My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Run Up to Burning Man

If you can't tell, I'm reaching desperately for the camera.
As my free time slips into the void.
Can you believe I was actually planning to write MORE than usual this month? Seriously what the actual literal fuck was I thinking? Instead the entire month of August turned out to be a fluster cluck of epic proportions. Family visits. A Disneyland trip (which was fun, but made it tough to write). School starting back up. And now I come to the wildest part of this ride.

I am nothing if not a walking ad for the fact that a writer needs to make their life as calm and regimened as possible so that the world inside their imagination can be wild and unkempt. My lack of schedule has made sitting down and finding time to write almost impossible.

We're about to hit a time that is always weird. The last couple of days before, the time during, and the day after this writer goes to Burning Man.  Every year I plan to write right up until I leave, and even schedule some posts for when I'm gone. Then the full fury of trying to get ready to go to an event that doesn't even have running water smacks me on the face and says "What the fucking fuckity fuck were you even THINKING!"

So I'm going to TRY to get some posts up these last couple of days (and maybe even schedule some posts for when I'm gone) but the truth is, like every year I've tried to do this, I may end up needing to really drop out of the jet on a motorcycle like Black Widow on Tuesday (or Wednesday if we get stuck up there).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Blogust Fundraiser is Still On

Just a quick reminder to everyone while I toil on furiously to get you some fiction either this weekend or early next week. Even though I had a "what-the-hell-was-I-thinking?" moment about trying to keep Blogust raging hot, our fundraiser is still a go.

For the next three days, every donation will be matched to Oakland Reads, not once, but TWICE (thanks to a pair of wonderful donors).

So take advantage of your last chance to have every donation tripled in the cause of childhood literacy.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Red Ink, Manuscripts, and a Multiple-Stabbing Victim

Marla had used blue ink. For some reason, that made things more clear than if she'd used red. This wasn't like when I was a junior at Eisenhower High School and Mrs. Scambray shrugged a bunch of arbitrary-sounding, angry red comments on me. I'd worked very hard on that English lit paper and none of those red marks made any sense to me. Especially not the C at the bottom. But this book that Marla had returned to me by FedEx wasn't that crushing 10-paged essay on the ridiculous thesis foisted upon on me in 1985 -- the equilibrium between heart and mind in _The Scarlet Letter_? WTactualH?

What Marla had done was review every one of those 300+ pages in my manuscript and marked up the hardcopy (it was 1999 and paper was all the fashion back then) to note examples of problems in the book. Examples of problems. Hunh. Think on that.

Imagine that you write an essay and send it to me for comments. I return to you your 750 words with slashes and circles and maybe some of those fancy insert paragraphs marks. At the bottom of your essay, I write the commentary equivalent of the C: "This looks like a start, but you're not supporting your thesis with evidence, and I want to charge you rent for all those commas."

Sheesh. What a trainwreck. I'm talking about the imaginary edit and comments I sent to you, by the way. Not your essay.

In 1999, Marla sent me a present of the sort that I'm supposed to say I didn't understand at the time. But keep in mind where'd I'd come from. In Mrs. Scambray's class, it was all about feedback phrased with a passive-aggressive "you should know this already." Who cares that according to Mrs. Scambray's evaluation I should already know this stuff that she was marking up? Clearly, I didn't, and so maybe it should have occurred to my English teacher that she should, um, TEACH.

So I knew right away the value of that smurfed-up manuscript that Marla had returned to me. I set that manuscript on my desk, opened its files on my computer, and I began taking notes on her notes.

She'd written me a note at the start of the book encapsulating the point of all those little blue ticks and marks and total teardown recommendations. It went to the effect of, "This looks like a start. Let's work on strengthening it, adding loads of examples to demonstrate your points, and afterwards, we'll work on some micro stuff like word choices and mistakes."

Let's do the text equivalent of a conversational pause to soak that in.

I think we do that with a set of ellipses. Damn. Marla would know.


I photocopied that note (that was a process in which we'd use a huge machine that was usually broken to take a black-and-white image like a picture of something such as a piece of paper or at office holiday parties, someone's bottom) and taped it to the surface of my desk. I glanced at that note periodically as I went through her changes, always reminding myself of the point of all of these edits. I didn't feel anxious. We were working together on this start to strengthen it, adding loads of examples, etc.

I could "feel" my writing skill take a leap over the weeks that I delved into that manuscript. The only other time I'd had such a feeling was when math suddenly clicked for me. Not only did the world of mathematics become a place where I could visit, but the new ways of thinking that math gave me caused my work in every subject to jump forward. I understood why that had happened -- math requires logic and that infant skill was pouring into everything I did.

This time, my writing skill was jumping ahead because Marla was a brilliant editor. She didn't just edit my manuscript by indicating things to change. She didn't even bother with fixing mistakes in grammar or typos. She wrote me notes that explained what she thought I was trying to communicate (based on our conversations, emails, and to a lesser extent, the manuscript itself), told me what I was actually communicating, and then suggested specific changes to align the text with what she knew I was trying to say.

She advocated total teardowns of some sections, but didn't stop there. She added outlines to suggest specific ways to revise the material so that it was communicating what I wanted it to communicate.

The book that we eventually published didn't look at all like the manuscript I'd first sent to her to edit. But it sure did look like the book I'd wanted to create.

I think that school sometimes prepares us to think of editors as adversaries, people we have to sate in some ritualistic way in order to get our stories, essays, and books into the world. And that's a shame because holy hell, editors are resources. They're on our side! They want our books to be as good as we want them to be. They have no interest in feeling superior to us because they can spot a comma splice at 20 meters. Honestly, if your editor returns a first editing pass that's just a collection of wordsmithing and text corrections, then you're either the best writer ever or you've got an editor who didn't look at the big picture.

Writers and editors know the market. I imagine that both groups think they know the market better than the other. It's probably one of those things in which each group has a puzzle piece and when they fit their pieces together, they get a great whole blah-di-blah-blah-blah-whatever. It doesn't matter. Respect matters. In general, both writers and editors share the goal of publishing a piece of work that speaks to readers and garners additional readers.

I thanked Marla for that gift. She seemed puzzled. She'd done her job. What's this gift business?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Construction in Progress

No posty post today. I'm working on some fiction that should go up either Friday or Saturday. (The last part of A Demon's Rubicon.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Hugos Nominees Were Robbed! (Mailbox)

Why can't we just keep reading Star Wars clones for another forty years.
The Authors at the Hugos were robbed!

