Okay, first of all let’s be clear on the purpose of this workshop, shall we?
This workshop is to teach you to do better beginnings, and of course, that means eventually you’ll start off better right from the beginning. That, however, like most things in the arts, takes a certain amount of internalizing the idea of how to begin, a certain amount of having practiced it so long it’s second nature.
I’m here to tell you that after 20 years of being published and selling most of what I write I can do it sometimes. Sometimes I type in a perfect beginning and I go in awe of myself for a few hours.
When I was a very young writer, whose “professionalism” was measured in the number of rejections I got every month — a prodigious number. I usually hit 100 by March of every year. I was the writer of no future — I was offended when I heard that most editors only read your first page and rejected on that.
The thought went something like “but I have all that good stuff afterwards. So, what if my first page isn’t brilliant.”
Years later, when I was the editor of a micro press, I found that I could reject stories on one paragraph and that if — because I was young and stupid — I forced myself to read to the end, the story never improved. Read more
Writers and artists and other obsessives are not very nice people, I’m afraid. We will do anything to have our work reach the public. Sometimes we will do anything to research for our work too. Well, not anything, but I have stories.
My research mania is not so much criminal as odd. At death’s door, I made notes, in case I survived, because I was going to need it for a novel. I made a friendship because the (future) friend’s brother had just suffered an injury similar to that of the character I was writing. I tracked that recovery more than if the stranger were a child of mine. Stories strike suddenly too. Once while following my husband into a massive dark warehouse of used moving boxes for resale, I said without thinking “What a great place to kill someone.” The face of the poor girl leading us, as she turned back to look was a thing to behold. Read more
Every time I hear there is no political color bar in publishing, I think of Reiner Kunze.
It must have been 1985, and the fall of the Berlin wall was still four years in the future, when my University asked me if I wanted to go to the German embassy for a reading by Reiner Kunze.
At the time I had never heard of Kunze and I was a little leery. After all, this was the same university who not only gave star treatment to the German professor from the DDR but didn’t keep him on a short leash in terms of political recruitment (which was mostly what he did.) Read more
Do you have a minute to talk about the free market? You know, that thing in which if a book is bad you don’t read it?
I know, I’m insane, right? After all traditional publishing houses release books that are barely proofread, books that have no objective plot and books with unintentionally repulsive characters all the time. One could almost say that’s 99% of their production.
But what do they REALLY care about? Why books that portray a “protected minority” in a way that might offend someone, somewhere.
This week, in one of the many forums I’m on — and mostly skim, because I’m so bizarrely busy — I came across a question of how many and which writing books you’d read. These are the how-to-write books.
Inevitably, two or three people piped up to say that all books say different things, so they don’t read them.
Does sinal salute.
Okay, the contorted insanity of mingling politics and fandom has just hit a new high… or low… or sideways whatever.
Surely, it was a logical step, from banning people who wanted to attend your conventions, and whose politics you didn’t approve of, to keep black lists, so that people whose politics you didn’t approve of couldn’t even purchase a membership. That’s all well and good — well, no, not really — but the insanity in fandom said “Hold my beer and watch this.” Read more