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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

You might take a fall down the stairs and a poet might come along

and say "That's just like life." I think the trouble with poets is they see poetry everywhere.

ter369 offers The Urban Fantasy Writer's Checklist Of Required Elements (via oracne)

Hmm. There's a Denny's scene in Blood & Iron....

I've been thinking about teeth. Specifically, about how I have all my own teeth (one crown with root canal, right side, but the root is still my own), and how my mother's teeth are a mess from inadequate dental care as a child (when I say mess, I mean she's had multiple extractions, bridges, root canals, abcesses, you name it), and my dad finally broke down and had his teeth pulled because they were bad enough that they were making him sick constantly. Both of my maternal grandparents had dentures for as long as I can recall, although my grandmother never wore hers....

My mother's side of the family, in particular, were all rather painfully hard-working poor growing up. Dental care was an expense that was out of reach by any reasonable standard. I think if I am truly grateful to my mother for anything, it's for seeing to it that I had the dental care she didn't have as a child, even when it was a serious financial hardship. My teeth may be crooked and funny-colored and prone to caries, but I have them. That's a luxury not everybody gets.

As an aside, and carrying through the generational teeth theme, I'm currently wearing a gold ankh that was made for me by my father out of gold from his grandmother's teeth. This was the Hutzul great-grandmother, by virtue of whose blood and a little geographical distortion I occasionally jokingly refer to myself as a third-generation Transylvanian. (It's a line from a Richard Thompson song.)

In other news, Grumpy people are smarter. (via tar_pith)

Oh, and I got a bunch of writing done.

One-Eyed Jack

New Words:: 1944
Total Words:: 39,381 (that's so close to 40K that I'm going to have to come back after my break and chip at it some more.)
Reason for stopping: time to get away from the computer for a while.
Mammalian Assistance: Mebd playing Kitten Keyboard; Marlowe needing monkeycuddling, headbump, and a good brushing--and to shed all over my shirt, apparently.
Stimulants: more seltzer, and vanilla tea that was a gift from Jaime
Exercise: I am a lump. Lumpity lump.
Mail: nomail
Books in progress: Joan Aiken, Castle Barebane

And now I'm going to go drink a beer and read some Joan Aiken.


My mom was a dentist in the Philippines and is a dental assistant here in the US. (I was a baby when my family immigrated here, and she couldn't be bothered to go through the additional schooling and testing to practice as a dentist here. It was a struggle for them to make things meet those first few years; the option was just not there.)

As a result, I've been spoiled with the dental care. I mean, my mom keeps a full set of dental tools in her cabinet! This is also why I always thought it was strange when people hated going to the dentist. It's always soothed me to lie down in the chair, open my mouth, and look at the pictures on the ceiling, listening to the hum of the polisher. Even when I had to have a baby tooth extracted because it was stuck and the permanent was coming in, I just closed my eyes and let my mind drift.

Then again, I'm also a bit of a space cadet.

Unfortunately, with all the exposure to Proper Dental Care (tm), it makes me more prone to say, "Bah! Stop pestering me about my teeth!"
Oh, good! More to read soon!

Thanks for the hysterical link. I must post that if front of me somewhere so I don't foob. Urban fantasy is what I want to write and the list just slayed me.

Even poets get days off

Long ago, at a college poetry reading by a BNA visiting academic poet, one of the poems he read began, "'Gee, look at the neat birds,' said the poet on his day off."

I forget how the rest of the poem went, but it was a great opening line.

Re: Even poets get days off


Brautigan has a poem called "The Amelia Earhardt Pancake" that consists of a line that's essentially "I've been looking for a poem to go with this title for fifteen years. I'm giving up." and the date.

Congrats on the sale, by the way *g* Smart boy.
a negative mood state triggers more systematic, more attentive, more vigilant information processing.

Crabby Old Bats Do It More Accurately
had to do this. Really.

