State of the Scalzi

Because I know you are all endlessly fascinated with the trivia of my personal physical and mental well-being, here’s all the latest on me that happened while I was away.

* Physically, on the positive side, I’m happy to say that weight loss thing I’ve been working on (detailed earlier here) is working; I’ve gone from about 185 pounds down to 172. I originally thought I had been starting at about 180, but I got a new digital scale which revealed my old analog scale was off by about five pounds. It was mildly depressing on a psychological level to discover I was five pounds more overweight than I thought I was, but on the other hand, it was also more motivation to pare off the pounds.

The weight loss adventure is in fact delightfully undramatic — I eat less (and better), I exercise more, I lose on average a pound a week, more or less — but I do suppose weight loss should be undramatic, all things considered. I figure I have about another ten pounds or so to go; hopefully I’ll get there before the month-long calorie-fest known as the holiday season. We shall see.

* On the negative side, physically speaking, I’d been noticing some soreness in my right hip that was above and beyond “flabby person who doesn’t exercise moves around and gets a pain” soreness. So I went and scheduled a physical, at which I learned that while generally speaking I am in inexplicably good physical condition for a slightly overweight dude who does almost no exercise, I also have a bit of osteoarthritis in my right hip.

And that’s when my youth ended and I knew I would die.

Well, no. It wasn’t as bad as all that. But on the other hand 41 is a little young for osteoarthritis, even the very minor case of it I am confronted with. It weirded me out for a couple of days, and also precipitated this conversation between me and my wife:

Me: So now my hip is always going to hurt just a little bit.

Wife: Poor baby.

Me: I’m a little depressed about this. I think I’ll have my mid-life crisis now.

Wife: You do that.

Me: So you don’t mind if I have an ill-advised fling with a 23-year-old.

Wife: Good luck with that.

It’s not true, in any event; my hip doesn’t always hurt a little bit. I have to kind of go out of my way to feel a twinge, a sort of rotation that is easily avoided most of the time (this did lead to me saying to my doctor “it hurts when I do this,” to which she replied “then don’t do that,” which just goes to show some jokes have a practical application). So far on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t present me with any major problems; hell, I went dancing for three hours non-stop when I was in Melbourne and the next day it was my muscles, not my hip, that were complaining. Be that as it may I will soon be scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist to find out what I need to do to care for and maintain the joint so it doesn’t get any worse any faster than it has to.

* Work-wise, as I noted before, my six-week break was quite productive, although it was largely productive on projects not related to book writing: I sent in notes to a whole batch of SG:U scripts, did my column, worked with the SFWA board to pass some important stuff, collected stories and wrote my own for the Wheaton/Scalzi fanfic chapbook (about which I will have more details very soon), and did a big chunk of work on one of those secret projects that I can’t tell you about yet — which I still can’t tell you about yet, sorry, but when you do eventually find out what it is, oh man, you will totally think it’s cool. So I was busy.

* But, but, but… what about books? you ask, plaintively. Yes, well, don’t worry. When I wasn’t doing work I was thinking about what books I want to write and where they fit on my schedule. I am primarily a book writer; it’s what I’m best at and also what I enjoy doing the most. But I’m also — and gratefully — in a position where lots of interesting non-book-related projects are on my radar, and I want to be able to take advantage of those opportunities when they show up. So the real challenge for me these days is to build a schedule that allows me to write the books I want to write while still leaving me time to do these other things (and then, you know, sticking to that schedule, but let’s not get into that right this second).

The good news here is that during my break, I got myself a pretty good idea of the books I want to write over the next few years. Assuming that everything goes to plan (which is a big assumption; see the next paragraph), I’ll have books lined up through about 2017. The first of these, of course, will be Fuzzy Nation, which comes out next May, and you already know about that one. The rest you’ll learn about when I finish each particular book; I don’t find much value talking about these things until they’re done. I will say that I like the idea of having a vague idea of what I’ll be working on into the future; it gives my brain time to roll the stories around so that when I sit down to type them out I have some basic contours and idea to work with.

Now, bear in mind that as I write this, a few years ago I was absolutely sure my next big project was going to be a two-book science fiction series told as oral history, and even signed contracts to that effect, only to have Max Brooks come out with World War Z, and corner the market on science fictional oral histories. Two years ago, I was pretty damn certain that I’d be in the middle of a five-book YA series right about now, but then things fell apart when it came time to negotiate payment, so now that YA series lives in one of my office drawers. One year ago, Fuzzy Nation wasn’t on any publishing schedule anywhere, and now it is. So when I say to you that I have book plans that stretch out through 2017, that doesn’t mean any of it will actually happen. It just means I have plans. However, plans are useful. You at least have some idea which direction you’re going.

And again, if all goes to plan I will still have time in my schedule to do other things, either my own projects or the ones that pop up and get offered to me from time to time. And that is useful too, because you never know what’s going to come of that — see Fuzzy Nation as an example there. Basically, it’s nice to be able to say “I plan to do this, but if something else comes along, we’ll see what happens then.”