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And yes, I really do mean that.]  

Bobby writes: 

Not a member, but as a science fiction fan, not giving out awards at a awards show is really a slap in the face. I have not always agreed with the outcomes of the Hugos, but i think the authors who were nominated would likely want to kick the asses of the people who make such decisions. I think the Hugo's just lost a bit of their shine and credibility. As far as entitled white people, you seem fairly entitled yourself, working as a house husband and a writer, a difficult profession to make great money in, even for the talented. I see no winners in the outcome of the Hugo's, no winners at all. Good Luck with your writing. 

My reply:

Sometimes a more important question is to whom would the slap be delivered if a problem were ignored. Slaps in the face are no fun for anyone.  Well, they CAN be, but you need a safe wor---eh, you know what, maybe another time.

This comment dropped in my inbox this morning and I put aside what I was working on to answer it. Because we're nothing if not behind the curve on what's topical here at Writing About Writing, and here was my chance to only be a few days behind instead of weeks. Plus we haven't had a good row in a while, so it's honestly time to light things up a bit. (No not lighten things up. Light them up. Like with flames.) There's nothing quite like washing one's hair righteously and fuming in the shower to whip up the creative juices. My hair got SO fucking conditioned, lemmie tell ya! That shit is like five Loreal commercials worth of luster right now.

Bobby, your comment seems to reflect a major misunderstanding both of the timeline of Sad and Rabid puppies and the mechanisms by which the Hugos are awarded, so let me set a couple of things straight. This is a lot less a "slap in the face" and a lot more someone complaining that they got their hand bruised by a martial artist who did a power block on someone TRYING to slap them in the face. "Ow, you hurt my hand. How COULD you! It's all about me!"

Let me explain to you how the Hugos are awarded. Anyone can nominate books, the several books with the most nominations are then voted on by attendees of Worldcon as well as members of the World Science Fiction Convention who purchase a "supporting membership" (at a non trivial price), and then the Hugos basically pass out the awards to the winners. The Hugos aren't "deciding" who wins. There's no panel. No shadowy cabal sat and cackled evilly that they would be denying the white men their due. They're just handing out the awards to the winners that the people vote on. So unless you're ready to go toe to toe with a bald eagle holding a 2nd amendment-approved star spangled assault rifle, I'm assuming you don't have a problem with democracy. Right.....Bobby?

"i think the authors who were nominated would likely want to kick the asses of the people who make such decisions."
Yes, exactly. Let's make sure you understand the timeline, so you can appreciate the full irony of this statement the way I did when I rolled my eyes so hard that I sprained my left pupil. One year ago was something of a "renaissance" the Hugos. The awards, which had typically been given to cishet white men--some of whom were openly misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and more--suddenly became diverse. Yes, that was a calculated effort to attempt to achieve diversity, but it was a calculated effort at diversity and inclusion, not literally the opposite.

The kinds of writing that these authors were doing explored cultural tensions like appropriation, othering, privilege and more. They also subverted tropes like the damsel in distress, the one-culture aliens, and the weakness of emotional thought. (Also humans an robots falling in love. Who write about that kind of crap? Jesus!) One might even argue that this is a primary strength of science fiction: to discuss social issues through allegory. These authors won.

Let me make sure that was absolutely clear: these authors were nominated, voted upon, and won. They won their awards.

Did we hear that in the back row?

Along came Vox Day and the Sad Puppies. They didn't want "big thinky thoughts" in their science fiction. They wanted the same old shit with big ships, bigger explosions, tropes galore and no confusing space ship pictures on the cover tricking them into reading something that wasn't vapid because apparently they can't read a book jacket or something (which tracks with the whole not liking to think thing, tbh). And to remove that disagreeable diversity of voices, they rigged the nomination process, essentially "stuffing the ballot box" with SO many nominations for works by the white, male, cishet authors as to ensure that the final vote would have none of the selections of the diverse authors they took umbrage with. Well, what became very clear, from WHO they nominated, what they were saying about the "forced diversity," and the Rabid Puppy piggy back off of their movement (and who just came out and said they wanted the "Good Ol' Boys" club back) was that what they really had a problem with was the diversity itself, and that the call for empty-headed science fiction that wouldn't challenge them intellectually was just pretense. I'm not going to say they were stone cold racist, but they were basically looking around the country club and saying "This place used to be better before they let anyone in here."

So now you have them deliberately and overtly manipulating the nomination process to "edge out" the kinds of authors who won last year by writing in SO many white men nominations that it was the only thing on the ballot. And they were very vocal and very transparent about doing so. Seriously, some of them pretty much actually twirled their mustaches–promising to fuck up the Nebulas too.

Well, fandom didn't like that. They didn't like that one bit. Rather than allow this kind of brazen bullshit to stand (and because they couldn't necessarily rally around COUNTER-nominees without being just as bad) they put "Noah Ward" (say it out loud) on the ballot in many of the categories.

The Hugos didn't decide to put "Noah Ward" on the ballot. In fact, No Award has always been an option, even before this debacle.

The Hugos didn't decide who would vote more for No Award than for one of the slated writers. These were readers and lovers of sci-fi. So unless the writers who were nominated want to "kick the asses" of thousands of the greatest sci-fi fans in the world, they basically just got hosed by the situation. Many of them withdrew. And like I wrote in the post you replied to, I do feel terrible for them. They got used as pawns in an asshole's power play game, which wasn't their fault; however, ignoring who would have gotten the "slap in the face" if these white, male, cishet authors were simply given their awards and everyone went home would be a grave error in the calculus of the bigger picture. Because that would have meant Sad Puppies got exactly what they want and could rig the whole Hugos process any time they felt things were getting too diverse.

If anything, the Hugos established their credibility. They can't be easily engineered by one group who wants to eliminate the competition. Their integrity is not simply a matter of drumming up angry white men on social media to write in enough nominations.

You're right though, no one "won." Vox day and the puppies saw to that.

As for your snipe that I'm entitled I think you're mistaking the word "privileged" and "entitled." I know I'm privileged. I'm a white(ish), cis, middle class, het passing male who speaks English as my first language. I acknowledge that I would have had a much harder life if one or all of those things were different, and that unearned advantages of my birth have played a non-trivial role in where I am today. I have a lovely family that can afford to have one person out of three basically stay home and take care of the kid and the house. [2018 Edit- Sadly, no longer true.] Not every family can afford such a thing and they have to scrape together for child care, work a second shift cleaning, and make the best of it. My needs are taken care of, and I make a little bit for spending and saving–I know far too many people who can't say either of those things.

