Tag: personal

Year-End review


Year-End review

The brief version…

I wrote a bunch of short fiction. I sold a bunch of it (and “The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile” will be reprinted in Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction, which makes me very happy as it’s a story I’m very proud of). I finished 2014 with three pretty big sales (I don’t think I’m allowed to make announcements yet; I’ll do so when I have permission). I also sneaked in the completion of my Xuxa novella, “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls”, under the wire; and made a pretty big conceptual addition to the Xuxa universe (basically the local order of Bene Gesserits, which should be fun to write).

“Heaven Under Earth” was a Tiptree Honor nominee; and “The Waiting Stars” won a Nebula and was a Hugo and Locus Award finalist. I also had my first editorial gig, as a reprint curator for Strange Horizons, who published “Chambered Nautilus” by Elisabeth Vonarburg; and I published a print edition of “On a Red Station, Drifting”, which has been doing pretty well considering it’s an old book and a lot of people already have the ebook version.

I was a GoH at Mircon and had a lovely time (see my report here); I also had a lovely (but slightly more hectic) time at Loncon3 (aka, “we’re not taking a baby under a year old to a con ever again”); and a great writing retreat with friends in Brittany.

And, hum, I wrote a novel set in post apocalyptic sort-of-Belle Epoque Paris, with Fallen angels, a Vietnamese Immortal with a grudge and rival Houses fighting over the ruins of Notre Dame, and I sold it to Gollancz for an August 2015 publication. (and I’m still kind of shocked that, not only have people signed up to read it on goodreads, but that it also got pre ordered on amazon by a bunch other people).

The snakelet turned one, and I learnt that a lot of infant life is running after the baby; and I got one of my recipes featured in the cooking section of The Guardian. I think that’s about it in terms of big events :p

I’m kind of writing this entire entry in a state of shock, to be honest. Thanks everyone for a great year, and see you in 2015.

(I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that it’s not all positive and that 2014 was in some ways a very sucky year. Friends left, way too early; and others got very bad news–and sometimes I did feel like I want to hit something very, very hard. Cancer in particular can go f%%% itself)

Shopping for baby clothes


Today is the first day of the summer sales in Paris, so naturally I braved the crowd was foolish enough to drop by a baby clothes’ shop to pick up a hat for the snakelet. The following conversation is depressingly familiar when buying clothes:
Me: “Do you have this model in size 51?”
Saleswoman: “Let me look. It’s for a–” she peers at the hat I’m holding up (red with stripes)–“girl, right?”
Me, biting down on a desire to lecture her on gender essentialism, “Boy, actually.”
Saleswoman, turning to a bin where everything is some shade of blue, “Hum, I’m not too sure–”
Me, pointing to another bin where everything is a shade of pink or red, “Maybe in this bin?”
Saleswoman: “That’s for–”
Me: “I know. Do you have anything?”
She looks at me, at the hat, and at the bin again. “No, everything is pink, I’m sorry.”
At which point I gave up and went foraging into the darn bin for girls’ hats myself. They had another red hat, which was actually the right size for the snakelet–I snagged it immediately.
Seriously. This is for a baby who’s not yet a year old. I can predict some intense frustration as the snakelet grows up…

Brief update


In case you had any doubt, not much writing is happening–snakelet is a bit of a full time job…

Desultorily planning my novel (I know how to fix my plot problem, I just don’t have the time to tackle the chapter–each time I sit down too write there’s a scream from the bedroom…).

PSA re email


I’ve just discovered that there’s emails I haven’t answered to, so if you sent anything to me from 1st Sept to 10th Sept and are still waiting on an answer, would you mind poking me? I didn’t have email access while in hospital and obviously misplaced a couple things when we got home with the snakelet…

PSA: off the grid, again


Just a quick note to inform those who don’t know already of the birth of the snakelet last week–which in turn explains my continued radio silence. We’re all well, but overwhelmed–as those things happen :)
Blog’s going dark for a while, though I may update with the occasional rant…

Darkness notice


Just a heads-up that we’re moving this week, so from Sunday onwards (and quite possibly for 10 days after that), we’ll have no internet access (and no landline), so I very probably won’t be in a position to answer emails (of which I already have a backlog!).

Hopefully everything will be back to normal by mid-August.

Vietnamese poetry 101


Aka, why make it simple when I can make it complicated…

One of the things I really love about a language is listening to the music of its poetry/folk songs/etc. (I spent a lot of my formative years in English reading the Norton Anthology of Poetry); and it’s always fascinating to see how different languages approach poetry, even though it means that poetry has to be the most untranslatable form of text. Vietnamese poetry doesn’t put quite so much emphasis on rhyme as French poetry (mostly, I suspect, because it’s really easy to make words rhyme in Vietnamese). The major feature is how it uses the tonal system to create its patterns, and it takes great advantage of the language’s conciseness to deliver its punch. I can’t really pretend I understand much of how it works, being only a novice, but here’s my attempt at dissecting a poem.

The source is John Balaban’s Ca Dao Viet Nam, basically folk songs from the villages; the poem itself is interesting in that any attempt at faithful translation is bound to be much, much longer than the original, not only because of the language issue, but also because the text itself is filled with Buddhist imagery that doesn’t translate all that well in English.

“Thức tỉnh hồn mê tiếng chuông Linh Mụ
Dặn dò nợ trần duyên rửa sạch
Qua đò đã tây phương.”

“Thức tỉnh hồn mê tiếng chuông Linh Mụ”
“Thức tỉnh” is “to be enlightened, to see reason”; “hồn” is “soul”, mê” is “unaware, unconscious”, I think in the sense that said soul hasn’t been enlightened yet. “tiếng chuông” is “the peal of a bell” (but in this context, it’s interesting to see that “tiếng” also means language). Linh Mụ is a famous pagoda in Huế.
So the sentence would translate something like “The sound of Linh Mu’s bell awakens the unmindful soul”

“Dặn dò nợ trần duyên rửa sạch”
Dặn dò is “advise, recommend”, “nợ” is a debt (a karmic debt, in this context), “trần” I’m not too sure of (the dictionary suggests “ceiling”, “maximum”). “duyên” is a completely untranslatable Vietnamese word that means “bound to meet as lovers or friends [in a future life]”. “rửa sạch” is “wash”. So probably something like “Reminds it to incur no debt, washes it clean of worldly bounds”

“Qua đò đã tây phương”
“Qua đò” is “cross over/board a ferry”, “đã” is the past indicator, and “tây phương” is the Western Place, a Buddhist paradise. So “[has] already crossed over to the Western Place”. What’s missing is the subject of the actual sentence–from context I’m assuming it’s “the soul” of the first sentence, but I could be wrong…

So, putting it all together, should be
“The sound of Linh Mu’s bell awakens the unmindful soul
Reminds it to incur no debt, washes it clean of worldly bounds
Helps it to reach the Western Place”

And you pretty much see why this is hard-as-nails to translate properly, as I had to leave half the meanings out of the translation; not to mention that this is a really ugly translation, word-wise…

(Of course, I never pretended to be a very good translator, and poetry is as hard as nails to get–there’s a couple words I’m not sure I understand properly, and while I understand every word in the last sentence I’m not entirely too sure my interpretation is the one that’d most likely occur to a native speaker. But I figured it’d be fun to share my struggles)