Famous SF writers love tossing around obscure words. The more obscure, the better, too; as if knowing a word no one has used since the 18th century or is only applicable if you're translating a passage from a Dead Sea Scroll makes them Special.
Don't get me wrong, vocabulary is a wonderful thing. Enriching yours can make you a better writer, and knowledge is always a good thing. But not when you use it to distance yourself from the rest of us (and I count myself as one of the general populace, as you don't get more blue collar than me and my vocabulary.)
I think the first time I saw the word "Luddite" used was while reading an account of Jo Walton dousing David Brin with Coke at a con. I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) during an earlier author panel that he called her a Luddite. I was too lazy to look it up, guessed it was some sort of snotty SF con-speak anyway and moved on.
But "Luddite" popped up again, this morning in an article
by William Gibson, who regularly swings his mainly obscure vocabulary around like an indifferent club. I'm not real fond of being bashed again by Mr. Gibson (two chapters of that yawner Neuromancer were enough for me) but I was pretty sure he wasn't at a con, I wanted to understand the insult, and it was annoying me to have to keep reading the damn word, so I looked it up:
Luddite: 1. Any of a group of British workers who between 1811 and 1816 rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment. 2. One who opposes technical or technological change.
I concluded that this would be the SF author synonym for the Ugrateful Ignorant Rabble, and likely the deadliest insult a SF writer can throw at a colleague. (Here's an idea for a wonderful con panel: How to Write To Alienate the Great Unwashed Masses. You'll have to beat people away.)
It's a dumb word, and a dumber insult. A really good insult is one we can all enjoy. Please remember this the next time you're searching for what 17th century monks muttered under their breath about their Abbotts.
It's also the attitude that is killing science fiction. The fact is, Luddites and other people who don't understand technology and are afraid of it outnumber the Special People who do nothing but talk and write about it. Why do people who use words like Luddite feel that they have to? Why not ditch that superior attitude and use some of that grandiose vocabulary to educate the Luddites? Knowledge is really only useful when it's shared, not thrown.
A Ghost from the Past:
Tonight I was over at the ex's house for a couple hours passing out candy while he took Mike & Kathy around his neighborhood. We've done this every Halloween since we split, as my knee isn't up to making rounds in the dark anymore and it gives the ex some time with the kids. I had about sixty kids show within the first hour, all in packs of five and ten, and then toward 9 pm a few stragglers here and there.
One of the last kids to come by was an adorable little 5 year old girl (I can't for the life of me remember her costume. You'll see why in a minute.) Her tired-looking mom stood at the end of the walk as her daughter collected her treat, and called out a thank you to me.
I did a double-take, because I knew that voice, and stepped out into the porch light to have a closer look. The lady was shorter than me (a real rarity) and as she came forward to meet her daughter I saw her face and blinked a few times. She looked like someone I knew once, but it couldn't be her. Very tentatively, because I was sure I was wrong, I said, "Marie?"
voice made her freeze and stare at me as if I'd shot her. "Sheila?"
Then we were hugging and laughing and and screaming like teenagers and scaring her poor kid to death because it was Marie, one of my best friends from the old neighborhood who I hadn't seen in more than fifteen years.
We've both looked for each other from time to time, but never found the other one because we lost track of mutual friends and didn't know each other's married names. We've actually been living about six blocks from each other for the last three years and never once bumped into each other until tonight.
She has a 15 year old son who was like three days old the last time I saw him. I can remember when Marie and I were 15. She never heard that I finally got published and totally freaked. We have so much to catch up on, but it was just seeing her that has my head spinning in circles.
Marie and I and another friend named Mary spent our youth hanging together. We were like the Three Musketeers; we worked at the same place and went out to the dance clubs every weekend (yes, I really used to dance.) We went shopping and swapped clothes and cried over boyfriends and had hairdo parties and all the silly girl stuff you do when you're teenagers.
God, that seems like it was just yesterday and a thousand years ago, all at the same time. And now we're in our forties and we have kids and ex-husbands and whole huge chunks of life we didn't get to share to catch up on. It's spooky that we found each other again on Halloween, but I'm really glad. One less question mark to carry around in my heart.
Got the job
& they're buying three of the audition devotional pieces. Off to party....
