Category: Opinion

I Miss Freddy Mercury

When I was a kid my family drove to Florida; on one of those trips we listened over and over to two cassettes.  Because of Billy Joel’s Glass Houses and a Best of Queen compilation, I’m a fan of both.

Credit: Fandom

This reminds me of that time again.

Changing Views

Over time my views on different facets of writing have changed, in some ways contradicting other, previous posts on this blog:

Reading While Writing

Here’s my past view on this. Things changed from a quote by Stephen King. I don’t like King as a person thanks to a meeting years ago, but I still think he was right about this:


“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. …”

Stephen King

I modify this a bit: I write –and read — fiction and non.

Each one uses different ‘muscles’, different genres. different styles.

So: I read both now, each with their respective style.

Work For Free

I posted two differing views on this here and here.

Well, I don’t write anything for free like Wil, with exceptions: I still write for the newsletter at work, this blog, and Medium… but when I join their Partner Program,  I have a chance to earn on it. 

So,

I may seem wishy-washy, but I have a method.

GOR: The good, the bad, and the Ugly

I haven’t posted here in a long while. Medium with it’s bigger audience lured me away. I’m trying to fix that…

The art for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; a Western movie by Sergio Leonne.
I don’t have the artist’s name. Please, enlighten me so I can give proper credit.

Cue the Ennio Morricone music…

The Gor novels are mostly forgotten nowadays (although Politically Incorrect Games [P.I.G.] have released a Gor game; l have to find the email). I’m not surprised. The series began well, got bad very fast, and became worse after.


The Good

Gor is also called Counter-Earth. It’s in the same orbit as Earth, just equidistant on the opposite side of the sun, so we’ll never see it. The planet has a lower gravity than Earth.

The civilizations are a mixture of Roman, Greek, Native American and Viking, other cultures too, transplanted by spaceship from our Earth by an insectoid race that they call the Priest Kings. They are allowed to advance in architectural, agricultural and medical skills (including life extension), but are forced to remain primitive in the fields of transportation, communication and weaponry (at approximately the level of Classical Mediterranean civilization) due to restrictions on technology imposed by the Priest-Kings. This limitation is imposed to ensure the safety of both the Priest-Kings, as well as the other indigenous and transplanted beings on Gor who would otherwise possibly come to harm due to humans’ belligerent tendencies.

This was the first novel. Written by John Norman — the pseudonym of Dr. John Lange, a professor of philosophy and a classical scholar — it drew a lot from the Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs (although poorly marketed, the movie John Carter was based on the series.

John Norman’s main character here, Tarl Cabot, was loosely inspired by John Carter (I may be wrong about that).

This was the Good. Then it went bad, and quickly.

The Bad

“I’m not for censorship but I am for strategies which marginalize stuff that works to objectify women and suggests women enjoy being beaten.-


Michael Moorcock


Around the fourth book, it got its own style. Unfortunately, not a good one: women were often slaves, often beaten until they were docile and submissive (often by the hero of the novel) and fell in love with the men who beat them.

This may make them popular among the alt-right, but for those of us more enlightened, it’s disgusting.

I stopped reading the series then, but from what I’ve read on Wikipedia, it gets worse.

and The Ugly

Science fiction/fantasy author Michael Moorcock has suggested that the Gor novels should be placed on the top shelves of bookstores
Later books became (I’m quoting Wikipedia here) “sadomasochistic pornography”. The author claimed to draw inspiration from philosophy, Earth history, Homer, Freud and Nietzsche… then came in with… this.

Surprisingly, this series not only got reprinted in several languages, and is a strong seller in Ebooks… but before I did research for this article, I’d mostly forgotten.

Like What You Read? Get More!      

A Long Time Coming Indeed (The Documentary of a Legend)

Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)

Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)G

(First posted on Medium.)

Gord Downey, the singer-frontman of the band The Tragically Hip, lost his battle with brain cancer last week. He was 53.

Last night, CTV here in Canada aired the documentary about his farewell tour across Canada, ending in his hometown Kingston, Ontario.

Many Americans don’t know the band because they are more a Canadian phenomenon.

Full disclosure here: in the past, I wasn’t a huge fan of the band — but as I listened to all of their hits, I realized that I WAS.

Before anybody else points it out: writing songs is hard. I can be poetic in my writings, but I’m not good at poetry… and songwriting is even more difficult. I tried to write some in the past, but I wasn’t very good.

