Sep 19 2019

The Steerswoman panel at Readercon

Rosemary

Now, this is the second time that there’s been a panel discussing my books; and yes, there were significant differences between the two.

The panel at Scintillation (you can read about it here) was, in essence, celebratory; the panelists, and the audience, focused on sharing the things that they liked about the books.  It was wonderful to hear, and so heartwarming.

The Readercon panel, on the other hand, was more analytical.  The panelists (Yves Meynard, Kate Nepveu, Victoria Janssen, Cecilia Tan, Elaine Isaak AKA E.C. Ambrose) are writers themselves, and they they came at the discussion from that direction.

And of course, the biggest difference: I was not on the panel myself this time.

Nope, I was in the audience.  Just a fly on the wall, don’t mind me, nothing to see here, la, la, la —

Of course everybody did see me right there. Heh.  And the very first thing Kate Nepveu, the moderator, did was address me directly and say that I was absolutely forbidden to speak — until the very end of the panel, when I would be given five minutes for follow-up and/or rebuttal.  She wanted the panelists to speak freely,  as if I were not there, and discuss the things that they wanted to discuss, good, bad, or whatever.

Excellent, thought I.  Should be fun.

Because, as it happens, I have what I can only describe as a very clear-eyed view of my own work.

I know this isn’t true of all writers, or of artists in general, actually.  We creative types are notoriously sensitive — or contrariwise, absolutely convinced of our inherent superiority!   Some of us will spin into  abject misery, binge-eating rocky road ice cream, if you say that our story is not quite perfect; and certain others (naming no names here!) will go into paroxysms of outrage and spout prodigies of vitriol if you happen to disagree about the Oxford comma.

Me? Not so much.  Why?  Beats me.

Possibly it’s really just a variation on the egotistical end of the axis.   But generally, my reaction to criticism falls in three categories:

  1. You’re wrong, and here’s why.
  2. You’re right!  Wow, did I ever screw up on that one!
  3. Your complaint actually reflects merely a matter of personal preference; and we could have a very interesting discussion about why we differ on the issue.

But the most interesting thing about all kinds of critical analysis — positive and negative — is this: someone cared enough about your work to give it deep, careful thought and come up with real opinions.  That’s always a compliment, really, and always gratifying.

And they did say many things: compliments, speculations, and yes, a few complaints.

I tried not to react when they brought up the speculations about what was what, and where the story might be going.   But I found it fascinating to watch them go back and forth about the possibilities.  I loved hearing their reasoning, seeing them pick up cues and clues, turn them over, subject them to scrutiny, and even surprise each other.

I can’t put down everything that was said, but for highlights:

Yves Meynard paid me one of the loveliest compliments ever, as he explained to the audience how much he loved my prose.   Not the sort of thing you generally find in fantasy, he said; beautiful but not flowery,  each word well chosen, and flowing like music.  And also many other complmentary things, which my humility (yes, I do have some) make it impossible for me to quote in detail.

But the one that got me most was luminous: he said that my prose was luminous —  and frankly, when you bury me please use that as my epitaph.  Her prose was luminous.  In fact, feel free to leave my name off the tombstone entirely.  Her prose was luminous would be enough.

Victoria Janssen pointed out that within the overall plot, the books also hit a lot of the fantasy-trope plot lines. I was particularly pleased by that she caught that, as it was absolutely intentional on my part.

They all appreciated how the books present logic, reason, and discovery as joyful acts; and again, exactly what I was trying to do, and what I’m most glad of when people relate to  it.

Kate Nepveu noted that the meetings between cultures were not simplistic, and included some actual friction.

Cecilia Tan connected my books to other works that were SF with a fantasy feel — Bradley’s Darkover and McCaffrey’s Pern  books, for example.  And she noted that this was an approach that women sometimes turned to in the past because SF had more respect than fantasy did.