One Last Gem O' Wisdom:
Tomorrow is Halloween, and the kids and I have tons of stuff to do before we make the rounds. One before-school breakfast, two school parties, three after-school warm-up shindigs and then no person with candy in this town will be safe from my marauders. This year Mike is a pirate and Kath an Indian princess. I've got a black tshirt and jeans; that's as far as I go, costume-wise.
With all the advice and judgements and nattering-ons being thrown around the internet about NaNoWriMo, it looks like everyone has forgotten the most important thing you have to do when you sit down to write a novel:
Yep, that's it. Whether you're aiming for The Great [insert country] Novel or just fifty thousand semi-coherent words, writing your book should be a blast. So have a good time.
Enjoy playing with words, or being outrageous, or laughing at yourself and the world. Tell us your story and have fun
The latest edition of Holly Lisle's Vision
is up and features Holly's hysterically funny workshop "How to Write Suckitudinous Fiction"
(I think it should be titled "Off with Their Lit-heads") and Lazette Giffords' truly excellent "Websites For People Who Need Help Fast"
, a real treasure trove of writing/resource links for you NaNoWriMo'ers out there. The whole issue is terrific (as always) so check it out when you get a chance.
Red Light, Green Light:
Got the okay from my editor on the proposal changes for Heat of the Moment, so tomorrow I'm off to the races. It's been really hard not
to work on this novel, mainly as it's been hammering inside my skull for the last six months, but I can finally remove the shackles and have at it.
I blew the ending of Deimos and, in what is commonly known as a good old fashioned hissy-fit, just permanently deleted the last fifty pages. My only excuse is, I hated it. And you know the old writer's saying: If you love something, set it free, but if you hate something, boot its ass out the front door, pronto.
Turned in my devotionals audition to my Christian editor after a final buff & polish today. It was a fairly tough assignment, as I was restricted to 350 words for each devotional (a first-person informal anecdote that makes a spiritual point) but I actually liked the challenge. I wrote eight devotionals and picked the best five to send in. Don't know if I'll get the gig, but it was fun trying out.
We're in for another mega solar flare hit today, according to this article.
No danger to the surface population, but it's probably going to screw up your TV reception. Good day to turn off the tube and listen to music or read a book.
The kids are home with me today, as Kath had a restless night and woke up with a slight fever while Mike's sore throat and cough have come back. We're back on meds and if things get worse, off to see the doc.
I Know This Hairdresser:
I thought after she dyed my shining locks eggplant purple and inflicted various other hair horrors that she gave it up. Apparently not.
When you discover how Amaz[INGMOR]ons.com's new book search feature can be manipulated to pull whole stories from published anthologies, you should A) express concern,
B) tell everyone on the web how to do it
or C) have one of your commenters tell people how to use it to pull whole novels.
Answer: D)Sit back and relax, 'cause you've already thrown the baby out with the bath water, and do you really think
The Evil Overlord
Jeff Bezos is going to toss it back?
Books I Think You Should Write:
Many of my readers are very opinionated about what I should write next, and one thing that tickles me most are the book suggestions, i.e. I think you should write a standalone about Alunthri
(hard to market, that one) or Do Conor and Tara get their own book?
(maybe, when 16 year old Tara grows up) or Will Hawk fall in love again and will it be with a nice man this time?
(some of my readers are part psychic) or Please kill Reever in the next StarDoc
(isn't it more fun if I keep him alive and torture him a lot?)
My own big secret ambition is to write a straight historical fiction novel one day, set in medieval times (not a romance) and no, I'm not going to say another word 'cause I'll jinx it. Someday, though, when I'm not writing to keep a roof over our heads, I'll take a couple of months and take a stab at it.
I'm a reader, too, and there are authors I'd like to see write a book outside their usual genre ranges, just because I think they'd do a fantastic job of it. Like author Linda Howard, who I'd bet money could write a kick-ass SF novel, and Catherine Coulter, who I know could easily pull off a terrifying horror novel. Someday I hope my pal Holly Lisle writes a historical mystery series (can you imagine the amazing medieval plot twists along with that lyrical voice of hers?)
What would you like some of your favorite authors to write outside their genre territory?
I'm not clear on something and I need you guys to explain it to me. Why, and I'm serious here, do some authors like write extensive bios about themselves on their own web pages in the third person?
