January 26th, 2007


the winter is nearly here now

congrats to scott_lynch, naominovik, and Theodora Goss on their nominations for the Crawford Award.

So, it's -12 out there with windchill (that's a great big swinging American -12, not yer sissy Canadian -12) and I'm not budging out from under this afghan today for love or money. Which means its Ask Bear A Question day.

Comments are screened. Go ahead; ask me something. Anything. I might even answer it.
animation wallace cheese

answers to impertinent questions, part one.

carnotite: I have an enduring fondness for Richard Feynman's Six Easy Pieces. It's physics even I can nearly understand.

In answer to the other half of the question, Pitch Black. A freakish accident of filmography that, as near as I can tell, produced a bizarrely subtle film. I don't actually believe it was on purpose, mind you.

eljaydaly: I actually quit writing for three years at one point. Not a hard, you know, oh, I quit. But I just didn't do it, or send anything out, for a loooong time. Maybe "gave up" is a better term.

So no, I never had a hunch I would make it, or any conviction. I wrote for oh, twenty years in the desire for publication, but without any real hope of success. Everybody tells you there is no hope of success. But in 2001, a series of traumatic life experiences sort of brought it home to me dramatically that trying to be a responsible grownup wasn't actually any safer than trying to write for a living, and I was out of work anyway. And there is only so much Montel you can watch.

So I started writing full-time. Nay, obsessively. And I fell in with a workshop group of very talented and determined people who pushed me hard. Several million words of crap later, I started selling things.

liveavatar: As a general rule, authors are not hot. suricattus is kind of a babe, however. *g*

etcet: I'm not much good at goofy plots. So far, the current book is the weirdest thing I've ever come up with.

stevenagy: That's between you and your Gods. And please don't send photos!

pabba: It's pretty much never safe to assume that authors are writing from personal experience. Well, until they hit the 27th identical book about tawdry affairs among the Yankee upper class (I'm looking at you, John Irving.)

taidhbhse: Lagavulin. Or Laphroaig quarter-cask.

birdhousefrog: I grew up here.

ratmmjess: I very rarely get angry at books anymore. I'm way too aware, first of all, of how hard the damned things are to write,and second of all, how completely readers can get a different end of the stick than I thought I was waving. I figure the least I can do is extend other writers the same charity.

I do fairly often have the "I would have done this differently" reaction, and also frequently the "I would have liked a different book" reaction, but differently is not necessarily better, and if I want a different book badly enough, I go and write it.

The last book I threw across the room was Karin Lowachee's Warchild, because I hated the way she handled some of the child abuse issues in that book, and I found it exploitative. Which is my, you know, squiddy reaction, and what I found triggery and cheap worked very well for an enormous number of other readers.

question post here.
iggy pop chairman of the bored

impertinent questions, part two

heathwitch: The threat of starvation is very motivating. And I never feel I have no ideas. I used to, but then I figured out how to nurture them: the more you write and research, the more and better ideas you get.

dragonmyst: Use the language your POV character would use. Try to avoid POV characters who would say things like "throbbing manhood," though. Unless you're going for a laugh.

dichroic: I started archery in high school. I only shoot once a week, and I kind of suck at consistency. I am considering taking lessons, because I need to work on my stance, and it's hard to do without help.

panjianlien: I would love to be able to write the kind of trenchant, humane, savage satire that a Vonnegut writes, or assume a voice like Burgess. I wish I were a poet, but I'm not. And I find it immensely frustrating, of course, that I'm not a supergenius. Because of course I want to be the best at everything. *g*

zanzjan: I still get rejections. I'm saving them up to wallpaper a bathroom, eventually.

avocadopx: I think it's balderbash. And also twaddle. The idea that any author has "one true voice" is just more of the Romantic mythologizing of art that doesn't do a damned thing to produce or improve art.

I mentioned Anthony Burgess above. Theodore Sturgeon also leaps to mind without trying.

And I should be doing some things at Boskone, yes.

And in answer to your third question, I have not read it. But I tend to think the division of narrative poetry/prose/playscript/graphic novel into hard categories is just as arbitrary a categorization as anything else. It's completely arbitrary to say that a short story ends at 7500 words or a novel begins at 40,000. So, honestly, I have no issue with it.

muneraven: It depends. Usually, there's at least a year's gestation, and often far more. For Pinion, I'm using ideas I was playing with as far back as 1993, and one of the characters, Gavin the Mechanical Albino Basilisk, is an idea I had in high school. My initial work on Blood and Iron dates back to at least when I was fourteen or fifteen, because I remember the house we lived in at the time and I have a clear memory of the flash of imagery that grew up to be Seeker.

The characters in my books tend to reflect people I know or knew, especially growing up. Which is to say, they're not modeled on those people, but... I think you write the world you see around you. My superintendent is Russian, my neighbors across the hall are Pakistani, I have friends and colleagues of many races and ages and ethnicities and creeds and persuasions. I dunno why the fictional world should be so much less diverse than the real one.