Annnnnd that’s where everything about me is at the moment.

37 Comments on “State of the Scalzi”

  1. Don’t get too down on yourself with the arthritis thing. Try finding out you have arthritis at 35 (that was 2 1/2 year ago BTW). It is minor for me, my hands hurt in the cold in the winter and my hip aches about two days before a storm rolls through.

    The doctor claimed it is not all that unusual at that age, but that did not really make me feel any better.

  2. Let me first say that the guest post people were just fine.

    Secondly, this particular post, by all rights, should be a big giant Who Cares? I mean, whatever, you’re getting older and you have books you’re writing blah blah whatever who cares.

    And yet. And yet.

    And yet, this post was orders of magnitude more interesting to me than anything I saw from the guest post people. I have no idea why. I guess it’s the scalzi effect. Perhaps I’ve been scalzified. Maybe the scalzification of my internets is now complete.

    I guess what I’m really saying is, I’m happy you’re back and happy that, inexplicably, the minutiae of your life remains interesting to me. So there you go.

    Welcome back.

  3. Speaking as one who has two replacement done before age 50, it really isn’t so bad. I don’t think that (from your description) that you’re anywhere near that (when it wakes you up at night when you try to turn over). But when it does come, the surgery and recovery isn’t that bad. (alas, they don’t do wrist replacements at this time)

    Good to have you back. We are planning our 2012 Chicon trip.

  4. Welcome, back. Congratulations with your diet regimen, sorry to hear about the hip.

    Mid-life… time to buy a Corvette. Or the mid-life purchase equivalent that you prefer.

  5. Neil Guy@4 Had the same thought myself. The Scalzi prose was the proper stimuli to produce the Scalzi high and placate my Scalzi addiction. I told others I could quit anytime, now I’m not so sure…

  6. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my back when I was 24, and in the military. My brother was diagnosed at about the same age, in the military as well. He is 6’4″ and very thin. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about either age or weight. When it comes to osteoarthritis.

  7. Idea: Have the fling, and then when the wife discovers it, make sure you deflect her killing blow with your undamaged hip. This will not cure your arthritis, but at least it will give you a matched set, and your midlife crisis will be over and done with.

  8. Glucosamine will be your friend. My parents, who are in their late fifties take something called Joint MD and it’s helped them immensely. The physiotherapist is another great idea. My sensei at kendo buggered up his knee and phyiso has helped him a great deal. Likely the therapist will get you a regimen to strengthen the muscles around the joint to support it better, therefore making take a lot more stress before you feel pain.

  9. Does this mean that the cats will be getting the bacon that you can no longer eat due to the diet taped to them? Again? (As a dog person, I can only hope…)

  10. Osteoarthritis hit me at about 41 also. It is primarily in my lower spine, which is a real bummer. They don’t do spine replacements. They also don’t do spine fixes that involve screwing things into arthritic bones (it just speeds things up).

    On the good side, I was threatened with wheelchair dependence within 10 years, and that was 25 years ago. It hasn’t happened yet. May yours progress as slowly.

  11. Don’t fret about growing older, John. It beats the alternative.

    As for a midlife crisis, well, just be patient. Life will serve up a crisis sooner or later. I tried to schedule mine – bought a motorcycle a couple of years in advance. Fat lot of good that did. Life had other ideas. Now I’m just an aging guy with a motorcycle.

    (But they -are- good for meeting women.)

  12. Just so you don’t feel all out of sorts, I have 2 grandulomas (spelling might be wrong) one growing on my inner wrist the other between thumb and first finger, on the soft fleshy bit. And my left shoulder is slowly separating from the socket. Both don’t feel all that great any time of the day! And the good bit for you is that I turn 29 on Thursday!! My mom wasn’t kidding when she said that at 25 everything goes downhill, damn did it ever!!

  13. Severe osteoarthritis in the knees set in a few years back, leading to two unicompartmental knee replacements before my 37th birthday. On the plus side, I’m probably the charter member of the “two unicompartmental knee replacement” club and certainly its youngest member

    – Jeff

  14. Man, I’m sorry about the hip. My husband got one replaced at age 26, so don’t read your problem as a sign of old age.

  15. Do you realize that, if you stretch your plans one more year, they can include the 20th anniversary of The Whatever.

    If my blog still exists in 2018, I’m firing my agent, killing my original publisher, and burning copies of everything Glenn Beck ever wrote.

  16. congrats on the weight loss, I’m working on same. Slow and sure is better than fast because it means you are working on Life Habits rather than “oh, crap, I need to Lose Weight Fast for X”.

    You’re likely to keep it off rather than lose then balloon back up.

    Glad you’re doing okay and back. hugs.