1 -- no, although they do hav a favorite Nice Resturant. W/ fave waitress.
2 -- only the hero's, when he's wearing dress pants...
3 -- I'm not sure how to describe my sidekick, but he's none of the suggestions. Of course, he's also not human...
4 -- undressed, actually. Well, dressed, too.
5 -- not this book. And their first meeting is remarkably sexual-tension free, actually.
6 -- second book. although it's triggered by laughter, not fear (really!)
7 -- see above.
7 -- It's a caper novel. I HAD to worry about this!
8 -- so, so not a problem.... oh sh*t, how many balls did I have in the air? One's missing! (as it lands hard on my head)

Well, Muire does stare at boy butts rather a lot. But she's been celibate an awful long time, and she is a sculptor. It could be professional butt-staring.

Come to think of it, most women stare at boy butts when they think the boys won't notice. *g*
"I think the trouble with poets is they see poetry everywhere"

Steven King had an interesting bit on that in the introduction to one of his books. Night Shift maybe? He said we all have filters that churn through the sludge that we see day to day and the stuff that's caught in the filters determines who we really are.

He talked (hypothetically) about standing by a lake in the rockies with Louis L'Amour and having a story idea hit. But L'Amour's story would be about a dought and cowboys fighting over the water in the lake for their herds and King's would be about a tentacled mass that crawled out of the lake and dragged unsuspecting victims back in.

Poets, then, are poets because they see poetry everywhere. If they didn't, they wouldn't be poets.
you can train yourself to that perception, too.


I see science fiction everywhere....
Without going to far afield, I both agree and disagree. It is possible to train yourself to do anything. I believe, however, there is a difference between something you have trained yourself to do and something you are, perhaps, destined to do.

I, for example, made a living in IT support for some years before moving to a supervisory position eariler this year. I've studied both fields, put down the mandatory certifications, all that. I'm considered a competent technical person (a bit better than competent), but it's not my gift. I have to look no further than the driven technical people working here to realize that I'm not as driven as they are. I can keep up with them, but that's not my gift.

As much as I hate to admit it, I seem to be more suited to managing. It's a more natural voice for me.

In the same way... "natural" poets have no choice but to see poetry everywhere. Someone could train themselves to see it, and even keep up with the natural poets. But I think in their heart they'd no it's not what they should be naturally doing. Is this bad? No.

But I digress.
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<i.In the same way... "natural" poets have no choice but to see poetry everywhere. </i>

See, I think that's the kind of fashionably romantic point of view that, taken to a greater extreme, can trap writers when they think the 'muse' is the essential part of creativity, and thereor fail to do the hard, backbreaking labor that's needed to develop as an artist.

I think I was meant to be a writer. I've never been happy doing anything else, and I wrote my first stories (beginning, middle, and end) when I was in first and second grade.

It's still taken me twenty years to train myself into the ability to generate and develop ideas, and to program my brain to work like a writer's, to observe like a writer's, to comprehend story on an organic level.

It's not all about talent, any more than a cellist's ability with a cello is about talent. Talent plays into it, of course--but if Yo Yo Ma had put in the endless hours of practice to support his talent, nothing would have come of it.

I agree that you cannot depend on your muse alone, and that anything you do professionally must be supported by the hard detail work that most people just don't like.

I just think that doing to work without the muse is hollow. That's not quite the right word, but I can't think of a better one offhand.
I just think that doing to work without the muse is hollow.

I'm not prepared to dismiss anyone else's hard work and sacrifice in so facile a manner, personally.

I'm not sure I believe in a muse as such, although certainly there are days when I've cursed the timely failure of one to arrive. And I'm no-one to judge anyone else's reasons for making art. To do so seems to me arrogant.

People create because they must create. It's tempting to say that some of us are "more X" than others, and thus destined for bigger things, and equally tempting to place ourselves in the 'in' group and the people who do not have the elusive quality we pretend to in the 'out' group. It's comforting, especially on days when it seems like we'll never succeed, to imagine that we have some genius no-one else has.

