(Whoever is writing for me, since I don't have a gift yet, take heart! We're all in this together!)
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It’s a cliche to blog about how seldom you blog, so I won’t. Instead I’ll just take the opportunity to reflect a bit on 2014 in terms of my home life.
It’s been a dog of a year. It’s been difficult to focus on anything much, let alone communicate about it. The first half of the year I was buried in personal stuff, and the second half of the year had more of that and then a lot of travel and busy-ness piled on top.
Most days I’m happy if I eat regular meals. I’ve had some great food this year, but mostly it just seems like a slog, trying to balance my body’s need for fuel, my inner self’s food-related hangups and issues, and the logistics of having food in the house, and having space and time to prepare it. I’ve had to cut myself a fair bit of slack on convenience foods and on food waste. Sometimes it’s better to buy a pile of fruit and vegetables just so I have them as an option, even if in the end I don’t eat them all and some of them wind up in the compost. Or to open a jar of something perishable so I can eat well now, even if I’m going away tomorrow or the next day and know I can’t finish it.
When times are hard I just keep trying to slog through it, do what I can, and remember nobody’s standing over me with a clipboard awarding points or writing down criticisms in red pen.
Some things I cooked/ate this year and didn’t post to the blog:
I’ve been doing a lot, a lot, of knitting and other crafts. Not least because I’ve had periods where all I can do is watch soothing TV and do something calm and repetitive. I’ve not been good at posting about it, though, nor updating Ravelry, and I have to admit that I’ve been casting on an awful lot of things for the “whee!” feeling of a new project, and not completing them. By my count I currently have at least 17 WIPs, most of which haven’t yet hit the “half done” mark.
I’ve instituted a kanban board on the wall of my living room for my craft projects (with an extra, innovative “> 1/2 DONE” column, because casting on and then putting it aside is a big issue for me) so I can see how many I have to finish. Sadly, it doesn’t work all that well to stop me casting on new things, because I just conveniently “forget” to add a sticker for the new project. Sigh. Oh well, at least every so often I can bring it up to date and it helps me remember what I have going, better than a pile of mystery project bags in the coffee table drawers ever could.
A week or so back I decided to try and reduce my WIPs considerably. My new rule (and let’s see how long I stick to it) is to have one large and one small/portable project out and work-on-able at any time, choosing the easiest to complete at any given time, according to the debt snowball method. Right now I’m working on a pair of fingerless mitts made from the tail ends of two colours of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, and a deathly dull product-knitting slog: a black hoodie in Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8 ply and in mostly stocking stitch. Both are made-up patterns, the hoodie being vaguely EPS-based, and the mittens basically just tubes with thumb-trick thumbs.
My only escape from the “get through some bloody WIPs” effort is that I’ve told myself that I can knit hats for charity using wool from my charity-knitting basket, which I gathered up from all the odd scattered places and put in one pile last week. A hat usually takes about 2 evenings and is a quick distraction if I really must cast on something new. There’s at least a dozen hats worth of wool there, or roughly one for each reasonably-finishable project on the WIP list. (Some of the WIPs aren’t reasonably finishable, as they’re things like a mitred sock yarn blanket that will take years to gather odds and ends to make, or are super low priority, like the charming half-finished Scandinavian cross stitch table runner I found at a craft swap day — I have no qualms about that sitting quietly where it is for a long time.)
As for the garden… it’s a mess, and I’m late with planting everything, and that’s okay. I’m eating from it if not every day, then definitely every few days, and I have tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant coming along nicely for later in the summer. No clipboard, no red pen, right?
One thing that has been going well for me is that I’ve been making a pretty steady practice of getting rid of stuff. Somehow I’ve got to a point where it gives me a good, clean feeling to finish something and not have it any more, or to put something unused in the pile for the op shop (which seldom gets bigger than I can carry in my bike basket). Yesterday I had a momentary bout of “what if I applied for this amazing job and had to move house again?” and it made me think even more about how much stuff I have that I don’t need. I’m not going to apply for the job, but it did give me a kick in the pants about all my stuff.
A friend’s recently been talking up a decluttering guru who talks about getting rid of things that don’t spark joy, and it’s been good for me to think of my excess stuff in that way. It makes it much easier to say “no”. I don’t think I’m anywhere near Japanese minimalism (lol, no) but it does make it easier to get rid of things I’m keeping out of a sense of “ought”.
Finally, today I got a cleaner in, and she’s going to be coming regularly. I’ll be interested to see how much it changes my sense of overwhelmedness and whether it helps me get back on a more even keel with some of the other stuff I want to spend my energy on. I’ll give it a few months and then evaluate the costs/benefits; it’s a big chunk of my fairly tight budget, but I hope a worthwhile one for my mental health, which in turn is good for my so-called “actual” work.
I’m not going to make any new year’s resolutions, because they don’t work well for me. But here’s hoping 2015 is a good one!
I tell a lie. My agent Caitlin Blasdell sold my book to Ace/Roc Books in the US, and they sold it to Pan Macmillan/Tor in the UK. I didn’t do any selling myself, just fingernail-biting and jumping around in excitement. The book’s called SORCERER TO THE CROWN, and I’m to write two more in the same world.
SORCERER TO THE CROWN is set in London in the early 1800s and it’s about Zacharias Wythe, England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. (As in, he’s a black guy. Not as in black magic. Zacharias is very virtuous!) But his life sucks. England is running out of magic, his colleagues are mean and racist, and everyone thinks he killed his predecessor.
When ambitious (and inconveniently magical) orphan Prunella Gentleman demands that he take her away from the school where she’s drudged all her life, Zacharias refuses, of course. But Prunella’s stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries, and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated for the both of them.
This is, of course, postcolonial fluff for book nerds (made-up genre of my heart!). It’s what happened when I mashed up Wodehouse and Heyer and my childhood puzzlement about people in books who were described as “dark” when they were clearly white. It’s got secret dragons and schoolgirl hijinks and confrontations at balls and bossy witch aunties. It’s even got pontianak, because why not.
What can I say about this?
It will be my first published novel. It’s due to release in autumn 2015.
It feels like I’ve worked harder on this book than I’ve worked on anything else in my liiife, but that’s probably not true. I probably worked harder in Chinese school. (Nothing in my life so far has managed to beat Chinese school. If you wish to make your children
traumatised strong, send them to Chinese school!)
Anyway, I am SO READY to do more of this work. I was thinking about something I saw on my dwircle yesterday — “the reward for good work is more work” — and gosh, if I could be so lucky! The best thing would be to be able to work hard on dragon hijinks forever.
To be able to share those dragon hijinks with other people is the next best thing. I hope the book comes out. (I am of course convinced that the Earth is going to be hit by an asteroid just in time to prevent actual publication.) I hope people read it and like it. :O
My new release mailing list
If you would like to receive an email notification when the book is out, you can sign up to my brand spanking new mailing list! I’m planning only to send out emails when I’ve published a new thing that you can buy and/or read. So you’ll get an email when this book is out, and also when other projects I’ve got in the works are published.
I’m also considering possibly sending out mailing list extras in future — the occasional free short story, say, or deleted scenes from the book. But otherwise I will be silent! I won’t spam you or give your address to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The official press release(s)
ETA: Press releases from the publishers!
(Though I should say that my book can only suffer from juxtaposition with the incomparable JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL. Clarke was definitely an influence (and Stephen Black and Arabella Strange, MY FAVOURITES), but SORCERER is, let us say, an homage. Though it’s also a lot of other things!)
Mirrored from Zen Cho.