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39022 / 80000

Words! Actual words! My Tuesday seminar was canceled this week, so I ended up spending an hour and a half at a cafe with a cookie and tea. I established a new writing notebook--my old one, which I began just before leaving for England this summer, was pretty much full--and then wrote a Whisper-Trail scene in it, which I typed up this morning before class. Now I ought to write the next scene, but I am not totally certain what that is.

In the meantime, drafted part of my thesis's introduction tonight. It's got [citation needed] scattered throughout the text, and some of it's a bit mushy, but that's okay. It exists, which is what matters, really. Something! Something of a start, something to hang on to.

Other than that, not much is going on. Had rehearsal tonight for Hamlet; was reminded, yet again, of how huge a shock it's going to be when we do the full run-through. I'm Rosencrantz, see, and so all of my rehearsals so far have been "add more physical comedy, add more silly, no, more silly than that..." (This evening I played the Ministry Of Silly Walks clip for my Guildenstern.) I am told the rest of the play is, well, rather different.

The Halloween orchestra concert is Friday night. We are all hoping it is not actually cursed and we do not, like last year, end up pelting across campus terrified in a blizzard with tree limbs falling all around us. (And lose someone's glasses and have no power for two days.) A Halloween orchestra concert with soundtrack music and waltzing is an excellent tradition, and I would hate to have to give it up just because it was cursed.
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I have been doing archival research in the 1650s-1670s for long enough that I can make a list of reasons why the alt-text to xckd 1072 is inaccurate. (On grounds of general tendencies in grammar, spelling, abbreviations, natural philosophy.)

This counts as Someone Is Wrong On The Internet and means I should go do something else for an hour.
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For the past few days, I have been...research, basically. I'm running down all my leads, and keep saying "oh, how about this?"--"no, that's not interesting or relevant either". Today I finished everything I could early in the afternoon, so I went to Regent's Park. It's kind of a perfect place: quiet, green, obviously administered to with great care, full of flowers and long avenues and benches where one can sit and write some more of a really sketched-out draft of a story. A good place for Alenas who are tired of city.

Going down to Cambridge next week, for which plans have at length solidified, will help with the "whoops, running out of stuff"; whole new set of archives! On the other hand, I have to figure out food for three days without, probably, so much as a fridge. I possibly did not think this through. (But I am making strong mental notes not to bring cans of stuff without a can-opener. We don't actually need to reenact Three Men in a Boat. Honest. Although [livejournal.com profile] thanate reminds me that probably it is possible to acquire a can-opener in Cambridge these days.)

Here, have some macros I made of a cygnet at the National Archives pond being fluffy and cute and apathetic:
cynical cygnet says no )
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Revised "The Densities of Hearts" and sent it out. That makes six stories out to markets right now, which is a personal record.

Also a personal record: I have already made more submissions in 2012 than I have in any other year. (Just in short stories, not counting the 26 queries I've sent out on A Returning Power.) I guess...maybe I have actually done some things this year? Weird.

In other doing-things news, I have found housing in London and copied a bunch of pages out of the new edition of the Conway Letters and fought with a microfilm machine (the microfilm machine won) and attempted to read 17th-century invoices. The operative word in that last clause being "attempted". (The 17th-century invoices won, too.) My advisor thought I should practice reading seventeenth-century handwriting, and he was right.

This weekend is WisCon! I am on one panel:
Are Children People? Sun, 8:30–9:45 am Capitol A
Benjamin Billman (M), Tuppence, Alena McNamara, Jack Shoegazer, S. Brackett Robertson, Kate O'Brien Wooddell
Are children an oppressed group? Certainly our justifications for treating children as we do (deciding for them, speaking for them, requiring compliance) sound familiar: Their biological differences from us make them incapable of self-determination; we must coerce them for their own good. A few SF futures imagine children commonly emancipated (Triton); more often, groups of exceptional children rebel (Slan, Beggars in Spain); and of course the single exceptional child who escapes adult control is a trope—glorified (Matilda, Ender, Lyra)—or terrifying ("It's a Good Life"). SF has an uneasy relationship with children's liberation. Are we ready for children's liberation? And what would it look like?

At times when I am not on a panel, I will go to lots of other panels, hang around in the hallways chatting, go to the Tiptree Auction (but not actually bid on anything, based on previous evidence), try not to buy the whole dealer's room, dance at the Genderfloomp party, etc.

Two weeks from now, I'll be in England. What...is this life? (I don't know.)
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1. I...am maybe realizing that I am actually going to England this summer. WHO KNEW?
1.1. There were prospective students around this weekend, and I met some geeky theatrical queer-and-allies ones who were awesome--at some point my summer plans came up and I think describing it to them (with plenty of flail) solidified my knowledge that yes, this is real. Possibly because they were complete strangers fifteen minutes before?
1.2. It looks like it's completely plausible for me to go and stay in Cambridge (England, not MA) for a few days and use the Conway-More letters that their archives hold.

2. Classes end at Mount Holyoke a week from today. What is this madness?

3. I keep not Sitting Down And Writing. I have figured out that this is maybe because I always feel like there's some homework thing that I ought to be doing. So I can't block out a half-hour and open a word processor and turn off my wifi and write, because I'd keep feeling guilty about Not Doing Productive Things. (Writing novels is clearly not Productive. Because no one grades me on writing novels, and I'm not paying fifty thousand dollars a year to write novels, and anyway novels take a long time to write and they're hard and stressful along with being amazing, so it's easy to say "well I'll do that tomorrow".) If I'm just faffing about on the Internet, on the other hand, there's every chance that in five minutes I'll close the browser window and do some physics homework. (Occasionally I even do.) Which, because I am at a point in a couple of projects where I need to overcome inertia of this-is-terrible and there's-no-plot, means I end up not writing at all.
3.5. This is annoying.


