An Interview with Ribhu [WUR 2016].

Confession time: I have never really been a poet. I took poetry classes in school because it was a part of my requirements for my major, but I never really felt I could write a good poem to save my life. I was always a novelist, dedicated to my long form and my epic storytelling (ironic now, as I’m publishing almost entirely short stories). I didn’t even read a lot of poetry back then, but I do remember a few poems fondly from my childhood that really inspired me, like “The Spider and the Fly” and “Annabel Lee.” Maybe it’s because I find it so difficult is why I have a great respect for poets who can put together a poem that resonates with an uncultured poetry swine like me. Poetry’s a hard sell for me. It doesn’t take up many pages, and most of it reminds me of my own poetry, which I think is pretty try-hard and bad. But Ribhu instantly won me over with his poetry submitted for consideration in World Unknown Review Volume III, with a clear voice and vivid images, and, most importantly, they stuck with me long after I’d finished reading them. “Stretching Out, Remembering Names” was easily my favorite, and it’s June’s featured story. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and dive into a simple yet complicated world, told succinctly and beautifully. And then come on back and read the following, an interview with the poet Ribhu, who I’ve had the honor and pleasure of getting to know. Hopefully, we’ll be getting to know him through is poetry a lot more in the coming years as well.

L.S.: Let’s start simply: Who is Ribhu?

R: Well, this always comes as a difficult one. I am currently pursuing a graduate degree from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore. I am 21 years old. I write and edit for a living. I enjoy poetry and long walks, but my taste in things vary when I change places. When I am at home, I enjoy riding my bike, finding comfortable and quiet places (my farm among other places) to sit and light a cigarette, trying to feel good about myself. Besides, I enjoy cooking, but my area of expertise is limited to Indian dishes and a bit of popular Chinese dishes. Over time, I have grown to mindfully enjoy the company of close friends, pets, ice cream, and trips to home. I like abstractness in art and life.

I have mentioned so many ‘I’s in the last paragraph, but discovering and rejuvenating the ‘I’ is a constant journey which I have learnt to enjoy.

I remember when I accepted “Stretching Out, Remembering Names” for the World Unknown Review, you said it was your first publication. Have you had any successes since then?

Yes. “Stretching Out, Remembering Names”, to my great joy, was my first publication. After that, I have been published at Scroll, thanks to Rohini Kejriwal.

How did you get into writing poetry?

Oh, I still remember the day I wrote my first poem. I was in seventh grade – no more than thirteen years old. I had a diary which I had found in my uncle’s wardrobe – a thin, old, and blank diary. So I decide to put it to some use and thus ended up writing a poem. It is unfortunate that eight years later – today – I do not have the copy of that diary which had a record of my early poems in English as well as in Hindi – Hindi is my mother tongue.

However, I do remember a few verses from the poem and its title. The poem, which I had decided to call ‘A Cloudy Day’, had these opening verses:

There are clouds in the sky
to the fancy of passers-by,
Oh I wonder it is why,
there are clouds in the sky.

The people are coming out with raincoats;
the children are busy making paper boats

…and thus it went.

I had first read out this poem to a friend while cycling to school the next day, and he had found a couple of spelling mistakes I had made. Things were different then. The internet was not much popular then and learning to write was a practice quite independent of the institution I was studying in, as they mostly focused on the students scoring high grades.

Poetry was self-taught.

I started writing more and got constructive feedback from friends and family, especially my grandfather, who had earlier helped me kick-off my interest in reading by handing to me abridged copy of Oliver Twist.

One of the things that struck me most about your poem was the clear, concise language used, simple, but really evocative of a particular emotion. Do you feel that most of your writing takes on this style, or was this a departure from your usual prose?

My writing has evolved over time. Initially, I would consume myself with rhymes, and most of my lines rhymed, which was delightful to read, but sometimes there was a conflict between the thoughts I would acquire and the desire to put them all in words, I found it difficult in places to put them all down – the emotions in their true form without much decoration, especially.

