March 5th, 2007


Another Monday, another airport

Ok, another Monday, the same airport. You know what I mean. PDX is pretty civilized.

I'm glad to put last week behind me. Some pretty amazing moments, and some pretty dreadful ones, all rolled into the same sennight. What are you going to do? Take the great with the gritty, I guess.

In addition to employment-related program activities, this week's playlist includes a cheese outing for the Omaha Beach Party (and friends) tomorrow night at the home of garyomaha and M. Also, a running start on Madness of Flowers revisions, since that's due pretty much now. Potlatch at the end of the week of course. Did I mention that I have a life?

And just because I have the power:

Poll #940249 Poll? What poll?

Who am I and why am I filling out this poll?

B.F. Skinner, because you never had any conscious choice anyway.
Henry David Thoreau, because Mrs. Emerson was too busy to cook dinner today.
Philip K. Dick, because the government told you to.
Gort, Klaatu barada nikto!

What day of the week is this, anyway?

Monday. Why did it have to be Monday?
I don't know. Some day that ends in a "Y". Who cares?
The first day of the rest of my life.
The last day of the rest of your life.

Bonus question.

Bonus answer.
Ticky box.
Tacky box.
Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Wewease Wodewick.

The lords of power

So far the lords of power have decreed bad success for me. I am running on reserve battery here in DFW, next to a dead outlet in their new terminal D. Some goodness to share later, if I find a working outlet. Meanwhile, y'all play nice.

Mainspring reviewed

Mainspring Amazon ] has been reviewed at SFREVIEWS.NET by Thomas M. Wagner.

Money shot:

"Mainspring is a grand and glorious adventure, an epic journey of imagination the likes of which I haven't often seen... a breathlessly exciting tale that takes the best old-school storytelling and the most vivid contemporary world-building sensibilities and spot-welds them together. Think Edgar Rice Burroughs or Philip José Farmer meets China Miéville or Ian R. MacLeod, by way of religious allegory. Mainspring is always gripping and often dazzling in its vision."

Welcome to Omaha, here's your accordion

Well, after a remarkably uneventful day of travel, I am arrived in Omaha. Notably it is not blizzarding here.

Going out tonight with garyomaha and the elusive M. to commit cheesery anent tomorrow's special seating of the Omaha Beach Party and friends for cheese. Mmm. Still doing the usual OBP thing Thursday as well, though I may be flying solo then. Day jobbery, of course.

Also got a bunch of critical reading done, and the first chunk of Madness reread on the plane.

I like my work, and the world is good.

:: waves to everyone in LJ land ::

After the snowfall

Omaha had a terrible blizzard last week. The roads are perfectly clear today, and the weather only mildly subfreezing, but there is a godawful lot of snow sitting around. As a result there is snowmelt and standing water everywhere, which will doubtless be ice on my morning commute tomorrow. There are also scores of new potholes, which will doubtless provide amazing texture to said ice tomorrow.

On the plus side, the Herz random upgrade program has me in Jeep Liberty. Well, sort of plus. I tend to drive rental cars like they were go karts. Except I don't trust this thing to accelerate, brake or corner properly, which mostly leaves me in the parking lot making "vroom vroom" noises and pretending to steer until someone puts a quarter in the slot to start the pony.

The hotel also upgraded me, and I have a king half-suite with a jacuzzi in which to indulge my lonely splendor. Ah, the romance of travel.

Also, much cheese was wrought tonight. Consumption tomorrow night.


For some reason, the subject of workshopping has come up several times lately in conversation and in IM. My own views on this have changed over the years, following my needs for the most part. I'm not sure I haven't been militant in the past about the need for a good workshop. These days I'm a lot more laissez-faire (which I think is French for goofing off at the carnival).

First of all, distinguish between one-offs and regular workshops. One reason this is on my mind is that I am being a workshop pro at Potlatch. I generally volunteer to be a workshop pro at cons, simply in order to pay forward. That's a one-off, where I have no prior experience of critiquing the writer and no real expectation of continued experience of critiquing the writer.

Regular workshops, on the other hand, meet regularly. I've mentioned before I see there being three kinds of regular workshops -- tall pole, peer driven, and tennis ladder. More or less by definition, con workshops are tall-pole workshops.

  • Tall pole -- One or two sponsoring pros at a career or experience level significantly ahead of the balance of the attendees, who are largely peers

  • Peer driven -- Everyone in the workshop is at roughly the same career or experience level, often seen at the very earliest stages of writing, and also among well-established pros

  • Tennis ladder -- The rarest but most useful form of workshop, where there are writers at all levels of career and experience, so virtually everyone experiences mentoring both upward and downward

There's also the issue of whether a workshop is good for you the writer. This can change over time, depending on your readiness for critique and the structured experience of the workshop. It can also be personality dependent -- a strong workshop member with firm opinions can be troublesome for quieter members, for example. There's also a regrettable tendency among writers (and human beings in general) to assume that whatever they think, feel and act on is the right way to do things, and everyone else is an idiot.

All that being said, without a workshop, where are you going to get direct, cogent feedback on your writing craft and the art thereof?

Eric Witchey explained something to me some years ago which has stuck strongly in my head. In fact, I've found it to be the touchstone of the different models I've used for working with my writing -- workshop, first/second readers, one-on-one critique exchanges, parallel play, etc. He pointed out that the way most people learn a facet of craft is by intellectualizing it first, for example, through structured critique. Then there is a time period of months for that intellectualization to sink in. Then, eventually, the subject of study becomes part of the writer's unconscious competence.

So for me, I listen to what people tell me, I listen to my own intuition about my writing (which, for the record, I still find highly unreliable, six and half years into my publishing career), and I pay a lot of attention to what other people tell each other. Because for me, the real purpose of a workshop was never the critiques I got or didn't get -- I was too invested in those to listen as well as I should. The real purpose of a workshop was the critiques between others, where I could listen with both objectivity and focus.

What's your take on workshops? Do they work for you? Am I full of it?