All posts by Richard S. Crawford

July Goals (and a mid-year wrap-up)

Gozilla Vs. Kong picture
You go first! No, you! No, you! I insist!

I chose this image of Godzilla and Kong duking it out because it reminds me of how multiple projects demand a writer’s attention. More on that later.

June Update: I did not accomplish everything I set out to do in June, but I came pretty close. I meant to work on And the Devil Will Drag You Under every day, but, of course, sometimes life gets in the way. I meant to fully revise “The BIM” (now “Witness to the Scourge”). I also meant to fully revise “Sauromancy”. Instead, though, I partially revised “Witness to the Scourge”, and I revised “Zombie Processes” and submitted it to a writer’s conference I’m attending in a couple of weeks. I did get quite a bit done, though, so I’m calling June a win.

Mid-year submissions wrap-up: I’ve been submitting short stories to various short fiction markets pretty regularly this past year. Every Monday and Thursday, in fact. I may have missed the odd day here and there, but I’ve always made up for it the following day. So, at this point, I’ve submitted 61 stories. The result? 40 form rejections, 6 personal rejections, 1 withdrawal, 0 acceptances, and 14 pending rejections  submissions. If I can keep this up all year, I’ll have over 100 submissions for the year. I’m hoping to get at least one acceptance over that time.

July goals: I signed up not for Camp NaNoWriMo, but for Dream Foundry’s “Summer Stretch”. I suppose I should sign up for Camp as well, but, well… I didn’t. At any rate, I do have a goal of adding at least 31,000 words to And the Devil Will Drag You Under in July, which will bring the grand total up to 60,000+ words. That means writing at least 1,000 words per day. That’s accomplishable.

The problem of multiple projects: I have several projects that I really want to work on. I’m committed to finishing Devil, but I was reminded recently of a novel I wanted to work on at one point, The Book of Jonah, a genre-centered retelling of the Biblical text of that name. A fun fact: I once stated (on LiveJournal, of all places!) that I considered Jonah to be the funniest book in the Bible. And Guy Consolmagno, the head of the Vatican Observatory, agreed with me! I was so thrilled! I had met him at WorldCon previously, and chatted with him (ever so briefly) about religion and science. Then I read his book, Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial, and when I met him again I mentioned it. And he said, “Oh yes, you’re the one who thought Jonah was funny.” I pretty much melted into a pile of goo right then and there.

Anyway, there’s that project. And my pirate novel, of course, which looks like it wants to be a trilogy. And my horror-themed space opera fantasy trilogy, too.

THEY ALL WANT TO BE WRITTEN. All of them are fighting, Godzilla-vs-Kong-like, for my attention. And the main point I want to tell them is that I need to finish my Devil novel first. Because that’s been my problem all along; I don’t tend to finish what I start writing. So I’m committed to And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I’m gonna finish that.

Of course, one unsung voice in the writer’s head at this point usually says something like, “Yeah, but what if the project I’m working on sucks? What if the next one would be good?” And that, sadly, is a very loud voice in my head. I should learn to ignore it. To a greater extent at least.

In other news: I am writing this on my new laptop! It runs Windows 10. Normally, I would have simply slapped Linux onto this computer and left Windows behind, but in this case, I wasn’t sure if Linux would be compatible with all the laptop’s features that I was interested in: the fingerprint authentication, the touch screen, and so on. But the Kubuntu install disk offered no option for dual-booting. So I went ahead and installed Kubuntu 21.04 in a virtual machine (Virtualbox, for those interested) in Windows. It’s a poor man’s Linux box, I suppose. But why? Because all my writing over the past many years has been done on a Linux computer, and my version of Scrivener is a Linux port, and so on. Besides, I really like Linux.

I’m just a nerd.

Anyway, that’s my update. I hope you’re having a good day. And my reward to you for reading this far is this: a picture of Godzilla stomping through a peaceful Thomas Kinkaide village:

Godzilla vs. Thomas Kinkaide
RAWR!!

June 2021 Goals

Life! Life! Give my creation life!

I’m including this photograph of Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein because I know how he feels: Excited! Pumped! Full of possibility! Except I think this particular image is from after his creation did not come to life, in which case he feels bitter disappointment. And that’s how I kind of feel right now as well. I did not quite meet my writing goals from last month, so I’m a wee bit disappointed in myself.