Elaine Isaak pointed out that having the reader know more than the characters of the story do puts the reader in an interesting position.  The readers themselves participate in the worldbuilding, providing  information about the world that the characters might not notice.  And it creates an interesting tension: the reader sees it — will Rowan?

And one of the audience members pointed out the inherent, matter-of-fact equality in the background of the books.  Any role, any job, might be held by a man or a woman.

And as for some complaints…

Kate pointed out  that the books depicted PTSD with both Fletcher and Janus, but that Zenna seemed unaffected by her own experience.

Victoria Janssen noted that ASL (or something like it) appears, but there seemed to be no Deaf Community.

And Kate says that she makes it a point to warn people about the torture scene in the first book… and that Janus’ name is just too “spot on.”

And eventually I did get to my 5 minutes of reply and rebuttal.  The very first thing I did was thank them all because: wow, that really was fun.  Five really sharp people turning their brilliant brains on my books?  What’s not to love?

As for rebuttal:

I had to point out to Kate that, strictly speaking, there is no actual torture scene.  There’s torture, but no scene.  It all takes place out of sight, off-stage.  Still, one can see why it would be disturbing that the story refers to it, and Rowan can hear what’s happening, for part of it.

And Janus’ name?

Absolutely correct.  Worst name ever!  I explained what happened:

I was writing first the draft of  The Steerswoman, and I came to the point where I had to plant a reference to that steersman who had quit the order.   He had to be referred to now, in Book One, in order to pay off in Book Three.

However, I hadn’t decided on a name for him yet.

No problem, I told myself.  I’ll just stick something in here, a sort of placeholder, so can move on and finish the rest of the book.   Pick a letter —  how about “J”?  Sure.  What starts with J?  I dunno — Janus?  Right, good enough,  I’ll go back and fix it later.

And… I did not go back and fix it later.  I basically forgot, until it was just too late, and the book was in print.

Yeah, I was kicking myself when I realized… Not only is the name too “on point,” as Kate said, it was also  too similar  to the name of the wizard Jannik.  Thus breaking my own rule to never have character names that resemble each other closely, as it is very unkind to  the reader.

Well.  At least Janus and Jannik never appear in a scene together, or get mentioned in the same breath.   And this is also why I always pronounce Janus with a long “a,” just for my own peace of mind.

(By the way, I since learned that the correct thing to do when you need a placeholder is to insert TK — which stands for “To Come.”   Then you can do global search for TK when you want to fix the placeholder; and if you forget the editor and typesetter know what TK means, and will know to ask you to fix it before going to press.)

What I did not have time to address:

There was no Deaf Community, because… well, you have to have more than one Deaf person around, for there to be a community.  Deafness isn’t common, and travel is not easy.  There might not be even a single other deaf person within a hundred miles.  You can’t just hop a bus and go hang out together. For a Deaf community to exist, you’d first have to locate all the deaf people, and gather them together in one place.   This just doesn’t happen in Rowan’s world.

And Zenna being apparently unaffected by her trauma?  Hm.  I think if you look closely, you might see her veneer cracking a bit, in the scene in Brewer’s tavern.  It’s one of those things where there’s just no room to fully tell everyone’s back story — so I put the cues in there, for the reader to find, or not.  (There are a couple other places in the books where Someone Has a Story, which I intentionally do not tell.)

Okay: wrap up.

In conclusion: What can I say?  So much fun.  These are some really sharp minds, and it was so gratifying that they chose to talk about my books.

I’d like to suggest that you go buy their books!

 


Sep 16 2019

Quick attempt to catch up

Rosemary

Well.

Rather than opening out, my fall seems to be filling up even more than I had originally thought it would.  I find myself in crunches of various types, on more than one project… and it’s become  clear that at least one thing I had planned to do This Month For Sure has to be pushed to Next Month For Really Sure.

