Thursday, October 29, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. Author Darcie Little Badger talked about being a debut author in a pandemic and adding to the expanding canon of Native American fiction. 
2. I was looking up something else and ran into this summer piece about the "Golden Girls" episode with the mudpacks, and how rewatching reveals so much more rape culture and racism than just the mudpacks.  I completed my full rewatch of "Designing Woman", where I found similar things, and also some gay panic and some transphobia. There were moments it was worth revisiting, but a lot of what it told me was that the sitcom mentality of folks being terrible for 22 minutes to come together in harmony in the end is perhaps left in the past.   Also, that link contains discussion of a rape that is baked into the backstory of one Golden Girl.  RAINN has resources for both victims of sexual assault and those seeking to support them.  Hotline here: National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and
3. I caught up to this Blair Braverman piece about how some of the lessons of sled dogs can apply to pandemic life. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

7 Things: NaNoWriMo in a Pandemic Edition

1. Long time readers can probably guess what I'm going to say at this point.  I've been noodling on book like things since high school.  NaNoWriMo was the first time I finished something that wasn't an assignment for a creative writing class.  It was a mess.  At one point the characters started making up songs.  And singing them.  But I wrote a beginning, middle, and end.  
2. Since that first NaNo I participated in, I've written things during NaNo and outside of NaNo.  I joined writer's organizations.  Took more classes.  And learned more by writing more.  But NaNo taught me I could finish a thing.  
3.  The pace of NaNo is not ideal for everyone.  Let me peel off my official NaNo gear for a sec - if you think the camaraderie of doing a thing while other people are also doing a thing is useful to you, I suggest doing it even if 50k is not a good goal for you.  
4. On the flip side, if trying to aim for 50k and not getting it will depress you, no need to make yourself sad in a pandemic.  And if you do a secret NaNo, where you don't announce and don't even tell anyone until you emerge with a fully formed story, that works too.  
5. I normally advise folks who choose to participate to try one write in. This year everything is virtual.  I'm still going to suggest trying one.  But if learning the forums, and discord, and chat, and twitter, and whatever else your region or group is using to connect this year is too much - then don't.  If you have only been using video conferences for work you might discover they are more interesting when the goal is more fun, and you might not.  
6. It might be clear from this list, but I'm a pantser, in some ways about life too.  I try things, I quit things, I pick up new things.  If all of that makes you itchy, go make a plan.  Just try to leave room - especially this year - for things to work a little differently than expected.  
7.  However you get words is good.  Things that don't get you words - assuming those things are not work, sleep, spouse, kids, taking medication, etc, that you really cannot give up for a month - are not good.  This is an unexpected year.  Processes that worked for you before may not work this year.  That's not you.  But try to appreciate the discoveries. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Cozy Spectrum

In a discussion (held via video conference) last week, a friend mentioned that the clothes that felt like a delightful contrast to work clothes prior to the pandemic are starting to feel less comfortable. In a similar discussion, I listened to one person say that wearing heels has always made their feet hurt, and most people's responses boiled down to, well, you get used to it.  
I personally gave up heels a while back.  They always hurt.  I have tripped and fallen in a gravel parking lot while on my way into a ball, and let me tell you, the heels do not make up for your bloody knee.  I tried a variety of comfort brands.  And for me, while I still love a comfort shoe, the hurt and potential danger involved in training myself how to be in heels, did not seem worth the reward.  Now this is not to say I think heels should not exist or that people who are willing to put up with the discomfort, or who have learned how to navigate the world in heels are wrong.  I applaud their fortitude.  
But there are things about a large change to your life that can allow you to evaluate what previously had seemed acceptable.  Those cargo pants that were such a nice contrast to a skirt and hose, may now feel restrictive.  In contrast, I put on one of my fancier stretchy pants (the ones that call themselves dress pant yoga pants) and found myself feeling like a person who gets things done.  (In fairness, it is the stretchy plus the fancy that helps a lot.)  
I know there are people who are back at work, or who never got to stop going to work.  And to them this conversation about the stretchiness of pants, about throwing a cute top over a pair of raggedy sweats because on video conferences, you can keep your bottom off camera with some care is a little silly.  It is.  
It's hard not to sound like an out of touch tech bro every time I revel at a local restaurant's pivot towards farm pickups or pop ups.  Because these changes are happening because things are very bad and folks are struggling on multiple levels.
But if you have the privilege of time to ponder your work from home clothes, you can take a look at the norms we used to accept, and figure out which ones we're not going to return to.    

Places on the Web This Week

Got a post over on the newsletter with third quarter reading. And I'll be both behind the scenes and in the chat for Fiyahcon this week, so feel free to wave if you are there also.  (Tickets are sold out, but there are some events open to all.)
Editor note: Apologies, I accidentally reposted instead of updating this. Fiyahcon has happened. Some material will be available in the archive.

