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bear by san

March 2017

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masturbation

what is the law?

I may have a final draft of "Overkill," unless I broke anything that will need further fixing.

Stories. Hate 'em, Jake.

Figured out anothe facet of what's wrong with my head. See, I've developed this thing where all I can see about stories is how they are broken. I think it's an aftereffect of too much workshopping. It's one reason why I've stopped looking for reviews.

Because dude, you know what? Every story ever written is broken. All of them. People don't like stories because of what they don't do wrong.

They like them because of what they do right.

It would be nice to be able to work without loathing everything I write again. I wonder if that will ever happen.



Well, while we're on that cheerful note, here's Act I, Scene i of Ink & Steel.

And here's a chocolate company being started up by my friend coffeeinhell.

Comments

No Spill Blood!
We walk on two legs, not on four.
Speaking of Ink & Steel. Look what Amazon just recommended to me:

Hell and Earth: A Novel of the Promethean Age
by Elizabeth Bear

Emailed to my inbox even.
Heeee. Amazon. Notorious for lousy recs....
Screw a bunch of reviews. Reviewers are jealous people. They should be writing their own damn books. Skroom. Too much work-shopping. People are probably imitating and studying you, doncherknow.

Waiting for Ink and Steel with vast anticipation. Carry on.

Jealous. Ahem.

Some of us know that we're not good writers. I write small reviews of books that I read but I don't consider myself *jealous* of Bear. I wish her every success. I also, as Bear well knows, promote books of friends and acquaintances vigorously to help make that success happen.

By the way, great opening bit for I&S. :)



Perfection is boring. And also, a myth.
Will & Kit make me wiggle in my chair and grin like a mad thing. I cannot wait for this book...
It would be nice to be able to work without loathing everything I write again. I wonder if that will ever happen.

Out of curiosity, when was the last book or story you remember just enjoying the hell out of writing?

Because I went through the omg the words are dead dead dead on the page, which you mentioned a month ago, some years back. And it was almost paralyzing, but.
It started getting bad in the middle of Carnival. But really crystallized into "Shit this all sucks" late last year, after Sycamore Hill.

I am trying to figure out how to train myself out of the hypercriticism now. I figure it'll break eventually, and it's probably the end of my journeyman training being a bitch--someday, my princess will come. :-P

But that doesn't make the fire swamp any more fun while you're in it.

OMFG, YES!

Because dude, you know what? Every story ever written is broken. All of them. People don't like stories because of what they don't do wrong. They like them because of what they do right.


Exactly. I'm so tired of this idea that for every book/movie/album/interpretive dance there some mythical perfect version of it, and the chief responsibility of an audience member is to parse the difference between that ideal and the poor, flawed, mangled version that actually exists. Then let's go get coffee and share our lists of how the work failed. What fun!

I think I spent a large portion of my first 30 years doing that. After I stopped, not only did it make me a better writer, but a happier person.

Some days, I think we've overdosed on media literacy and it's made us, as a culture, a shitty audience.

Glorious mess > polished turd



In my head that song goes like this:

Stupid stories. *kicks them* Never do what I want. Feh.

(And sometimes that song is on endless loop in my brain. It's very annoying and not even bringing out the big guns of earworm songs seems to help much.Plus even when it works, then I have some other stupid thing stuck in my head. Brains are not good pets.)

On the other hand, chocolates. Which link I fell on so fast when it first went up I think I freaked PayPal out a little.
Somehow this makes me want to tell an ancient maundering story. Either that or i am a maundering ancient.

Long ago, the art i really wanted to be good at was folk music, and i thought i sucked. There were plenty of people to help me think that, but i didn't need any help. I was so paranoid i thought applause was a putdown. I had a cheap guitar, real work clothes and even bad dope, not like the big kids.

Thirty and more years later we had a reunion, and without trying i cut the whole bunch of them off at the ankles. It was a joke. Not only had i been playing new stuff for thirty years, while they had stayed still, it was pretty obvious that i had been real good at what i did long ago.

That was fucking weird.

I know you hate advice, and i hate morals, and preaching, but there you go.

People who are dissatisfied sometimes try to improve, even if they are as good as could be expected anyway.

and jaybushman nailed it above. Too many critics, too few artists. And as a general observation, the fallacy of educating oneself up to being a better artist is that nobody can be better than Hemingway, Dickens, Twain and Whitman all at the same time, no matter what the Lit teacher says.

