Older than I’ve ever been

Question mark on train wheel

One of my very dearest friends is in Chicago for a quarter, doing wonderful and enviable things at our alma mater. We met up yesterday and instantly started rambling about all the writing projects we have in the air. Being able to talk about story and craft and influences and all the tricksy bits of writing is one of the many reasons I’m so deeply happy she’s here. I began telling her about the series (!!) I want to start (“You want to write not-urban urban fantasy!”), and she told me all about her plans to submit short fiction to paying markets.

“Where does one find out about that?” I asked. “Because all these people I know find out about all these neat anthologies, and I can’t ever seem to keep on top of it!”

“Duotrope,” she said, and I said, “Ooooooh.”

I bookmarked Duotrope once upon a time, but it was buried in a browser I hardly use anymore, and being concerned with other stages of my writing career, I forgot about it. Now, of course, I’m getting that feeling: this is the year. This is when I’m going to buck up and start submitting. This is when I’m going to see my name in print, so to speak. I’ve got all sorts of plans and ideas, and I feel terrifically energized, especially now that Innogen and the Hungry Half is approaching the “one-third of the story” mark, which I honestly kind of never thought would happen. (New chapter this Tuesday, by the way! My computer seems to not be dying yet, thank goodness, and if it does, I’ve wised up and have my external hard drive to save me.)

At the beginnings and ends of calendar years, we often wind up taking stock and making plans. I’m generally less good at the latter, but I found my most recent bout of the former yielded some pretty good results. As it happens, today is the one-year anniversary of my first post to Magpie & Whale. It’s basically a filler entry–it even retains the “Hello world!” subject line–but it’s amazing how far this site has come since then.

We’re also nearing my half-birthday (five more days!), and being 27 and a half gives me a good deal of thoughts. This past birthday, I started to feel like it was time to get my life together in a more directed way. About a year ago, I made up a list of things I wanted to do before I was 50 (see July 10, 2034); I’m actually able to cross some of those off today, to my great delight. I know what I want to do for graduate study, and I know where I want my career to take me, which is farther along than I’ve ever been before. (I’ve also got some big trips and excursions planned: stay tuned for the fun times as well!)

I’m so proud of the work of the past year, and particularly of the past several months. Thank you, all of you, who have read and commented on and shared this project. Thank you to my wonderful friends, who have made this conversation so quality and so interesting. Thank you to my family, who stays interested and cheers me on. I think 2012 is going to be a good one. Much love, and let’s make it come true.

The first last good idea I’ll ever have

Scenes from Snowmageddon 2011

Today was my first snow day since high school. Despite the semi-apocalyptic storm that battered Chicago and most of the Midwest, as people were digging out today, they were remarkably cheerful. I hope most of them had good days: I sure did. I slept in and took pictures and mooched around and romped in the snow. Granted, I also had plans of being productive. I have stories to plan, essays to write, novels to organize, sketches to draw. Instead, I romped in the snow.

I consider this a fair trade. But I’m also cognizant of the fact that while the nonfiction part of this blog has been fairly easy for me, the creative part has been like pulling teeth. I second-guess myself like crazy. There is stuff happening — you guys just don’t see it. But one good thing did come out of my mindless web-surfing and lazing about today. In the course of trying to figure out what the publishing implications of a project like this would be, I found someone else’s old post wrestling with a very similar thing. I’d been trying to remember the thing about first publishing rights for a while now, but it was a comment to the post that really caught my eye:

People who worry overmuch about piracy sometimes reveal a fear that their genius is finite, like “I mustn’t let that be stolen in case it’s the last good idea I ever have”. What can happen is that the acceptance of early work – even if it is no more than acceptance by plagiarising and theft – is so encouraging that it fosters feedback and releases a whole lot more ideas. Rejection by publishers is such a downer that it has snuffed out many writers, but a positive response from even a stolen copy of your work may inspire a whole new writing impulse. And you, Sarah, have a lot more to give the world.

What a lovely thing to hear, and truly, just as I needed to hear it. (My own paranoia isn’t about losing money or losing out on contracts, specifically, but I am nervous about being taken advantage of, which is about as useful a worry as any other irrational or unanswerable worry. As with improv, the internet is not kind to control freaks.) Slowly but surely, self. Thanks, Lionel. And readers, stay tuned. Thanks for your attention: we’re back to your regularly scheduled programming soon.