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Originally posted on amcherryfairy:
Peter capaldi and Jenna Coleman talking to myself and my two daughters. My youngest has autism and when matt smith said he was leaving she was worried, because she goes on adventures with doctor who and Clara and she was worried that the new doctor ( Peter ) would not like her and wouldn’t want to join in her games.
So on our holiday to Cardiff we fell onto pot luck. We had gone for our lunch at eddies diner and came out to find that doctor who was being filmed. We had a chat with the crew and Jenna and Samuel had photos done with the girls. We were told Peter was not coming down for filming. After telling the crew about roxi and her games with dr who ( Matt ) and the worry she has about Peter. We were told to come back the next day.
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Or if you enjoy my maniacal rantings. For the foreseeable, I’ll be posting on The Last Chance Salon website. Come and visit. Stay a while. Hear stories about the time my father offered me condoms and cigarettes…
Well, of vice and people. Writer people. Fine. Me.
I’m in the mood to keep it light, so when I say vice I’m speaking, for the moment, of those things we like to pretend we need to have to write anything decent, things we spend inordinate amounts of money on because it makes us feel good and wealthy and, for some reason, like AUTHORS.
There is a more serious aspect to this topic. I am not dismissing nor am I overlooking. I have gotten heavy before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. I am open to restarting that discussion. For now, right now, I’m exposing my eccentricities to the world at large, because hey, we all like to laugh at the foibles of others and if you’re laughing, I know you’re reading. At least, I hope you are…
Thus I present…
MY WRITING RELATED VICES!
I have written extensively on this topic already. Yes, one can write extensively on pens. Short version: I love them. I am picky about both the pen itself and its home. Do not hand me one of those craptacular white plastic tubes when I ask for a pen. Those aren’t pens, they’re abominations and I’ll shove it where the sun don’t shine. You’ve been warned.
(The hot sauce is totally photo bombing them)
I have many of them. My favorites are from The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild (Shakespearean Insult, First Lines) and the one with my “publishing company’s” logo (i.e.: the organization name I publisher under that is not at all official, my concept and RJ Keith’s gorgeous execution). There are others. Why so many? Some days I want to wrap my hands around it, some days I can barely keep hold of the handle. Different work needs different inspiration. Some days I just need way more caffeine. Believe it or not, this is something I actually think about before I brew a beverage-requiring mug. It’s all part of the ritual.
Chocolate: I do not like dark chocolate. I have tried. I’ve had really good dark chocolate. I don’t like the mouth feel. Ew, get your brain out of the gutter, you know what I mean. Maybe I just have an over developed sense of bitter or too many buds in that section or something. I am not, however, an all hands on deck girl. Quality needs to be decent and I would rather spend more and get less. Hershey = no. Cadbury from the States = no, especially if it’s that fruit and nut shit. Cadbury from the UK and Ireland = yes (and I consider myself lucky I am but a fifteen or so minute drive from Mon Ami in the Strip District [because it is a long strip of shops not because… oh, never mind, you’re hopeless] which, while it has an absolutely terrible website, is a lovely little store stuffed with British and Irish chocolate, a wall of malt balls, handmade truffles, and all sort of fun chocolate bars including bacon and Southern hibiscus peach). Used to be that M&M’s would do in a pinch, but now that I’m on the wagon (by which I mean I got on the scale and then fell off related to the increase) I’ll probably be sticking to the good stuff. After this bag. Because no sense in wasting them, right?
(It’s not you. It’s that none of my pants fit…)
Sushi: Do I get sushi every time I write? No. I would eat it at least two meals a day if I could but it takes too long to make and is way too expensive to buy because Shiri don’t eat none of that supermarket crap. When I know I have a major editing session, though, this is how I kick it off. Perfect package: carb, veg, protein. Sweet and spicy. Magically delicious. Learn the rules though, kids: two most important? Do not drown in soy sauce (it’s a seasoning) and do not load with wasabi (condiment, not colorant).