A musician cannot be Dylan, Hildegarde von Bingham, Skip James and Joni Mitchell all at once either. You can be yourself. If that's not what the market wants, you're fucked, but that's another issue.

But i sure wish i could have realized how good a musician i was thirty years ago. I might have made a living at it. Coudda beena contenda.

Oh well. Next....
I haven't been playing traditional music nearly that long, and I'm still firmly enmeshed in the whole all I can hear is my errors stage. But I have been at it long enough to have the experience of playing again with someone I loved playing with six years ago, only to realize he's still playing the same forty tunes he was playing then, and his rhythm is actively bad.

Which is to say, I know I suck, but at least I have a firm marker that I suck less then I used to.
You are learning! Learning is hard.

That's part of the problem, innit? Learning is hard.
i never realized what music was about until i played Old Time String Band music in the Appalachian Mountains. The difference was that i had been paying "competitive music" and those hillbillies were playing "co-operative music" that had as its goal, the creation and strengthening of a community.

My book, "How The Hippies Ruin't Hillbilly Music" is all about that. (shameless plug)
OMG, yes, I've been through the exact equivalent of that in the Irish traditional scene. As a quick example, it's the difference between session where, when things flag for a little, the leader starts something he's pretty sure everyone will know, and those where the leader will choose that moment to start some elite tune which is literally unplayable on half of the instruments present.

We used to have a lovely co-operative thing going on here in town, but most everyone involved moved away a few years back, and my attempts to revive it with the current crowd haven't quite taken off.

Definitely sounds like a book I need to check out.
Brains are LOUSY pets.

Because dude, you know what? Every story ever written is broken. All of them. People don't like stories because of what they don't do wrong.

They like them because of what they do right.


Words to live by, and they apply to more than stories.
Because dude, you know what? Every story ever written is broken. All of them. People don't like stories because of what they don't do wrong.

They like them because of what they do right.


Oh brilliant! I think I needed to hear this right now, struggling as I am through draft 3.

:D
...And then I go read the comments and discover that everyone else has already picked out that line....

Which must mean you're on to something there. :D
Heh. I stole the line from ccfinlay....

For What It's Worth

I just finished reading all of Shadow Unit. It was thought provoking and exciting.

And here's what I have printed out and posted at my desk to stare at whenever everything I write is hopelessly broken:

Berryman

I will tell you what he told me
in the years just after the war
as we then called
the second world war

don't lose your arrogance yet he said
you can do that when you're older
lose it too soon and you may
merely replace it with vanity

just one time he suggested
changing the usual order
of the same words in a line of verse
why point out a thing twice

he suggested I pray to the Muse
get down on my knees and pray
right there in the corner and he
said he meant it literally

it was in the days before the beard
and the drink but he was deep
in tides of his own through which he sailed
chin sideways and head tilted like a tacking sloop

he was far older than the dates allowed for
much older than I was he was in his thirties
he snapped down his nose with an accent
I think he had affected in England

as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry

he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write

-W. S. Merwin

I pretty much have those last couple verses memorized. Don't know if they will cheer you up the way they work for me, but figured I could share at least.

Also, completely other topic, have you done any bouldering in addition to route climbing? I found that doing the more technical bouldering problems greatly improved my trouble spots on routes. (and is also fun).

Anyway, thanks again for Shadow Unit. Made my week.

Re: For What It's Worth

Thank you for the poem.

I do a little bouldering, but I don't really like it. Too much about the power, not enough about the thinky--for me at this stage, anyway. My strength/weight ratio is not good.

Also, I just don't find it very satisfying. It's over too soon.

This may change as I get better at it, mind you.

You are very welcome for shadow unit. The next episode goes up tomorrow night!

Because dude, you know what? Every story ever written is broken. All of them. People don't like stories because of what they don't do wrong.

They like them because of what they do right.


Thank you, thank you for stating this.

I've been working so hard on fixing stuff, and analyzing how my betters pull off what they pull off in story that I think I need to learn how to read like a reader again.

BTW, I heard "Tideline" at Escape Pod yesterday. It was as engrossing in audio as it was when I had read it in Asimov's. Simply wonderful...
Thank you!
I cannot wait to get my hands on that book now.

(I mean, it was bad before, but talk about ramping up the anticipation. :P)