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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-27 05:42
Subject: [personal] Don’t have much to say today, so I’ll ask you instead
Security: Public
Tags:personal

Home and quiet, still laying low from the immune system issues. Life goes on, and oddly for me, I don’t have much to say today.

So instead I’ll ask you. What’s on your mind? Tell me something about your day, your writing, your life. Phrase you answer in the form of a question if you wish and I’ll do my best to play Dear Abby.

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

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jimvanpelt
User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2011-09-27 12:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hi, Jay. A student of mine posed this question to me yesterday (although not in this form). I like the idea of a Dear Abby for writers, though.

Dear Jay,

My muse has been . . . frigid lately. They say that if the sex is good, it's only 5% of the relationship, but if it's bad, it's 95%. How can I get my muse to put out on a more regular basis.

Thank you,
Frustrated in Colorado
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Jay Lake: jay-sad_devil
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-sad_devil
Well, much like sex, you must court your muse. For some muses, the magic lies in regular habits -- "let's meet after dinner every night for some candlelight keyboard music". For other muses, the magic lies in inspiration -- "let's go snow hiking at high altitude so if we slip and fall we'll die a magnificent death, and when we get home all geeked up from our risk taking, then we shall dance the lexical fandango!" One of the tricks to being a writer is learning precisely what it takes to tickle your muse into putting out, while also accepting that sometimes she will simply have a headache and prefer to watch Simpsons reruns ad nauseum.

(Or you could try finding a new muse on Craigslist.)
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User: elizaeffect
Date: 2011-09-27 12:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been lurking for a long time and barely ever comment, but I wanted to say that I follow your posts and appreciate them. Reading writerblogs is the best way for me to understand I'm not alone in my struggles (especially, in your case, balancing writing with day job and health issues). Solidarity, man. :)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Solidarity, indeed. I'm glad my musings (heh heh, see comment upthread from yours) are useful. And no, you are not alone. That might be one of the most important insights for a writer, as we all pursue what is in effect a completely internalized and solitary vocation.
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adelheid_p
User: adelheid_p
Date: 2011-09-27 12:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've been reading Escapement and having conversations with friends about what would make a good RPG world and it occurred to me that your Mainspring world, especially the Wall, is perfect for an RPG. I can't be the only one, have you thought about this, too? Are there any plans to create an RPG based on this world?
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Jay Lake: writing-Escapement
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:writing-Escapement
Sadly, I have no plans to create an RPG for the clockwork Earth, though I think it would be an awesome idea. Either an RPG, or more likely a rules supplement/expansion pack to GURPS or some other existing system.

Especially the Wall, as you say.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2011-09-27 13:01 (UTC)
Subject: Dear Abby....
How do I persuade a willing girl, er poetry publisher, to put out for, er, publish, my work? So far I seem to be having little luck.

Sincerely,

Wilde 2 B Wordsworth
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Jay Lake: jay-preaching_with_ken
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:36 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Dear Abby....
Keyword:jay-preaching_with_ken
Dear Wilde -

My best suggestion is to write your cover letter on the back of a $20 bill. A $100 bill would be seen as too forward, while denominations smaller than $20 will mark you out either as (a) a piker or (b) a destitute poet unlikely to give generously to the publisher's endowment at some future point in gratitude for the privilege of publication.

Good luck,

Oscar the Statuesque
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Reynardo the Red
User: reynardo
Date: 2011-09-27 13:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jay,

I'm sure you get importuned by friends and acquaintances to "please would you read this thing I've written and pass it to your editor?" How do you say "no" to the multitudes, how do you tell the few you do read when their work is crap, and how do you explain to any of them that getting rich by writing just isn't that easy? More importantly, how do you get them to listen to what you said?

Regards
G
P.S. And when you're finished answering, I have this little manuscript...
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Jay Lake: jay-headset
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-headset
Dear G-Man -

I find the simplest way to say "no" to the multitudes is to twirl my moustache and speak in an incomprehensible Pythonesque faux-French accent. They are often so dazzled by my amusing charisma that they wander away pleased. More to the point, I often (and quite truthfully) plead overwork. That being said, I do sometimes read work, though I very rarely pass it on.

