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.