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Posts Tagged ‘neil gaiman’

Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

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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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The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards have been announced! If you’re interested in the best new science fiction today, or just looking to pad your reading list, the Hugo roster is a great place to start.

Check out the complete list at MidAmeriCon II (this year’s Worldcon host). For more on the award and this year’s slate, John Scalzi has a new piece up at the LA Times:

The Hugo finalists: John Scalzi on why the sad puppies can’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success*

I’ve read all but one of the candidates for Best Novel, but only two of those for Best Novella and a handful of the remaining works (I’ve seen all but one of the films, though, so quick and digestible, movies!).

If you’re interested in voting for any of this fine fiction to win a Hugo, you’ll need an active membership to Worldcon. (If you aren’t planning to attend the conference, the most accessible way to do this is with a $50 Supporting membership, which comes with many of the nominated works in the Hugo Voter Packet.)

Links to the (mostly not free) nominated stories are available via Locus Online or in Google’s handy summary search sidebar, along with past winners. I’ll add one more link to the free short story nominee at Nature:

Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)

Time to get reading:)

——

* Yes, the whole “puppies” kerfuffle remains ongoing, but looks to be less of an issue for this year’s Hugo nominees and going forward. Thankfully!

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Today I want to spotlight a collection of writing advice. It comes via OWW, the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. OWW is a fee-based workshop but this advice is available to all.

These short essays discuss topics on writing in general, how to get your work read (if you’re into workshops like OWW, or the free Critters or Codex, for example), and the publishing business overall. I like Nicola Griffith’s piece about avoiding cliches:*

Don’t write “her heart stopped” unless you mean she died. Don’t talk about saucy serving wenches in an inn where the beef stew is thick and hearty and the ale is fresh, nutty, and strong… Why aren’t “serving wenches” ever tired, middle-aged women? Why is the beer rarely yellow, or thin, or cloudy with sediment?

So true.** There’s a reason the average human lives a much longer and healthier life than their ancestors did just a century ago:

In Japan, 72 has become the new 30, as the likelihood of a 72-year-old modern-day person dying is the same as a 30-year-old hunter-gatherer ancestor who lived 1.3 million years ago.

Modern sanitation, medicine and quality infrastructure (for those handy extras like clean drinking water) for the win!

So, keep a weather eye out for dangerous and terrifying pitfalls you have to escape in the nick of time as you navigate the winding path of language clichés:) But keep writing. Remember, all’s well that ends well! (And that’s just about enough of that;)

While we’re on the subject of advice, I’ll supplement the OWW site and my previous posts on writing advice with a link from Brain Pickings. This collection of wisdom is from a variety of writers, genre and otherwise:

#49: Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers
“You have to finish things — that’s what you learn from, you learn by finishing things.”

Some of this advice may not apply to you; I tend not to relate to Bukowski, for example. But some of it may, and I hope it’s useful.

Since I’m throwing in everything but the kitchen sink today, let me close with this great post from Elizabeth Bear: “everybody’s scared of things that they don’t understand and all the living they don’t do.

Accept that there will be a lot of failures along the way, and that you can come back from nearly any mistake that doesn’t involve making a left turn in front of an oncoming semi.

Excellent advice.

Write, rewrite, finish. Do it again.

…………
* Some of the examples are also about uncomfortable -isms. Racism and sexism, for instance, are more problematic than simple clichés and should be resolved at a deeper level. Obviously.
** As a side note, if you’re curious about what and how people ate in the Western Middle Ages, SF Canada writer Krista D. Ball has a detailed and useful book on realism in fantasy food: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank.

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Today I ran across a collection of tips from master writers. The Gotham Writers Workshop includes tips for aspiring writers from Elmore Leonard, George Orwell, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, P.D. James and more.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
— John Cage

Every – every – story is a story about people, or it sucks.
— Joss Whedon

I’ve seen a number of these suggestions before but many not. And when it’s Tuesday morning and the tea has yet to kick in, I find that every little bit helps. Happy writing!

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BBC Radio 4 is producing a radio drama of Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The BBC is known for its adaptations, including Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens last December. I read a lot of Le Guin as a teen but I haven’t revisited this classic novel in a long time, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they do with it.

Adapted for radio by Judith Adams and released one episode per week, the series has just begun. Find it and supporting material, including a documentary with author interview, at BBC Radio 4.

Each episode will be available for 30 days, so if this interests you, don’t wait!

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