Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Vain Elephants

I always knew that elephants were vain, so this should really come as no surprise.
Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, joining only humans, apes and dolphins as animals that possess this kind of self-awareness, researchers now report.


Creative Will

Neil Gaiman has some very good advice for writers and other creatives. Seems to be an ounce of prevention that could be worth tons of cure further down the line for many folks.

Monday, October 30, 2006


The Who

Sean Williams sent me this little gem. It's a kind of geek double entendre that threatens to implode in on itself, but is funny for just long enough.


Hellboy: Sword of Storms

Did anyone else catch the new animated Hellboy feature over the weekend, Hellboy: Sword of Storms? It aired on Cartoon Network on Saturday, and I had a chance to watch it yesterday afternoon. Much better than it had any right to be. And arguably closer in tone to Mike Mignola's comics than Guillermo del Toro's live action version of a few years ago.

I thought that del Toro's version was only a hair away from perfect, but it was a pretty thick hair. It could have been improved immeasurably, I thought, in editing, by adding a Ron Perlman voice over narration, capturing the flavor of the character's captions in the comics, and editing down -- or our all together -- the human POV character, who seemed completely unnecessary. By contrast, Sword of Storms focuses on Hellboy and the other established BPRD operatives (including Kate Corrigan, who I don't believe appeared in the live action film). This seems it's own continuity, as it doesn't follow on the live action film, but has BPRD in their mountain headquarters, which I don't believe they got in the comics until after Hellboy left the team. But it hardly matters. It's Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, and Hellboy fighting a whole mess of Japanese monsters and demons. Many of the scenes are adapted directly from Mignola's short stories, such as the one with the kappa, and one with the floating cannibal heads.

A quick check of IMBD suggests that another of these animated features is in the offing for next year, to be followed in 2008 by del Toro's next live action feature. It occurred to me, in watching Sword of Storms, that Mignola may well be the only comic creator to achieve his level of commercial success with a creator owned property, without sacrificing quality and/or becoming a complete douche. Between the ongoing BPRD comic with John Arcudi and Guy Davis, the occasional Hellboy miniseries or one shot, the novel line at Pocket Books headed up by Christopher Golden, the live action franchise, and now this animated feature series, Mignola has built Hellboy into a media juggernaut, but each of these incarnations has been simply top notch.

Check out the Sword of Storms official site for trailers and the like, and for details about the Feb 07 release of the DVD. As for me, I'm having to resist the temptation to go back and reread all of Hellboy and BPRD now. I've got too much work to do!


Metal Dragon Year

I've just gotten word that my Celestial Empire story "Metal Dragon Year" has landed at Interzone. It's my first sale to the magazine, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Multi-Touch Interface

A while back, I blogged about something called a multi-touch interaction, a next-generation interface technology being spearheaded by a gentleman named Jeff Han.

Well, he's still at it, and the stuff just keeps looking better.

I want one of these...

Friday, October 27, 2006


My Wife, Hard at Work

I see very little of my wife these days. She works for a political consultancy company, doing television and radio ads for Democratic candidates, and this close to election day she's naturally very busy. Most nights this month she's not been home before nine o'clock week nights, often not until eleven, and sometimes as late as two thirty in the morning. We're looking forward to the World Fantasy Convention, not only to have a chance to catch up with all of our friends, but to have a chance to catch up with each other!

Tonight she sent me two photos, documenting the course of her day.

The first photo is her and her coworkers on a conference call this morning, reviewing production schedules and scripts (Allison is the one in the middle).

The next shot is the same crew ten hours later. She assures me that this was only slightly staged.


The Problem of Names

So I'm deep in preproduction on End of the Century, doing some last reading and research the next few weeks while outlining the thing in detail, before diving into the writing proper. My hope is to get the novel finished by the end of the year, as I've got several other projects lined up after it. The problem is, I've decided that I hate the name of one of the three main characters. The other two (Galaad and Sandford Blank) are fine, no complaints. But the young female protagonist of the section set in 1999 is giving me nothing but grief. In the original pitch, her name was Samantha Lake, but over the summer I realized that it wouldn't work for a number of reasons. In July, I started casting around for a replacement name, and in the intervening months I've gone through dozens, trying to find one that fit. But I'm still coming up short. It's the kind of problem where, as close to it as I am, I've lost all objectivity. This afternoon I thought I'd hit upon the perfect solution, but when I told Allison about it on the phone tonight, as soon as I said it outloud I realized I hated it. (To be fair, Allison hated it, too.) I think I've come up with a suitable replacement since, but I'm not terribly confident that this one will work, either.

Suffice it to say, if in 2008 you pick up a copy of my new novel End of the Century and start reading about the exciting adventures of the young American runaway, First-Name Last-Name, don't be too surprised.


The Most Famous Monster Ever Conceived

In the spirit of the season, here's a complete issue of Dick Briefer's The Monster of Frankenstein.

And if you like that, here are a couple more (though in a slightly more humorous vein).

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Alvin and the Spooky Chipmunks

(via) Okay, now this is kinda spooky. It's Alvin and the Chipmunks' "The Christmas Song" slowed down so that you can hear the actors singing at normal speed, and not "chipmunk" speed. The MP3 is here, and is a kind of hypnotic dirge. Perfect for the Halloween season.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Seven Soldiers #1 - Delayed!

That's it. I'm cursed:
"Due to an error, retailers serviced by Diamond Comic Distributors’ Memphis Distribution Center will not receive SEVEN SOLDIERS #1 (AUG060221) and SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #23 Standard Edition (AUG060226) this week"
I don't have Diamond's distribution map memorized, but I'm pretty sure that Texas is serviced by Memphis, and not by either coast.

Crap! And after I spent last night and this morning rereading the series to date, to have it fresh in mind for tomorrow. Heck, I planned to read the damned thing in the store!

Bah. Wake me when it's next week.


Pixar Storytelling

This last weekend, at something called the Screenwriting Expo, a number of Pixar f0lks spoke about the Pixar process. The keynote was given by Andrew Stanton. I wish I could have been there to hear it, but thanks to the TAG Blog, I can read the highlights (in two parts) and pretend.

Nobody knows story like Pixar. My daughter has developed the typical toddler obsession with their films, and I've had the opportunity to watch the two Toy Story films and Finding Nemo over and over and over again. And even on the fifteenth viewing, I'm still learning something new. Those guys really know what they're doing, and anyone interested in the craft of storytelling would do well to listen to what they have to say.

Monday, October 23, 2006


Piracy = No Rocketsauce

(via) An important message about piracy from Jack Black.

Friday, October 20, 2006


1989 Marvel Comics Parade Float

Oh, dear. They did it again two years later. This time, with singing.


1987 Marvel Comics Parade Float

(via) I have no words for this.

What I want to know is, why does the Hulk keep hitting himself in the head? Did the choreographers think he was just mentally ill?


Forthcoming MonkeyBrain Books

The Hollow Earth is at the printer, and will be in stores in November.

Blood & Thunder is at the printer, and will be in stores in November.

Cross Plains Universe is at the printer, and will be available at the World Fantasy Covention in November.

That's lots of MonkeyBrain goodness for November, y'all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Delicious & Nutricious: My $.02

Early last week, Lou Anders made a post on his blog about fun, entertainment, and art, and the subsequent conversation is still going on. It's been an interesting discussion to follow, and strikes at a more substantial role of writing that the perennial "movement" and "definition" debates usually do.

I don't spend too much time worrying about this, myself. I came to the realization early this year that what I'm writing isn't Art, but Entertainment. There's meaning and substance lurking beneath the surface of everything I write, though how successfully encoded or thought out is up to readers to decide, but my principle goal is to craft smart entertainment. To my way of thinking, though, a successful work can't have one without the other.