But entitlement involves thinking I deserve those things or that I achieved them all on my own without any undeserved benefit.  I'm not really telling the world that I deserve to be a househusband or that white men people deserve to be househusbands. I'm not telling anyone that I deserve to write or that I've earned my financial situation all on my own with my bootstraps and not because of the privileges I mentioned above. As for writing....I don't even make enough from writing to even pay rent on a cot in the boiler room. However, I also don't complain that I deserve to make more money or that I deserve read more or I'm entitled to be read by all those readers out there who might prefer to read writers of color, LGBT+ writers, or women writers instead of me. I'm not whining that I haven't made it yet or blaming SJWs for encouraging reading diversity that I haven't yet arrived. In fact, I'm usually blown away and breathless by the traffic that I do get, my donors especially, and my regular readers as well. How did I get so lucky? I don't know. But I don't feel entitled to it.

It's also pretty clear that you've never been a housespouse behind a two year old if you think that's some sort of "cushy" gig. (I could get into how "women's work" is undervalued even when it's really hard, but one war at a time.) I like my three meter commute, and once in a while I can furiously pound out a post while The Contrarian watches Cars, but even with two other parents tagging in regularly, I work 50 hours on a average week and never get a day off. You might want to check your assumptions.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Day Off Schedule

We got in from Disneyland at 3am this morning and The Contrarian said, "I am not!" every time I tried to get him to go down in his own bed. Then, I finally collapsed with him in my own bed, and he proceeded to spend the night sleeping diagonally at literally the angle that would somehow allow a 32 inch baby to take up a king sized bed and kicked me in the head any time I dared to forget it.

So I'm going to be an article behind this week, but what that means is that I will put up an article on Saturday–and if all goes according to plan, that will be the final installment of A Demon' s Rubicon.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sad Puppies are Sad

This isn't a proper entry. I'm still at Disneyland and still watching The Contrarian's head pop with excitement.

But can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that Sad Puppies got their asses a little bit kicked at the Hugo awards*. Rather than see a whiter, maler, straighter, less diverse group of books muscle to victory by manipulating the nomination process, no winner was declared at all. Several categories saw no award (or "Noah Ward" if you're keeping track), and those that were left, largely showed Sad Puppies the door. Can we take a moment to smile that a bunch of entitled white men were not able to UNdiversify one of the two most prestigious awards in science fiction?

I think we can.

*I do feel awful for the authors that didn't realize they'd been slated and got slighted because of it. The sad puppies created some painful collateral damage.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

To Commercialism and Beyond!

We're taking the contrarian to Disneyland for the very first time today.

Well, today is actually just the drive. Tomorrow is California Adventures (which Uberdude says is "not really Disneyland" so we can go without him). Then on Sunday Uberdude will fly down to join us, and we'll all brave the horrid August weekend crowds and take him to a few things in The Magic Kingdom. 

It's a good time of the year to be there with a tiny human but without the need to ride everything or see all the stuff. He's too small to spend all day in lines or even to work with a plan. 

Besides, he's not big enough to do some of the really cool stuff anyway, so he's not missing out on that much. A lot of the low key rides will be fun, and I can't WAIT to see his face when he realizes that he's actually in the town from his favorite movie. (Cars.)

I've actually been giving him a LOT more screen time than usual this last week, so he can recognize things like A Bugs World or The Little Mermaid ride. 

Anyway, I should have a post tomorrow (from Amy Echeverri) if I can find some wireless access. Then I'm going to take my first bonafide weekend off.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Amy Echeverri

Adults ask silly questions of children. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" A writer. A teacher. Adults nod sagely and tell the children that they're good kids, very good kids, here's a biscuit.

But here's the thing. Amy didn't understand that the adults were asking about her career. She thought they meant what she wanted to be. Not do. And Amy wanted to be a writer. Or a teacher. Maybe both, chuckled wise adults, cracking wise about the notion of the impoverished teacher and the penniless poet.

Amy continues to careen around all the meanings of a sentence and choose exactly the wrong one. Or the right one. It's a mystery. It does give her a skill in her technical writing career -- she can predict uncannily how a befuddled user will read text wrong. It's good to have a career that a kid can tell the folks about. Details about her smut writing career make for quietly uncomfortable family suppers. Meanwhile, her personal writing includes novels, role-playing games, live-action-role-playing games, and scripts for graphic novels. She'll write pretty much anything.

Amy is a writer. You can find her technical writer profile at LinkedIn.

The Mailbox: Guest Blogger Amy Puts Down the Smack
Making Bank as a Writer
Red Ink, Manuscripts, and a Multiple-Stabbing Victim
Wikipedia Mindreads. Kinda.
Practical Sacrifice

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fall 2015 Schedule

A new semester means a new Update Schedule (which will reflect the info below in the next couple of days) and since we're focused on quality over quantity and no longer so fettered to daily content and the almighty page view, (instead fettering ourselves to acquiring and impressing donors) there are going to be HUGE changes to the Writing About Writing schedule, and the general paradigm we try to use.

The biggie that I will mention "above the fold" is that we're going to start taking weekends off. It's been a long run of daily content–usually with more tears than smiles–but I would rather post a couple of articles some days, have weekends off and give you all the best of me on a working schedule. And since I'll still write every day, that'll actually help the quality of posts here–including fiction and meatier articles.

Chances are the posting quantity will not go down. There may just be "brunch posts" (an idea I never fully abandoned) a couple of week days each week. Usually things like "plot arcs" or me having fun–exactly the sorts of things I usually post on weekends these days.

This may look like kind of a step "back," but it's actually probably going to make the blog better. Thanks to lots of donations (and lots of solid and OMG breathtaking donations), Writing About Writing is edging into the territory of

So here is the new schedule (it'll start next week):

Mon- Mailbox! On Monday I will usually run the mailbox. (Ask me anything about writing [and some other stuff] at chris.brecheen@gmail.com) This enormously popular segment runs weekly. As long as I have questions, I will do it every week. If I get more questions than I can answer in a weekly segment, I will start answering more questions.

Tues- Lighter fare. (Short posts, "the very basics," things that have become inordinately popular on my public Facebook. I teach a class on Monday nights, so Tuesdays will have to be a little lighter.)

