owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
* I am signed up for [community profile] origfic_bingo!
Here is my card.

The comm showed up on my network page a little while ago and I decided that after so many months of working over the same novel, I could use the fun of playing around with some short stories just for me.

First priority is the novel, though. I was working on it tonight but I fell asleep.

*I finished a pair of socks! Wool socks are SO WARM LOVE. I think they are about 85% responsible for the improvement in my condition. My next project is making toe-up socks, which I think are a good alternative to making the legs as short as possible out of fear that my massive feet will use up all the yarn.

*I am almost done with Mockingjay but unfortunately find myself agreeing with [personal profile] rachelmanija's review. I can love a grim book, but have the grimness be in service to something real and important. Have it strike right to the heart. I don't want Katniss to get a happy ending by authorial fiat. In a world where she's being manipulated by everybody, where the only real question is whether her image is being used by good people or bad ones, I want her to somehow strike a blow for authenticity, for a gloriously messy truth, not just to decide between one boy and another boy. And if your point is that there's no such thing as authenticity, okay, I'll buy that, but don't make me believe that a world without authenticity is okay because you picked the right boy.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
Ah, sometimes I miss being unpublished and being able to name names when complaining about books in public posts. So I will refrain from naming names, because I'm more interested in the larger issue.

It's an extremely good book on a number of levels, tautly written and plotted, with a great sense of voice and atmosphere. And as it goes on it seems to hinge, fundamentally, on the moral questions of violence and nonviolence, as the protagonist is placed in a situation that threatens to turn violent very quickly. Throughout the book, a few hints of backstory and scene-setting are dropped very unobtrusively -- and as the book wends towards its finish these are the hints that the plot turns on, because the protagonist manages with cleverness and resourcefulness to get out of the dangerous situation without resorting to violence.

And it was exactly the kind of ending that ought to work on paper, and obviously did work for a large number of readers. For me it felt moralistic and patronizing and in some ways fundamentally dishonest.

Generally speaking I want stories to be about moral things. I don't want them to be about virtuous people doing virtuous things, but moral questions are the questions that I want fiction to deal with. And that doesn't mean that I want the good guys to win by being good; that works in Sailor Moon but pureness of heart doesn't get you that far in real life and most fiction should reflect that. But a story where the good guys win by being stronger than the bad guys feels trivial unless they're stronger because of some moral quality (they have learned to work together! They have learned to get past their own egocentricity and accepted the need to buckle down and train hard!), and likewise for a story where the good guys win by being cleverer than the bad guys. Cleverness is not a moral quality.

But on the other hand, the willingness to look for a third way is a moral quality, isn't it? The conviction that even in the direst circumstances you have better options than violence? The faith that you will be provided with the three crucial pieces of information that you need to beat the bad guy?

Maybe it's just that I'm more interested in what you do when you aren't provided with those crucial pieces of information. Maybe it's just that I don't believe things can ever work out so neatly in real life. Yes, author, I want to believe that there are other alternatives besides violence and victimization! But they're more hard-won and difficult than that; they're not about cleverness, I think, but about compromise, empathy, community, swallowing one's pride, speaking the truth.

I may just be dealing with a fundamental mismatch between the book the author meant to write and the book I wanted to read. But these are questions I'm thinking about a lot lately and I can't help seeing everything through that filter.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
Dilbert creator Scott Adams posted an article on why there wouldn't be any authors in the future because everything's going to be free.

I posted on Twitter:

We're going to see new models in the future, but a world where people care about art is a world where artists get paid.

And if our future is a world where people don't care about art -- I can't begin to contemplate it.

And I wanted to take a minute -- and more than 140 characters -- to square that with what I believe about gift economies.

Because I believe that gift economies are fantastic. And I believe that gift economies are fantastic for art more than they are necessarily fantastic for things like shoes and iPods.

It is excellent when people create things for free. The question is, do you have enough time for it? If I'm working full-time, and also trying to write at a reasonable pace, then I'm cutting out nearly all TV, cutting my social life down to the bone, and probably not doing my laundry as often as I should -- and I don't have a spouse or kids, and nobody cares if my supper is Cheerios out of the box.

So, to me, saying that artists will create for free is kind of like saying teachers should teach for the pure joy of teaching so you don't have to pay them much. Even if you have an intense passion for it, even if you would do it for free, you can't choose to do it for free if you want to keep yourself fed and housed. Or, you can choose to do it for free, but then you still have to find something to spend 8 hours a day on to pay the bills. And I don't know how you get Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment if you've got a world where all the writers have day jobs and no hope of being paid for their writing.

I am gambling that, collectively, that's not the future we're going to accept.
owlectomy: A book with the text "Pride and Prejudice and Monster Trucks" on the cover, and a picture of a monster truck. (monstertrucks)
It makes me kind of sad when an editor goes on Twitter to answer questions for people and gets inundated with people asking, What's on trend? Is X hot right now? Is the moment for Y past? )
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (NaNo)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,578 / 50,000

I'm gonna try to get some more done this shift, but it's a lot more distracting in the computer lab even when there's practically nobody in here; I'm not allowed to listen to music, for one thing, and a guy was having some argument on his cell phone, and...meh. I have been pecking at this thing for over two hours now, and I think that's a fair count for spending the entire day at school.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (NaNo)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
2,019 / 50,000

...I AM going to bore everyone throughout November, yes!


26/10/05 21:25
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (writing)
1) I'm putting up some old old novels on Fictionpress.

2) They are really, truly, awful. Just so you know that I know, and don't judge me for it.

3) They still have amusement value, if only of the train-wreck kind, so: here.

4) Your own badfic is funnier than anyone else's. And--there may be hope for me yet.

5) I'm making this post not because I expect pats on the head and good reviews, but because I have made it possible to find these through my NaNoWriMo profile, and wanted to make the disclaimer in 2).

6) Seriously, don't google my real name, if you know it. It gets far worse. Although, because I have the U.S.'s most common first name for the past decade, plus a common WASP-ish last name, you'll mostly just find genealogy and scholastic sports scores.

(Yay! Off work in 26 minutes. I have done 10 minutes of work in 5 hours. So is life).


30/9/05 13:13
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
Zokutou word meter
80,231 / 80,231

I rocked my novel hard. That's 412 pages, by the way. 412!!!!

And I'm going to see Corpse Bride tonight (not Serenity, I will see Serenity eventually, well maybe Serenity. But I actually think my mom would enjoy Corpse Bride more).
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
...You know how they say that if you just keep writing and keep writing and don't try too hard to be stylish, you'll develop a style on your own?

I think they're actually right. I think I have a style.

I'm not sure if it's a particularly good style. No doubt I need to read a lot more fiction that wasn't written in the second half of the 20th century. Still, it is fairly serviceable for a noirish urban fantasy.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
54,500 / 80,000

I'm just trying to get this done in time for NaNoWriMo, but that's looking eminently likely.

My NaNoWriMo is going to be fun. There's a bear who used to be a girl, and her sister the political insurgent.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
The book comes in at 80,000 words so far, give or take. I've edited 1/3, which leaves ~53,000 words to edit. Let's say I have to rip out and rewrite 2/5 of that--I'm okay with Ruth, August, and Paul. It's Iris's plot arc that has me shaking my head and wanting to hit things. Of course, rewriting that major will throw the whole plot out of whack to some extent, but I think I can recover much more easily for those sections than for the sections that caused the problems in the first place.

That's 21,200 rewrite words.

That's actually not ALL that much once I can put my finger on the solution--ah, except there is no one solution. I'm just stabbing in the general direction of my intuitions, and it's only coming into focus very gradually. I'm not thinking things through enough during the day, so when I sit down to write I get a blank. And I don't think things through enough because I'm not writing consistently. I'm not writing consistently because when I sit down to write, I draw a blank. Hah. Nice trick, that.

I think it will be better if I just remind myself that the other 60,000 words are, all told, actually pretty decent.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
I am chewing ever so painfully slowly through the mess that is the book. Currently about 1/3 through, which is encouraging, but it's so very...broken. Especially here. Hammering the plot points into place is not easy; I made one very fatal misstep in the first draft, and I think I did it because the alternative was too much work, but now I'm going to have to go back and it'll be just as much work.