On Writing Projects: Decisions Decisions

In less than a week, I'm meeting with my friend, Jen, for a discussion about writing as part of a new podcast she plans to release on her Patreon page. Essentially, we're trying to take a stab at actually writing something. For me, it's a return. For Jen, it's brand spankin' new. In an effort to get started, I thought I might return to a project I had started but never completed. Maybe I wrote a paragraph or two. Maybe a few pages. Maybe I wrote an outline. For whatever reason, I never finished these projects, and they continue to haunt me the way fun projects do. So, I figure that coming back to something familiar -- especially something I'm really passionate about -- would make transitioning back into writing a little bit exciting. Currently, the projects that most interest me are on the playful side. As I mentioned in a previous post, I want writing to be fun, and "fun" for me means letting my imagination run wild. With that in mind, these are the five projects I'm currently looking at: Read More

On NaNoWriMo and the “Work” of Writing

It figures that in the middle of my "writing brain reboot" session, the infamous NaNoWriMo would waltz into my life to taunt me. That's an exaggeration. In reality, I haven't paid much attention to it in years. I've only tried NaNoWriMo and NaPoWriMo (the poetry one) once. Both times, I failed. Both times were in high-production years for my writing. And both times left me totally exhausted by the whole process. Since then, I've come to the conclusion that NaNo just isn't for me. Read More

On Forgiveness, Bad Behavior, and Block Policies

If the post-GamerGate years didn't change the way I interact with people in SF/F and online, the past year certainly has. From the election of a serial asshole to the endless parade of turdmuffins on Twitter, the last year has made it clear that "business as usual" just won't work for my sanity. In fact, more and more, I'm learning that a lot of folks I know have even less tolerance for all sorts of behavior we all might have put up with a few years ago. Ann Leckie, for example, has for a while used this basic policy for handling responses to her Tweets: Read More

On the “Right” Kind of Reviews

One of the things that often bothers me about the reviewing process is the idea that some reviews are inherently more valuable than others. By this, I don't mean in the sense of the quality of the writing itself; after all, some reviews really are nothing more than a quick "I liked it" or are borderline unreadable. Rather, I mean "more valuable" in the sense that different styles of reviewing are worth more than others. While I think most of us would agree that this is poppycock, there are some in the sf/f community who would honestly claim that the critical/analytical review is simply better than the others (namely, the self-reflective review). Read More

Life Log #02: Fulfilling Dreams, Reading Weirdness

This week is a strange one. One of my dreams has started to come true. Today, the people secretly indicted by Robert Mueller turned themselves in, revealing that major members of the Trump administration may very well have committed serious crimes against the United States. A lot of us have been waiting for this moment, and it's just the beginning. I'll continue to hope this cascades into something great; otherwise, this is a good start. Having one dream come true also reminded me of another dream I fulfilled earlier this year. As you may recall, I attended Worldcon 75 in Finland. On the way, I decided to make some stops in Germany and Sweden to visit friends and go on some adventures. One of those adventures was riding this beauty: Read More

The Downsides to Owning Way Too Many Books

Yeah, I know. There's no such thing as "too many books," except when there is. As I mentioned recently, I've been slogging through Stephen King's IT on a mission to get a fuller picture of the story we've been told 1.5 times in film. When I say "slogging," I mean it. For all that I enjoy about the book, there are so many things that I don't, most notably its massive page count and glacial pace. It comes back to that "big books" problem, which I've talked about before (probably on Twitter somewhere) -- albeit in a somewhat different context. In brief, I've avoided books over 300-350 pages for years simply because I work so much and read too slow. With all that swirling around in my head, I decided to put IT down for a bit to put my brain into something else. All of this leads me to my topic for today: Read More

SF and Food: The Future Shall Be Fed

When I think about representations of food in science fiction, I'm struck by the fact that a lot of science fiction simply washes over the issue of production and distribution. Food is almost always "around" in SF literature. After all, most SF characters have to eat something from time to time (though they never poop). However, very little of the genre actually directly addresses the future economics of food, and even when it does, it's usually a cursory glance. The one exception might be the dystopian genre, especially Soylent Green (1973). Since dystopia and starvation go hand in hand, the genre is naturally concerned with food. Read More

Five Faves: 80s Action Movies

Action movies! Yeah! I love them, and if you're reading this, you probably have some vague interest in them, too. To continue my Five Faves trend, I decided to turn my eye to the almighty 1980s action movie. In my mind of anachronisms, the 80s were the decade that defined the classic action movie. They also were full of some of the most ridiculous nonsense one could dream up. Who thought 9,000 slow motion shots of Jean-Claude Van Damme screaming "eeyah" like an orgasmic donkey would be a good idea? The director of Bloodsport, that's who. For this list, I'm making an arbitrary separation between "action" and "adventure." While both usually contain action, the latter is focused on the journey to discovery; action movies, by contrast, are more focused on the spectacle of the action itself and are somewhat more contained. An alternative argument might hold that action is the big umbrella term, with different forms of action -- i.e., adventure -- underneath. I'm fine with that definition, too, but I desperately needed a way to put Indiana Jones in its own category for a different list. Like I said:  arbitrary. So here goes -- my Five Faves list of 1980s action movies: Read More

Teaching Against the Mainstream

I just turned in my book list for the courses I will be teaching in the Spring. Both are composition courses, so their default texts aren't particularly interesting outside of an academic interest, but one of those courses (ENC 1102) is a research writing course, which means I get to teach some literature! Every time I teach these courses, I try to make the readings accessible and relevant to the present day. Previous renditions looked at war (past, present, and imagined), social media and technology, and, most recently, etc.. Most of my ENC 1102 courses this year have been explicitly political. It's hard not to be. A lot of writers have talked about trying to be creative in the present political climate. As a teacher, I find that the best way I can deal with what is going on beyond screaming obscenities at my friend on Skype is to turn my courses into productive explorations of our present world. Over the summer, I explored fascism/totalitarianism in literature and the connection such ideas have to our present situation (it's complicated). Read More

Life Log #01: My Back Isn’t Broken and Media Consumed

Currently Reading:  IT by Stephen King (pg. 380 of 1184) Currently Watching:  Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 1) Mood:  Pleasantly Unperturbed I had an appointment with a physical therapist today -- the first of two. For the past two weeks, I've been out of commission from some sort of exercise-induced back injury. Nothing serious. Just a little localized pain and noticeable tightness. Rather than ignore it, I used the free healthcare options I have on hand to get expert advice on what is going on. And the verdict? My back isn't broken, my spine is in working order, and all I've done is sprained the lower back muscles. This is partly due to general weakness in the core, back, and thigh regions. That means I need to do more focused exercises to build those areas up so they aren't being pulled about by all the other bits. Or something like that. Read More