And then, Charles Bukowski happened. The day I discovered him with my friend, a fellow poet, I was rolling on the floor laughing. I had realised the power of free-form – put them all down, nothing to hide, nothing to decorate – clear, concise words in their native form. After that, it has been a mix between rhymes and free form, and now and then, I experiment with forms like limericks and ballads.

I think it’s important and exciting to experiment – to pick up something new and play around with the language. It’s an adventure. Language is a gift.

Another thing that really resonated with me was how familiar that sense of listlessness and longing was, even though the setting of the poem was literally very foreign to me. For me, that’s the crux of a good poem: specific elements built up around a nearly universal idea. It has to have just the right blend of accessibility and uniqueness. To me, that’s a good poem. What would you say are elements essential to a good poem?

I distinctly remember the days of my writing when I had composed numerous poems – this was the same time when I had written “Stretching Out, Remembering Names”. Then, in the later half of last year, I was temporarily out of college, killing time in my apartment which I shared with my wayward friends, paying bills and writing poetry. I had gotten hold of a vintage Olivetti Leterra 22 for around $70 – a beautiful machine – and I was tapping furiously on it – 10 poems a day, if not more.

Then I had found a wonderful critique in my English teacher, to whom I give much of the credit for my art. She moulded my writing, gave me constructive feedback, and kept my juice flowing. If you are reading this, my dear Madam, I take this moment to acknowledge my sincere gratitude for everything you have done for me, even unknowingly. Another thing was my overwhelming affection for a girl, which has seeded many of my poems. These people were the fuel for the fire of art which burnt inside me – initially, it felt terribly hot, but deep inside, I knew that a diamond was being formed. I am glad I had these people around during some of the most creative days of my life to nurture my art.

Coming back to the point: yes, the idea in a poem can be universal. We have seen common themes of love, affection, misery, joy, anger, sadness, and more in poems. The key element if to use pathos with the words to create verses that pick up their scent from your surroundings, observations, and instincts. What comes out, after that phase of individual decoration, is poetry.

Read any good books lately?

I finished Vonnegut’s Mother Night, and I am currently on a collection of short stories by Alice Munroe. Also, I am reading short stories by D.H. Lawrence. My current reading phase is a personal effort to improve my prose. I want to write more and better short stories and not just limit myself to poetry. I like short stories. A short story well-read is a new life well-lived.

What’s one of your favorite poems, and why?

Well, I have like numerous poets, but my favourites would be e.e. cummings, Percy Shelley, Charles Bukowski, George Byron, John Keats, Phalguni Yumnam, Alice Walker…ah, the list goes on.

But here’s one that I especially enjoy reading. It’s by e.e. cumming:

Who Knows If The Moon’s

who knows if the moon’s
a baloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it, if they
should take me and take you into their baloon,
why then
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,where

always
        it’s
               Spring)and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves

I like this poem because it routes towards a subjective interpretation of the ideal world one likes to live in. The poem slowly transcends into romance. The poet is excited, and this excitement yields great poetry. It also brings forward the element of human connection and how it makes us feel wonderful, contrary to our voluntarily isolated lives. Romance keeps things kindled, the warmth of which is important for us to grow and survive – both as an individual and a race.

What’s next for Ribhu?

Graduation, I believe. This is one thing I am actively looking forward to. And then I would like to get a Master’s degree in English Literature and probably teach. Alongside, I will be actively writing and trying to publish my work in different publications. Let’s see! The absurdity, rawness, and nakedness of life fascinate me, and I await with open arms.

Where can we find more of your work?

I post quite a bit of my poems on my personal blog at ribhu.live. It’s a space which I enjoy – a brilliant way to interact with active poetry readers and other poets and writers.

