thorny thoughts

There’s a lengthy entry up by one cupidsbow discussing fanfic in the context of Joanna Russ’ How to Supress Women’s Writing. I spent a good fifteen minutes attempting to write a comment in response to somebody over there, but I’ve decided I’m better off doing so over here; the thought I’m trying to articulate is thorny and awkward, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to phrase it, and if I try to do so over there, odds are I’ll just piss multiple people off and find myself at the bottom of a verbal dogpile I didn’t mean to start. So I’ll chew on my thought over here, and see what I can get out of it. Warning; what follows is rambling and unfocused, and not entirely thought-out.

cut for rambly unfocused length

back to the desert

After a long hiatus, I’m back to work on “Once a Goddess.”

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2,351 / 4,000

As usual, the word count is estimated, but I think this one will be on the shorter side. (I’m hoping so, because if I keep it below 4K I can send it to Clarkesworld, which I think might be a good market for it.)

Can I finish it before the end of the month?

Certainly — if I can just figure out how it ends. I know where it’s going in general terms, but not what exactly that will mean on the page. There’s a big difference between saying your ending will be “they defeat Sauron,” and knowing they’re going to throw the Ring in a volcano.


I guess the all-knowing internets agree with something I’ve suspected for a while: according to the website for The Golden Compass (the movie) and its “Meet Your Daemon” feature, my daemon is an ocelot.

I was just talking about that at ICFA — not in daemon terms, precisely, but in personality terms. And the all-knowing internets agree.

I should get an ocelot icon. I’ve got various cat icons, but one is for dance, one is for when I want to claw someone’s face off, and this one’s for the cuteness factor. I don’t have a good “generic feline” one. Anybody want to make me an ocelot icon?

MNC Book Report: Elizabeth I: Profiles in Power by Christopher Haigh

If you ever want to write a novel of noble politics, or run or play in a game of the same, you should read this book. For my own part, I’m tempted to pick up other titles from the Profiles in Power series, to see if they’re as good.

This book isn’t about Elizabeth’s policies during her reign; it’s about how she made those policies happen (or not happen, as was sometimes the case). It’s about the realities of governance in the late sixteenth century, tracking chapter by chapter how Elizabeth related to and dealt with her position as queen, the church, the peerage, the Privy Council, the court, Parliament, the military, and the common people.

It isn’t the most flattering look in the world, either, which makes it a good antidote to the idolatry that often surrounds her; in fact, by the end I was feeling a little bit down, since Haigh covered in detail how Elizabeth’s government was petrifying and falling apart by the time she died. I was glad for the conclusion, where he pointed out that when all’s said and done, she survived on the throne for nearly forty-five years under some of the most adverse conditions imaginable, and that right there is a remarkable feat of politics. It helped restore some of my admiration for her, but it’s tempered now with some knowledge of her failures as well as her successes.

Reading this book, I understand much better how political factions operate: where their power comes from, how one can (and cannot) maneuver around them, what the consequences are of ignoring them, and so on. It makes me realize, too, how much work would go into setting up a political LARP and doing it right. I don’t know that I would ever have the energy to run something like that, or even to play in it, any more than I would have the energy to play politics for real. (I frankly wonder how Cecil didn’t keel over dead of stress decades sooner.)

But this will be useful information, not just for Midnight Never Come, but for Future Novel TIR, whenever it is that I get around to writing that one.

a few more thoughts on technopeasantry

If you are not a writer, but you wish to celebrate International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, then may I suggest this? Post about a writer whose work you originally found unline and then subsequently searched out more, or an online magazine you particularly enjoy, or similarly related topics. You see, one of the big arguments against Dr. Hendrix’s conviction that we’re all stabbing our industry colleagues in the back is that by posting work online, we may well reach readers who would never have picked up an issue of Asimov’s or Realms of Fantasy, who may then go looking for more of our work, which may lead to them buying things that aren’t posted for free — in other words, that we’re trying to increase the size of our readership by doing these things. So if you’ve ever experienced that effect, tell us about it!

Also, since I was in a hurry to post about “Calling into Silence” this morning before going to class, I didn’t get a chance to expound on one of the things I said, namely my reluctance to post stories I haven’t already sold.

