’m kind of keen on Agent Bro because he’s been very quick to respond all the times I emailed him, and we communicate well. Communication is I think really important for me. I need an agent who is on the ball and who will keep me abreast of what is going on. Also seems an all-around nice fella and feels safe. Safe is good.

I was also keen on Superstar Agent Bro but he’s ghosted me since January and he has a huge and very impressive roster of clients. Readers, I don’t think he’s that into my novel. I expect to get a rejection sometime next year. I mean, ex-Dream Agent did eventually get to rejecting me. Though her rejection was really helpful and incisive.

#

I don’t think Tiffin is going to happen tomorrow. This week’s also been an intensely menstrual week. The past 3-4 months my period’s been quite scanty, albeit regular. But this month it’s back to being heavy. Not horribly heavy, but with godawful pains. I dunno why. Maybe I was stressed because I was pushing out articles, and the past two weeks I’ve basically not been working on articles and just doing readings/plannings for the  monograph? Maybe. Maaaybe. Or maybe I am feeling okay because I’ve submitted all those articles. All I want to do after the last class tomorrow is to come home and pull on pjs. So I am a boring old fuddy-duddy but you know what, it’s nice to just come home and pull the covers over me. And I want to write. No, I need to write.

#

Someone has apparently put me in the Nebula Reading List. Wasn’t expecting to be put on anything this year. Grateful for it. That’s three years in a row. That’s something, even if I never get nominated. But there are thousands of good stories out there, so…who am I to presume.

Listening to: Yes, Anastasia — Tori Amos

discombobulated post-concert thoughts

Tonight I went for Unknown Mortal Orchestra. My first concert since Dad’s passing. I nearly didn’t go. I was drained from the past week and this week’s still hectic. I was also incredibly drained and upset to learn that [redacted].

[redacted]

Anyway. Whew. Didn’t expect to rant. But it’s also been oddly…healing?

I had some words with another author about this matter and I totally didn’t expect to bring up another matter — but it WAS related. Anyway, they apologized, and I accepted it. And I apologized for my part as well. Closure. I feel. I needed that.

So. Where err, was I?

I forgot my fitbit! I was on my way to gig when I realized I forgot my fitbit! But I told myself “Eh, screw it. Let’s see how well you fare without it!” also, “You stood by Dad’s side in the HDU ward for over four hours some afternoons, looking after him, chasing after nurses. You were okay. You’ll be okay here. The echo test already said your heart’s okay!”

So during my drive, I was reliving all of those hours with Dad. My last hours with Dad.

Then later, I had one of my made-up-words in my head, and I remembered Dad’s made-up-words. It’s a gentle kind of sadness.

#

I had a really good time at the concert. My bpm was okay by the time I reached the car and used one of the bpm-checking aps on my phone. Around 82.

I also really missed my father tonight.

These two truths are equally true.

I may have a more detailed post about the concert another day. Sleep now. Tomorrow’s another frantic day at work. Still tempted to do Tiffin on Thursday. We’ll see. Worried it might be awkward but my tastebuds say, “Screw awkwardness, get at the food!”

I ATEN’T DEAD

Just mentally exhausted from recent SFF shenanigans. I’ve got no energy even to rehash it here on this blog. Just want my silent blog-readers to know that I’ve deactivated twitter and facebook. Maybe if I stay off I can really be cool like Sofia Samatar, haha.

I’m not sending out any more agent queries this year. One of the agent bros who has my full replied finally today with the strangest rejection ever. It was also the most complimentary and encouraging rejection. Seems like he really likes my writing but the novel wasn’t grabbing him, he’d wanted some changes but didn’t seem to feel like he should ask for revisions when other agents might accept it peacemeal. He did say he’d like to read it again should I revise it.

I was a bit bemused but it was also a bit funny so I chuckled. Then I responded by giving him my novelwriting timeline and that I did want to majorly revise Watermyth…next year. And that I would be happy to give him a revised version. He replied that he’d be happy to read it. I’m all, “If you’re happy, I’m happy, bro.”

In the meanwhile, I want to find some time to finish drafting Rosemirror. This series has grown so much I really think it would benefit from my finishing off the second book. In fact, I can’t help wondering if this might wind up a duology rather than a trilogy. I feel like I’m close to tying up some major arcs.

And then, in November, I want to start my literary foodie magic realism novel set in Penang. I’m so excited for that.