Entertainment without substance is nothing more than empty calories: it tastes good, but doesn't do you any good. Substance without entertainment is bitter medicine: it's good for you, but it's too often hard to swallow. A successful work-- one that provides both entertainment and substance -- is good and good for you: delicious and nutricious.

That's what I'm trying to produce. If I fall short of the mark, and end up providing something that is merely entertaining, then I've written the equivalent of a Twinkie. A smart Twinkie, perhaps, and a well-crafted one, but a snack cake nonetheless. But while my aim is always to strike a balance and blend the two extremes, if I have to err on one side or the other, I'd prefer to give readers a tasty snack instead of a bitter pill.

And while they're enjoying their empty calories, I'll just try that much harder next time to get it right, and slip some vitamins in there along with the confection.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Microbial Grammar

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this.
"“You have a string of letters and that string of letters reminds you immediately of a sentence, a kind of incomprehensible sentence, and you wonder in that sentence, 'Is that meaning hidden?''' asked Stephanopoulos. He used the example of a sentence: “Dave asks a question.'' What Stephanopoulos did was the equivalent of substitute different names for Dave and found that the peptide often still beat the bacteria."
The article describes this as grammar, but it sounds much more like cryptography to me. (Of course, I could be biased, as I've been watching the Channel 4 documentary series Station X the last few days, and have crypto on the brain.) I'm reminded, though, of the guy who ended up a codebreaker when he told government recruiters that he was an expert in cryptogams. Maybe they weren't too far off...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



Yesterday I received the signature sheets for my forthcoming novella from PS Publishing, The Voyage of Night Shining White. Tonight, I've spent the last three hours straight signing my name, and I'm still not done. Considering that my signature begins as an indecipherable squiggle, I'm not sure what that suggests about where I'll end up. I think whoever ends up with the 800th signature should be able to read Tectonese if they want to dope out what the letters are meant to be.

The book is due out by the end of the year, as I understand it, and PS is currently taking pre-orders. It's a platonic love story between a Muslim eunuch and a lute-playing doctor on a nuclear-powered space ship bound for Mars. How can you refuse?

Monday, October 16, 2006


Monkey on the Move

(via) Just because I love you.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Illustrated Elric

Over on his message boards, Michael Moorcock has posted a brief note about some exciting news.
"From next year, at three month intervals, Del Rey books will be publishing trade paperback editions of the Elric books. They will be done more or less in the order in which they were published and will be illustrated by some of the best artists currently at work. The first one will be done by my good friend John Picacio, whose first professional book illustrating job was the Mojo edition of Behold the Man (and who also illustrated Tales from the Texas Woods, also for Mojo) and will include the original stories from The Stealer of Souls and Stormbringer, as well as other material, plus a new introduction and explanatory material. They will be published in much the same style and format as Del Rey's Conan editions. I can't remember if I have already announced this, but thought I'd better mention it now just in case I hadn't! The books will include short stories from the world of the Young Kingdoms and other stories as they originally appeared in Science Fantasy magazine, including To Rescue Tanelorn and so on. Scripts, early illustrations and so on will also be included in the volumes."
New Elric editions, fully illustrated, the first by none other than John Picacio. Go ahead, tell me that isn't pure awesomeness.

I think I've mentioned at some point that I'm currently rereading all of Moorcock's body of work. I started in July, if I recall correctly, and I'm about halfway through my twenty-second novel (The Steel Tsar, to be precise). Well, and halfway through a twenty-third, as well, The Brothel in Rosenstrasse, which I forgot to take in the car with us when we left town this weekend.

As soon as I finish the two in process, I plan to start in on Elric again, which I've not read in quite a few years. I'm thinking, though, that I'll reread the recent comic series Mike did with Walt Simonson, Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer, before starting the novels, since the comic functions as a sort of prequel to the series. And then in the spring I'll have these new editions to look forward to, with "DVD extras" and illustrations by my good pal John. How cool is that?

Friday, October 13, 2006


Seven Soldiers of Victory #1

Seven Soldiers of Victory #1.

