Here’s the yearly roundup around Thanksgiving, as usual, adorned with my annual attempt at pie.
Fiction and translation news in brief:
I had a few publications this year:
— Flash fiction piece “Better Get Hit in Your Soul” appeared in Nature Magazine’s Futures series
— “Rena in the Desert” reappeared in audio version at Escape Pod, in episode 830
— and my longish short story “Island History” appeared in the September/October 2022 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine
— In translation, I translated “Shaggå of the Painfully Infinite Sky,” by Antoine Volodine, and “Death of the King,” by Marie Cosnay for Palais 34, October, 2022. Palais is the magazine of the Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris, and this issue accompanies their current exhibit, Shéhérazade, la nuit.
I’ve also had some work for private clients, which is always a great learning experience.
If you wanna hear about my life:
On a Sunday in early October last year, I went for a run and found myself watching the Twin Cities Marathon; I live near the course where it follows the Mississippi river for a few miles. Around mid-to-late morning, you don’t see the elite runners, or even the whip-thin hardcore enthusiasts; it’s more first-timers and oldsters and all kinds of people spread out down River Road, all chugging along on their own individual journeys. And I thought to myself, Next year I’m gonna run the marathon. And I’m gonna write a book.
So that was my plan for 2022: Run a marathon. Write a book.
One of these was relatively simple. I downloaded a plan and kinda followed it. My husband and I both registered for the race, we trained for months, then picked up our bibs and swag. On October 2nd we showed up at the appointed time and place, and off we went, along with nine thousand or so other people. I chugged along for five hours, taking in water and energy gels when appropriate, and I’m not saying it was easy, because in fact it was really pretty hard. The stretch of the course near my house includes miles 16-19, and they are sunny and hot and very tiring—fortunately my in-laws appeared and cheered for me—and next come the final seven miles, over the hillier section in Saint Paul. I jogged the miles between water stations, where I walked and drank, until I got to the last water station, and then my dad and brother were there to cheer me on, and I had one mile left, mostly downhill. It was hard. But it was simple, and I did it.
Writing a book—in a sense, I did write a book. I translated one. Manuela Draeger’s Kree is currently in draft form, but it is a complete draft. The first draft of a translation is also rather a simple accomplishment: just keep going and going and going until it’s done. Revisions are more difficult, more complicated, and there’s a lot of those coming. But the first draft process was pretty simple, and I did it.
Of course, gonna write a book meant my own book, an original novel by me, and that did not happen. Other things did. The major thing, the most mentally consuming and difficult thing, is that my mother went from “needing some help” to dementia diagnosis to assisted living and then to a memory care unit, over the course of about nine months. Without going into a ton of detail, I will say that 2022 has been among the worst years of my life so far due to that particularly shitty emotional roller coaster, and there is nothing simple about any of it.
Some people manage to write through such experiences; they transmute their suffering into art, maybe, or they escape into a world of fantasy, or they plumb the depths of honesty and come up with something inspiring, or hey, why not all three. As for me, I stare at the blank page, type a few words that look like an obvious metaphor for what I’m feeling, and I start thinking about the bills and the practical needs and the last awful or sad or psychotic thing my mother said to me, and somehow the few words just don’t turn into a story.
Good things happened, too. We got a dog, who came to us wild and terrified, and has gradually become fun, affectionate, and sweet. She encourages us to run and play and be crazy, and someday we hope she’ll learn that displays of affection need not involve jumping, clawing, or teeth. We went camping, we went to the lake. A few fun projects came up, a few things got published. We got to meet our tiny and beautiful new niece.
Next year will be better, maybe. Or maybe it will be worse. I’ll get deep into revisions for Kree. I’m planning to run another marathon or two—Grandma’s in June, Twin Cities in October. I’m planning to write a book. But sometimes the world has shit in store for us. So we’ll see.