________________________________________________________

Once again, I’d like to thank Ribhu, not only for contributing to and becoming a part of the World Unknown Family, but also for taking the time to provide such a rich and thoughtful interview. His is a talent I know I’ll be trying to keep a sharp eye on, because I know I’ll be well rewarded for doing so.

Happy reading!

Monday Morning Reset [06/19].

It’s finally here, the day my mom comes and visits me! I’ve got a few hours before her train rolls into Union Station, which gives me enough time to pump out a Monday Morning post and get a few other of my usual things done before four days of cool museums, awesome food, shopping, and whatever else we decide to do. I’m a little bummed because it crept up on me, and I didn’t have much time to clean or anything, and I know she doesn’t care, but I know she’ll be super impressed with my messy ass apartment and car! Oh, well. She’s known me for 33 years, I’m pretty sure none of that will be a surprise to her. I’m glad I got a chance to do my usual Monday routine, though, because I’m a bit compulsive about that sort of thing and it throws me way off when I don’t get the chance to do it.

So here’s what I’ve done and what I probably won’t be getting done this week because I’ll be too busy showing Mom around Chicagoland:

Reading: I didn’t get to plow through Missing People like I’d hoped, but I did plow through a lot of it. I’ll definitely be surprised (and lazy!) if I don’t finish it this week, and, of course, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is nearly there, too. This week, I started into Soul of a Vampire by Lauralynn Elliott, a book I’ve had forever and have been meaning to get to, but it just kept getting buried because I have a lot of goddamn books. Well, it finally resurfaced, and I seized the chance to crack it open when I could.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get up my wonderful, thoughtful interview with this month’s Featured Poem from World Unknown Review Volume III. If you haven’t had a chance to read Ribhu‘s stirring poem, “Stretching Out, Remembering Names” yet, I recommend you do so, and then come back and get to know him a little better tomorrow with the interview. There’s some really good stuff in there; he’s an exceptionally thoughtful and introspective young man.

And speaking of the World Unknown Review, I’m starting to finally get some submissions rolling in for Volume IV. Not a lot, it’s still pretty early, but it’s always exciting when something new lands in my inbox with “World Unknown Review Submission” stamped on the top! So far, I’ve already even received a wide variety of work from various places…five different countries and four different continents already! When I started WUR, I had no idea of being so far reaching so soon, despite World being in the title, but it’s such a thrill for me knowing that it’s a name being recognized out there across the globe. I’m hoping its new listing on Poets & Writers will definitely help.

Writing: Just one rejection last week, continuing the glacial pace of news on all the stories I have out, putting me at 57. And still no acceptances for June, which makes me sad about losing my potential one-story-a-month acceptance rate. I’m still pumping out stories and sending something out nearly every day to help improve my chances, though, and turning my focus on some anthology projects. I just spent the morning researching the mummy of Xin Zhui for an upcoming Quantum Corset anthology. Lately, I’ve been really bad about starting submissions for these things and never finishing them, but now that I’ll have more time off of the Dreaded Day Job, I’ll start getting better about it. Still, this is a story that’ll be historical and involve research, which I haven’t done in a while, as well as involving Communist China, which I also haven’t done in a while, so I’m eager for that aspect of it. I’m also nearly finished with a short story about a young woman who literally lost her mind, so it’ll be fun seeing where I can ship that off to once it’s ready.

‘Rithmatic: As I mentioned, the beginning of my week is going to be filled with some overdue mother-daughter bonding time, while the latter part of my week is going to be work, work, work to make up for taking four days off. Worth it, though! I’ve got a bunch of things vaguely planned, but I’m also keeping things open to see where the wind sends us. Today there will definitely be some lunch at Native Foods Cafe and hopefully catching Wonder Woman at Hollywood Blvd. I remember my mom always singing the “Wonder Woman” theme song and pretending to twirl like Lynda Carter, so it’s definitely something I think would be cool for us to see together (although, spoiler alert, this Wonder Woman didn’t twirl once in the movie, much to my disappointment. Unless I missed it, but I was looking out for it pretty intensely).