[redacted]

Not quite cutting off my nose to spite my face, loves. I’d just really rather go for academic conferences rather than waste so much money just to go to a toxic and unsafe environment for me. CONS feel toxic AF rn. I’m sad, but that’s the reality of it. And I’m not made of money. Not going to Worldcon will make 2019 less of a financial tightrope. Also tempted to go for that memory conference in Madrid. It’s ON MY BIRTHDAY YO. Me, in spain, talking about memory theory, and eating awesome spanish food. And watching the flamenco. Ole! Ole!

 

**daydreams**

Wonder what happened to that other agent bro who has had my full since January and who is basically ghosting me. S’up bro.

An Eventful Non-Eventful Saturday?

Today’s been a quietish day. I continue my trend of only having 5-6ish hours of sleep this week. I am really going to suffer this coming week because of it. There were various waves of preparations for the salon happening tomorrow. A semi-social, semi-for-research purposes gathering at my home. I’m still toying with the idea of making it a special interest group but don’t think I want to because that would ruin the camaraderie that’s evolved out of this endeavor. Plus I think we have enough people. It’s just the right balance. I’m not super into making a huge amount of new friends.

I think I’m still getting to know the newer ones I’ve made this year, and I’m still very cautious about new friendships. When things happen too fast, they usually don’t last. I’ve been burned before so I’ve learned my lessons. I hope. I also need to be careful about the things I say. I have a bad habit of oversharing when I like people. Urgh. I mean look, I also overshare on twitter and on this blog so that’s par for the course, really.

What I watched today

I finally sat down to watch Westworld Season 2 and was quite riveted by it although a bit lost at first as I’ve forgotten key events in Season 1. Also watched some of the Emmy awards. Some dude proposed to his girlfriend when he won the awards. Wonder what would have happened if he had lost. I am so glad I’m not what people consider marriage material. I had half-hearted jokey proposals in Australia, and I’ve always maintained that only a proper proposal would get me halfway towards considering a “yes”. But I also don’t like these public, showy proposals. I find them emotionally dishonest and it’s all about pressuring the proposee to say yes. I would have said no on principle.

Anyway, as I said — good thing I’m a confirmed spinster to whom such things will never happen 🙂

Though I sometimes do think sadly about the magical garden wedding I thought I wanted to have someday (when I was a teenager). I mean, I am such a total girl in that respect. So I satisfied myself by having two awkwardly romantic proposals and a lavish wedding in Rosemirror. I mean, that’s one way, right?

Food today:

Savoury French toast for brunch, pasta bake for dinner w/ an avocado, romaine and tomato salad on the side, fruit, Ciao Bella sorbeto (mango), and sugarless chocolate. I mean, it is a Saturday after all.

Reading:

Inuit folktales for tomorrow’s salon. I’m interested in talking about (surprise, surprise) body horror.

Thinking about:

  • My various writing and research projects, and my monograph. Somewhat frustrated at how long it’s taking me.
  • Whether or not I have enough food planned for tomorrow. I’m doing a build-your-own sandwich spread so there’ll be chicken, salmon, sardine and tuna. I’ve already made slow-cooker chicken for one of the fillings, there’s smoked salmon, going to make a traditional chilli sardine spread, and tuna with dill and onions. There are also vegetables, and two types of bread. People are bringing various things. I still need to go to the store for essentials I forgot when I ordered my groceries.
  • That awkward thing that happened today. I left twitter for the weekend to AVOID drama, and drama followed me. Aii. Major facepalm. Life’s too short, man. Is mercury in retrograde or something????

Listening to: Agate Beach — Grouper

Academia, Life, Depeche Mode Earworms….and me

It hasn’t really been a good healthy eating/fitness week. I had a three-day cheat day weekend, and the rest of the week I’ve been eating juuuust under my food threshold for weightloss. Ironically, last week was my best streak of eating under 1800 calories. But, the weight’s mostly stayed off, give or take 0.2-0.3kg that’s been coming and going. That’s just the usual bodily functions — retaining water or gas or whatnot. Also, it’s been cold, and it’s my first teaching week in what may be my best teaching semester in 2-3 years. I hope it’ll go well. I was excited to teach my Masters course and my Creative Writing BA course. But teaching is hungry work, especially in this weather! It’s unusually cold for the Klang Valley and feels almost like a Queensland autumn.

Today I was so tired I nearly fell down twice. I haven’t been sleeping well all week. The extra-cold weather has resulted in odd bone aches.