Wed- One of my goals for 2015 includes having a bigger article three times a week, and Wednesday is probably the best day for that. Probably it will be off or on until I find my "sea legs." I would love to tell you that I will always get a good post up on Wednesday because I diligently used my time during the weekend to draft articles and didn't waste a moment of it. I would love to tell you that you can count on me to be regimented and disciplined with my Tuesday night, and that I'll always come through for you and never look up from trying to make headshot achievements in Borderlands II and realize that it's three in the morning. Unfortunately it might be hard to tell you this, seeing as I will be trying to say it through the tears of laughter.

Thurs- Guest posts. With now two regular not-me bloggers here at Writing About Writing (The wonderful Claire Youmans and Amy Echeverri–who will have her own menu by tomorrow.) If I don't have a post from either of them (or maybe one from any of you: door's always open hint hint winkwinknudgenudge) I will probably run some kind of filler, but my hope is that I can incorporate MORE voices.

Fri- On Fridays I usually put out a "meaty article" (as in heft not a shitty erotica euphemism for cock).

Posts will usually be up by noon Pacific, but "The Toddler Factor"™can cause anything to change, and I may very well hit "Post" as my last conscious act and only through sheer force of will.

Brunch posts- Mailbox shorts, plot arc posts, "quickies" and various other things I would have posted on the weekends in the past will probably go up roughly twice a week. The more I try to pin down when (or even if) the more likely I am to be miserable. So let's just say they will happen between zero and five times a week and on any given day. That should just about cover my bases.

Of course if you really want to hedge your bets for a good run of articles in a given week, a groupie threesome the weekend before will likely motivate me to write for hours on end, and inspire a week of exceptional productivity. No? Fair enough. Catch as catch can then.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Bunch of Gears in our Monkey Wrench

The TL;DR is that we have to put a moratorium on "Blogust."

I'm still going to write all of the articles I promised, it'll just probably take me well into September to get them done.

Anyone following this blog knows that life has been coming on a little too strong for.....oh about 20 and a half months now. Even as my writing slowly returns to pre-Contrarian days, I am still working hard to find that balance point of equilibrium between standing up for my boundaries and being a good family member.

In a couple of days, my family is taking The Contrarian to his very first trip to Disneyland and a little over a week after I get back, I'll be heading to Burning Man for a few days. My fall teaching semester begins....well, later today actually, I'm still getting tapped for 40-50 hours of housekeeping and Contrarian watching each week, and don't even get me started on the rather depressing fact that our numbers, while better, were nowhere near where they would need to be to make Blog happy.

I want to enjoy these vacations rather than be only dimly aware of their fun among a miasma of stress and feelings of failure. I find that as they loom, I'm just feeling more and more overwhelmed and not looking forward to them at all. If I don't change the game, neither will be much of a vacation. Rather than struggle all the way to the finish line and ruin my time (and everyone else's honestly), I'm going to call the time of death on this particular stretch goal a little early.

See folks: I fail all the time. What I don't do is let it stop me from writing.

"Aug" is a fantastic rhyme with "Blog" but it turns out that August is a dreadfully shitty time to try to ramp UP writing...at least for me....at least right now in my life. I'll have to go for the shittier rhyme of Blogtober when I've got no plans, will be deep in a routine, and hopefully filled with lots of motivation from my multiple birthday groupie threesomes. (Sign ups start soon!)

I will continue to do the Blogust fundraiser, of course–all donations matched twice (up to $1000) and I'm still going to keep posting daily content. I just need a bit more breather space between the heavy hitters.

Thank you for reading and all your support. Plus for everyone who gave me words of encouragement on the various social media where I first announced I might do this, your words were very helpful.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The People Have Spoken

I hear !sdrauG !sdrauG is one of the better books.
Please ignore the "Last Day of Summer" scruff that is
almost as long as the hair on my head.
The results are in!!

I will be reading Guards Guards.  It turned out to be probably the only Pratchett novel my roommate doesn't own, so I had to buy it on Kindle. I will be reading it over the next couple of weeks and doing a write up of it by the end of the month.

Thank you to so so many for participating in the poll. Hopefully I have a new beloved author by the end of the month. (I could always use one more.) I'll have a new poll up for the second half of August in a couple of days.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Last Chance to Vote

This is not the poll.
This is just a screenshot of the poll.
The poll is on the bottom left.
But it does look an awful lot like this.
What book makes for the BEST introduction to Terry Pratchett?

We have a second poll coming up for August's second half so there's only ONE more day to vote in our Best Introduction to Pratchett poll. Which book is the best one for someone who's never read Pratchett before to get started on; and more specifically which book will I be spending August's second half reading?

While it looks pretty good for Guards Guards, I've seen bigger upsets, and if I end up liking it, this may give me a good bead on a the second book I will try, so runners up matter.

Results will be up tomorrow.

Friday, August 14, 2015

15 Things A Very Cute Toddler Taught Me About Writing (Part 2)

The quest to catch the pigeon.....did not go well.
Return to Part 1

6. Everything is a mistake.....at first.

The Contrarian has carefully avoided the inky black bump in the bathroom for months. Obviously it is evil and wants to devour him. He carefully goes around it, remembering the traumatic day when I tried to get him to stand there alone, clearly so that it could envelop him in its dark clutches. Yesterday he fell backwards and lost his balance for a second. His foot began to fall towards the evil black square. There was nothing to be done–it was that or crash mercilessly into the wall. His foot came down. But then he saw that touching it caused a bright light to flash some numbers at him. Since then he's been jumping up and down on the electronic scale to make the digital display show his weight every time he's in there.

Yesterday, T.C. spent about thirty seconds flipping around his string cheese to try to get it lined up with his mouth. Feeding himself finger foods isn't usually a challenge anymore, but the limp cheese kept flopping out of the direct shot to his mouth. Suddenly, he realized why string cheese was awesome and started flapping it back and forth and running around the kitchen waving it like a victory flag. It was food and a toy!

Today, playing The Great Cookie Thief on iPad, he missed the "reset" button and hit the screen instead, instantly discovering how to get further than he ever had before. The next three times, instead of giving up as he usually does, he was able to finish the story, finally seeing the app's conclusion, and bring some peace to the town Cookie Monster terrorized, justice which has evaded him for months.

T.C. delights in the discovery behind every error. He doesn't stick to what he knows because that would mean he misses the best stuff. Mistakes are awesome and wonderful and show him things he never knew he could do. Similarly with art, mistakes reveal things. Whether it's a scene that goes nowhere but the trash can, yet reveals something about a character or whether it's an ambitious sentence that lands wrong and has to be reworked a dozen times to make sense to readers. Artists should never be afraid to make mistakes. Fuck ups are discoveries, and they may lead to epiphanies.