I had set myself a goal of working regularly on my novel And the Devil Will Drag You Under, which Facebook tells me (via posts I’d made about it showing up in my Memories) I’ve been working on for more than a year. I’d hoped to make significant progress by now, but I fear that I have not. I readjusted my completion goal so that instead of June 10, I now aim to complete the rewrite by August 12. I have all of June to work on it, and I’m planning on using Camp NaNoWriMo in July to push through it.

I also had hoped revise a short story or two, namely “The B.I.M.” and “Sauromancy”, as well as draft a new story, tentatively called “Metolius Descending”. None of that happened. I did, however, do some revisions on a story called “Zombie Processes”, which I wrote a few years ago. After the revisions I did (basically a complete rewrite), I think it has great potential.

School, at least, is over for the summer, so I will have more time to write. I didn’t do as well in my final class as I’d hoped; my final research paper on the information-seeking behaviors of cryptozoologists did not receive very high marks. At least I got a B+ in the class, though. With SJSU’s MLIS program, a B- or less means you have to repeat the class, and if you don’t do any better the second time around, you’re subject to academic probation. None of that nonsense for me! I do wish I’d picked a different information community than cryptozoologists, however. This one was… problematic.

So, that’s me in a nutshell for now. I hope to write at least one more blog post this month, so that’s a goal. So is working regularly on the novel, and revising “The B.I.M.” We’ll see what happens.

How are you?

May 2021 Goals

Why an armillary? Why not? I just think it’s a cool picture.

Well, I did not end up submitting anything to the “Imagine 2200” contest from Grist magazine. The main reason for that is simply that I didn’t have a story ready in time. Solarpunk is a genre that I’m interested in, but I know very little about, and I certainly don’t know enough about it to write in that genre. The same goes for hopepunk. Both of these, I think, are genres that we need right now, and they’re better, in my mind, than the grimdark despairpunk that dominate science fiction and fantasy right now. I’m going to think more about this and see what I come up with. I’ll let you know.

I met my other goals, though. I got about halfway through the outline revision of And the Devil Will Drag You Under before deciding to just write it. I’m going to continue outlining as I go, which is what I normally do, but I’ll be using Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat! Writes a Novel method, which I’ve found really useful and inspiring so far.

I also continued my submission process, two per week, every Monday and Thursday. I think I may have missed a Thursday when my depression hit hard, but I made up for it the next day. Go me. This is an ongoing goal. Every Monday and Thursday, the submission of a story to a market.

I started writing a new short story, specifically for the Cascade Writers’ Conference in July that I’m participating in, thanks to a friend of mine who donated her spot to me. The story is woefully incomplete at this time but is due June 4. Either I finish the story or I don’t. I just want to have a sample of my current writing ability to submit, not a story that I wrote five or ten years ago. This story is science fiction, takes place in the far future, and so on. That’s all I will say about it. So that’s one goal: finish this short story.

I was going to revise my short story “Sauromancy” but did not get around to that. So boo on that. Upcoming, though, for May, I plan on revising both “Sauromancy” and “The B.I.M.” I didn’t get to them in April primarily most of my free time was taken up with school, but school will be over on May 9, so I’ll have more free time. Yay!

So that’s it for writing goals.

How are you?

 

Zombie Jesus Day Pt. 2

The shield of the Episcopal Church has nothing to do with writing.

In other news, I’ve decided that I’m not going to participate in Grist’s “Imagine 2200” writing contest. They’re going to require a certain expertise in climate fiction and science that I doubt I can acquire in just a week. That’s okay. There will be other contests and other opportunities. I will write a story in April since I’m going to the Cascade Writing Workshop in July and they need a writing sample and I don’t want to submit one of my older stories. So something will be written.


I was going to write a long blog post about my religious beliefs and how they’ve changed over the years, but if you’ve read my post Happy Zombie Jesus Day then you already know a lot of it. I will say that I believe in a Triune God, that God is so far beyond non-binary in gender that pronouns barely apply at all (seriously, in my experience human language is utterly inadequate to convey accurate notions of the Divine), and so on. I believe in the life, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus as well. What it all boils down to, I suppose, is that I have no problems with either the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed that the Episcopal Church recites during Eucharist.

Also, according to Episcopalian Robin Williams, the Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian are:

10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry — none of the guilt.
2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.
And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

I mean, sure I have questions and doubts. What is the nature of the afterlife? I don’t know. I believe there is one, and I believe that we’re all going to be surprised by who else has made it, but that’s it.

