Archive for February, 2008

Diabetic Rockstar

February 28, 2008

Diabetic Rockstar appears to be a social networking site for diabetics (primarily, it appears, T1s).

There’s a forum where folks can show off their tattoos. Also, I can buy a t-shirt that says “I’m an addict.”

Heh heh heh.

Training Sessions

February 28, 2008

For those of you keeping track at home, our twice-a-week training sessions at work this week consisted of:

5 mins running on the track at the Y, 1 min strength training, 3 minutes running, 1 min strength training, repeat for 40 minutes.

Yum.

Writing Weird Shit

February 28, 2008

One of the things that always interested me when I was reading Really Weird Shit (like, say, a Mieville or a VanderMeer or even a Catherynne Valente), is this:

Do they come up with all the weird shit in there the first time through, carefully working it all out, or is there just this made dash through the tangle with the occasional cleanup as they go?

Cause what I’ve discovered is that writing weird, really weird, and staying consistently weird (it might be weird to us, but not the world), isn’t something I do on a first pass (and still not something I do well. I’m young. I have a long way to go yet). My drafts sometimes have the rough outline-feel of, say, Titus Alone vs. the fully-formed crackpit that is Gormenghast.

Sure, there’s some stuff in there the first time through. I mean, I knew the bakkies would be powered by bugs. I knew there weren’t going to be a lot of big animals and most of the protein was just bugs. But it wasn’t until the very last couple of drafts (*after* they’d been seen by my crit group and at least one editor) that the chickens got scales and the bakkies belched and got organic guts.

And there are about a million places where I could push the book more than it already is. One of the biggest challenges of Black Desert is knowing that I need to push the level of weird and newness to another level. You can’t just write the same shit in the same world over and over again. That defeats the point of having a series. You write a series because the world’s so big and cool and weird that you want to open it up and reveal it even more than you did last time. And, ideally, I want to reveal it in a way that doesn’t necessarily make it more knowable, but makes it weirder and more interesting and more fucked up. You aren’t going to get any hard and fast answers.

One of the things that annoys me about a lot of SF is that there’s this need to explain exactly how the world got to be the way it is. Here’s the ship’s name, where it came from (oh the mystical EARTH!!). But I like writing SF that’s so far future it’s become fantasy again. I like the Gene Wolfe idea where the world’s so ancient they don’t really remember anything before it. Sure, they came from the sky, but from another planet? A seed ship? A multitude of worlds? Who knows? And, honestly, within the context of the stories I’m telling on the world, it’s not terribly relevant. Who cares? Suffice to say, here’s the world they made it, and it’s wacky.

The thing with pushing yourself every book is that you push harder every time, and if your head’s not hurting, you’re not trying hard enough. I sat down last night to clip off my draft and described Tirhani houses and landscape and knew even as I did it that I was going to have to go back over it several times to flesh out the weird. Because most writers, I think, are lazy.

First pass through, all my folks have living rooms and kitchen nooks and mailboxes and happy 50s social pairings, and as I go further, dig deeper, draft after draft, the whole landscape starts to change. There’s the ubiquitous Ras Tiegan servant in every house, the bug pillar for collection of message swarms, the organic flooring, the prayer nook, the spider garden, the stairs that no longer lead anywhere. And then you go over it again, and stuff starts breathing and sprouting wings and the kitchen’s not black and white anymore, it’s technicolor, and you’re not even sure it could be called a kitchen now anyway.

Thing is, if I concentrated on the weird shit during my first drafts I’d lose 1) the plot 2) the character relationships.

First run through, it’s all about the relationships, with an eye for keeping myself on track with plot everytime folks try and sit down over tea and over-explain themselves. Pieces of the world that are already in place, I can weave those in and they hook up with the plot and the folks, but as I start to push it on the second and third and fourth pass, what happens to the scenery and mechanics does change the character interactions and plot somewhat.

First time through, though, I’m lazy. Lazy writing, lazy ideas. A great example of this was, in God’s War Nyx and her team need to cross the war-torn border, so, you know, I have them get in their bakkie and, um… drive across. Cause I needed them to get across the border, yo. Oh sure, there was a brief run-in with some wasp swarms, but it didn’t mean anything, didn’t add anything, and it made the border a lot less messy and scary that it should have been.

It wasn’t until I watched an episode of Aeon Flux where she infiltrates Bregna by getting dropped over the border with a big load of dead in metal coffins raining from the sky that I realized that a fun way of getting over a border would be to smuggle yourself in with the dead.

