In Which Public Service Announcements Appear Again

5 February 2004

Okay. So the bjorn (the nala?) will be at WorldCon this year. She just said so. Who else of you? And who would like to see me there or in the region if I went? And who would like to room with me if I was going all by my lonesome? And who would go with me to eat and drink and be merry and help make sure that my lonesome was not all that lonesome? Anyone? Anyone? Not Bueller, please. (And if I have a faithful long-term silent reader named Angela Bueller or something like that, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean you, just the movie; I'm sure you're used to it.)

Yesterday I picked up a bunch of library books, including the rest of the Mary Poppins series to read while I work on "Michael Banks, Home From the War." I started Mary Poppins Comes Back (though I haven't finished the Morehouse or the Laestadius yet and am more excited about them). It is not particularly good. It follows the structure of the first one way too closely. There is in each: a chapter wherein MP arrives; a chapter wherein an old spinster mistreats animals and gets her comeuppance from MP; a chapter wherein one child (Michael in the original, Jane in the sequel) is naughty, has something magical happen, and learns better; a chapter in which a baby forgets its cosmic knowledge in order to become more a part of the human world (and the Starling cries about it); a chapter in which MP has an uncle who behaves oddly; a chapter in which the children learn a story about curious local personage; a chapter in which MP goes out at night and the children get to go out with her and there are many animals who all talk and respect MP. It seems clear that Travers did this deliberately, but -- yarg. It's more than a bit silly. I seem to recall the last two in the series being better again, but I really can't be sure until I get there. But I got them both from the library, so I will get there.

Oh, and I have two more public service announcements! Aren't you lucky!

First: if you are a writer who has been submitting stories, please, please do not claim that you know an editor doesn't want [insert subjective adjective here] stories because you sent that editor a dozen different [subjective adjective repeated] stories and he/she did not buy them. For example, you may choose the adjective "daring." If you claim that editors don't want daring stories because they haven't bought your daring stories, I guarantee you that a large percentage of the people who hear this claim will think, "Well, dude, your 'daring' stories may well suck. Or may not be that daring. Or...." Other people who have not read your stories will be able to come up with a million ways in which you may be wrong. Other people may consider the possibility that you are a clueless whiner. If you're sure that you're not, it's probably best to keep editorial observations of that nature limited to a circle of close friends who already love your stories. (I've been following the Slushkiller thread on Making Light with some glee, but that's not the only source for this PSA.)

Second public service announcement: if you are a self-proclaimed Protestant Christian, marriage is most likely not a sacrament in your religion. Please, please do not argue against gay marriage by using the word "sacramental." If you were married by a Prot pastor, chances are quite good that he/she was not performing a sacrament. Most Prot denominations have two sacraments, baptism and communion. Some denominations add potluck suppers to the list, but that's really it. If you insist on arguing against state-recognized gay marriage on religious grounds -- and by the way, I would be happier if you didn't -- please make sure that you're referring to your own actual stated religion. Honestly. Catholics have seven sacraments, of which marriage is one. Figure out what you believe and stick to it yourself, but don't claim sacraments for an entire church body if they don't have them.

Ahem. Anyway. Right then. The back is better today, though not yet good. So I got some sleep, which in turn helped -- an anti-vicious circle, in this case. And it's snowing again, big fat fluffy slow flakes. The weather report in the paper predicts only small amounts of snow until this evening, but they also said it wouldn't start until this afternoon. And they said it was likely to be heavier snow to the south, and as we're on the south end of the Cities...well. We got more snow down here across the river than they did ten minutes away, up near C.J. (But oh, Minnehaha Parkway is still a gorgeous drive, even with only 10-12" of snow instead of 15".) So we'll see what we get, whether it's just intermittent flakes or more. As Roo says, snownonononono.

It was funny: at Kari's shower on Saturday, I saw the mother of one of my old classmates, whom I hadn't seen in a good dozen years. And we got into how's he/how am I, and it was another case where the person I was talking to hadn't heard that I left physics. I said, "Yes, actually I'm writing now." And she said, "Oh, what do you write?" in kind of a timid voice compared to the rest of the conversation. And I said, "Mostly science fiction."

I never know how that's going to go. Some people act as though you've handed them a toad. Possibly a dead toad. Their smiles grow fixed, and they say, "Oh, how nice," without moving their face much, and they cast glances at your Poor, Suffering Mother, should she happen to be present. (My PSM is a Pratchett addict and can't wait to see what happens in the sequel to Dwarf's Blood Mead. But people often project their own sense of respectability onto other people's mothers.) And then other people act as though you've handed them the grand prize, wanting to discuss their favorite books or, at the very least, movies.

Luckily for me, my former classmate's mother was in the latter category. She shrieked in delight. And also, possibly, in relief; if I'd said, "Mostly poems about death and despair," I'm sure it would have been fixed-smile time. It's a tricky question, asking people what they write, because there are so many horrible answers, and even when the basic answer is good there are so many ways to screw up the specifics of it. Or to sound as though you have -- it's very easy to make a good book sound bad, or even a good career. It's a conversational minefield on both sides, I think.

Well. The list, the list, the list. Laundry and more errands and writing and housework and bits of things for friends, and letters and e-mail and research reading and fun reading and note-taking...a story to send out and cooking and baking to do...I know that I'll get caught up from my extra snow day eventually, but I'm very good at thinking of things that need doing. And lately it seems that I'm very good at thinking of things that need doing soon. Apparently some kinds of talent are less useful than others.

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