“I think it’s somewhere else.”

– Kim Stanley Robinson – Red Mars (p. 68) –

 

…”Maybe it’s in our genes,” [Maya] said. “Maybe they felt things going wrong on Earth. Felt an increased speed of mutation, or something like that.”

“So they struck out for a clean start,” [Frank said]

” Yes.”

“The selfish gene theory. Intelligence only a tool to aid successful reproduction.”

“I suppose.”

“But this trip endangers successful reproduction,” Frank said. “It isn’t safe out here.”

“But it isn’t safe on Earth either. Waste, radiation, other people…”

Frank shook his head. “No. I don’t think the selfishness is in the genes. I think it’s somewhere else.” He reached out with a forefinger and tapped her between the breasts — a solid tap on the sternum, causing him to drift back to the floor. Staring at her the whole while, he touched himself in the same place. “Good night, Maya.”

 

Rejection Letters and the Creative Process, Pt. 1

The slush pileI write this from experience. If I had known how many rejection letters I’d receive before I started writing, would I have taken the plunge? Good question. I’m not sure, and I don’t really want to look back, but here’s a hypothesis I heard this week: multiple rejection letters may actually hone your creative skills.

Let’s get one thing out on the table and make it clear. Receiving rejection letters – doesn’t matter how many – doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. The odds are against you. Really against you. Continue reading

Keep Calm and Carry On – My Thoughts on a Culture of Resignation

Keep Calm and Carry On“Keep Calm and Carry On.” You’ve seen it on bags and napkins and journals in every bookstore or gift shop. It’s everywhere. The motivational tagline that seems to have become the unthinking motto of the last few years. I say unthinking because it’s just that: the statement of the decade is almost undoubtedly accompanied by a full lack of thought – completely un-motivational in its banality and now as satirized as the middle-school-maturity phrase, ‘YOLO.’

But as kitsch as it sounds and looks now, is it innocuous? In the wake of worldwide financial crisis, terrorism, and governmental failures that make it difficult to understand the actual source of the issues – during a time when small groups of single-target activists gather on Twitter to raise half-hearted environmental awareness or lobby for some sort of reform – is this phrase just a bad tick among Western cliches, or is it something more harmful? Continue reading

Revisiting Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a good philosophy Uncertainty is a virtue in creative writing. If you’re a writer, you’ve likely heard or read countless interviews of famous authors saying that the outline is a great way to kill the spark. That’s not to say that outlining doesn’t work for anyone. I’ve outlined some stories that I needed to wrap my head around before I got too far in to redirect, and they turned out fine. But it doesn’t work often.

‘Write to discover’ is the long standing motto for many authors, and I’ve adopted it for myself. For a person who usually avoids spontaneity, this seems a little out of character, but then again I’m not writing about myself. I have to figure out who these characters are. To do that, it seems easiest to place them in a setting and a situation, and then I have ten pages from which a plot is quickly being born without my knowledge. Continue reading

The Thousand Names

The Thousand NamesWell, I only read one of the books I said I was going to this summer, apparently because I can’t tie myself down like that. But it was quite a book. Although mildly escapist, Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names is a page-turner. That’s what summer’s about anyway, right? Beach reads.

Easy to get into and easy to stick with, The Thousand Names holds a captive audience by means of some of the most riveting battle scenes I’ve ever read. Wexler is gifted in this aspect. Battle is something I’ve always struggled to write because of the sheer amount going on and the significance of all of the details.

Continue reading

Nothing New Under the Sun

Shadow of doubtThe more I read the more I realize that every idea – every idea at all – has already been taken. “There is nothing new under the sun”, the famous quote from King Solomon goes. And while I suspect this is a woefully misquoted verse, it seems to have veracity under most interpretations. And, gosh darn-it, he was saying that long before Christ!

As authors (or artists looking to bring something unique into the world), where does that leave us? Perhaps some of the greatest writers in history felt this inner demon attack on creativity, so maybe we’re not in bad company, but that doesn’t change the nagging suspicion.

A writer’s doubts cling to him or her like a shadow. Glance over your shoulder or into a mirror and you’ll find it. If you don’t, you haven’t done anything risky or creative or vulnerable enough to earn doubt. But perhaps this particular doubt should be cut down a little to a more manageable and realistic scale.  Continue reading