Friday, January 29, 2016

Congratulations, Dan!

Found out today that Daniel Ausema is nominated for Rhysling! He's a stunning poet and a super sweet guy. Go check out his page and some of the stuff he's written.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Socialist Science Fiction Listicle

I enjoy the word "listicle" in part because it sounds like it might either be some sort of frozen confection or a boil in a very unfortunate place. I also think the word "metrosexual" more properly sounds like one has a potentially unhealthy relationship to subways.

Anyway, that's a tangent. God bless you, China Mieville, for your genre drum banging, you brilliant, shiny man.

I've read a number of these and generally agree, but a word of warning: get the GOOD translation of Master and Margarita, or it will feel like you've been cornered at a party by someone who knows a really funny joke but has no idea how to tell jokes. At all.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Walt Whitman of Wasilla

Okay, so, I generally don't post a lot of current political stuff here, and I find the best answer with Palin is not to feed her with extra attention, but I loved this article because, while it is about Palin specifically, more generally it's about the emotional resonance of poetry and other non-linear communication. I think that point alone makes it a lovely read.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Free Images!

The New York Public Library has made a significant portion of its image archive digitally accessible. Enjoy and re-use these public domain treasures.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

On Grief and Social Media

I've never liked crying in public. I hate feeling weak, and I hate feeling vulnerable. It's not that weeping at the loss of someone I love isn't a thing I do, but I prefer the safety of quiet and privacy to do so.

I have been accused on not caring before, but that came as well from a place of pain and loss, and it's easy to forgive people who are hurting when they'd like you to grieve in the same way they do.

And this is an important aside, here, I'm not trying to disparage people coping with things in whatever way means the most to them. It's hard, and it's frustrating, and each one of us manages things in their own way. I'm certainly not asking anyone to change whatever helps them feel better (you know, short of driving a car into a crowd of people or otherwise deliberately hurting the people around you).


I don't always know how to deal with grief on the internet. Something like "happy birthday" when facebook sends you a little note feels rote and obligatory, but in a way that's small and inoffensive. "I'm so sorry for your loss," on somebody's wall when they've lost a family member feels empty and sick when I've tried to do it. Or perhaps more accurately, it feels the same as typing "happy birthday" and then shutting the window and going on with life.

On the one hand, we're connected to people who are often impossibly distant from us. You can't always drive to someone's house to check on them and bring them chicken. Some people have asked generally for money for funeral or family expenses, and at those times I've been grateful for something concrete to be able to do. I'm always hesitant to pile another message people have to read on top of everything else they're dealing with.

And then, lately, there's been people's public grief for public figures very much at play. I guess, in cases where the personal connection was always one way, it's difficult to find any other way to deal with the feeling than to get up and talk about it in the public sphere, unless you count mentioning it over coffee to friends or spouses and then quietly shaking your head. I don't think grieving for someone online, especially someone I didn't know, is something I could do without it feeling entirely like a performance for me (which does not mean I assume that's all it is for anyone else, before you write that e-mail).

Then again, as an atheist from a deeply Christian part of the country, I have a studied habit of keeping my opinions about death to myself any time emotions are involved. Even if asked directly. It's no comfort to most people, it's not what they need to hear, and I have no desire to fight about it when I have the option of buying someone in pain a coke and listening to what they think instead.

I do sometimes wonder if people take it as a coldness on my part or an apathy, that I'm not posting pictures of dead friends and relatives or marking the dates of their deaths every year. That I didn't respect someone's work if I don't write up a little piece about it once they're gone. I suppose to an extent, we do consider it part of the contract not merely to never forget the other person, but to stand up and say something nice that they can no longer hear. I don't know. I think the better use of time, at the very least for me, is to take it as a memento mori and a reminder not to take for granted the things we still have, to take the time to write a friend we haven't spoken to in a while and keep that connection alive.

But as I said, we all grieve differently.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jim C Hines's Writing Income

http://www.jimchines.com/2016/01/2015-writing-income/

Jim C Hines continues to post his writing income, to help you get a sense of what working authors make.

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

So, 2015 was a weird year for me, overall. I did slush reading. I did a lot of odd jobs, sometimes several at a time. I transitioned countries late in 2014, with my husband coming over a few months later. There have been some medical things going on. I didn't completely drop off writing, but it was the first year in a long time where I didn't try especially hard to keep myself to any kind of standard.

And I don't like that.

This year I'm trying to do better. I've dusted off my old metaphorical track shoes, and I'm trying to hit the ground running.

I still have a lot of the existential issues that were a problem the last time I was writing seriously: I don't really have a clear picture of what I want to write, I just know I get a kick out of doing it; I worry that I only really have enough skill to be mediocre at best, and while that doesn't stop one from having a career, I don't want to be that person who only wrote so-so stuff; I struggle with long form; I produce an enormous bulk of unrefined raw material and very little finished product; I let bad reviews get to me; I have trouble confessing to people I know in real life that I write much at all; I'm knocked off my feat by realizing I've taken a story down a narrative blind alley, even when I have ideas how to fix it; I get nips of professional jealousy, even though I know the other person has clearly worked harder; and on and on.

I don't think my fallow 2015 was a waste. I learned a lot slushing. I stepped away from habits that weren't necessarily good for me and got to push my reset button a bit. There are some cool things going on in my life right now, and while there were some ugly, tragic bits to the last year, I was glad to be able to be here for my family during them. The downside is knowing my husband can't do the same. It's always going to be one of us. That's just the way this transatlantic deal works.

This year it's going to be ten years since my grandmother died and I decided to try to write seriously. Looked at on the one hand, that's been kind of a long time to putter around with things, and that's something that does get me down from time to time. On the other hand, I've multiple dozen sales, to some places I'm really quite proud of, and I'm in a much better position than I was when I started in terms of honing skill, understanding craft, all that jazz.

I guess that's the lesson of New Year's every year. Not much you can do about the past. You can only attempt to work out the best path into the future.