October 25.


There's even previews.


Picacio Speaks

Over on her blog Irene Gallo has done one of her Thumbnails interviews with my pal John Picacio. Go see what he has to say, why don't you? (And buy his book while you're at it!)


Will Direct for Food

As I mentioned last week, Terry Gilliam recently took it to the streets to promote his new flick, Tideland, which opens today in New York at the IFC Center. This morning, thanks to Jayme Lynn Blaschke, I discover that someone had the foresight to film the event.

If you'll be in New York this next week, make an effort to go see the flick, why don't you? And if not, check the listings to see if it may be opening in your area.

Looks like it'll be playing at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin at the end of the month. I may have to make my second trip out to the theater this year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Dramatis Personae

Still getting my ass kicked by this crud, only aggravated by a morning spent mowing the front yard, so didn't do anything today that required much in the way of higher reasoning. Instead, it was more database action. Principally, creating biographical entries for all of the named characters in the Bonaventure-Carmody novels to date (including a few that are so far unpublished). I've still got quite a few more characters yet to go, but here's the list of characters entered so far:

Adda van der Waals Bonaventure
Akilina Mikhailovna Chirikov
Aria Fox
Arthur Taylor
Atalanta Carter
Augustus Quince
Claudia Bonaventure
Constance Adams Taylor
Cornelis van der Waals
Cornelius Bonaventure
Diana Bonaventure Carmody
Galen Quince
Giles Dulac
Guillame Marchand
Guinevere Taylor Finch
Harmony Fox
Hieronymus Bonaventure
Hiram Fox
Hunter Bonaventure
Ingram H. Powell
Jake Carmody
James Fenimore Taylor
Jane Taylor
Jerome Bonaventure
John Bunyan Taylor
Jon Bonaventure Carmody
Joseph Arana
Jules Bonaventure
Jules Dulac
Karl Rasmussen
Lawrence Finch
Lord Arthur Carmody
Lord John Carmody
Melody Fox
Mervyn Fawkes
Miles Wainwright
Nick Taylor
Peter R. Bonaventure
Reginald Taylor
Rene Marchand
Rex Carmody
Richard Taylor
Richmond Taylor
Roland Bonaventure
Roxanne Bonaventure
Sinovia Chirikova
Spencer Finch
Stephen Orien Bonaventure
Sterling Finch
William Blake Taylor

And as much as this list is really of interest only to me, imagine how much more limited interest would be in the detailed family trees I've mapped out for all of these characters. The Taylor and Bonaventure families are mapped out from the seventeenth century to the present, but so far the Carmody and Fox family genealogies only date from the nineteenth century onwards.

I sometimes think there's something seriously wrong with me...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Free Cape and Notebook Included

Okay, so this is either extremely cool, or extremely sad. Or both. I'm just not sure.

As if every episode of The Greatest American Hero wasn't enough, this comes with a collectible tin, a free cape, and a light-up replica of the notebook. The very notebook that Ralph Hinkley just couldn't keep track of for more than a few seconds at a time.

Last year Allison and I watched the first few episodes of the series, the first time I'd seen them since they broadcast when I was a kid, and we were amazed at how not-horrible they were. Very watchable, and much better than the school-teacher-finds-supersuit-and-teams-with-grizzled-old-spy premise has any right to be. Of course, that was without a cape of our own to wear while watching...


World Fantasy Convention 2006 Preliminary Program Schedule

It is what it says.

I haven't done a panel at WFC since Montreal, but I figured since this year it's in my home town I could show willing and drag myself away from the bar a couple of times, at least.

Sadly, no monkey panel this time out. Mark Finn and I will just have to talk about gorillas in the bar, as usual.



Peggy Hailey, seeing my post yesterday about the creeping crud I'm laboring under, sent me this little pick-me-up. "But since you're looking for things that require very little thought, it sounds like the perfect time for this."

