Getting into Shape: End of Week 18

Da-dum! Plateau…eau…..eau….eau…


Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 2-18-14: 206.1 (a gain of .6)
Total: 17.7 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 2-11-14: 210.4 (the same)
Total: 13.6 pounds

What’s going on: Honestly, a lot of the first 17ish pounds I’ve gotten for free, without trying hard, and I strongly suspect that it has been my thyroid medication helping. Yes, I have cut back on my food and upped the exercise, but I also come in over my weight watchers points pretty steadily, and have still been losing weight, until this month, where I’ve been more or less hovering around the same weight.

Mission: Cut back to the points I can have. Otherwise, I suspect this is as far as I can get. That’s not so bad. I have twenty-nine points a day and a pool of 47 other points to spend as I will. Plus, I eat what I exercise. So, I should be able to do this. I just need to do this.

Will this be made any easier now that I have cut all the reflux vice foods out of my diet? Yes. I no longer have coffee, tea, caffeine, soda, chocolate, booze, fried food. So, there’s that.

Exercise is going well. I’m not stretching enough, though, and I’m falling into the earn it so you can eat it trap. So I’ve got to get better about stretching more beyond my 3 tai chi sessions a week

Hoping to report a loss here next week.

Stop Giving a Damn

I have 100 pages of the new novel in pretty good shape now. I estimate rewriting through the main conflict in another 20 pages, and then I’m onto Lucy’s underworld journey, and Octavia’s above world war. Some Klarions just need counseling.


The cool thing about this is that I’m happy with how things are going. My secret? I stopped giving a damn. My number one writing agenda now is to make myself content and satisfied. I collect rejection after rejection. I collect promising rejection after promising rejection. I get asked for fulls and have near misses. No matter.

That’s right. No matter. Why do I write any given story? Because I have a story to write. And I’m not going to be a better writer if I fret about why I’m getting rejected. Nope. I want to have something that makes me feel better. Still.

It just doesn’t matter what reception your work gets. It’s wonderful when you reach readers, when you are told your work is good. Yay.

In the world of art, you are going to get rejected more often than you are going to get accepted. And that’s going to go on for quite a while. So, don’t focus on that. Focus on loving the work you’re doing, and making yourself happy.

The rest will fall into place. Or it won’t. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Writing, Writing, and More Writing

I’m up to about page 95 of the novel being something that people can read. Woot, etc. Soon I will be sailing my creativity into uncharted territory, as Octavia will waste no time in taking Lucy out of the picture, and that’s going to be all new, all different writing, so I suspect things’ll change pace-wise.

Right now, two opportunities for short stories have come up, one especially that I feel kind of obligated to submit for, as I was pretty vocal about opportunities therein. So, for the foreseeable future I’ll be cranking out two shorts. No one should be surprised that the first short is about fire fighting, given my sojourn into that field for the design of an English class for Qatari fire fighters. So, these days, if you want to know what a mini-pumper is, I’m your woman.


This weekend is the local gaming convention, which we will be visiting on and off. Strangely, I suspect I’ll get some writing done this weekend during those not gaming times, so hopefully I can get these short stories put together soon and get them out to some readers.

BTW, would any of you like to read short stories? I can’t tell you what the second one will be about yet, because I don’t know, but the first one will be a fire fighter going to the Inferno.

Have a great weekend. I hope we are done with nasty weather for a bit. I’m pretty sick of it.

Getting into Shape: End of Week 17

This is the week of transition to no Weight Watchers at Work. I dug deep and went to a center after school yesterday. You’ll be seeing a 0.8 pound gain, because I’m now weighing around 4 pm, and there is a 4.6 pound difference between weighing then, and weighing on my Wii at 5:30 am. So, actually, I’m doing well. Here are the stats.

Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 2-18-14: 205.5
Total: 18.3 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 2-11-14: 210.4 (an overall gain of .8 for the week)
Total: 13.6 pounds LOST

So, I lost about a pound last week. Weight Watchers will start to catch on next week.

Challenges: I am still coming in over points at the end of the week. All of the exercise seems to be fending that off, but it won’t forever. I need to think strongly about ways I eat out, because an eat out can cost me about 20 points, and I do it frequently. So, gotta think about how to do it for 13 points, and I’d actually be fine. That sounds like cutting out bread, or getting more rigorous about cutting portions in half. This is a goal for next week, then.

