The Beginning of the End of 2020

It is just my imagination, or did November seem to last several weeks longer than usual? I’m sure the drama around the elections contributed, but also likely the stress of watching NaNoWriMo come and go without participating past the first week. The last time that happened was (I think) 2016. It is quite discouraging as a writer, in particular because it was NaNoWriMo 2013 which got me back into the habit and practice of writing after well over a decade away from it. I feel like I have somehow disrespected the craft.

But I am still writing. I still get out of bed at 5:00 and write as much as I can, though with the Ricochet Kitten demanding play time after breakfast it can be difficult to focus for long enough to write a thousand words before work. Or even 100, on some days. If Poe is sick on the couch cushions, well, it really kills the creative mood.

I have a list of calls for submission to themed anthologies stretching out over the next 24 or so months, and the first of those deadlines is midnight, December 31. I have rough drafts ready for editing against the end of the year, but the holidays, even in the COVID era, take up time and, worse, attention, that I would rather put to literally creative use.

Three new volumes arrived this past week at the Library of Winkelman Abbey. On the left is the magnificent Appendix N., recently arrived from Strange Attractor Press, where great literary work is accomplished across the pond. Next to it is a standalone short story, “People of the Pit” by A. Merritt, which was included as a lagniappe along with Appendix NAppendix N. collects 17 short stories from authors whose work provided inspiration to Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson when they created the original version of Dungeons and Dragons. The book is named after Appendix N., a page of notes in the first Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, which listed source material and inspiration for the game.

On the right is the Winter 2020 issue of The Paris Review, which I will probably read as a counter-balance to the reality-warping power of large stacks of genre books. Not that literary fiction is necessarily any more grounded in reality than are books about ghosts and rogue AIs.

In reading news, I have been working my way through the various novellas in the library. In the past week I completed Aliette de Bodard’s wonderful On A Red Station, Drifting and Kage Baker’s Rude Mechanicals. And I just started Kelley Armstrong’s Lost Souls, which I am really enjoying so far.

I am close to the end of Matthew Desmond’s enlightening, infuriating, depressing, and brilliant Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. I just…goddammit. This book, after reading The New Jim Crow and Carceral Capitalism, angers me to the point of wanting to do something rash RIGHT GODDAMN NOW, and at the same time bringing to light the complexities, interconnections, inertia, and above all the unnecessary cruelty of things-as-they-are, which is to say that complex problems do not have simple solutions, or solutions at all that would be feasible in the current neo-feudal mode of American culture and capitalism.

And now, off to start the day, after I extricate myself from under a sleeping kitten.

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