Like the sperm whale plunging toward the surface of Magrathea, existential questions are something that most writers think about. Not necessarily ones relating to their own existence, but to that of the book they’re working on.
“Why am I doing this?”
It’s actually one those questions that, generally speaking, is easier to answer for yourself the first time around than the 20th (Trust me on this, I’m past that mark. And it’s still hard.) Read more
I had one of those interesting days today, at least, in the ancient Chinese curse sense. In part, anyway. It’s the start of national book week here in Oz, and, I may be trifle biased but a love of reading is greatest gift we can give to children, to the future.
Now, for me, crowds are a hardship. I am very sound and movement sensitive, maybe because I am kind of proof of this whole evolution thing, as in I’m a little primitive. Both little and primitive, that is. Being an urban-dweller requires coping well with a sea of noise and movement, ignoring most of it, and shutting out peripheral stimulus. Your little hunter-gatherer who does this ends up either very hungry, or very dead, or, mostly, both. I was raised in hunter-gatherer tradition, and there’s a lot of it my family history, in my genes, I suspect. I guess I am one of yesterday’s people, to the modern world. But I still have to live in it, a little. Read more
So I am trying to get back on the (writing) horse again. Like falling off the real thing, there is considerable wisdom in the advice about getting back on immediately. Still, this is the first break I’ve taken for 10 years (the last one was 3 weeks to emigrate) and it was 17 years before that. I’ve not taken a ‘work-free’ holiday in that time. Slowed down, worked on editing, proofing, research, taken a day off, yes. But longer, no.
I had dramas getting paid for my last book (just trad Pub working at normal speed – only a drama from my point of view). It was money I was relying on for the house-building and moving, which – today, it seems are finally resolved. Three months late but, I suppose, better than never. Still, it hasn’t helped that get back on the horse process. Defensive memory makes it hard to remember which end produces dung and which end bites. I think I am supposed to be in the middle between them, but I may be facing the wrong way. Read more
“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such and ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity… we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access reassurance.”
–A. Edward Newton
Every time I buy a book, knowing full well I do not have the time to read it now, and I add to my tsunduko both physical and electronic, it’s not that I don’t plan to read it. I really really want to. It’s just that life gets in the way. Read more
Ruminating on Falkenberg’s Regiment
At 19 years old, I discovered Jerry Pournelle’s work in a massive omnibus entitled The Prince. I will vociferously argue that his CoDominium series with John Christian Falkenberg III, is a better, more enjoyable body of work than Janissaries. Friends disagree with me about this, but I tend to ignore them. Pournelle’s Falkenberg is an incredible character and one I can always more of in my library, hence my surprise when I learned that a new Falkenberg’s legion novel existed. Hallelujah! Then I read it… Read more
Writing as profession…
I was amused to read a would-be-author in New Zealand bemoaning just how HARD it was in his local paper. I’ll spare you his missive (and him the embarrassment) but he was moaning how unfair it was that living away from the big city/University scene he was unable to afford to attend the courses and meet the right people to get him ‘in’. And getting bought on merit was just too hard, because the public had such appalling taste, and the market for books written by native New Zealanders was too small.
His answer, was, like Norway (which has a fair amount of spare cash) the Government should intervene, and buy copies of books by citizens to give as gifts to the ambassadorial staff of all foreign embassies and visiting dignitaries.
I did stop laughing before I actually died of anoxia, but it was close. Read more
I think of myself as a squeamish person. I don’t read horror novels or thrillers that delve lovingly into deranged minds. Heck, I can’t even read the icky bits in Diana Gabaldon’s books.
So I was rather disturbed, the other day, to discover that some part of my mind has been lovingly detailing scenarios that I don’t ever want to read, much less write. I’m not going to write the details, because I found them really upsetting and I want to bleach my brain now, but here’s what happened: We were watching a cop show and came to the obligatory scene where somebody is tied to a chair and somebody else is trying to get information out of him by hitting him in the face, and I turned to the First Reader and said, “You know, I can think of a lot more effective ways to torture somebody for information. Why don’t they…. Or they could try…. Or they wouldn’t even need a blowtorch, a little butane torch would….
At this point the First Reader, he who can read accounts of historical atrocities with no trouble, began turning green, and I shut up.
And spent the rest of the evening wondering just what part of my mind had been collecting ideas for truly stomach-turning tortures, and how I could divert it to another track. Because I don’t like torture. I don’t like to read about it, I don’t write it, and I really, really hate that a part of the fiction writer’s mind inside me has been collecting this stuff.
But… it’s there. Even if I’m not going to inflict it on you, I know now that it’s there.
What surprising pathways does your writer’s mind wander down without conscious direction?