Coffee: Right up front, I have a Keurig. I know, I know. You purists out there sneer and you’re right. The quality of the brew isn’t the same. But it’s fast. And I have one of the eco cups, grind my own beans, and make sure that my day at starts with some real coffee.
I have some less decent stock too, but I’m finishing it up so I can move along to the Ritual and McMennamin’s goodness, especially, as just mentioned, that first, sweet sweet cup of the day. I also frequent Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange, which is right near Mon Ami in the… yes, the Strip District (quit it already); they have a crazy selection of flavory, afternoon blends.
Tea: Check it out: I have a little tea pot and it’s short and stout, there is its handle, there is its spout.
Tea is the evening writing beverage. Because I’m a horrible, horrible insomniac even with medication, so I cut myself off from coffee at 3 cups, or 5pm, whichever comes first. At least when I’m on an actual person schedule. Bewley’s brings me back to my semester in Ireland, the one I wish had turned into a year and then, maybe, into forever. I have never written as quickly and as much as I do in tiny hotel rooms in Dublin or cold and wet on the bus between Donegal and civilization. If I’m going green, I usually hit up Lotus and go for the tin with the least English and prettiest pictures on it. AGH Coffee and Tea Exchange is, as the name suggests, a purveyor of both, so when I’m shopping for my coffee, I usually hit up the wall o’ tea for a couple of herbal blends.
That’s what I “need” to make this whole writing thing happen. What’s your poison ?
This is my 1940’s Royal Black Typewriter:
Her keys stick. Her spacing is weird. Her roller has odd splodges of correction fluid on them which seem to appear and disappear at will. Her ding comes a bit too early and I either waste inches of space or run out entirely.
I love her anyway. She is, in the immortal words of Jay and Silent Bob, my hetero-life partner. Now that I have her, I will never let her go.
Why? If you’re back for the third installment, you know I’m going to tell you.
I have a new MacBook Pro with bells and whistles and Scrivner and Pages. Its keys are quiet and they don’t stick (yet). When I’m using the computer, I can set the formatting up at the beginning and the microchips remember and do things like go to the next line automatically. I don’t have to rethread a ribbon every couple of weeks (or days). The computer weighs a couple of pounds tops. It fits into a variety of my bags. It sends my data to the ineffable “cloud,” hypothetically saving it from my tendency to decorate my machines with liquids of various sorts (-ish. I’m watching you cloud). The Mac is shiny and silver and I have some stickers on it that once made a TSA guy laugh (the kids did the skulls and crossbones).
I like my computer. I am grateful for it. And when final draft time comes, the thing is essential.
The computer though, it ain’t got no soul. It’s a nameless MX to Dorian’s DRM.
The computer is an it. The typewriter is a she. I’m not anthropomorphizing or having a psychotic break in which I’ve become convinced my typewriter is possessed (I don’t think). But there is something individual about the typewriter, something special, that a computer doesn’t, and can’t, have. She belonged to someone else before she belonged to me and you can see it in her tiny imperfections. She has had a long, productive life and she wasn’t sterilized before resale, wiped clean and loaded fresh. She came to me as she was and I embrace her as she is.
This Royal Black makes me one with a long tradition. I’m hacking away on the same model Hemmingway used. I don’t smoke like him. I don’t drink like him. I usually wear a shirt when I’m writing. But you get my drift. This machine is our kinship. The basis (albeit a shaky one) for the belief that if someone else made it happen using one of these, maybe this very machine, I can to.
I can get a cadence going to the typewriter I can’t muster on a computer, one punctuated, as only a musician can appreciate, with *thunks* and *dings* and *tap tap taps.*
This girl knows how to sing.
There’s also the matter of unplugging. Yes, I usually have my computer nearby, often open for ease of listening to whatever I’m listening to or consulting with writing buddies. I am, however, far less likely to wander off into Tweetland or Facebookville or the blogosphere if my fingers are hitting those sticky keys and I have to pay attention to where my line ends. For some reason, the words just go brain to fingers when I have the typewriter out which makes her the ultimate first draft creation aid. She doesn’t stop me with wavy red lines or weird tones or grammar warnings. She lets me let go.
