OMG. OMG. As of this post I’m down to the last eight scenes in my second draft(!) This is wonderful. This is terrifying.
(last one) I DON’T FINISH THINGS BECAUSE THAT MEANS I HAVE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH A PROCESS THAT SCARES ME BECAUSE IT MAY MEAN I HAVE WASTED MY TIME OR I MAY DISCOVER I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH AND THAT ALL SCARES ME.
I’ve spent 3 days trying to congeal my anxiety into a post while John Adamus nails my mood in 140 characters.
Nonetheless, my own blatherings: Second draft = putting the whole thing in front of beta readers time. Structural errors that I could excuse as “covered in another chapter” when readers only read excerpts will now be writ large. Shallow emotions, poor cause and effect, loose ends, red herrings: all will be glaringly obvious in context.
I know – it’s why one has beta readers. I’m just nervous that these errors won’t only reveal what I need to fix but what I can’t. Maybe because it’s beyond my ability. Maybe because who am I to write about people like I understand how they work, how dare I?
In short, I’m afraid of what the story will say about me as a person, rather than about my ability to write.
A wise friend once told me about my fencing that no single competition defines one’s worth as a fencer or as a person–a crucial distinction for me as I too often conflate what I do with who I am. It’s no different with writing. If my book sucks it doesn’t mean I’m an awful person.
But if it sucks too badly to salvage it does mean I’ve spent four years on a cold, dead turkey. Which is a lovely “learning experience” but it sure as hell won’t feel like it.
But at the end of my chat with Mr. Adamus he posed the question:
Starting off the new year with a bang. Or is it a fizzle?
After a year of news that beggars belief, I can honestly say that this is one I didn’t expect to see. This past year, or ever. And yet, it’s not as shocking or mundane as it first appears.
The short version: former DoD intelligence officer Luis Elizondo arranged the release of classified Pentagon video of…something before his resignation in October. Articles in the New York Times (on the front page, no less) and Washington Post accompanied the videos, describing the activities of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a small Pentagon effort, from 2007-2012. Much of the $22 million funding the AATIP funneled to Bigelow Aerospace, who claims to have refitted warehouses in Las Vegas to store materials retrieved from these UFOs.
Here are my meandering thoughts:
The initial impulse is to cry “Government confirms existence of UFOs!!” Which isn’t news: A UFO is by definition unidentified, and no one has denied that there’s stuff in the sky we can’t identify. But “UFO” is often conflated with “alien”, which leads us to:
“Government confirms existence of aliens!!” But it’s done no such thing. Careful reading of the articles reveal that the writers back off from the word “alien” at every turn.
“At long last, it’s Disclosure™!” I never expected an unambiguous “yes aliens are here” message coming from anywhere in the government. What elected official would admit a potential security breach which they can’t identify and can’t stop? But those beating the Disclosure drum clearly did so I imagine online/print news articles with fuzzy video must sorely disappoint. So: Maybe? Sorta? “Disclosure Lite“? The irony: most Disclosure aficionados don’t appear to trust the government at all so I doubt anything would satisfy them.*
“Why isn’t this blowing up more?” 2017’s news cycle generated such extraordinary stories all year that it simply slipped under the radar. In the face of sexual assailants finally facing justice, Nazis marching in American cities, and Trump & Co’s constant outrages it makes sense that mere government confirmation of UFO research is mundane by comparison.
These articles appeared in well-regarded, mainstream news sources. Moreover, they didn’t appear in the Culture or Arts section accompanied by snide remarks; they were tagged under National Security (NYT) and Politics (WaPo). The NYT in particular attempted to curtail ridicule by describing how they decided to publish.
This is the first time a government entity acknowledged that UFOs present a genuine mystery. The aforementioned Blue Book and Condon efforts concluded that most reports were mistaken identity and didn’t warrant further research. This article suggests not only recent but current concern, at least as regarding national security/aviation safety.
If you were expecting the president to come on tv with dead alien bodies and crashed flying saucers this must seem very insignificant. On the other hand, if you never expected any government admission that UFOs are worthy of scientific inquiry, this is huge. I’m not sure these articles represent a permanent about-face of mainstream attitudes towards this particular flavor of weird but I’m happy to wait and see.
*The conspiracy corner has Opinions. Slate provides a rundown of the paranoia-flinging if you’re really interested/masochistic. If I read “false flag” one more time I’m gonna tear my eyes out.
UFO-Pentagon Story Reflects Fundamental Problems: some background including Bigelow Aerospace’s connections to MUFON, Elizondo’s connections to Tom DeLonge’s Academy To The Stars, and the problem of taxpayer money paying for materials the public aren’t allowed to see.
Between the day job, holiday preparations, a competition, competing social possibilities, and my cat getting sick it’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs and too much at once. Even the good stuff has involved logistics that already stretch my overstretched brain. Long periods of waiting culminate in swift decision making–two things I’m particularly bad at.
Yeah, I know I need to take a chill–that’s what the holidays are for, right? Even so I feel like I’m juggling knives and can’t let a single one drop, ever.
No, I don’t smoke. I’ve never smoked. But even so…via GIPHY
So, writing has rather fallen by the wayside. The waiting gives me enough time to brainstorm but not enough for butt in seat, words on screen. What little I’ve written bores and frustrates me.
My hopes for the new year involve a schedule that calms down enough for me to work through the writer’s block. And for all my failings I have learned about my writing process: if I keep hammering I do break through to where the words flow again.
Beyond that, I’ve not got many goals for the new year (I’m bad at goal setting. Maybe learning to do so should be my goal…).