The new item on my schedule is the Acadia Night Sky Festival, an event I’ve wanted to attend for years.   My sister has gone to it in the past, but I’ve never been able to make it, for various reasons.  But Sabine is going to hit the road to live the truck-camper life next year, and the prospect of not actually seeing her for many months on end has convinced me that we must do at least one extremely cool sisters-thing before then.  Other sisters do spa days, or go on shopping sprees; the Kirsteins camp out in the woods, attend lectures and presentations on astronomy, go boating under the stars, and look through telescopes.

Meanwhile, all the recent events that I intended to cover here, but have not yet caught up on, have fallen into that liminal state between  stale news and something resembling fond reminiscence…

As in: you heard about the Hugo Awards, right?  Of course you did.  But just in case you didn’t, here’s the list of nominees and winners, courtesy of Tor.Com (my personal go-to for the edifying side SF/F news; for the nuts-and-bolts, all-the-details, down-and-dirty-when-necessary stuff, I turn to File 770).

And Readercon!  I did mention it  a couple of posts ago, largely to say that I very much enjoyed it, and that the panel discussion of my own books was especially interesting to me.  Because, of course: how could it not be?

But I want to discuss that in more detail, so I’ll save it for the next post (probably Wednesday).

In other  (short) news:

My latest distraction while dutifully doing my daily walking has been Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera. 

This was, you will note, a nominee for the Hugo this year.

It might be described as Eurovision meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — but this does not communicate its true virtues.  The thing is, it’s  Catherynne Valente’s own characteristic brand of weird, but cranked up to eleven —  and with the addition of humor.  And emotional depth as well (which Valente never does skimp on).

I have to especially urge you to get the audiobook version.  Sabine got me hooked on it by playing the beginning for me in the car while we were driving somewhere, and the narrator, Heath Miller, is simply a genius.  He’s got all the voices, all the accents, all the characters.  And his deep artistic comprehension of this work is possibly aided by the fact that  he is  (as Sabine found out during the Q&A of Valente’s reading at Readercon) Catherynne Valente’s actual husband.

Well.  More later, as it is now more late than I intended.  (Why do I always start my blog posts at the end of my night?)

 

 

 


Aug 28 2019

Still flailing…

Rosemary

… Catching up on some things, whilst other things fall through the cracks, even as new items are added to the top of the stack —

Just came here to say that, basically.

Now: must go do some of those things…  more later.

 

 

Embroidered dog at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, NB

 

 

 

 


Aug 17 2019

I admit it, I’ve been back for a while now….

Rosemary

For over a week, actually.  But  I seemed to be unable to get myself together enough to write all the blog posts that need to be written.

Such as: the Readercon report!  That feels very far away now, but I do want to say more about it.

And: more about the trip, which was in various proportions: interesting, frustrating, lovely, exhausting, annoying and enlightening.

 

Famous Bill Thorpe footbridge over the St John, in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

(And hot.  Did I mention hot?  I did not know it got that hot in Fredericton.  Apparently, neither did the locals, who complained about it even more than we did.)

 

Pleasantly puzzling municipal art.

Also: some more essay-like posts on Topics of Interest (to me, at least).

Plus: updates on various things and/or projects

And: general complaints that I can’t be at Worldcon in Dublin, which is in progress as we speak.

It just seems to have taken me a bit longer than usual to get my feet back under my, after the trip.  Possibly because it took place on the very heels of another different trip.

On the summit of Wildcat Mountain, in New Hampshire, looking across at Mount Washington.

Which had followed rather soon after Readercon itself…

So.  Back in the saddle now, and more posts Real Soon.

 

 


Jul 24 2019

The Land of No Internet, or Merely Occasional Internet, and Did I Mention No Phone?

Rosemary

Off on my two-week adventure with fellow Genrette Laurie Marks, her wife Deb, and their dog.

Sad dog waiting.

 

The place we’re staying, alas, has no WiFi.

Someone associated with this house has been to Asia– very likely South Korea, from other clues.

Also, my phone plan doesn’t extend to Canada.  So, I’m rather at the mercy of random restaurants, libraries, and tourist information centers for brief contact

In theory, this is not a bad thing.  Unplug!  Who needs Facebook?  Internet vacation!

