I’m very excited and grateful to Death’s Head Press for publishing my work, and in such amazing company too.
“The Maiden of the Triangle” is a feverish dream of a woman’s escape and journey towards the freedom to be her own. It is set in a small tourist town in the mountains, inspired by a place where I used to go to summer camp in Romania. It is there thate a fickle pastoral deity looms larger than present or history. It’s a story unlike most I’ve written, and I’m very fond of it and very happy it has found its place in this beautiful book.
I am rarely inspired to write on the blog these days. I don’t feel like I have the time. But yes, plenty of time for taking outfit pictures and posting on Instagram, that I have, obviously. Well, let’s not dwell on the failures.
Today I feel like writing a longer blog post about my thoughts on the not-so-bullet journal I have been keeping for about two years now and which is working miracles for me.
First of all let’s talk about the fun things. The notebook and the pens. Very important.
After a lot of thought, I decided to move from my personal Filofax into a big A5 sized bound notebook. I considered the Traveler’s system, with the many thin notebooks tied with elastic into the same plain leather cover, but while the system looks very good, I am sure the shifting of the notebooks in those elastics would have annoyed me to no end. One compact notebook is a better choice for me.
I also chose to use blank notebooks, where I can make my own notations for each day and use as much paper as I need. Some days are very productive, others not at all, and I hate to waste paper, so I cannot stand the already marked diaries.
So I bought myself a couple more pens and two bottles of ink. Nothing too fancy: one Pilot Kakuno with EF nib and a Kaweco Sport (also EF, but the line is so much wider than the Pilot that it’s upsetting) and Pilot Iroshizuku inks.
I use two pen pouches. One is larger, holds maybe up to ten pens, and one smaller, for three to five pens maximum. In the small one I keep one fountain pen and one gel ink, along with a thick felt-tip for my headlines and a couple of colored flexible tip pens for underlining, etc.
When I was finished with that first notebook, I got myself a fancy A5 Clairfontaine (bought it from Montreal on our trip there last year) with very special paper that is supposed to be one of the best for fountain pens. By then I had also found a nice leather cover in the thrift shop that I cut to A5 sized and dyed black.
I am on my third notebook now. It’s a Stalogy 365, which has a much thinner, yet very smooth and fountain-pen friendly paper. (Still haven’t graduated to the Tomoe River paper that everybody raves about, but it is probably coming next.) I also recently bought a $5 pen from eBay, a Chinese dupe of the Lamy Safari, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. And last week I found a new leather cover in the thrift store. It’s a little tight on my A5 notebook, but not too bad.
I don’t follow any bullet journal notation and I don’t limit my notebook to certain subjects. I write everything in it, personal and professional, dinner menus, meeting notes, wardrobe wishes, short stories.
I start the day with a little leaf-style doodle for the date in a corner of the page, then each morning I sit and make a bullet list of tasks (phone calls to make, e-mails to write, appointments, meetings, writing/editing/submitting, housework, etc.) Each Monday I make a dinner menu for the week, which I expand into a grocery shopping list on my phone so I have it handy when I am at the store.
Once my daily task list is done, I usually allow myself to just write something, whatever, nothing too coherent. I have this sort of entry almost each day. Then I have entries for what I’m writing/editing. I write stories, I think out edits for manuscripts, I write detailed research information for some ideas. Most of my days include these parts. I separate them with large headings written in felt-tip pen or even colored boxes.
Then there are other entries. Each dinner party gets one entry with menu and shopping lists. Each vacation has its own packing details. Sometimes on weekends I write down about my thrift hauls, although I have a separate notebook where I keep track of my thrifting trips.
At the back of the notebook I have pages with book lists, sewing lists, story ideas, wishlists.
And that’s about it. Nothing too complicated. It is basically just a brain dump notebook and it works very well for me. It makes me feel extra happy and special and confident to walk around with my notebook and pen case in my bag. Even when I don’t use it, it makes me feel good to know that I have it there in my bag and that if something weighs heavy on my mind, I can just pull my notebook out and take it all out on paper. It helps in many ways.
In 2018 I submitted short stories 78 times. Out of these I got exactly one story accepted for publication. I am a bad writer.
Eleven submissions are still out, but all the rest are rejections. So yeah, I find it hard now in January of the new 2019 to start the process all over again. Very hard.
I stopped submitting in November because Nanowrimo didn’t really leave me time for anything else. Then I kind of took December off from the writing, because of accumulated family responsibilities and holidays.
January is supposed to be a more balanced time: I plan to finish the first draft of the novel started in November and get it to about 88,000 words, while also taking one day of the week for short story rewrites and submissions.
Every story submission is a lot of work (usually one to two hours, after finding the market) to craft a pointed cover letter and complete all the other requirements (they can be wildly different from one publication to another and quite involved).
But the emotional work is the most taxing: with every submission I have to build myself up in my own head, make myself believe that I can do it, that my work is suitable, if not perfect for publication, that in spite of that last rejection, I am not a subpar writer, only one still looking for a break. Sometimes, when self-confidence is beyond my reach, I just go for numbness: Yeah, it’s a bad story but there are many bad stories out there. I’ll submit and get it done with. They’ll reject me and that is fine, because all I need is to do my work and submit, the rest is beyond my control. I don’t even want to be published in their elitist little magazine, so what do I care. I tell myself that I don’t.
And yet, I have to submit in 2019. Somehow I have to find the inner resources for that ounce of self-confidence that pushes me forward until I sign that cover letter, attach that Word document, and press Send. Over and over and over again.
