A word of warning to anybody contemplating the acquisition of offspring: Be aware that anything you do for Christmas just once instantly becomes a Hallowed Holiday Tradition, and you fail to do it again every year thereafter at your peril. By the time all your kids are teenagers heading for college, you will inevitably be dragging a whole sled-load of Tradition behind you as you head into the joyous season.
And a further, happier thought: If you’re still stumped over what to give as a holiday present to the writer in your life (even if that writer is you), remember that my seasonal sale of editorial and critique services is ongoing through Twelfth Night (5 January 2019.)
One of the things I used to wonder about when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle was that literal died-in-a-train-wreck ending . . . it always seemed to me like a rabbit pulled out of a hat. Then one day while idly mousing around the internet, I found out about the 1952 Harrow and Wealdstone railway crash, a three-train collision where 112 people died and 340 were injured, and I thought, “Yeah . . . for a book published in 1956, something on that scale that happened in 1952 would have still been taking up space in the author’s mind during the writing process.”
Writers aren’t necessarily in control of what sinks into their memories, and they don’t always have a say in how it may bubble back up to the surface later.
While idly mousing about the internet the other day, I followed a link to this page, which is all about an artist in Texas who’s been re-imagining images of classic Western heroes using female models, with awesome results:
And my thought, instantly, was “Damn, I want to read the books that those are the covers for!” Because behind every powerful image is a good story.
Just a quick reminder that my seasonal winter sale ends at midnight on the 5th.
In other news, it’s cold up here. And if you’re living in the continental United States, or in Canada, it’s probably cold where you are, too. (It’s probably also cold in northern Europe and Asia, but I don’t know if it’s unseasonably so. If it is, here’s some profound fellow-feeling coming at you from the northern end of New Hampshire.) In any case, here are a trio of blog posts about surviving, and driving, in extreme winter weather conditions: Cold Blows the Wind Today, Fimbul Winter, and Dashing Through the Snow.
This is the kind of weather that inspired the cautionary tale of Young Charlotte, who thought that a silk-lined cloak would be proof against hypothermia on a fifteen-mile sleigh ride on New Year’s Eve. She was, alas, fatally wrong.
Milo Yiannopoulos is in the news again, what with his lawsuit against Simon&Schuster for choosing not to publish his book, which resulted in the publisher entering the manuscript-as-submitted into evidence, complete with the editor’s notes, highlights of which are now all over the internet. (And great fun they are, too – they would go well with a glass of nice wine and a slice of schadenfreude pie.)
My request is a simple one: If you are, as many will be, indignant that Simon&Schuster bought Mr. Yiannopoulos’s book in the first place, please don’t also wax indignant that they are allowing him to keep the on-signing portion of the advance. This is customary, when bad things (deserved or not) happen to a book between on-signing and publication – but the word to note there is “customary.” For the sake of all the rest of us writers out there, don’t give Simon&Schuster an excuse to say, at some later date, “Well, it may have been customary in the olden days, but it isn’t going to be customary from now on.”
In honor of Nanowrimo, and of the onset of the winter heating season,† I’ll be running a seasonal sale on editorial and critique services from now through the end of Thanksgiving weekend. My usual rate of $1500 for a line-edit and critique on a standard-weight novel goes down to $1000 for the duration, and rates for epic-sized doorstops will be similarly discounted.
As always, you can purchase a gift certificate – as a gift for a friend, or for yourself – to be redeemed at a later date.
†The snow that fell last Friday? Is still here.
Every so often, a voice from the back row asks the plaintive question, “In today’s publishing climate, what am I, as an [insert identify marker or lack of one here], allowed to write about?”
Okay. Here’s the deal, at least as far as the US of A goes*:
You’re allowed** to write about anything you damned well please.
And everybody else – your mom, your best friend, all the other people in your writers’ group, your editor, the New York Times Review of Books, and total random strangers on the internet – is allowed to say out loud and in public what they thought about it.
The thing about the deal, you see, is that it goes both ways. And a writer who can’t handle the deal is probably better off pulling an Emily Dickinson and keeping their stuff locked up in their dresser drawer for posterity.
*The world is a large and varied place, and I make no claim to pontificate for all of it.
**With the usual narrow exceptions involving nonexistent fires in crowded theatres, and the like.
From the Sibling Cabal’s No Story Is Sacred podcast, this trenchant observation – now with accompanying graphic – is available for purchase on mugs and more at Redbubble.
“Nature’s first green is gold….”
In other words, the trees have finally leafed out.
When I was a cheerful young undergrad going to school in Arkansas, I thought that mud-time was something that Frost made up for poetic purposes; likewise, the birches bending “to left and right/Across the lines of straighter darker trees.” Then I moved up here, and realized that he’d been making his poetry out of sober observation all along.
As do we all, even if we’re writing stories set in worlds completely of our own imagining.
Just a quick note to let everyone know that my springtime seasonal sale expires at midnight this coming Sunday the 23rd.
Buy a line-edit and critique for a writer friend, or for yourself; you needn’t use the gift right away, but can claim it whenever you desire.