And that’s pretty much that. I’m off to try to find a good place to send my story about a ghost girl on a train, and then I’ve got to get ready to hop on a train downtown for a really great, exciting week.

Happy writing!

Worse than Vicky Bliss.

Some of you may recall a few rants I’ve done in the past inspired by a series of books by Elizabeth Peters which feature a buxom blonde historian by the name of Vicky Bliss. Now, I’m sure part of Vicky’s voluptuousness (which she, naturally, abhors because people just won’t take her seriously!) is meant to be tongue-in-cheek satire, but through countless books (that I continually torture myself with), she’s driven me crazy, and not in the same way as all her dashing male suitors. You get mixed messages from a girl like Vicky, where she talks about feminism and then turns around and disparages another woman in the same breath. Some of this might be because the books originally debuted in 1969 (heh), so they’re quite a bit dated, especially in the earlier ones. Maybe it’s wrong of me to criticize since Vicky’s been around longer than I have. But she really brings out the worst in me, driving me crazy with her stupid entanglements and her attempts to be like a sexy Indiana Jones who doesn’t really want to be sexy, really! And I honestly thought there wouldn’t be an adventure/spy heroine to annoy me more than Vicky Bliss.

I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Enter Lulu, the titular heroine in Diane Johnson’s Lulu in Marrakech, which seemed like an intriguing if unsubstantial yarn at first, but dragged me through the mud of a really lackluster adventure indeed. Lulu makes Vicky look like mother-fucking James Bond. And what really gets my goat is that this book’s premise had some potential. Lulu works for the C.I.A. (awesome) and is going to Morocco to do some undercover work (I’m intrigued). She’s staying with her British former lover as a cover (nice!), and there’s an interesting cast of characters to keep her company. Here’s the thing, though. I was never really one hundred percent sure exactly what Lulu was doing there in the first place. We knows she’s a spy, and she’s looking into maybe some terrorism? But she’s super distracted by the social lives of all her friends and does very little actual looking into terrorism. So it all becomes a relationship drama where she’s too concerned about her lover having an affair and the protection of a young Arab girl from her brother to be doing much spying. She keeps telling me she’s a spy. She keeps talking about contacts like she’s a spy. But she doesn’t ever really act like a spy. Because her fake boyfriend might be cheating on her.

Lulu is so unimpressive and uninteresting to me as a character, so this book was a real let down. There were bits and pieces that were interesting, especially the culture-shock aspects of being in Marrakech, but some of that read as a little stereotypical, too. The treatment of women within a Muslim society and Muslim radicalism was naturally part of the plot, but it felt as though it was based entirely on what’s heard in the news, there didn’t seem to be an authenticity there. Granted, I’ve never been to Morocco or Saudi Arabia, so it may be very true to life, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt false, and the mark of a good author is to make you fully believe something even if you’re unfamiliar with it. I didn’t believe a lot about Lulu in Marrakech, really, least of all that Lulu is a competent spy doing absolutely anything of merit in Morocco.

What can I say? I like my spies to do some actual spy-work, I like my supposedly kick-ass ladies to actually kick ass, and I hate when a heroine is too distracted by romance to engage in any other discourse. Three things that this book definitely did not have going for it all all. Not a strong recommendation at all. I almost considered not finishing it, which is just crazy for me, but I powered through all the same. Such bravery. Such sacrifice.

Monday Morning Reset [06/12].

Happy Monday, everyone! I almost thought I wasn’t going to get the chance to get this post out this morning, that it would be another Monday-Morning-on-Tuesday kind of week, but then I resolved myself to just stick it out, get it out quick and good, and you’ll be all set. I still want to squeeze out a potential submission to the Vignette Review before I had to get started on the part of my day that isn’t awesome writing stuff, since their submissions close today, but we’ll see (Nevermind, I got the day wrong by one; I’ve missed it, whoops!).

