Posts Tagged Little Bird

State of the Writer: September 2013

I’m a few days late, I know. I mentioned a month ago that I didn’t know what would happen to my posting schedule during my unemployment. The answer appears to be that it’s going to go down a little. Since we’re starting on a personal note, the job hunt is going well, but has not yet wrapped up. I’ve had some good interviews, hoping one results in an offer. Be a nice birthday present. Oddly, last time I was unemployed (coming out of college) I also landed a job right around my birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, today is my daughter’s first. It’s an oddly surreal feeling. It feels like it can’t have been that long, also feels like it’s been much longer. My daughter is a time p̴ar̷ad̸òx, apparently. But I still love her. Tonight’s plans involve putting a cupcake in front of her, and seeing what happens.

Alright, writing. I’ve tucked into my new generation ship novel project a little earlier than planned. I’m working my way through a few drafts of the first chapter, looking to get a tone I’m happy with and get some characterization going. After that I’m going to back out again and get some outlining done. Probably going to work similarly to Nickajack with outlining and writing happening at the same time, with the one only a few chapters ahead of the other. Right now the book is just over 1800 words long, but that represents several evenings of toiling on that first chapter to get it as good as I can. It’s not something I’d normally obsess over so much at the start of the book, but I do want to get it at least a little right.

In general I’m trying to find a little time each night to write. And there is a little more time in the evening with a one year old than there was with a six month or nine month old. Some nights will be Nickajack s͙͇͉̅ome nights will be Back Half.

Great Hugo Read: We’re back to the past read, picking up again in 1958 with Fritz Leiber’s The Big Time. It’s the last novel awarded a Hugo without a nomination stage. I’ve paired it up with Brian Aldiss’s novel Non-Stop, which beat The Big Time when, in 2007, the British Science Fiction Association selected their Best Novel of 1958. So it’s one novel that was thought better at the time, and one novel that was thought better with a half century’s hindsight. This is something I’ll end up talking about more in October when the Hugo Read looks at its first Retro Hugo winner.

Buying options for both books:

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

I got a 1972 copy published by Ace, but that was before I realized The Big Time was originally published as Ace Double D-491. I bring this up not because of my love of Ace Doubles, but because it is paired with a collection of Leiber short stories from the same universe as The Big Time.

Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss

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Three Months

I get it now. I really do. I understand all the hype. I get all the talk about “hatching” about how those first few months pay off dividends as early as three months.

Today the Little Bird is three months old. She is celebrating this quarter birthday by attending her second day of day care. Unfortunately my wife and I have wrung out every last drop of family leave we could manage, her through long-term disability and me through my bank of off time and a company willing to let me take two weeks to just be a stay-at-home dad. In massive swaths of the country, we could probably get by on just my salary, or just my wife’s. But we live in Fairfax County where double income is the price of having a house and food. Really, if we just didn’t need to eat, everything would be so much easier.

So yeah, I got to spend the last two weeks entertaining the baby at home, and I learned two important things. First, it is possible for me to write with a newborn in the house, just not much. Second, I am unsuited to being a stay-at-home dad of a newborn. This isn’t entirely fair, if I was actually a full-time 100% stay-at-home dad, I would be participating in all those little things that help stay-at-home parents stay sane. Play groups, special early morning “we’ll keep the lights on and it’s okay if your baby is screaming” matinees every Monday at the local movie theater, labor camps, things designed to allow a parent to do something other than sit and wait for the next feeding. Fortunately the best option for day care, the one that combined a reasonable price with a fantastic environment, is right in our neighborhood. Win-win.

The baby. Oh my goodness the baby. When babies are born they really exist in one of three states: sleeping, eating, or crying. Sometimes they multitask. I’ve heard of some who could simultaneously do all three. But at three months old? They can hold their heads up, they can play, they can make cooing noises, they can laugh. My god, can I even tell you what it’s like the first time they give an honest to goodness laugh? She still has her bad moments, and she will for…well, in different forms, but for the next 18+ years. She also has her great moments. That moment when she listened to me telling her a story about the history of Rome, not understanding, but listening intently. Sleeping through the night Sunday into Monday, going down at 10pm and not getting up until after 7pm. Babbling so much that she gets frustrated that we can’t understand each other. This sometimes drives her to tears, but these are some of the few tears I really love because of what brought them on.

There are still so many milestones ahead. But I can’t help look back on that baby that we brought home from the hospital, spent sleepless nights with, went through days of wondering when she’d start crying. Or stop crying. Somehow, in just three months, she’s become something so different and wonderful. We’re now calling her the “trap baby.” The one who will sucker us into the notion that child rearing is easy and get us to have the second baby to make sure that we are providing replacement level breeding for the species. She’s wily that way, but it’s not working yet.

And I still can’t help wonder when her real parents will come to pick her up.

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