Gord Downey wrote songs for over 30 years — for 14 albums and more EPs and singles.

Even more admirable: his body was failing more and more every day; he still performed a concert tour across Canada — plus he performed 90 songs, where most people sing 45 songs at most.

He was one of the hardest working men in the music industry, and one who used his celebrity to bring more notice to the mistreatment of our First Nations brethren.

My changed view on NaNoWriMo

I’ve done NaNo since 2003 and tried Camp NaNoWriMo this past July. The

Things Have Changed

Things Have Changed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

first four times I ‘won’ the 50 K challenge, but didn’t achieve it ever since, and didn’t achieve the goal for Camp either. I didn’t even get halfway there.

My Changed View

What I’ve come to realize is that I’m now putting too much pressure on myself to complete the marathon, to the point that I’m stalled to actually do so.

So, I’ll plan to try a different approach and see how it works for me:  from now on I’ll use the start of a NaNo event to spur me to start a project (a novel in November, something else for Camp) but I won’t concern myself with completing the target by the deadline date.

Maybe by not pressuring myself I’ll succeed at it more often again. I want to always finish the book that I start, instead of leaving it to be forgotten when the event is over. Some of my past projects I already plan to revisit, some of them I need to rewrite from scratch because I no  longer have my backups. Just as well, as the new versions won’t feel as clunky.

An Important Caveat

Note that I’m not bashing NaNoWriMo in the least. I’ve been a part of it since nearly its start (I think there were three before I began) and it can help an author to get the words out of their head – and  my view may change yet again, many times in fact– but for now this is what I’ll try, and see how it works.

“Don’t Get it Right. Just Get it Written.” James Thurber

Blog

 

Pat Flewelling, on alternative plotting

It’s quid pro quo time.. over a year ago I posted on Pat’s blog (here‘s a link to the blog), now she’s returning the favor.

With me writing for Camp NaNoWriMo right now, this is an appropriate post.

I’m not as prolific, but few people are!

At last count, I’ve written 59 novel-length manuscripts since 1993, and I’ve just come back from a weekend-long novel writing marathon with the better half of # 60. Some have been completely pre-planned. Some were written off the cuff. Most haven’t been published, because they just haven’t been solid enough.

When I thoroughly plotted the story in advance, one of two things would always

The Marathon

The Marathon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

happen: either I would deviate wildly off course, or I would get so bored that I’d just stop writing altogether. I often mistook a tangent as some kind of award-winning plot-twist, and having to delete 10-15% of the manuscript was a real killer to my motivation. And sometimes, I was just bored, because there was no sense of discovery left over, no room to play around. I was choking my own creativity.

At the other extreme, stories that had no predestination took longer to finish. I’d often spend hours staring slightly cross-eyed at the ceiling, trying to remember where I was taking that last thought. I’d also ended up spending countless hours editing after the fact, removing tens of pages of verbal dross.

But for this year’s novel writing marathon, I decided to try something new. I planned only so much, but I also left major plot points blank.

I thought of it like a vacation itinerary. Let’s say that I knew I was leaving Montreal on a Monday at 7:00 a.m., and that I had to be in Toronto by Saturday at noon. Let’s say, furthermore, that I also wanted to visit Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston, and Oshawa, before finally heading into the Big Smoke. As long as I got to Ottawa by 4:00 p.m., I could take any route I wanted. I could take the back roads and enjoy a longer drive through the country, or I could stick to the highways and get there sooner, then park the car and stroll around on foot before leaving at 4:00. I wouldn’t decide which route to take to Ottawa until I was in the car with the radio on and a coffee in hand.

During the marathon, I discovered not only that I actually stuck to the plan, but I wrote in an unforeseen major character, who made the plot more engaging and resolved a lot of plot holes. I finally had a planner that would direct my story toward a fun and logical conclusion, but one that left plenty of opportunities to make stuff up as I went along. Most surprisingly of all, because I had a known destination and unknown roads, I found my narrative pacing became the strongest it’s ever been.

But, after this many novels, I know that what works for one project doesn’t necessarily work for another. Likewise, what works for me may not work for you. All I can suggest is that you keep experimenting until you find what works best, and have fun with it along the way.