Nature walk.

 

In practice, however — well, you’d be surprised how often one discovers a sudden urge to confirm some snippet of fact, or look up the available grocery stores, or find out what time the library closes.  All this info is available! But not to me.

Laurie and Deb have international phone plans, however, so they are the official Keepers of Knowledge and Acquirers of Timetables.  I am but a supplicant to their arcane wisdom.

My Readercon report will be somewhat delayed, as a result.  Yes, frustrating for me, too!  But there you are.  I will say, however, that it was a lovely time, and that my readers are the best!  My Kaffeeklatsch was so much fun that the staff-member in charge of the room had to tell us to quiet down; and the questions and discussions were all smart, and illuminating.

My Reading was well-attended, and not only did the audience listen with perfect attention, they actually laughed at the bits that I myself found amusing.  Previously, I’ve been able to elicit a chuckle or two; this is the first time where I had to pause to allow for the audience’s reactions.  (Fortunately, I had previously learned that thing about not waiting for the laughter to completely die down before moving on; otherwise it turns into a brief but awkward silence.)

I want to talk about the panel about the series, but I’d like to do that in a more considered manner than I’m able to at the moment. I think I’ve already said that it was amazing… and the panelists (Cecilia Tan , Yves Meynard, Elaine Isaacs, Kate Nepveu, and Victoria Janssen) are all people I like and admire, and who always have opinions both intelligent and well-thought out.

I’d also like to compare and contrast that panel to the Steerswoman panel that took place at Scintillation last year — but I can’t look up my own blog to check what I said back then!  Frustration.

Next week, we’ll be at a location that does have Internet, and I’ll be a bit freer.

Butterfly does not need Internet. Nor does it write novels.

 

(Normally, I’d link each person’s name to the books they wrote, or their website — but that’s too tricky to do from the backseat of an SUV in the driveway of the only public library on the island, which is now closed.  I’ll update that later.]


Jul 11 2019

Quick note before Readercon

Rosemary

My reading is at 6:30 on Friday night!

I dearly hope we don’t get held up by the rush hour that starts around noon on Fridays in summer.   There’s simply no way to avoid Friday summer traffic in the Boston area.  The hotel, in Quincy, is just south of Boston, and sits on a confluence of three or four highways.  Last year, I spent four and a half hours driving what should have been about two hours.

And my kaffeeklatsch is at 9PM.  9PM?  Who’s drinking coffee at that hour?  And not only that, I’ve been informed that we are Simply Not Allowed to bring goodies, such as cookies.  It’s against Readercon’s agreement with the hotel.  Last time I brought Oreos.  This time, I dare not take the chance, as with my luck, I’ll be the one person they use as an example to everyone else!

I’ve also been Informed in No Uncertain Terms that we cannot sell books at our autographing.  Hm.  I wonder how many people will stick to that — but I shall.  Because: see above.

In other news, Laurie J Marks will be there briefly on Saturday, signing books in the dealer’s room at Reckoning Press table at 3PM.  She’s not an official program participant, so that will be your chance to see her, if you’re of a mind.

I haven’t completely decided what I’ll do for my reading… I’ve read lots of bits from Book 5  previously.  I’ve pretty much used up the non-spoilery possible excerpts.  I’d prefer to not repeat myself — but I might have to.  Or, I’ll read a group of very short excerpts, far enough apart from each other to not comprise any spoilers… Or something else entirely. Hm.  I’m down to the wire here, I have to decide!

Well.  Must go and pack and select and all.

In other news: new bird identified.

Black-crowned night heron.

Not a good photo, but I watched him a while, and accumulated quite a clear impression.  I’ve never seen his like before, but I’m told they’re not uncommon around here.

 


Jun 25 2019

Just ticking along

Rosemary

About halfway through the days of solitude.  Plugging away at plugging away, so to speak.  I do wish this thing would just take wing and soar!  It still could — but certainly won’t if I don’t keep at it.