Telling someone their work is crap is difficult, especially when it is a friend. That's one reason I don't like to read things. Honesty, tactfully expressed, really is the best policy.

As for the wealth of writing, I hold myself up as an example. 10 year old Chrylser, heavily mortgaged house in the 'burbs, and all that floated mostly off day jobbery. The question truly does answer itself.

Finally, I don't make much effort to get people to listen. They will hear what they want to hear. Sometimes people are ready. I keep talking, because I never know when someone else is ready to hear what I have to say. Having been on the other end of that dynamic a number of times, I highly familiar with it.

Best, Jay "Creme Brulee" Lake
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Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummond
User: birdhousefrog
Date: 2011-09-27 13:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jay:

I have a long-standing relationship with my partner (as in, 35 years). He's not a writer, but he's a reader and a scientist. He's interested in what I do some of the time, so to stay connected, we share things about our work from time to time. The problem is that if I share anything about a story in progress, he offers critical comments that are enough to stop me cold from continuing that story. He's not interested in process. As far as he's concerned, he doesn't understand why I don't just write the story...what's all this nonsense about plot and characterization and storytelling? (And at the same time, he's quite critical of published work that doesn't have these things.)

How do I share my world so we stay connected and at the same time keep him far enough from my passion (i.e. writing) so I won't be so overly sensitive to negative comments on early drafts or drafts in progress? In short, how does one share with muggles?

Yrs,
Sensitive Spouse
(the above being deliberately worded a la "Dear Abby" and somewhat tongue in cheek, though it does occur IRL)

Edited at 2011-09-27 01:46 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake: jay-southpark
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-southpark
Dear Sensitive Spouse -

Perhaps the best strategy is to not share that part of your process, but focus instead on finished work or pre-work ideas that could benefit from being aired out. That being said, I find myself oddly compelled by the 'honeytrap' strategy, of sharing a completely fake project in which you have no particular emotional or professional investment. Over time, that could transform into its own mutual creative endeavor, fictive fiction shared inter alia within your relationship.

Protect your writing, always. Even from the people who love you, if necessary.

Best,

Jay
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cathshaffer
User: cathshaffer
Date: 2011-09-27 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jay,

I admire the way that you keep writing and keep publishing through so much adversity. I've been struggling to keep my career on track through many life crises and losses over the past six years. I get so discouraged. What's your secret?

Catherine
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Jay Lake: jay-dramatic
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-dramatic
Dear Catherine --

My secret is psychotic persistence and personality much like a Weeble.

(Unfortunately, I also have a body much like a Weeble.)

Best,

Jay
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-09-27 15:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jabby,

Any advice for a woman in her 40s who wants to break into writing for the video-game industry?

Yours,

Player Wants To Be Maker
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Jay Lake: jay-electrode
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 15:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-electrode
Dear PWTBM -

Having never broken into writing for the video-game industry myself, nor having played video games for nearly two decades, my advice should be taken with a generous grain of sandstone. However, it seems to me that socially networking into that world would give you a big leg up, be that corresponding with writers who work in that world, or going to their parties in Your Home City, which I happen to know is crawling with video game types. As we both know, many jobs are filled by word of mouth. Getting your word into the right mouths could go a long way...

Best,

Jabby
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Fluttering Things: inconceivable
User: moxie_raqs
Date: 2011-09-27 15:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:inconceivable
Organic food, Monsanto, and holistic health have been on my mind a lot lately. I'm very curious what you think of this:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/19/cut-poison-burn.aspx?e_cid=20110927_DNL_art_919
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Jay Lake: cancer_tumor
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 16:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:cancer_tumor
Oddly, right now I'm reading a book about the history of cancer treatments, very much including chemotherapy. Being a thorough-going empiricist, I'm a big fan of evidence-based medicine, and fairly skeptical about outsider claims of suppression of miracle cures. There have certainly been major changes in cancer treatment due to unpopular theories (chemotherapy itself was very controversial and resisted for a long time when it was first shown to have therapeutic effectiveness), but most meaningful changes in both medicine and science come from corroboration from multiple sources, and reproducible results. Anyone who loudly proclaims suppression of important results from a single source and flagrant profit seeking at patient expense significantly sets off my skeptical alarms.
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mlerules
User: mlerules
Date: 2011-09-27 15:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Lurv that icon.