7. If When you fall, get back up.

When I started to write this article way, T.C. couldn't cross a room without falling. A month or two later and he had walking short distances pretty much down, but he still fell to the Earth any time he tried something tricky like running or going around blind corners or any time he was tired. A wobbly thunk was a common refrain when he took off after his mom to stop her from going to work or tried to get to the cat before it could run away in terror from his grabby hands.

Still, he never gave up. When he fell, and he fell a lot, he just got right back up and kept going. He mastered the basics and it was time to move on. He pressed himself forward, heedless of the fact that failure meant a swift encounter with the hard ground. He's chasing a pigeon in these pictures. Of course it flew away whenever he got close (I'm not even sure it's the same pigeon), and he fell a few times, but he just got back up and tried again. It never even crossed his mind that failure meant he should give up.

I fail all the time writing. ALL. THE. TIME. I write crappy sentences. Articles I am sure will have a viral spike don't even hit triple digits. I set goals and miss them....badly. I tell myself "more fiction this month!" and then get caught up in raising a toddler and can barely get blog posts up. I get a lot of angry commenter pushback on something I thought was pretty well worded. Or I write fiction, expose my soul, and someone tells me they didn't really like it very much (and what's worse, I know their criticism hurts because they're right). This is just a part of the process. If we don't fail, we aren't risking. If we aren't risking we're just in our comfort zone. Sure, we could stay there and only ever succeed, but we'll never catch the pigeon that way.

Anyone who can catch a pigeon can defeat Apollo Creed!

8. Take risks.

T.C. is constantly taking risks. Some of them make my heart leap into my throat when I turn around for two seconds to go to the bathroom and he's standing on the edge of the dining room table or is pulling over a cutting board onto his head. But that's where the soda I put out of reach is, and his little hands wrap around it triumphantly, and I even let him have a few well-earned sips before it's back to his recommended water and milk only.

He runs and grabs the TV remote controls, desperately pushing buttons to try and turn on Daniel Tiger even though I told him no more screen time and I'm coming to turn it right back off. And every once in a while he steals a moment. Some day he's going to take bigger risks–some risks that will make my heart stop; some risks that I will have to punish him for taking; some risks that I'll have to make sure he knows are just not worth the reward; some risks that involve ethics or legality. And as he grows he will develop a complicated relationship with risk taking. Maybe he will take lots of risks. Maybe he will be cautious. (Seriously, I should not be given this much power to fuck up another human being.) But watching him fearlessly climb or run, I am reminded how cautious we learn to become.

It matters when we're talking about physical safety. It's a survival mechanism without which we'd have hugged a bunch of crocodiles and died off as an incredibly stupid species long ago. But it does us no favors when it kicks in around our art.

I know once we fall a few times, that bonk (metaphorical or literal) makes us weigh risk vs. reward differently, but everything most artists want is on the other side of our deepest fears, and we'll never reach them if we don't take risks. We have to peel ourselves open and risk everything if we want to reach out and touch another soul.

9. If you're crying, it might be that you want to be seen crying.

T.C. cries a lot. Sometimes the tears slip out of his eyes at genuine frustrations of playground injustice, and sometimes it's because he hasn't yet learned that some toys aren't his. Sometimes he's tired or hungry beyond reason. The world turned out not to be just for him, and he is having trouble adjusting to being a fallen god.

But sometimes it's a big show. He's our little thespian. I've seen him fall, look around to make sure he has an audience, and then start crying. Or he falls, starts to cry, sees that I'm not panicking and decides better of it. (Of course when he really tumbles, I'm there fast enough that people say they didn't see me actually move.) Sometimes he's checking in, but a lot of the time he just decides there's no point if he can't get some attention from the whole thing.

Art can be an angsty business. Certainly there are painful setbacks and a dreadful real world that demands its rent checks and dental appointments, and of course no shortage of awful rejections. And sometimes the sweetest thing can be to have someone sympathize with that difficulty and say, "there there." Or validate our excuse that we are too troubled to write today. Or agree that our last rejection was beyond awful. But sometimes that sweetness can also intensify those feelings, encourage us not to just shake it off, or give our emotions a performative flavor. (Must convince them that I'm suffering here!) What would we do if we had no audience to persuade that we were suffering? If we had no one to listen to how hard it is to find the time or energy to write? If we had no one who cared about our show?

I think a lot of us would just quietly get back to work.

Obviously there are real reasons for real tears. And both those and chronic illness (mental or physical) are certainly not performative. But sometimes it's helpful to ask ourselves if we would be this upset if no one were watching.

10.  You'll get better.

The first time we handed T.C. a spoon so he could try to feed himself, he got about three bites of the whole meal into his actual mouth. Most of those bites consisted of tasting the residue left on the spoon after the food had tumbled off. His sideways clumsy grip just meant everything fell out, down his front, and to the floor. These days he's still messy, but he gets most of the food at least in the general vicinity of his face.

When we first handed him the iPad, he couldn't make Grover see the monster at the end of the book and spent most of his time watching the intro screens to various apps unless we were using it with him and helping. But then he started to figure out where to push and when, and now he's figured out more advanced interactive books, and even a couple of basic games.

For months, he kind of just looked at the blocks my mom got him for his first birthday. We would build stuff for him, but his only real contribution was some palpable glee at knocking them over. After a while, he could see that they fit together but he didn't have the fine motor skills to press them down into each other to build things, so he would either hand me the block and point so I could press it down or his constructions would just be stacked loosely on top of each other. Now he not only presses blocks down and actually builds stuff, but he can see how top heavy stacking is less sturdy and finds the right sized piece to fit in the "ledges" that are left.

And of course there's the whole walking thing.

T.C.'s learning curves are dramatic, but he is a lesson to us all that where we are today is not where we will forever be. There is a fundamental truth about skills: if you keep doing them, you'll get better. I know we all want to BE good, "talented" writers, usually without really trying, but in the process we lose one of the most fundamental truths–that we can all be better if we keep working.

On to PART 3

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Claire Youmans on Daily Writing (Claire Youmans)

Maybe it was my father routinely asking me to let him get his work done in peace so he'd be free to play the rest of the day. Maybe, later, it was THE senior partner’s habit of getting his new calendars in October and marking off vacations and holiday weekends first, so that people couldn’t calendar him out of having a life. I’m pretty good at changing channels and pretty good at getting my work done first. This serves me well as a writer.