I believe that all are welcome at God’s table: straight, gay, trans, Episcopalian, Wiccan, white, Black, etc. The Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church says to seek the essential dignity and the Christ within all humans.

But there is no proof for the existence of God. I know that. So essentially, I have to take it on faith that God exists. I have had enough “spiritual” experiences to be convinced personally, but I don’t expect my testimony to convert anyone else. It’s always questions and mysteries, all the way down, and eventually you realize that faith is a choice; maybe it’s fundamentally an irrational one (or, if you’re a Pascalian, the only rational one) that you make every day. For me, having faith helps make sense of the world around us, and my place in it and my relationship to other people and to the Earth itself.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you all had a good Easter, or a good Sunday, or whichever major holy festival your faith observes.

April 2021 Goals

My God, it’s April already! Oh my God it’s 2021! How do these things happen?

I know, it’s all about time. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana. Etc.

I didn’t meet all of my March goals. In review, I did launch Daikaijuzine 5 on March 21 the way I intended, so yay for that! I’ve also been meeting my school goals, so I win there as well.

Let’s talk about writing, though.

I did not complete the outline revision of And the Devil Will Drag You Under, but I made significant progress. So finishing that outline and beginning the rewrite is one goal for April.

I did not revise either “Sauromancy” or “The BIM” the way I had hoped I would, but I did revise “Mrs” and submitted that. No response from the market yet. Here’s hoping they like it.

I’ve also been submitting twice per week, every Monday and Thursday. So yay me for that! I intend to keep on doing that.

For more immediate goals, I intend to write and submit  short story to Grist Magazine’s “Imagine 2200” writing contest. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on April 12, so this will be tight, given that I have no idea what I’m going to write.

I think that’s it for my April goals. This coming Sunday is Easter, of course, which will be the perfect day to write about my religious beliefs, so look for that if that’s your sort of thing. Be well, and shoot for your goals!

 

Happy Zombie Jesus Day: A Spiritual Autobiography

Cover of Godspell soundtrack album
Cover of Godspell soundtrack album

I was driving around Sacramento today listening to the soundtrack for Godspell, the movie, as one does, and thinking about religion.

My relationship to religion is not that complicated, actually. Some of my earliest memories are of going to St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Cupertino with my mom and sister and Grandma Crawford. Hm, maybe my aunt and uncle as well; I’m just not sure. I was pretty young. As I recall, there was an orchard near the church, and AA used to meet in the parsonage at night. As I recall, my family and I went there for a number of years, but switched to a different Episcopal church — I forget which one — later on.

In college, I occasionally went to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Davis, simply because I felt at home there. Of course, while in college I dabbled in many faiths. I was a Wiccan for awhile (though that was probably more because I was into a girl who was a Wiccan than because of any spiritual conviction). For awhile, even, I signed up with IVCF, the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship, which turned out to be far more conservative than I was comfortable with. I poked at Islám and still have two copies of the Qur’án. I studied Tao for awhile, and Zen Buddhism.

Symbol of the Bahai FaithFor a long while I explored the Bahá’i Faith. There’s much to recommend the Bahá’i Faith if you are a journeyer; they’re a spiritual successor to Islám, they are monotheistic, they teach the equality of all races and religions and sexes, and so on. I’m not sure how they feel about homosexuality and transgendered people. You’ll have to ask. Eventually I left them behind because I felt a call back to the Episcopal Church.

Of course I veered through the Methodist Church; Jennifer and I were married at the Dixon United Methodist Church and I have many fond memories of that place. But once we moved back to Sacramento, I felt a need to go back to my Episcopal roots, so I started attending Trinity Episcopal Cathedral downtown. Of course I haven’t been to church in over a year at this point. Stupid pandemic.

I’ll talk elsewhere about my actual belief system; suffice to say here that I’m still heavily influenced by certain Celtic beliefs and that the Episcopal Church is in my soul to stay.

Every now and then I’ll mention on social media that I have occasionally — in the distant past, not recently — considered going to seminary and studying to be a priest; and a couple of people have expressed surprise that I haven’t been to seminary. It’s true that I love the liturgy of the church and the scholarship, but I don’t have a pastoral bone in my body and would make because of that a very poor parish priest.

