Cogita Tute

This should be required reading for all humans. I've sent it to half a dozen people tonight, some who are struggling with what to do with their lives (like myself – most of us are in our mid-30s, still trying to figure that one out) and one or two who actually know and are doing something about it, but I thought they might get a boost out of it anyway.

With no further ado, I give you:

What You'll Wish You'd Known, by Paul Graham. Enjoy.

Art and Fandom

I've been working sporadically on an essay on the subject of Fandom for probably a year now. I still haven't quite cracked the nature of it to my satisfaction, but I got more fodder for it tonight.

I'm a “fan” of very few artists: two musicians (or groups of musicians) and two writers, (one of them dead.) I *admire* many more than that — in some cases admire them deeply — but only those four get inside me and make my heart swell and my vision go fuzzy. I only really lose myself in their work.

Tonight I had the opportunity to see a band called Lapdog play, in a relatively tiny venue, with a significantly limited crowd. Lapdog is the current project of Todd Nichols, formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket. I've been a fan of TTWS, and specifically of Todd, since 1987, when I first saw them play in a little coffee house in Isla Vista, the student community outside the University of California at Santa Barbara.

What is it about a certain sound that just gets under your skin and transports you? Why this band, and not a million other bands? I don't know. But they got under my skin 19 years ago, and stayed there.

So tonight I sat about ten feet from the stage, dead center in front of Todd, and got to hear some of my favorite songs played live, and was introduced to a host of new material. It was intoxicating.

And I just can't figure out why that is.

What is the nature of fandom? It seems to me that one distinguishing feature is a sense of *importance.* The fan doesn't merely like or admire the artist (or their work – a distinction I'll have to explore) – the work is *important* in the fan's life. It adds a dimension. There's a relationship between the fan and the work.

I'll have to think about it some more. If I ever get that essay finished, I'll post it here. I certainly welcome your thoughts on the subject.


Edit: I completely forgot to mention that I got a new tattoo today. Hurt like a mf'r. Got it to cover the mess I made trying to give myself one in 11th grade art class. It's my third professional tattoo, and my first one to be done in color. I actually went in with a koi design (yes, a goldfish of sorts) but the artist didn't think it would cover the mess well enough. I figured he's the pro. I'll try to remember to post a pic.

Borders' Reply

BordersStores.Com Ccare to me
More options Apr 5 (17 hours ago)

Dear Christie:

Thank you for your expression of concern about our decision not to carry the issue of Free Inquiry magazine featuring cartoons depicting Muhammad. Borders is committed to our customers' right to choose what to read and what to buy and to the First Amendment right of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. In this particular case, we decided not to stock this issue in our stores because we place a priority on the safety and security of our customers and our employees. We believe that carrying this issue presented a challenge to that priority.

We value your thoughts and sincerely appreciate that you invested your time to tell us how you feel about the issue. I can assure you that our management team gave careful deliberation to this decision and considered all sides of the issue before reaching this conclusion. As always, we are interested in customer feedback about our choices and while we know you do not agree with our position, we hope you can understand the challenge of balancing the needs of our customers, employees and our communities.

I hope that this information is helpful. If you should have any other questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Borders Customer Care

Well it's certainly thoughtful and respectful. I still think it's chickenshit.

Borders Cowed By Cartoons

Tipped off by Ed Brayton at Dispatches From the Culture Wars, (a favorite daily read,) I just sent this via email to Borders Group, Inc.:

Dear Borders Group, Inc.,

According to the Associated Press, Borders Group has chosen not to carry an issue of Free Inquiry magazine, a periodical that is normally stocked (I know, because I buy it from you,) because it has reprinted four of the Danish cartoons that have caused such a senseless uproar around the world.

Not in the U.S., mind you. There have been no reports of violence related to the cartoons at all in the U.S.

But Borders has decided that it shouldn't carry the issue anyway.

“For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority,” Borders Group Inc. spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday. Where is the evidence of risk to your customers and employees? Do you really believe that fundamentalists are going to riot in the bookstore, or threaten those buying or selling the magazine? No one would have even known what was *in* the magazine unless they were looking to purchase it, if Borders hadn't brought attention to it by refusing to carry it!

“We absolutely respect our customers' right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment,” Bingham said. “And we absolutely support the rights of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We've just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our stores.”

And in so choosing you've limited Americans' access to the information that we want from the source that we normally get it from – you. That *is* censorship, and it is in direct conflict with the spirit of the First Amendment.

I have typically shopped at Borders weekly, and I have always loved the wide selection available. I have always been able to find material on the most off-beat, controversial topics without a problem. My confidence in Borders has been shaken by this very unfortunate and misguided decision. Free Inquiry will receive my subscription today — but I don't know when I'll be back to Borders.

Why are these assholes still in business?

Over at Neil Gaiman's blog, we find another poor hopeful who has been suckered by PublishAmerica, and is likely crying herself to sleep now that she knows the truth. I do not understand why these guys are allowed to do business. How much flagrant misrepresentation does it take?

Meanwhile, out in Dover, PA a decision on the Kitzmiller vs Dover case (also known as the Dover Panda Trial) is expected tomorrow. Keep your opposable thumbs crossed.

I just finished reading Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, and it was every bit as wonderful as promised. Recommended.

In other news, I'm back to work on my 2004 NaNovel (yes, the one I swore I'd never bother to finish because it bored me so.) I hope to finish it before the end of the year. I got SWK back in the mail, (sent to McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, which is by far my favorite periodical. I'm aiming a bit high probably. Ah well.)

I'm also working on putting together a panel on e-publishing for that conference that I attend, and so far I've got bites from Zette (I am *so* happy about that! I hope she can come,) and the fine people at EPIC. Wish me luck, I'm absolutely terrified that I'm going to flub this thing.