What are you looking forward to/working on/planning on for 2018?
‘Cos all the cool kids are doing it. Mind, just because I read it this year doesn’t mean it was written this year. And I’ve mixed up fiction and nonfiction just for giggles.
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly: described as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by way of “Cabaret” and it is, in all the best ways. Follow the denizens of Weimar Germany-like Amberlough City’s fringes as they navigate the perils of the hyper-conservative “Ospie” takeover.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: based on the real WWI network of women spies in occupied France. I love the characters, especially the retired spy Evie, busted hands and all. It’s cliché but this really is a page turner, with a satisfying finish. Run, do not walk.
The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff: recommended for the prose alone-I didn’t know small details could show subtext and stretch tension like this! The story unfolds slowly and is less about Einar/Lili’s transition and more about the supportive marriage that made room for such transition. So very recommended.
Forbidden Science: The Journals of Jacques Vallée 1957-1969: Vallée came in on the ground floor of two mid-century developments: computer programming and government research into UFOs. His journals document a moment in which the government took UFO research seriously while questioning the long-term utility of computer programming – oh have times have changed!-and how he manages to hold both the scientific and the mystical in equal regard. I’m definitely picking up the next volume.
Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in the Digital Age by Kristen Lamb: if you’re an author who’s scared of social media, fear no more. Connecting with readers and potential readers is easy, and [gasp!] fun! Though fluent in Twitter and Facebook this book still provided some good ideas and is a good primer for newbies overall.
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin: come for the fully formed, Ancient Egypt-inspired fantasy world but stay for the murder mystery and conspiracy. A thriller/fantasy in a ‘verse quite unlike any other.
A Song of War: A Novel of Troy by the Historical Fiction Authors Co-op (Kate Quinn, Christian Cameron, Libbie Hawker, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Russell Whitfield, Stephanie Thornton, S.J.A. Turney, Glyn Iliffe): how these folks keep taking known stories and infusing them with crazy tension I will never figure out, but every one of these collaborations keeps me on tenterhooks until the very last page.
Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-first Century by Simon Reynolds: I’ve always known more about glam fashion than music and I sought to rectify that. I’ve enjoyed Reynolds exhaustive, entertaining work on rave culture and early 80’s post-punk and this tome (and it is a doorstop) did not disappoint. If you want history and discography and dirt and analysis, this is your one stop shop. Reading it only a year after David Bowie’s death (and Reynolds included a nice eulogy for Bowie in his final edits) made it all the more timely.
As we go into the Christmas season, how about some devils?
The Bedevilment of Benvenuto Cellini: artist, duelist, and all-round party boy Cellini also dabbled in the black arts with the assistance of a priest. Another example of the extreme effort of necromancy: this ritual required hours of incantations, magical circles, and a virgin sacrifice (well, bait). Cellini did get his devils, but the inclusion of “drugs of fetid odor” in the process is telling.
Just to round out the “devil” theme of today’s post. I actually prefer the Who Killed The Kennedys mix [YouTube] but this version’s visuals are more on topic (is the singer dressed up like Vlad the Impaler?):
So I said a couple of weeks ago. I’m not alone in the sentiment if the thread is any indication. Mind, I’m biased. I got my start as a fanfic writer.
Fanfic is often unjustly maligned as the refuge of the lazy and unoriginal. This Imaginary Worlds episode explains well the origin of these stereotypes and refutes them quite well. A good number of published authors got their start in fanfic (DailyDot found these 10; Google will find you many more).
Media franchises are the modern version of mythology. People want to tell and share new stories about characters they already know and love. It’s a wonderful way to interact with other fans, speculate about future developments, offer alternatives to canon, and keep canceled properties alive.
Mind, I’ve not run into much fanfic based on historical fiction (though fic writers love to use historical “alternative universes”). Still, I nurture a foolish hope that I’ll run into Dee/Kelley slash someday. Even more than being on a bestseller list, if my books can involve people that much I’ll know I’ve truly arrived.
So: could you, would you, have you written fanfic? If so, in what ‘verses (you can probably guess one of mine)?
Happy thanksgiving to those who are celebrating! Given that we are now entering what a friend calls the “eating season” this week’s links are food and table themed. Imagine passing these around with the mashed potatoes:
How to Make a Homunculus: “That the sperm of a man be putrefied by itself in a sealed cucurbit [a pumpkin-like gourd] for forty days with the highest degree of putrefaction in a horse’s womb”…and it just gets more appetizing from there. This article covers the Renaissance concept and creation of homunculi (including the wild claim that John Dee created some to serve as spies – that’s a new one on me) and winds up with some intriguing YouTube videos of modern homunculi (the contents of which I shudder to think).
As I’ve discussed before, history isn’t tidy. I made some strategic cuts to the story at the outset, mostly for my sanity. Now I’m cutting even more as they don’t add to the story I’m trying to tell, which is a damn shame as Dee and Kelley generated So. Much. Weird. that begs exploration. Just not by me:
A series of incidents in which Kelley apparently conjures demons and poltergeists outside of his actions with Dee – and this breaks my heart because I so, so want to play with what was going on here! I found this delicious story in the footnotes of part 9 of I.R.F. Calder’s thesis but it’s so divided from the rest of the spiritual actions that I can’t justify including it.**
The possibility that Jane Dee was from a recusant family. I could only find one reference (since removed), and there’s more narrative tension if Jane is solidly Protestant in Catholic Bohemia.
And there’s probably more. What are you cutting, and why?
*Looking forward to reading this after I finish the WIP.
**Actually, I might do a short story based on this.