Wil Wheaton and Not Writing for Free

I won’t commit idea theft myself, so Wil Wheaton‘s original post is here. Here’s an opinion on Slate.

English: Wil Wheaton at a San Diego Comic-Con ...

English: Wil Wheaton at a San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Guild in July 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I agree with both views. I offer what I write free on this blog; what I’m writing for Exploits of a Midnight Traveler is also free — but no one is being paid for it.

In the case of Huffington Post, however, the site is valued at 53 million dollars. It makes money off the advertising that it sells on every post it puts.

Telling people that it can’t pay them is silly. Saying that it is free publicity and exposure… that’s offensive. Will it offer beads and rags  too?

When someone is making profit from your work, you should be paid for it too. PERIOD. A restaurant doesn’t give away food in return for word of mouth (unless you’re a published food critic); a  non-Olympic athlete won’t play for a team solely out of love for their sport; why, then, is it OK for an artist to work for free?

I write RPG products to make money. My novels will sell on Amazon. I’ll give away a story to help to build up my email list… I don’t write these things without a purpose to benefit to myself.

Free exposure is not it.

This site moving

I haven’t updated this blog in a month. The reason for that is the limits that the WordPress hosting system puts on me. For a free blog they’re okay but not for my personal brand.

Update soon.

Space Opera — What is It?

This is a genre that’s existed for decades, but it’s often misunderstood.
It was considered as Science Fiction in the 1950s, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, but it’s really a form of Science Fantasy. There are many worlds of aliens, in fact hundreds, which gave it the veneer of science fiction. How it no longer fits it:

There are myriad inhabited worlds, often within the same systems. Science shows us that’s not the case, without major terraforming. That is a concept that didn’t exist in those early days.
Entire worlds often have a single feature, such as a desert world or an ice planet. Just look at Earth… we have different climates based on different areas. Just winter alone is different here in Canada and in Northern Europe – and it’s non-existent in the equator zone.
A major example is the Lensman series by E.E. “Doc” Smith, and in film: the Star Wars saga.

E. E. "Doc" Smith

E. E. “Doc” Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Note that I’m not ragging on Star Wars. I’m a fan). Star Wars because there are so many worlds with life on them, and entire worlds just one climate.

Technically it isn’t entire worlds with a sole environment. A good writer could say that we just see part of a world, so the entire world isn’t just one environment type… but for the sake of this genre it’s considered to be.

Also, there are more intelligent versions of this genre. Lois McMaster-Bujold has her series of Vorkosigan novels set in a Space Opera universe, but she uses more science fiction ideas in it than others do.

Lois McMaster Bujold. Photo: David Dyer-Bennet...

Lois McMaster Bujold. Photo: David Dyer-Bennet 1996. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The main definition of space opera, according to its entry on Wikipedia, is that a space opera is like a ‘soap opera in space’. This is a bit simplistic, but they are often melodramatic stories involving ship combat, or romances and betrayals. We see them in standard SF, but far less melodramatic.
The Wikipedia article lists Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series as an example of Space Opera; I have trouble with that. First off, I’m a big Asimov fan. The Mule is an example of a large power escalation — cited as a characteristic of Space Opera — but Isaac didn’t write deep romance, and he was an actual scientist; his writing did have a more believable basis (I’m not saying that Psychohistory is real.
My 2nd NaNoWriMo novel (Into the Flock, a winner) was a Space Opera. I may try to redo it someday.

Cats and Writers

Today I’ll examine something less weighty; appropriate as it should not be a day for deep thoughts. It is Sunday, after all!

What I’d like to discuss is how many writers (including me) have cats.

My publishing imprint (Bosulliman Press) is based on a cat theme too. The origin of the name I’ll cover in my newsletter. I have a link to another Page on this Blog for me to manually add you to that list if you’re interested. Here ends my digression.

My cat (Garfield) is my third in 25 years. Author Rayne Hall wrote a series of books about writing using her black cat Salem as a spokesbeing; here’s a link (not an affiliate one). One of my friends — a very prolific author in her own right (blog here) has a cat named Ishmael. The number of authors with cats in their bios is beyond number.

So, why are cats and writers such a pairing?

Writing is a solitary endeavor; a writer is often alone for long stretches of time. A cat is only around when it wants attention, then stays away.

A cat purring, often on your lap, seems to calm a writer into more creative thought.

I’ll leave it to more scientific minds to answer this mystery!

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