3/30/2006

So I finally got around to reading that Elizabeth Bear post on ten things about writing and thought, fuck yeah. Particularly Number 2:

"It helps if you honestly like to blow stuff up. Or at least write about blowing stuff up."

Which is pretty much how I sold Stealing Light to Tor UK. People asked me what the book was going to be called and, when I hadn't made up my mind to call it Stealing Light, I replied: 'Blow Shit Up'.

Every time I think about this, I keep imagining a scene from that old US tv series 'Dream On', particularly where Marty, in his day job as an editor, has a conversation something like this:

Sleazy author: I'm going to do an updated version of Moby Dick. Chock fulla sex.
Marty (rubbing his temple) Great, great. What's it called?
Sleazy author: 'Dick'.

If it was me, it would go something like:
Me:'First, I blow something big up. Then I blow something really fucking big up.'
Peter Lavery (rubbing his temple). Great, great. What's it called?'
Me: 'Blow Shit Up'.

Also number 3 in Liz's list:
"All books are broken. Some are less broken than others. Some are broken in ways that a particular set of readers do not mind in the least. If you can find out the group of people who do not mind the ways in which your books are broken, you have identified your target audience. Unfortunately, this fact does not excuse you from actually learning to write."

All true. Sometimes you just have to put down the laptop and step away from the book, sir. And keep your hands in sight.

OK - I just checked out Mamatas' comment on all these 'ten things about writing' comments flying around right now: and one of the commonalities appearing is the old hoary one about how being a writer doesn't impress people. Particularly girls.

My observation has been that the people who come to the above conclusion are missing something, and generally have some concerns over how well they're successfully communicating with the opposite sex at the best of times. If it doesn't work for you, it's not that they find writers dull: they just find you dull. That doesn't mean you are actually dull, but I rather suspect a lot of people who come to this erroneous conclusion are failing to see the whole picture concerning how they're perceived by others. Fine, you're a writer. But be an entertaining, interesting writer (or even just person) who tells funny jokes and seems like fun. Then you're somewhere. But please don't indulge in fatuous statements that don't hold up to analysis.

4 comments:

Paul F Cockburn said...

Re: your latter point, there was a survey last year that indicated creative people were luckier in love.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4479628.stm

So, it must be me then! :-(

RWM said...

I'm beginning to see your point about being a writer. I almost never mention the dayjob now. (When I've got one.)

fiona b said...

i clearly wouldn't be your friend if you weren't a writer...

gary gibson said...

That last comment was said more in annoyance than anything else since, I'm really sorry to say, a certain proportion of writers don't tend to be ... the most socially communicative? And I'm not just talking about sf writers here. Or even just writers, come to think of it: if you want to see a stunning example of complete social dysfunctionality, watch the biopic from a couple of years ago, starring Ed Harris, about the life of the artist Jackson Pollock.

It also depends on whom you're speaking to when you say you're a writer. If you get chatting to someone in a bar, say, for whom Dirty Dancing is the height of cinematic realism, and for whom the release of a George Michael album is an event, chances are they won't be impressed when you tell them you're a writer. If a person you're interested in is responsive to the notion of you having a creative career, usually because they've got creative inclinations themselves, chances are they'll feel sympathy. Like attracts like. My experience is when someone makes this particular complaint, there's always something they're not mentioning or aren't aware of.