I do so love a parade! Yesterday I got to march in one once again. After playing (!) in one spot for a while downtown yesterday, M4 took off down the sidewalk, continuing to play, with much of the audience marching along behind 'em. What parades have you been in?

Edited at 2011-09-27 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 16:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am not sure I've ever been in a parade, other than an impromptu marching band riff Brave Combo did at the Taste of Austin festival one year back in the mid 1990s.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-09-27 16:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The sun is shining hotly over here, out-of-season. Cambridge in late September? I expect rain.) It's making me dozy, as is a report on BBC radio 4 about the current set of party political conferences. On the plus side, my laundry is drying. It's just another day evading the word-mines. (I may be procrastinating.)
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Jay Lake: flowers-sunflower
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:flowers-sunflower
Sounds like a lovely day, even with (or perhaps because of) the procrastination.
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smoking catnip and chasing my tail: darkside
User: jettcat
Date: 2011-09-27 17:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:darkside
Dear Jay,
I have a world shaking dilemma, what perfume do I wear today?
I am addicted to the good folks at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. In fact I have more perfume oil than the average girl can shake a stick at. My quandary is which Tiki scent do I wear?

Am I the TIKI QUEEN?
Monoi de Tahiti, vanilla, white coconut, tuberose, ylang ylang, white musk, red hibiscus, and neroli.

Or am I the TIKI PRINCESS?
A frothy, cold coconut perfume, pure and sweet, with gentle wafts of plumeria, pikake, and ala ala wai nui.

Both are very light and fun and also have mood lightning effects. But which to choose?
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Jay Lake: jay-windblown
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-windblown
Dear Jettcat -

I think that one should always be the Queen when one has the opportunity.

Yours,

Princess Jay
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Dan/Дмитрий
User: icedrake
Date: 2011-09-27 17:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jabby,

I find myself overwhelmed with potential projects and tasks. The immediate, or the quick-to-complete takes my attention away from the important. Worse yet, the immediate and quick-to-complete takes attention away from the important, and urgent if the important and urgent is something I'd been working on for a while. I seek that sense of quick accomplishment and my more important tasks suffer as a result.

How do I keep myself focused on the task at hand?

Yrs,

Distracted at His Desk
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Jay Lake: jay-laughing
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 18:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-laughing
Dear Distracted,

Step away from the Internet!

More seriously, I do try to do things in least effort -> greatest effort order, to shorten my to-do list and give myself some accomplishment cookies. However, once I've started a task, I have a very strong preference for following it through to completion, even if interesting less/least effort stuff comes along in the meantime.

Ie, one damned thing at a time.

Hope that helps!

Best,

Jabba Jabba Jay
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Vylar Kaftan
User: vylar_kaftan
Date: 2011-09-27 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jay:

If you're holding a goldfish in a water-filled bowl which dangles from an uncoiled Slinky, and you're standing in an elevator at the top of the Empire State Building, and the elevator cable breaks so you start falling, but you jump in the air just before landing--what's the name of the goldfish?
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Jay Lake: jay-negative
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 18:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-negative
Lucky.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2011-09-27 18:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dear Jay;

What can I do to deter Stupid People? The ground in my backyard is too hard to dig a mass grave in, and I really am in a quandry.

Sincerely,

Crabby Person
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Jay Lake: jay-cranky_old_man
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-27 19:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:jay-cranky_old_man
Dear Crabby Person -

Unfortunately, teh stupid is both contagious and a ground state for far too many folks. My best suggestion is wearing a tinfoil hat and covering your body in clingwrap in order to protect you when out in public.

Sincerely,

Jabby
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