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bear by san

March 2017

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bear by san

Well, go ahead

Introduce yourselves!



There's a ten-weird-things-about-me meme going around, and every time I try to answer it, I stall. Am I weird? I don't think I'm weird. But it's probably time I should do another ten-things list.

Ten things that were weirder than they oughta have been? Ten things that I do successfully that appear on "Things Writers Should Never Do" lists? Ten things I like to eat? I dunno.

I'm just not as weird as jaylake. He likes his writing sweaty. Uh, yeah, I would be the guy who does in fact try to do that with every scene. Okay, no, I lie. There are the big setpiece scenes. But I do try very hard to bring tension and conflict into every scene, to change something in every scene, to make the language as taut as possible. I don't always manage, and often, the tension that interests me most is the internal, ethical tension between two wrong answers. That's my kink, really: the court of honor.

It's easy to set up a situation where the characters have one obviously right choice, and I think it's a failing of the speculative fiction genre that it happens so often. It's easy. Being assured of being the good guys is easy. It's binary and dualistic and unrealistic and I don't like it. More precisely, I would have to say It chaps my ass.

I'll tell you what is weird. Sometimes this writing gig is really weird. I wonder if there will come a time when I stop waking up in the morning and going "Whoa, this is my *job.* How weird is that?" You work on something for two decades, give or take, and wake up one morning and there you are. I'm still trying to get it to sink in that I'm actually pretty successful. It takes a while.

(I was just asked to blurb a Walter Jon Williams book. The Night Shade reprint of Hardwired, in fact, which I thought was hysterical, because, um, if you don't see the Williams influence all over the Jenny books, well, I do. I got to tell him about that at WFC, and how ridiculous I thought it was. Set above my place, indeed. And he told me a story about being asked to blurb Gene Wolfe. The surreal never stops.

I am not worthy. I am not worthy. Didn't stop me from blurbing the book, though. And if you have not read it, do.)

So here I am. I have six books in print (!) and they're doing okay; I have six more sold and five of those delivered. I have a collection to finish, a proposal I need to write post-haste, and another one to write after that, because I have three large-press and two independent publishers to keep happy. It's like polyamory, I guess. Who has time for anything but maintaining relationships?

I have been working my butt off, nonstop, since 2001, and I was working intermittently, but seriously, on learning my trade since grammar school. Which I think is why it all feels so surreal. I was an unpublished writer for a heck of a lot longer than I've been a published writer, and that's why it's awfully weird to me to find people talking about me (as one occasionally does) in back corners of the Internets.

And then I realize they're not talking about me. They're talking about Elizabeth Bear, the author. The authorial construct. The person they assume writes my books. It's enlightening. As enlightening, sometimes, as seeing the sorts of things that people say about the books. (After a while, by the way, one does stop taking it personally. In part because they're talking about my fifth novel, say, and I'm currently working on the sixteenth and have almost forgotten what the fifth one was about, at this point, and in part because, well, you start realizing how much of what makes yourself like a book is internal and personal and squiddy.)

So, yeah. The wheels of publishing grind slow. Until everything is suddenly happening terrifyingly fast, SHLOOMP! And there you are, up to your neck and swimming like hell.

Which sure beats the alternative.
.

Comments

Which sure beats the alternative.

Up to your arse and cursing the plumber? Up to your nipples and floating on a noodle? Up to your ankles and wishing you hadn't had that last pot of coffee?

Okay, okay... Enough with the sarcasm and grotesquitude. I have no way of adequately expressing how much I enjoy reading stuff like this in your blog. Primarily because adequately expressing it would involve admitting which bits made me stop and ask myself "Hey, did you know that?" or "Hey, did that even occur to you?" or "What the heck is she talking about?" and that would just be embarrassing.

You rock my tiny little world, Bear.

into the blue again--

Aw, shucks, Misha.

I think what I'm trying to say is--

(and you may tell yourself)
THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL HOUSE
(and you may tell yourself)
THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE
I think I missed the definition of "squiddy." It sounds like you and/or your auctorial construct have something squamous and rugose living in your subconscious.
It comes from the Turkey City Lexicon's "squid in mouth," which is to say, a grotesque auctorial assumption that is visible to everybody but the author. (Frex, polyamory and libertarianism are the squids in Heinlein's mouth.)

In current usage, it means "the writer's or reader's bulletproof kinks--either the things that will squick him/her off the page, or instantly lock him/her into the story." In other words, the things that you have a powerful irrational gut reaction to.
I'd like to see an authorial construct. In my head, it's a Frankensteinian (Young or otherwise) being with scallop eyes and a couple extra arms.

As for weird facts, I sometimes think of it as 'stories I'd really love to tell but haven't managed to wedge into a conversation'.
EB said "often, the tension that interests me most is the internal, ethical tension between two wrong answers. That's my kink, really: the court of honor."

Nicely said. Indulge that kink! I enjoy watching (reading) you do so.

BTW wanted to tell you that you're a very good writer, but also a sort of sneaky writer: When I read your stuff I think I'm reading a plot-heavy book and then, 3/4s of the way through I realize I am actually hooked on your characters. It's like sleight of hand! Look at the nifty idea, look at the nifty idea . . . HAH! Now you love the main character, dontcha!