Meanwhile, Sleeping Giant State Park has re-opened!  Oh, hurrah, I was getting tired of the very-busy local Linear Trail.  Too many people; same terrain over and over.

There are 9 or 10 different trailheads in this little park, and on my first hike there in a year, I found one with zero people sharing it!

The tornado damage has been converted from downed trees to stacks of logs and brush by the side of the trails.  There are some places previously dark and moody where now sunshine rules.

The rank after rank after rank of mountain laurels previously crowding this section of the yellow trail have been reduced to mere clumps instead, but still lovely.

And right after this it rained for three days straight, so — I’ll have to wait a bit to get back.  Maybe Wednesday.

In other news: I’ve been tending my sister’s flowers and was supposed to dead-head her fuchsia plant, so it wouldn’t waste its energy actually reproducing.

Apparently I missed a few, because I found a couple of these:

Not actually a seed-pod…

It’s bright red, and remarkably fruit-like

Yep, it’s a berry.

Apparently, so the Internet tells me with great enthusiasm, fuchsia berries exist.  Edible, and good for jams, jellies, etc.  The main problem is getting enough of ’em to make it worthwhile.

Edible, you say? And I’m a big fan of all sorts of berries.  So of course I ate a couple.

They tasted… okay.  Not a strong flavor, and not very sweet either.  Sort of an extremely anemic blackberry.

But still, that they exist is a delightful thing I never knew before.  Berries, happening right on my back porch.

 


Jun 15 2019

Hunkering down before the summer gets crazy

Rosemary

Unexpectedly, my summer has filled itself up with back-to-back events, and I find myself about to start scrambling to keep up.

But not quite yet!  In fact, I’m first entering a period of quiet, solitude and Deep Creative Thinks.   My sister is off to house-sit/cat-sit for those pals in New Hampshire I’ve mentioned before.  You remember: the ones with the gorgeous house on the pond, with geese and a blue heron rookery, and starry skies all night, and reasonably friendly cat of great beauty.  So, I’ve got the condo all to myself!  For three solid weeks.  I need not be even marginally social, which is good, because I’ll get plenty of that during the deluge.

First up after my break: Readercon.

My schedule:

Reading: Rosemary Kirstein
Fri 6:30 PM, Salon C

Kaffeeklatsches: Liz Gorinsky, Rosemary Kirstein
Fri 9:00 PM, Concierge Lounge

Autographs: Rosemary Kirstein, Sarah Pinsker
Sun 1:00 PM, Autograph Table

Found Family in SF
Sun 2:00 PM, Salon B
Anatoly Belilovsky, Rosemary Kirstein, Bart Leib, Sarah Pinsker (mod), Catherynne M. Valente
Ideas of family are sensitive to societal conditions, so science fiction—a genre that frequently concerns itself with adjusted societal conditions—is a fruitful space for exploring the concept of found family. Panelists will discuss tropes and examples of familylike groups in SF (especially in confined situations such as starships, colonies, schools, and walled compounds) and the ways that these stories relate to the reality of found families for people isolated by present-day societal conditions.

Reading: I don’t yet know what I’ll be reading.  I feel that I’ve already read an awful lot of the early bits from Book 5, and the later bits that I do have would be too spoilery.  I’ll see if I can winkle out some unread-sections from the start, or possibly dig up something else entirely.  I’ve even read from the start of Book 6 before (although that was a while back).

Kaffeeklatsch: Kaffeeklatches are, I think, unique to SF/F conventions.  If you don’t know what it is: it’s you and people like you, just sitting around a table and shooting the breeze with an author.  There’s a sign-up sheet, first come first served, since space is limited.  I don’t know where they keep that sign-up sheet…  I’m sure you can ask at convention registration when you arrive.

Autographs: Most of my readers read my books as ebooks!  How does one autograph an ebook? Well, one doesn’t, but I will bring with me a stack of postcards I’d had made as promotional items, and there’s plenty of space on them for signing.  You can have one, free gratis and for nothing!

