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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-08-25 05:53
Subject: [personal] Ask me anything – open questions thread
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal, writing

Ask me anything in comments. This is an open questions thread. I’ll talk about life, parenting, cancer, writing, answer anything that doesn’t compromise the privacy of others.

Go ahead. You know you want to.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 14:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Naming varies widely for me. Sometimes they just pop into my head (Benny Bueno in "The Rose Egg"), sometimes they are homages to other writers and their works (Bijaz in Trial of Flowers) , and sometimes they come from the people around me (The Before Michaela Cannon in Sunspin). For some stories, I spend a lot of time on naming because I think the connotations of a character name can be critical. On the other hand, Sunspin has over a hundred named minor or historical characters, and over a dozen named POV or major secondary characters. At some point in the process of a book like that, I'm just reaching for names...
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2011-08-25 13:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hi, Jay. Have you read "The Emperor of Maladies"? It's an interesting history of how the medical field has dealt with cancer. Thick book, and I'm learning a lot.
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Jay Lake: cancer-do-not-want
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 14:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:cancer-do-not-want
Ah, synchronicity. I just found out about that book two days ago. Will be up on my to-be-read pile shortly.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 14:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ferocious time management plus being a very fast writer. If I am moving at 1,800+ words per hour on raw drafting speed, I only need 90-120 minutes per day of writing time to be highly productive.

More general advice would be to get a handle on your writing speed (which will be variable, but there should be some reliable average over the life of a project) and budget accordingly. I know people who write 300 words per hour, I know people who write 2,000+ words per hour. It doesn't matter what the number is, it matters that you understand it. So then you say to yourself, "100,000 word book divided by x words per hour means y hours of effort. I can put in z hours per week, it will take me n weeks to complete this project."

It also helps, a lot, that I don't watch tv, don't play video or computer games, don't go out clubbing, etc. Writing is what I do with my time.
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Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2011-08-25 14:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are walking through the desert, Jay and you come across a tortoise...you flip it over onto it's back. Its belly is baking in the hot sun, but you aren't helping. Why is that, Jay?
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2011-08-25 14:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay would never abuse an apostrophe like that.
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jimvanpelt
User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2011-08-25 15:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry for the anonymous comment above about the book. That was me. Forgot to sign in. That's what I get for posting in a hurry right before students come into the classroom.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No worries!
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-08-25 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know you're a very prolific writer, but do you ever find yourself without something to say? If so, what do you do? I don't mean writer's block; I mean just running empty.

When I had all the time in the world to write, I found that trying to write for more than half an hour or an hour a day just drained the tank without replenishing it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 16:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I very rarely run empty. If I run out of gas on a specific topic, theme or idea, I just write about something else. I recognize this is unusual compared to many other writers, but that's how it works for me.
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adelheid_p
User: adelheid_p
Date: 2011-08-25 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When you first started writing which did you find hardest: creating interesting, believable characters, creating a good plot, or something else I haven't mentioned?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Characters, absolutely. I've always been decent at plot and good at setting. Characters have always been my struggle.
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zyzyly
User: zyzyly
Date: 2011-08-25 16:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What, if anything, has surprised you the most about your illness?
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Jay Lake: cancer-do-not-want
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:cancer-do-not-want
That it happened at all. There's no family history of cancer (we're a heart attack family), I don't have any of the genetic markers for colon cancer, and there's no obvious environmental or behavioral factors other than the general risk of a typical Western diet.
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Brent Kellmer
User: skaldic
Date: 2011-08-25 17:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
how much do you plan out your novels ahead of writing?
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Jay Lake: writing-sunspin
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 17:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing-sunspin
Depends on the novel. At a minimum, a full synoptic outline. For Sunspin, a full synoptic outline plus about 100 pages of worldbuilding notes, character lists, etc. Ironically, I have a joint post going up Saturday on the blog Genreality with J.A. Pitts and Ken Scholes which addresses this in some detail.

Edited at 2011-08-25 05:09 pm (UTC)
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Rick Moen
User: rinolj
Date: 2011-08-25 17:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Did you ever dance with the Devil in the pale moonlight? And why is a raven like a writing-desk?
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Jay Lake: graffiti-shirley_you_jest
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-25 17:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:graffiti-shirley_you_jest
I dance with the devil every Friday night!

And a fish.
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vicki_rae: ZZZ - there is always a story just have
User: vicki_rae
Date: 2011-08-26 05:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:ZZZ - there is always a story just have
I'm curious about how much growing up outside the country influenced how you shaped your adult life here.

Also how much it has influenced your writing. Or if you can tell.

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Jay Lake: travel-jet_engine
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-27 20:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:travel-jet_engine
I think it's true for most of us that our adult lives are reactions to our childhoods. I've lived in two cities my entire adult life (I'm 47 now), whereas as a child I lived in ten, several of the more than once. Surely my current stability of domicile reflects my peripatetic youth.

And my writing, well, I believe my childhood has infused me with a sense of setting, place and alien-ness at a bone-deep level.
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Brent Kellmer
User: skaldic
Date: 2011-08-29 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know I'm a couple of days late with this question, but I thought I'd ask it anyway... most of the novels that you've written thus far have been fantasy -- why did you decide on space opera for your current project? Are you concerned about the market for SF versus fantasy with it?
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Jay Lake: writing-sunspin
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-08-29 16:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing-sunspin
Not a market concern in the sense that you intend the question. I've published two SF novels in the independent press, ROCKET SCIENCE and DEATH OF A STARSHIP. I have two unpublished SF novels on my hard drive, THE MURASAKI DOCTRINE and THE JANUARY MACHINE. It's just been sort of an accident of my career that most of my novel length output is fantasy. I'm writing SUNSPIN simply because I want to. :)
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