November 17th, 2010


[links] Link salad gets puffed

METAtropolis: Cascadia has launched — Go check it out. Might be a nice Christmas present for someone in your life. Maybe even you...

A Cynic Looks At Life by Ambrose Bierce — An interesting review.

The Straight Dope on our Pacific Northwest slugs — With some great reader feedback.

Organs Made from Scratch"Building blocks" containing gels turn cells into different types of tissue. Speaking as someone missing part or all of four major organ systems thanks to cancer surgery, erm, yes.

Carbon dioxide outburst spurred warming 40 million years ago — Nothing to see here. Your political dogma is mightier than the data. Move along, citizen, move along. (Snurched from Bad Astronomy.)

House Republican Wants His Government-Subsidized Health Care Now — More of that justly famed intellectual consistency from the highly principled American Right. A candidate who promises to repeal HCR wants to know what he will do without health insurance. What about the rest of us, Republican man?

How can Silvio Berlusconi still be in power?The tragic genius of Berlusconi is that he appears to have convinced millions that his destiny is their destiny: everyone who is scared of becoming a victim of judicial persecution, who feels overtaxed, who fears that foreigners are condescendingly critical of the Italian way of life is subtly persuaded that getting rid of Silvio would leave them vulnerable and isolated. Wow. You could say almost the same thing about the Republican party in American life. Tragic genius, indeed.

?otD: Got steam?

Writing time yesterday: 3.0 hours (7,900 new words on Kalimpura, to 69,600)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
This morning's weigh-in: 248.2 (!)
Yesterday's chemo/post-op stress index: 2/10 (fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, emotional distress)
Currently reading: Act of Will by A.J. Hartley


[conventions] Steamcon Programming

This coming weekend, calendula_witch and I will be at Steamcon II from Friday to Sunday. I am up for an Airship Award for my Mainspring series, which pleases me immensely.

Programming is as follows:

Friday, November 19th
Noon - 1:00 pmSub-genres of Steampunk
4:00 - 5:00 pmBecoming a Writer
5:00 - 7:30 pmAirship Awards Banquet

Saturday, November 20th
10:00 - 11:00 amThe Airship Ambassador interviews author Jay Lake
11:00 am - NoonWhat Makes a Novel Steampunk?
12:30 - 1:00 pmReading by Jay Lake

Sunday, November 21st
10:00 - 11:00 amAutograph Session

See some, all or none of you there!


[process] On Word Count

I made the following remark on Twitter and Facebook yesterday about word count:
"Wondering how much writers are intimidated by wordcount... novels used to seem impossibly long to me."

The responses, especially on Facebook, were interesting and varied. Click through that link and go read. I'll still be here when you get back, I promise.

One thing that I found fascinating was how few people seemed to share my orginal assumption. Specifically, when I first started writing, the idea of completing a novel-length manuscript seemed horrendously intimidating to me. This is related to, but not bound up in, my concept of "span of control". High word count seemed unattainable. That is to say, I shied away from big, complex stories.

Another interesting bit is how many people seem to be indifferent to word count, at least in my comment thread. While I no longer am spooked by it (Sunspin will be 600,000-750,000 of first draft, I believe), I also don't obsess about it. But word count is a useful tool for measuring daily productivity and assessing the progress of a project. And in Microsoft Word, at least, the word count is in the window footer, until you hit the bug at 100,000 words. (That application was clearly not designed by anyone who wrote at length.)

Like I said, to me word count is just a tool. An interesting one, with applications ranging from idea sizing to market targeting to contractual factors to productivity measurement and progress assessment. My emotional relationship with word count has improved immeasurably as my career progresses.

What does it mean to you? How closely do you pay attention to word count? Why?


[conventions] Cascade Writers Workshop

The Cascade Writers Workshop (née Writers Weekend) is open for registration now. I'll be teaching there, along with Hugo Award winning writer David Levine and Tor Books executive editor Beth Meacham. I know registrations are already coming in, so if you're interested in working with us, sign up soon!


July 21-24, 2011, at the Ocean Crest Resort in scenic Moclips, WA, out on the Pacific side of the Olympic Peninsula

Hope to see you there!