Conditions for the work
My Thanksgiving week is going to look somewhat different than the usual, as I am trading the frenzy of cooking and travel for a few days of a revision retreat at home. The plan is to finish the novel edits because if I don’t get them done now, it’ll be January, realistically, before there’s another possible time to do it. To be able, in the first place, to make such a decision is a collaboration between luck and design; I think, at some point in my syllabus-designing, I imagined I might travel during these days instead, and so somehow, for the first time in years, I don’t have a mountain of grading to do during these days. Some, yes, but a manageable amount. Clearly, I haven’t gone anywhere either, so this is possible.
The cupboards are stocked for my particular needs: a good loaf of seeded bread, a butternut squash I can turn into soup, cheese curls for when things get dire, a two-pound bag of gummi bears for when things get really dire, and a whole cavalcade of tea options for every possible circumstance.
I printed my entire manuscript, amalgamating the 3/4-complete changes, so I can see at least most of the beast uncluttered by Track Changes. This way, I can also see where my inexpert use of Track Changes has resulted in some wonky formatting and fix it before it becomes someone else’s problem. The
What I should also do is unplug the wifi router and stuff it in the garage for four days. Like many folks, I spent too much time over the last week frantically bouncing across various Twitter alternatives, hoping there could be something that could keep us all from losing the space and the connections we’ve made. (You can find my little list of handles here.) The uncertainty is ongoing, and it is a sobering reminder of how many of us depend on these virtual homes that do not belong to us (and that can, apparently, be rendered uninhabitable by the whim of an incompetent billionaire). While it would be lovely, too, to trade a certain amount of online life for the in-person spaces of yore, we’re still very much in an ongoing pandemic that makes gatherings more complicated, to put it most mildly. That’s not even getting into the geography of it. And the online spaces, like the in-person spaces, need tending. But they don’t need tending all the time, and they especially don’t need tending in the hours for immersion I have created for myself over these days. And because my method is always trust—but verify!—I have my app blockers in place, on laptop and phone.
[If you’re looking for recommendations, I like Leechblock for my browser and AppBlock for my phone. I augment both with Forest, so the promise of a tiny digital forest will keep me from so much as trying to open an app or clicking away from the work at hand.]
Like the Danish coast-guard says to Beowulf and his men, in light of Beowulf’s big promises, “a sharp mind will take the measure / of two things: what’s said and what’s done.” I’m not above safeguarding against myself.
In light of the shooting at Club Q, in light of so many anti-LGBTQ+ laws and policies that fuel that kind of targeted violence, consider a donation to the Club Q GoFundMe or The Trevor Project, which provides support for LGBTQ+ youth.
What I’m making: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
On Sunday, I decided I wanted to do something decent for future us, so I threw together a batch of these cookies. I baked off ten of them, and then I froze the rest of the dough in individual scoops. These, then, are stored in a freezer bag, for moments when life-saving cookies are needed. (I will say that, even for me, the total amount of chocolate called for here feels excessive. [Not a sentence I ever imagined writing.] I made these with 400g of mixed bittersweet, semisweet, and milk chocolate bits, and that’s plenty-plenty. But you do you.)
What I’m Reading: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Recommended to me by an excellent colleague, Firekeeper’s Daughter is a novel that uses ice hockey as a touchstone in a story focused on the larger landscape of identity and coming of age. It’s an intense and beautifully written book.
What I’m Writing: My latest for the Ploughshares blog: “The Interplay of the Collective and the Individual in We Ride Upon Sticks.”
Also, the Ploughshares blog is looking for regular contributors for 2023! Applications are accepted until Dec. 7. Information on applying can be found here. I’ve had such a great time writing for the blog; I highly recommend giving it a go!