Apr. 2nd, 2012 04:51 pm
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I get to go to London this summer! For five weeks! And do research in the British Library and go to the theater and the Pride parade and try not to get trampled by the Olympics and and and everything.

Whiiiich is all to say, they emailed me today and told me I have funding.

This almost but not entirely makes up for the four-day farce that me trying refill my asthma medication has become. And I mean that will probably resolve in the next day or so, whereas I am GOING TO BE IN LONDON THIS SUMMER.

...despite all my capslocking and exclamation points I'm not sure it has sunk fully in yet. Um. But. London. A different continent. Adventures. Research. Amazingness. What. Cannot even.
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Pixar's Brave is a distillation of approximately 60% of my childhood fantasies. Red hair? Check. Princess? Okay, chieftain's daughter--check. Feisty? Check. Good at archery? Check. Pretty, pretty horse? Check, and exactly the sort I wanted forever until I actually got near a horse and decided they weren't all fiction cracked them up to be.

(P.S. yes, that link implies that I now have Tumblr.)

I got a free postcard yesterday at work. I am not sure which way is up. It's from the College de pataphysique, a slightly absurd (but not absurdist) and kind of surreal (but not surrealist?) French organization of which, for some reason, our Archives and Special Collections seems to be a member. At least, the publication I was trying to find a WorldCat record for yesterday doesn't seem to exist, so maybe it's one of their "internal publications" they only send to members?

I just submitted my application for summer funding. To go to London and do research for five weeks! I have never been off the continent. And part of the other 40% of my childhood fantasies involved England. And it's an awesome topic (Anne Conway! you rock!). And omg British Library. (And London Pride, and the World Shakespeare Festival is happening, and The Mob will still be in Cardiff when I get to the UK so I could go visit. So many reasons to flail and cross my fingers.)

Other than that, life continues apace. Homework, occasional rehearsals for Midsummer, work, poking occasionally at story-like things.


Jan. 17th, 2012 03:37 pm
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Note to self for future: when you are flaily about some big task, try sitting down, writing out (truthfully! honestly!) why you are flailing about it, and then developing from there into actual things you can do about it. You are a writer. This is how your brain functions.

(Not every writer's brain does. But mine does sometimes, and more than I remember.)

I don't know that I have made material progress on my Conway research proposal--downloaded a bunch of scholarly articles, skimmed some of them to find out they weren't taking the tack I was trying to find--but I am way less flaily and stressed about it now. Which is progress of its own sort.
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I've been training myself in how to read seventeenth-century sentence constructions, and meanwhile gotten halfway through Anne Conway's treatise and maybe a third of the way through the collected Letters of her and her friends and family.

I've attempted to outline Queen of Spades at least twice and may have to resign myself to not being able to write that right now.

I've read slush, I've sent emails, I've planned things, I've written letters myself. I have also read quite a few books and wasted a large quantity of time. (This is what break is for, sometimes, when you have just finished revising a novel. And then wrote a short story in a day. Um.)

Books read: include reread of Fire Logic and Earth Logic by Laurie J. Marks (underappreciated, even by me); Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch (intriguing and neat and hooking into her other work in interesting ways); and at least one other I can't recall right now.

And I've written some solstice stories, which is good because people gave me these prompts in December 2010 and there are still--er--three left, now. Usually I am close to done by the next winter solstice, and then I scramble to finish the last ones so I can get to work on the new set of prompts. This year, though, I was in the midst of revising fever when the solstice happened. So I didn't post anything asking for new prompts and didn't finish the old ones and... yeah. This happens.

Three left, though, and then perhaps I can figure out what I'm doing this year. Solstice stories again? Offer to hand-write and send people letters or fictionlets? Since I am usually too poor and/or cheap to buy presents for my friends, giving them my writing seems like the least I can do, but I am starting to wonder if people actually enjoy them.

On the other hand, one of the ones I wrote today made me remember why I like doing this solstice-stories thing purely for myself. Usually I would not write a story about a talking hedgehog and his rat friend catching moon-light in jars to light their houses during the winter. But I did, and now I'm contemplating writing more stories about them. What do they do during the summer? Who are their other friends? They seem like the sort of stories that need illustration, but I don't know how well I'd be able to provide that.

Which all makes me feel comfortable inside. Writing something that wasn't even in my head before the words started is something I hadn't done for a while. This says to me that my brain's recovering nicely from its fits of revision.

...into which it will descend again next week, after all the people who have ARP get back to me, but shhh. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
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I've talked to several people now about my Epic Plan.

In summation, the Epic Plan consists of doing history-of-science research next summer at the British Library. In Anne Conway's papers, specifically, which: aaa, getting to do archival research at a huge library! It'd link in to my physics major, because she worked vaguely in that area. It would also link in to my Critical Social Thought minor (currently undeclared) focusing in Narrative; I'd bring my research back senior year and write a thesis, probably something along the lines of "a short story about Anne Conway plus a long academic essay about various choices I made in the writing of it".

(Like I said. Epic.)

Both my advisors are on board with this--my CST advisor, who's kind of a history-of-science guy, offered to do an independent study with me in the spring so I can get caught up on all the secondary-source reading I'll have to do ahead of time.

I don't have to propose it formally until February, when the college-wide application for summer funding is due, but I went to talk to the relevant people anyway. Basically, they said that my project sounds really cool, but they can't give me that much money, so what I need to have (in my application in February) is some kind of housing figured out for the 4-6 weeks I'd be in London. What the person recommended was looking at the alum network for MHC, but I looked at it and there are no MHC alums in London who're offering to host current students (boo).

So--flist! Do any of you know anything about finding inexpensive housing in London?

May 2017



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