Found Family in SF: This will be interesting, and one of the things I’ll bring up is Laurie J. Marks’ family configurations in her Elemental Logic series.

Oh, and there’s also this panel, for which I am not a participant, but will definitely be in the audience:

Classic Fiction Book Club: Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswomen Series
Saturday 12:00 PM Salon  A
Elaine Isaak, Victoria Janssen, Yves Meynard, Kate Nepveu (mod), Cecilia Tan
Since the publication of Rosemary Kirstein’s first novel, The Steerswoman, in 1989, the Steerswoman series has become a quiet classic for its powerful female friendships, slowly-revealed worldbuilding, and unique approach to genre paradigms. Over the last 30 years, four novels have been published, with another two intended in the future. We’ll look at the state of the series today, and speculate about where it might be going.

So… that’s a thing.

This is the second time a convention has had a panel on my books, the previous one being at Scintillation in Montreal last year.  I was actually on the panel myself that time. I did offer take part this time as well — but I also told the program people that if they felt it would be better for me to not be on stage as one of the panelists, I’d be fine with that.  And that’s the way they chose to do it.  But I did request that they not schedule me on some other panel at the same hour!   Because, seriously: if it’s happening, I’ve got to see it!  Also, I’m so pleased that the panelists are all people I like and admire.  It should be very interesting.

And speaking of Laurie J. Marks (as I did a few paragraphs ago):

 

The fourth and final volume of her Elemental Logic series, Air Logic is out!  As a fellow member of her writing group, The Fabulous Genrettes, I was witness to multiple iterations of these books as works-in-progress. I’m thrilled to bits at how they’ve turned out, and how they are gaining Laurie the recognition she deserves.

And meanwhile, over at Tor.com, Brit Mandelo has written a series of articles exploring the ideas and issues in the books — one article each for Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, and finally Air Logic.  Now, as interesting as the articles are, you should be aware that they are analyses, and so contain reams and reams of spoilers.  So, simple solution: Read the books first!  And if you’ve read the first three already, they can serve to set you up for the ideas that continue in Air Logic.

After Readercon — that is, the very next weekend — I’ll be attending a multi-generational gathering and hike, on and/or near Mount Washington, in honor of the 75th birthday of one member gang (Hi Bob!) of my own “found family”.   Well, one of my found families.  I seem to have more than one….

And after that — immediately after that — its off to Canada with Laurie and her wife and dog, to see what we can see in New Brunswick, a place I’ve never been.   Must remember my passport.

When I get back I’ll have just enough time to catch my breath, and then — Cat-sitting!  New Hampshire!  Pond, birds.

And then, quite suddenly, It will be September.

It’s scary how fast time moves.  Look at that: I’m here in the middle of June, seeing the end of the summer right in front of me.

Well.  Must make good use of my pre-Readercon time.

In other news: saw a freakin’ bobcat in my back yard.  If you follow my Facebook page, you already know this, as I posted it the instant it happened, out of sheer astonishment.  Later, someone else in a nearby town also spotted a bobcat, possibly the same one.

I can’t help wondering: With Sleeping Giant State Park (less than a mile away) shut down for over a year now, due to those tornadoes that hit it — I wonder what the wildlife is doing in there, with no people to disturb them?

 

 

 

 


May 23 2019

Heard while walking

Rosemary Kirstein

Like apparently everyone else in the universe, I’m trying to walk more.

I prefer to walk in the woods, but when I do, I never listen to podcasts, or radio, or audiobooks.   I’m in the woods!  I want to either be there, present for the experience, or set my mind free to ramble, and possibly come up with tales or essays or explorations of ideas.

But that’s only when I’m able to walk alone.  If I’m on a trail where there are other people around —  I just can’t be that free.  There’s too much distraction.  Also, my face tends to mirror what I’m thinking — I just can’t help it.   So, I do prefer solitude for my walks.

