Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tinkering

Hello there from the plains of the fantastic. The hills here are alive with something that's not music. The godamned mites are chewing us up and asking for more when we work outside.

Whew, it's been a while, hasn't it? Only a few weeks but it seems like a lifetime. I've got a glass of Jameson here and some things to mention.

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I finished a manuscript that's been languishing on my desktop far too long. Months, really. I began working on the revisions about three weeks ago and it took two weeks longer to get them done than I thought. A couple reasons for that: 1) I've developed some bad habits while I wasn't writing every day and 2) I couldn't stop tinkering with the damn thing.

While this year has been tough for me personally, I could have been writing more. Perhaps it would have helped. The bits of writing I did accomplish in the spring and summer I was proud of. But along the way I've gotten off track, let my focus dissipate. I'm much more easily distracted by social media and TV than I was before say, February. I will open a story and do a couple of things then flip over to Facebook or Twitter and stick my beak in where it shouldn't be. The net result is that I wasn't writing and I was making myself crazy. Over the last few weeks I've tried to do that less. Some days it works.

So when I finally turned off the static I printed a copy of the story and got out my red pen. The manuscript looked like someone spilled a gallon of blood on it. Red everywhere. Everywhere. On all the pages. It wasn't going to be a revision so much as a rewrite. This reenforced that I can get a story down fairly quick but then I have to go back and beat it into shape. And likely more than once. I wish I was a better writer and could produce a more polished manuscript on the first go but I'm not. Maybe I will be someday. Until then, I need to build that revision time into my work.

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At the beginning of October I ventured off to St. Louis with a couple of friends to attend Archon. At which we hoped to meet Harlan Ellison. It was a great road trip with two good mates. We all love Harlan for different reasons that are the same when you get down to it: the words. Great writers make it look easy. Harlan makes it look effortless. The way he explores an idea makes his work inspirational. 

The panel he was on about the future of science fiction was enlightening. It made me want to go back to the hotel and write. Immediately following the panel we were at the front of burgeoning line to meet him. I thanked him for the stories and told him I did my live-writing Velocity Stories because of him. He showed me how Leo and Diane Dillon worked his face into the covers for Paingod and other paperbacks in the same series. 

And I did write back at the hotel. I wrote some interesting things. Some which you may have seen, the rest is part of three pages of handwritten notes.

Writing for the future because of Harlan Ellison. Well, partly anyway. Thank you again, Harlan. You're always an inspiration.

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I became aware of Connie Willis because Harlan mentioned her in an interview ten years ago. I've read some short stories but this week I started reading Passage. It's about Near Death Experiences and as I get deeper into the story I marvel at her world building. It's the kind of thing that gets taken for granted when a story is rooted in the nominal present day. In the first couple of chapters Willis takes the reader into a hospital to see how it works, how the people interact. It's brilliant. I'm enthralled and lose myself in the pages. The writing is so good that the average reader won't notice it. I recommend you find a copy for yourself. 

And that's all I've got, though I've been tinkering with other things too. I've got some thoughts on things that are divisive and of course the election is swinging like a pendulum over the electorate strapped to a concrete slab. But that's for another time. 

All is well on the eastern front of the west. Looking forward to see you in Wichita at AirCap Comicon. Do the right things. The world is a happier place when you do.