No longer such a perfect day

Back in August, we Debutantes got together over video-conferencing to work on the list of topics we wanted to talk about this year. Some of these topics were developed in previous years by other Debs. Some, we came up with on our own. None of them were developed with a global pandemic in mind.

This week’s topic is “A Perfect Day,” which I’m finding hard to talk about now that my life has changed so much, so fast. I was planning my debut day, August 25th, to be a “a perfect day.” I was going to start with a visit to the two coffeehouses where I wrote most of Architects of Memory, then hop from bookstore to bookstore in the hopes that I could see it on the shelves. After that, we’d have dinner with family traveling to Baltimore for the occasion, then have an incredibly fun launch party with friends at my favorite indie bookstore. Other perfect days included breaking up the lovely monotony of being home with a baby with a playgroup or a library storytime, or traveling to a new place to attend a convention or take a vacation.

That kind of thing is over. It’s done. That kind of day impossible, now, and it’ll be impossible in August when Architects of Memory hits the shelves.

If there are any shelves.

Folks, I’m a science fiction writer. It is literally my job to think up worst-case scenarios. My book is a worst-case scenario. I am paid to develop cliffs for my characters to fall off. To have them make mistakes. And it’s looking more and more like we’re approaching a worst-case scenario of our own. My perfect day, post-pandemic? My husband’s boss holds off a little while longer on cutting his hours or putting him on furlough. Seeing my friends in the theater and hospitality industries have understanding landlords that don’t put them out on the street when they can’t pay for their apartments with jobs they can no longer legally do. Praying that my elderly relatives in other cities stay inside and have enough food to see them through what is going to be a very bumpy ride. Hoping that people still care about a little book called Architects of Memory five months from now, because I’m not entirely sure they will.

I’d like to be cheery and positive. I’m a sunny, glass-half-full extrovert. I’d like to encourage you to look on the bright side and turn our faces to the sun and the future and all that, but I also made a vow to be pretty open with the struggles of debut year alongside the triumphs. And nobody’s really seen a debut year quite like this.

I don’t know what the future holds. But we Debs will be here as long as we can, and I am going to do my best to keep our topics relevant and keep you updated as to what “debut year” looks like in a world gone mad.

So, our wonderful readers: Stay inside. Stay safe. Help your neighbors. Read books. Be kind. It may not be a perfect day, but it’s the one we have.

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Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.

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