29 May 2002

Well, finally. I got three response letters yesterday, two rejections and a request for rewrites on "Small Talk." Stan wants it -- say it with me now -- longer, with a more resolved ending. I think what he means by "more resolved" is "happier." In either case, I think I know what to do to fix it up and send it out, so we'll see how that goes. I figured this for an Analog story when I wrote it, and there's still hope that I'm right. (I pondered not mentioning who had asked for the rewrite, but, you know, whatever. I get rejected all the time. Rewrites are good stuff.)

Now if we can keep that ratio up for the rest of the week, two rejections and a rewrite request a day, I'll be a very happy kid. A very busy kid, but a very happy one. "Which wasn't very likely, and we didn't expect it." I'd actually be happy with just the one.

I commend to you this Onion article, entitled "Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built." I especially commend it to you if you live in Minnesota, but that's not a prerequisite.

I also want to remind those of you who care that you can vote on baseball's All-Star game online and can also vote for the new M&M color. I voted for tan. It wasn't one of the choices, but I hate their Barbie doll choices. I want tan back. Pink, purple, or aqua. That's like when they tried to make Legos girlier. It's just not right.

(I wouldn't have bothered voting on the All-Star Game, but the contraction stuff just made me mad, so I voted for all of the Twins and all of the Expos.)

Salon had a very silly article the other day. Its premise was essentially, "I don't like some of The Classics! I admit it, but it's really hard to admit, because they're Classics, so why don't I like them?" And the guy's answer was basically that he just didn't. Well, duh. The thing I wanted to know is why he thought he should like all of them in the first place. Why would being a classic automatically mean something was enjoyable, and to him in particular? He seemed to think that this was part of being "the right sort of person," and I absolutely hate that. It refuses to take books on their own terms. It judges them on what other people have thought about them, just as surely in the positive as if this guy was refusing to read a genre novel that appealed to him because it wasn't "literary." Why on earth should something get a free pass because other people have appreciated it?

And, when it comes to that, why read a book if you don't enjoy it? Books are not castor oil. They're not medicine. You don't grit your teeth and swallow them down to improve yourself. Or you shouldn't. I can come up with a handful of reasons to read a book you don't enjoy: because you want the information it conveys, because someone you care about has asked you to read it as a favor, or because you're in a class you'd otherwise like to pass. The last is a pity when it doesn't relate to the first, and sometimes the first can be remedied by finding a different book on the same subject. But fiction, poetry? Who says everybody should like the same fiction or poetry? (Or plays, or....)

It just seems that a lot of people in our culture assume that if you can catalog the virtues of something, whether it's living in a particular city or reading a particular book, you "ought to" like it. There's no "ought to" about likes and dislikes. One of the most liberating moments of my childhood was when my father told me I didn't have to like anybody in particular if I didn't want to. I had to be civil unless they started it, but I didn't have to like them. And it goes for just about everything else, too. Personal preferences are all right. There's no reason to try to force them or feel guilty about them. And when I start listing the reasons you like something or (especially) someone, I find that I've missed it entirely. All of the justifications I can give for why I love the people I love are beside the point, because that's not why I love them. And to a large extent, books are like that, too. I can point out virtues in books I hate and flaws in books I love, but it doesn't change the affinity. Nor should it.

I'm reading two books just now. The first is Boswell's journals from 1762 and 1763, when he lived in London. Interesting man, interesting writer. I never had the urge to read Life of Johnson, but now I do. It's a reminder that some things are classics for a reason. Specifically, some things are classics for a reason that matters to me. The other book I've started reading is Lois McMaster Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity, the new Miles book, which was a birthday present to Mark from my folks. Mark is already done with it, and Timprov and I are reading it "at the same time." (He sat up and read it after I went to bed, and I'm going to read it before he wakes up this morning. I believe I have dibs when we're both awake, simply because I read faster, but since I'm also reading Boswell, I'll yield it to him if he asks.) I'm really happy with Bujold for utterly resisting the urge to do a "Miles' Big Wedding" book. It could so easily have been so bad. And she just skipped right on to space diplomacy, hurray! I am satisfied so far.

So. More work to do on the Not The Moose, of course. It still feels like a glacier to me. I'm closing in on 60,000 words of it, with my daily word count increasing, but it's just so darn big. Hmm. I've never written a book in sections before, so now I'll have Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to finish as milestones. Problem is, I have no idea which part I'll finish first, or whether they'll all be completed in the last week. We'll find out, I suppose. It's already about as long as Fortress is finished, but such a different kind of book. Exciting and fun and fascinating and exhausting. Very glad to be doing it.

So that's what I'll be doing today: working on the Not The Moose Book. Working on the revisions to "Small Talk." Reading Boswell and Bujold, of course. Picking up my prescription, I hope, if they have it filled. (Mark's company finally has insurance for us, so at the end of this month I switch doctors, pharmacies, etc., and I'm stocking up on the Pill so that I don't have to go screeching into my new doctor's office in an Emergency Situation.) Ideally, today would be the day I would get to the office supply store, the library, and various and sundry yuppie-ish stores to look for avocado oil for Michelle. I'm not sure if it will be, though. We'll see. Library opens at 11:00, so that's not as bad as it usually is. Take care of yourselves and have a good day.

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