02 August 2005 by Published in: links 1 comment

My husband is perpetually astonished at the number of open tabs I maintain at any given moment, usually around 15 or 20.

In lieu of content, several links I have to proffer :

  • Thought-provoking stuff from Elizabeth Bear. Watch as she adroitly explains the four stages of mastering a new skill. Besides using a model that is encouraging about those times when it seems like everything you are writing sucks (you have mastered one area and don’t notice it being executed competently and have your sight focused on the area you haven’t mastered yet), she also brings up a couple of almost tangential but very interesting points : one, her assertion that writing is a whole array of skills, not just a single mastery and two, this bit of genius (which I hope I may freely quote at length without offending) “…you can write stories that work–at least on some fairly facile level–almost every time if you follow…rules. It’s what permits Hollywood to exist, and what permitted the pulp writers to bang out a story every night over a fifth of scotch and a mechanical typewriter. This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with stories constructed on three-act structure and internal and external conflict and a hook, rising action, climax, denoument model. Because there isn’t. But it’s only one model. It’s just the one we’re most culturally conditioned to recognize as a story.” This is one of my current problems, I think. I hate to say it, or even think it, because it seems pretentious and snobby but at least some of the time I catch myself trying to write stories that break that model. It’s not my fault. I no longer find that model as interesting as I once did, and I have been writing long enough to want to do other things. On the other hand, I wonder if I’m pulled in other storytelling directions because I haven’t as good a good grip on the traditional model as I ought to. At any rate, there’s a large random readership percentage that finds explorations of alternate story models unsatisfying or downright offensive. Out of thirty or so readers, only two felt like I did, that the absence of consequences was one of the beauties of “Hindsight”. I “fixed” that story by creating dramatic consequences for the main character and “punching up” (a term that makes me grit my teeth) the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I damaged my artistic integrity by changing it up, and I’m quite pleased with it, but I just didn’t see the flaw in having it fizzle to an end instead of popping. And I’m absolutely willing to believe that I have to listen to people about what is unsatisfying in a reading experience. They’re the readers, not me. I am also willing to work at delivering stories in a more accessible way. So I’m not pulling the no one understands my art card here either. I have no designs to be even the slightest bit avant-garde. An editor friend of mine that I hope will help me with “Ennui” told me it was “experimental” and I felt myself cringe. Ugh.
  • More from Elizabeth Bear on how to write good intrigue (likely not of interest to most of you regular folk). She’s so straightforward in her layout that I begin to consider I might attempt to write a book with intrigue. Angles and elements. Why didn’t I see that?
  • Confirming my worst suspicions, this article explores the possibility that “corporations [are] fundamentally psychopathic organizations that attract similarly disposed people”. The guy making the assertion ought to know, he’s Dr. Robert Hare, creator of the Psychopathy checklist.
  • Interesting new research shows that cats have no taste receptors for sweets. The scientists involve suspect that there’s some connection between this absence and the obligate carnivore nature of cats. I’ve always heard that cats and dogs are attracted to anti-freeze because it smells sweet and so is especially dangerous. That might work for dogs, but if they really cannot taste anything sweet what makes anti-freeze attractive to cats?
  • Listen to radio waves from Saturn, as captured by Cassini (and downshifted to a human hearable range and also time compressed).
  • Resources for better living: about one third of the way down this very informative page is a chart listing common composting materials (tea bags, hair and dryer lint — who knew?), a zester I covet, and a neat hack for keeping your grocery bills in tune with meals you actually prepare. I particularly like how the startup is simple and doesn’t involve a massive immediate organizing binge to get going.
  • Kudos to a couple of my writing heros. Gene Wolfe won the 2005 Locus award for best novella (“Golden City Far” in Flights, which is a delicious, dreamy story I savored and then reviewed) and he was also nominated to win the Nebula for his book The Knight (which I haven’t read but want to) though he lost out to Lois McMaster Bujold who won it for Paladin of Souls (which was a wonderful book). She was also nominated for a Hugo for “Winterfair Gifts” which I hope to get read soonish. It’s so splendid to live at this time, with such talented people producing books. And while I’m on the subject, check out this extremely exhaustive and commented list of this year’s Hugo contenders.
  • These links I include for my own personal reference and business information. A site to get free credit reports. A form to fill out that supposedly opts you out of pre-approved lines of credit. I don’t know if it works or not but I’m sick to death of stupid pre-approved “checks” that are actually loans with exorbitant rates that could be stolen off my front porch by anyone and land me in a heap of trouble without my knowledge or consent. Get out of my life and stay out, usurious lending companies. And that’s all I’ll say about that before I degrade into full on rant mode. Also, instructions on how to get less snail mail spam marketing. I’m tired of people killing trees to mail me advertising for stuff I will never buy and just go from the postbox to the trash, ending up in a landfill, I’m sure. Really guys, I’m less of a consumer than you could hope for.
  • Not much to look at yet, but this is the fledgling wiki for my writer’s group : WUTA. I’m looking forward to contributing content to it.
  • Last but not least, some online fiction I think is worth reading, but I probably won’t be getting around to reviewing in depth. Merrie Haskell’s flash piece “Star and Galaxy” is up at Between Kisses (yes, I know it’s not a particularly good layout, just search on Merrie). Another good read is “Cloud Dragon Skies“, by N.K. Jemisin, a Viable Paradise graduate. (see? That could be me one day!)

Phew! Down to six tabs of stuff I really haven’t read yet. Not bad! Thanks for the good links to the usual suspects (you know who you are).

iTunes says I was listening to Procreation Chick from the album Blueshift by Splashdown when I posted this. I have it rated 4 stars.


Tue 02nd Aug 2005 at 9:49 pm

I sold my Worldcon membership (because I couldn’t possibly go to Hawaii and Scotland in the same year), so I didn’t get to vote for the Hugos this year, and I wasn’t mailed a ballot. It’s bothersome, kinda, because for years I’ve been waiting for the ballot every year to get recommendations for short fiction to read. One of my all-time favorites (not even sure why) was a story from several years ago called "The 43 Antarean Dynasties." I don’t even remember who wrote it. In other news, you HAVE to read the book "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell. It’s wonderful, every bit of it is true, and its politics should go over well.

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