Applying Myself

28 June 2002

My lesson for yesterday was that I don't have to know everything to write this book. It's a good lesson, but for some crazy reason it's one I need to learn over and over again. A few days ago, Zed posted a list of How Not To Write. My very own addition, the one that I scare myself into from time to time, is a variation on #7 that only works for specific books. In case you don't follow the link, #7 is "Let's face it, you don't know enough to be a writer. You've never even read [insert famous literary work here]. Better get to it, or no one will take you seriously." In my case, it's "[insert piece of nonfiction or famous literary work directly related to your book here]." And I do think that, for example, if you're going to write a book about people who don't need to sleep, you should read Nancy Kress' Beggars trilogy first, but we've talked about that before. But I don't need to find every book that every famous Finnish author has written, in order to be able to write about Finland. I don't actually need all of the lovely references I can find that don't exist in English. It will be okay, and if it's not okay, I can go back and revise it.

So, having learned that lesson, I moved on and wrote without omniscience, and it was good, and I was happy with my scenes for the time being, and then after I freewrote in the evening I sat back down and worked on "Docile Bodies" instead, and that was good, too.

I got my twenty-fifth rejection of the month yesterday. So now even if nothing comes in today or tomorrow, I will have gotten a rejection for every day the mail is delivered this month. I also have broken my previous record. I'm not sure this is cause for celebration, but it's certainly noteworthy. And I actually do appreciate magazines like F&SF and TTA that let me get rejected twice on the same story in one month. No, really, I do appreciate it. It's good.

While I was wandering around trying to find out everything about Finland yesterday, I stumbled upon the ASF (American Scandinavian Foundation) website. The ASF gives artistic grants for travel to Scandinavia, and, well...what would it hurt to apply for one of their grants, right? I mean, it would be good for the NTMB and future Finnish books for me to spend a week or even two in Helsinki and the surrounding areas. And how many people could they possibly have writing speculative novels about Finland? It's not like they must get a lot of identical grant proposals, right? "Oh, blah, blah, blah, moose and spies and computers and Kalevala-magic, blah, blah, blah." So I figure while they might blink and say, "She wants to do what now?", they probably won't say, "Not another one!"

Of course, the application itself is kind of scary. Who do they want for letters of recommendation? If it was a student thing, I could see that they would for sure want my profs. Would they want creative writing profs, editors I've worked with, other writers who know my work? I have all of the above, I just don't know which would be most effective under the circumstances. And the writing sample -- I have lots of writing sample. Hoo boy, do I have writing sample. I just don't know what they'd want for 30 pages or so. My best stuff? My most Finland-related stuff? My published stuff? I don't knoooooow! Anybody have any ideas?

I finished Desperate Measures yesterday and enjoyed it a great deal, although the structure of the ending was a bit weird. I also started Kristine Smith's Rules of Conflict, which has my second pet peeve about the physical nature of a book: its cover is amazingly similar to its predecessor and its sequel. And so is its title. Ken MacLeod's books do it. Some of Poul Anderson's do. Kara Dalkey's do, too. I hate that. I want to be able to know the author, glance at the cover, and go, oh, yeah, I've read that one for sure. But I can't. Luckily, in this case, it's got "author of Code of Conduct" right below her name, so you know that this one comes after that. If they were even different colors, that would be enough for me. I understand the packaging idea. I really do. I just think that a little more variation would be a good idea. So far, it's a decent read, though nothing particularly deep. I didn't check it out for deep reading, though.

I keep thinking I have something to say about the politics of the day, but I think most of you can pretty much guess what it would be in most cases by now, so I'll just leave that and worry about cat poop poisoning the otters. No, really. It's on the front page of the Merc.

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