Yes, indeedy. What this has to do with Batman, I'll never know, but it's just my speed at the moment.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Data Entry

My brain is only partially working today, wrapped up in some sort of allergy-cold-flu combination that's had me steadily working my way through a box of Kleenex and drinking fluids nonstop to try to counter the fact that my throat feels like I've been gargling steel wool. In the spirit of the day, I decided to start transfering all of my handwritten notes for End of the Century into a wiki database, a process requiring very little actual thought.

The book is divided into three sections, "Avalon", "Jubilee", and "Millennium." Here are the top level entries so far for the first section. Three guesses what this thread of the novel is about.

Octha Big Knife
The White Lady
The Red King
Caer Llundain
The Island of Glass
The Summer Lands
The Unworld

Monday, October 09, 2006


Dime a Dozen

I'm getting a late start on the day this morning, having spent the last couple of hours shuttling Georgia to the doctor and then to preschool, picking up medicines at the pharmacy, and such like. She's fine (ear infection, early signs of conjunctivitus) but my morning is shot. So when I see that everyone is doing this "How Many of Me" thing this morning, it seems an easy way to ease into the day.

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Yikes. There are eighty Chris Robersons. That seems like a lot. (Tangent: I recall when we first discussed the use of the apostrophe-s for possessives in elementary school. The rule we were taught, flying in the face of Strunk & White, was that singular words ending in "s" could be made possessive by just adding the apostrophe, without the s. There was some discussion of pronunciation, and I asked how you would pronounce the possessive plural of a word ending in "s", like Chrises', for something belonging to more than one Chris. My teacher looked me in the eye, and just said, "I think one Chris is more than enough, thank you.")

This is a cheat, though. My first name isn't really Chris. I just wanted to see how many people shared the name by which I'm known. My first name is actually John. So how many John Robersons are there?

LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Woof! More than a thousand?! Well, between my dad and me, that's two right there. (The whole First-name-is-John, Go-by-your-middle-name is a family tradition. Had Georgia been born a boy, she'd have been John Carter Roberson, for reasons that should probably be familiar to many who know my obsessions.)

There are 236 Allison Bakers, for what it's worth. But only 33 Georgia Robersons. So it's really just me that's as common as dirt, it appears.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Spirit of Independent Bookselling

Bostom.com has done an interesting piece on independent genre booksellers, focusing on one of my favorite people in the world, Alan Beatts, owner and proprietor of Borderlands Books. Also nice mentions for Other Change of Hobbit and Dark Delicacies along the way.



That Jane Espenson, she's one smart cookie. I've been directing new writers to her blog for a while now, since her advice on writing spec scripts for television often contains nuggets of wisdom applicable to writing prose as well (and comics, and film, and anything else). In her most recent post is one such gem.
"I think sometimes we read our own material with the part of the brain that wrote it, when we should turn on the evaluation part. Don't collaborate with your creative mind's desire that the reader approach the script all blank, trusting and without any interest in anticipating where the story is going. Read with your crafty, suspicious, 'televisionwithoutpity.com' critical viewer brain instead. If you fool IT, then you've got something."
This is something that I didn't learn until I'd been writing for a while. Something that seems brilliant when you're writing can, when viewed from a slightly different angle, turn out to be hackneyed and cliche, at best, and downright stupid, at worst.

In my own process, I've built in cycles of self-evaluation just as Jane describes; my process is somewhat idiosyncratic, though, in that I do all of the "creative" work of plotting in the outline phase, so by the time I sit down to actually write the plot has been through any number of these evaluation cycles. In fact, I'm in the middle of one such cycle with End of the Century, breaking down and rebuilding one of the novel's central conceits, since on reevaluating it last week I decided it really didn't work as well as I'd originally thought it would. The voice I hear in my head in this kind of evaluation is that of a tough reader, or a particularly harsh critic. I try to anticipate the worst objections anyone could have to the story as it stands, and then account for them. I don't always catch them (as tough readers and harsh critics are always quick to point out, when they read the finished work), but the fact that I've caught some of them, at least, results in a stronger plot, and hopefully a better novel.

