Monday, April 28, 2008

Home from the hospital

After all the uncertain waiting, never knowing as we went to be if we'd be sleeping through to the morning or getting up in the middle to rush to the hospital, the waiting is finally over. Friday morning at 4 we got up, not rushing exactly, so it was 5 by the time we got to the hospital. And Anneke was born at 10:42am.

We're home now (as of about 24 hours ago, actually) and doing fairly well. She didn't let us sleep much last night and is now fast asleep in the sling across my chest. We definitely hope we can get her schedule switched around to sleeping at night soon...

Anneke, by the way, is a Dutch name. It's a variation on Anna, and we've also seen people spell it Annika (with the same pronunciation). The accent is on the first syllable.

Here's one picture:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Happy International Day of the Book!

Hope you did something book-related today. When I was in Spain (11 years ago!), all the bookstores held special sales for the day, even in the small city where I was--I bought a book of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's Leyendas and received a flower as well, which I then gave to my host family. Here's info on the holiday, which commemorates both Shakespeare and Cervantes.

I was hoping to have our girl be born on the day--figured it'd be fitting. Certainly if she's anything like her big brother she'll love books. But that was only after it seemed clear she wouldn't be born on Earth Day, which also would have been nice. And I was only hoping for that once it was clear she wouldn't be born on the 21st... Oh well, any day now.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fictitious Force #5

My contributor copies came in the mail today, and my story leads off the issue. Whether there's really any reason to that or not, it's always fun. And the cover art also, while not exactly a scene from my story, is certainly inspired by the story. The FF website doesn't have any info up yet for the new issue, but there are names you should recognize among the contents. So it's well worth checking out. As with issue 4, the magazine has a distinctive shape, folding over the long way. It seems silly to point that out...and yet, when you take it out of its envelope, that's the first thing that jumps out.

My story, "The Game," combines a (possibly apocryphal) story from the New Games Movement about one of their games that I would play in experiential education settings with a certain level of cynicism about politics. In many ways I'm probably less cynical now than I was 2 1/2 years ago when I wrote the first draft of it, but it certainly could be seen as timely here in the United States. The story is also one of my very rare stories to take place in a modern setting--not steampunk, not near- or distant future, not Bronze Age, not the hazy past of fables. Now, it's a modern setting that includes something fantastic--you wouldn't expect me to set a story in the real world, would you?

So do check out the issue and enjoy the stories!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Scattered

I've been feeling rather scattered of late. My mother-in-law came into town last week so she can be here if we need to run to the hospital in the middle of the night (so we don't have to wake my son up and cart him off to someone else's house). So that's great, but it makes it even more real that the baby could come any time. It makes it hard to focus on writing. Part of that is also that I don't have any big projects pending at the moment, so I keep waffling on what to do next--revise earlier stories? Write new short stories? Pick up the YA novel I played around with a bit last summer? Start a new novel or other large project?

I've done a little of each of these things without settling on any. And I think that inability to choose one comes to the same uncertainty. How much time will I be having once the baby is here to do any writing? Probably not much at first, even with my mother-in-law here. I was just going through an old notebook and found a bunch of the things I'd written when my son was little. I suspect I'll be doing more on paper for the first while, just as I did then. I frequently hear that going from 1 child to 2 is more of a shock and life-adjustment than going from 0 to 1 was. Other friends tell us no, it's much easier. But either way...it's that uncertainty again.

As recently as a few years ago, writing was a hobby, one I enjoyed but could have done without if I had to (not happily, necessarily, but I could have). Now it doesn't feel that way--when I go through a day without at least something writing-related (even if it's only market research or keeping up with what's going on in the field), I get very antsy. So I don't imagine there's any reason to worry that I'd suddenly stop writing. I just don't know what that writing will be looking like for the next few months.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bar Book Club Report for April

This one needs a bit of explaining, because for once we didn't meet at the pub. Last fall, there was a charity auction to raise money for a Habitat for Humanity build, and one of the offerings was a traditional English high tea. So someone from our group, on a bit of a lark, decided to bid on it as something for our group to do. Which he won. So instead of micro-brews at the local pub...we went over to his house for tea.

