April 16

Thickening the skin by proxy (more tangential Hugos crap)

Yeah, it’s more tangentially related to the Hugo debacle posting. Feel free to skip.

I think this whole Hugo mess has taught me a great lesson. No, not the political one (although that’s a lesson worth repeating: In life, everything is politics in the end. Everything.). I’m learning just how thick a skin you have to have to be a writer.

Yesterday, one of the nominees for this year’s Hugo, Marko Kloos, declined the nomination. While he disassociated himself with the sides involved as best he could, his real reasoning for backing out was that there would always be questions on his inclusion. While in a normal year you would think all of the Hugo nominees were there (largely) because people read their books and enjoyed them, this year’s allegation of ballot loading (bulk voting for the same set of authors to get them on the ballot, regardless of whether the voter read/enjoyed the work or not) would always leave a stain on his writing reputation. Would he have made the ballot without the boost? Was he actually worthy? With that kind of lingering question in mind, it’s no wonder he backed out slowly.

That’s not the educational part.

What has followed in the comments section has been the most eye opening maelstrom I’ve seen in a while. There are a lot of people that just comment to applaud the decision kindly – “appreciate your integrity” kind of statements. Not taking sides, not all current readers (though I’d love to see how this has impacted his sales this week), but generically pleasant posts. The rest break down into two rough groups. There’s the indignant, “Of course you should have withdrawn” which come off as just pretentious jerks. And then there’s the belligerent, moronic commenters. Not just haters, but self entitled, truly angry people.

Like a fool, I subscribed to the comments on the post. Although I’m not published, have no stake in the outcome, and don’t even really know Kloos that well (I’ve read a little of his blog in the past), I feel like I know what he must be feeling right now as my inbox dings every time a comment is posted. This is the kind of behaviour you know is out there, but is so rarely visible to the average audience member that it gets boxed away as almost anecdotal in the mind. Just because you put your stuff out there, people think they own a part of you. Crazy.

Bah. Fascinating to follow, easy to get sucked into. I should get back to writing, so I too can get some lovely fan mail about how I suck. And Marko, if you stumble on this post – hat tip, chin up, sounds like we don’t agree on a lot, but your first book’s been good so far and I’d be happy to share a table and some Wienerschnitzel with you some time.

April 15

On voting for the Hugos

If you’re a rabid Science Fiction fan, especially of the written word variety (vs film, television, graphic novel, etc.), you know doubt already know about the current Hugo controversy. If you aren’t and are curious, I’m sure google can fill you in (recommended reading in that case would probably be the dialog between George R. R. Martin and Larry Correia, as well this for a mostly neutral perspective).

Not going to talk about that. Not today, anyway. What I am going to comment on is that today, maybe despite the controversy, or maybe so I could be more than a bystander, I have taken the plunge and paid for Worldcon supporting membership.

Why? For two reasons, really.

First, so that, as a voter, I can share my opinion. Sure, opinions are as common as, well, you know what Grandpa used to say about assholes, we all have one. But like national politics (though on a much, much smaller and at times sillier scale), you can’t talk if you aren’t taking part in the system in the first place. Can’t complain about the president if you didn’t bother to vote, you know

Second, because loaded ballot or not, voting still has an impact. I’m tired of being a part of the fan community on the sidelines, and want to exercise my one vote per member right to sway who pulls through in each category.

OK, lot’s of other words to put together still. Here’s hoping the Hugo’s survive this year’s controversy intact. As I write this, 2 more authors have withdrawn their names to disassociate themselves. By the time the ceremony gets here, there may be no one left for me to vote on.



April 14

What I’ve been up to this last week, the glamorless edition

This last week – well, what can I say? Last week I finished the first draft of a novel, and then the tide turned and life came back to normal.

As happy (and proud) as I am for finishing that first draft, a draft in and of itself is nothing. So far, I’ve accomplished putting words down. Good words, bad words, reams of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – at this point, it’s all the same. What needs to happen next is a clean edit and redraft. I need to take my collected notes and go through the novel again and write the fixed version.

Now, however,  is not the time for that. The last week reminded me of that more than ever. In the last seven days we’ve been to a funeral for my Gran, our youngest has broken her foot, and at one point three of us – two of us being the adults – have been down and out with a plague that just kept on giving. On top of all of that, we’re still working through arrangements and item weeding for the move in June. Because no matter what else is going on, the move in June is an immutable, unmoving point in our timestream.  Now is not the time for full immersion diving into a novel again.

My fingers – and brain – disagree. It may take me a few days to a week to get into a writing rhythm, but once I’m there it’s like a perpetual motion machine, demanding to be run and churned all the time. Breaking that rhythm means having to restart the whole chug from 0 again. I hate doing that extra work (hint: lazy), especially since it means I go from days of close to 2k output to days of 200 words. It’s not all about the word count, mind you, but the word count is a good indicator of progress and enthusiasm.

So for the time being, at least until the end of the summer, my writing plan is as follows:

  1. Use my new package of Field Notes to track novel ideas, edits, plot changes, etc. (along with everything else in life that I note). Probably better as a topic for another post, but I recently took the plunge and traded in my moleskeine addiction (often incompletely filled, mixed paper quality, but such nice binding) for Field Notes (consistently great paper, stapled, but durable).
  2. Work on cleaning up my short stories. Before I started working on the latest novel project, I wrote a bunch of short stories and stuffed them in a drawer to incubate. Time to clean these up, hatch them, and send them out to bite some editors.
  3. Keep writing every day if possible. I’ve been all over the map on this topic, I know. I recognize that even with the best intentions, I can’t maintain a writing habit every day (I might should mention that part of being sick? 2 day coma. Seriously. Surprised the kids didn’t call an ambulance.) But ideals aren’t about achieving, they’re about striving for something, improving yourself in the process. I know I can’t make the goal, but I’d like to try. It’s taken me a while, but I think I’m finally coming around to Jamie Rubin’s way of thinking on this, and I appreciate the work he’s done in automating progress tracking even more. If the system is automated and seamless, then it imposes no extra burden to monitor you’re writing and just becomes a background metric you can look to for inspiration.

This week, before the coma, I did manage to kickstart this. I took a story, dusted it off, wrapped it up, and sent it to Asimov’s. The rejection came in this morning, a form rejection (I know because I have copies of the same letter from past submissions), with one difference – no form tag line, but Sheila Williams‘ signature block instead. Probably just a sign of Asimov’s poor slush readers were trying to be nice, but I’d like to take it as a secret code that maybe the form letter was sincere. Of course, as soon as I sent the story out I realized I’d failed to sew together something in the plot like I’d intended, so I’m rewriting it before I send it elsewhere. But, it’s a start!

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