--but I know far too well the pain that comes of feeling inadequate to something that you want with your whole heart, and the pain of trying to give that thing up because you've convinced yourself that the muse of fire is out there somewhere and you don't have it.

Especially when one comes back to it later, and discovers that what one was lacking was not inspiration, but maturity and skill.

And I'm certainly not going to accept the Romantic bullshit that perpetuates those myths as fact.

It's true that not everybody can be a writer. Just as not everybody can be a mathematician, or a musician, or a sculptor. But I've written novels in a fit of inspiration, and I've written them day by day, grinding the words out when what I'd rather do is die.

It's be comforting to think that the ones that come out in a fury are better. Alas, it is simply not so. I honestly can't tell the difference, when I go back to it later, between what was guts and what was glory.

Craftsmanship carries me where art won't take me.

I won't call anybody hollow who has the courage to persist when they feel like their work is shit and the whole world is against them and they have no talent and--
Craftsmanship carries me where art won't take me.

Can I swoon now? You're like the ideal audience for my Arachne tale.

I love Arachne in general, so I probably am....
And if you're motivated to do the practice ... then you're probably doing the thing that you need.

This is my Grand Unified Theory of Everything: find the thing that you self-motivate about.

I'm good at lots of things. In high school, I was a high-powered math geek. I sang with the high school chorus (and we were really pretty good, for a high school chorus), and made it to All-State one year. I took art classes in high school and even in college, and I'd say I'm about as good an artist as I am a pianist--which is to say I have fairly good technical competency and not much creativity. I've taken courses in French, Greek, Latin, and Old English, and won translation prizes in Greek and Latin. I have a doctorate in English literature, and an academic article published in a fairly prestigious journal.

And what do I do?

I write stories.

All of those other things (and I listed them not to brag about them but to make this point) are things that I don't do without outside motivation. Even drawing, which I genuinely enjoy, I don't do. I don't self-motivate.

Writing, for me, is all about that internal need, the thing that makes me do it even though nobody's leaning over me telling me I have to. The thing that makes me do it even in the face of opposition (and there's always opposition, even if it's well-meaning). And I know people who have that same drive for different things, who feel that same way about their jobs. And that's how we know we're doing what we need.
I get to go to the dentist tomorrow, so they can look again at the cap that cracked. Which cracked because I had a root canal through it. Which I needed because the cap was screwed up when they put it on.

But I still have plenty of teeth. Yay for dentists! It's dentist appreciation day!
"Poets see poetry everywhere."

Well, to me that's the general idea... taking life as it's lived and distilling beauty and meaning from it. Or at least meaning. Finding ways to send a maximum of meaning through a minimum of words; to take a moment or an encounter and hone it like a diamond until it has facets that glitter when the thing is turned.

If you know you're going to write a poem every day, it's amazing how much material you live through. (And the discipline of poetry is VERY helpful for writing fiction.)
the discipline of poetry is VERY helpful for writing fiction.


I find it so--it's given me a sense of meter, rhythm, and imagery, and a playfullness with the language and a sense of the usefulness of the simple and the complex that's very helpful with my prose.

Although all my poetry deserted me in 1996 or so, an it hasn't come back. I'm starting to think it never will; it used to be that poetry was my natural voice, and I had a hell of a time with narrative. Now, the poetry is gone, daddy, gone.

("the trouble with poets is they talk too much")

Combine 'em!

*g* You need to run--do not walk--to www.petermulvey.com and order "the trouble with poets."

Oh yes you do.


Hmm. There's a Denny's scene in Blood & Iron....

How is it I don't know these things are cliches?

(Pissing and moaning about the Denny's scene in one of her fantasy novels...shit shit shit...)

Re: Sheesh...

It's only a problem if it reminds people unwholesomely of diner scenes in other urban fantasy novels...