I say things

[Fiction] Abandonware

My short story "Abandonware" is up at Fantasy Magazine today!

Abandonware is a work of science fantasy, which was favorably reviewed in the June 2010 Locus Magazine.

I'll have an author spotlight up on Fantasy Magazine in the coming days. I'll also have a look at and excerpt from my first Write-A-Thon story on this journal ([personal profile] an_owomoyela, for those of you reading crossposted) soon, and you can definitely still donate to Clarion West by sponsoring me.

{Originally posted at http://an-owomoyela.dreamwidth.org/2687.html.}
Everything is FINE.

My grain of salt

One of the things I learned early on was that childlike behaviour was not limited to children. Really, it's been my experience that differences between children and adults are often overstated. This seems doubly true on the internet.

That makes talking about serious issues hard, because rational discussion requires that people act rationally. It's easy to be irrational online. And that's not even the biggest problem facing large discussions, especially when they're a discussions about problems, which might suggest that they require solutions. A single answer requires a single, uniform problem. A discussion as large as racism, which examines everything from the formation of the culture to individual attitudes within it, isn't going to have a neat solution or a bottom line. It can only be challenged through an awareness of the issues, and that awareness needs to be fostered through rational dialogue. Back to square 1.

I've wanted to contribute, but I've been hesitant to for a number of reasons. One of them I'll put forth here as a grain of salt, though Collapse )

TL;DR? Despite some things which might suggest otherwise, I do not speak from a position of authority. And I understand that the only way I can get a grasp on what's going on is by listening and accepting people's experiences as real and valid. And, perhaps most importantly, by recognizing that I have come from a background which has sheltered me, and that my personal experiences should not inform my opinions of others' experiences. I want others to recognize that in speaking my opinions, I can only speak for myself and my own experiences, which includes the experience of privilege. I am not and cannot be the spokesperson for any race. I'm just zis guy, you know?
I say things

On writing classes

A friend asked if there was any benefit to taking writing classes in college. I thought I might as well post my disorganized thoughts here as well as in the comments to the entry. What do the rest of you think?

In my experience, classes fall on a long spectrum between the pointless (or worse than pointless) and the revelatory. The absolute best classes will give you guidance not really on how to write, but how to analyze the parts of your own writing; they'll give you tools instead of rules. (Passive voice, for example? Is an excellent tool for when you *want* to pull the actor out of the action, which can be used to very haunting effect. To continue the tool analogy, you can say that a kitchen knife is better than a scalpel, but that only applies when you're trying to cut food. If you're removing a tumour, go for the scalpel every time. A tool's usefulness can only be measured against its desired effect.) They'll teach you to look not at what you're doing so much as how what you're doing affects the story you're writing.

Another thing a writing class – well, a workshop class – will give you is the chance to see how your writing affects people who aren't you, and to get feedback on what people think worked and what didn't. Feedback and the chance to engage in a dialogue are wonderful things, and also hugely useful, if the people involved take time and care in discussing it and if they're somewhere around your target audience. (In my weekly crit group, we had someone who comes from a literary background critiquing an urban-fantastical story, and some of the advice she gave was perfect for a literary story but potentially damaging for a speculative fiction story. It was apparently common-sense things like "You need to explain that this is a fantastical world right off the bat," which – no, because a reader of speculative fiction is going to assume that it is. It'd be like explaining that the main characters were people instead of bricks.)

The most important thing, in my opinion, a class or workshop can do for you is to give you a community you can later draw on. My writing group now evolved from a class I took here at university. I'm in a lot of contact with my Clarion West class, who provide not only help with stories, still, but also advice on a lot of the rest of my life (like where good job markets lie and how to construct my CV.)

The thing is, all of these can be found outside of a class. You can develop those analytical skills on your own, you can find or form your own community, especially online where the cost of gathering is basically null. Classes offer it all in one convenient location and give you a structure to make things not fall apart, but they're not 100% necessary, especially as so much depends on the teachers and the classmates. I would not be where I am now without attending Clarion West, because it was a focused and intense workshop with 6 instructors and 18 students, each of which brought their own perspectives, theories, and toolsets to be picked through. But I've had workshops where the only really valuable thing I got was the encouragement (in fact, the requirement) to write.
I say things

(no subject)

I have written a short story this week! It's a 3300-word soft-SciFi piece about a boy who discovers a piece of prophetic abandonware. So far Abandonware is the working title, which I don't like, but I'm not sure what a good title would be. "I, Prophet"? "Burn This Disk"? Oh well.

I'm hoping to write or revise at least a short story a week, and submit or revise at least a short story every two weeks. Should be good exercise, at least...
seven minutes to midnight

(no subject)

Well, I finished a short, experimental-form mostly-mood-driven piece tentatively named Year of the Rabbit today. Next up: workshop it!

And revise a few things and get them looking for homes. I have two stories being shopped out right now, and I'm sure I can do better.
with fugitive articulation

(no subject)

There's this truism which says a story is finished when the thought of revising it one more time makes you cry.

I'm about at that stage with Jessamine, which is on its fifth draft and was my Clarion West application story, but since I last looked at it, I know I've improved as a writer and my CW instructors did have a few things to say about it which could nudge me in the right direction toward revising again. So now I have to decide: is it finished, or not?

Questions, questions. I may just try to finish Year of the Rabbit and possibly rename that, and come back to Jessamine when I've developed a taste for wine.
Poke it 'til it works.

(no subject)

Well, I've been neglecting this journal. I know I have a lot of unanswered comments (I'm sorry!) and a lot of unwritten posts, some of which got put off for personal reasons, a lot of which got put off for time reasons.

The short of it is, I'm back from Clarion West. (Well, "Back" as in I'm a state away from home, and home just moves, and when I get there I have to unpack everything I own and move in.) It was amazing. Superfluously so. And sometime in the next week, god willing and the geiger don't click, I'll write a lot about it and try to get to all those people I've neglected. (I'm not ignoring you! Really!)