There is a gaming convention this week, and both lunch and dinner will be out this weekend. I will need to exercise caution.

And speaking of exercising, in theory, there is no time to exercise for the next three evenings. Two days I got covered. Stepping at work. Saturday I’m just gonna have to go for a walk.

Well, we here in Cold Land salute you, and we’ll see you next week. Off to teach some wonderful conditional verbs.

SFWA: Privilege and Institutionalized Everythingism

First of all, let’s get this out of the way.


Artists should go read this over at Whatever. Also, if you go, there’s another great Ursula Vernon insect picture, and if you’re like me, you’d go far afield to see what Ursula Vernon draws.


‘Cause ain’t nothin’ more powerful than education, let’s just let some information boil this recent issue all down for us. Here’s what prompted the insect army: the quote below about the recent SFWA petition, captured in its original glory by Natalie Luhrs, which just suggests that Resnick and Malzberg were just bringing back sexy in that SFWA journal.

“The problem is that the ‘vocal minority’ of insects who make up the new generation of writers don’t scramble for the shadows when outside lights shines on them—they bare their pincers and go for the jugular. Maybe it is a good thing that SFWA keeps them locked up. The newer members who Scalzi et al. brought in are an embarrassment to the genre.” — (name withheld) on, during the recent unpleasantness.

Hey, Mr. Name Withheld, I hope you’re having a great day. Let’s start with some basics.

Now, Sunny Moraine does a great job talking about the first amendment, and you’re probably aware that there was no violation of it, as that’s been playing on the Internet for about a week.

I can’t help but note the credentialism of the signers of the petition, so since you seem to be into that sort of thing, you should be aware that I’m not an expert in White Privilege, but I’ve taken some classes, gone to some conferences, and teach students who aren’t from around here. And I’m a woman, so there’s that. It’s not an impressive credential, like winning the Nebula, but I get by, and I think we can talk.


But, there are a few things you might want to know to catch you up to speed with the rights of The Other in the twenty-first century, as this seems to be kind of the heart of the matter, or why the “insects” are chittering. In other words, it’s time to explain to you what “outside light” really shines in this century.

Continue reading “SFWA: Privilege and Institutionalized Everythingism”

Getting into Shape: End of Week 16

Bad news, old things. Last week was my last Weight Watchers meeting at work. We couldn’t get enough people to sign up again to make the meeting fly. So, right now I’m debating whether I want to commit to an out of work meeting, or just continue this on my own. I am pretty undecided at this point, but I am not rushing any decision at this point.

Last week looks like this:

Beginning Wii Weight: 223.8 (My heaviest ever after this summer.)
Wii Weight on 2-11-14: 206.6
Total: 17.2 pounds LOST

Weight Watchers on Initial Weigh In: 224
Weight Watchers on 2-11-14: 209.6 (an overall gain of .2 for the week)
Total: 14.6 pounds LOST

What this means: things are slowing down. Again, I’ve really kicked up the exercise, so muscle versus fat. Also, I’ve lost 17 pounds, so you know, it probably will take more work to lose now than it did then.

Goals for next week: Figure out whether or not to keep doing the Weight Watchers thing. Extrinsic versus intrinsic! Try to make sure I’m balancing my exercise a little better, ie not doing the same thing every night. Tonight, for example, I’d best do some stretching and core work, because my legs are getting sore, tired, and crampy.

I still hope to make my goal of 200 pounds by April 1st. My average weight loss has been approximately 4 pounds a month so far, and I have 6.6 to go. Another two in February and another four in March, and I’ll be very, very close.

The Writing Process and Hiromi Goto

Canadian writer and Wiscon Guest of Honor for this year, Hiromi Goto, is kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing process.


Tamago: Do you have a regular drafting process, or does your drafting process vary from book to book? Can you describe it to us generally, or at least for one project?

Hiromi: I’m afraid I’m from Team Panster…. I have a story idea, a premise, and I start writing from there toward the general direction of the ending. Sometimes I know where the ending is, other times I’m not certain, so the writing process is very much like a journey for me. I’m making connections and developing plot as I go along. My premise starts out with a character and a situation. A kind of mise en scene. Or, I may have an overarching question: why is there so much suffering in the world? This was the starting point of Half World. As I answer the broad question more questions pop up in quick succession. Answering the relevant questions becomes part of the framework of story.

Tamago: Which part of writing–drafting, revising, critique from others–do you enjoy the most? Why? The least? Why?

Hiromi: I enjoy the writing of the first draft the most because I get to discover and shape and form, use my imagination. Revisions are not my favourite because it’s a fussier work and it must be bound within a strong narrative logic. I find this frustrating because I have a love-hate relationship with causality. If I could, I’d abide inside the logic of dreams.

Tamago: What has been your favorite project to date, and why?

Hiromi: I hope this doesn’t sound like a cop-out, but my favourite project is the start of a new project. Each time. It’s because of that heady feeling of all the possibilities before you. A new adventure awaits and you don’t know what’s going to happen, how it’s all going to turn out! It’s the thrill of discovery.

Tamago: Your writing has a very poetic feel, and feels very gentle. Does your imagery and emotion enter into your draft at an early stage, or is this something that comes in revision?

Hiromi: I’m pleased that you can find gentleness in my writing—the last two novels, Half World, and Darkest Light, went to some bleak places. And some of my feminist short stories can have a sharp edge. My first writing instructor was a poet teaching a fiction class. I think his influence has remained with me although his poetry is not of the lyric tradition. When I write I’m aware of not just the meanings of words, but also the way they sound, appear, and the way they leap. Imagery and emotion are very much part of the first draft. I try to inhabit the world of my narrative, and the subjectivity of my characters—an extension of method acting, I think of what I do as method writing. So emotions and imagery are very much part of the process from the moment I begin.

Tamago: After the initial break-in moment (your first book, agent, or assignment), what are the moments/accomplishments that you feel define you as a writer?

Hiromi: It’s always a thrill and a privilege to receive prizes or accolades for one’s writing, but I think the moments that define me as a writer are when I’ve completed a project, and when I start another one. To be a writer, you must write…. That said, when I first learned that Candas Jane Dorsey, a Canadian science fiction writer had won the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award, in a moment of longing I told my then girlfriend, “One day I’m going to win the Tiptree.” She said, “I don’t doubt it.” When my novel, The Kappa Child, was awarded the Tiptree in 2001 it was a huge surprise and deep pleasure.

Understanding More about My Process

Yesterday, I was discussing paradigm shifts in regard to living. I’ve also been thinking about them in regard to my creative process. Let’s talk about that.

As one writes or creates more, one begins to learn what works and doesn’t work as an artist. In my case, I have discovered that writing every day for an hour at work is really working well for me. I put in less time per week than I did, but what I do with that time is more quality, and I am pleased with that.

I’m finding that having a writing meeting each week with fellow writers on the Internet is also helpful. Each week, Chris, George and I check in with each other and talk about our weekly output and our plans for the week. We are joined by other writers from time to time, but this process is giving me a community and a touchstone.

I’m finding that because I check in with other writers each week, perhaps I don’t need to undertake special trips to check in with other writers about my work. I am getting reliable readers who understand my writing and give me valuable critique. I am also understanding which readers don’t work for me, and why that happens. Some of the best writers I know might not be the best readers for my stuff–not because they tell me things that I don’t want to hear, but because occasionally those readings seem a bit tone deaf toward my purpose. I’m getting better in my gut about picking out which readers have something to contribute to my project and asking them to read.

I’m also getting better about understanding what it is that I am doing at a certain point. I am following my instincts and moving in that direction.

None of this will translate necessarily into publication, but what I expect is that it will translate into my work being truer to my vision for my work, which is now what is most important to me.

So, I doubt that there will be open calls for readers in the future. I will take the time to ask specifically, and hope I’m lucky enough to garner perceptive help. The readers won’t always be the same for all the projects. I’m also pretty certain that I don’t want to participate in the group or the guru retreat any more. There was a time when that was good for me. Now, I have a group each week, and I have specific people I hope to get to look at my work.

Writing retreats are good for bonding and friendship. However, I prefer the retreat now where I am with other artists creating. The time that you put in critiquing others work getting ready for a workshop is a large investment. I love reading other novels and stories, but maybe over the entire year, and not an intensive month, when some writers have prepared a great deal, and other writers have just dashed something off because they had a deadline and they aren’t necessarily working on it.