  17. Welcome back son. I missed you, although your guest bloggers were awesome. Way to go on 12 years of the Whatever! Congratulations on the weight loss. Keep up the good work. I guess the arthritis was inevitable. Glad you waited so long. I love you and yours, Mom

  18. Two things your physical therapists should suggest

    1. Pilates
    2. Gait and biomechanics analysis

    Both if done correctly will postpone any requirement for joint replacements/resurfacing

  19. I think the wife was laughing at you. I’m just sayin’.

    I wonder how your doctor diagnosed the osteoarthritis. You can’t see it. I don’t think there’s a blood test for it. Just wondering how doctors determine it. I’ve seen bones that have osteoarthritis. Paleopathology teaches you so many things you don’t want to know about what goes on in our bones.

    I’ve heard that exercise will make it feel better eventually. A PT obviously could give you direction on this. The more exercise you get, the stronger your bones are. I say this as I’m typing at my computer, not exercising.

  20. Welcome to the club re the osteo arthritis (I have it in hands, knees and left hip).

    What every one else is saying:
    you need a bone scan for true diagnosis (and to check for osteoporosis as well);
    glucosamine helps some people, but did nothing for me–it’s worth a try but it’s not really authenticated yet;
    exercise makes a real difference both in keeping the weight down on the joint and creating muscles that support it (technically, I shouldn’t be able to walk up stairs–there is almost no cartilage in my knees–but I’ve learned to shift the stress into the glutes).

  21. Hi and welcome back! I joined the Whatever club while you were away and was introduced to it by way of your guest bloggers… but I hope that doesn’t mean I can’t still say “welcome back”. Highly enjoying my time here so far, both in the company of your brilliant, delightful guest bloggers and yourself.

    I’m going to have to second (well, probably twentieth… er, anyways) everyone who’s saying “don’t worry about getting older” and “the rest of us have problems too”. Heck, I have a permanently bad knee and I’m not even twenty-five yet. Ah well. I do hope you get some good treatment for it and that, above all…….. you keep dancing. Can’t have such a talent go to waste, you know.

  22. It is interesting to see how turbulent the writing industry is. You think you have a 5 book series outlined and then find out when you go to sell it, that the market is not there to pay you what you want.

    Anyway you can blog about the process for outlining, designing, and pitching books to publishers? It sounds like with Fuzzy Nation you just wrote and sold it when finished. It sounds like with your 5 book YA series, you outlined and then tested the market before writing it.

    This would be pretty interesting. I have read about how authors who want to be published pitch to Agents, but you already have an agent.

  23. 1. I second DG Lewis: how cool is it that your mom comments?

    2. I’ll add yoga to Anne Johnson’s list. I’ve had at least mild osteoarthritis in several major joints (including hip – the first one diagnosed) since my early 30s, but my husband, who is former military, has very serious arthritic changes just about everywhere. Yoga helps us both consistently.

    3. Glad you had a good (overall) trip! Welcome home.

  24. Welcome home!

    Congratulations on the weight loss. A pound a week is excellent. Bad news is that “they” have decided that pounds don’t matter. What counts is your waist and height; your waist (measured at the navel, without sucking it in) should be less than 45% of your height. So if you’ve got lots of muscle mass, you don’t need to lose it because of pounds.

    Sorry about the hip. I’ll add to the pilaties and yoga recommendations tai chi ch’aun and qi gong. There should be good instruction in any of those near you; find one you enjoy, practice.

    Toastmaster? Wow. You’ll do great.

  25. I’m 49 and have had some right hip soreness (not officially diagnosed as arthritis), and after a bone scan, have been told I have “small arthritic changes” in both shoulders, both knees, and my right ankle.

    What has worked perfectly for my ankle and hip soreness is MODERATE cycling. I don’t have to cycle fast or far, and I don’t have to carefully attempt heavy weights with perfect form, but simply getting about 2-3 hours of real bike riding a week has completely rid me of the soreness in those two sites.

    (My knees are better if I do a little more cycling, and and they’ll be even better if I get back to weight training, but my shoulders get better only if I faithfully perform the rehab exercises.)

    But my point is that MODERATE exercise — exercise you actually enjoy! — may be enough to help you out. If you cycle, just make sure the bike fit is right.

    Glucosamine seems to work best on knee pain according to a meta-analysis at Medline, while it doesn’t have consistent results for other types of pain. This may be part of the reason why some people don’t get relief from it: their pain is elsewhere.

  26. I’ll trade your hip for my quadruple bypass that I had this year at 46! I’m the youngest guy at cardiac rehab by 10-15 years.

    Hang in there.

  27. Hi,

    IF you wish to have a mid-life crisis, you have to remember the complete requirements:

    1. dating teenagers. talk to one someday, that alone may put you off dating one.

    2. red convertible sports car. not a bad requirement, but I prefer coupes. And the car market is soft in the USA right now!

    3. neck-chains – multiple.

    3. Tartan sports jackets, loud ones.

    4. garishly loud shirts

    5. white pointy toed shoes.

    6. If the wife doesn’t kill you over #1, she WILL kill you over 3 to 5.

    7. So I skipped it, and I am 51 yrs old. Tho I do like the new Mustangs, Camaro and Challenger muscle cars out of Detroit, BUT mine will be blue or black.

    Good luck kid.

    Michael in Vancouver.

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