Prose Goddess (It's Good To Want Things)

6 June 2001

Well, Fortress of Thorns is now printed out, at the expense of four paragraphs of journal entry when the computer crashed due to printer error. They were deeply personal and also deeply witty. Trust me here.

Anyway. I've been reading Lord of Emperors lately. Could I cut thirty pages from that book? No problem. But they don't ask me to do that. I'm not intending to criticize G.G. Kay with that; he's got a leisurely style, and I really have no problem with that. It's the only way I get a read that feels slow to me, is if there's lots of stuff going on in the book that's not really necessary. I don't vary my reading speeds very well, so it's up to the author to make the feel vary for me. Kay is one of the authors I discovered when I was twelve, and I'm just now learning to be objective about him. Julian May is another one like that. It helps that both of them have recent series I don't like as well, but you know, I'd be willing to put up with a little starry-eyed idolatry for another book that captivated me like Intervention did when I was twelve, or like the entire Fionavar Tapestry did.

Not that I want to be uncritically adoring again. I like being critical. It's part of the fun. And as a writer, I'd much rather have early readers, or even late ones, who can see the flaws in a work and still like it than readers who don't think there are any when there are.

That's only about half true, there. What I want -- and what I think all writers really want -- is someone who has proven himself or herself to be a deeply critical reader, who then thinks I am some kind of prose goddess anyway.

That's a low aim. Prose goddess. Well. I'm already the Queen of Subtle, so from queen to goddess can't be that hard. Lots of royalty claimed to make the jump in the past.

The really good thing about convincing people that you're not subtle -- and this is pretty easy to do -- is that then when you are subtle, they're not expecting it. You can sneak all sorts of stuff in under their radar. The other good thing is that you can get what you want much more easily. If you say, "I would really like books for my birthday," and you keep saying it, over the years, it becomes clear that you are not, in fact, covering a deep set desire for salt-shakers in the shape of cabbages. And then people who want to make you happy know what it is that will do so, if they don't have any additional ideas of their own. Which is good for everyone.

Sometimes I've considered making cue cards for my life: "Your line here is, 'Congratulations, great job!'" or "Your line here is, 'I'm so sorry to hear that. Let me know if there's anything I can do.'" or "You: 'How about some chocolate?'" (Redundant card, that.) Then people don't have to read my mind. But usually they make up their own lines, and often those are more clever than mine. So it works out without the cards. Mostly. My grandparents are not very much into the whole publishing business, and so they're never sure what's great news, what's moderately good news, and what's bad news. So I call them on the phone with news, and they say, "Uh huh" and write down bits that seem important and then ask my mom about it later, and become overjoyed, happy, or sad, as appropriate.

Scott's dad always says, "It's good to want things." Usually this was in response to his kids detailing some wish or desire for their lives, something along the lines of a car. And he'd listen and nod encouragingly, and then say, "Well, good. It's good to want things." I quote Scott's dad a lot.

Okay. Back to work. I'll appreciate encouraging e-mails while I'm doing this, so don't feel like you've been bugging me. Really. I appreciate the people who have been encouraging and/or congratulatory so far. It's good. Thanks.

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