More Books, Less Problems

I’ve been acquiring a lot of books recently. This is unusual for me, and I blame the temporary homelessness. Books are my portable home. I curl up in them much like a hermit crab wriggles into a shell. When I move into my new place next week, hopefully I’ll go back to being an unapologetic library rat.

About a month ago, I picked up William Wallace Cook’s insane/awesome Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I traded Wild for a copy of Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, which a friend got signed for me at the book’s launch party in San Francisco.

I just returned from a trip to Portland. I arrived back to East Coast with six more books than when I had left.

After spending a late night in Powell’s, I emerged with used copies of the following:

  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower
  • Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Boy Detective Fails – Joe Meno

My friend then lent me three more books:

  • Accelerando – Charles Stross
  • Hyperion – Dan Simmons
  • Ringworld – Larry Niven

So if you ask me what I’m reading at any time during the next few months, the answer will almost certainly be science fiction or contemporary fiction. But isn’t it always?

I do feel like I should balance out this list with some ladies, though. Jo Walton’s Among Others has been calling my name, as has Edith Pearlman’s short story collection Binocular Vision. I’ve also never read a whole Kelly Link book, which seems like a terrible gap in my reading history. Any other suggestions?

Why Are You Ashamed of Being A Writer?

Ben Mirov asked this over on HTMLGIANT.  So.

I keep putting off real life and real jobs in order to have “time” to “write”, but I don’t use that time to write.  I then complain about not having any money.  I steal stories from other people’s lives.  I write speculative fiction and feel embarrassed about showing it to anyone.  I write realistic fiction and it’s not very good and I feel like a sell-out.  I have long, inappropriately bitter e-mail conversations with my mentors about the publishing industry.  I inexplicably feel like a washed-out failure at the age of 23.  I will never be as good as the writers I admire.  I write about sex and then my relatives want to read my stories.

And you?

Luke, I Am Still Dead

I must say, I do love when the internet combines two things I love into one thing.

A real post coming soon, perhaps. I’ve been playing Dragon Age II and it’s rekindled my desire to write about the narratology of video games.

Collaboration and Creative Cross-Pollination

Pinky out!

Pinky out, for the classy kind of groping.

One of the many nice things about WordPress is that it allows me to follow the popular search terms used to find this blog.  Most of the time it’s easy to tell that people came here by accident.  “Halloween costume”, for example, seems to be a common one.

But here’s the weird thing.  Lately, it seems that people are actively looking for the story “Goodbye, Invisible Man“.  There are search terms like “invisible man bicycle packages drugs” and “gloria stuart bandages bar” and “the invisible man doesn’t have much of a face when I first meet him”.  It’s as if someone else told them about the story and they wanted to go find it.  Or they read it, vaguely remembered it, and wanted to find it again.

I find this fantastic and mildly unsettling.  “Goodbye, Invisible Man”: the terrible sensation that’s sweeping the nation.

Dear reader, this might be as good a time as any to discuss collaboration and creative cross-pollination.

The doodle above was drawn by my highly talented friend, Sarah J.  (She drew it before she actually read the story, hence the cheeriness.)  You can read Sarah’s science news portfolio blog thing here.  Sarah J. and I like to draw together.  I cartoon as a way of fixing fictional people, places, and things in my mind.  Sarah J. draws to draw, and she’s much better at it than I am.

Sometimes she draws my concepts.  And sometimes her drawings actually change the concepts I thought I had.  It’s an amazing process.  Working creatively with other human beings gives my mopey muse a swift kick in the ass.

Sometimes people ask me if I’d like to help them write something, usually a short film.  The answer is tricky.  “I’d love to, but I don’t have the time.”  Right now I don’t have time to do much besides attend class, write stories for my thesis, and occasionally get out into Portland proper to have a beer.

That doesn’t mean I’m anti-collaboration, though.  Do you want to make a short film based on one of my existing stories?  Draw a comic book?  Write a song?  Wonderful.  Just ask me about it first.  I’ll probably say yes as long as you agree to credit me and send me a copy of your finished product.

There’s a little Creative Commons license in the sidebar of this blog.  It means you can copy and distribute any of my existing works as much as you want, as long as you don’t alter it and you make sure to give me credit.  Including my name is perfect, and additionally including a link back to this site is even better.  You want to paper a bathroom with pages from “Nova“?  Go right ahead.  You want to make little booklets of “Goodbye, Invisible Man” and distribute them to friends and jilted lovers?  I think they’d make lovely Christmas gifts.  You don’t have to ask me before embarking on any sort of distribution project, but I’d love to see what you end up doing with it.  So feel free to drop me a line.

You can contact me through this site, or at  And not just about collaborations.  Give me private feedback.  Ask me what my favorite animal is.  It’s really up to you.

No draft this week, because “Win” just keeps getting longer and longer.  I’ll be working, working.  Maybe I’ll post the opening page to whet your appetite.  Though at this point it’s going to be hard to live up to “Goodbye, Invisible Man”.