Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cool Writer, Cool Interview

I was fortunate enough to be housed with Annie Bellet at Clarion last year, and we had lots of great talks about the industry and self-publishing and traditional publishing. She’s the only classmate of mine who’d really gotten into e-publishing as far as I have, and we traded tips and tricks. I learned a lot from her, not only about e-publishing, but about writing full time, about lamias, and about Starcraft. And as if all that weren’t enough, I was lucky enough to read some really fabulous stories from her, at Clarion and after, as she’s been kind enough to share some of her many and varied works.

She was interviewed by Brad Torgersen, and so now you can also get to hear some of her advice on writing full time and self-publishing (you’ll have to ask her about Starcraft and lamias). And when you’re done there, you can head over to Amazon and try out any of her lovely, thrilling stories.

Check out the interview! And Annie’s blog is interesting too, providing updates on her work and her thoughts on writing and life.

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List of my stories

With this Write-a-Thon coming up (you’ll hear more if you missed it), I thought it’d be a good idea to list all the stories I have currently out in print. There are more than I thought! And that doesn’t include the four that were printed in Anthrolations and two from Historimorphs that haven’t been reprinted (one from each publication has been recently reprinted). Gosh, this is almost enough for, y’know, like, a collection. Assuming I’m not embarrassed by some of those early ones.

So anyway, yeah, here’s the list: https://timsusman.wordpress.com/my-stories/

The out-of-print stories are: “Many Years From Now,” “Darkest Night,” “Golden,” “First Light,” “One More Time,” and “Our Race to Run.” At least I know “Golden” and “Our Race to Run” are ones I wouldn’t mind seeing in print again. Maybe that’ll be a project for sometime later this year.

Summer Write-A-Thon!

The Clarion Foundation holds a Write-A-Thon every summer in which writers solicit sponsors to raise money for Clarion, which lets them put on their excellent programs. I’m participating this year, and next week they will start taking donations. The money goes to a great cause and I promise I will be writing some awesome stuff this summer.

So if you’ve got twenty bucks or so to spare, keep it handy for next week and I’ll post more as we get closer to the start! It runs concurrently with the Clarion workshop, so from the last week of June to the first week of August.

Across a City In Under an Hour

For the fourth time, Mark and I accompanied some friends to the Bay to Breakers run. Last year I accomplished my goal of running the 12K race in under an hour (59:37, I think), so people kept asking what my goal for this year would be. “To do better,” I said. I don’t know. I’m not a runner, and so I’m not going to get much more off my time. The best finishing times are around 35 minutes; the best times in my age group are around 40. So while I could maybe–maybe–get down to 50 minutes with a lot of training and work, I am pretty happy just to keep generally fit and be able to run a 7.7 mile race with very little specific preparation.

For the first time, we didn’t stay in the city before the race. Caltrain ran special trains, and we took the first one up, which got us about a mile and a half from the start in just enough time for us to walk there and join the press of people surging toward the start. The train itself was amusing, very much a party train inasmuch as any train can be at 5:45 in the morning. We couldn’t sit together, and David ended up sitting with people who were shaking glitter over everyone and drinking. There were costumes: a seahorse, a cow, a couple in mock-wedding clothes with “Just Married” taped to the back, and all kinds of crazy, colorful garb. We’d thought we might nap on the way up, but that proved pretty impossible.

The weather this year was about the best since the first time we ran it: sunny and warm, and I know that’s not ideal running weather, but at 7 am it is. (For better or worse, I think the weather was responsible for the much greater incidence of naked runners this year.) We crossed the starting line around 7:08 in a mob of people and I immediately tried to build up speed, which involves a lot of running back and forth to get around people who are conserving their energy. This year, I used the Nike+ app on my phone to give me mile-by-mile updates, which was helpful: over the first two miles, it told me my average pace was 7:20/mile, which was great considering I just need to average 8 minutes per mile to finish in an hour.

Then we hit the hill. That’s always a killer, and this year, like last, I tried to run up it. Made it last year, didn’t quite make it this year. The last block wore me out. But then we got to run down the other side. There’s a long flat run to the park, and in the park the first mile or so slopes uphill, which I hadn’t really noticed before, but it did hurt my time; my average at mile 5 was 7:54/mile. Still on pace, but up from 7:53/mile the previous mile, and I thought I’d been doing pretty well. The track sloped downhill from there, and with the determination of improving my time, I made full use of the assistance of gravity.