I want to talk about that more because on the surface, it seems like I’m saying such postings aren’t a good thing. Not what I mean, though. Partly it’s a matter of my current status: putting a sale to the Intergalactic Medicine Show on my cover letters does me a lot more good than saying I posted a story on my website would, and it’s true that sales breed more sales. So I’m trying to make as many sales as I can, not because I disapprove of offering work for free, but because I’m trying to build a base of credits for myself.

Having said that, I would post unsold stories . . . but all the ones I’d be interested in posting are currently under submission at a variety of markets. Had this been announced with more lead time, and they had come home in the interim, I might have kept them here, and today you would be reading an online version of my ludicrously-titled story “Letter Found in a Chest Belonging to the Marquis de Montseraille Following the Death of That Worthy Individual.” But according to papersky, “Today is Sant Jodi, when people in Catalonia give each other books and roses. It’s also Shakespeare’s birthday.” So today’s the day, and “Letter Found” is not at home, and I don’t want to irritate any editors by e-mailing them to ask they root through their slush and pull one of my stories out.

The other thing I might have posted was a Doppelganger novella that’s too bloody long to sell anywhere, but the thing needs substantial editing, and I didn’t have time to get it done by today. But I probably will at some point, and that will go up for free, and then we will see that every day is International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day.

Happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day!

Remember the little ‘splosion I linked to a while back, where the vice president of SFWA called a bunch of people some highly insulting names for having posted their work for free on the Internet, claiming they were somehow stabbing the industry as a whole in the back by doing so? One of those names was “pixel-stained technopeasant wretch.” Because SF/F writers are a snarky bunch, and because a lot of us think Dr. Hendrix is wrong wrong wrongitty wrong about such things, Jo Walton (papersky) has adopted that phrase for the first-ever International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, i.e. today.

So today, you may read good stories all over the Internet, because many writers are answering her call to post works of professional-quality fiction on their websites for free.

My contribution? “Calling into Silence”, my Asimov Award story from a few years back. I chose to post that one for three reasons:

1) I can’t post stories I’m trying to sell if I actually want to sell them, which I admittedly do;
2) I don’t want to inflict on you guys stories I gave up trying to sell, or never tried to sell at all;
3) this story gives me a neat opportunity to mess around with font colors for effect. (I almost messed around with fonts, too, but the color adjustments ate enough of my time yesterday that we’ll leave it as it stands.)

I may post something else later today, too, but for now, that will do.

And if you want to read more pro-quality fiction posted in honor of this day, check out papersky‘s roundup over here.

well, drat.

Made it to the final cut for Sword & Sorceress, but not through it. I had so very much hoped to sell “Kingspeaker” on its first trip out the door — that would have rocked.

<woeful sigh>

I’m rather bummed about this one, I must admit. It’s easier to deal with rejections that aren’t near misses: you send the story, they don’t like it, you move on. Being told that they almost bought your story is spectacularly frustrating.

MNC Book Report: The Elizabethan World Picture, E.M.W. Tillyard

I’ve discovered that I quite like searching for academic books on Amazon; the reviews for them are often surprisingly substantive and useful. One for this book referred to it as “training wheels” for the interpretation of Elizabethan drama and poetry: not exactly wrong, but not something one wants to rely on too heavily in textual interpretation. Since I’m not embarking on an analysis of any Shakespearean plays, that’s fine by me.

But it’s a good thing this book is short, because it took me long enough to get through as is. I generally read a couple of pages and then put it down for a few minutes, coming up for air and to digest what I’d just read. Tillyard presents the metaphors by which the Elizabethans viewed the universe as ordered: the Great Chain of Being (some of you might have heard of that before), a set of corresponding planes, and a dance, and he proceeds to demonstrate, through literary texts of the period, just how those metaphors operated and influenced Elizabethan thought.

The great usefulness of this book to me is a reminder not to think like a modern when I write: regarding class distinctions in particular, it’s important for me to bear in mind the extent to which hierarchy permeated that society. Also, it gave me a lot of fodder for my own metaphorical language, regarding elements and animals, astrology and the humours, and a lot more. So the training wheels, I’d say, have done their job.