I have been away from this blog for too long. Feeling guilty about it. Because this is my space and I should be taking better care of it. Instead, I have been posting a lot on Instagram. Which is not my space. It belongs to Facebook. I don’t like that. And yet.
Instagram is easy. One picture, a few words and you’re done. Exposure is wide and varied, depending on the hashtags used. Dialogue is open and frequent and interesting. I’m visual, I like beautiful images, they connect with a part of my brain that apparently needs this connectivity, so there you have it.
Of course, there are bad things about Instagram. I’ve seen many people suffer from severe Instagram fatigue. Because it seems to turn into a very competitive place: who posts most often, who gets most likes, views, follows, who has the best visually organized feed and I don’t know what else. Evidently, most of us don’t get the big followings that others seem to acquire at lightning speed.
I’ve read my share of articles about making Instagram work best for you–post at certain times of the day, post frequently, comment a lot, that sort of exhausting thing, but I don’t have the energy or time to use any of the tactics. While I see my account there as a public interface for my writing, not necessarily a personal space, I do post personal images (outfit pictures, hello!) and I enjoy that part a lot. I am torn between how much exposure I want for that kind of thing, but I keep doing it, even though it seems like not a very serious preoccupation for a serious writer, which I definitely am. It is my thing, I’m going to own it.
But I don’t want to feel like I am tied down to the platform. I don’t want to start feeling like it’s another kind of work. It’s not. I don’t monetize any of my social platforms, besides possible readers who might want to buy publications where I’ve written. So I post whenever I want, whatever I feel like. Mostly outfit pictures, as I said, because … for a good reason, I’m sure, let’s not get into that right now).
So, what was I trying to say here? Wow, this new WordPress update is messing with my head. I mean, it is good and all, but change is difficult to adjust to.
I am reading a lot about consciousness and brain function and I am feeling a renewed faith in the so-called “irrational”, superstitious, symbolic, etc. Science leaves space for it. We don’t need to be fully aware and rational 24/7. Which is a relief. For me at least.
Back to Instagram? Well, there is not much more to say. I have no strong feelings against it. I am not in competition with anyone and don’t have any ambitions related to that platform. I do wish there was a simple way to transfer all the content I have published up there to this website of mine. I’ll have to figure something out. Because my biggest gripe is that I don’t want my content at the whim of some nefarious tech company out there. I have started a page on this website where I am trying to upload old outfit pictures. I hope I can keep that up, although I feel bad that all the captions being lost, not to mention the comments that are often more interesting that what I ever write.
In writing news, I started a new novel during Nanowrimo this year and I am feeling positive about it. It’s about life, death, resurrection, consciousness, and séances. All the good stuff. I will probably take January to finish the first draft, after which I will give it a time of rest and return to Dragaica, the second book, the one that is almost there, and I’ll finish those last edits on it and start submitting it again, while also submitting short stories. It’s going to be busy. And that is good.
Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony and hearing yesterday was the closest I have ever seen to someone who was brought up to believe he had all the privileges (all!) suddenly being asked to answer for his actions instead of being the one asking the questions, and suddenly feeling crushed under what he could only perceive as being denied the most extreme part of his extreme privilege: one of the most important jobs in the country for as long as he wants it. So all he could do was shout in anger, and cry, and try to demean those in front of him. Interspersed with singing odes to beer. And expressing disqualifying partisan views. Ralph!
No wonder that, when the poor lie, they’re more likely to do so to help others, according to research by Derek D. Rucker, Adam D. Galinsky and David Dubois, whereas when the rich lie, they’re more likely to do it to help themselves.
The DeadSteam anthology, which has my my story “A Visitor at Sultana’s Castle,” is coming out next week (October 1) but you can preorder right now. And you can also read my interview on the DeadSteam website. I can promise it will be somewhat entertaining.
Look at me! It appears that I will have not one (the much anticipated Deadsteam, edited by Bryce Raffle — I already received my author’s copy and it is a beauty!) but two publications coming out on October 1.
The scariest secrets are kept in the furthest rooms, and our deepest fears reside in the darkest corners. Venture deeper into the madhouse than you have before with eight new stories that explore dark changes, darker desires, and the places where the light never quite reaches.
It cannot be a legal practice! It cannot be ethically justified! It cannot be happening! But it is. Because women and their bodies and their consent are worth exactly nothing. Sure, let’s treat women like they’re subhuman, only for the advancement of medicine, of course. Higher purposes and all, said the men in charge. Sure. Women’s bodies always were and continue to be worth nothing. In case we had any illusions that feminism was making real strides.
Moody and beautifully haunting. The artists are from Moscow: Bansheerie (music, lyrics, guitar, vocals) and Vivita (music, banjo, vocals and cover art)
Also found on Death Roots Syndicate Volume VI. (Death Roots Syndicate is a free digital download label specializing in the promotion of dark music including but not limited to country, folk, blues, rock, punk and roots music. First time I’m learning about them, but it all sounds so good, I want to listen to all their stuff.)
School is starting tomorrow and summer is going out with a bang (heat advisory). I don’t know how to feel about it. All year, all winter long I dream up such high expectations of summer and then somehow it just ends and looking back at it, there were so many missed opportunities, so much good weather wasted on work or other non-summery activities. It all feels like such a big portion of once-potentially wonderful, lost time.
It has been a good summer. A full one. A productive time. A time of being with loved ones who live far away. Regardless. It still feels like it could have been dramatically different, infinitely better. But it was only what it was. And we are healthy and full and our house is so much cleaner (seriously, it feels like it’s a different house, because of incredible grandparents who came in to help us with a ton of home improvements).