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Showing posts from 2013

New Year's Eve: 2013

I’m a glass half-empty kind of gal.
It’s easy for me look back at 2013 and lament the things I didn’t do, the goals I didn’t achieve, the lack of productivity in my days. But I won’t. At least, not here and not at this time. So here’s a positive spin on things. . . .
--I had two short stories published this year, which is double my fiction publication record of any previous year. One of them, Snow’s Daughter in NewMyths.com, was my first paid piece of fiction ever! And the other, Immortal Life, appeared in an awesome science-in-culture webzine I love, LabLit.
--I wrote three new stories after leaving my position this spring. Only three new stories! my critical self mourns, and kicks me for emphasis. What happened to my dreams of productivity? But damnit, they’re good stories. I think that one is the best I’ve ever written. At over 8,000 words, it’s the longest, most ambitious, and most emotionally complex thing I’ve ever tackled. And I think it works. My brilliant First Reader and membe…

Writing is not easy and it might drive me mad

Writing is not getting any easier.
I hoped, of course, that it would. But as another writer once said (I can’t remember who, or the exact quote), every time I sit down to write a story, it’s like learning how to write a story all over again. The lessons from the past don’t carry over--not completely--and it’s a different learning curve each time.
I’ve spent the last few months struggling with an awful, jaw-grinding mess of a story. It’s way longer than I ever meant it to be. The narration swoops in and out of present and past tense. I can’t judge its success. There are part of it that I love. But I don’t know if all hangs together in a coherent whole. There’s a character that hasn’t quite come into focus for me. There is a passage that is still niggling away at my mind, that doesn’t seem quite right.
Be careful what you wish for, they say. I wanted to see what it would be like to spend a solid month or two on nothing but fiction writing. I turned down potential freelance (paid) gigs to d…

Work, money, value, rambling

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “work.” I’ve been thinking about how we devalue work that isn’t paid, about how we define some types of work as “frivolous” and ultimately not real work at all; about how we often assume that real, serious, socially validated work is hard and frequently unpleasant and how true “passion” for one’s work is, outside of certain narrow exceptions, immediately suspect.
“Work is work,” I was frequently told growing up. “You’re not supposed to like your work. That’s why it’s called work.”
I ran across this lovely essay in the New York Times, and its themes have been ringing in my head ever since. The author of the piece appears to be a comfortable, financially successful middle-aged man with what would be considered a “real” job. His son is a 25-year old musician. The author writes with love and pride and concern about his son’s career path:
“My son Max is a 25-year-old singer and songwriter who goes by the moniker Dolfish. When my friends ask how his caree…

Doesn't everyone feel this?

I'd always assumed everyone felt this.

But it's good to see it expressed. Especially so beautifully.

Ramblings about fictional characters

I’ve been thinking about what makes me fall in love with a fictional (literary, film, or television) character. Critics bat around terms like “realistic,” “complex,” and “multi-dimensional.” I would say that the latter two traits are definitely important to me. But “realistic?” I’m actually not so sure.
Critics have praised the characters of the Hunger Games trilogy as realistic. I’ve seen reviews praising other popular genre works—Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, even the anime series Attack on Titan—as having characters that are engaging because they’re “realistic.” Bullshit. Katniss Everdeen and her friends are compelling, flawed, and complex. But “realistic?” Katniss and her friends are layered, but they’re also smarter, stronger, braver, more badass, and also better looking than any ordinary people out there.
Maybe the term I’m trying to refute isn’t “realistic.” Maybe it’s actually “ordinary.” Katniss and her friends are not ordinary. The most beloved characters of genre (and…

What I want

As I left my girls in the bathtub tonight, the older one, "bean-girl," was telling the younger, "Legume," a story. Something about mermaids and jelly doughnuts.

I passed by the bathroom a few times as I put away laundry and took care of small tasks. I heard Legume enthuse, "That's a really good story!"

I heard bean-girl say modestly, "No, it really isn't. It's just a mix of things."

The next time I passed by the bathroom, I heard a squawk and ruckus. "Mom!" bean-girl cried. "Legume is being crazy! She pinched my ear!"

I sighed. "Why did you pinch, Legume? That's not nice."

"Because she won't tell me the rest of the story!" Legume pouted.

After their bath, Legume chased bean-girl around the house, demanding to hear the rest of the story. "I can't tell the rest because I don't know what happens next!" bean-girl said, giggling and running as Legume threatened to pinch he…

Hello, world

Well. The weather has been playing with us; it's been in the 80s this week, and the kids think it's summer as they play out in the yard, begging to stay out until the sun goes down. But it's nearly mid-September, and they're finishing their second week of school. New friends, new classes, and lots of new experiences both in and out of the classroom.

Changes for me, too.

And with those changes a new blog as well. September, someone recently said in the part of the blogosphere I visit, is a great time for re-sets.

For those who have followed me from my old blog. . . thank you. There will be a shift of focus in this new blog. Since I'm not a research scientist anymore I won't, obviously, be blogging about the world of hands-on research science. I'm trying to make a go of it as a freelance biomedical writer and editor, but I probably won't talk (too) much about that here. (I may eventually launch a separate website for more science-y posts).

This will be m…