Money Is Eating a Place I Used to Love

Money is eating Austin and the Texas Hill Country the way it ate the San Francisco Bay Area.

As I often say, everything happens in California first. The only hope I have is that Texas – which like California is majority minority – will also slide away from the extreme right, but watching money destroy a place you love hurts.

Also, I’m pretty sure that money is not why California (which gave us Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Grover Norquist) moved away from the extreme right.

I’m just getting back from a road trip to Texas to see family and the eclipse. While on the road, my sweetheart and I were reading Marjorie Kelly’s Wealth Supremacy outloud to each other, so I was thinking a lot about our flawed economic systems while traveling through a part of the country I’ve known well all my life.

Rural areas in Texas seem to be surviving in large part on hunting camps and taxidermy, which are service businesses catering to the rich who like to pretend they hunt. For the most part, the small towns of the west are tired and dusty, and not just from the harsh arid climate. So many businesses are boarded up.

As you drive east from El Paso toward Austin and San Antonio, you go through small towns about 50 or so miles apart. Sierra Blanca probably survives on the Border Patrol folks stationed there.

Van Horn and Fort Stockton have motels and quick car repair shops for travelers. There’s a little more in Ozona and Sonora, both county seats with a decent restaurant or two.

And then you hit the Hill Country, with fancy wineries and places bought up by rich people. Fredericksburg has been a cute tourist town for awhile, but now all the towns around there have fancy boutiques and interesting restaurants, plus a large number of real estate offices: Johnson City, Blanco, Boerne.

The closer you get to Austin or San Antonio, the more big money developments you see. Sprawling subdivisions. They’re finally repairing US 290 going into Austin from the west, but it’s in service to massive development in a relatively fragile ecosystem.

The Hill Country isn’t desert, but it still has water limits. Meanwhile, none of this big money is going to places that would benefit from the spreading around of wealth. Continue reading “Money Is Eating a Place I Used to Love”

Sleepy Mind, Great Ideas… Maybe

Why is it that juicy story ideas, as well as brilliant solutions to plot problems, pop into my mind when I’m dozing off? All right, that’s a rhetorical question. We all know that as we drift into sleep, our brain activity changes. Logic and other constraints on creativity shut down and we make unusual and often wonderful connections between otherwise disparate bits of memory, thoughts, etc. The point of my question is not why this happens, but what to do about the inevitable waking up and being unable to remember.

Catherine Mintz playfully suggests that “it is a law of writing that wonderful things appear as soon as you are too tired to make notes.”

Keeping a pen and paper at bedside is a logical remedy. I’ve done this for a dream journal, which has a slightly different objective, and I’ve done it for writing ideas at various times over the years. I don’t any more, and here’s why.

When I read over my notes in the cold, harsh light of day (not to mention an awake brain, with critical faculties online), those “brilliant” ideas fail the brilliancy test. It could be that they are indeed brilliant, but I’m not awake enough to write them down properly. It could also be that the very act of writing them down requires me to shift mental functioning (i.e., to wake up) enough to “lose” the creative connections. It could also be that they are indeed not all that brilliant, they only seem so at the time because I’m too sleepy to have any objective judgment.

I don’t think any of these explanations is helpful. Moreover, it’s entirely possible that the very act of writing down those sleeptime ideas and then struggling to put them into usable form is counterproductive. Consider daydreams. I believe they are most enjoyable when they have no other purpose than to let our imaginations wander as they will, indulging in whatever interests or pleases us at the moment. I also believe that this is a valuable part of the creative process, at least for writing. Don’t know about sculpture or music.

Sleepytime inspirations are much the same — illogical, bizarre, evanescent, apart from rational critical analysis. This does not mean they are without value. It’s important to give our minds (and our creative muses) time to play. Play means we don’t expect a utilitarian result. Play is for its own sake. But…

The very process of play, the freedom to do so, feeds into the “simmering soup pot” of ideas, images, connections, from which we draw our stories. Play enriches our inner landscapes, populating them with characters and events that connect with us. So what if we can’t remember the next morning? Somewhere, something of value remains, waiting to emerge, perhaps in a totally different form.