That’s it for this post. Carry on.

What Dreams Etc., Tempus Fugit, and so on

Misdemeanor the kitten
Ignore the kitten. The kitten is meaningless. Like most dream imagery is.

Whew. I had a doozy of a dream last night.

I won’t go into too many of the details because dreams are mostly boring except to the dreamer. In summary: my bicycle was stolen (by the employees of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland), along with my credit and bank card. When I got to the bank to replace my card, I discovered that it had been turned into a paycheck cashing store, and had a wait time of eight hours. They were more than willing to let me in and give me expedited service because it was just a bank card I was replacing, but instead they kept me at the desk asking meaningless questions for hours upon end, and when I finally realized they were meaningless, they kicked me out.

Well, whenever I think about time passing, David Bowie’s song “Time Will Crawl” gets into my head, so here it is:

Oh, David Bowie. Too pure for this world.

I don’t really buy into dream analysis or interpretation too much; I believe dreams are mostly best interpreted in a gestaltish sort of way, taking into account everything that the dreamer thinks and believes and knows. “What did the red table in my dream mean?” “Well, what do tables mean to you?” I don’t know, this may be oversimplistic, but it’s a useful way of thinking about my own dreams.

So last night’s dream, what with the troublesome bank manager and the thieving Disneyland employees, was, I think, about wasting time, and that’s something that’s been on my mind a bit lately. In my last post, I wrote a wee bit about my angst surrounding starting library school at age 52 and about the length of time it will take me to get my degree.

Here, I’ll just talk about angst surrounding my writing, because I don’t talk about that nearly enough.

Cover of The Heroine's Journey by Gail Carriger
The Heroine’s Journey: For Writers, Readers, and Fans of Pop Culture

I’ve been reading The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger. It’s a fantastic book, a nice rebuttal of the tired Hero’s Journey that so dominates and pervades most writing. I highly recommend this book, especially to my writer friends.

Unfortunately, this book also has me thinking about writing. Not that this is inherently a bad thing, of course; it just makes me think of all the novels I’ve written, and the ones I’m writing, and the ones I want to write. The Heroine’s Journey is a perfect model, for example, for The Outer Darkness trilogy that I want to write someday, a space opera with heavily religious overtones (based on a role-playing game that I created with some friends back in the late 90s). It’s also a great framework for The X of Doom, my pirate trilogy. Unfortunately, it’s not as good a match to my work in progress, And the Devil Will Drag You Under. And that’s the problem.

Sigh.

I’ve written a number of novels. Here’s a partial list:

  1. Unfallen. A reporter uncovers mysterious goings-on in San Francisco and explores a vast supernatural conspiracy. Based loosely on a World of Darkness RPG I ran.
  2. The Outer Darkness. Wherein a woman whose husband is killed in a mining accident on the planet Anchorage gets involved in an interplanetary war. This has little to do with the above-mentioned trilogy.
  3. The Toymaker. A toymaker in 1850s San Francisco who turns out to be a powerful mage hooks up with a young widow from Boston, and they form a conspiracy to protect a group of supernatural people from being hunted.
  4. The Solitude of the Tentacled Space Monster. Once upon a time called Fred Again. Madmen and elder gods vie for control of the Earth in a funny sort of way.
  5. Code Monkey! A Love Story with Occasional Monsters. The subtitle says it all.
  6. Love in the Time of Cthulhu. I only vaguely remember this one. Something to do with two people falling in love in a world which has been taken over by Cthulhu and other cosmic horrors, I think.
  7. Padma. A medical resident comes to terms with death.
Me, getting caught looking at a new project by my work in progress

So why weren’t any of these published? They never made it beyond barf draft, sadly, with the exceptions of nos. 4 and 6. Those two (and parts of 5) got to my critique group. I’d get to the point where it’s time to start revising and then I get caught up in a new project. It’s  tragic, I tell you. And very frustrating.

And the worst part is knowing that if I’d gotten my act together in 2001, when I decided to take writing seriously and wrote Unfallen, I could have finished all of these projects and more and gotten something published.

The biggest danger is that I will give up on my current work-in-progress for either The X of Doom or The Outer Darkness, and abandon And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I definitely don’t want that to happen. I want to be able finish a novel and say that it’s written enough, to the point where I at least do not fear shaming my ancestors when submitting it in queries to agents. None of the novels I’ve listed above are at that point. They are all regretful.

