Monday, October 23, 2006

Re-edits, Earthquakes and Other Stuff

Speaking of which, dean asked us to do some bio write-ups and edit checks for our stories in the latest PSFV. Because of this, I couldn't resist checking out the last volume and reading it made me cringe. Feeling the urge to re-edit and polish my story, I wonder if we'd ever feel really happy with the stories we've finished writing.

On the other hand, my latest story to dean made realize that this excellent quote by SF editor Gardner Dozois is quite apt, dammit. How does one end a story anyway?

A story can still be published, can still be good, with an average last line. But unless the writer nails the last line like an Olympic gymnast coming off the pommel horse to land a 10, the story will never reach its full potential.

(gathered from CCFinlay, taken from Being Gardner Dozois)

In the meantime, I just had to ask: did everyone local feel the series of earthquakes Friday night and Saturday morning (and so on)? I didn't feel the 10 p.m. quake but I sure did get a little freaked out by the 1 a.m. jig. Despite the fact that the Philippines is on the Ring of Fire, I don't think I'll ever get used to have everything dance like it was a rave Friday night. (It also didn't help that I was on the 7th floor of a building at the time of the quake.)

Personally, I think it's all the North Koreans' fault and that their nuclear underground test set off a chain reaction with the tectonic plates or something. I just hope no giant ants or mutated moles show up at our doorstep.

Also, with Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk recently winning the Nobel Prize in literature, I thought this might be interesting: Who are you writing for?

Writers write for their ideal reader, for their loved ones, for themselves or for no one. All this is true. But it is also true that today's literary writers also write for those who read them. From this we might infer that today's literary writers are gradually writing less for their own national majorities (who do not read them) than for the small minority of literary readers in the world who do.

So the needling questions, and the suspicions about these writers' true intentions, reflect a disquiet about this new cultural order that has come into being over the past 30 years.

The people who find it most disturbing are the representatives of non- Western nations and their cultural institutions. Crisis-ridden non-Western states that are anxious about national identity - and reluctant to face up to the black marks in their histories - are suspicious of creative novelists who view history and nationalism from a non-national perspective.

In their view, novelists who do not write for national audiences are exoticizing that country for foreign consumption and inventing problems that have no basis in reality.

(Thanks to aa for the link. He also posted the full article here.)

Some food for thought. I've gone through thinking the whole gamut of answers he'd came up with but of course, I'm not a literati figure that's won a Nobel Prize so that doesn't count. Personally, I still don't have an answer-- except what skinny once said: write what you like. That's as close I can get to The Answer as I can.

Lastly, like a parallel wave to my debate with skinny on the literary aspect of speculative fiction several months ago, a 'force five hurricane making landfall in the little teacup of the genre' (as quoted from Charlie Stross) has been sweeping through the community of SF writers. Actually, it was really about SF not embracing its pulp roots (i.e. Star Wars) as stated by this article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Because of this, Rusch said SF is losing is readers.

This just went on from there... but we've been there and done that so I won't comment anymore. *winks*


skinnyblackcladdink said...

has it been several months? felt like just a few, actually.

paul said...

i rarely get stuff published, but when i do and i gather some courage to look at it again, i start grinding my teeth and tightening my jaw and then i start imagining a bunch of thugs beating me up while shouting, 'where the eff do you get off inflicting this on us?!' i feel this weird urge to throw everything out, do the thing over again, or issue a disclaimer that i had anything to do with what came out.

which is why i sort of admire people who appear to have discovered some productive way to distance themselves from their published stuff. it's a talent, i guess.

skinnyblackcladdink said...

y'know, just got back from Charlie's Diary, and i'm not quite sure this is a parallel wave to our earlier discussions...

my whole take on the return-to-pulp-roots thing is because the SFnal old pulps i'm familiar with are a vibrant hot bed of ideas (good god, not again with the ideacentricity thing! shut-up and write, damnit--er, that's me talking to meself, not to you, bc), iffiness notwithstanding, and doing the whole Star Wars-inspired thing just seems wrong-headed in that light, since that pretty much threatens to start-up the sort of thing that happened with Tolkien for fantasy.

which is *not* what i'm after at all.

but what do i know? i was too lazy to read everything you linked-up to, ha ha, and am posting this comment by way of procrastination. hey, Paul. ha ha again.

i do so relish Mr Stross' (non)argument for authorial inconsistency...

banzai cat said...

skinny: Heh must be my power to "bend space and time" (sorry, just pegged on to Heroes right now).

Likewise, like all parallel universes, a lot of things are similar but with different details! Seriously, I felt the debate mirrored some of our own in the essence of lit spec fic vs. pulp spec fic, i.e. the use of such ideas. I do know that Rusch seems to be going the wrong direction in her article but still, the resonance is there.

And yes, I also quickly scanned the links meself, just taking in only gabe's summarization. I have work too, ya know.

paul: There's that writer's axiom that writers should throw out their stories in the cold like parents do their children once they hit 18 years old. I figure that's so right in many levels. Still, I don't see anything wrong in still caring how or what readers read into our stories. After all, they're (more or less) our flesh and blood.

Personally, there's always the subhead 'version 2.0'. ;-)