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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.

 

 

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* 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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