Once again, it was a huge lift to see the ocean come into view. I love the ocean anyway, and seeing it at the end of the race is pretty sweet. Gives me a good lift for that last stretch, with the finish line right there. So I pushed, and crossed the line (the clocks read 1:12 on one side and 1:13 on the other, having been started at some oddly arbitrary point before 7 am), and when I pulled up the Nike+ app to stop it (after fumbling to get the phone out of the hip pouch and so on), it showed my time at 59:51. So I was pretty sure I’d beaten my old time, and sure enough, when Mark found me and scanned the QR code on the back of the bib, my official time was posted at 58:58.

So that was my race. We had a couple first timers with us this time who both did really well, and three repeat runners who did pretty well except for poor David hurting his ankle partway through. And the weather held all the way through–San Francisco is really a beautiful city, and it was being shown off perfectly (it has its charm in the rain and the fog, too, but that’s a different kind of beauty, and one that’s harder to appreciate when you’re wearing short sleeves and runner’s shorts in an ocean breeze). On the bus to the Caltrain, we talked to a guy who’d run in the 75th race (that would be 26 years ago) and was now walking the races, posting a 13-minute mile walking, which is great. He talked about how the race used to be, in the days before they capped the tickets, and although there are still a lot of people there, he seemed to think it was an improvement.

And when we got home on the train, it was twenty to one and the farmers market was still going on. We felt a little odd that so much of the day remained, considering what we’d already done. Grilled burgers for lunch, and then people scattered to finish off their Sundays. And yes, we got to see the partial eclipse later that night.

And today I’m sore, but happy. Bay to Breakers is always lots of fun, and something you should put on your bucket list. :)

Starting Something New

…not in the way I usually write about here. I had the very great honor of officiating at the wedding of two friends yesterday, and I just wanted to report that it all went very well. They are an adorable couple, the families are wonderful, and I unexpectedly saw a bunch of people I knew but hadn’t seen in a while–extended friend circles.

It’s my second wedding performed and I think I did a little better this time. For as emotional as I got practicing the ceremony, it went very smoothly. The couple was so happy, and remembered their lines, and I gave them the right vows and the right rings and we had a lovely little time.

And I got to relive memories of my wedding (though I was not as good an officiant as we had!), which is always occasion to be happy.

So yeah. Good weekend.

Obama Does The Right Thing

A little late on this, but big kudos to the President’s public support of gay marriage. I sat and read the article and thought about how unlikely this would have been just a year ago. Every time I see another politician step up and say that supporting gay marriage is the right thing to do, I get a little emotional, which is maybe silly; why should it be affecting to me when people recognize my right to live as a human being? Other people respond with contemptuous “it’s about time” anger, and maybe that feels right to them. Maybe I’m so used to the entrenched bigotry that I have some weird version of Stockholm Syndrome where I sympathize with how hard it is for someone in the public eye to actually take that position.

But I think it’s more the emotion associated with watching the tide turn in a battle, of Wellington keeping a wary eye on the horizon as the battle goes on and Napoleon’s reinforcements don’t arrive, of the knowledge that the unlikely is happening before our eyes. History is being made here. I may not long recall the exact date, but I will remember sitting in front of my computer looking at those words on the screen, the same way I remember the giddiness of Prop 20 being overturned in California and the optimism with which we confronted the Prop 8 vote. I have been heartened by the number of columnists who’ve said that this is just another step in the march forward, who predict that in 2016 the official platform of the Democratic party will include federal recognition of same-sex marriage. I think this is an amazing time to be living in.

I have seen opinions from some people complaining that Obama didn’t do enough, didn’t go far enough, have heard his statement called “cowardly” and “opportunistic” (which are about the furthest words from my mind when a sitting president makes a declaration like this going into an election cycle), as though making this statement the day after a crucial swing state resoundingly passed a constitutional amendment outlawing any recognized partnerships save for a formal marriage of one man and one woman held no danger for him politically. To those people, I would say: go see “The Avengers” again, because clearly what you want in your life is comic book superheroes and not real people addressing real problems in a realistic way.

The sitting President of the United States supports same-sex marriage. That’s a big deal. Let’s be happy about it just for a day or two, huh?

The New Yorker Celebrates Obama’s Statement (from The Gothamist)

Sending Out Stories

Two stories went out today. One submission to Shimmer, and one final edit to FurPlanet’s ROAR anthology on “Chasing the Spotlight.”

“Chasing the Spotlight” was written about six? seven? years ago, and though the editor liked it, he said (rightly) that the way it handles news reporting was very dated. He suggested a number of places in which it might be updated, and I started trying to fix it, but that proved to be too annoying. So I just rewrote it.

I like it a lot better now, and the word length stayed approximately the same, so I think it all worked out. We will see what Buck thinks of my edits. :)

It feels good to be getting back to short stories. I now have two stories out, where I think we were told we should always keep three in the market. Looking up at my post-it board, I have ten stories in various stages of pre-production. One is sold and two are out, so that means I need to do something with the other seven.