And yes, absolutely I've been tongue tied upon meeting other writers. I humiliate myself every time I'm in a room with Ursula Le Guin. She must think I'm an utter twit. And I burst into tears when I met Peter Beagle. I've met Chip Delany twice, and been completely unable to say anything coherent to him either time. Stood next to Neil Gaiman for fifteen minutes this one time and could not figure out how to introduce myself. And so on. (I was also completely tongue-tied upon meering ellen_kushner and skzbrust, but they appear to have forgiven me.) When somebody's work touches you, it's very hard to find the right words to say thank you with.

I'm pathetically shy. I just hide it under a wall of brass.
froud magician

impertinent questions, part three

panjianlien: Oh, oops, sorry, forgot: I'd like to come back as a well-cared-for horse.

ammitnox: string, or nothing;


yes, you are weird for stalking me on the internets.

blackcoat: getting to tell stories to people and getting paid for it.


1)  the more pigment in your irises, the better your eyes are at managing glare.

2) the writers who get picked out of the slush aren't necessarily doing any less wrong than the guys who don't, but they are generally doing more right. And the most important thing is maintaining narrative interest--drawing the reader through the story.

3) damned if I know, but if I had to guess, I would say institutional sexism and an enduring voting block. pnh pointed out recently that women are winning more Nebulas than men, recently.

morning_glory: I love being told I don't suck. Everybody loves being told they don't suck. And no, not really. I occasionally get somebody who drops by to tell me they don't like something I've written, or to try to get a rise out of me. I suspect I am an open enough presence on the internets that I succeed in de-mythologizing myself pretty well. Which is what I'd prefer, really.

deyaniera: Mostly, I just write things I like. 

rengeek kit icarus

impertinent questions, part four

Yep. It's official. I'm on holiday until another chunk of book grows in my head. Or until I have to write that novella. I have, in short, run out of road.

andelku: Because he's fascinating. And widely misunderstood and misrepresented, I think. And one hell of a poet. And because I can identify kind of strongly with this poor scholarship student who's not quite like anybody else he knows. He got his hooks in me: what can I say?

dmacabre: Oh, man. No way I could pick one Bowie song, or one Jethro Tull song, or one Janis Ian song. It all depends on mood. If you held a gun to my head, though, the ones I listen to most often are probably "Seven," "Hearts Filthy Lesson," "Queen Bitch," and "Cracked Actor." Hell, not only can I not pick a song; I can;'t pick an era.

tamnonlinear: coconut milk, red pepper, and lime? 
  • Current Music
    Mark Knopfler - You Don't Know You're Born
  • Tags
spies mfu (sorta) going to hurt ivan & h

i like to go out beyond the wild breakers where a man can still be free (or a woman if you are one)

Man, okay. I can tell I needed a few days off. (It may wind up being more than a few days, frankly; we'll see how long it takes some more story to generate. I plan to enjoy the luxury of only having two books to write this year.)

I can tell because my brain is still spinning, spinning, spinning. It keeps trying to remember what we're supposed to be doing now, and it won't believe me that, other than Boskone and a couple of nonfiction articles, the decks really are perfectly clear until March.

Better than clear, in fact. I've got half a book done when I didn't plan to have any yet; I have an idea for the novella I need to write; and I have a draft of All the Windwracked Stars. Which needs rewritten from the bottom up, but the plot is done, and for me, the plot is the hard part.

Charlie Stross has a great and much-linked post up here on what is necessitated by the !glamourous writing life. Oh, God, taxes. He had to remind me....

He left out the feast-or-famine nature of the pay schedule, too. Other people save up for major purchases. Writers buy them quick when the money comes in. And then, in the bleak time between the signing of the contract and the paying of the check, they eat a lot of pasta.

Also, what he says about the work schedule? Seriously. I work more than 250 days a year (I probably take about thirty non-writing days in an average year, but I grew up in the kind of working class family where OT and second jobs was how you made ends meet: I'm bred to scorn a banker's schedule.) Which is why I don't feel too bad sitting here reading Holly Black and letting the story cook, even when I would really like to be done with the first draft of the book by April 1.

You get used to running on that treadmill, man. But the fact of the matter is, if I killed myself to get everything I have to do in 2007 done by August (And I could, though I'd probably give myself another psoriasis outbreak and completely sacrifice my exercise schedule and social life) then I'd have no bloody clue what to do with myself for the last five months of the year. And the last thing I need is another spare trunk novel and an incipient case of burnout.

Yeah, I know Piers Anthony works eight hours every day and twelve on Sundays, but I have my limits. And I get whoooaaa obsessed enough about finishing things that it doesn't hurt to stop every once in a while and remind myself that the book does not actually have to be done next week.

ETA: Oh, yeah, since Sarah did it--

Con schedule for this year is looking like:

Viable Paradise

And I may stop by a little regional con or two. Really, that's two more cons than I should be going to, but it's two less than last year, and its hard to give up the ones that are habit.

(Yes, I need to update my web page, but I need to take the whole thing apart and put it together different first, and... it's a low priority right now.)
bear by san

Friday Night Guilty Pleasures....

Poll #914812 quick and dirty dirty man poll: The Limey vs. The Canuck

Which guilty pleasure would you rather have on your side, should you happen to survive a plane crash in the Andes?

Les Stroud (Survivorman, aka The Canuck)
Bear Grylls (Man Vs. Wild, aka the Limey)
  • Current Music
  • Tags