Saturday, October 29, 2016

Three Hundred and Counting

This is my 301st post since I started blogging six years ago.  I have been trying to maintain a weekly schedule, as I've explained on several occasions, but occasionally have fallen off the wagon.  Much of what I have written concerns writerly pain; the worry that the muse won't return, that I are writing crap (usually half way through my second editing pass), that no one understands how difficult it is to write, the joy of acceptance and the agony of rejections, and the continuing battle with the muse - an unforgiving bitch who demands endless rewrites and corrections.

I've also dipped in other areas of momentary concern and not connected to writing at all.  These were thankfully few and probably reveled much about my political and cultural leanings.  So be it: I write these posts for my own pleasure and if others manage to extract a bit of Schadenfreude then I am happy.

So, how do I embark on this next phase of postings?  The answer is probably that I will stumble along as I have in the past, bitching about the unwillingness of words to assemble themselves as I wish or the vagaries of magazine editors, and concern that somehow I am out of whatever loop others participate in.*  The latter is hard when the majority of my time is either spent trying to have a life, staring at a keyboard for hours, volunteering for SFWA, or making occasional forays into intimidating conventions filled with scary people who expect me to entertain them.  Better to have the internet as my barrier and companion.

Don't expect any revelations, wisdom, or anything  other than what I have been providing for the past three plus years.  Stay seated in the back of the boat as I continue to pole upstream against the current as I bitch about the water flowing past too swiftly.  

*Yeah, grammer is another problem


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to Recognize a Predator

1.  No eyewitnesses.  Privacy is an absolute requirement!  Eyewitness testimony can destroy the predator's credibility when they try to exercise rule 4 (see below).

2. Destruction of any evidence!  Facts have the uncomfortable habit of turning up when the predator least expects them.  They must be very careful to leave no sign of their actions. 

3.  Imbalance of power.  Effective predation requires that the recipient be fully aware of the consequences of resistance.  Unless there is an imbalance of power there is no telling what sorts of  baseless allegations the victim might make. Money may also be used, providing the (alleged) victim signs a legal agreement to remain silent.

4.  Deny deny, deny.  If the predator is careful to say it never happened, then what recourse does the recipient of their alleged attentions claim? When the predator has prestige, wealth, or position their powerful voice can overwhelm any feeble claims.  The predator often falls back on their charm or sterling reputation when pressed.

5. Cast aspersions on the accuser.  The predator's most effective defense is to raise doubts about an accusers honesty, motives, and/or life style, especially if they can suggest that something about these is "just not right." It does not matter if that something is relevant or not. Predators often suggest whatever ulterior motives they can imagine and proclaim them repeatedly and loudly.

6. Litigate. This is the atomic bomb of a predator's defense. Threatened legal action, whose defense would bankrupt the accuser, often works and, if that fails, they can follow through with the legal action and protract it to the limits of the accuser's financial resources.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Just Words

"It's just words," the Donald said, dismissing the power that "just words" have played in history.  The Magna Carta was just words, as were the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. "Just words" have the power to strengthen hearts, change minds, and open eyes to social and political injustice.  "Just words" have moved nations, crystalized political parties, and shamed demagogues, and exposed criminals. They have also been used to curtail criticism, stifle opposition, and promulgate damaging falsehoods.

But words have also been used to gladden souls through soaring literary prose that removes  us from the daily fray. Words have revealed the best and worst of humanity, showing its failures and foibles in dramatic, comedic, and tragic form. "Just words" have presented us with aspirational hope as well as forced us to face gritty reality. They've opened the mind's eyes to awesome vistas and the mind itself to brave, as well as horrifying, concepts.

"Just words" are all we have to convey our thoughts and feelings to one another, for none of us can  discern their unspoken thoughts or emotions and must rely upon words, words, and words using the imperfect tool of language. Words have the power to convey love and hate, happiness and sorrow, compassion and indifference. "Just words" can also expose who we really are.

There are no such things as "Just words."


Friday, October 7, 2016

Complaints from the Word Lathe

I've been receiving a succession of good news lately the best of which is that NON-PARALLEL UNIVERSES, a collection of my twenty favorite published stories from the last ten years (as of 2015) will shortly be available. With five other accepted stories in the pipeline everyone should see a lot of Bud Sparhawk fiction during the next six months.

Meanwhile, back on the forge where I am hammering on one of the unfinished novels, work is apace.  In the last week I've managed to bring its length to a mere 115,000 words, down from 150,000.
Such a severe reduction has not been trifling.  I had to cut one subplot, combine conversations, and compress twenty-seven chapters into nineteen somewhat longer ones ( the 20th chapter remains to be written.)  The sequence of events had to be reordered, and some characters were replaced, their actions and dialogue performed by others.  There are still, by my reckoning, a potential twenty to twenty-five thousand words to be trimmed. Whether this requires eliminating yet another subplot, silencing a particularly garrulous principal, or further trimming descriptive world building material of little consequence to the main plot remains to be determined.

There's a certain amount of  pain when cutting huge swathes of words, words that expressed ideas that were almost immediately reconsidered for better phrasing, a more precise word, or a complete reordering of sentence sequence.  None of these were trivial or random narrative, but instead were  the result of hours of  hard work and often anguish.  To cut them meant erasing hours or days of effort and forever dooming them to oblivion. It is not easy, especially when I am coming from the short story perspective where every fucking word has a huge impact and economy of phrasing is paramount.  Perhaps some novelists edit with ease, but such is not the case for me, alas.

The upshot is that NaNoWriMo is upon me and, rather than type another fifty thousand stream-of-concious, unedited, and poorly considered words, I will endeavor to use that time to torture this novel into final form.

Then all I have to do is find a market.