Edited to update link

Three Interesting Things

1. Chloe Gong gave an interview talking about the interesting balance of being a debut author and a college student, and also how some folks assume you can't have been working on anything long based on age alone.   
2. R. Eric Thomas has a delightful summary of the Chrisness that might have made it into your timeline this week. 
3.R. O. Kwon talked about how doing something - in her case texting voters - let her get to a place where the hopefulness she had been faking became more real

Monday, October 19, 2020

Vision and Reality

I was really quite honored to be behind the scenes at Fiyahcon this weekend.  I say this not just because it was a great con.  I say this not just because I got to sit in on some great panels.  I say this not just because I feel like as part of the team I have to.  I say this because it was very clear from the beginning that this was a con that wanted to make a really amazing thing happen.  And every moment of stress, or working to problem solve, it was all, from start to finish about creating a great experience for the attendees.  
Now, I always feel like someone thinks I am secretly sub-blogging some other event.  I am not, in this moment.  And I've been behind the scenes in various ways for several cons and that is usually the focus.  
But it reminded me that sometimes it is so easy, especially as writers, especially as people dealing with the publishing industry, to get stuck on the vision, and fail to appreciate the reality.  As I reminded several people, I have been to longstanding, well-established, in person cons where a panel got moved to a different room, a speaker showed up late, or there were technically difficulties that delayed something.  
And amid a pandemic where we've all been on a virtual gathering where someone's screen froze, someone's naked child showed up, someone's doorbell rang, we have all learned that these things happen and no amount of planning can address all of them.  (Although if anyone knows the goddess of virtual gathering's preferred offerings, I am ready to make some. Also, these are hypothetical examples.  To my knowledge there are no naked children in the Fiyahcon archives.) 
Publishing will do that to you.  You get published, but what was your print run?  What stores are you in?  What awards were you nominated for?  It's easy to keep looking to the goals you haven't yet met and forget to look at the one's achieved.  
Fiyahcon lived up to its name. I can't wait to see what they have planned for the next one.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. Clergy burnout is a thing I had thought about, and this post from Anne Helen talks to quite a few about the specific contours of things right now. 
2. City Paper asked hospitality workers to share some photos representing the pandemic. 
3. If you have found enjoyment through "Schitt's Creek" this chat with Catherine O'Hara about the costumes may appeal to you. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

RIP to Cat Bordhi and Annie Modesitt

I talk about knitting a little less on the blog these days, but well, it's been kind of a year. In the early days of things, as I was learning about best knitting tools, I discovered the interchangeables I still use to this day, having tried several others and always come back - the Denise. They had a Cat Bordhi pattern on their website in case you wanted to make a little bag for your needle case. I was intrigued as a little bag was literally the first knitting project I ever finished. I then dug around and found that she was known for moebius things and having accidentally moebiused a thing, I wanted to try doing it intentionally. I think it was at the now defunct yarn store that I encountered an Annie Modesitt book. I bought it. I attempted several things in it. Those of you who have ever done an Annie Modesitt pattern know she does uniquely constructed items, mixing textures, shapes, and such things. Some of these things were a little above my skill level at the time but I didn't really know enough to know that. (Sometimes that's the best way to level up, really.) 
I brought the Gigi scarf pattern to my first knit night. I discovered that navy yarn is a terrible choice for the poor lighting of a sandwich shop so I brought another project the next time. According to my Ravelry page Victory was the third sweater I ever finished. It was bottom up, something I rarely do these days, and had - in addition to some unusual construction - an error. Again, I didn't know enough until another person working on it messaged me and I compared my sweater to the picture. (There is now errata.) I love mine but knit it in alpaca so it has to be very warm.
Cancer took both of them this year which is very rude.
There are other designers I've knit more recently and/or more frequently, but their stamp on the knitting world is clear. Lots of love to their families and friends. It is an especially odd time to grieve. 

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. A children's book is drawing a lot of attention in Hungary, and has in part become a symbol of resistance. 
2. Author V. E. Schwab wrote a lyrical in part description of her process of coming out
3. I am fascinated by this miniature puppet fashion show.  It's obviously not a replacement for fashion week, but we all cope with pandemics in our own ways. 

Friday, October 02, 2020

Banned Books Week

I've done a lot of Banned Books posts over the years.  Since we have reached a decade marker, the ALA compiled the top 100 books that were banned or challenged over the last decade.  I have read less than I expected, but I read less picture books of late.  Some were assigned reading in school.  Some I adored.  Some I meh-ed.  Some I disliked and think are not great books, although having read many of these challenges I doubt the folks that challenged them were concerned about the same things I was.  
There are many books I have concerns about.  There are many books that are written by people who I don't think deserve the time and energy we have already spent on their thoughts.  There are many books that if I was reading with children or saw a child in my care read, I'd be like, okay we're gonna have a book club chat about that.  
And libraries weed collections, just as I occasionally take a deep look at the books on my shelves.  Some books wouldn't make me sad to see the reader numbers go down.  
But a lot of these books aren't on the list because they contain underdeveloped and or dated ideas about race and sex.  They are there because they make people uncomfortable.  Or they use words that have fallen out of favor and we somehow think people can't read a word and not use it in casual conversation.  Or they contain people being naked.  (Seriously, The Naked Cowboy is a picture book about a cowboy taking a bath.) 
And it isn't enough that folks want to not read or have their children read this book.  They want it away.  They think they know better than the collection librarians.  And librarians are - brace yourself - not perfect.  But they should be working on developing a collection for the whole community, not one segment of it. 

In other news, over on substack I talked about some baking recipes

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. One of the bitter ironies of the news about uninformed hysterectomies performed in ICE detainment camps is that many people who want one for medical reasons, have to go through endless hoops to get one.  Teen Vogue looks at this dichotomy.  
2. A friend pointed me to this story about a writer drawing from seemingly disparate sources to inform his work. 
3. A zoo separated parrots that were encouraging each other to swear.  Fascinatingly this is the same zoo that had a parrot that did cover songs.  (Link in story to that story also.)