Yummy. And not quite ordinary. Is the scene the best it could be? No. I think it could be weirder. But it’s a long way from the lazy place it started out, and it means a lot more to the characters and the world. You learn a lot more about how it all fits together with this scene than you do when they just drive across the border (not to mention the sheer suspension of disbelief you’d be requiring of your reader for that one, and I say that as somebody who’s writing books about chicks with swords and bad aim who come back from the dead and practice magic with bugs).

There are all sorts of assumptions we make about other worlds, other places, as writers. It’s easier that way. Easier to go with our assumptions. And lots of times, we’ll look at the impact of a technology on the way lives are lived, physically, but not the way lives are lived, emotionally. What happens to our families? Our friendships? If you take us out of our time and place, who are we? What sorts of morals do we have? Are people really basically born good? What’s “good”? What makes us all the same? What makes us different?

It’s these questions that really got me writing SF/F. If we strip everything else away, what are we? Who are we, if things are really different?

No, really:

What if things were REALLY different?

And the questions I ask are very personal questions, ones that I’ve run into in my own life, of course. What if women were measured by strength instead of beauty? What if we could manipulate the fabric of the world? What would it be like to BE the law, and then lose that privilege? What would it be like to feel no fear, no shame, no self-consciousness, about your body? What would a world where the nuclear family was unknown look like? How does changing the nature of the family change the society?

What if cutting off heads was a respectable way to earn a living?

You know, real important shit like that.

But when you ask those questions, you can’t be superficial. When you answer those questions superficially you end up re-writing somebody else’s book. Your book sounds like every other feminist dystopia of vampire bounty-hunter bodice ripper, and you’re just another jelly bean; a thousand flavors, one type.

There’s nothing wrong with different flavored jellybeans. The trouble comes when all you have is eighteen flavors of vanilla and not one strawberry, because look at how much everybody likes vanilla! They eat vanilla up! We sell 8 bazillion vanilla-flavored jelly beans a year!

It doesn’t mean vanilla’s the best jellybean. It just means we haven’t tasted anything else yet.

I write the books I write because I wanted this flavor jelly bean.

The hope is that a lot of other people wanted it too.

I guess we’ll find out.

And until then, hey, even at this pay rate the writing keeps me in bread and boys, and I, at least, find the books terribly tasty. Can’t knock that.

Note

February 27, 2008

I do not ever want my author bio to read:

“Kameron now lives in (insert small midwestern town name here) with her three cats.”

Call me crazy, but I want more than that. At the same time, I also don’t want it to read:

“Kameron now lives in (insert small midwestern town name here) with her adoring, supportive attorney husband Walter and their three adorable children, Minnie, Mickey, and Mike.”

I think my bio should just say:

“Kameron Hurley subsists primarily on the blood of her enemies and should not be allowed out in direct sunlight. She prefers fucking in Marrakech to boxing in Madrid, but it depends on the time of year. When she’s not shooting up in service to her life-sustaining drug habit, she can still drink small children under the table. She lives with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a substantial number of Chipotle burritos and occasionally sees a boy whose name she can’t remember, but right now she’s probably out at a bar learning French from a one-legged prostitute named Bruno.”

At least it’s more memorable, and has less of the “inevitable boring death” slant to it.

The inevitable death of us all could at least be spiced up a little.

Oh, the Glamorous Writing Life

February 27, 2008

Up this morning at 5:30 am, morning weights routine, green tea and a cup of frozen raspberries. Out the door at 7:10, catch the bus at 7:27, at work at 7:45.

Script writing in the lobby from 8-10, com meeting from 10-10:30 to communicate assignments and deadlines. Shift from scripts to design changes for company intranet at 11. Lunch is cabbage and pulled pork in a low carb totilla wrap and a spinach salad eaten while reading tips on how to write good web copy.

Intranet & sales process meeting from 1-2, revised sales process up and sent out by 2:30. Approved sales letters given over to intranet manager by 3:00pm.

4:00pm, finalized change process doc done for intranet home page redesign submitted to project manager. 4:30pm, finalized sales brochure mockup sent to graphics designer. 4:45pm, finalized sales brochure sent to videographer.

5:00pm, out the door to catch the bus.

5:11pm on the bus.

5:30pm at home, pack up stuff for a writing night, realize the Starbucks within walking distance is closed.

Steph drops me off at the Books & co down the street.

6:10pm stop by Chipotle across from Books & co. for a quick dinner (steak fajjita burrito, no rice, no beans).

Hole up at Books & co. from 7-9 and squeeze out 1500 bloody, misbegotten words on Black Desert while researching some new fitness routines, bringing me within 500 words of where I’m supposed to be according to my writing schedule.

9:05pm cell phone alarm goes off telling me to pack up and walk to the bus.

9:18pm bus arrives right on time.

9:23pm arrive home. Eat half a dark chocolate bar in the fridge. Roommates tell me pilot light on the furnace went out, so don’t try and take a shower or do dishes until morning.

9:25pm unpack computer. Repack gym clothes for personal training session at work.

9:40pm write blog post while reminscing about my glamorous writing life.

This is it, folks.

And you know what?

I love it.

I love my job. Both of them. All of them.

Now somebody needs to start paying me real money for them.

10:00 collapse into bed.

Write Night

February 26, 2008

Went out to the coffee shop down the street tonight to catch up on my Black Desert writing. Finished up nearly 5K, getting me back within 1K of where I’m actually supposed to be according to my writing schedule.

It was an intense little session. I haven’t been that deep in the book in awhile, and when I came out of it I had one of those weird periods of dissonance, where five minutes ago I was in bed with Rhys and his wife in balmy Tirhan in the bloody moonglow, and suddenly I’m trudging down the snow glutted streets of Dayton at 9 o’clock at night wondering where in the hell I am.

Man, I’m a cruel bitch, too. This is that happy jump the narrative takes just before it all goes to hell. This is where you realize just how much the protagonists have to lose, and how hard they fought for it. There are some ichy scenes coming up, and after writing what I did tonight, I have a feeling I’m going to cry through them when I write them. Maybe after.

A whole world, all broken down.

Such a bloody bitch.

I like writing about characters who are drawn to each other but aren’t necessarily good for each other. Nyx walks back into your life and you see everything you love destroyed, but some vital piece of you, something you can’t name, something you didn’t even know was missing, is somehow there again. Whole. Full. Like a missing piece of your heart that chokes you.

Yes, I know: I’m a bloody bitch. But why else would I be a writer?

Stevia

February 25, 2008

Tastes like concentrated saccharine.

Yech.

Movin On Up

February 25, 2008

Steph and the Old Man and I had a chat tonight about where we’re all at with the living situation. They’re happy to have me if I need to stay, but honestly, me and the Old Man have been itching to have our own places for months now. They’re not as neat-freaky as I am, and I’m getting tired of picking up dirty dishes and he’s tired of me playing loud music. It’s not like we want to murder each other, but we both really like our own space, and I’ve been dying to get my own – he’s been dying to get his back.

What triggered the conversation was that they wanted to remodel the bathroom this summer, and to be dead honest, I wanted the hell out of the house before that happened. I’ve been in the house during major remodeling before, and this one is going to take even longer. I really don’t want to be here when it happens.

So I’m pretty much bouncing off the walls right now because oh man do I want my own damn place. Oh man oh man.

If I wanted to live in Ghetto Dayton, I could pay $325 on the north side or downtown, but for $450 I can get a one bedroom near the U of Dayton (OK neighborhood, not ghetto). Take the $350 a month I give over to the CC that’ll be paid off when I get my first book check and $250 I currently pay for rent and viola! You have $450 for rent and $150 for utilities.

We’re looking at a June 1 or July 1 move out/move-in date, so I’ll start my planning accordingly. By the end of March/April I’ll be doing serious apartment hunting (it’s also a great time of year to pick up apartments near UD cause the students are leaving for the summer). We can do all the moving with the truck and car they’ve got, so no rental van necessary. I haven’t bought, well, pretty much anything since I moved in, so the actual moving of stuff will just be a couple big pieces of furniture and lots of books.

Waiting for the summer means waiting for the book check and a little more job security at work (as of June, I’ll have been there a year). And also means I’ll move before the bathroom remodel (OH THANK YOU GOD).

I’m so frickin’ happy to be in a place where I’m actually, you know, physically and mentally and financially capable of being on my own again. It’s been a fucking rough two years. Steph is broken up about me going, but I was like, um, yo: that’s how you know you did a good job. The busted up bird is able to fly on its own again.

You guys did good.

(OMG I GET TO BUY MY FRENCH PERFUME AGAIN!!!! AND LIGHT SCENTED CANDLES!!! AND USE APRICOT FASHWASH!!! OMG!!!!)

Recipes that Should be Illegal

February 24, 2008

Seriously, yo. This is one of those “cruelty to diabetics” recipes.

Also, they’re selling Girl Scout cookies at work next week.

God’s War Posters

February 24, 2008







Make your own!