Omit needless words.

But feel free to keep reading if you’re bored.

1. The new novel slash dissertation. As before, I would like to be farther along, but The Job That Ate My Life has been in the way. Ditto the paper and presentation I mentioned. I’m in okay shape — it’s not completely stalled — so no worries: I’ll get it done. But this is definitely not going to be like An Ideal for Living, which I wrote in a white heat in the space of like nine months.

2. Without getting into specifics and thereby jinxing myself, there might be another short story in the near future. Watch this space.

3. The Job That Ate My Life is soon to be nothing but a bad memory. Next week, I’m done. I’ve accepted a position at Lingnan University and will be starting on August 18. Really, TJTAML has been a nightmare. I have had worse employment experiences, actually; this has just been about sheer, utter incompetence. The kind that smiles at you a lot, feigns humility, and is completely unaware of its own identity. One of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had, but not scary, not like the really bad one I had a few years ago. My last day at TJTAML is July 31. I will be buying a very good bottle of Champagne for that night. With a bit of luck, I’ll have more time afterward and will get more writing done.

4. Still waiting for the cover and release date for The Queen of Statue Square.

5. Still no time for serious editing on Murder in the Cabaret Sauvignon. I’ll push back the pub date if I have to. Under no circumstances will I publish it until I know it’s good and goddamn ready.

6. Even though my PhD’s in Creative Writing and not English Lit or whatever, the result is that I’m doing a lot of reading — both the scholarly kind as well as fiction (not that I wasn’t reading a lot of fiction to begin with). Rereading some of my old favorites (King, Straub), I’m shocked to find the seams showing. The Shining and Ghost Story scared the crap out of me when I was younger. Today, reading them as an adult, I’m like, Why were their editors not fired? Both writers have written excellent books, classics, but from a technical standpoint neither of these two is the one that deserves to be remembered. I’m still out on which of King’s books is less self-indulgent at the moment, but where Straub’s concerned, In the Night Room is a much better book. A word to the wise: less is more. Or, as Strunk & White put it, omit needless words.

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