"Jane Doe acquired her nine PhDs while curing two kinds of cancer and trying out for the Space Shuttle Program. After climbing Mount Everest and marrying her intrepid climbing companion, a knighted British neurochemist fifteenth in line to the throne, Ms. Doe decided to devote her considerable energies to penning great literary works which would be the first to enlighten the world. She currently resides in Surrey with her five adopted Cambodian children, two champion fox terriers and her husband, Sir Grey Matter-Stoke."
I mean, I know I did that little blurb on mine, but I was just following the example off my mentor's site and I cut it down drastically. Why can't you say "I am, I did, I wrote...?" Is it because they want it to sound like some big shot interviewer wrote it? Honestly, if there's a rule involved here, I'd really like to know.
Publishers Weekly is following the controversy over
Amaz[INGMOR]ons.com's new "Search the book" feature pretty closely, and has the latest Q&As in this article
I'm told you can search all of my books now, for whatever it's worth. Unlike other authors, I don't feel particularly violated. Once the book leaves my hands, the publisher can do pretty much whatever they want with it and I'm not going to be consulted unless rights I own are involved. I can't say whether it violates fair use or not, but I'm sure someone will yammer on about that.
I guess I really don't see the point of searching fictional novels. Nonfiction, sure, that would be helpful if you're looking for text on a specific topic. Unless you're dying to know if I've written other books about Cherijo and just haven't told you, which would be . . . extremely stupid of me . . . what's the point of searching mine?
Make That the Top Eleven:
Author Joe Clifford Faust has a very interesting working writer's weblog, The Word Foundry
and proposed a very funny #11
for my Top Ten Signs You've Attended Too Many Writing Workshops.
National Novel Writing Month (November) is almost upon us, and if you're up to the challenge, check out the official web site here.
There will be folks -- often professional writers -- who tell you that writing a novel in thirty days is impossible, or that you're writing nothing but crap, you're embarrassing the pros, etc. etc. Don't pay attention to them, they're morons caught up in their own superiority complexes. Or send them to me, I love messing with snobs.
Whether you're planning to write the world's shortest novel
, or the world's longest
, you might want to check out Holly Lisle's article, "A Novel Pre-Writing Workshop: Asking the Right Questions."
Great jumpstart-the-brain techniques that get you asking yourself the right questions.
In honor of NaNoWriMo, I'll be posting a wordcount entry every day here on the weblog, along with notes about my own WIPs, roadblocks I run into and how I solve them. The two novels I'm working on in November are "Heat of the Moment" and "No Room at the Inn." If you're doing NaNo and you have a weblog, why don't you do the same?
Here are a couple of links to some of the novel writing-related stuff I have posted over at FM. Please feel free to use them if they can help with your NaNoWriMo novel:
Public Access Links*:
Single novel plotting template
*The transcripts of the different writing workshops I've taught can be found on the Transcripts board, but you have to be a member of FM to access these.
Nora Roberts collaborated with her evil twin self J.D. Robb, and came up with "Remember When" a suspense romance set in the present (first half of the book) and the future (second half.) If you like Nora and/or J.D., this is a fast, fun read. Fans of Peabody will also get to see her debut as Eve Dallas's new partner versus trainee.
"Brotherhood of the Wolf" remains my favorite historical film to date, but "The Count of Monte Cristo"
with Guy Pearce and James Caviezel is running a close second. I didn't think Caviezel could pull off the title role -- this is the same guy who played such a convincing cop in "Frequency" -- but he totally nails it. The casting, acting, settings, filming, all of it was superb. And if you haven't read the Dumas novel, you can find an online copy of it here.
Now that we have wheels again, I kept a promise and took the kids to see the SF/talking doggie movie "Good Boy." Mike & Kath are big dog movie fans and they thought it was great. The plot was simple but I didn't fall asleep through it, so that's saying something. Along the lines of "Cats & Dogs" but with a better lead kid actor and not so many uber-special effects.
The movie did give me some time to think, and I've retitled the ms for "Burned Twice" to a previous title, "Heat of the Moment." I always liked HotM better and might as well fight for the title I really like versus one I feel waffly about.
I'm using the headset now; I tore up the knuckles and backs of my hands working on the car yesterday. This morning I woke up majorly bruised, scratched and scabbed. I pamper my hands and the skin is only tough on my fingertips (mainly from quilting.) I have a scene in HotM where Terri beats the daylights out of someone, so I can use the visual and the pain to enhance the follow-up. As I made notes about what I was feeling, I thought, Only a writer would do something like this.