And, apropos of very little, here's a picture of Allison and me hobnobbing with TV people at the Hugos reception at the 2006 WorldCon. From left to right, that's BSG writer Anne Cofell Saunders and her date, Jane Espenson, me, Allison, Caroline Symcox and her husband Paul Cornell, the Hugo-nominated Doctor Who writer and international man of mystery.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Terry Gilliam, Self Promoter

Say you're a respected filmmaker who needs to promote a new project, and it's likely that the studio isn't going to get out and help push. So what do you do?

Well, if you're Terry Gilliam, you take it to the street.
So, Terry Gilliam showed up in front of the Daily Show with a giant sign that said "Will direct films for food." He had a plastic cup that people in the Daily Show ticket line filled to the brim with dollar bills. At one point he looked down at the cup stuffed with cash and said, "This is the most money I've made in a long time".
That's awesome. Hustling his movie, handselling it to the fans. And making a bit of cash on the side.


Cheer Up

Okay, so the world is going to hell in a handbasket. And it doesn't show any signs of improving, any time soon. So stop thinking about it for a second, and enjoy two of the finest artistic creations in the history of mankind.

(Thanks to Chris Nakashima-Brown for reminding me about these two gems.)


The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

(There's a higher quality audio recording of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" here, if you're interested. And you know that you are.)


The Fake News?

(via) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to be as substantive as network news
"It is clearly a humor show, first and foremost," Fox said of Stewart's program. "But there is some substance on there, and in some cases, like John Edwards announcing his candidacy, the news is made on the show. You have real newsmakers coming on, and yes, sometimes the banter and questions get a little silly, but there is also substantive dialogue going on … It's a legitimate source of news."
I can't say I'm surprised. I get at least half of my news these days from Stewart and Colbert, and some weeks it's more than that. And my only other sources of news are the internet (whether blogs, or newsfeeds, or whatnot) and NPR. I gave up on the broadcast news years ago.

I do find it amusing, though, that the telecommunications professor who mounted this study is named "Fox".

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Okay, so to my way of thinking, Richard Donner's Superman the Movie isn't just the best superhero film to date, it's one of my favorite films of all time. Donner was originally set to direct Superman II, filmed concurrently with the first film (a trick the Salkinds also pulled with one of my other favorite films of all time, Richard Lester's Three Musketeers and Four Musketeers), but ended up leaving the project midway through production. And as much as I love Richard Lester's work with the Beatles and the aforementioned Musketeer films, he just wasn't as suited to directed superhero adventure films.

When Donner left the project, a lot of the footage already in the can was reshot, to bring it in line with Lester's take on the character. More jokes, basically. As I understand it, Gene Hackman didn't return to the set after Donner left, so any scenes with Luthor in them are Donner's version. Everything else, though, is likely to be Lester.

A while back, I heard rumors that someone associated with Warner was reassembling a "Donner Cut" of the film, recovering all of the excised bits of the original Donner version and slotting them together. This past summer at San Diego Comic Con I mentioned this in passing to a couple of old friends of mine, who it happened had just come from the panel where the scenes from this restored cut had been shown. (So much for my ability to keep on top of rumors.) One of those friends, John Tahaney, just sent me a collection of bitchin' clips, which are just too cool not to share.

(Be warned, that all of the links point directly to the media clips, some of which are embedded in goofy proprietary players.)

First up, a long sequence from the film's opening that was screened in San Diego, wherein Lois Lane begins to suspect that Clark Kent is secretly Superman, and takes steps to prove it.

Then, a brief clip of the fight scene over Metropolis with the three escaped Phantom Zone prisoners.

Finally, here's a long trailer for the new "deluxe editions" of the Superman flicks. Stick around (or fast forward) to the 1:25 mark, though, for the bit about Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, which includes scenes I'd never seen before, some of it apparently reconstructed from test footage (including a scene of Clark with Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude).

