I’m a geek. I know, it’s shocking, but there you have it. I am a geek. And I’m a woman, or just for the alliteration, a girl.
I’m also a feminist – that is I believe that women and men should be equal and we have a long way to go to get there.
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I recently attended Minicon 48 in Bloomington Minnesota. It was a wonderful weekend full of interesting discussions and reconnecting with old friends. I could go for the standard “Con Report” style blog post where I give you tidbits about my weekend, or I could go in depth over the course of several posts about the conversations that intrigued me the most. I’m going with the latter option.
Community in the Information Age (7:00pm Saturday)
“The pen is mightier than the sword”
An old truism that is mostly true. Swords are intimidating. They show their power openly. Everyone knows that a sword can kill and it looks like it. The sharp edges draw your attention to that deadly power almost immediately. But the truth is that a sword is an inanimate object. It must have the will of a person behind it. The ability of the sword to kill is dependent on that the person holding it. Words on the other hand hide their power. They are soft and hard to grasp. No one thinks of words as deadly weapons, and many will laugh when I tell you that they are more deadly than any sword. But the truth is that words are behind almost every murder or suicide. Worse than that, words can do their damage without the speaker having any intent to hurt. A careless “there’s no one here” can be more painful than a literal dagger in the back. Words can drive people to hate each other, or worse ignore each other.
A roll of the dice. A flip of the coin. A spin of the wheel. All good ways to get a thrill and maybe a good pay out. But are they good ways to get the love of your life?
Luck is a random event. You can’t plan on it. You have to “make your own luck” which means it isn’t luck at all. Rather you should plan. Make careful lists and check them twice or three times. Set up a schedule and stick to it like glue. This is how one avoids the need for luck.
There are two schools of thought about writing (in the most general terms). The school that says that you must wait for the muse to come by and give you inspiration. And the school that says you should sit your butt in the chair and write even when the muse is vacationing in Florida. As with anything of this sort, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Getting writing done is a lot about getting in the groove. That sounds a lot like waiting for the muse, except that getting in the groove is something that you can control. You just have to figure out how to find your groove reliably. Because unlike your muse, your groove doesn’t go on vacation.
As a writer I sometimes struggle with the idea that words aren’t as important as we think they are. As a linguist, I’m fascinated by this reality of communication. Depending on which studies you believe, anywhere between 80% and 90% of interpersonal communication has nothing to do with the words. Linguists call this meta-linguistics – the parts of communication that aren’t words. Meta-linguistics is broken into two categories – the things that are directly related to the language and the things that are communication unto themselves (eg. Body language).
When I’m not writing, I work as an educational or freelance ASL interpreter. Lately the differences between those two environments has been a minor source of stress in my life. In freelancing, I am sent out by my agency to do a variety of jobs. Most assignments over 30 minutes I’m sent with a team. I get almost no prep materials, and if I’m lucky I might get a few minutes to chat with the consumers (both Hearing and Deaf). In school, I am sent solo to one 45 minute class after another with only the 5 minute passing time afforded to the students to clear my brain and get ready for the next class. On the plus side I do get prep materials and a chance to get to know the students and teachers.
Did you ever notice how many great writers of all eras were friends with each other? It was something that I found rather hard to believe back in high school every time my teacher to assign three books by three different authors who all just happened to know each other. How was that possible?
Well it is possible and more importantly a reason that they were all so famous. You see writers are the best support for other writers. When you get in a group of like minded people you will egg each other on to greater and greater heights. You’ll push each other to fix your issues and improve you craft until you are all at the top of you game. Then you push higher. Great, so how do you find the other great writers to make your little group?
She looked up and there he was. Walking up to the other end of the bar – the perfect man. His dusty brown hair just long enough to get messy if she ran her hands through it and hanging like curtains around his deep dark eyes. His nose lead down from there to kissable lips surrounded by just the hint of stubble. She could feel those lips on her own from over here.
How long is your story? How long should it be? Is a novella better than a novel for a first time writer? Should you write something as epic as War and Peace or keep it under 100k words? Such weighty problems that some new writers obsess over are really simple to figure out once you realize what the real questions are.
First a brief discussion of the different story lengths. These are rough estimates and can be flexible depending on the market you are submitting to. Be sure to check the guidelines. If you are self pubbing, it’s kind of up to you but your readers will expect something like this: