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Posts Tagged ‘artists’

Here’s hoping you have a good day, even if it is a Monday:)

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Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

— Robert A. Heinlein

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Slate has invited ten writers to envision the possibilities of a Trump future. As Ben H. Winters, author and the editor of this series explains, “fiction has a special power to clarify, galvanize, prophesy, and warn.” Writers include Héctor Tobar, Ben H. Winters, Nisi Shawl, Saladin Ahmed, Lauren Beukes, Jeff VanderMeer, Kashana Cauley, J. Robert Lennon, Edan Lepucki, and Elizabeth Bear.
Because as the motto says, it’s best to be prepared.

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It occurs to me that one of the things we really need now is storytelling. With a Republican-dominated government in the U.S., dissenters won’t have as many direct political options to make change via laws. That leaves hearts and minds.

And what’s best for changing hearts and minds? A compelling story.

As I see it, an important part of our job right now as writers isn’t to bombard with facts and figures (or not only, of course there’s a place for that). Fiction writers have a special place in society. We imagine other futures, other paths, other worlds. We bring those experiences, those feelings*, to readers.

Our challenge is to inspire, to engage, to help others envision a better world. With a nod to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, to make them long for a kinder, more hopeful, and more just sea.

 

 

– – – – –
* And as Ian Warren argues, at least part of what has happened with Brexit and the U.S. election seems to be that “what data and polling often misses, is how people think and feel” and that “the communication of effective emotional messages is currently beating data alone.”

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I realized that I have been trying to write a serious version of what is clearly a goofy, rollicking space pirate adventure. Obviously!

That led me to recall the following wisdom from a modern-day sage (who should know):

Figure out who you are. Then do it on purpose.
― Dolly Parton

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Today is Memorial Day in the United States. We’ve been watching classic war movies all weekend, Patton and The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far. I’m thinking of my stepmother’s father, who campaigned in North Africa and Italy. I’m thinking of one uncle who served and came home with his humor and wits intact, and another who did not.

One set of parents is hosting a party to celebrate the hope of returning summer, another set is at the family plot cleaning graves and laying flowers. Both sides of memory are necessary, in my mind.

Part of what writers do is build creative narratives that interpret life, remember the past, reframe the present, and project into the future. Art is interpretation. Memory is selective. What we remember depends on who we are, and who we hope to be. When we stop telling stories, we start forgetting.

Today’s free fiction is Pamela Sargent’s “Too many memories” from Nature’s Futures division.

You already know what Dorothea’s most important insight was — that the reason our client had so much trouble with her memories was that she possessed no narrative structure on which to locate them.

“There’s no framework there,” Dorothea Singh said to me, “nothing to hang the memories on.”

Today, we are that framework.
 

 

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It’s a beautiful day today, the birds are singing, the clover is growing and I’m plugging along, making progress on numerous fronts and feeling fine.

It isn’t always this way.

Some days I can’t get a thing done and nothing seems right no matter what I do. I’m not alone in this, as I was reminded by a recent discussion on one of my listserves. A member had finally had it up to there with the frequent failure to find editorial acceptance. Folks chimed in, discussions were discussed, and this particular writer hopefully left the thread more optimistic than when it began. I know I did.

What some call failure, I call pre-acceptance. Have I mentioned this before? I probably have, because it’s a fairly critical component to my writerly attitude.* No one is going to like everything you write, no matter who you are. There will be rejection.

And that’s ok.

That’s progress, that’s experience, that’s learning one more way not to make a lightbulb. All writers, all people, get rejected.

Let’s take words out of the equation for a moment. I’m on a cookie kick so let’s stick with that.

Are you handing out delicious cookies at work? Someone will say thanks, but no thanks. It may be that they aren’t keen on chocolate chip, or that they are lactose intolerant, or that their doctor just read them the riot act about Type 2 diabetes. You don’t know, and that’s ok.

This isn’t about them, it’s about you.

Do the best you can, of course, and keep bumping that line higher. Practice. Follow Angela Duckworth’s research and go on grit rather than talent. Go online, and find helpful pep talks like the one Neil Gaiman wrote for National Novel Writing Month:

One word after another.

That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.

Whatever it takes. Your goals are worth it.

* I should mention that I didn’t start out this way. It took some time to be ok with rejection, and if I can do it, you can too. The 350+ pre-acceptances I have accumulated so far helped a lot:)

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This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.
― Neil Gaiman

Thankfully, I have cookies:)

 

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Today’s Thing I Like is a way to make productivity easier and fun. Also? Guilt-free rewards for writing and lots else, always awesome.

Let’s see, how to introduce this idea?

If the only part of that sentence that made sense to you was “Christmas” fear not! Explanations forthwith.

Part the First: Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary is a terrific author and puppeteer with a string of quality novels and shorts under her belt. She’s the sort of person who suffers a puppeteering injury (yep, that’s a thing) and decides to get back into writing in her down time. And wins a Hugo. Then another one. And another one:)

For those of you interested in learning about writing, she’s also active in the Writing Excuses podcast (transcripts are also available for those who prefer the written word).

 

Part the Second: Habitica

This online platform helps you set up a to do list and rewards you in (fake, sadly, but still) gold pieces when you finish things. It’s free to join and while you can subscribe for things like avatar and quest extras, you don’t need to spend a cent to take advantage of the productivity options. There are lots of productivity and gamification platforms and apps and trackers out there, but this one is working for me.

This is my Habitica avatar, mount and pet, all decked out in rainbow fun.RainbowRumpus

Habitica lets you track what you need to do and, just as importantly, what you have already done. Then (and this is the extra fun bit) when you’re asking yourself if you’ve worked enough to deserve that double mochaccino half-caf* you’re craving, you can go over to your (fake, but still) treasure chest and cash in gold for a reward.

True, you still have to pay for that half-caf with real money, but! It is no longer a guilty pleasure, it is a well-deserved prize. Set up whatever rewards you like, from a trip to the cafe to a book-like object to dinner and a movie.

 

Part the Third: Ink Slingers

A Habitica guild or assemblage of people with similar interests, in this case, writing. You don’t need to join a guild but if you’re the sort of person who likes chat breaks with their productivity, consider it. If you’re the sort of person who wants to eliminate even the possibility of distraction on their way to accomplishment, well, don’t.

How Does This All Come Together?

Now, I’m not usually into apps for this and groups for that. I tend to just forge ahead. Even so, this  system works for me. Maybe it will work for you too, or maybe all you need is a handwritten list of your daily step count. Whatever works to help track measurable progress toward achievable goals.

I may still have a tiny touch of game/loot love left over from my time in Warcraft, and if it works for Mary, well. I asked if I could pretty please join Ink Slingers and then promptly became the walliest of wallflowers, but it’s still nice knowing that other people in my guild are working toward similar goals. It’s also nice to have a list that keeps me on track and lets me reward myself when I cross things off.

It’s even nicer to enjoy a tasty adult beverage (50 gold), guilt free. Now excuse me while I go check “blog post” off my list:)

……….
* Ok, I don’t drink coffee, but the great thing about this system is that it lets you pick your poison. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and Bailey’s, anyone?

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“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy… you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

― Stephen King

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