Being a professional writer is very like running any other business. I may not lay words on screen for my new book every single day, but I do work at the business of writing, one way or another. Today, I dropped off a copy of The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy Book Two Chasing Dreams at my local library. Book One is working its way through their channels: publicity and marketing. I blogged, wrote a haiku and tended social media. I read three news letters, and got a marketing cue from one that I think I am going to take. I reminded people about promised reviews. I’m writing this. I have the outline and structure of Book Three roaming through my head. I will begin to draft it the day after Labor Day (coinciding with the end of the summer boating program where I volunteer; it’s great fun). I have the opening paragraph already, and am pretty sure where and how it ends. Next step is filling out the middle and then letting the characters have their say. I found my sea monster yesterday! Now, what am I going to do with it? But if it comes down to writing something on my new book every single day, well, no, I don’t “write” every day. I do, however, work at my writing very close to every day.

If you are trying to get your first story or novel or screenplay out, I recommend actually writing every single day, even for fifteen minutes, even if you’re writing character sketches or outlines or dirty limericks. Put pen or pencil to actual paper. I find writing by hand works differently. I know the difference; I feel it and I see it in my product. When I’m trying to dredge something up from the depths of my muse’s brain, I write by hand, like I did yesterday.

Your job now is to create your first product, starting with the dreaded first draft. You don’t have all the business stuff to deal with yet. You can’t, until you have a product. The best way to create the product is to set deadlines for yourself and stick to them. Set aside the time, even if it’s on the bus. Grab the pencil and pad. What will you write about? Who are your characters? What are the obstacles? What kind of story (person against nature, person against person, person against self) is it? What genre are you looking at (then read, voraciously, in that genre and nothing else until your draft is done.) What is your dramatic arc? Simply, get your person up a tree, throw progressively bigger rocks at her/him for two thirds to three quarters of your desired word count, then have a pivotal moment, allowing your person fight her/his way down, smallest rocks first, unless there’s a funny little one to use in an epilogue or denouement. How does it end? This is what you do now, and first. You aren’t a writer unless you’re working at writing. So many successful and published writers agree on this, it is certainly worth a try.

Writing fiction is hard. First drafts are painful. It can feel like giving birth. I get really crabby when I get stuck. It can take me days to figure out what happens next, and I cannot do anything else until I do. I will plow through that draft relentlessly until it’s done, in fits and starts, actually writing for hours every single day. You who have not yet produced that first draft still have to learn about writing, and about the ways other people work so you can develop and honor your own process. You do this by writing. It’s that simple — and one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

[If you would like to be a regular blogger (or a not-so-regular guest blogger) here at Writing About Writing, check out our guidelines and then drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.]

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lucky Number 7....7.....7

Yes I know $370 x 2 isn't $370. That's the second matcher.
A big thank you and congratulations to everyone who has contributed to our "Blogust" fundraiser.  So far we have secured $777 for Oakland Reads.

As a reminder, every donation to Writing About Writing is "matched" not once, but TWICE (plus the normal 10%). So if you've ever considered giving to Writing About Writing, now any donation will be tripled (with twice it's amount (plus ten percent) going to Oakland Reads.

And since our matching benefactors agreed to match every penny up to $1000, we could give them as much as two grand! If you've ever thought "Maybe I should give that Chris some money," now is a great time. Even though we got a couple of donations since I made this amazingly awesome graphic presentation, we still have over $600 to go that will still be matched.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fortune Cookie Wisdom X

Even staler fortune cookies.

Remember, when I say it'll take about ten years (on average and roughly) to make the kind of money that might pay bills, I'm talking about ten years of the most intense, dedicated, rejection-filled writing you've ever done. Not ten years of sitting around, dreaming of being a writer but not writing. 

Grammar is like fashion. There are absolutely people who overdress and get pretentious about judging, but if you don't care at all, eventually you show up to a formal event in stained sweat pants, and people draw their own conclusions.

Creatives generally have to be even more careful about overdoing it than other people. It's not just an equation that you can keep adding to as long as you haven't reached 168 hours a week. There are intangibles in play. The first thing that exhaustion affects is our self-motivation. And also pretty high up on that list is creativity.

Toddlers don't even pause if they fall; they just get right back up. It isn't a thing. They don't doubt themselves. They don't wonder what they're doing or whether they should be walking at all. They don't feel bad or wonder whether learning to walk is worth it. Falling is just the cost of doing business. We could learn a lot about writing from toddlers.

Speaking of toddlers teaching artists. Everything in their world is new and exciting. And that's exactly the mentality an artist needs.

Cold hard reality time: you're never going to make it as a writer without lots of work. A decade, maybe two, of really hard work. The sucky part is that it is entirely possible to put in that decade or two and still not make it. So you better love the writing for its own sake.

A Time to Kill. The Tales of Peter Rabbit. Fifty Shades of Grey. Orbit. Still Alice. The Tryle Trilogy. The Martian. What do all these books have in common? They are wildly successful best sellers....that were originally self-published. Don't EVER give up.

If you're having a bad day or a bad week or even a bad month, you're not alone. Just keep sitting down and doing the work; the words will return.

With the exception of a few authors and works, most of the canon--certainly almost all of it in history or from other cultures has been crafted without the benefit of any MFA programs. People just read a lot and then wrote themselves.

The peaks and valleys of being an artist can sometimes suck, but the best thing you can remember is that it's normal. Every time you go into one of those crippling self doubt spirals, remember that you are a writer, an artist, a creator of worlds. Soon you will emerge from the ashes of your own self doubt, blazing in glory, arms akimbo, and vaporize everyone who doubt you with your explosive awesomeness.

We can't all be warriors. Others have other strengths, and fight in other ways. 

I need MORE fortune cookies!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Best Introductory Pratchett Novel (Poll Description)

Which Terri Pratchett book is the best one to get started with?

So to bring everyone up to speed, for the last two years, every time Terry Pratchett has been on a poll a group of Pratchett fans have "stuffed the ballot."

However, I haven't ever read Pratchett. I read Good Omens and tried to start The Color of Magic (but couldn't get into it).

So it's time to have a Terry Pratchett poll, so I can find out what all this enthusiasm is about. Based on your recommendations I have assembled the eight most recommended "introductory" Pratchett books. I took everything with a "second," but the poll was already too big to accommodate every single suggestion.