I try not to fret about losing that one-and-only perfect solution. I remind myself that nothing creative is ever wasted… or lost. Instead of trying to hold on to a night’s musings (muse-ings), I can gently direct my thoughts to a particular story or character or situation, night after night, trusting that if whatever arises in response is good and true, it will come back stronger every time. That makes it more likely to poke its head up when I am awake and focused — oh yes, I remember you. Then I will have something to work with, using both my sleepytime mind and my rational alert mind in cooperative mode, neither trying to coerce or manage the other.

Sweet dreams!

The image is by French painter Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824-1898)

Wizardry

In September 2016, a writer-friend called Helen asked me to write a post about one of my novels for her blog. This novel has now been translated into Greek, has a lovely audiobook, and has cool merch (me, I like the teddybear the most). Why did I choose this blogpost? Mainly because Helen Stubbs and I talk about Greek food a lot. She has the right ancestry and I grew up in the right part of Melbourne. And, of course, there’s that Greek translation.

Helen suggested I talk about my new book The Wizardry of Jewish Women. I instantly wanted to write you a post about why she suggested it, the contexts, the places, the people. That’s because my new novel is about all these things. I’m living in a world that’s got History and Culture and Much, Much Cooking until I move back into writing mode. When I’m back into writing mode, I’ll be thinking about genders (many genders) so I think you’ve got the simple end of things here.

While The Wizardry of Jewish Women isn’t autobiographical (which is a shame – I really would like those children to be mine!) it borrows a lot from people I’ve known and things I’ve done. Those cold corridors in Parliament House and the meetings and the policy papers that keep one character up at midnight: they’re stolen from my life. How they operate in Judith’s life has nothing to do with my life, however. I transformed my experiences when I gave them to Judith.

I’ve transformed things the whole way through. Even my mother (who makes a guest appearance) has been transformed.

This is nothing new, and it’s nothing unusual. Fiction is not reality. Fiction is invention based on whatever threads we spin and whatever weave we choose to make with those threads. The reason it’s particularly important in this case is that early readers thought the novel was autobiographical. Some thought the historian was me, while others thought the enthusiastic feminist was me. I put both characters in, so that readers could see that just because a historian appears in fiction, doesn’t mean that I’m that historian and just because I use places I know (like Parliament House) doesn’t make it autobiographical.

Some writers thinly disguise their lives and use novels to explain the truths of their existence. Me, I’m more likely to take something I’ve done and make it into something entirely new. My life is the ground under a trampoline, and my novel is the trampoline and my characters only touch the ground by mistake.

A lot of fantasy writers do this, especially those that write at the realist end of fantasy. We take our reality and we transform it. That transformation always happens. It has to happen. Without that transformation, the novel wouldn’t be a fantasy novel. Without that transformation it would be an entirely different story, but also an entirely different kind of story.

To create the transformation I start with things I know (the corridors of Parliament House) and I place them in the world of the novel. I spend a lot of time creating the world of the novel, because it’s the trampoline and without it my characters end up on the ground or suspended in midair. For the world of this novel, for example, I invented a house in Newtown and one in Canberra and one in Ballarat and one in Melbourne. I know the floorplans and the squeaks of the floorboard and the colour of the carpet. None of these houses are real. This is unlike the house in Ms Cellophane, which is quite real. Ms Cellophane is a different novel, and I created the world of the novel differently.

When he launched Wizardry, the wonderful Michael Pryor commented on my complex magic system. It’s complex because it’s real. I didn’t follow writerly instructions on how to invent a magic system, I studied historical magic (wearing my ‘historian’ hat) until I had a good sense of how various forms of Jewish magic would meet at a point in history and create the one my characters discover. In the process, I also learned how Jewish magic was similar and quite, quite different from Christian magic and how the cultural mindset that created it also created what we see as modern scientific thought. Creating the world for this novel changed the way I see our world. It made me realise that my family has no magic tradition due to what it has suffered historically.

The big lesson I learned in creating the world for my novel was that people change and adapt in order to survive. I learned that one of the things I was doing in this novel was re-creating a world that could have been. The magic in the novel was one of the traditions lost to most of Western Judaism due to persecution. We lost a lot more than magic, but the magic was an emotionally safe way for me to talk about the other things.

Survival involves loss and damage and hurt. Even survival of smaller ills is damaging. Feminism and Judaism have a lot in common. They care about seeing the damage and healing the hurts of humanity. They care not just about living, but about living a good life.

This is why my novel is about feminism and about Judaism. I wanted to show what it was like to live hurt and to survive, to make wrong decisions and nevertheless to keep on going, to see life as a continuing challenge and to try to heal. If our reality is the ground under the trampoline, then this is the netting that links the frame to the play area.

Despite the trampoline metaphor, this isn’t a metaphorical novel. Despite the fact that it’s not about me, it’s not so very imaginary. Wizardry is set in a world exceptionally like ours, but with Jewish magic.

I didn’t want to talk about the time of adventure and the time of damage – I wanted to explore how women heal themselves and heal others. It’s a small world. My characters don’t explore the universe, they play on their trampoline. It’s enough for them.

Sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes they turn to the Dark Side. Sometimes they turn to pink tutus. Sometimes they turn to food.

It’s funny that people are asking me about the feminism, for there is as much chocolate as there is feminism. This is because my characters don’t bounce naked. I have to dress them and give them the various parts of their lives, from a giant teapot to a liquor cabinet. I didn’t just research the magic system and I didn’t just build on feminism and Judaism.

Whatever my characters see and feel when they jump on their trampoline is theirs and theirs alone.

Looking for Balance

I think a lot about balance these days. Not just the physical kind, though I pay close attention to that when doing Tai Chi. (I have discovered that I have a habit of shifting most of my weight into my right hip and side, and unless I pay attention and shift back, I will be off-balance when I do the one-legged stances.)

But balance is a necessary feature of all aspects of life. For example, we gathered a contingent of family members for the eclipse and the night before we had a meal together with ten of us. We gathered around the table, ate lots of food, drank lots of wine, and had great conversations until past almost all our bedtimes. We ranged in age from 16 to 90.

It was wonderful and made me so aware of the fact that human beings are a social species and need to spend time together in such groups.

But we also need a lot of one-on-one time and time alone. And the people we need to spend time with vary – family, close friends, people we want to know better, people we need to work with, lovers. The exact mix of groups, friends, and time alone for each person is a little different. Some always need a group around; some need most of their time alone.

We also planned this gathering of family – blended families, in fact – so that even if the eclipse was a bust due to weather, it would be balanced with good times with each other. Our eclipse viewing was around fast-moving clouds, so we didn’t always see the sun disappearing, but I particularly enjoyed the fast sunset and sunrise that surrounded us before and after totality.

"Sunset" as the eclipse reached totality.

Finding ways of balance that keep us happy, that’s important. Continue reading “Looking for Balance”

Urban Planning. Or Not

I jay-walk in almost any city I’ve been t0: I’m a New Yorker, I think it’s inborn. I’ve jaywalked in Paris and London and Helsinki, San Francisco and Boston and Chicago–sensibly, because I’m not a stupid New Yorker. There are the streets you dart across, and the ones you look at and think, Oh, Hell no.

But I do not jay-walk in Los Angeles. This is not just because I don’t know another city that is as car-centric as LA, but because the city isn’t physically set up for walking, let alone jay-walking. As I write this I’m in LA, visiting my aunt. Most days, unless it’s pouring down buckets, I like to get out of the house and take a walk. My aunt’s house is at the base of a hill, and about a block away from one of the ubiquitous freeways. Logically, I’d prefer to walk up the hill–except that for many blocks there are no sidewalks, and I have an unreasoning prejudice about walking in the middle of the street in a town where some drivers do not acknowledge the existence of speed limits. So even if it means strolling down Sepulveda Boulevard–a long, uninteresting road that parallels and is largely overshadowed by I-405, I choose to walk where there are sidewalks.

LA does not make this easy. Yesterday I struck out from my aunt’s house and, rather than marching determinedly down Sepulveda southbound (which is not only uninteresting, but largely unpopulated except by the people driving by) I decided to walk toward Barrington Avenue and a small shopping area a little less than a mile from the house. A nice stroll (with, as it turned out, a cup of coffee and a brownie at the end of it). To do this, I had to cross the interstate via an underpass at Church Street. Fine. The crosswalk dictated that I cross on the southern side of the street. So I crossed and kept on walking under the interstate. Unfortunately, on the other side of the underpass the sidewalk (to which I had been directed by the necessity of crossing Sepulveda on that side) stopped. There was a well-worn dirt path, but no sidewalk. And crossing to the other side of the street, where there is a sidewalk, was rendered inadvisable by the fact that the street is curved, with lousy visibility, and people tear up and down it on their way to and from the I-405 exit/onramp. So I stayed on the dirt path until I reached a traffic light (just before the aforementioned exit/onramp) when I was able to cross to the other side of Church, and a sidewalk.