Alas: with my beloved Sleeping Giant State Park still completely shut down a full year after the four surprise tornadoes that shredded it, all I’m left with are the smaller, more populated walking opportunities.

And that’s when I need something else to occupy my mind while walking.

There’s music, of course.  But also wonderful podcasts, great audiobooks, and even live radio.

I’ve kept up with Welcome to Night Vale, naturally — and I’m glad that it seems to be back on track after waffling around uncentered for most of the current season.

And lately I’ve been listening to Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast, which really stretches my brain.  Currently, I’m in the middle of a two-hour episode where Harris interviews Daniel Kahneman, the psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, who wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow.  I have the book, but in many ways the interview is more interesting, a wide-ranging conversation between two pals who are also blazingly smart.

I’ve also been listening, for the second time, to Janis Ian’s autobiography Society’s Child. 

Society's Child: My Autobiography by [Ian, Janis]

As an old folkie myself, Ian’s autobiography is of particular interest to me.   She does the reading herself, and it’s so intimate, to hear her own voice, right in your ear, sharing her stories with you.   Also: each chapter begins with a quote from one of her songs, and in the print version, you just read the quoted lyrics; but in the audiobook, she picks up her guitar and sings and plays it for you.  Lovely.

And I’ve just finished listening to Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky which was excellent, and thoroughly involving.  It’s a story one can get lost in — and that’s not something everyone can pull off.

All the Birds in the Sky by [Anders, Charlie Jane]

Anders has  a very good hand with prose, too, and her characters are clear and multi-layered.  She’s a writer whose star seems to be rising, as well, and good for her!  This is the only thing of hers I’ve read so far, and  I do wish I’d read it sooner — it’s been on my radar for a while, but so have so many other things.

Another of my go-to guys when I’m walking is Colin McEnroe.  He has a local radio show on WNPR, but of course everything is also a podcast these days, so one can listen to any of the episodes, at any time, anywhere.  The other day he had a show about Sol LeWitt, a very famous conceptual artist of whom I was only tangentally aware before hearing the show.  But during the course of the show, McEnroe played a short clip of Benedict Cumberbatch reading a letter that LeWitt wrote to another artist, Eva Hesse — and that sent me off to YouTube when I got to my office, to track down the full version.

(WARNING: contains salty language.   So what!  Get over it.)

I’m always fascinated by artists who are supremely devoted to their art — even if it’s art I don’t particularly like.  In fact, it’s easier to clearly see the beauty of that devotion, when you’re not swept away by how much you like the artwork itself.  Am I making sense?  Makes sense to me.

And I’m going to take LeWitt’s admonition to “stop thinking” to mean stop overthinking, a failing to which we writers are particularly prone.  Stop obsessing on all the peripheral aspects — and just think of the work!

In other news:

Of course you’ve heard that the Nebula Awards were handed out recently.  In case you haven’t, Tor.com is always a good source for SF/F news.     So is File 770 — and they have pictures of the ceremony and the winners.   I actually have a copy of Best Novel winner Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars on my To Read Real Soon Now stack.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel by [Kowal, Mary Robinette]

I’m definitely overloaded with Stuff to Read…

 


May 4 2019

What happens when someone you know seems to be able to write poems at the drop of a hat and you’re a little jealous, so you ask how they do it.

Rosemary

 

Oh, look.  I wrote a poem:

 

JO WALTON WRITES SONNETS

She tells me that it’s more or less a knack,
The pattern’s that familiar, and the pace.
She knows the beats, and how the rhymes will stack,
With every iamb solidly in place.

With that, she simply lives her life, with all
Its thoughts and feelings, plans and acts. Her days
Are given to her work — but should she call,
The words slip nimbly into their arrays.

But there’s a thing she doesn’t say. Perhaps
Forgotten, being learned so long ago
That years and dreams and decades that elapse
Have moved it from Surprise to Simply So.

It’s this: Delights, when loved and fully known
Will choose to serve — and name you as their own.

 

(You can subscribe to Jo Walton’s poetry Patreon right here.)