It’s been an interesting, busy week, so let’s break it down and have a look at what was accomplished and what’s still ahead:

Reading: I finally managed to finish Foxborn by Robert Allen Lupton, one of my World Unknown Review authors, a book with a really cool concept that I think needed a bit more love before it made it to the printed page, but that’s something to be saved for a proper review. I think I would have preferred to see it condensed and tightened into a really epic short story rather than what I felt was a dragged-out novel-length book. But, like I said, stuff for a proper review. I do encourage everyone to check it out for themselves, though, because I love supporting my WUR writers and you can tell me if you agree or if you think I’m crazy and being too much of an editor.

The new books for the week is Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment, because it’s time for another Discworld book in the rotation, and I hope to finish up Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks this week, and maybe Brandon Graham’s Missing People, too, because I’m nothing if not ambitious about meeting dumb goals.

Writing: Things are still pretty quiet on the submission front. I did receive a rejection for a mini-contest I entered and I noticed a status change on another story in Submittable to rejected (they didn’t even send an email, which I think is just lame), but that’s it for the time being. I hope that means that a lot of the stories that have been quiet for all this time are quiet because they’re in serious consideration. I have two stories that I’m super close to finishing up that can enter the rotation soon, too, and then I started a story I might try to churn out before submissions for Zimbell House Publishing’s latest anthology closes in three days. It’s only three days, though, so I doubt I’ll get there. Worth a try, though, especially since I’ll have the next three days off.

Maybe I might even start getting around to finally typing up Fearless, too.

‘Rithmatic: I just got back from a wedding this weekend, which was a lot of fun. My boyfriend was in the bridal party, and I’ve known this couple through him for a few years now, and their story is really interesting and it was great to be there to see them finally “make it official” after seventeen on-and-off years and two kids. This week will be a lot of cleaning up and organizing the apartment because my mother’s coming for a visit next week, so, of course, I’ve got to make everything perfect. It’s my first week in a long time with the part-time hours I want, which makes me nervous about not making as much money, but I’m really eager to try to get the most out of those days off and get some serious writing done, because I have not had the time in a while. It’ll be nice to finally get back to treating this as my main job rather than the job that’s just there to make sure I can pay the bills. I like my writing job, like, a million times better.

Happy reading, everyone!

New Featured Poem: “Stretching Out, Remembering Names” by Ribhu.

I’m really, really way too late on getting this up, especially since it’s probably the easiest piece from World Unknown Volume III to code up for the blog, but I’m finally happy to announce that June’s featured story is now up and live, so you can hop on over to the Featured Poem tag and read Ribhu’s “Stretching Out, Remembering Names.”

This is the first poem to appear in the World Unknown Review, but I certainly hope it’s not the last, though I’ll be the first to admit that poetry is a really hard sell for me as an editor. That’s what makes this poem particularly special, I think, and also the fact that Ribhu is a fairly new writer, and I recall him mentioning that WUR is his first publication. It’s always a special thrill to be someone’s first, right? Anyway, beautiful, simple, and evocative, it’s a good indication of what I, personally, find a good poem. It’s situational: it speaks on a very particular moment in the narrator’s life that recalls up a specific time and place, and yet the emotions underlying the languidness is something I could relate to immensely, even though it took place in a world so vastly different from my own. That is what stuck with me about this poem, and I still think about it every once in a while. I think it’s safe to assume that we’ve all felt that sense of longing, the feeling of uselessness, and the inevitability of having to give into something we don’t like or agree with just to toe the line of existence.

Most poems I encounter try to extol on some universal concept in a vague, all-encompassing way, and I always feel that’s never the way to go. There’s nothing personal there, nothing to anchor you into reality. In this poem, Ribhu has managed to touch on a very tangible feeling by rooting it into the mundane and the relatable, thus earning it the rare privilege of a poem I’ll publish over a short story.