So how cool is that? In some other Earth out there in the multiverse, Donner stayed on the project to completion, and audiences got to see his take on the film back in 1980. In this continuum, it just took a few decades longer to deliver, that's all.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


New Superhero Review

Lance Eaton has written a review of Peter Coogan's Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre for Curled Up with a Good Book, and seems to have liked it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Gorillaz: Rise of the Ogre

(via) Gorillaz, the "virtual band" created by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn, have apparently written a new autobiography, Gorillaz: Rise of the Ogre. And why not? If fictional cartoon characters can record CDs, film videos, and go on tour, why shouldn't they be able to write a book, as well?

I love me some Gorillaz. I came for the Hewlett art, stuck around for the music, and will follow them anywhere on the strength of giant zombie apes.

Monday, October 02, 2006



Jay Lake is one smart cookie. Over the weekend, he posted some musings about professionalism and writing that come closer to defining how I view my own work that I've ever been able to voice on my own.

Every writer has their own process, but of all the writers I know, I think Jay's is the most like mine that I've encountered. And while I write fast, I don't write nearly as fast as Jay. At WorldCon I decided that we should adopt the jay as a unit of measure for writing speed, equivalent to two thousand words an hour, if I recall correctly, based on some recent posts he'd made. By that yard stick, I write at an average speed of .5 jays. For what it's worth.

Here's the bit of Jay's post that struck closest to home for me.
On the other hand, as Gavin Grant said to me last summer, "You can write four or five books a year. You could write until you're seventy. Does the world really need over a hundred Jay Lake books?" Gavin wasn't making an argument for putting the brakes on or scaling back, simply for the sake of slowing down, nor was he making an argument for a Tim Pratt style assessment of my overall time commitments. He was just asking me what I thought I was doing, and making an argument for remapping my process to write a handful of great books instead of a trunkload of good ones.

Me, I'm writing. I could get hit by a bus walking home from this coffee house (sorry, Scalzi) and I would be done. I could live to be a hundred and thirty seven. How do I know? What I do know is that at the ripe old age of 42, I'm sufficiently conscious of my own mortality to already feel like I'm running ahead of the tide. My answer to Gavin is that I know my own process, and the way I'll get to a great book, if I ever I do, is through the pages of a lot of good ones. I haven't reached greatness yet, as a writer or a human being, but like Moses I've been vouchsafed a glimpse of it. Unlike Moses, God has not promised to strike me down.

So my definition of professionalism? Write as well and often as I can, treat my art like art, treat my business like business, and be as nice as I can to people. Everything else is situational.


Two Decades Later

I had a very surreal experience over the weekend. When I was in high school, I played trumpet in the marching band, and in 1986 our band won the Texas state marching band competition. A few of my classmates arranged a twenty year reunion, and this past weekend in Duncanville about a hundred people I hadn't seen since Reagan was in office got together at the Hilton Garden Inn. Allison came along, and kept remarking that all of us were wandering around, drinks in hand, talking about how strange all of this was. And it was very strange. There was a sort of cognitive dissonance in watching people age twenty years in front of your eyes. I'd strike up a conversation with a virtual stranger, and gradually begin to see a very familiar sixteen year old inside. Most of the exchanges were relatively brief, touching on a few route subjects -- where people live, what they do, whether they're married or have any kids, that twenty years is a long time and that we're all getting older -- punctuated by "Do you remember that time when...?" The evening ran a too-brief five hours, extended another few hours when we retired to a run-down sports bar in the Ramada Inn up the street, the only bar in town. Then we called it a night, and Allison and I headed back to my parents' place where we were staying, with me continuing to harp on about how strange the night had been. The whole drive back to Austin yesterday I carried on the same refrain, and woke up with it in my head again this morning. Now I've got recent memories of a room full of oddly familiar strangers in their mid- to late-thirties jostling with distinct and persistent memories of a population of teenagers in my head. And my only reaction is, "Man, that was strange."

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