In news that is sure to surprise no one, I did not finish my November goal of editing Fletcher & Cooper‘s book 2. Firstly because it took me two weeks just to finish off book 1 and secondly because my ability to focus on anything took a sharp nose dive.

Here we are in the middle of December, having survived almost a whole year of 2020. When I have cause to recall news items from January–remember how we all worried that, like, WW3 might start with Iran?–it feels like a decade ago. Everything seems to have shrunk down in size and scope.

Last week–the week before? what is time?–I visited the dentist for the first time in a year, the day that Ontario’s second lockdown started. I have become so used to not going anywhere further than I can walk (am lucky to live in such a walkable neighbourhood) that planning the transit trip to Dr. Joe’s in Runnymede (40min away) felt like planning a trip to the moon. Did I have enough provisions? Should I bring a book? When should I leave to give myself enough Murphy time? Are my calculations correct for a stable orbit? (I arrived 10 minutes early; transit was empty; one guy across from me took up four seats all by himself; I walked the hour and a half home since it was mostly downhill.)

My day-to-day activities have narrowed in scope as well, and each morning I often find myself surprised by a task that needs to get done. “What? I need to get groceries? Again? I thought I did that two days ago!” No, it was a week. I often stumble into deadlines like life is an RPG I was playing a while ago and recently came back to. “What quest am I doing again? Wait, I have to collect how many dire rat skins? Shit, why do I have so many mana potions? What was I planning?”

The edits to Blackout Odyssey have been done! We’re now tweaking and getting together promotional materials, discussing the cover options, etc. It feels more real! I am finally getting excited! It hasn’t been Announced yet but it looks like I will be A Published Authortm next summer, which means, all going well, I will still be in my 30s when I make my traditional press debut. Technically correct is the best correct!

The biggest consumer of my time at the moment is AQA2. I spend “only” a couple of hours reading slush and replying to emails a morning, but man does it drain my brain. God knows why, but it does, and I usually have to spend the afternoon doing only uncreative/manual tasks because attempting anything else returns a error that the file is not found (the file in my brain). Not enough memory to complete this action. *old-fashioned sounds of hard-drives grinding*

We got listed in Duotrope, Submission Grinder, and Author’s Publish, among many other collected calls for submissions, but those are the big three. This is good, in that it means our call for SF low-fi reaches far beyond what word of mouth could provide; it is also bad because those websites make it easy for 90% of the people submitting to not read the guidelines. Sometimes they wave red flags from poorly-formatted cover letters; sometimes we have to wade through another 4,886 word slog to discover it’s a fictionalized account of someone’s grandpa’s war story or that the SF element is the twist is that the child was dead the whole time. Absolutely nothing says comfort fiction like WAR MEMOIRS and DEAD CHILDREN. *holds weary head in hands*

And then of course there is the slew of just plain bad fiction: clunky prose; rife with typos; rife with -isms, cliches, lazy tropes. The confidence of some writers is astonishing and I will never feel like I am not good enough to submit again.

All of this means that when the Pillbug and I find the good stories we shriek FUCK YES and virtually high-five each other. The anthology is shaping up to be even better than the first and that’s really exciting. I just wish I had my old ability to plan more than two days in advance. Ah well. 2021 approaches, a vaccine is on the horizon, perhaps the next year will be a return to precedented times. Or perhaps the Galactic Federation will quarantine the whole planet. Who knows! The nice thing about wandering about in a fog is that it makes absolutely everything into a surprise, so planning specifics is waste of time. Just pack a general purpose kit with hand sanitizer and a granola bar and let the year come to you.

Maybe do bring a book to read.

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