March 2nd, 2006

bear by san

(no subject)

Hey, does anybody know if Trader Joe's stocks Chinese/Japanese specialty foods (I need chili paste and broad bean paste and some other things I know Wild Oats and Whole Foods don't usually carry, and there's no World Market near me.) But I don't feel like hauling my butt out to the TJs if they have no chili paste.

Even more preferentially, does anybody know of a good Hartford area (say, between Manchester and Farmington) independent Chinese grocery? I know where to find two Indian ones, but that's not going to help me with double black soy sauce and seaweed.

ETA Hah! There's an Asian grocery on Shield Street. Yay!
bear by san

First you decide what you've gotta do.

And then you go out and do it.

Well, the comments on the introduce-yourself post have indicated that there are a lot of aspiring writers out there. Writers have a lot of different goals, a lot of different metrics for success. Some people want to sell a book. Some people want to write just one perfect story, heartbreaking. Some people want to tell stories to an eager, loyal group of friends.

If I could give all of them one anecdotal piece of advice, and only one, it would be this:


And don't stop pushing, neither, except when you need a breath.

I spent fifteen years trying to talk myself out of being a writer, first by telling myself that he odds against were astronomical and that I needed a real job, and then by "trying," while cleverly finding ways to undermine myself so that my failures could be chalked up to "just not being talented enough no matter how hard I work," because (a) success is scary as shit and (b) what's even scarier than success is the prospect of really doing your best, really trying your hardest--and actually having to face an abject failure.

Nobody wants to be Rocky Balboa. At least Sonny Liston got to go to his grave telling his friends he could have taken Cassius Clay if he'd cared to take a swing.

But if you don't swing with all you've got, there's no way you can win.

This is a hard job. It's an exhausting job. It's an ego-crushing job. Rejection is hard. Criticism is harder.

But it's also the best job in the world.

Head down. Heels down. Get your weight behind that yoke and push. Push. Push!

If you're not bleeding, you're not pulling hard enough.

There's a trick there, of course, because that all-out effort has to be directed. So you have to have picked your goal. The publication, the perfect story, the Pulitzer prize.

Pick your pitch. Point over the boards. And swing for the goddamned fences.

But also remember, sometimes you can pull harder if you let the lines go slack for a bit and catch your breath before you throw your weight on it again. ;-)

By the way, my novella "Wax," has been selected for Rich Horton/Prime Book's inaugural Year's Best Fantasy.
bear by san

more ways writing is like everything else

Writing is like archery.

You have to do everything perfectly; stance, aim, release. It requires strength and precision.

Also, you have to remember to keep your hand gentle on the bow, or you're never going to hit a damned thing. If those fingers close into a fist, you arrow is going to wind up in Topeka.

But you know, when you're struggling to aim, to control that arrow, the most natural thing in the world is to try to force the bow to go where you want it to. And you can't.

All you can do is breathe deep, line up, tuck your butt, lock your thumb under your chin and let the string fall from your fingertips.

Oh, and you can't be afraid of the bow either. Even though it can hurt you bad.

"It's simple. It just isn't easy." --Hannah Wolf Bowen

Also, I have thundersnow!
bear by san

I love my job.

Sometimes, you look at a sentence, and all you can do is smile and pat its little head.

I knelt in the green grass, watching Weyland Smith limp around the massive base of the black iron bridge, sucking his teeth, naked and carrying an iron hammer.

Chapter 23 is done. Commencing chapter 24. The bound galleys came today. *pets*

Here, have a Richard Brautigan poem:
(my favorite bit is the bit about the snails)



I don’t know what it is,
But I distrust myself
When I start to like a girl
A lot.


It makes me nervous.
I don’t say the right things
Or perhaps I start
To examine,
What I am saying.


If I say, "Do you think it’s going to rain?"
and she says, "I don’t know,"
I start thinking: Does she really like me?


In other words
I get a little creepy.


A friend of mine once said,
"It’s twenty times better to be friends
with someone
than it is to be in love with them."


I think he’s right and besides,
its raining somewhere, programming flowers
and keeping snails happy.
That’s all taken care of.

if a girl likes me a lot
and starts getting real nervous
and suddenly begins asking me funny questions
and looks sad if I give the wrong answers
and she says things like,
"Do you think it’s going to rain?"
and I say, "It beats me,"
and she says, "Oh,"
and looks a little sad
at the clear blue California sky,
I think: Thank God, it’s you, baby, this time
Instead of me.

bear by san

(no subject)


Well, that was like trying to eat my way out of a porridge dungeon with chopsticks. I sure hope this book is more interesting the first time you all read it than it was the 30th time I did.

Blood and Iron, for the record, is my most-rewritten book. The original concept dates from the eighties; the first draft of portions from oh, 1990 or so, the first complete draft from winter 2002. That first complete draft was irretrievably broken. I rewrote it extensively twice (including unpersoning characters and major plot changes) and gave it a pretty thorough line-edit twice before arcaedia saw it. Segue to 2003, when she told me it was still broken. At which point I took it apart, restructured it heavily, cut 40,000 words or so, added 60,000 words or so and two POV characters (and removed one), and rewrote it again, followed by another clean-up pass. At which point we agreed that maybe it wasn't broken any more.

Then we sold it. And I rewrote it again, for Liz.

Another fairly heavy rewrite. Plus spot revisions. And then a clean-up pass. And a CEM. And the page proofs.

I can't even remember what happens in which version of the damned thing any more. But at least most of the story is onscreen now.

So anyway, reading this damned thing is like archeology at this point. It has strata.

You guys are going to have to let me know if it's any good, because I have not the foggiest.


It's done.