Projects. I’ve just edited this to change two targets end-dates from 2019 to 2020.
It would be fair to imagine that I’ve gotten more done this year on my various projects than I otherwise would due to the pandemic and the shut-in orders, but that’s not exactly true. I’m retired and stay at home all week anyway. What’s changed is that my partner is working from home four days a week, and so he’s here in the house most of the time. That hasn’t affected me very much; when he’s “working” he does in fact sit on the sofa with his laptop logged into his worksite remotely, often with headphones on to take phone calls or participate in teleconferences. So his presence doesn’t much affect my daily activity. At the same time, given that we’re supposed to stay at home as much as possible, both of us are home most of the time even on weekends, times when a year ago we might have gone shopping, to the gym, to a movie, on a hike, or occasional special trips to museums and whatnot. (We still do hikes when the weather permits.) Which means I get some of my work done even on weekends, that previously with small exceptions had been given over to spending time with him.
(Fortunately, even on weekends, my partner mostly finds things to do on his laptop; he doesn’t turn on the TV and watch it all day. That would drive me crazy.)
On the other hand, the pandemic and its threat to my personal health – I am now 65 and do in fact have a mild heart condition (occasional atrial fibrillation) – has perhaps sharpened my focus and my determination to finish some of these projects that I’ve been working on for years. So here’s where we are.
Aside from routine updates of awards data, the goal of sfadb.com is to post a set of ranked lists of novels and short fiction, and a timeline displaying the top ranking works. I had drafts of all these done a full year ago, but then I decided I needed more anthology data. And that interim project grew and grew. I thought I was nearly done earlier this year, until I realized that what I’d done thus far was essentially a history of sf/f/h anthologies, or even of the fields through anthologies, with one big exception. That was I had ignored original anthologies, since my motive for compiling anthology data was to compile reprint data for classic stories. So I decided to compile original anthologies, especially series and those by major editors, and that took several more months, but the result now is that the Anthologies section of sfadb.com is a semi-independent section of the site in its own right. (Also, as the months went on, I spent several hundred dollars buying physical copies, via Abebooks, of key books I didn’t have, for the sake of the photos on each group page. And then when all was compiled, I did an audit over several weeks to resolve errors in author names and story titles, combine multiple records for the same titles that had crept into place, and so on. For the sake of accurate reprint counts for the stories, and also to avoid obvious duplicate entries on the sfadb.com Name pages.)
So the expanded Anthologies section of sfadb.com, which isn’t “complete” in any way, just cut off for now, took a full year to finish. I’m now taking a break from the sfadb project to work other things. But a key metric is this: on the 118 pages to various groups of anthologies, the descriptions on those pages total right about 30,000 words. (This would be, oh, some 50 pages in a typical book.)
Initial reactions to the expanded Anthologies section included emails and Facebook posts pointing out individual anthologies I’d missed. I updated the Intro to that sections to explain: I missed thousands and thousands! I only compiled about 1400 anthologies, out of over 20,000 indicated at isfdb.com.
Given that I finished drafts of the rankings and timeline a year ago, I’d like to think I can incorporate this new anthology data and finalize all those pages in relatively short order. It would be nice to finish them this year, since it would be 20 years since I first conceived this project. But these things always take longer than I expect.
My Trek Season 1 Essays
After I commented on a Facebook post about one early Trek episode a couple days ago, with links to my posts about them (that got several Likes!), I wondered, how many words did I write in all those episode reviews of Trek’s 1st season, back in 2017? (http://www.markrkelly.com/Blog/bibliographies-and-reviews/trek/). I did a random sample and extrapolated: a couple thousand words each for 29 episodes, plus some sidebar essays; some 60,000 words. I still plan to get around to seasons 2 and 3.
Memoirs, i.e. Family Pics and Personal Narrative
Before this year, I’d written some 17,600 words of family history: posts about family genealogy, recalling the two Apple Valley houses, and so on. The pandemic this year provided a new sense or urgency to get this done. And by now, it is, mostly; what remains is linking the various posts and pages into a coherent structure, and scanning and posting a bunch more pics. Looking back at the work done this year, not all yet posted, I’ve written 57,000 words of memoirs. The total, some 75,000 words, would comprise a book of some 200-250 pages depending on layout and font size. (Not that I think they will ever be published as a book.)
Black Gate Summary-Reviews
I’m gratified that this year I’ve found a gig to write for a wide audience (my blog doesn’t reach much of an audience). Black Gate editor John O’Neill and I have different takes on what I’m doing; that’s OK. John likes my columns as nostalgia pieces for his older audience about early SF books they read as teenagers. My motivation is to reexamine these early SF novels in light of later works and especially the current understanding of science as captured in my Provisional Conclusions and ongoing posts. In a sense, every one of these columns is a thematic draft for my “Book,” about which I’ve done several blog posts of notes but otherwise have no substantial start of. Anyway, the Black Gate columns range from 2000-5000 words, and there have been 18 so far. So, around some 50,000 words.
So I’m being fairly productive in my retirement, over the last almost 8 years. And I plan to keep chugging along.
This post is just over 1000 words. Written in about an hour. I always revisit posts the next day to correct and polish. (17sep20: done.)