Tea of choice: We had four varieties of black tea. My favorite was one with a Chinese name that even our hosts couldn't pronounce, a "full-bodied tea." I think it had "invigorating" somewhere in the description as well. There was also mango-, peach-, and a breakfast-tea. (Later in the evening, the plan was to break out various expensive whiskeys, but unfortunately I wasn't able to stay long enough to participate in that.) The food and teas were very good though, and a fun change (who knew there's one appropriate way to stir sugar or milk into your tea?).

Book: Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough. It was a biography of Teddy Roosevelt's early years. I discovered that our library has something where you can download an audio version of the complete book for free, so I gave that a try. Unfortunately, it's 19 hours long and not broken up in any way into chapters or anything. So you sit there listening to Windows Media Player, which you can't bookmark, and moving the slide bar the littlest bit could jump you ahead 5 minutes...

So that didn't work well for me. I also found it easy to tune out the voice. Is anyone really into audiobooks? I could see it working for me if I was commuting a long way (and I've listened to some while on long trips), but given the way I usually read and the fact that I'm just at home all the time...audiobooks, I guess, just aren't for me.

Sounds like the book was interesting, though. He seems to have had a bizarre reaction to his first daughter after his first wife died (and to his first wife, for that matter), basically never again mentioning his wife and pawning his daughter off on relatives. So that inspired a lot of conversation.

Next book--I'd voted for an Annie Dillard book from among the selections because I've loved some of her writing, but I believe the one chosen was (checking my email) Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner. I know absolutely nothing about it because I wasn't around for the usual discussion of the various choices.

And next time will be back at Coopersmith's Pub & Brewery.

Monday, April 07, 2008

An evocative image

I'm reading Los días del venado by Liliana Bodoc at the moment (among other things). One character comes from a society where each person creates his/her own song when they come of age, and it remains their own personal song for the rest of their lives. That itself is a fun cultural detail--Cucub, the character, speaks of it as if it's a companion on his journey.

What I especially like, though, is how that song changes. The second time he sings it, he switches a bunch of the nouns around so all the words remain the same, only rearranged. His explanation to the children is that it remains the same song, but changing it without truly changing it lets the one song truly accompany him regardless of his situation--when he's sad he can sing it one way, and the symbolism of the lines is one thing, and when he's happy he sings it another way with other symbolism. It can be a song of arrival and departure. It's a tripping point, as I remember a poetry professor describing such images in poems--an image, in this case, that sends my thoughts along questions of language and meaning, of paradox.

(I read a fair number of Spanish children's books to my son these days, but I haven't been reading a lot of books in Spanish for my own reading, so it's very gratifying to read this one--the level of language isn't simplistic, but neither is it too great a challenge for my rusty Spanish.)

Friday, April 04, 2008

My beamish boy

Because we recently checked out a picture book from the library with just the poem "Jabberwocky" (and some wonderful illustrations), my 3-year-old son now walks around reciting the first two stanzas to anyone who will listen. ("Twas brillig and the slithy toves...") He tends to very carefully enunciate the first lines, but by the time it gets to the Jub-jub bird and the Bandersnatch, it's much more mumbled.

He loves to rhyme as well, so I think he'll come to love words as much as I do. He especially likes to say the poem--very loudly--"to his baby sister" who's due in about two weeks but could easily arrive sooner. One of his friends came over this morning (not a play-date--I hate the term "play-date"!), and I think the boy was unsure what to make of my son's loud chanting of such nonsense...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April is the cruelest month

Already almost the 3rd, and I forgot to mention that April is National Poetry Month. So go write a poem, read a poem, sing a poem, or....umm, do something poem-y.

I don't want poetry to overwhelm this blog, and it seems I've brought up poetry several times in the last few weeks, so I don't know that I'll do anything special here for it. But I'll keep that thought open. Maybe I'll try to write a poem or two this month as well. I've written a couple of stories that incorporate poetry in the past few months, but I don't think I've tried writing any poetry on its own since last summer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"Ki Do (The Way of the Trees)" by Sarah Thomas

I really enjoyed the story this week in Strange Horizons--I think I'd have liked the form regardless, as it involves (minimalist) poetry and crafting something beautiful over many years. But that it's about trees bumps it up even higher for me (have I mentioned my obsession with trees? Oh yeah, once or twice, I suppose...).

While you're there, check the two-part story that ran the last two weeks: Will McIntosh's "Linkworlds." It's not as much up my alley as this week's, but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless. It's space fiction in a universe that's nothing like ours.