Keep an eye out for an interview with Ribhu later this week, and, in the meantime, please enjoy “Stretching Out, Remembering Names.”

Monday Morning Reset (on a Tuesday) [06/06].

I missed last week’s Monday Morning Reset, and I’m a day late on this one. Let’s just pretend there’s just a lot of awesome stuff going on in my life right now that I’ve been too busy to post, when, really, it’s just that I’ve been lazy and unmotivated.

No, unmotivated is not the right word. Ineffective might be better, because I’m definitely motivated. I’ve never understood the concept of “writer’s block” very well, because I usually always have something I’m working on or trying to do. But I get into these fugues where I just can’t bring myself to write or focus, and that, alas, has been my problem these past few weeks. But sitting here now, typing this up, is the first step to getting out of that bad habit and back into my good ones. So here’s a look at last week, the week before, and the weeks ahead.

Writing: Usually, I fall into these inactivity traps when things have gone a little stagnant on the writing front, when you haven’t heard yay or nay on anything you’ve sent out in a long while. I’ve been at 5 acceptances and 52 rejections for the year for the past two weeks now, with no change in the numbers, and that kind of bums me out. It makes me feel like I’ve just been of treading water, although it’s really just the natural flux of these things. I’m definitely getting back to submitting something every day. I need to really push because we’re in June now. Halfway point of the year. I need to get just one acceptance, and I keep up with the pace of one-story-per-month acceptance average, and I’m just slightly over half for my 100 rejections goal. So I need to push more, send more stuff out, really flood the channels so something eventually gets washed back up. I want to focus on meeting more deadlines, as I’ve managed to let too many of them fly by. As such, I need to actually write more new material, but I’ve got a handful of short stories that are turning out nicely, so hopefully they’ll be finished and sent out before the end of the month.

Fearless is another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot. Originally, my plan was to publish every August; I missed last year with that, so now I’m re-evaluating. Should I just publish whenever it manages to get finished? Which is more important, to hold myself accountable by meeting these deadlines I set for myself, or to make sure the product is being produced because I’m enjoying it and I’m not forcing it? I will have more time coming up, but getting Fearless out by August feels like it would be a goddamn miracle at this point. It will get there, but I just don’t have it in me lately. Hopefully, this schedule change coming up will get me back into finally getting the book out and completing The Slayer Saga.

Reading: I did finish The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Hour-Hour Giant, Today last week, which was a very silly book and I enjoyed it greatly. I had every intention of finishing Foxborn on Sunday night, but work was not very kind to me at all and I just got lazy. It will absolutely get finished this week, though, so help me! I’m also getting near the end of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, too.

New to my big pile of books because I have no attention span are Xiaolu Guo’s A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, which I’ve read before and loved, but it’s been a very long time, so I’m excited to revisit it, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, which means in a month or so, I can watch the show.

‘Rithmatic: I do feel lately like everything just been a blur of work, especially as we transition to a new supervisor, but they’ve also hired another person on, which means a transition to the part-time hours I’ve been craving. And here’s where I really land on what’s been making me feel so….off these last few weeks, and it’s worry. It’s concern. It’s paranoia. These past six months have been really great for me financially, working all those extra hours, being able to actually put money away, and it’s been a great feeling, even if it meant sacrificing a lot for my writing. And it made a sort of sense to me…I’m a dyed-in-the-wool workaholic, the daughter of a Midwestern Catholic Centennial farmer with heavy German and Irish roots. It’s just in my blood and my upbringing to believe that you work yourself to the bone and then you die. I know, deep down, that writing is work, but it’s such a different kind of work. It’s not a physically draining labor. It can drain your soul, but not in the same way a nine hour shift of constantly moving does. And I enjoy it, like, a lot. Work should be work, and writing feels more like fun, so it’s hard for my brain to grasp the idea that, when I’m only working my “real job” three days a week, I’m just slacking off the other four days. I could write a whole novel in those four days, and still feel like a slacker, like I’m not “really working.” And then there’s just the money issue, too. The money’s been nice, you guys. Really, really nice, and now I’m worried I’ve gotten used to having it, so I’m going to splurge it all away. Which is ridiculous, because I know me, and I know that I agonize over spending an extra dollar for almond milk at one store because it’s more convenient than going to another store what has it cheaper. I just never, ever want to be in a spot where I’m hard up for money again. I’ve been there too often and it sucks. So it’s really hard to focus on utilizing the time I’ll have for my writing when all I can think is, “But I’m potentially losing eighty dollars today for not being at work.”

