The Down Time

John Scalzi

So here’s a thing: With the completion of the third Dispatcher novella, which happened last night (minus a quick read-through and a few inevitable minor tweaks of the last couple of chapters for pacing purposes), I am done with work for 2021. More accurately, the two things I officially had deadlines for in 2021 — the novel for Tor, and the novella for Audible — are now completed, and for the rest of the year, I have no deadlines, and nothing I owe to any one. No one is expecting anything from me for the whole rest of the year at least. That’s (checks notes) five whole months.

So does that means I’m spending the rest of 2021 farting around on Twitter? Well, it could. I am famously lazy, and Twitter is famously designed for short attentions spans. But here’s what I’m more likely to do instead.

1. Summer vacation. First off, I’m taking the whole month of August to do — here comes a highly technical term — fuck all. I’m going to catch up on, in no particular order, sleep, reading and sleep. I may do things in August, but if I do them it’s because I want to and when I don’t want to do them anymore, I’ll stop and then probably take a nap. Honestly, just napping through August sounds like a grand time to me. So, uh, yeah. If you wanted anything out of me for August, you might have to wait until September.

2. Think on the 2023 novel. Because you’d like a novel from me in 2023, yes? Sure you would. Right now there are three possible novels in contention and before the end of the year I’ll have to pick one of them. The actual likelihood is that I’ll make that decision by the end of September and start thinking about it seriously and/or maybe start writing it by the end of the year. But there are a number of factors that will go into that decision and some may take longer than others because some of them are not entirely up to me.

3. Play around in my new music room. Honestly, this is the thing I’m looking forward to most for the rest of the year. I bought myself a ridiculous amount of musical and production equipment (see photo above for verification), and now I’m going to spend some serious time trying to become competent(ish) with it all. Not having a deadline hanging over me while I do it will be nice.

4. Travel. I’m vaccinated and I have no problem wearing a mask so I don’t inadvertently infect random folks, and it would be nice to see some people I haven’t seen in a while. I will probably at some point take to the road to visit friends.

5. Maybe write a bit of short fiction. I don’t have a novel out this year, and I don’t yet know when the third Dispatcher novella will be out, so it would be nice to have a little bit of fiction out from me this year. Maybe a short story or two? We’ll see if anything catches my fancy.

6. Work on secret projects. Calling them “secret projects” always makes it sound cooler than they are, they’re just things I haven’t announced yet. But some of them will be fun when they’re out in the world.

7. DragonCon and Worldcon. The only two conventions on my schedule this year. Dragon Con just posted their update information on the in-person convention (everybody must mask up!) and there will be a virtual component as well. And Worldcon is in December this year, so we’ll see how everything falls into place. I’m optimistic.

That’s the plan for the rest of 2021. Let’s get to it! Starting with a nap.

— JS

25 Comments on “The Down Time”

  1. Such a good plan – wake up @ the crack of noon, roll over and sleep some more.

    You’re gonna have the cats thinking “damn, he sleeps a LOT”.

    Enjoy, a well deserved respite.

  2. Nice, congratulations.

    Travel still raises a lot of issues. On the other hand it looks like there is a window of opportunity there which may close again. We got a very satisfying family reunion in while the going was good. We were also hoping to go overseas this fall, but this is looking less likely.

    And at the moment, researchers are still trying to gauge the prevalence and duration of long-term impacts, notably cognitive. With widely varying results. We poisoned a few generations with lead (and brain damage). I hope we dodge this particular bullet, for the most part.

  3. John-

    Can you provide info on where the text versions of the Dispatcher materials will be available? Any chance of getting them at the Kobo store? I have a deaf friend who has a birthday in October and a Kobo and is a huge fan.

  4. “… I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
    I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
    Let the morningtime drop all its petals on me
    Life, I love you, all is groovy.”

    How about a trip to the 59th street bridge?

  5. Travel. I personally an thinking I don’t want to make any travel plans for the next couple of months.
    The news on the delta variant being more contagious, in the chicken pox or measles range, and high viral load meaning even vaccinated people potentially spreading it, along with it possibly being more deadly, is making me think more restrictions may be around the corner.
    At that level of contagion we probably need 90% vaccination rate instead of the 70% that was stated earlier, and children ineligible so far have to be counted in that calculation, so 90% isn’t even attainable if everyone eligible got vaccinated right now.