At the next intersection, at Sunset, I needed to turn west. However, having had it demonstrated to me that sidewalks are not a given, I looked west on Sunset and realized that the sidewalk on my side of the street was only there for another 100 feet or so. Okay, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice? That’s curiously biased city planning. So I crossed Sunset (which is a six-lane monster–you can bet I waited patiently for the light), turned right, and continued onward until I reached South Barrington Avenue, where the shops I was heading toward beckoned.

I will note that there are many single-family dwellings–classy, multi-car, expensive houses on either side of Sunset. On the southern side, where I was walking, there was a sidewalk. On the northern side: no sidewalk. The houses all had handsome gates and fences which fronted on brief, probably very expensive expanses of lawn, then the curb, then the insanity that is Sunset Boulevard. In my imagination, if I had decided to despoil the lawns in my stroll it would have been looked on with disfavor and maybe a call to 9-1-1. Lack of sidewalk says “stay away”. I don’t know why the houses on the west side of the street have a sidewalk (which runs along the handsome gates and fences, and sometimes even briefer expanses of lawn). Perhaps the west side lost the toss. The sidewalks have accessibility cuts for wheelchairs, because they are required by Federal Law. But I don’t think anyone imagines that people are actually using them.

Waaaay back in the 1970s I spent six months in LA, and even tho’ I had a car, sometimes I opted to take a walk. In those days walking was less thought of even than now–at least twice when I took a walk someone pulled over to ask if my car had broken down. I felt like I had arrived in the Bradbury story “The Pedestrian.” I began to suspect that if I had been in the runner’s regalia of the time (which included spandex leggings and a sweatband, and Nope) I might have been comprehensible. But just walking? Too weird.

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant (played by the late, wonderful Bob Hoskins) says, “Who needs a car  when we got the best transportation system in the world?” The transportation system he’s talking about were the streetcars–the Red Car (regional) and Yellow Car (local) systems–which was “the most extensive urban rail transit system in America, if not the world,” according to historian Colin Marshall. My mother and my aunt, who grew up in LA, doubtless knew the streetcars well. In seeking the quote above, I found a brief history of the Pacific Electric Railway system and how it came to dwindle and die. Short answer: it wasn’t Judge Doom with a nefarious noir-ish plot to dismantle the streetcar system and profit from “Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena!” As elsewhere in America, people liked cars, liked the freedom they gave, and as soon as they could afford to, they drove rather than use the streetcars. The Red Car went out of business in the early 60s. The LA Metro System, which combines subway and buses, has come to replace some part of it, as people came to understand the ecological and economic costs of driving everywhere.

But you still need a way to get to the Metro. And until LA invests in sidewalks that exist reliably on both sides of the street, that’s going to be a challenge.

Patreon in 2016

In my very first Patreon newsletter, sent in December 2016 (really!) I wrote about a life that feels very strange now. Eight years is a long time in the life of a Gillian, after all. To celebrate the changes that eight years bring, my posts for the next few weeks will focus on what happened in 2016. I was 55, and many things happened. This, then was that very first piece for Patreon:

 

On the Bigness of Hair

Today the air was full of unshed rain. This caused my hair to be big. Since the whole morning was taken up by a visit to the National Portrait Gallery with a group of creative writing students, my hair took on a significance. I was dressed quietly and modestly, as befits a teacher, but my hair was acting big.

I noticed the hair in portraits and I commented on them. We looked at the various stages of Victorian women’s hair in particular. We discussed the technique by which ringlets could be carefully developed and the importance of the sloping shoulder in relation to the hairdo. We talked about the sex factor of Big Hair. And all the time I was aware of having big hair.

I’ve often taught the different values our ancestors have given to various physical traits and dress. Sometimes a waist is important and sometimes a slit in the side of a dress is seen as impossibly heart-breakingly daring. Hair was a constant for a long time. There are still many groups that prefer to not see women’s hair at all than to have symbols of unbridled sex in the eyes of everyone.

Old postcards and the earliest of films show this attitude clearly. The sirens of the screen and the charmers of the cards wore a surprising amount of cloths. Titillation was through showing the possibility of skin rather than actual skin. But the hair! It was padded and it was pulled and it was piled up high. The postcards weren’t decorous at all – they were simply focused on something that far too many modern viewers don’t know to look for.