LOL. Very cool, that.
;-) I am ALL ABOUT the characters.
Hi I'm Jenny. I was walking through Austin with you attempting to think about getting into trouble, but by that time we'd already done so much I couldn't fit another thing in. :)

I can only imagine the surreality of being an author for you, since I'm not one. But being the significant other of one and getting a chance to meet all the authors that you admire due to his success is extremely surreal as well. :D

I love how it just hits you at 3am on your way to the bathroom. *WhAM* You're in a whole different world and everyday life leads to interesting things. Thank God Scott's not an actor or a musician, I don't think I could handle it. Besides, I'm more awed by authors and artists than I am by actors, so maybe it's trouble.

I'm more amused by the fact all you authorly types seem so down to earth, happy, and friendly. :)
Of course we're happy! We have the best job in the woooooooooooorld!

*hug*
As to introductions:

Among other things, I'm a lifelong avid reader who, thanks to visual problems, has been unable to read a book for pleasure for nearly five years.

As you might imagine, I feel this as a deep loss. Audio-books help fill the void, although they take so long to listen to that my book consumption is a fraction of what it was.

So, it seems, does reading the LiveJournals and blogs of writers (thanks be to the text-zoom function on my browser, and to the friends-of-friends method of discovering interesting people to read.)

I'm told the eyesight problems may settle down within a few years. I hope so. I've got a lot of catching-up to do.

In the meantime, it's a pleasure and a solace to read about the process and craft of writing from a variety of viewpoints which were not available to me when my vision started going wonky.
Oy, that *sucks.*

I'm so sorry to hear it, and glad I can help in some small way.
Somebody has probably already told you this, but just in case. When I was asked to blurb somebody I'd cut my writing teeth on (so to speak) and expressed shock and bewilderment, I was told firmly that blurbing works both ways, and sometimes the idea is to give the newer writer a lift by associating zir with the big name, rather than the other way around.

It's still quite surreal, because I'm pretty sure that random readers looking at the back of the book don't think of it that way, so there one still is.

P.
Nobody *had* told me that. So thank you. That's extremely reassuring.

*hug*
I met you the Saturday of WFC (I was with Steve on the patio) and greatly enjoyed meeting you - even though I'd only heard of you to that point and hadn't yet read your work. One of those instances where meeting the author ensures one will read their work because of how nifty they appear.

After reading your journal these past two weeks, as I said in a comment to my roommate while out for a walk last night, I wouldn't be surprised to find after the fact that the single best thing I did in '06 for my writing was start reading your journal (mrissa's has been a huge help as well). You take the mystery out of the writing process, in a good way; and quite a lot of what you say about it really resonates with some of the ideas and issues I've encountered in my own writing.

So I guess this is just a "thanks for being awesome" post rather than a true intro post, but I find I'm just fine with that. *grin*
Hi! Yes, you were quite fabulous. *g*

Anything I can do to help, just let me know. My goal with this thing is to write the journal I wanted to be reading when I was trying to break in, so yanno, keep me posted.
If I can tell you one thing, it's that we did not spend a night together after one too many Belgian waffles drowned in maple syrup. I would have remembered it if we had. I like Belgian waffles.
So do I, in point of fact.

And maple syrup.
Introductions...I'm bad at introductions...but: Hello!

We were both at A Writer's Weekend last year, where I was far too shy and awed to say anything to anyone who was, you know, published. Now that I've sold some books I'm a bit less shy and likely a bit more crazy, so I will say that I've immensely enjoyed your journal ever since AWW '06.

There! Now I can leave comments and not cause everyone to wonder "Who is this over-excited woman using far too many exclamation points?"

Nice to LJ-meet you.

PS. The crotch-grabbing entry changed my life.
*g* Three years ago, I hadn't sold any books either. It's cool. (Welcome to the club!)

And hay, any time I can change the world by, er, staring at David Bowie's Area....

It's a hardship, but I'll manage.
Hello! I'm Thida.

I found your blog through Jed, because Jed mentioned jaylake in his blog, so I started reading jaylake's long polemics about writing. Then jaylake mentioned you. You are funny. Your blog is a good strong cup of tea. When I read about your writing process, I feel comforted, supported. You say familiar things, things I say to myself, and others have said to me. I think "I can do this." Oh, and your blog is bad ass too. My most destructive voices regularly get booted in the head.

I wrote my first story at age nine after my dad walked me through the slums of Calcutta, and we met Mother Teresa. I started actually writing for publication last July. In what I hope is a propitious beginning, my first published thing, "Gimp Geek" appears in the anthology She's Such a Geek that just came out. Jed actually makes a brief appearance in "Gimp Geek."

I'm shopping around a children's picture book to publishers, and querying agents about a non-fiction book. Jed doesn't appear in either. Perhaps I should somehow work him in.
Mazel Tov! And nice to meet you!
In part because they're talking about my fifth novel, say, and I'm currently working on the sixteenth and have almost forgotten what the fifth one was about, at this point, and in part because, well, you start realizing how much of what makes yourself like a book is internal and personal and squiddy.

I had some really nasty things said about my work today. But I remembered your example, and I took it like a grown-up. Thank you very much for setting such a fine example.
Ehn, they're all barbarians. *g* Just remember, the world will remember your ineluctable genius when they are all ASH!

Ahem.

I mean, fuck 'em if they're not smart enough to follow your example. *g*