Last week, I read Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer, a lovely man who happened to be a co-guest-of-honor at the World Fantasy Convention I attended last month. Our mutual friend Tessa Kum also led our Shadowmarch bunch to the Last Drink Bird Head book party, and I remember thinking he seemed awfully nice – especially as he cut me a piece of carrot cake. I also remember thinking I ought to check out his work.

I mention this not to name-drop, but to note I might not have found Booklife without this interaction. One of VanderMeer’s key points is that a writer’s public booklife is to always be your best self when meeting new people. Hey, it sold at least one book! He exemplifies this best-self ideal, and I kept thinking about the example he set as I read the book. So keep that in mind, whatever your field. Be decent, peeps!

I have to say, this is such a great book, and I am sure I will use it for reference for years. It’s just chock-full of useful information.

So far, the biggest influence has been on my time management and goal-setting. Over the last year, I have created several sets of writing goals for myself. I lost most of the lists. My most recent set, from just the week before, was fine, but sort of sad. I think the most ambitious item I had for the next five years was “Complete a novel.”

Booklife helped me see I hadn’t set my goals high enough, and that I was doing myself a disservice:

“Providing yourself with positive structure is one way of affirming that you respect your own imagination and creativity enough to set yourself up for success.”

So I set my five-year goals a tad higher (maybe a bit too high, Miss “I’m going to publish two novels, a collection of poetry, and write a play.”). The book also has really helped me see how task lists work most efficiently. This might not work for some uber-creative types, but for the Capricorn in me, it’s absolutely brilliant.

I loved the friendly discussion of how to manage a writer’s life, and what to expect personally and professionally. It was also wonderful to see Tessa quoted. I love all these brilliant people I’ve met through random paths of my life, and how they all seem to intertwine.

Finally, my local Richmond folk might be interested in knowing that THIS TUESDAY NIGHT, Jeff VanderMeer will be the special guest at the Fountain Bookstore’s Holiday Party. Do come!


For my yogis out there:

This morning, I practiced with Shiva Rea’s lovely Radiant Heart Yoga video for the first time; so beautiful. (FYI, NetFlix has a wonderful library of yoga DVDs.) I recommend it for a heart-opening, energy-balancing practice – just what most of us need in these dark, low-energy months. (It’ll make Christmas mayhem more bearable, promise.)


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