I kept the depictions of sirens in mind when I was walking my students through the Portrait Gallery. The word ‘sirens’ is in mind because of Norman Lindsay, whose portrait was there, sporting both a satirical look and a satyrical look. He was part of the change in culture that objectified the body of a woman. One day I’ll find out if anyone had counted the number of naked women he drew compared with other artists of his ilk and time. His more formal pictures still focused on the hair and these were of decorous women, but he felt the siren call of bare skin and was notorious in his day for refusing to block his ears against that call.

In the gallery immediately before Lindsay were the Victorian matrons. Unlike the sex symbols of the day, their hair was not so big. It was not small. It was most definitely soignée and often beautifully curled, but the nature of the hair of the dignitaries was quite different to that of the hoi polloi in the theatre.

Big hair isn’t simple. It reflects social stratification and relationships as much as it reflects fashion and hygiene. Except today. My big hair today was perfectly simple. There’s a lesson in that, too.

When We Grow Up

We humans don’t yet know what we’re going to be when we grow up.

In my morning senryu, which I call zentao, I often close with the last line “not civilized yet.” Here’s an example:

We can do better.
We have the tools and knowledge.
Not civilized yet.
#zentao

A lot of those senryu are written in anger. If we were civilized, this thing wouldn’t happen. Or we know better than this; we could be civilized.

This is rooted in an idea I’ve had for many years that every established group of people – particularly the wealthy ones – thinks they are civilized. We are civilized, unlike the people from a thousand, a hundred, fifty years ago.

Or, more dangerously, we are more civilized than those people over there, which often becomes an excuse to kill them.

This is not a popular theory. Once on a science fiction convention panel I suggested we humans weren’t even close to civilized, and got a lot of pushback from everyone else.

Of course, it depends on what you mean by civilized. My own conception of that is long and complex, but the gist of it is a world in which we use what we know and can learn to make good lives for all in sustainable ways.

As we were driving across the country this past week, my sweetheart, having gone down a rabbit hole online based on something we’d noticed, told me that the horse was first domesticated by humans maybe 6,000 years ago.

(My sweetheart also suggests that teenage girls first domesticated the horse. It’s an interesting theory.)

And it suddenly dawned on me – because my mind goes down its own rabbit holes – that human beings are a very young species.

Of course we aren’t civilized. We haven’t been around long enough. Continue reading “When We Grow Up”

Writer’s Round Table: Pros Give Advice on Writer’s Block

A few years ago, a friend wrote poignantly about what it’s like to be blocked. I asked some pro writer friends for words of encouragement. This is from a well-known, NYTimes-best-selling author:

WRITER’S BLOCK

I am sitting here looking at a fic I have not touched since 2007.  I have 135K done, including the last scene…or, about 2/3 of the total fic.  I am ALSO sitting here looking at a novel that was due three years ago, for which I have something similar to an outline and the first 50K written (only 100K to go, right?)

I’ve been writing fanfic and profic since the 80s, and dealing with blocked, derailed, and MIA stories for most of that time.  Here are some of the strategies that have worked for me.  (NOTE: some of these ideas are mutually-exclusive, because every writer writes differently.)

  1. WELCOME TO THE GULAG: Block out a specific time and place where you do the same thing every day: sit in front of the screen and make words come.Doesn’t matter what you write, or even if you don’t write.  Just be there doing nothing else (no shopping, no reading AO3, no social media) for that one or two hours (no more) each and every day (same Bat-time, same Bat-channel).  Eventually your brain gives up and you get to write what you want to write.

1A. If absolutely nothing else will come to your fingers, choose a favorite book (or longfic) and retype it.

  1. FACE THE MUSIC: Between day job and commute (long) I was really bushed when Writing Time arrived in the evening.I just didn’t have the energy—but I did have a deadline.  Solution?  ROCK’N’ROLL BAY-BEE!!!  I wrote two novels to “Bad To The Bone”.  Just that one track.  On infinite repeat.  Loud.  So pick a piece of music, declare it your writing music, and hit “Repeat” on iTunes.

2A: Earphones are a great help.  Use the sport kind that leave your ears free.

