Category Archives: School

School Stuff

School this past semester wasn’t too bad, actually. As usual, I only took one class (financial and dayjob reasons), and for fall semester I took Reference and Information Services. This is the class that teaches librarians how to be reference librarians. There were readings in the text book each week, of course, and some assignments. There were search assignments, which called for us students to search out specific topics in different sorts of reference materials, including biographical sources, encyclopedias, medical journals, and so on. Exciting stuff!

There were also discussion posts each week that had us examine some deeper aspect of reference librarianship: the ethics of librarianship, for example, or the dangers of censorship, or the problem of the digital divide (a topic I am growing more and more interested in).

And for the Big Project, we had to do something… well, big. Some students took on the task of developing reference services for incarcerated persons, some did videos about some aspect of the field, and some did research guides for a specific topic. I chose to do a research guide for parents of children with asthma (you can see the final result here). It’s not that exciting, but I got 29/30 on it (one point deducted because I did not put my name on it). If I’d had more time, I would have created an actual LibGuide for the topic. Unfortunately, I misread the due date of the project; I had thought it was due on December 7, but it was actually due November 7. I did that research guide in two weeks, so I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and pleased with the grade I got.

All in all, library school is going really well. I feel… competent. Do  you know how good a feeling that is? Feeling that you can master the material, and work well with instructors and other students to present a product that is well-written, well-organized, and well put together? Yeah, it’s a pretty good feeling.

However, it’s going to get tougher as it goes on. There will be internships to consider. Resumes to put together. Side projects. A big honkin’ spreadsheet with all my school accomplishments and evidences of competencies understood. And then, of course, there will come the process of actually finding a job in the library field. For now, that seems like it’s very far away. But the day is coming, and it’s looming ahead of me. There are plenty of different types of jobs that people with MLIS degrees can get besides just being reference librarians in public libraries. There are academic librarian jobs, special libraries (law, medicine, business, and so forth), not to mention technical jobs. I’m a wee bit petrified by all this; I’m going to graduate closer to retirement age than not, and that may impact my job hunt. Like it or not, ageism is a thing, even in this progressive field.

But still… I’m definitely looking forward to learning more, and to facing the challenges up ahead.


Holidailies Ahoy!

September Goals and an Update

Trinity College Library, Dublin
Future workplace, maybe?

Well, September is here, the year is 2/3 through, so here are my publication stats for the year so far:

Submissions: 77

Acceptances: 1

Withdrawals: 1

Rejections: 63

Pending: 12

So… I know that there are writers who have been much more prolific than I have this past year (I know one person who has logged over 300 submissions so far this year). Some writers have a 100% acceptance rate (one submission; one publication). Me, I’m nowhere near that. As for that one acceptance, I’ll make sure I post details about it here when the contract is finalized.

Most of the rejections I’ve received over the past year have been form rejection letters. I’m okay with that.  In fact, there’s a part of me that prefers form rejection letters over personal letters. With form rejections, you can take a quick look at the story, make any adjustments you may think are necessary, and move on (albeit with some existential dread). With personal rejections, you spend more time fretting over the story, trying to suss out the editor’s intent and wondering if the changes they suggest (if any — some personal rejections are very vague) will really improve the story overall or not. There’s more stress. And as an editor myself (have you visited Daikaijuzine lately?), I have to say that sending out form rejections is a lot easier on me.

Some personal rejections, of course, are delightful and inspiring. C. C. Finlay, former editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction, gave me a fantastic review of one of my stories, and I rewrote that story in light of his criticisms, and it’s gone on to be one of my favorites. On the other hand, one personal rejection I got from a magazine many years ago was so disheartening I gave up writing for six months.

Don’t do that to yourself.

Anyway.

I did not meet many of my August goals. I had planned to write something like 30,000 words on And the Devil Will Drag You Under, but instead wrote less than 3,000 total. I did complete revisions on my urban fantasy novella, and gave it to a friend for one last look before starting to send that one around to various markets. I also began revisions on my zombie love story, a short story I wrote some time ago, but which I revised and got good feedback on at the Cascade Writers Workshop.

So, my goals for September are:

  1. Write 7,500 words on Devil (that’s just 250 words per day);
  2. Finish revisions of zombie story; and
  3. Start a new science fiction short story.

IN OTHER NEWS…

School started up again a couple of weeks ago, and this semester I am taking Reference and Information Services, which is all about… well… reference and information services. Last week we focused on synchronous reference services, such as in person or on phone reference calls. Our class project will be pretty intense; I plan on doing a LibGuide for a certain topic. I’m not sure which one, though I’ve narrowed it down to three: the Republic of Pirates ca. 1790; Neanderthal culture; or childhood asthma. I’ve done research in all of those topics, though I have direct experience with the third only.

I haven’t changed my long-term ideal goals for librarianship; I still want to be a librarian and writer for a natural history museum. My dream job is doing that at the California Academy of Sciences, but I also recognize the unlikelihood of that ever happening. Maybe I’ll be a librarian at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland?

August also saw my father-in-law’s burial. He had actually passed away in June 2020, compounding an already awful year, but because of the pandemic, it was not possible to inter his cremains until over a year later. I don’t have a lot to say on this topic; my father-in-law was a kind and intelligent man who delighted in his family and in humor.

It did get me thinking about my own time here on Earth, and while I’ve spent too much time in my life thinking about that, I did decide that one song I’d like played at my funeral (which I honestly hope is a celebration and a joyful YAY FOR HIM HE LIVED! sort of affair instead of something sad and depressing) is “Turn the World Around” (alternatively called “Earth Song”) by Harry Belafonte. I’ve thoughtfully included a video below, where Harry Belafonte sings the song along with the Muppets. The song was performed at Jim Henson’s memorial, and I’ve always considered him a sort of spiritual mentor.

On that cheerful note, I will leave you for now. Have a lovely day.

(And now I have an earworm, and I hope you do too.)

Tomorrow is August 1! And things are weird!

Why is my computer smoking?

Well, I did not achieve all of my July goals. Which is a shame, because I was really busy anyway. I had planned to write 31,000 words on And the Devil Will Drag You Under, but insead I fell about 6,000 words short of that goal. Which is okay! It just means that I may not hit my word count goal of 60,000 by August 12, the date of my next critique group meeting (WFN, for those in the know). And that means I may have to reschedule things a bit. Which, again, is okay. Besides, when you’re writing a novel, it’s kind of hard to keep track of who’s doing what when, and who knows what when, so I’d have to do a revision pass before giving it to WFN anyway. And again: okay.

I also did not finish up revising “Witness to the Scrouge” or “Sauromancy”. I did attend the Cascade Writers Workshop and got some incredible feedback on “Zombie Processes”, and soon™ I will get to revising that one as well. Lots of irons in the fire, plenty of pie on my plate, and so on.

August 16, school starts up again! Fall semester! Woo! I’m taking, of course, one class, Reference and Information Services, which focuses on how to conduct reference interviews with patrons and so on. I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m looking forward to it. And, of course, to becoming a rich and powerful librarian who travels the world hunting for rare and magical artifacts, rescuing them from the hands of evildoers, and storing them safely in the archives or returning them to their proper owners. I hope that I can start that process soon. But first, Reference and Information Services.

In other news, I started up a Patreon page. Why? Because when I do become a famous writer/librarian, you’ll want to be able to say, “I knew him when”. Whatever. If you want to sign up, the link is to the right.

That’s all for now. I hope to post more than once a month in the future. Still, though, I suppose once a month is better than never, right?

Okay, things may not be as weird as the title of this post advertised.

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.