Things to Be Proud Of

I’ve been getting down on myself lately, feeling like I could be doing so much more with my writing, but instead I’m wrapped up in personal drama and rolling around in an allergic haze and not doing anything at all worthwhile. So I figure I should stop that, stop beating myself up. I mean, no one wins that fight.

I rarely post sales because sometimes seeing other writers on my friends’ list post theirs sends me into the aforementioned shame-fest, and I just don’t want to be the source of that for anyone else. I probably shouldn’t even mention that I feel that way–it’s not cool to admit to career angst. But there you go. However, on the theme of cheering myself up and reminding myself that I have not actually been sitting on my ass doing nothing this year, I thought I’d announce/list for my own edification, the various things which have happened lately, where lately equals the last two months or so:

My story, “A Dirge for Prester John,” has been accepted for INTERFICTIONS, the Interstitial Arts Foundation’s first anthology. I really feel like this is the best piece of short fiction I’ve ever produced, and I’m thrilled beyond measure that they took it. I am considering turning the story into a novel series, I fell that much in love with my own tale.

Another short story, “Urchins, While Swimming,” sold to the new Clarkesworld Magazine, which looks to be a fantastic market. This is a rusalka story, not a fairy tale retelling per se but something that, in the end, came out very personal and intimate and different than most of what I have written, short story-wise. It, Prester John, and “A Grey and Soundless Tide,” which should be out soon in Salon Fantastique sort of mark a new stage in my writing, one I hope balances the crazyprose with a little, you know, plot.

“Temnaya and the House of Books” sold to Mythic #2–this is kind of a mishmash of several fairy tales with a new story, and lightly autobiographical, in that allegorical way. You know, I always used to say that I don’t write short fiction, but I feel like, in the last few months, trying to fill all the requests for material, I’ve really hit a stride with it, figured out a lot of how to do it, and at least I think I’m getting pretty good at it, at any rate to the point that I don’t say that anymore.

Three poems, “Past the Rivers,” “Flax,” and “Errata” sold to Goblin Fruit. This is one of the most exciting poetry venues going right now, I think, and certainly the fantasy kids need a place to play where they are not merely the Invisible F in SF. Plus I thought I’d NEVER sell “Past the Rivers” or “Errata,” two rather older pieces that have been rejected a couple of times each.

Another poem, “The Child Bride of the Lost City of Ubar” will be in the Summer/Fall edition of The Journal of Mythic Arts–which will also feature Gary Snyder, who is something of a hero of mine, though that’s a more complex story than I’m letting on. Mainly, I can’t believe we’re going to be in the same publication. That seems too bizarre to be real.

My story “Milk and Apples” as well as a poem in the currently languishing “Wives” series that was planned with Prime but sadly no longer has a publisher, “The Inkmaker’s Wife” and and another poem, “Anatomy of a Yes,” will appear in the November issue of Electric Velocipede.

I’ll be the featured poet for issue #2 of GrendelSong, which means I had better finish those poems up right quick.

I’m going to be one of the Guests of Honor at Saloncon–my first time as a fabled GoH. Here’s hoping I don’t fuck it up.

I think that’s it for new sales I’m allowed to announce. There are other things which are tentative or in the works or I just don’t know if the editors want folks talking about it.

I finished, but have not yet sold, an Arthurian novel, Under In the Mere. I also finished the rewriting, editing, and copyediting of The Orphan’s Tales–oh, and I got to see even MORE Kaluta art for it, which brings the total of distinct pieces included in this book up to 31, by my count. I am a gibbering fool of awe and gratitude.

In the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, though I did not merit a reprint, I received no less than 13 honorable mentions, and some lovely comments on my poetry collections in the introduction. Certainly blurbable should a reprint of the collections ever occur. The list goes:

Song for Three Voices and a Lyre
Tokyo Transit Dream
Red Sevens
The Queen of Hearts
The Oracle in Motion
The Oracle at Miami
The Oracle at Detroit
Mother is a Machine
The Ice Puzzle
Cardinales Virtutes
Bones Like Black Sugar

And, of course, my third novel, The Grass-Cutting Sword, came out.

I’m pretty sure that’s everything for the last couple of months. I guess it’s not bad. I realize that might come off as false modesty or “aw shucks, this old thing,” unless, of course, you know me well enough to know how hard I am on myself, and how hard I drive my poor little engine of the soul. I look at that list and think “Yeah, but I could have done more. I could be done with the third book by now, too, or maybe have written more short stories, or…something. Something more.” Never enough–you’d think someone pushed me too hard as a kid. And really, you’d be wrong. I don’t know why I do this to myself, but it’s authentically me doing it, not some parental ghost. It’s not that I don’t believe in my work, I do, and I don’t go in for false modesty on that count. It’s the amount of work I’ve done–I just…I could have done more by now.

However, having been lucky–seriously, deeply lucky–enough to spend quality time with a number of jaw-droppingly awesome authors and editors this year, enough quality time to hear a little of their own internal monologues, I begin to suspect we’re all like this, to varying degrees.

So I’m going to try to tell myself that this list is something to be proud of, and not a point against me, or a testament to what I could have done but didn’t. And as Boxer says, “I will work harder.”

P.S. I still need a World Fantasy room…anyone? Bueller?

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