Ah well. What could have been is not necessarily what would have been, as they say. Still, if anyone has any tips for sticking to one thing and not getting distracted, I’d love to hear them.

School report

I’m not depressed right now, but I was in a serious downswing a couple of weeks ago. One on day, I spent most of the day asleep, waking up at 3, then went back to bed at 8. It lasted several days. I’m not often swinging down anymore, not like I was before I finally got treatment, but I felt like the poor sperm whale in the gif above, pulled into the deeps by the kraken of melancholy.

Anyway.

I’m enjoying library school. So far, I feel very competent in it; when working on group projects, my opinions are well-received and considered, and I apparently have a very good academic writing style. And even in semesters where I don’t have any group projects, like the current one, I’m still feeling competent because I can write academically and contribute to discussions with the best of them. I didn’t always feel this way in college, except for in my Philosophy classes and some science classes (I still don’t know how I passed Sociology, though).

What I don’t like thinking about is how long it’s going to take me to get my degree. Between work and every other commitment I’ve got, and for financial reasons, I can only take one class per quarter. I’m not normally one who worries about my age, but I do fear that I will be done with my degree and ready to work in a library with less than ten years until retirement age. This is something that, despite laws that prevent discrimination against older employees, may put off some employers.

I also have not pondered much in the way of a future career. I don’t think I’d have a problem working in a public library, assuming the pandemic comes to an end before my academic career does (and, to be entirely honest, I’m not counting on that). I think I’d have more fun in a special library, perhaps a science library or a museum library. Academic libraries, libraries that are attached to universities, hold little interest for me at this point. I’ve seen what it’s like to be an academic at a university, and it ain’t pretty. While being a staff member at a university isn’t too bad, faculty and academics have to deal with grants, funding, other faculty, and the politics and schmoozing that go with such positions. I’m not made for such things

I should have stuck with the program when I was first in it back in the early aughts, because then I’d be worrying about how to keep whatever job I had rather than pondering what I’m pondering now. Ah well. What could have been isn’t what necessarily what would have been, in the words of some sage.

In other news, here, have an earworm:

This is one of my favorite John Denver songs. I grew up with the music of John Denver — my mom was a fan — and listening to this song reminds me of my childhood, but also of my occasional interest, as a kid, in the ocean and the critters that dwell within. Yes, there was a time when I wanted to be a marine biologist.

I recently applied for a position with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, but they wanted someone with video editing experience, something I lack. I mentioned my interest on social media, and was inundated with advice to “Go for it anyway!” So I did. I’m not disappointed, though. I knew it was a long shot and I’m glad I went for it, even if they turned me down two days later.

My dream of pursuing a career that combines librarianship with science communication and the occasional fiction writing carries on!

 

March 2021 Goals

Well, my good friend T. M. Baumgartner (whose fiction you should definitely check out) has put up some March 2021 goals, so you know what? I’m going to do that too. Maybe make it a thing: a monthly goal post to keep myself honest.

I’m pretty busy (even without the kitten pics), so I guess I have goals in three main arenas:

  • Daikaijuzine: Publish the new release on the 21st. That means making sure all the contracts are in place and the authors are happy with the layouts of their stories and poems and what-not. After that, take a breather before reopening submissions sometime in April.
  • School: Weekly blog posts on my research topic for the month (information-seeking behaviors of cryptozoologists), plus a couple of small papers. Research! Writing! Fun!
  • Writing:
    • Finish up revising the outline for And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I’m using the Save the Cat Writes a Novel method to do so. It’s worked out pretty well so far.
    • Revise two short stories for submission.
    • Keep submitting 2-3 stories per week.
    • Finish reading and critiquing Top Secret Novel for writers’ group meeting on Thursday the 11th.

I also picked up a book called The Craft of Science Writing, so I’m going to be reading that, because the dream lives on.

That’s all I got for now. If my readers are especially nice to me, I might send out a newsletter as well.

How Dare You!

Just a wee kitten on a banana bed, looking grumpy because I dared take her picture while she was napping.

No filters except for Android’s native “enhance” filter. I also cropped the photo so that my foot wouldn’t be visible. That blue thing in the lower left corner is the food plate.

That’s all for today. Did I mention that I added a post to my Penguin Scientific blog? Feel free to take a gander.


Kitten photos for Thingadailies!