Dean Wesley Smith Gave Me an Attitude Adjustment

I’m a big fan of Dean Wesley Smith‘s blog about publishing and writing. he has an excellent series up called Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, but it’s more than that. It’s about killing the idiotic myths that get in the way of new writers… well, more specifically, some of the idiotic myths that  get in my way as a new writer. The most recent entry is all about this last point, because all of these obstacles boil down to fear.

There are some other things in his blog I didn’t really get, most specifically about his admonition to not rewrite–well, he does say there are some authors for whom rewriting works, but for a newbie he recommends against it–and working in creative voice. I understood these things on a superficial level, but didn’t understand the why, until very recently.

How I finally got it: Read more of this post

Themes as Little Darlings that May Have to Be Killed

Clarifications up front for terms as I use them in this post:

  • "Plot" refers to the story as an identifiable structure, a sequence of events from beginning to conclusion. This is the sort of thing that can be summarized or outlined, as in, "Prota Gonist leaves his house in the morning to go to work. He winds up fighting traffic, avoiding potential accidents, and overcoming similar obstacles on the way. When he gets there, his boss warns him about his lateness, and Prota Gonist quits at the end of the day. When he gets home, he puts a For Sale sign on his car and takes a job (previously offered) at a greengrocer’s next door to his house."
  • "Theme" refers to messages or meanings within a story. For example, "Wasted time, aggravation, and danger can outweigh the extra money you get from a job."
  • "Little Darlings" is a writer’s term (I forget who coined it, King maybe?) for things in a work that the writer has fallen in love with and cannot bear to destroy, no matter how bad it may be for the work as a whole.

First Submissions Away

Let the rejection dance begin!

Kindle as a Revision Tool

I finally picked up an eReader, specifically a Kindle 3 WiFi. 3G would undoubtedly be useful if I were wont to leave my house without a court order, so I’ll save the $50 delta for now. I think the Pearl eInk panels are finally ready for prime time; the older screens on the Nook and Kindle 2 look a bit yellowed and faded, even under harsh store lighting. Please note that at home my Kindle 3 looks a little washed as well. Stores are extremely bright. It’s one reason that TVs are so freaking clipped at the top end of the brightness scale; they have to compete with an army of fluorescence. But I digress.

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Channeling Ta-Coumba Aiken

The novel I’ve been working on is about a painter. This was a conscious decision; I thought writing about a musician would be a bad idea because (1) I’m so close to the topic that I would naturally write it at a high technical level, thus alienating laymen, and (2) I thought it wouldn’t translate quite as well to print. Writing about an author, uh, well I guess it works if you’re more famous and a much better writer than I am, but it just sounded like a horrible idea. Visual arts, however, can lend themselves to some really nice evocative language.

The problem is that I know zilch about painting.

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In December of 2010, in the middle of a truly horrendous snowstorm, I stayed up all night in order to deal with the arcane rules about moving cars during a snow emergency in St. Paul. (Actually they’re fairly clear, just never uniformly enforced and they assume people have normal sleep patterns.) While pounding espresso after espresso and listening to the entire Clutch discography nonstop, something broke in my brain. Read more of this post