*Note: I don’t call what I’m doing “a diet”. I call it mindful eating for a healthier me. Which means allowing myself cheat-days, and not being guilty about what I eat while also minding my intake. It works for me, but I am a bit frustrated about how I’ve been eating this week. Not quite guilt, just feel I could have made smarter food choices. Will fix that.

Other things that happened this week:

  • (Well this happened on Saturday, really), the spanish translation of “Body Horror Book Club” went live over at The Dark.
  • I got an acceptance for my Gothic abstract, so I’ll be schlepping over to the Gold Coast next January for the GANZA conference. First Gothic conference as opposed to the Gothic track.
  • “Murderbunny’s Magical Moonlight Ride” has now found a home over at Toasted Cake.
  • Submitted my fifth article this year. Thought it was SIX but I did submit this particular article twice. So there’s a confusion right there.
  • Today I submitted my Research in African Literatures article AGAIN. I checked the website and saw they had a managing editor now, and a different email address. So I queried re my March 27 submission — and found out that they actually have an OJS. It wasn’t on the website the last time I checked. Anyway, so I submitted it. I’m slightly frustrated because that’s a lost six months — but also happy they have an OJS because that means it’s a more familiar, safer submission system. It’s helpful for future articles I might want to send their way.
  • Tonight I worked on that research cluster evaluation form re our milestone achievements for the year. Since I don’t have a single academic publication for 2018 yet, I had to pdf all of the documentation that I’d submitted stuff and they’d been received. Hence, checking on the RAL submission status!
  • After I submitted my Gothic article on Tuesday I said, “That’s it, no more academic writing till next week, no more article writing till November”. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Riiiight. I’ve done monograph work and article work. Clearly I “just can’t get enough, just can’t get enough”.
  • Oh, fiction front: I was going to start a September story this week for the 12 for 12 Codex challenge that I am still participating in. Wound up starting two new stories — and I’m quite pleased with the sentence-level writing in it. I feel I’m revving up to produce some decent chunks of writing, if I could only find the quiet time for it. But I seem to be bereft of quiet moments right now. Well, muses are never cooperative, yeah?
  • May join SFWA later this year. I mean it’s been a longterm goal of mine, might as well.

I guess in a nutshell that’s it. Small good things, some bad things, a lot of uncertainty. Doesn’t really help that I’m also PMSing right now 😛

(I’ve deleted some other things re my angst/anxiety re monograph and next semester’s courseload. Seems I’ve said too many unnecessary things given these feelings of anxiety are mostly transient. And I think, given my anxiety about my monograph and since I was not given a deadline, it’s well worth taking time to make sure the chapters are really good before I submit. And then let them decide what series it should go into. It’s evolved into something I am quite excited about. Good things take time. Ultimately, I need to be proud of the work I put out.)

Listening to: Stuck — Grouper

Crushes vs Communication: A Retrospective, not a Troll

Plugging away at the article while listening to Unknown Mortal Orchestra while navel-gazing about crushes, or mostly — my history of writing crush posts on the older version of this blog and then deleting them. Elicits some chuckles from me.

For me, blog posts about crushes aren’t so much what they seem. For example, in 2014 — several horrible SFF-related things had put me in a very dark place, coupled with my work-related stress. Just posting about crushes had the effect of amusing me enough I was laughing PLUS trolling various people who keep reading my blog, esp those creepy people from SFF who were digging for dirt because they thought I was in the “inner circle” of an SFF author they hated.

Crushes are fun but they also aren’t very mature things. They’re not committed relationships. And this morning I reflected on the fact that maybe I squirrel away myself into crushes simply because I have neither the time, energy or experience to want to comprehend the kind of work that goes into relationships. Friendships, I am re-learning. They require some work. Work we take for granted with the friendships of our youth. Re-learning it as an adult? It’s something else. And for most of my time back in Malaysia I’ve just been focused on surviving on various basic levels in a toxic system. I’ve been focused a lot on self-care. Crushes were also a form of self-care so life would not feel so bleak. I am, after all, a person who lives inside her head a lot.

But I also compartmentalize. Like, I can hold crush feelings within friendship feelings, and not want to go beyond the crush. So these posts aren’t a beacon inviting affection so much as “scaring away” affection. This is the kind of thing only a fellow extreme introvert would understand.

