Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The War of the Worlds for You to Color

I was cleaning out my desk drawers today and found my The War of the Worlds coloring book. Now, Dover has a tendency to put out odd coloring books (Great Scenes from Shakespeare - I used half a red crayon on the death of Julius Caeser)  but this one seems super-weird. I found it at Half-Price Books on clearance some time ago and had forgotten all about it until my rediscovery today. I mean, The War of the Worlds is one of my favorite books, but a coloring book...and apparently one moved to the 1980's as well.

Here are some of the highlights:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Never Never Never GIve Up

I recently found this list of obstacles that some famous SF writers had to overcome in order to keep writing (and thus become famous- or more famous, in some cases).

I'm going to address each of them.

Connie Willis: 

I think my biggest stumbling block as a writer was my own self doubt. I constantly was feeling like, "I can't do this, and nobody wants me to."

I've made it pretty clear on this blog how I feel about this attitude.  Of course no one wants you to succeed. Nobody cares whether you write or not. If you really feel so intimidated, go take up some other pursuit. I can't stand those who whine about how much they want to write but can't. It's up to you to who the haters how wrong they were.

I have only seen the first season of Lost but it probably won't surprise anyone that my favorite character was John Locke.

James Patrick Kelly:

I had total writer's workshop withdrawal. I just couldn't write — well, I could write, but I couldn't understand how to rewrite without that workshop feedback..

This is what writers' groups are for. Check libraries, check bookstores. You might have to try a few before you find one that suits you, but they're out there. They're even online.

John Kessel:

  I don't know if this is a stumbling block, but I had a real setback when I won a Nebula Award for the first story I ever had nominated for a Nebula, in 1982

I never thought about this before, but I think I see how this could happen. You win a major award and suddenly you wonder if what you're working on now is as good as the award-winning piece. Because now you have a reputation to uphold and you're afraid of disappointing your fans...

Good thing I've never won a major award.

Jo Walton:

 Mine was when my first husband told me that my writing totally sucked and wasn't worth a damn.

Ouch. I can see why he was the 'first husband'. Walton goes on to say that her work was pretty awful, so she quit and wrote nonfiction for seven years. By the time she took up fiction again, she was much better. Now this won't work for everyone, obviously. And while her husband should have been much more diplomatic about it, you have to take criticism when it comes- even if it's mean-spirited, you can take it and toss it in the trash can.  

Catherynne M. Valente:

The economy crashed in 2008 — you might remember that — and I couldn't sell a book for a good long time. Had novels, sending them out, nobody took them. I really thought it was over for me. I only had three books out, and I was pretty much ready to pack it in.

This is one of the few things you can't mind-over-matter away. If no one wants to publish you, it's just not going to happen. Luckily these days the options for self-publishing are vast, with e-books and all. A lot of people are skeptical of self-published books, but as long as you put your best work out there, readers will come back for more. Valente ended up crowd-funding her next book, which is also an option.

David D. Levine:

My biggest stumbling block has been simply making the time to write. I know I should. I actually want to. But somehow or another, there's always something else to do. There's always another cat to wax, or dog to vacuum, or something. And so just actually sitting down and putting the words on paper is my biggest writing challenge.

Oh David, how I feel you. Running a household and chasing a 3-year-old is a 24/7 job.

I make myself write every day, no matter how busy I am.  Even if it's only for 15 minutes. It's far, far too easy to get out of the habit, so I don't let myself. Every day. Even if it's in the car on the way to the in-laws' house for Thanksgiving, or while my kid is having his swimming lesson. You can't be a writer if you don't write.

Daniel Abraham:

 The biggest stumbling block in my writing career was the 15 years of failure that came before I sold anything.

It can wear you down, being rejected over and over. But there's literally hundreds of stories of mega-famous authors whose classic books were rejected 9,000 times, etc. I'm not even going to recount any of them here, you probably already know a couple about Margaret Mitchell and John Grisham and how Moby Dick was self-published and all that crap.

My number one rule of life, stolen fro Winston Churchill, is "Never never never give up."

Rachel Swirsky: 

Sometimes I have problems where I get into a mode where even just looking at a page on a screen makes me panic. And getting past that is a really intense thing to do.

I have no clue what this is like. I think this author must have anxiety problems; I know many people who have them as well, but I've never been overly anxious myself (it's why I'm such a happy person) so I really can't relate to this one. I love a fresh sheet of blank paper and can't fill it fast enough.

Gwenda Bond: 

I got an agent in 2009 and we didn't make a sale until early 2012. That's a pretty nerve-wracking thing because you think she'll fall out of love with you. And you just have to keep writing books and not be married to one project.

Yup. If an agent chooses you, it's because they believe in you and won't stop fighting to get your work seen. So chill. You can't control the markets and what's selling. Just do what you do, which is write.

Eugene Fischer:

 My biggest stumbling block becoming a writer was actually deciding it was an acceptable thing to do with your life.

As much as American society claims to love originality and art and wants to foster creativity, it really doesn't.  Being an artist, dancer, writer, sculptor, whatever- to most people, it's not a 'job'. It's something you do when you're not doing your job- which is what is actually is for most writers. Tell people you're a writer and they act surprised and interested, but you can tell they're really thinking what a daydreaming loser you are. In America, success is measured by how rich you are, and sadly, most writers don't make much off their work.

You know what? Fuck them. You're not just consuming other people's output, you're creating something meaningful. Haters gonna hate. Not your problem.

You can check out the entire article at the link above. Take heart dear writers, and remember: no mountain is too high to climb (Though you might die doing it and have to be left along the trail- but hey, at least you're on the mountain. Forever.)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

John Updike Looked Like a Wizard

John Updike looked like a wizard.

I never saw a picture of him before his death, but looking at articles after he died, I thought he looked like a wizard.

I was thinking about this today for some reason. I wish I looked like a wizard- sorceress, I guess, or witch. But I'm pretty sure I don't.

Behold the Wizard Updike:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy 2013! It seems we are all present and accounted for, so I suppose the world didn't end this time either.

The year's end got me thinking about endings and beginnings. Every twelve months you come to both- an end and a beginning separated by only a second. Come to think of it, the same thing happens every day on a smaller scale, when night turns over to day. On one side, the end. A second later, a beginning.

I am nearing the end of the roughdraft of my second novel. I had hoped it would be completed by the end of 2012 but that wasn't in the cards; it will be a few days more, I think. It's all right. I've always played fast and loose with deadlines- things end up finished around that time, which is good enough for me.

Ending a novel is both exciting and a bit sad. You hate to say good-bye to your characters, but it's temporary- you'll see them again in a month or so when you start revisions. It's exciting to think that now you can move on (though of course the novel will still draw you back off and on for some time, the bulk of the work is done).

Some friends lent me a book called The Gift by Patrick O'Leary. I think they liked it more than I did; it was enjoyable to me but nothing particularly compelling. At its core the book is about the power inherent in storytelling: to communicate ideas, morals, warnings. One thing O'Leary says in the novel I really liked.

Some endings are endings.
Some endings are pauses.
Some endings are beginnings.

It's very true, and I can say I've written all three. My first novel is an ending; there is nothing more to say about the characters- they don't all die or anything, but their tale is finished. The novella I recently sold to an e-book press is a pause; there is more to say, but there's a delay in saying it (I eventually plan to write a sequel). My second novel ends with a beginning. There may someday be a sequel to that too, but for now I think it's appropriate to end it as it does, with the promise of a whole new adventure in store.

Endings and beginnings, and today we are on the beginning half of that vital second of time. Happy New Year, and I hope everyone has a fantastic 2013.