Effective immediately, I’m turning off my online store. Since Shopp updated their software, it hasn’t worked correctly and I need to figure out (in my Copious Free Time) why.
Sorry folks. I’ll get it fixed as quickly as possible.
I got to spend some time with A Blessing of Monsters today. I wrote about 1200 words, then wrote 100 anti-words. I wanted to do more at the end of the day but the scene I was working on had gone all wrong and my kid wouldn’t give me the space to think about it.
At some point in the day I even came up with a decentish title, but I didn’t write it down and now I’ve forgotten it. Ah well. It was probably brilliant.
Anyway, it felt good to take hold of the book again, even it wasn’t a firm hold. We’ll see what comes tomorrow.
We didn’t have a thoat, so a camel had to stand in.
It was a tiny display, but my son did a great job with it.
Continuing my examination of my own creative process through an examination of this article: Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking, I’ll touch on points 4-6 here and get to the halfway point.
4. Your brain is not a computer.
This is probably the most confusing part of the article. It’s starts with the truism above then starts talking about imagining things and synthesizing experience?
The first thing I’ll say is that comparing a brain to a computer is not a very interesting way to think about this. No, your brain is not a computer. Other things your brain is not: a loaf of bread, a set of dishes, an FBI file on a U.S. peace activist, a package of Alka-Seltzer.
A good rule for brains and computers both is Garbage In, Garbage Out, but I covered that in my last post. But let me address the little point that the article writer covers: Our brains can create false experiences and treat them as real.
To which I say: yes, that is the whole point of writing a novel. You create a false experience in the mind of the reader. The entire art and craft of creating a novel involves a) imagining this experience yourself and b) recording it effectively through text.
But it’s important not to make the experience solely a visual/auditory one. Personally (and these posts are about my own processes, remember) I do imagine scenes visually but there isn’t a lot of detail in them. I certainly don’t see faces as such. If you’ve ever read Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, (and you should) you’ll know what I mean when I say that the faces are “iconic.”
But I also experience the story in a different way that’s hard to describe. I also experience the character’s feelings as though they were tidal forces, pulling me one way or another. If there’s one thing that slows down my productivity, it’s translating those feelings into text without using cliche.
And it has nothing to do with my brain being a computer.
5. There is no one right answer
This one’s sort of important. You can make bad choices, creatively speaking. You can choose cliches, or story beats that ruin the tone, or that don’t make sense for the characters, or that open the story setting to questions/implications you aren’t ready or willing to address.
But there can also be numerous “correct” choices that will work within the story on one level or another. The important thing is to look at them and judge their effect on the story’s tone, the questions it raises about the setting, etc etc.
So, while you can have several correct choices, each should still be evaluated in terms of the effect it will have.
(I’m ignoring the article for this point for fear of annoying people with lay-physicist woo woo about creativity.
6. Never stop with your first good idea.
The temptation to do this is powerful–really really powerful, especially if you’ve been struggling with a particular question for a while–but don’t do it. If you do, you miss out on the chance to do the evaluations I talked about in number 5 above.
More in part four, including allowing other people to influence you in a negative way.
making books personal: moi? publishing the boy words
by Harry Connolly
And here they are:
Not sure what this is about? Last fall I posted a novelette called “Lord of Reavers” in my online store and let folks know that proceeds from the sale would help cover the costs of my kid’s new goggles. Here’s the cover I made.
Love that public domain art.
It was also an experiment, of course. I wanted to see how well it would do, and now I know. In the future I’ll know it makes more sense to try to sell my short fiction to magazines before publishing them myself. But no matter. The story is there, you bought it, and it helped. Thank you.
Added later: Apparently they are declaring Ray the winner because he was ahead at 5 but the voting was mistakenly not closed. I… er… I think I’m going to skip the comments over there. (Who am I kidding?)
And Tyrion Lannister defeated Ray Lilly, just as my writeup suggested. I’ll admit that it was closer than I expected, 50.15% to 49.85% out of nearly three thousand votes, which comes to a narrow nine-vote margin of victory.
Of course, one of those nine votes was mine. I’m pleased to see Tyrion move on to the next round. Love that character.
Thanks to everyone who made this fun, and thanks especially to David Pomerico and all the other folks at Suvudu who are putting so much time and energy into this game.
Back to my book.
personal The outside world: internet politics publishing words
by Harry Connolly
1) I’ve asked my agency to accept an offer from a Polish publisher to do a Polish edition of Child of Fire. Awesome! Never let anyone tell you that agents are unnecessary.
2) Netflix Streaming seems to promise a great deal, but I can’t pretend to be happy that the shows continually stop to rebuffer. It took 35 minutes to watch a 20-minute cartoon.
3) This small town will get a grant to cover 60% of the cost of a new library if they can raise the other 40% themselves. Can you help? Video.
4) Like many Americans, I’m not terribly happy with the current state of the GOP, but one thing I do like is the protracted primary process. I’m pleased to see so many candidates sticking it out and going from state to state. Why? Super PAC stimulus. Ad buys, sign printing, mailings, the whole thing, millions of dollars from a handful of extremely conservative millionaires are being poured into each state’s economy as the campaigns move from one to another. I may not like the message conservative candidates have been promoting, but I like watching them spend their cash.
5) Regarding the Suvudu.com cage matches, I’ve made a difficult decision: even if Ray Lilly wins, I’m not going to write the next round. Honestly, I just can’t. I’m struggling too much with my new book to let my attention be divided and that’s where I have to put my energy. I’m 96K words into it; I gotta get this done. On top of that I have more than a few demands on my personal time.
So, vote for Ray if you want but don’t vote to see another writeup from me. The cage matches are fun but I can’t afford to play any more.
Saw JOHN CARTER yesterday with my son and not only did I like it, I walked out of the theater aching to write some sword-and-planet. I’d always wanted to read some Leigh Brackett, and that would be a fantastic excuse.
Still, it’s strange to see this movie dumped in the post-Oscars garbage pail release schedule and to read the NYTimes dumping on it unseen. I understand that some people have no interest in the genre, and the pseudo-insider “Hollywood spent lots of money on a flop!” articles are incredibly easy to write, but come on! This was a lot of fun.
I picked up the book two years ago because it was the most interesting option at an in-store Espresso Book Machine (video) but I never got around to reading it. Seeing this movie bumps it up my list.
Thing is, the movie is so freaking romantic: a dying world, interplanetary love, forbidden compassion, open-air “planes”, a cowboy with a tragic past, warring city-states, mysterious tombs, swords and armor dueling, ancient ruins, secret temples, mysterious villains behind the villain… the whole thing is really well put together. My bladder nearly burst because I just had to stay for the whole thing.
Damn it’s a good movie. You should see it in the theater if you can.
I’m really sorry, folks, but I’m turning off comments on my main blog again. I cleared my spam trap last night and when I woke up it was full again. You guys don’t see it because Akismet works pretty well, but occasionally it hoovers up a real comment and I don’t have time to search for ham in the trap.
Folks can respond to me on Twitter and LiveJournal, and I’m thinking of creating a Facebook fan page where people could interact without all the bullshit.
Sorry, but time is precious and I have to hoard it.
updated to clarify this is my WordPress blog on my main website I’m talking about.