But anyway. Being out and about, busy etc has done its job. I’ve come over the most of my extreme grief over Dad. I’m healing. Which also means that I have no more crushes again. Yahoo. I mean this year’s crush was way too long distance etc. At some point in the future if things are feasible, I’m happy to consider friendship because this year’s crush seems a lovely and interesting human being. But for right now, I’m just happy not to have those feelings so I can focus on my work. As for past crush, ahahaha. Bumped into past crush lately. Happy to report that apart from some awkwardness etc, I don’t think I’m going to be in that state again. I am safe! Maybe it’s because with this year’s crush there was actual interaction despite distance? And I’ve had plenty of great interaction with great (albeit distant) guys over the past 2-3 years that feels far more real than this crush. People with whom I’ve shared a lot more, and who have been in my corner as an author. I will never forget those kindnesses and what it means when people are REALLY there for you like that. I’m not crushing on these bros (thank God, I do not want any SFF industry crushes aiyo!!). They’re all friends in this writing thing and I see them more as “bros”. But they’ve also become a new (old) standard for me. At the bare minimum, any romantic interest should involve communication, I think — now that I am older and (we hope), more mature.

But I did have 2-3 crush-free years. So I should be okay. I was a bit worried for a moment the other day because of brush-in with past crush, but then I was okay. No fireworks, just the odd comfort of familiarity coupled with hilarity over an absurd situation.

(I may also have been trolling an eavesdropper because you know, my inner loki)

And that, as they say, is the end of that! Back to finessing this article for submission!

 

Listening to: If You’re Going to Break Yourself — Unknown Mortal Orchestra

My Social Weekend,and other stories

I went to sleep, woke up with a start and then realized my Fitbit Versa’s battery was dying. So while it charges, here’s a blog post!

The first week of the semester started midweek. We had a four-day weekend, followed by a three-day week, followed by a three-day weekend. Despite all this, I am pretty tired. The four-day weekend was heaven. I got a lot of work done in my monograph, the article I’m submitting tomorrow, my novel, wrote a bunch of poems, read storybooks, cooked, and even started drawing for a new watercolour painting.

The first week of the semester mostly consisted of academic writing/research, and coordinating course slots/timetables for what is going to be my hugest intake for creative writing this semester. Not due to any popularity or knowledge of who your humble writer is, but because students are (1) required to take this course for the TESL programme (2) trying to fulfill their liberal studies credit hours. But hey, it’s great that the TESL ppl made my course compulsory, I’m grateful for it.

I also had to do various errands and shopping stuff this week. Things that run out (like meds, toiletries etc) tend to run out in batches. Soon I really need to buy new shoes (I hate shoe-shopping with a vengeance). Then came yesterday, my social day. So social I spent most of today recuperating from it. Being me, that’s angstily recuperating.

I went for a feminist reading group w/ awesome new friend and was introduced to her old friend whom I thought was quite delightful. It was a mixed bag, the reading group. I met the moderator whom another new friend and this new friend wanted me to meet. I liked her well enough. I was at first skeptical about the selected chapter from Mohanty but then warmed up to it and wanted an in-depth discussion about it. It wasn’t helped by the fact that most people either had not read the chapter, or had not understood the chapter. It kind of disintegrated into a kind of academic-bashing which really pissed me off. I was quite vocal and punchy. Partially because I was feeling a bit protective of the moderator — I am such a mama bear and I dunno why these younger academics make me feel protective. I don’t think they’d appreciate my protectiveness at any rate, they’re grown-ups and look after themselves.

So after that we (new friend and newer friend) went to Tiffin Food Court. I’d wanted to check out the food and had asked a couple of new friends if they were interested. They were. So new friend was not so happy with the wristband system and was quite vocally unhappy about it. I probably should have rescued her but I was ranging around absorbing all the things — must remember not to be in lala land when hanging out with people, I guess. I kind of like the idea of the food court but mostly I was driving myself dizzy trying to figure out what I should eat without going waaay above my calorie maintenance level. I mean I have cheat days but they’re very mindful cheat days. I was okay with the wristband system but was quite flustered about the BOOST app because I tried and tried to get the TAC and it wouldn’t work for me. The nice girls at the booth helped me figure it out and then I was ready to go. I guess like most events by this company there’s always a gimmick or thing and this one is the wristband as payment system. I sometimes wonder what came first, music festivals and food coupon systems or Burning Man. But I dig the alternate culture vibe at these festivals and I’m used to it. I probably should have explained it to friend but I think she’s giving it another go. I said I wanted to check out the food again, and apologised for not explaining stuff to her beforehand but she was all “Aiyah, small matterlah”. And that was that. 🙂