  6. Well, I worked pretty hard most of my life, first building the farm up, then in school (BSCS Marshall U) then at the career and building the house…

    Then I retired and built another house in the SE AZ mountains.

    Now I’m really retired, cooking, house work, visiting people cautiously now that the plague is looking more dangerous. Travel may happen again once things calm down virology wise.

    Naps are great now that I’m retired. I always did like sleeping!

  7. Dear Kevin,

    Everyone’s comfort zone is different, so please take this more as descriptive than prescriptive?

    My personal analysis came to the opposite conclusion from yours. Discounting certain hotspots (easy to find information via Google and localities’ covid dashboard pages) I’m seeing current incidence rates and risk levels far below what they were at the end of March, at which point I was fully vaccinated and willing to travel. Consequently, I’m okay with doing so now… but that doesn’t mean I will be in another two months!

    I’ve made travel/visitation plans through the middle of September, because I am reasonably confident the situation will not be worse than what I was willing to accept in the early spring. After that, the models have diverged so much that I can’t be sure.

    So, definite travel plans now, not anything solid after that. Oh yeah, I have plans for October, November, and December (Worldcon!) but I can’t be certain at this point that I’ll be comfortable with them when the time comes. Ask me again, mid-September.

    In other words, a “kinder, gentler” version of the past year and 1/2, when it really wasn’t possible to make plans with any assurance more than a month or so ahead.

    The good news — there is no evidence that the delta variant is inherently more deadly. That is, if you happen to catch it, you are not at higher risk of serious illness, long-haul effects or hospitalization/death, based on the data we have now. It’s just that you are about twice as likely to catch it (if you’ve been vaccinated).

    Now for the bad news. If Rt estimates for the delta variant stays in the 9+ region, forget about “herd immunity” with the current technology, unless we reinstitute significant social restrictions. Even with 100% vaccination, the vaccines are not good enough to suppress Rt below 1.

    Kids’ vaccinations are not a factor, epidemiologically. There’s ample data supporting the position that they are not a significant vector — nearly all the cases of in-school transmission that have occurred over the course of the epidemic have been adult-adult vectored. Understand, I’m not talking about any parent’s desire to make their kids safer, only about whether unvaccinated kids make all the rest of us significantly less safe. They don’t.

    pax, Ctein

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training!}

    — Ctein’s Online Gallery.

    — Digital Restorations.

  8. Enjoy the time off, especially the naps. You’ll need them to recover from studio time haha. Working on some songs with the band and did a bass line last week. That meant, on my own, playing with the song about 25 times, then I did 4 takes when recording. Not happy (although the guys are) and will have to redo it this week. Recording can be a blast or a drag depending on how determined you are to be perfect. Not that there is any such thing in music honestly ha.
    I’ve also been converting cassettes of music from multiple bands I’ve been in over the last 30 years to digital. Trying to clean them up has been a chore, but it’s a joy to be able to save them and share them with old band mates who don’t have anything from that time. We’re having a listening party with one of the old bands this weekend, should be fun.

  9. Dear Paul,

    If you only need it for a limited period of time, a monthly subscription to Adobe Audition would be worth it to you. It has fabulous tools for cleaning up recordings and transcriptions. Way better than anything I found for free.

    There’s a fully-functional 7-day free trial, so you can figure out if it’s worth your money.

    pax / Ctein

  10. Enjoy! Can you please tell us some stuff about the keyboard looking thing with the colory square lights ?

  11. Enjoy your summer holiday. Travel and enjoy.
    I’m in lockdown in Sydney, Australia so will live vicariously through you.
    I hate school @ home way more than my child does. She calls it PJ school, I think it’s the 7th circle of hell.

  12. I don’t have a month but I do have a week. My choice seems to be organizing and getting rid of cruft I haven’t used in dragon’s. years. It’s surprisingly rewarding.

  13. Hey, any supervillain can have “secret” projects; real super-duper arch-villains have “Advanced Programs” …

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