December 28th, 2007


[process] On luck

In the recent thread about productivity and career arcs, tchernabyelo said:

I think you need three things to make it in this industry, and without any of them, you're screwed. Talent is one, persistence is another, and frankly, luck is the third

I'd rank persistence first and foremost. It is possible to substitute diligent craft for talent, though talent helps like crazy. Diligent craft is pretty essential in its own right as well, with or without talent, but that probably falls under persistence. Luck is funny concept, though.

The thing about luck is that you have to be ready to be lucky. If I find an original copy of the Constitution behind a picture frame, and I don't recognize it for what it is, how lucky is that? I've certainly been lucky in my career, but it hasn't been random luck. I've worked very hard to put myself in the position catch a break, and to know what to do with that break when it came my way.

Luck, for a writer, has a substantial component of business knowledge, craft awareness, and rational expectation embedded in it. All this natter about writing process and networking and the business of the field is in a very real sense, preparation for being lucky.

Specific example: What if you get in an elevator with arcaedia one day at a con, and she asks you what you're working on? If you're prepared, you know who she is (an agent with a good client roster including that clever fellow jaylake). If you're prepared you have a high concept, one line pitch for your novel on the tip of your tongue, which you spent the two days before the con rehearsing in the bathroom mirror. If you're prepared you can answer a followup question or two.

Now, was it lucky to run into an agent in a quiet, receptive moment? Sure. But if you weren't ready for it, that luck meant nothing.

Sometimes people say "luck" and they mean "I found a $100 bill in the street." That's random chance, and it happens too. The luck of my career has been almost entirely the luck of preparation and quick thinking. In others words, luck I have some control and influence over. How lucky are you? Are you prepared to be lucky?

[links] Link salad, Friday edition

jeffsoesbe has a good writing process post talking about the state of his own journey — If you're interested in that sort of thing.

Eugene Weekly likes Logorrhea Powell's | Amazon ] — With several namechecks.

Paranormal Restraining Orders — (Thanks to sheelangig.)

A Peanuts character named "5"Really? Surely this is a wikihoax. ETA: Ample supporting evidence provided in comments. Thanks, guys! (Thanks to willyumtx.)

neutronjockey is funny with me and Photoshop again

Thomas Edison predicts the future — I particularly like his comments on radium.

Mapping Slavery In America — For you history buffs.

What would Earth look like to aliens?

Big Brother Inc.Vanity Fair with a piece on the voter record database industry.

[writing] In which I am a Tool of Satan

One of the problems of having a dualistic worldview is that you are forced to see the world in terms of dualities. Through my routine ego surfing, I found this interesting blog post by a Christian fantasy author, commenting on a review of Mainspring Powell's | Amazon | Audible ], and my response to that review.

The post is really quite thoughtful, and logical within the terms of her faith and worldview. (Hat tip to lordofallfools for reminding me of the difference between internal logic and external logic.) At the same time, she explicitly conflates secular humanism with the works of Satan.

Speaking as a secular humanist, I'm here to tell you I have nothing to do with Satan one way or the other. Just like Jesus, he's a Christian construct, and is no more or less relevant to me than Vishnu or Thor or the Great God Goobalooba. The dualism inherent in Christian thought is an internal problem for the Christian worldview. It doesn't apply to me.

(I am curious to know if she's read the book herself, though.)

Confidential to Xtianity: I'd like an opt-out on the whole tool of Satan thing. Kthxbye.

[writing] Religion in fiction

Bumped up from comments here.

I'm proud to likewise be among the ranks of evil atheist authors using the tool of genre for insidious means:


Oh, that *is* spiffy.

I have book coming out in 2008 from MonkeyBrain,
Death of a Starship, wherein the primary protag (there are three) is an Orthodox priest. I went to a great deal of trouble to portray him sympathetically as a sincere person of faith, whose character and actions are informed by his beliefs. We'll see how people cope with that.

Oh, and this priest is essentially the "men in black" alien hunter for a far future star-spanning empire in a galaxy where the Fermi paradox continues unresolved.