Forward and Backward

I learned today that Dr. Robert L. Forward passed on over the weekend. I have read a few of Dr. Forward’s books, and enjoyed Dragon’s Egg very much as a young man. I wrote a brief review of Starquake for this website years ago, and in reading it over, I wish I had said more positive things about the novel. It is a good novel, but my review is nit-picky, and concentrates primarily on a disdain for some of the name choices rather than on the true strengths and weaknesses of the novel. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a bit about critiquing since then, but I would have to go back and re-read the novel to give it a fair critique

I still stand by my assertion in the review that Dragon’s Egg is a better book, and that I’m not sure Starquake really needed to be written. The premise was covered nicely in the first book, and the Starquake story seemed, to me, to be superfluous.

All that aside, I will miss the gravitational waves generated by Dr. Forward in the realm of hard science fiction. My story “Half-Lives of Quiet Desperation” is inspired partially by the ideas Dr. Forward presented in Dragon’s Egg, and though I don’t have the science background that he did, I know the importance of research in making a hard science fiction story ring true. I hope I can attain some level of his skill in presenting my own hard SF work.

At lunch today, I wrote part of my review of Word Work, by Bruce Holland Rogers on my handheld computer. At home I transferred and finished the review and was polishing it up when I decided to check my e-mail. Outlook locked up (Outlock? Hmmm …) and my computer displayed the dreaded BSOD. (I’m gathering more and more reasons to leave Windows 98 behind and move to Windows 2000 Professional.) I had not saved the review, and I had already erased it from my handheld and synchronized after copying it to the desktop computer. “Crap” is the appropriate term here, but, being an aspiring writer, I chose a stronger word when I realized what had happened.

I will rewrite the review tomorrow.

Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card made an appearance at a Borders book store today. The store was on the geographically opposite end of Denver from me, but I wanted to make the trek anyway and get a copy of his latest Ender book, Shadow Puppets. In order to justify the journey, I decided that I had to make sure I got some trim painting done on the house. Kim and I worked on that until almost too late, then hurriedly took showers and jumped in the car.

I took copies of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead for him to sign, as well as two copies of Analog from 1978 that featured his stories. I also took along a copy of a 1977 Analog containing the story “Particle Theory” for Ed Bryant to sign, since he was handling the introductions for Scott. We were late, so I missed Ed’s introduction, but caught most of Scott’s question and answer session. The man is a very good speaker.

After the session, while waiting at the tail end of the line for Scott to autograph the books, I had a great conversation with Gary Jonas. We discussed writing groups, stories, and publishing strategies. Kim joined us, and brought up my story “Half-Lives of Quiet Desperation.” I mentioned that the story needed a lot of trimming, because it was too long for submission to most magazine markets for a first-time writer. Gary suggested that maybe the story needed to be expanded, rather than trimmed, and marketed as a novel. Of course, Gary hasn’t read the story, and might have a different opinion if he did, but this is not the first time someone has told me that. The story’s at about 9500 words already, so I could, conceivably, turn it into a novel. I don’t know if I’m up for that, though. If I did expand the story, the hinted romance between the main character and a secondary character would be the first subplot on which I would concentrate. Several people have told me that their romantic history needs to be flushed out more, but I can’t do that and keep the story short. I’ve flirted with the idea of taking their romantic tension out of the story — or better yet, leaving the tension, but not really acknowledging it. I have to admit that the idea of expanding appeals to me, though. Almost as much as it frightens me.

No matter what, I need to get some fiction writing done. I’ve been doing some musical things, and I’ve been getting lots of important housework done, but I really need to get my butt in gear and write. Then I need to stay in gear and start sending out the submissions and tracking them. Gary and I made an interesting observation: It’s much harder to get published when you aren’t sending stories out to editors.

“Half-Lives”

Today I read “Half-Lives” again and also read over the critiques I have gotten for that story. It needs work, but then again, I think everything needs work every time I read it. As I read through it, I could hear what needed to be fixed in my head, which is good. Perhaps it means I’m developing more of a talent for the flow of a story. It is odd, though, because I’ve read that story out loud at least twice before, and it didn’t sound that clunky then. I guess time and distance from a piece really do make a difference in objectivity.

I write today’s entry with mixed emotions; I’m glad I finally got out the story and dug through it, but I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get it done by the time I had wanted to (last Saturday.) I think I should be able to revise it easily by Father’s Day, though, despite my busy work and family schedule.

Memorial Day Rambling

I updated this log for the first time in several days, filling in the blanks of what I did each day. I briefly debated about how to write those entries, since I wasn’t writing them on the day of, but I decided to put myself in the frame of mind of writing as if it were the end of that day, so each one sounds like it comes from that day. “That’s lying,” my subconscious says, but I’m not sure I agree with him. I’m still reporting what I did that relates to creativity, and the purpose of this log is to list what I’ve done, not to be a live timeline. I think I can take the liberty of playing catch-up occasionally, as long as I get it all down. I almost finished The Legend That Was Earth today.

I have several projects to work on. I already mentioned the “Half-Lives” project in yesterday’s entry. I also need to finish my Carvin Bolt Guitar Kit essay and review soon, because my website statistics show that a lot of people are being referred to this site when they search on “Carvin Bolt Kit” or similar terms. They get here, then they find one page of the planned 10 page essay, which is very unprofessional. It would also be a good idea for me to start posting reviews of the books I read and the albums I buy on my site again. It’s been a long time since I posted either. Perhaps I should start with a review of The Legend That Was Earth. Also, I want to get back to my bookstore story and write another couple of Fear Sphere stories, particularly “Sphere of Success.”

If I ever do make it as a writer, I think I will be able to find plenty to do to supplement my income. After all, I have too much to do for this site as it is, and I’m not being paid for it. 😀

As long as I’m rambling, I may as well point out a trend that I’ve noticed. When I started this journal, I intended to just list what I had done that day in small entries. Since I decided to give myself a rule of making the entries in complete sentences on May 19th, the entries have expanded and become a little more personal. This journal may evolve from just a creativity journal to a general journal, but I will try to keep the focus on creativity. That shouldn’t be too hard; my life tends to revolve around creativity in one form or another anyway.

Attack of the Italics

I meant to write today, really I did. Then my wife and I went to see Unfaithful and Insomnia. (I’m glad for these short movie titles. They make up for all the long titles of late.) Both movies were good; Insomnia was better. When we came home, I did read some more of The Legend That Was Earth. I’m hoping to finish that this evening; my reading stack is getting full. After I finish that, I plan to read Sophie’s World, Word Work, Writers of the Future Vol. XVII, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Two Towers (again) and Zen Guitar. I may make Zen Guitar into a one-a-day ritual, or perhaps a practice session ritual before I play.

I also need to re-read “Half-Lives of Quiet Desperation” and the critiques of same so I can decide how to revise it. I want to have it revised by Father’s Day (June 16th.)