Speaking for me, I’m happy to see the foodcourt up and running after what happened last year when they had to shut down due to red tape (been there so many times within the academic context I couldn’t help a huge twinge of empathy) — I was also mildly bummed because I wanted to check it out last year. But last year I didn’t have people to go with me, and this year I do. That’s cool because it also means I can share food and won’t eat so much. I want to go again because there are some other popup stalls with food I wouldn’t be able to eat on ordinary days — places I’m too shy to go on my own. This time around, I really loved the iraqi falafel served up by Picha project. But the real hit for me was the truffle yakiniku by Tanuki Raw which gets two thumbs up from me. Also, that banana yogurt cake hit the spot (the coffee stuff looked real good but I am decaf girl and they don’t do decaf). My only real complaint is that I wish they hadn’t mass-plated up some of the food in advance because it meant the food was cold and I’m quite particular about that.

Other things I enjoyed: The general ambiance, and the music was spot on, though there may have been a wry laugh or two from yours truly. I also enjoyed the conversation muchly. It is nice to be around people who exist on the same level of silly as me, and with whom I can talk norty stuff. Very refreshing. I’m surrounded by people who take themselves too seriously at work and I always worry I’m going to be out of step or something, I never know when people are going to be offended. There were a couple of those offendable sorts at the reading group — youngsters who snapped at me so much my heartrate went up to 150! Gosh! Not going again, sorry. Even though I was assured that I was quite mannerly and mindful in my rebuttals, I don’t think I can say the same about a couple of those punters (who hadn’t read the set texts, mind).

ANYWAY, it’s nice just to be silly and laugh. Can’t remember the last time I laughed so much at a social gathering. Maybe during my PhD student days when I was also unusually social — when I finally found people to hang out with. It took me 6 months in Australia. It took me what, 7 years in Malaysia? That’s right. This month, it’s been 7 years since my return from Australia. And I’m only now having a semblance of a social life again. The year my father died. Life’s really odd like that and I wonder what Daddy would make of it. I’d like to think this pleases him. He was always so worried I was such a loner upon my return. It kept him up at night worrying about me.

I still sometimes reach out to the phone to call him out of force of habit.

#

This week, I am teaching a full week, and then there are a couple of events I haven’t decided if I am attending or not. I did say I might go for the SF talk, we’ll see. See my fatigue levels first. Also taking mother out for dinner on Friday night. Then Saturday I am crashing. Initially was going to go for a talk with friends  but since Sunday is our fairytale salon, have excused myself because I need an introversion crash day. Otherwise I’ll be a bear with a sore paw and no good to anyone. Also, I am still made of glass. I sometimes feel like a Victorian cliche with my delicate nerves, sigh. But if I weren’t so sensitive I wouldn’t be the poet/author that I am, I guess. For what it’s worth. Also why you won’t see me fooling around with guys even if I ever got thin enough for that to be an option. I sometimes think back in wonder — that there was a time in my early thirties that I finally dated. I was a different person in Australia. Or maybe I was just so stressed with my PhD I decided that dating would be an excellent method of procrastination.

Now, the thought of it freaks me out. I guess I’m just a nice and timid auntie now. Nevermind that ladies older than me seem to be having such happening love lives. Oh well.

Later when I wake up, I submit this psychogeography x postcolonial Gothic article. This is the one I worked on during my birthday weekend, my ridiculously expensive birthday writing retreat that should have been used for my novel. Anyway, rereading it has revealed I repeated myself too much and it reads like I wrote it drunk even though  I am straight edge. So, now no more mystery as to why it was rejected. It’s a sleeker and more lucid paper now and I have achieved emotional closure. Hoping to submit it in time. Then work on monograph. Next month, I submit the M&T article that got a peer review in 2015. A punishing peer review. Also need to submit the revised monograph proposal and the two sample chapters the very nice editor bro requested. Don’t want to let myself OR the editor bro down. So, must make it good.

Hey, I’m still learning to be an effective academic writer, here.

Right. I think my Versa should be charged enough now.

Back to sleep.

Listening to: Blood Red— The Colorist Orchestra, Emilliana Torrini

The Year of Stepping Back

I’m just going to post some things here about SFF communities and my act of stepping back this year. Then I’m moving on.

