prusik: Newton fractal centered at zero (Default)
prusik ([personal profile] prusik) wrote2012-12-31 02:43 pm

State of the um... *mumble* for 2012

I almost never do a state of year blog post because, for various reasons, state of year blog posts for me pretty much boil down to: I wrote a bunch of stories and I got rejected a lot.

So, in 2012, I wrote a bunch of stories and got rejected a lot.

So often, actually, that I'm on track to have the most rejections of anyone in my Clarion class for 2012. Yes, we have an informal contest. I'm at 49 rejections. The next most is at 44. Barring a sudden last minute surge, victory (for what it's worth) will be mine.

However, I also sold three stories: "Incomplete Proofs" to Bloody Fabulous, "Best of All Possible Worlds" to Asimov's (in the February 2012 issue, on newsstands now), and "The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" to (forthcoming). In addition, I sold two reprints, both forthcoming. "Thirty Seconds from Now", originally published in Boston Review will be podcast at EscapePod and reprinted in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's Time Traveler's Almanac.

I'm totally thrilled by all of these sales. I've sold more stories this year than every other year of my writing life combined. (Note: This isn't hard. Prior to this year, my only sale was to Boston Review in 2010. I'm just pointing out the anomaly.)

This is where I'm supposed to insert that inspirational message about how the way to double your success rate is to triple your failure rate. However, I've had years where I was rejected on average once a week before. During those years, I sold not a thing. I like to think the difference this time is that I've improved as a writer (not that I can't stand to improve more), but I can't really know. So, the inspirational moral is maybe more like "Don't get hung up on process. Just write the best stories you can."

[Oh, I think I'm supposed mention somewhere that "Incomplete Proofs" is eligible in the short story category of the Nebula, Hugo etc. (The other two stories are eligible for 2013.) Also, "Incomplete Proofs" started my Campbell clock. Not that I'm going to be nominated for the Campbell on the basis of one short story about gay mathematicians, in a world where proofs are reified into runway fashion, struggling over their relationship and whether P=NP. Surprise me. I dare you.]

I got to beta-read Ken Liu's translation of Liu Cixin's 三体 (which Ken has titled The Three Body Problem). For me, it was sort of like getting to translate with training wheels and a lot less pressure. I'm grateful for the opportunity and glad I got to read the translation and give him feedback. It was a terrific experience and, weirdly, I have to thank Facebook for making it possible. (This makes one more reason why I'm glad I went to Clarion since that's the reason why I'm on Facebook in the first place.)

I don't know when the translation will be published, but it'll be worth a look whenever it is. Ken's translation is both strikingly faithful and readable by someone without a grounding in Chinese history. The novel definitely has some cool stuff going on in it. (Note that it's a trilogy. Translations of the other two books are also in progress. I have the second book (in Chinese) but haven't read it yet.)

This year, I took Improv 402, aka Harold Boot Camp, at <a href=">ImprovBoston</a>. That was a great class. I have a better understanding now of what it takes to improve a good scene. I also had the (unsurprising) realization that I will probably be improvising a lot of really awful scenes before I'm consistently good. I'm sure I have lots of problems as an improviser, but the one I'm focused on right now is getting myself on stage even if I have no idea what I will do. Part of me wants to know what I will be doing before I go on. (Yes, this may be missing the point of improv.) Part of being a good improviser is recognizing that it's okay to have no idea what you'll do when you get out there. You just need to be open to the possibilities you explore with your scene partner(s). Mostly, I need to stop worrying about it and just start doing it. Singing is fun as usual. The Brahms Requiem, The Bach St. John Passion, and Haydn's The Seasons earlier in the year. The Bach Magnificat and Cantata 191 recently. The Mozart Requiem and Orff's Carmina Burana to come. I'm still trying to get my voice under control. My voice is a little too high for many bass parts. It gets uncomfortable and I end up dropping out on some phrases because I just don't have the vocal power down there. It's also a little too low for some tenor parts. The tenor line of the Bach Magnificat actually fits beautifully in my voice. The same is true for The Seasons. However, the tenor line of Cantata 191 is a tad high and the tenor line of the Brahm's Requiem is just plain punishing. After the whole "Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg!" business, I'm relieved that the tenors are the fourth voice to enter the subsequent fugue. An entire page off before entering with "Herr, du bist würdig zu nehmen Preis und Ehre und Kraft." It starts on a high G, of course. I can get through the Brahms Requiem, but that seems like an awfully low bar. (In what may be a recurring refrain, high notes are much easier if I don't stress out over them and just sing them instead. For example, high As are actually fairly free and easy when I don't realize until after the fact that I'm singing them.) Every year, I tell myself to look for a voice teacher, but I haven't done it yet. It'd be nice to know where I belong. I don't really get to blog about the day job so I'll leave it at this: I've been placed with a lot more responsibility. It's still interesting. Not many people get to do the jobs they wanted when they were kids, so I'm glad I still have mine (both of them actually since writing is technically the night job). I still remember in 8th grade, we had to take this career assessment exam. You answered a bunch of questions about what you were good at and what you wanted to do. They reduced those answers to scores placed inside wedges of a hexagon. Each wedge represented some sort of skill or trait. Based on the wedges you scored the highest in, the guidance counselors would look up your ideal professions. The problem was that the test assumed everyone would score highest in adjacent (i.e., related) wedges. My two highest scores were in diametrically opposed wedges. I still have no idea if that said more about me or the exam. So, that's 2012. All things considered, it's gone well. With the writing, it's gone way better than I've had any right to expect.

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