  1. WELCOME TO THE MACHINE: When I would dry up working on a piece—and we are talking YEARS in some cases—it was often because I was trying to take it in the wrong direction.I learned to recognize that feeling when it came and take a step back.  (You can either wait for inspiration to come—I know! I know!—or try to negotiate with your subconscious.  Or, yanno, try to REASON your way through to the answer.)

3A. Sometimes switching to another project will help.

  1. PRESENT COMPANY: 95% of all fic is written in the present tense, for reasons that utterly escape me (even though I do it too).Try taking your blocked piece and changing it to past tense.  Or first person.  Anything to get The Muse—AKA your subconscious—awake and grumbling.  (When you have annoyed it enough it usually gets back to work.  Nobody knows how much annoying is the exact right amount, though.)
  1. THE WALLPAPER IS ALSO A CHARACTER: Back in the beginning, when typewriters ruled the earth. I made a solemn vow not to stop for the night before I had two pages (500 words).And when nothing else would come, I described the background.  Or the weather.  Or the furniture.  (Amazingly, all those descriptions didn’t look out of place when the book was done.)

5A: The corollary to this is THE MAGIC TCHOTCHKE: Every story needs one important and well-described item.  It might be a magic sword, a 1967 Chevy Impala hardtop, a big stone ring built by Ancient astronauts.  Find out which it is in your story and show it some love.  And if your story doesn’t have a magic tchotchke yet, consider adding it.

  1. INERTIA CREEPS (MOVING UP SLOWLY): If you know what comes next, tell yourself.Use any words you need to for writing down the information.  Sometime this is called a scene-by-scene breakdown.  It is very familiar to the “treatment” for a film (most good books on screenwriting will show examples of treatment style).  Once you have a version of what happens, you can poke at it to see if it’s the “real for true” version.  Then you are one step closer to finishing the story.
  1. EURIPEDES, YOUR PANTS ARE READY: There are essentially two kinds of writer: the Pantser, and the Outliner (I’m both.Sue me.)  The Pantser begins a work with a vague idea of where it might be going and an enthusiasm for the journey, and not much more.  The Outliner wants a roadmap, a GPS, and the location of every Rest Stop along the road before beginning.  The takeaway here is that BOTH METHODS WORK WONDERFULLY WELL.  Except if you’re a Pantser who’s trying to follow a detailed outline.  Or an Outliner who’s decided to just go with the whole Inspiration thing.  Figure out which kind you are, and nurture that writing-self.
  1. LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS (THE “I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP” REMIX): Writing takes emotional energy.So does talking about your WIP.  If you deny yourself the outlet of talking about your story while it’s in progress, you might just find that (since you are looking forward to all those lovely comments) this gives you enough oomph to unlock your Muse.

And don’t forget The Broccoli Test, The Bechdel Test, interviewing your characters, and the story’s Blooper Reel.  (I’m hoping somebody else will cover these in depth?)

Good Luck!

— Dejah Vue, Writer of Two Worlds

Introduction to the Next Three Months (or so)

I have a doctorate to finish. The last six months of a PhD can be very intense. I may not have time to write posts every week. So that you don’t miss out, I’ve chosen a year of my life at random and will find you published pieces of prose I wrote in that year, and let you explore a year in the life of a Gillian. This won’t take us til July, so when those posts run out, I’ll choose another year, then one more year after that. Three random years. I may resort to the purple sparkly sorting hat…

The first year is 2016. I chose it because, near the end of the year, I was persuaded to try Patreon. My page there is still going strong and I love my patrons and the support they give me. They get (mostly historical, sometimes with commentary) recipes every fortnight and new fiction and sometimes strange drafts of old fiction, new essays, old essays, writing advice… Some of them just stick with the recipes. Some opt for recipes and fiction. Some brave souls read all the writing, every month. When I see them at events, it’s as if we’ve been in a continuing conversation about my life and my writing and my research. I’ve been very fortunate, and each and every one of them is a seriously cool person… and very patient. Next week I shall be celebrating them with the very first non-fiction piece I sent them. I’ll work my way back (erratically) to the beginning of 2016 and then I’ll find another year.

I’ll post them all ahead of time, and you get something new every week. Me, I get to spend my Mondays writing and editing furiously. When I submit my thesis, we can all heave a big sigh of relief.

 

PS This is not an April Fool’s joke. I so want to apologise for it not being one!