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Never's Remedy
A Near-Life Experience
Sunday, September 14th, 2014 at 2:23:00 pm - Doubt
My Favorite Plot Twists

The other day, I took my children to a homeschool resource fair, the first of its kind in our city, which surprised me. We were there two hours in a crowd that ought to have made me feel uncomfortable, but I felt oddly in good spirits despite carrying around a twenty-two pound, sleeping toddler on my shoulder for most of those two hours.

We stopped and talked to almost everyone at the booths, and even ran into another family we know. My PNWA bag slowly filled with brochures, business cards, and class listings, including the occasional goodie like pencils or a guitar pick.

At the end, before going back out to the Girl Scouts and their cupcake sale as our treat, we stopped and spoke with Dr. Glen VanDerPloeg of Writing Workbench, who provides instruction in a variety of writing-related endeavors to students (and sometimes adults).

We talked about my daughter's interests and goals, and I encouraged her to do most of the talking, and during this active discussion between the three of us, I let slip I was a writer (as if my bag weren't obvious enough). Fourth generation. I wasn't trying to brag, I've nothing to brag about, it was in context, but the moment he asked the inevitable questions, I felt embarrassed.

What do you write?
Sci-fi and nonfiction, mostly.

What nonfiction?
Oh, just advice articles, and the like.

(I felt myself getting smaller.)

How many sci-fi books have you published?
Oh, uh, none. My books are all just poetry. I'm still trying to break into sci-fi.

(Now I'm flushed.)

Poetry, eh? Where did you publish?
Um. Well, just self-published.

At this point I'm ready to retreat. He asked me about the books I was working on now, and told me how he loved getting into ideas with people. I told him I liked the same, and though I never got the impression he wanted to embarrass me or thought less of my work for it not being literary nor fully accepted through traditional means, I left feeling small and mortified. I'd done it completely to myself, because I have this internal bias, a hierarchy of worth that applies only to me.

In my mind, I don't think my work is good enough. So says the stack of rejection letters, right? It seems the only thing any legitimate publisher wants from me is poetry or advice columns, and no one's paying me for either. Yet, I have utterly devalued these things, despite having excelled at them.

But people have read my stories and novel rough drafts and given me hope -- a glint of belief that maybe I can figure this career out. Despite my fumbling about with endings and captivating middles, flaws I might be able to learn to overcome, I do create complex, living worlds and vibrant characters that people have enjoyed following (most characters, anyway).

But hope can sometimes be the cruelest gift someone can give you. I'm a sensitive one, and I take every rejection letter as a horrid defeat. I know it's part of the process, but the last one stung most because it was just a form letter. In the past, even Asimov's editor took time to scrawl an encouraging note post script.

I've been feeling lately like I'll never get endings right. I'm so caught up in each character's head (and they in mine), I can't always see the plausible way to get to the end I want. I give them riddles I don't know how to solve and knowledge I don't possess and this can't draw on to further the plot.

I feel utterly lost at times because I think, "This character knows how to solve this, but I don't, and they're waiting for me to give them the answer!"

And then there's the old stigma about self-publishing as a form of vanity. Though several if my poems were published in reputable journals, I still duck my head when having to admit my books were both self-published (and the first isn't very good).

This all stems from the same notion that I'm rather dumb. Book smart, in some ways, but my analytical skills fail in a variety of circumstances where I really needed them.

So, there's this doubt. A haunting sense that I'll never get where I want to be because I'm too dumb to get my characters through their journeys. It's no wonder my last short story submission failed, I still hadn't figured out how to wrap it up so it made sense as a stand alone story while also being a chapter from a future novel. Deadline came, so I sent it in.

And what baffles me are the writers I've been talking to who carry similar doubt, embarrassment, and dissatisfaction. Tad Williams, one of my favorites, and a generally good and funny man, talks often of how he feels his work isn't good enough. He hadn't had a best seller in a while and felt his body of work didn't live up to his personal ideal.
If he's still carrying around his malevolent ghost, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Oh, sure, I got some good news the other day ... about a poem. And I'm excited because I've sent in a poem every other year to this contest for fifteen years, so it's a big win. But it isn't a short story. It isn't a novel. It isn't sci-fi.

