Of utopian and annihilatory urges.
Of all the paradigm-shattering experiences I've had in my time (I can count more than a few), among the most devastating was my exposure to Holocaust denial. It did not shock me at first that people in the abstract could believe such things; it shocked me that I, specifically, was capable of believing such a thing. It didn't last long — maybe a few months, and then common sense kicked in — but I remember most distinctly was my line of thinking to justify it all: I don't like these people [that is, the deniers themselves], but if they have hit on some truth that everyone else has rejected, that's pretty depressing. As it turned out, this was not true at all: they were not, in fact, privy to some controversial truth that mainstream society had turned its back on. They were just liars and apologists for Nazis. The simplest explanation once again proved most correct.
Once I realized the whole thing was nothing but a front for Nazi apologists, that led me into another rabbit hole: learning about those itching to pick up where the previous Nazis left off. It was even more depressing reading, but I stuck with it out of a know-they-enemy impulse. The most extreme of the bunch, like James Mason, had something above and beyond even their xenophobia and racism and sexism: the persistent and absolute belief that nothing of modern life was worth preserving, that all of it should be burned down and returned to days gone.
Excuse my silence, I was avoiding a hurricane. (And now, some work updates.)
Excuse my silence, I was avoiding a hurricane. We didn't get anywhere near the worst of it — rain and wind, barely even a few thrown-around branches. The area I'm in tends to not be as vulnerable to storms; we've had a couple that were near-direct hits, and the worst we had of it was some blustery rain. I was more worried about losing power or water pressure, neither of which happened this time around.
Blessings counted. On with the show.
At this point in Shunga-Satori's second draft (well, more like draft-and-a-half, but I'm making it draft 2 for explication's sake), I'm at the point where I have no more older material to repurpose. Everything from here on out, about another 10,000 words or so, is entirely new material. That makes it slower going than before, in terms of total words per day, but I'm not really getting hung up on the production metrics. I suspected this would slip into next year, given all that's been happening in my life, and at this rate I'll be happy with roughly one book a year.
I have always tried to treat each draft of a book as if it were nothing but a repurposing of the previous draft for raw material. I don't always succeed. Sometimes, though, that's due to much of the hashing-out being done earlier in the outline phase. E.g., the outlines for Fall Of The Hammer really didn't look much like the finished book up until the very last iteration or so. Many characters changed roles or became drastically different incarnations of a basic idea — e.g., the role I originally had for the character Rory eventually became occupied by Teryl Heylinde, and Rory took on a whole new role as right-hand-person to Torrina Faziel.
Shunga-Satori was at least that protean, and continues to be right up through to the end. In this case, many characters were dropped entirely as they served no purpose in the story except to mirror other characters. But another major change involved simplifying the mechanics of the universe the main characters found themselves in. I have to constantly remind myself that complexity is not depth, and that enchantment on the reader's part is not the same as befuddlement. I wanted to be spellbinding, not bewildering. I still don't think I'm there yet, and it might take another draft or so to find out how much closer I can cut to the core without actually cutting into the core itself.
I'm also finding I don't yet have the next book fully in hand yet. That book was, tentatively, Charisma, but too much about it remains nebulous and difficult to grasp. Let's chalk that up to this year being stressful and draining, and leaving me too few braincells for the job. Maybe it'll get easier once Shunga-Satori is well and duly put to bed.
I don't particularly care if my SF is hard, soft, or mushy; I care whether or not I give a darn about who's in it and what happens.
You've probably seen this one floating around:
I’m seeing a lot of discourse on the difference between science fiction and fantasy today and as a professional sff book editor I want to clear this up: science fictions grow down from the ceiling and fantasies grow up from the floor. Easy. Next!
There's a reason I use the term "SF&F" now. As a lot of the old-school gatekeeping around these things recedes or flat-out dies off, newer generations of creators and consumers have come to the fore with far, far fewer pretensions about what all these labels amount to. I don't particularly care if my SF is hard, soft, or mushy; I care whether or not I give a darn about who's in it and am curious about what happens to them.
With amorality in art, we tend to single out the wrong things to get upset about.
After my post the other day, I wondered some more about the validity of additional taboos against escapes that themselves feel amoral, e.g., violent action movies. And again, I think this is misplaced, if only because we tend to single out the wrong things to get upset about.
In dire times, some people (me included) feel uneasy about seeking escape from the moment they're in.
Sarah Ruhl, in an interview: "During the pandemic, I was drawn to nonfiction because fictional universes seemed almost an amoral escape." I empathized with that statement, while at the same time feeling compelled to disagree with it.
People see your results, not your efforts. By design.
This post is about game design, but it could apply to plenty of things:
Just because you put a lot of time and effort into something...
- doesn't mean it's good
- doesn't mean you will be praised
- doesn't mean it's the end of the world when it flops
Your game is not you. When people say it sucks, they're talking about your game - not about you or your efforts. Don't get defensive when people don't like your game. Don't get angry that people play this stupid mobile microgame made in 6 hours, instead of your creative magnum opus you've put 6 years into. If you can get more people to play your game with less work being done - that's smart. "Start small" is a good advice not only because you have a higher chance of actually finishing the project, but also when it turns out to not be successful, you didn't lose half of your life on it.
People play your results, not your efforts.
No, I have absolutely no idea what's going on with Patreon either.
No, I have absolutely no idea what's going on with Patreon either. I will say at this point any hopes I had of setting up some kind of funding stream through them for my book projects are, and have been for some time, well and truly dashed.