Back from various real life runnings-around. Something that lodged in my head along the way was a complaint someone had about a Crichton-esque SF-tinged thriller currently cluttering up airport bookstalls: "This read like it was written to be filmed." I didn't think that was an accident.Read more
For the next week or so I'll be mostly incommunicado as I deal with real life. Were this a more heavily trafficked blog, I'd say talk amongst yourselves.
Well, you can do that if you want. Nothing stopping you.
Tags: real life
In trying to describe Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned to friends, I've sometimes fallen back on the old "X plus Y" trick so common to those pitching a project to a prospective reader, producer, editor, or other authority. In my case, I cited three major sources of inspiration for the project: Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas, James Cameron/Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days, and Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain. No, really.
This in turn provoked another discussion: what I mean when I say something took inspiration from something else, as I've developed my own take on it over time.Read more
I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself.
— J.K. Rowling
It's so hard to poke holes in a sentiment like this, because on the face of it, it seems completely correct. What self-respecting writer doesn't write "for themselves" first and foremost? I know I sure don't. But all the same, I'm noticing a distinct difference between those who write "for themselves" and connect with others, whether en masse or not, and those who write "for themselves" and end up writing ... well, for themselves.Read more
An older one, worth getting caught up on.
My fellow author Christian aka Leo King posted another one of his little video blogs about building sympathy for your characters. This time around he discusses the "everyman moment", where you put your character in a situation that inspires the reader to say "I'd do that if I was them." I like this idea, although I propose an extension to how it's to be approached.Read more
When I was younger — we're talking in my late teens, early twenties — I got into a argument-of-sorts with a then-friend that went along these lines. Most people, the overwhelming majority, do not want to use their minds. They want their newspaper to do their thinking for them, their TV to do their dreaming for them. They refuse to accept responsibility both for their intelligence and their imagination.Read more
Much busy-ness this past weekend (Always Outnumbered on the brain), but something worth talking about:
There are a lot of beautiful, wonderful, and useful things one can learn from physicists and mathematicians, but our expertise is in something very far-removed from the question of how to live a good life in the face of significant challenges. It seems likely that one motivation for books with this defensive attitude about science is the current ugly environment of our politics and culture. ... Scientists who want more respect should stick to what they know, and avoid the temptation of “science-splaining” to the public. In particular they should avoid preaching about meaning, morality, and other issues that they know no more about than anyone else.
The quote in question is from physicist Peter Woit's review of Sean Carroll's book The Big Picture. Woit's big problem with the book can be summed up as such, in his words: "I just don’t think theoretical physicists have anything useful to tell the average person about meaning and morality, other than that it’s a mistake to search for it in our discoveries about physics."Read more
Last time around, I mentioned how one of the reasons I'm so twitchy about the turning of spiritual guidance into dogma is the way such things can be seized upon by powers-that-be to reinforce their status quo.Read more
You don't have to dig very deeply to find rank pessimism these days. Between reports of ocean acidification and the melting permafrost, it isn't hard to find people who put very low odds on the human race surviving the century. Maybe even the next few decades are a tough bet.
Confronting this stuff, as a single and relatively powerless human being, is paralyzing and depressing. It reminds you that you are not only merely one person among teeming billions (who pays attention to one grain of sand on the beach?), but that talk of taking control of one's life seems a brutal joke in the light of such facts.
On the one hand, it's impossible to function if you think about it. On the other hand, if you don't think about it, then you are making that many more excuses to let things fall to pieces.Read more
A casual statement by my friend Steven Savage stuck in my mind: "There's something to how writers are more than writers, and fail themselves by only being writers."Read more