I know that part of me has chosen the self-publishing route for my first novel because it's practical given the changing nature of publishing and the accessibility of ebooks and self-publisher tools online. Then there's the part of me quite certain that no "legitimate" publisher (read: traditional) would ever want my mediocre claptrap.

People might pay for a cheap ebook, and enjoy mental bubblegum, but the doubt makes itself clear every time I pick up Octavia Butler or Ray Bradbury or Phillip K. Dick. It's there to tell me I'll never be a Martin or a Williams. I should just pack it all away, write it off as a failed hobby, and go open my pie shop. But I've not got the recipe for the crust quite right, either ....

EDIT: To support his efforts and skills, I'd like to direct other parents and writers in the Seattle metro area to check out Glen at Writing Workbench.

Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 12:58:00 am - No Epeolatry 2014? Here's Why:
Book Lover
I doubt more than a handful of people will even think about the Epeolatry contest: the short story contest in which you send in your tantalizing shorts and I send you handmade gifts. But not this year.

With two novels needing edits, a toddler keeping me up at all hours, and a new awesome volunteer project* with a heavy learning curve, I won't have the time and energy necessary for reading your inventive stories and creating prizes like I have in years past.

I'm throwing myself into a lot at once, and though it's tough now, and I'll dearly miss reading those short stories, I need this year off, and will return with a new contest. Look for it here or at August 16th, 2015.

*The awesome project is working to bring back Music in the Park summer concert series at Cottage Lake Park, as the newest member of the Upper Bear Creek Community Council and its new Music in the Park coordinator. I'm super excited, terrified, and don't have a clue what I'm doing, but it's fun, good for the community, and I've been making their web site look better than it once did. The UBCCC is now on Facebook, too!
Monday, September 1st, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
  • Wed, 11:56: RT @WesleyLowery: "Are you leaving? Please don't leave. PLEASE! What if they shoot us? You have to be here to tell people" she told me & a …
  • Wed, 11:57: RT @BNDJLee: We held up media credentials. They drove into parking lot of private apartment complex and shot tear gas in circle, 10ft from …
  • Wed, 11:57: RT @phillipanderson: WTF is going on in #Ferguson? Woman shot, no police report, no interview, they took the bullet. This is insane. http:/…
  • Wed, 11:57: RT @alexisgoldstein: .@iJesseWilliams "Overtly racist white police force..92% of #Ferguson searches are of blacks folks...that can't be our…
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 10:34:00 am - Playing God(us): Or How to Negotiate Simple Tasks with Idiots
Mr Flibble is Very Cross
I have created the dumbest people in the universe. Before you think I'm insulting my children (who are stunningly brilliant), let me refer you to the wonderful new game, available for desktop or mobile devices, Godus.

While I adore playing god with this crafty, creative little god-game, there are still a few bugs to be ironed out. It feels very much like the beta of a great game. What's most aggravating are the people. They're the dumbest people in the universe.

Last night, I spent a lot of Belief points and a lot of time sculpting an extra ridge in the ocean and expanding a beachfront in order to give my people a new location on which to build. It's right below a whole slew of empty wheat fields, ready to be farmed (I multiple have issues with wheat being the required form of agricultural crop to farm, or that I have to have agriculture at all to advance my civilizations, but that's a different topic).

The beach looked stunning, and I had sculpted stairs up from the beach to the grasslands where three wheat fields awaited farmers. I collected more Belief, and went to work, leashing three builders to head down the beach to the build site on the beach. Instead of walking down the steps from their huts to the beach and walking around the long way that would lead them to a new promised land, they instead tried to walk in a straight line, to the mountain wall that blocked their path.

I unleashed them and decided to start over with a single builder. I'd make it easy this time. I put the point of the leash down to the end of the steps. Surely, a builder could walk down the carefully sculpted steps to a location just a short distance below.

So, I went to collect some belief while my builder figured it out. Then I got the all-too-familiar "One of your followers is blocked" message, and went to check on the little Idiot (after sharing this story with my daughter, she said it's the name of my people).