I will read whatever Pratchett book you decide I should cover to cover–even if it's a tough read or I have trouble getting into it. I'll even do a little write up about it and tell people what I enjoyed.

Everyone gets three (3) votes. 

Two things though: first, this will be a FAST poll, so that we can squeeze in a second poll in August. So don't delay or expect to get an extra vote in when the IP expires in a week.  Results will be up THIS WEEKEND. Secondly, there is no "vote ranking" so if you have a favorite, you should JUST pick that.

The poll itself is on the lower left of the side menus.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What Pratchett Book Will Chris Read (Last Call For Nominations)

Tomorrow I will be compiling the top ten or so nominations for the "What introduction book to Pratchett is the best" poll. Which ever book wins I will sit down and read no matter how dry I find it.

If you're still looking to nominate a book, second an existing book, or see if offering me sexual favors will get your favorite book on the poll without getting a second (it would probably work), you only have ONE DAY left. So head over there and see how our poll is shaping up.

Reminder: I'm told by Gaiman and Pratchett fans both that Good Omens "doesn't count" (so the fact that I've read it doesn't really get me a proper introduction to Pratchett) and The Color of Magic has already been unsuccessfully tried.

Please please please if you nominate a new Pratchett book do it on the original post. That'll increase the chances that someone will see it and second it as well as keeping my life sane by having everything I need to create the poll in one place.

Friday, August 7, 2015

It finally caught up to me

Kiddo has a cold, and with my mom in town and T.C.'s parents needing just as much tag in time as ever, the week finally caught up to my posting schedule. I'm hoping to get today's post up by tomorrow.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making Bank as a Writer (Amy Echeverri)

Let's talk money. It's pretty much the first question I get when people find out I'm a writer. How do I make a living at it?

I need to tell you right away that what I say here is what I do. Other writers do it differently. Some have day jobs. Some have a patron. Some eat a lot of ramen. You have to choose your own path. I can only tell you what I do, and that I love it.

I make a living at writing by, well, writing. Constantly. I carry an iPhone so that I can pop open Evernote on any whim and immediately write. If I'm carrying a purse, there's a journal made of dead trees and a couple pens in there. There might even be a tablet.

Let me make this very clear: I write every single day, usually for hours. I have done this since I learned how to write down the stories in my head when I was five. There are two times in my life when I missed any days: I missed the day I had an urgent hysterectomy, and I missed 30 days when I had a mental health breakdown.

Yeah, a writer with sanity issues. There's a stretch.

In order to write every day, I write pretty much anything. Besides my personal work, I also write technical documentation for software and smut. Of the two, software pays much more. Go figure. I'm shocked, too.

By writing everyday and about anything put in front of me, I garner two major benefits: I make enough money to live in a pleasant apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I never get writer's block.



Never. Get. Writer's. Block.

Totes magotes.

There are people who dismiss the idea of writing everyday on the grounds that it damages creativity. I call bullshit. That's it's own post for another day, but the upshot is hey, no one tells musicians or actors not to practice everyday for fear of nuking their delicate creativity.

By writing everyday, I've created strong, ingrained habits that cause my brain to get those ideas to my pencil or keyboard. It's automatic.

I do get blocked on specific pieces of work from time to time. When that happens, I set the work aside and write something else. I have more writing projects going at once, as do a lot of knitters I know.

I end up writing as much about APIs, other software doc, and smut as I do my own personal work. I love this. I make a livable income from half of my work, leaving me free to do the writing that's all mine. Pretty cool.

No, I'm not telling you my smut pen name. Awkweird.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

July's Best

Though July was a lackluster month at the end of my teaching gig and in the throes of a completely overwhelming schedule. I did get a couple of decent posts fired off. Here are the best of July's offerings. That will push on to the heights of fame and glory (third rate internet fame and glory) in The Best of W.A.W.

What About Harper Lee's New Book (Mailbox)

Someone asked me if I'd be reading the new book. From what I've heard since I wrote this, I might actually skip it, but I still sort of want to see how bad badness is.

Big News

We made a major change here at writing about writing. You may have already noticed it.

No More Dots (Social Justice Metaphors)

Some days the best metaphors come from just farting around on Facebook when thinking about the good old days playing World of Warcraft with my awesome Warlock who would have absolutely pwned your face.....off.

The big meta news is, of course, our completely irrational pie-in-the-sky attempt to make sixty thousand page views in August. Right now we're not even close to what we would need day to day.  Though 1,300 and 1,400 days are impressive, and August is looking like it will be a pretty spiffy month compared with pretty much any month this year (or at least since Stumbleupon jackholed themselves so hard that they couldn't even successfully take my money). Still, those numbers need to be up around 2k for me to pull this off–at least without something going unexpectedly viral.

I'm currently hosting a visit from parental unit number 1, and writing in the cracks and crevasses of time. There's going to be a lot of pressure to be awesome in the middle of the month.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oakland Reads (Blogust Fundraiser)

This is Oakland Reads. 

Oakland Read's mission statement is to get the number of third graders reading at a third grade level from 38% to 85% by 2020.

Oakland Reads will be the subject of our Blogust fundraiser.

Here at Writing About Writing we always give 10% of every penny we make to children's literacy charities (usually local to me). We've given donations in Blog's name to the local outlet of the Oakland Library, helped buy a great set of readers for a local underfunded class that will last them years, and even helped the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter last year.

This August I have another a special fundraiser.

For the month of August I will be donating FIVE TIMES the normal amount to Oakland Reads (50%) of everything we make.

But wait, there's more....

We have also had an anonymous donor promise to match any donations that W.A.W. makes [up to $1000] to Oakland Reads. That means that during August, any donations you make to Writing About Writing will instantly become full donations to Oakland Reads and 50% donations to Writing About Writing.

But wait, there's even more....

A second supersecret anonymous donor stepped up to the plate and said they would be matching Writing About Writing's donation to Oakland Reads [up to $2500] contingent on the fact that I must take it as a normal, non-Blogust donation. That means that every donation you make from now until August 31st will be a 110% donation to Oakland Reads and a 90% donation to Writing About Writing.

[Edit] But wait, OMFGZOMG there's even more....

A THIRD donor has offered to match what we make here at Writing About Writing. That means until August 31, every penny donated here will become a 210% donation to Oakland Reads and a 90% donation to the blog.

Also, my readers are absolutely fucking amazing.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Meta Mailbox (Mailbox)

Haiku replies? Questions about questions? How many questions will I answer?