Yet, I still don’t believe that writers exist in a vacuum. Community is important. Knowing other writers and working with other writers is excellent. It seems that I might be able to do that from the comfort of my own couch and save myself a lot of money. Spending money to connect with friends at conventions could be one way to do this. Making the Las Vegas retreat my only retreat each year would allow me to bond with excellent friends and write away from home without the random nature of the workshop.

So, what does this mean? I don’t see all critiques as equal or valuable, and I am learning to target my work toward people who will give me valuable critiques. I enjoy the writing community that’s around me, but I prefer my writing community to be friends more than acquaintances. I don’t really want the drama I’ve seen in some writing groups both at the critique and between the critiques, and a way to avoid that is to stay home, especially since I tend to be a drama llama, a habit I am truly trying to leave behind me.

I plan to continue to host Paradise Icon, a group that I expect will largely stay the same, and that I enjoy. I plan to keep checking in with friends on Thursdays, and move steadily forward on my writing, and then ask good critique partners, whom I hope have time to help me out. And the rest? Well, I’m not certain about the rest. Should I replace writing workshops with conventions with friends? Should I just go to retreats? Should I just put my butt in the chair and stay home? Stay tuned.

You could blame Wonderbook, by the way, for this shift. You might be right. Vandermeer and Katagiri.

Paradigm Shift

As you might know, as part of my attempt to live longer and healthier, and to stop doing myself injury with my psychoses, I am actively undergoing paradigm shifts, or trying to change my ways of looking at the world. For example, here’s a list of things I have cared about too much: deadlines, things other people want me to do for them, the stress and pressure I impose upon myself, and the goodwill of people that have little to no relationship to me. In the past, they have been things I have stressed over in the past to no good purpose. I am doing a lot better. I am pretty pleased with how type B I have been. Practice is making me better all the time.

One of the ways in which I am more healthy psychologically is letting go of deadlines, stress, and pressure, and rejecting the American goal orientation as much as I can. This is not to say that I don’t have goals and deadlines. I have them at work. Heck, I have homework and due dates right now! But what I’m trying to do is make these deadlines realistic, and to stop lathering myself into a frothing frenzy about them. This includes things like thinking I should have writing done by certain deadlines. I have goals I would like to make, but I keep it flexible and laid back. A good example of this is my creative writing, which I work on every day, and will finish when I do.

My relationships with other people are a bit harder for me to grapple with, but I’m getting there. There are two ways I’m trying to get there. I am more selfish with my time than I was, and I have to make sure that the thing I do is something that gives me joy and empowerment. As someone who has spent my life doing a lot for others, I’m down with carving out some space for myself. I’m also still down with having a service career and doing for others, but I’m balancing, rather than running dry.

Another area I’m working hard on is judging. I’m terrible at labeling people and making assumptions about them based on one or even two bad examples of behavior. It is possible to not judge people and avoid bad behaviors at the same time. The shift is subtle, but important. In one case, the behavior becomes the person. In the case of trying to look at life more zen, the behavior is out there, and there’s a certain positivity about the nature of existence. I can more readily tell someone I don’t like the behavior, and that’s more honest. If there is a point where a behavior is repetitive, I should still focus on avoiding that behavior, but not judging that person. Hey, you might say. I know you, Catherine. You judge. You are right. Yes, yes I do. We humans have a tendency to do that. And I am new at trying to be Type B and cool. I’ll keep trying.

Why am I writing about this? Well, I’ve been thinking about my interactions. I am pretty honest with those in my immediate circle, or I endeavor to be so, with an eye on the psychology of the person, and their feelings as well. I’m probably not as good with more casual acquaintance, but then again, why would someone who barely knows me be interested in my opinion of their behaviors? I think politeness toward people is generally a good rule of thumb, with the idea that behaviors one is uncomfortable with should be avoided. That seems logical.

Back to the idea of doing things I do and don’t want to do. There are some things about the way I’m viewing my writing process, the kinds of feedback I seek, and my involvement in writing groups. I blame it partly on Jeff Vandermeer, partly on my increased self-awareness in regard to writing, and partly on what I’m looking for in a critique. I’ll try to get back to this topic in the next writing session.