The builder, for all his worth, couldn't manage to negotiate the perfect stairs I'd crafted for him. He went half way down, looked around, got confused, and went up to a different part of the grasslands. He shrugged his shoulders, pointed, and continued to meander around the narrowest edges of the stairs, completely baffled by the concept of following the path of least resistance in its most literal form.

For fifteen minutes, I tried coaxing him, sculpting the land, and otherwise doing the most determined hand-holding in the history of godhood. I unleashed him, and roped him into just going halfway down the stairs. Which worked! He was almost to the beach, so I created a new leash from the midpoint down to the beach. A direct line down gentle steps.

My builder immediately turned away from the point on the beach, ran back up to the grasslands, and got himself stuck in a tree.

I grit my teeth, unleashed him, and tried a builder, whom I hoped would be smarter. I led her down tiny step by tiny step until she was both on the beach and away from places she'd get stuck. At one point, she did get caught in a curve of the mountain, but just unleashing her and letting her walk out of it was enough to get her back on her way.

After twenty minutes of negotiating with the Idiots, the first three Idiots caught in a mountain wall and the fourth Idiot caught in a tree, the fifth Idiot finally founded the town I wanted them to build.

Of course, now they're not happy when I make settlements like they used to be. It probably has something to do with the requirement that I have to have a mine and mine ore to progress in the game. Because raping the land is a necessity for advancing one's civilization, apparently (I'd love to see a god game designed by a culture not devoted to dominating the land), but I digress.

The new town of Idiots is a smarter town of Idiots than the builder who founded it. As soon as there were two farmers, I sent them up to the empty wheat fields, and they had no trouble ascending and descending the far narrower, steeper steps that I'd crafted than those I'd made for the fifth Idiot. That being said, they're still not smart enough to count. At present, the town has two farmers. However, when checking the info on the town in question, it says it has one of five.

Well, they are Idiots, after all. No wonder the neighboring people, the Astari, mock them at every turn.
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
Sunday, August 10th, 2014 at 11:04:00 pm - A Good Sunday
Bunny Yay!

Two parks in two days, and today was a much better experience. I went from happy dream moment to a good morning with the kids, had a little time during C's first nap to reconnect with my other honey Jod. After C was up and had been properly tickled by J, Craig and I took the kids out for lunch, got a few groceries, and visited a different Redmond park.

This one had enough trees in a cluster to give us plenty of cool shade. I laid down in the grass and kicked my shoes off while Craig and Ana fought with boffers, and C played with a badminton racket and cup of water. Then Ana shared her ideas for a story with some amazingly inventive world building, while the boys had male bonding time in the sand pit. A couple laying in the grass nearby laughed at some of our banter and shared a few nods.

I made okra and eggplant curry (smoky Indian curry) with coconut basmati, and we finished it off with homemade shakes Craig had been craving. It was bath night, too, so as C sleeps next to me, I'm sniffing his lightly scented hair. He loved the bath, couldn't wait to get in, so I'm hoping this is a sign he'll be more comfortable in the water next swim class.

It's been a good day. I needed one of these.

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 at 9:51:00 am - McAvoy
Leto & Ghanima

At the end of my dream this morning, as I lay down in my bed with Ana helping me arrange birthday presents after weeks of running from a tyrannical space company, James McAvoy came home to me. I was too depressed to turn and look at him, but he climbed in bed behind me, wrapped his arm around my and comforted me with his gentle voice with its native Scottish accent.

Though I never saw his face, I could see his fingers, and the black cuff of his slacks. I could feel his cheek against mine, and his breath stirring my hair.

It was difficult waking from that, but a nuzzling baby with wide blue eyes was seeking milk, so what could I do but welcome the morning and his little face staring back.

Thank you, brain. I needed a little McAvoy love, even if it's only in a dream. Now I want to watch the first ten minutes of Trace or the last twenty of Children of Dune.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
Saturday, July 12th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
  • Fri, 14:10: Go write the "werecorgis" story from @WorstMuse. If it's presented as a 2nd grade ch. book with pics, it'll be a marketable movie in a year.
Friday, July 11th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
Sunday, June 29th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
Friday, June 27th, 2014 at 12:00:00 pm - My tweets
Book Lover
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