  1. The SFF community is far from perfect. We’ve known this for years. Year after year we are afflicted with controversy, inequities and other forms of drama. But when voiced out, people get defensive and when they get defensive, they get dangerous. This too becomes part of the drama.
  2. It’s difficult because — and I say this cautiously — it appears that how far you progress in SFF (like academia, tbh) depends on social mileage, who you know, whether your personality is a good fit or not. I say this cautiously because there are the outliers and trailblazers. These people to me I admire. They win, get nominated because simply, their works are amazing. These are the people I want to emulate. But by and far,  SFF depends on skills some of us simply do not possess.
  3. Conversely, being in the SFF pro or rather, neopro circles is rather stressful because so much seems to hinge on being on lists, or being nominated, or getting awards. Before, my only goal was (1) to get THREE pro publications, and (2) join SFWA so that (3) I would be better positioned to get an agent. But the waters get muddied, don’t they. I’m close to getting 20 short fiction sales (1 sale away), but I still feel like I’m a loser because, well. I’ve never been on year’s bests, or nominated for any major award. I did get nominated for the Rhysling’s but I keep feeling that was a fluke. And yes, Morning Cravings was in a BSFA award-winning anthology, but mine was never one of the favourite stories from that anthology so I don’t really feel I deserve that accolade.
  4. This year, my father passed away. I keep mentioning it because it’s like this huge unscale-able mountain in the landscape of who I am. As with most unexpected things, grief re-wired my synapses. Some things became clear. Some things are untenable. This constant pressure and feelings of shame/failure because of SFF is unhealthy. So I stepped back. And now I focus on the small things. The joy of finessing a poem, the joy of writing short stories, small unscale-able victories. Improving my quality of life, making new friends, strengthening pre-existing bonds.
  5. People took my “I’m stepping away from the SFF community”  as a personal insult. I’ve endured many subtweets that were defensive about that community. Most of these subtweets are from people far more privileged than me, who have and will enjoy successes I can only dream about. Except no, I don’t dream of these successes anymore. I just say, “not for the likes of me”, and understand that it’s a glass ceiling just like the glass ceiling I “enjoy” in Malaysian academia. A “jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never ever jam today” situation. I knew this truth in 2014. I know it now, even though I have come such a long way in 2018. I get only what I am allowed to have, what is allocated for me. I know this much. Just like I know in some ways I can never succeed in local academia. It doesn’t mean I’m stepping away from friends and connections made in this profession. It’s simply that I, as an undeniable SFF pro (look, I’ve got enough fiction sales to claim I’m an SFF pro now) now view SFF as a profession. And within any profession there’ll always be dramas, dodgy politics and so you’re going to need time outs. You’re going to need to step away and focus on the quality of your life. But you’ll also make friends you like, that you’ll want to hang out with, outside of work. Small pockets of community that you’re okay with. Or small pockets that you help build. That’s all. I just would rather not be part of that manic circus forever fermenting each other in a frenzy for prizes only a select few will attain. I will never get those prizes. It’s cool, man.
  6. I am a workhorse. In both of my workplaces (academia and professional SFF). I will never be the first to know things. I will never be part of the “in-crowd”. People will always gossip. Rivals who are well-placed will always tell or make up tales to ensure my pathways to better success or positions will be blocked. It’s cool, man. I’m content in my own small way. In my own way, despite this huge mountain of grief within me, I am a happier and more secure person than them. That’s my award. That I can be a person who doesn’t get chosen, who has had a lifetime of being in the cold, not being chosen, who is used to NOT getting the nice things — and still be happy, content, confident in my love for the work I do.
  7. Other good things have been happening to me this year. They help with this process of detaching.
  8. I will not be on any of the other lists I usually am on towards the end of the year. Because there will be no eligibility tweets, no posts from me. I’ve never liked doing it and I won’t do it this year. In January, I’ll likely do a tally of publications and acceptances but that’s for my own records and for the records of my readers.
  9. My readership has more than doubled in the past year. That’s also one of the small triumphs I will claim.
  10. I live for the small things now. But I will still submit works, still support the editors and publishers who publish me by plugging their works, still be professional, still make friends, still try to go for Cons. I’m hoping to be able to do this once a year. We’ll see.

And this is my last post about that for the year.

Listening to: Breaking of the Sword — Loreena McKennit