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer each Friday.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And I often reply to questions about questions.]  

Robert writes:

Deep but meta question requiring answer in haiku.

My reply: 

Start with a bad joke
Deep answer, but lots of snark
Add in threesome jokes

Erin asks: 

Do you answer questions in the order you get them?

My reply: 

Start with a bad joke
Deep answer, but lots of snark–

Oh sorry, wrong question. No, some questions sit in the bin for months, and there are a couple I'm pretty much never getting around to. (On the small side of average, Jeannie. And an hour, easy, but only if they're really into it and my tongue doesn't cramp up. Okay?!?!) We've finally reached the point that even answering a question a week and Sunday Shorts two or three times a month, we're probably never going to get to all the questions.

(I say that now, but it always seems like there are dry spells where I decide no one loves me and I'll never have a successful blog.)

So I basically have to pick which questions to answer, so I tend towards the ones that are either going to be educational, fun, or at least entertaining to answer (like hate mail). I save the others for either moments of desperation or when I have a few different questions that relate to a single theme. If I'm not answering something you really hoped I would, you might try re-asking the question in a really attention grabbing way or with a few threesome innuendos thrown in.

Stephen asks: 

How many questions can we ask?

My reply:

Twenty, and then I totally cut you off!  But that's a lifetime deductible that can be circumvented by groupie threesomes...or groupies....or threesomes...or really just asking a twenty-first question that doesn't suck.

There's not really a hard cap. I do try to mix it up so that it's not the Stephen show. If one person sends me seven or eight questions in a single e-mail, I'll probably spread them out over multiple articles, even if they're all good. But I've done a whole mailbox before of just one person's questions because I thought they were good questions. People who ask good questions, I've answered several times, and some have sent questions that I still haven't gotten around to. (Still looking at you Jeannie–and nothing permanent, or really detrimental other than some jaw pain.) It really depends on how fly and awesome the questions are. Go for maximum fly and awesominity if you want multiples.

Because multiples rule.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Getting My Pratchett On




So for the last two years, every time Terry Pratchett has been on a poll–any poll...for any reason...including, but not limited to, "best science fiction"–one of my beloved readers has "stuffed the ballot" by giving a shout out on a Pratchett page (Facebook, I think). Since anyone can (and is, in fact, encouraged to) do the same thing with other authors, worlds, or books, I haven't really put a kibosh on it. Still, Pratchett's dominance has remained the one constant in the Writing About Writing universe.

And he's an author I've not really read much of.

So it's time to have a Terry Pratchett poll. This person assured me that Discworld was a great series and that I simply had to read it.  The problem was I just could NOT get into The Color of Magic (his recommendation for the introduction to the world.)

Here is my hat tip to so many who have come to vote on so many polls in the past:

I will read whatever Pratchett book you decide I should.

You decide what is the BEST introductory book to Terry Pratchett and I will read it, cover to cover–even if it's a tough read or I have trouble getting into it. I'll even do a little write up about it and tell people what I enjoyed.

Since Good Omens (which I have read) has been ruled to "not count" both by Gaiman and Pratchett fans, it's out, and I will be vetoing The Color of Magic suggestions since we already tried that. Any other Pratchett book is fair game–Discworld or no.

The usual rules for a poll apply, but this one will be FAST. (It'll be over by mid-August rather than taking the whole month.) The nomination process will only be a week. You may nominate ONE book. Everything after your first nomination will be considered a "second" if someone else nominates it or disregarded if they don't. You may second as many titles as you like (so check back to see if someone has suggested Pratchett books you think would be good on the poll.)

In a week, I'll tabulate the results and post a poll. If there are too many books to run a single poll, I will narrow the field based on which ones got two or more "seconds," so don't forget to second books you like!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What is the Best World Building (Poll Results)

Oh gee. Look who won.

Discworld trailed behind Middle Earth for most of this two week poll. Then our resident Pratchett fan worked his mojo, and Discworld took an astounding leap ahead...by hundreds of votes. You can still see that some of the other races were a bit close and Newford's well-won third place spot actually surprised several friends.

Alright then Pratchett fans. I throw the gauntlet. You love him. I get it. But I'm still trying to appreciate him. I have tried Color of Magic to no avail and folks on both sides of the Good Omens aisle say that title can't count because of Gaiman's contribution.

So gear your brains up for August's early poll, which will be up tomorrow. I VOW to read (and completely finish) one Pratchett book--Discworld or otherwise. I'll even do a little write up of what I liked and didn't. You have to decide what is the best intro book to Pratchett (sans Color of Magic or Good Omens). The nominations start tomorrow.

The Calm Before the Storm (Blogust Offerings)

Yesterday, I literally didn't have a moment to sit down and even hammer out a quick post. I woke up wrangled The Contrarian all over The Bay Area Discovery Museum (it's absolutely awesome, by the way), cleaned the house, hosted company, and collapsed just a few minutes after I'd put the baby to sleep.

I knew it was going to be busy, but I didn't quite realize there wasn't going to be any time at all.

So let's pretend it is yesterday (everyone put on your pretend caps) and I will give you a preview of what is coming up in Blogust. Then later today I will post the results of our July poll on Best Worldbuilding.

So here are some plans for Blogust. Since we're all still wearing our pretend caps, best to imagine them a bit like a Doctor Who season preview: trailer music that gets steadily more intense, a couple of voice over quotes, and then some clip scenes of new dilemmas ....and a few old enemies, some dramatic quotes out of context  then a dreadfully long, silent pause, and a few teasers from the season arc and/or really powerful enemies.

Voice over: "I have spent a long time trying to tell you that your passion alone is the reason to write. Money, fame, sex (even groupie threesomes)--any of these things, indeed all of these things can be pursued directly with less time and effort. All that remains is the writing itself. The simple act of passion that drives us unceasingly to the blank page."

The continuation and conclusion of "15 Things A Very Cute Toddler Taught Me About Writing."

Elements of Craft

Random Creative Writing Terms (Beginning with the letter N)

Even more hate mail than we already have

What if people handled other jobs like they do writing?

Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird

Fiction. Actual fiction.

Dramatic Quotes: "Ifyou'veneverreadthisbookyoureallyshould!" "This marks a new era in Writing About Writing's history." "You have to figure out who keeps writing these terrible posts, Chris. This can't go on."

Long, dramatic pause.

"Hello, Writing About Writing," Evil Mystery Blogger says, "Have you missed me?"

Skyrim dragon roaring!