December 20th, 2010


[links] Link salad has done all its Christmas shopping

Help: Researching Year's Bests and Online Venue Representation — Sean Wallace is crunching numbers. Check it out, and see what you can offer.

xkcd on illness — Yeah, this.

The United States of AutocompleteStrange Maps is a little stranger than usual.

The day Niagara Falls ran dry — Cool photos from a 1969 engineering project. (Thanks to danjite.)

A lunar eclipse Monday night — Check the weather in your area, as this will be viewable across North America, skies permitting.

A New Enemies ListScrivener's Error is cranky about the Senate's weekend DADT vote. (With reason.) Though Senator Manchin (D-WV) certainly deserves a dishonorable mention as well for his particular profile in courage.

?otD: What's the toughest thing you've ever had to let go of?

Writing time yesterday: 2.5 hours (revision work)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.25 hours (solid)
This morning's weigh-in: 248.8
Currently reading: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban


[process] The worst writing advice I ever got

I've been thinking about life lately, for obvious reasons. Life, and illness, and the changes that come upon us all. I've also been writing a lot lately. The fascinating thing to me is how much of those deep and difficult thoughts emerge in my fiction. Filtered through the machinery of my subconscious (hi, Fred!) and then again through the lens of the story.

The worst writing advice I ever received, years before I grew good enough to be published, was "Writing is not therapy." I have come to believe this is very nearly opposite the truth. I think what the advice-giver meant was "don't write thinly disguised romans-a-clef about your emo bullshit", but even that isn't really true. For one thing, that is an unkind but accurate description of The Specific Gravity of Grief, which I think is a story that succeeds precisely because of the raw emotion I poured into it. As a result of that advice, I was left for a very long time with a vision of the craft of fiction as somehow being a noble pursuit separate from the grubby realities of my own life.

Yet good fiction must work at the emotional level first and foremost. Badly plotted, poorly characterized, ineptly-written fiction can succeed because of emotional appeal. Brilliantly wrought prose can fail because of a lack of emotion. We've all seen examples of both. It is our own strongest emotions that force the power into those words on the page. Not our control of them.

To me, the process is inseparable from my own experiences. At this point, I wouldn't have it any other way.

(And on a related note, yesterday I had cause to remark to a friend anent my execrable poetry that my prose is often poetic, but my poetry is always prosaic. Speaking of emotional vehicles.)

What's the worst writing advice you ever got?


[personal|photos] First post-chemo haircut, and a radio play

Right after work, I went and got my first post-chemo haircut. We threw some color on as well...



Photos © 2010 B. Lake.

It's a clunky cut because I'm in the first stages of the multi-year process of growing my hair back out. (Assuming further chemo doesn't derail me somewhere along the way.) Still, it was fun.

After that, the_child and I went up to the McMenamin's Kennedy School to have dinner with T— and J—. Post-prandially the four of us attended the Willamette Radio Workshop's production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, presented (and recorded) as a radio play. Standing room only, and unfortunately for us, we were among the SROs, but it was a lot of fun.

Later, I have the alarm set to see if we can get a look at the lunar eclipse. Doubtful given the cloud cover, but around here anything is possible.

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This work by B. Lake is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.