I wrote 752 words of my novel after the pain set in today
June 18, 2019 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Author Ada Palmer on writing, pain, and teamwork.
posted by Chrysostom (15 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I was struck by this part:
...I put on the breadmaker on a timer and took some frozen fish out to thaw, so dinner would be easy in the evening when my bash’mates (housemates) got home from work and they’d be free to spend less time cooking and more with me. Note the teamwork at work already in our household, planning to have things on hand like kitchen timers and frozen fish to free us up to deal with pain days.

I then tell my soon-to-leave-for-his-laboratory housemate it’s a bad pain day and he quickly, perfectly talks through the day plan, when he’ll be available to help or help distract me and when he won’t (x-ray beam experiments wait for no one!), so I know exactly what I can expect as I plan out my day...
It sounds like her household really does function sort of like a bash', at least in the way she and her housemates look out for each other. I'd always assumed bash's were purely fictional, a way she'd imagined families might work in an imaginary future, not something partially based on her personal experience in real life.

I'd been struck, too, in listening to interviews with Palmer, by how meticulously methodical her approach to writing is. After reading this, I'm wondering if this is a response having a disability that interrupts her ability to work at irregular intervals, analogous to the planning she's describing here.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading Prehaps the Stars. I'm glad Ada Palmer has good bash'mates to look after her when she needs it.
posted by nangar at 11:10 PM on June 18 [9 favorites]

Thank you for this.

I take great comfort from the cumulative nature of the writing process. I aim for 500 words a day (and if I make it, that's a good day). That's not much. But if I can keep it up, that's 3500 words a week, 14000 words a month. The important thing is to keep moving forward, if only by baby steps.

I hope this post will bring other Ada Palmer fans out of the woodwork. I've occasionally wondered about a Terra Ignota post on FanFare, but I don't know whether there would be enough of a response to make it worthwhile.
posted by verstegan at 4:02 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]

Thank you for sharing, it really is fascinating to see how Palmer sees/acts out the bash' dynamic in her own life. The thought on the slow-building cumulative nature of friends helping - Through teamwork, twenty people’s teamwork, more, even if through most of today I was alone. Because being supported sometimes, somewhere, once, carries over, makes me stronger, more powerful, more able to judge how much to push, and try. Support carries forward over time. - is going to stick with me.

Really have to finish the Terra Ignota books now but seeing the elements that are pulled from her lived experience, as well as those that come from her academic interests, is eye-opening.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 4:22 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I've occasionally wondered about a Terra Ignota post on FanFare, but I don't know whether there would be enough of a response to make it worthwhile.

I’d be into that. I’ve been thinking about re-reading the first three.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:31 AM on June 19

I always appreciate Palmer's nonfiction for her ability to illustrate the connections between individual people's actions and attitudes and larger historical systems, and this is no exception. I am grateful she was willing to share this piece of memoir with us.

There's a somewhat low-traffic Dreamwidth community where you can discuss the Terra Ignota series with other fans!
posted by brainwane at 5:53 AM on June 19 [5 favorites]

As a chronic illness sufferer, this is such a perfect description of the teamwork needed to manage a life like this, thank you so much for posting.

What is bash'? Google didn't help.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:35 AM on June 19

What is bash'? Google didn't help.

A bit like a small commune, standing in as the replacement for the nuclear family as the core 'unit' of society in Palmer's sci-fi novels.

Jo Walton's review of Too Like the Lightning touches on it, though it makes the society sound somewhat more utopian than subsequent reads and the sequels make it seem.

For a tiny example, I was telling a young friend about the bash’ houses, the fundamental building block of society, replacing nuclear families. Everyone lives in groups of adults, who mostly meet in college. There might be romantic pairings going on within that set (marriage is still a thing) or romantic pairings may be between people in different bash’es, but sex and romance isn’t the point of what draws people into a bash’, friendship is, shared interests and community.
These are groups of friends, like groups of college friends sharing a house, wandering into the shared areas and hanging out. So bash’es are normal, children grow up in them and connect to their ba’parents and ba’sibs and go on to form bash’es of their own. They believe that this is the way to maximize human potential and happiness.

There's an etymology for the term but I can't recall it and, as you say, google's not doing much.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 6:55 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

The first novel gives a speculative in-universe etymology for the term as a derivative of the Japanese word "basho". The person who coined the term canonically never got around to documenting their thought process, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:36 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

About bash', I found this:
It’s not the numbers, not these rare psyches you’re charting that stimulate great progress. It’s groups. I’ve studied the same inventors, authors, leaders that you have, and the thing that most reliably produces many at once—the effect you’ve worked so hard to replicate—is when people abandon the nuclear family to live in a collective household, four to twenty friends, rearing children and ideas together in a haven of mutual discourse and play. We don’t need to revolutionize the kindergartens, we need to revolutionize the family.” This heresy, this bash’, which Cullen shortened from i-basho (a Japanese word, like ‘home’ but stronger), this challenge to Brill’s great system Cullen did not dare present without extensive notes.
in this free sample of Chapter 3 of Too Like the Lightning.
posted by moonmilk at 7:37 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Oh, right, that's the one that does have an explicit given etymology. I was thinking of "sensayer".
posted by tobascodagama at 8:47 AM on June 19

I would definitely be up for a Terra Ignota FanFare. I learn something new with each re-read of these books.

On a personal note--as a friend of Ada's (not, alas, part of her current team, but we watched a season of new Who together years back), I will say that I immediately recognized bash'es as the systematization of the kind of household she was part of then. Now she's in a different state and some of the bash'mates have changed, but I'm sure I'd recognize it still.
posted by clauclauclaudia at 9:52 AM on June 19

My feeling on FanFare stuff is: if I found a book/movie/show worth talking about, I make a post. Sometimes it doesn't get much response, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:54 AM on June 19 [3 favorites]

Thank you all for the explanations!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:57 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]

I love this. I'm glad to hear someone talk about it. As someone who tends to self-isolate during my own pain, both emotional and physical, and who has been taught what I know is false about strength being NOT accepting help from the people who love me, I needed this today.
posted by colorblock sock at 11:12 AM on June 19 [8 favorites]

In this podcast interview, Ada Palmer explains a bit more about the origin of the word bash' in her Terra Ignota novels. The question and her response start right about 11:25 in the interview. She glosses the Japanese word 居場所 (i-basho) as meaning 'the place you feel comfortable'. In her fictional 25th century world, it's been adopted as a description of a type of family and shortened to "bash'" in English.
posted by nangar at 11:53 AM on June 20 [2 favorites]

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