I hope everyone is plugging away at their own WIPs even during this holiday season. Best wishes to all for Hannukah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Yule/New Year.

NaNoWriMo Day 9, and Darwin Has a Posse.

Last year at a write-in I got a sticker that says “I'll Sleep in December.” That seems to be the case this year as well.

The novel is going well, I'm staying on top of my word count (mostly – last night I *had* to sleep so I got up at 4:00 this morning to make up yesterday's word count.) I got behind one day and catching up the next night was so gruelling that I swore I wouldn't let it happen again this month. What I really need is a buffer. Maybe this weekend. Of course I said that last weekend, and just barely squeaked by with the standard 1667 each day.

I'm also the ML for my city this year, which is kind of cool. It sounds like we'll have an actual turn-out at this weekend's write-in.

Clam IM'd the other night to say hi – it was great to talk to him, and I'm glad that everyone seems to be doing well on their own projects. *waves at all the Forward Motion folks* I looked up Zette on the NaNo site the other day and she already had 80k. The little minx.

In other news, I hope everyone has followed the Dover Panda Trial, and if you haven't, then by all means, get caught up here: . Which just goes to show that Darwin does indeed have a posse.

MSN is funny. People pop up online at all hours and one wonders if it's just their pc coming out of hibernation because the cat jumped on the desk or if they're actually online and working at stupid o'clock in the morning.

Okay. I'm stalling. I have another 1300 words to write before I go to work. Better get to it.

Cheers, everybody! I'll drop into FM for the TGIO celebrations. Keep writing!

Another sleepy, disjointed post.

You know, there was a time – not that long ago – when I would say things in my journal like “Wrote an easy 1500 words tonight,” or “Added 600 to WIP x, 350 to WIP y, 200 to WIP z, and wrote five notecards for the novel.” Now I'm delighted and pleased with myself if I write 500 words in a night.

I keep reminding myself that my productivity has always been cyclical, and I'm just on the downside of the cycle right now. Autumn usually rejuvenates me, and it's just around the corner (we had to wear jackets to go out tonight, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks – both welcome harbingers of the season.)

I need to get comfy with 1500 per night, though – well, 1660 if I remember right. NaNoWriMo is coming up. We're talking about it in chat – people are already having panic attacks, and it's still almost two months away.

It's like any race – I need to train for it.

The day job is taking up a lot of spare cycles right now. On the one hand, I actually *like* my job for possibly the first time in my life, and I think I might turn out to be pretty good at it. That's a good thing. But it means that I'm still working even when I'm not working – I'm thinking about it, planning for it, reviewing it. That's processing time that used to be spent on story formation, world-building, and general day-dreaming.

So I think it's going to come down to discipline. I'm going to *have* to come out here to my lovely little sanctuary and make myself *produce.*

I still owe Camilla the crit, which I'm picking at a little at a time, and I haven't yet checked in with Dreamers. Sorry, guys. Give me a little more time to figure out how to juggle these things.

Oh, and the office – have I glowed properly about the office yet? I love it out here. I bought a massive wooden desk at an asset liquidation store, and had some spare pieces that I'm using to store office supplies and things, and I've hung some of the art (and can't wait to buy and/or make more.) It looks nice, it smells nice, and it's mine-all-mine.

Meanwhile – sleep. I have to work tomorrow (Sunday) but it feels more like I *get* to work tomorrow, and that is a very good thing.

An evil and corrosive thread

Funny thing happened tonight. This is going to sound seriously lame to all of you Real Writers out there, but here goes:

I decided to start writing the truth, and suddenly it's not hard to write.

I'll explain.

Remember Red Carpet, formerly 44D? It's a WIP that I started more than a year ago, at a writers' conference. It was a good idea, but I had a hell of a time making it work. I had created a setting I knew nothing about, a character I couldn't relate to, and an environment that even I wasn't convinced by. But I was totally in love with the *idea*, the central theme of the story, which was about fandom. It was important to me, but I wasn't willing to admit *why* it was – which was because I am, of course, a fan.

It just didn't work. I've tried over and over to rewrite it, and I get no closer to the story I'm trying to tell. And then it dawned on me that I'm going to such extreme lengths to disguise the fact that this is *me* that I can't touch the actual story underneath the disguise.

So I tried again tonight, only this time I told the truth about what the character thinks and feels – I put *me* on the page – and it was *easy.* I even stuck in some little factual details here and there.

See? You real writers are saying “Uhhh… DUH. Hasn't anyone ever told you to write what you know?”

Yeah, of course they have, but I didn't get it. It's astonishing to me that I could completely miss the point for so long. I figured I didn't know *anything* well enough to write about it, which is why I write fantasy and horror, because they're completely made up. Yes, I now understand how completely stupid that is.

A friend of mine called me on that a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about someone else's bizarre upbringing, and a bit of it happened to coincide with my own, and I said so. My friend looked at me wide-eyed and asked “What are you doing writing these little fantasy stories when you have stuff like *that* to write about?!”

The truth? Fear. Fear of being found out, of being revealed, of being accused of taking myself too seriously, of being seen and judged. Well screw the fear. I'm not writing what's important to me because of fear, and that's not fiction, it's bullshit.

So now the smell of the leather jacket is actually my ex-fiance's jacket from 15 years ago. The awful conference that the MC attends is the stupid circle-jerk that my former employer put on at a posh resort four years ago. The lists of overused words were made by both a colleague and my husband within the last month.

I haven't done that in the last eight years or so – put real experiences in a story.

Yes, I'm serious.

See? I'm a total fraud. What kind of writer goes to those lengths to hide?

This one still has a fantasy element to it (I think we're calling this Magical Realism these days, aren't we? I can't keep up.) I imagine they all will, because that's what I love. But it'll be interesting (to me, at least) to see what I produce from here on out.