I have a lot of work to do when I’m done with her version, sure. But it’s a version I didn’t have before and wouldn’t if not for my Royal Black. I live in fear of something happening to my pages, but I take pictures of them and keep them in dropbox with a hard copy punched and safe in my notebook. And that ink, once it’s dry, isn’t going anywhere.
This is how I do it, baby. Your turn.
World building is important. Some people hate it. I happen to love it. I love knowing every detail of my characters’ lives: their favorite flower, the way they roll their socks, what they eat for breakfast, other… erm… proclivities. Something that has been pointed out to me by beta readers, however, is that the reader doesn’t necessarily need to know all of that. The writer’s job is to give the reader a world in which she can be come engrossed; zoom to far in, however, and the reader will trip over the edges of the set and walk into a hanging boom mike. Pull out too far, and she’s stranding in an arctic wasteland trying to figure out why she gives a fuck.
It’s a very difficult balance. I’m working on it. Hard. I am sure I will be working on it for as long as I write. The view, of course, changes depending on the story, the intention, the form and that changes the balance, making things even more difficult.
You know what they say. Anything easy ain’t worth doin‘. I won’t lie; it would be nice if it were easier every so often. But then I’d be missing that thrilling rush of, “holy shit, this might not suck.” That doesn’t happen with easy. That happens with caffeine sweat and sleepless nights, and tightrope walking.
Yay, tightrope walking.
Here’s why that balance is really important. Besides keeping you from getting killed or, when someone close to you falls without a net, making you a ward of a billionaire and the next girl wonder.
I don’t want what’s happened to me on several recent occasions to happen to my readers (all five of them). I don’t want them to get bored by laborious detail and put my book down. Nor do I want them left bereft by a cardboard world so flat they never become lost in it.
At the moment, I’m reading God’s War by Kameron Hurley and I am riveted. The characters are compelling, the story is fascinating, and the book has that urban-fantasy-tipping-toward sic-fi edge I so enjoy and which is another very difficult rope to walk with any sort of balance. The reason I mention the book here, however, is because the world building is the best I’ve seen in a long, long time. Maybe ever. I plan to use it as a model going forward with my own project and I can only hope to be half as successful as this author is.
Here’s the secret: Kameron Hurley assumes her readers are smart. As do I, by the way, my inclusion of silly, minute details being more related to my inability to keep anything about the characters I love so much to myself. But in so many cases, authors seem (seem) to be under the impression their readers are as dense as a San Francisco fog. They seem to believe the reader needs everything laid out for her up front, giving her a top heavy read that is ultimately pinned beneath the weight of their own ego. As we make the attempt to slog with the author, he explains every moment of every second of every minute etc, every blade of grass, every puffy cloud, every leaf on the wind. Eventually, the reader hits the point where her brain freezes, or she’s Dorothy in the poppy field, or she throws the book across the room because the thud of it hitting the wall is more satisfying than the peat-mired plot and characters so detailed they can’t stand under their weight of their own detail.
That’s right. I said balderdash.
Because readers are smart.
Ms. Hurley’s word is complex and detailed and awash in religion and sexual politics and castes. Bugs and sorcerers and half-organic machines. And she has masterfully give her reader the glimpses she needs to draw her in and invest her in figuring the world out on her own. There’s plenty given, more than enough to make the world vivid and real, but not so much it reads like a text book of a planet far far away in a time distant from now. I find myself invested, not only in the characters, but in the sights, the smells, the touch, the brutality, the beauty of the world because I am truly exploring it, trying to parse it out, backtracking, drawing analogies. Living it. It is an organism and, rather than being a detached scientist studying it, I am a cell moving through it.
I like being a cell.
Having faith in oneself as a writer is very important. You have to believe people are going to want to read the stories you bleed for. So do them a favor and assume they want to be there. Assume they’re there to discover. Give them something to be actively curious about and know they’re happy to come looking. Have some respect.
Oh, and read God’s War. You’ll thank me. And, more importantly, you’ll thank Kameron Hurley for writing it.