January 14th, 2006

ozarque figure

Very long personal-quandary post: NOW what??

Since at least January 1951, I have sat down at the beginning of every year and carefully blocked out how I intended to spend my time during that year, so that I would always know where I was. But this year .... here it is almost halfway to the end of January, and I haven't done that yet, and it is the oddest feeling! I go around all day feeling uneasy and vaporish, trying to convince myself that since no one has imposed that planning obligation on me but my very own self, it doesn't matter ... but it's not working. I'm going to have to get it done this January somehow, or I will spend the whole year feeling as if I haven't brushed my teeth; it's that basic a task for me.

In the past this scheduling was easy to do. I'd write down the date when I had to turn in a book or other document for which I had a contract, the date when a new book would be coming out and would need to be "launched," the dates of any book tours or other promotional chores, the dates of the conventions I'd be attending, the dates of the seminars I'd be presenting, all the dates that were needed for our gardens, all the family birthdays/graduations/anniversaries/holidays, the dates for obligatory nonprofit-organization meetings and other business of that kind, and the dates for getting out my newsletters, with time blocked in for getting all those things taken care of. I'd add a couple of spare days on both sides of all the scheduled workdays, to allow for flu and power outages and other unanticipated crises. If there were any empty spots, I'd write in the names of short stories or poems or art projects in progress. After which, I was done and could get started on the year.

This year, for the first time in my adult life, I'm committed only to the newsletters (ten days every other month) and two conventions (WisCon in May and Conestoga in July) and the gardening/housekeeping/grandmothering. The rest is up to me. In theory that's lovely -- except that it means I have to make up my own mind how I'll apportion the worktime I don't spend writing this journal. [I am well aware that this journal could easily morph into a fulltime project, yes -- but I can't make a living if I let that happen. Therefore.] Here's the list of the 20 choices that I'm struggling with, plus brief annotations where they're needed; if that list doesn't interest you -- which I would certainly understand -- now's the time for you to stop reading. Should I.....

1. Focus on the USCOL series .... novels? short stories?

**This is the series of narratives about my fictional-future U. S. Corps of Linguists (as in "We Have Always Spoken Panglish," at http://www.scifi.com/scifiction/originals/originals_archive/elgin/elgin1.html ). This proposed series is fast being overtaken by the real world, except that so far I've seen no mention anywhere of adding actual linguistics instruction to the government-linguists' training in foreign languages and cultures.

2. Focus on my novel set in a fictional nursing home in orbit?

**I'm really worried about what's going to happen to the elderly in the United States in the real-world future, and I have a narrative outlined that explores some possibilities...

3. Focus on my touch dominance novel?

**This novel's about half done, and is set in a near-future fictional U.S. where the stigmatized sensory system is vision, and the one at the top of the list is touch, so that the worst obscenity you can use is "motherlooker" ...

4. Focus on turning all three of those novels -- plus another mainstream one that I have already finished in first draft -- into a gigantic science fiction mega-novel in the current fashion? I could do that.... four large birds with one huge stone....

5. Focus on writing a verbal self-defense book for kids, with a heavy section on cyberbullying?

**I keep getting letters from parents and teachers and "helping professionals" asking me for this, and I keep getting rejections of the idea from editors and publishers who tell me there's no sales potential for it...

6. Focus on writing three prose poems for the Mid-America Review contest?

7. Focus on writing sf short stories instead of books, in spite of the ferocious competition in that market for a very small set of slots, and the fact that the competition includes people like Harlan Ellison and Joe Haldeman and Connie Willis and [vamp till ready]?

8. Get on the phone and book some seminars?

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ozarque figure

Response to comments.....

The things that you're saying in your comments are helping a lot -- thank you, one and all. To choose among all the alternatives I have to weigh a large set of complicated factors, and balance each one against all the others; it's complicated. I appreciate your help.