I just need to switch the focus. Instead of losing eighty dollars by not working, I have to remind myself that I might be gaining eight readers by sending out a story to a magazine. I might be gaining a foothold on a wider range of work to appeal to more readers. I’m gaining ten potential contacts by posting on the blog or commenting on someone else’s. Work does not always have to be measured in the monetary value gained from it. Work can be a lot of thing, and the work involved in writing is usually work that doesn’t show off an immediate benefit. It’s a constant climb up a mountain, and every inch you make will eventually become a mile.

Monday Morning Reset [05/22].

Did you ever sit to look back on a week and it all feels like just some blur? Yeah, I’m going through that right now. It wasn’t as if anything too taxing or strange happened, either, I just think last week was a bit of a fluke where I, in a fugue, just sort of went through the motions. Some things got done, some things didn’t, there were some annoyances and some fun as well, but nothing really stood out or even seems very clear. I’m just going to blame the weather changes, because it’s been nuts and the Illinois air runs rampage with my allergies. So that’s entirely a possibility.

I have a cat on my lap now, though, purring up a storm and pouting at me for not paying more attention to him, so that’s a good start to this week. But let’s break it down, with a look forward and back.

Reading: My plan to finish The 7 Secrets of Awakening the Highly Effective Four-Hour Giant, Today was foiled by complete laziness and distraction, and that’s okay. That just means I didn’t finish a book this week, but, as long as I don’t let it happen two weeks in a row, we’ll be okay. The world won’t end. All will be well in the world. I did start reading through Pulp Modern Volume 2, which includes my short story “Lady of the Mask,” and I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a quick read. I’m really excited to read the other stories included, especially Nick Manolillo’s and Calvin Demmer’s.

Writing: I also failed my attempt to finish up a story this week, but my untitled piece that I plan to submit to Ghostlight this year is nearly finished, just wrapping up the ending, so it’ll be done for this week. I got one rejection, putting my current rejection count to 52. Both acceptances and rejections moving at a snail’s pace. But it’s one of those moments where I remind myself that this industry is a very slow industry indeed….I got an email from an editor with edits to a story that I actually forgot was accepted for an anthology because it had been so long since I received the initial email….

Still looking for that Fearless notebook, but, to be fair, I haven’t really made the time to search through all my piles and piles of notebooks yet.

‘Rithmatic: Last week, for all the off-ness, was actually pretty quiet. This week is going to start out nicely with two days off coming up tomorrow, but then things get weird and way too social for comfort, with some long-ass days ahead of me. I’ve got a store meeting early in the morning on Thursday, followed by a closing shift. On Friday, I have a closing shift plus a going-away party for my supervisor afterwards. And on Saturday, I have a closing shift followed by a karaoke birthday party for a friend. I’m bracing for a hazy weekend floating between annoying (work) and fun (parties!). That sort of haziness is the only way I can manage not beating myself up over the fact that I won’t have much time for my usual routine on those days. But it’s important to be able to let that go sometimes, a fact I really struggle with in all my obsessiveness.

So I’m set and determined to really enjoy these next few days until the crunch time hits on Thursday. Hopefully, I’ll emerge on Sunday without being too stressed out or addled, but, hey, then we’re only a day away from another Monday and another fresh new start.

Happy reading!