Not Ready For Player One

It can be difficult trying to decide what swords are worth falling on, what one’s ethics require of them in regards to the small things. Deciding one small thing might mean more than it seems, or that the small things add up.

I’ve been thinking about the film “Ready Player One” for a few weeks now, trying to decide if I’m going to see it or not. There’s an interesting article, “The Complexities of Supporting Art by Problematic Artists,” where the author discusses how and if we can, personally, support the work and art of people who have been uncovered to be terrible people. (Quick side note, my problems with Ready Player One are entirely with the writing and the content, and absolutely nothing to do with the author, Earnest Cline. I have met him, and have a couple degrees of separation from him by friends, and I’ve found him to be a spectacularly friendly and gregarious fellow, with no hint or allegation of himself being “a problem.” The above article, however, is a good essay on dealing with accepting problem-connected art.)

The author of the essay, in light of all the allegations coming out about terrible men in Hollywood, says:

Does this mean you should boycott all music created by these artists because you don’t agree with their personal lives?

I can’t answer that because that’s for you to decide.

Personally, I know I won’t be able to veto everything that’s problematic or created by problematic individuals… nor can I as a woman of colour. If I did, there would literally be a handful of music, shows, and movies I could consume without getting upset… which is both disappointing but true.

It’s true that many terrible people have been involved in some of the greatest or most popular works of art we know. We have to decide whether the work itself can stand alone from the creator. To this, she continues:

You have a bigger voice in society than you think and it’s your duty to be a vigilant consumer. Are you contributing to a society that values the output of art over moral integrity? Does this even matter to you?

Personally, I don’t believe art can be completely isolated and removed from the artist. Art embodies cultural footprints and implicit connotations that can either enrich or diminish its value. What might just be art to one person is a can of worms to another. Just because you can separate a piece of art from the artist doesn’t mean everybody else can.

And it’s with this in mind I’m having to make decisions about “Ready Player One.”

But why this film, this book? Why is this a problem, and I’ve not angst and blogged about anything else, like, maybe the latest Harry Potter-verse film with Johnny Depp?

This is problematic for me, and I feel my actions say something more significant in regards to what I do about this film, specifically because I am precisely its target audience. The film, well, most certainly the book, was written by and for white, middle-class, “x-gen” males. Almost to the exclusion of anyone else. The book was written for me, the film made for me. If I patronize it or not, I’m saying something about whether or not I accept and validate the problems inherent, or I refuse them.

What are the problems, precisely?

Well, let’s get the easiest one to deal with out of the way right off — it’s a poorly written novel. It’s a Mary Sue wish-fulfillment tale with no real peril or depth, no character arc of development, and as this article, puts it: “Ready Player One Is an Orgy of Nostalgia in All the Wrong Ways.” Or as one commentor online, who I can’t find to give credit to the quote, said: “*Ready Player One* is *Shrek* for nerds – a simple-ass story built out of soulless references to other pop cultural artifacts, constructed entirely to stimulate the pleasure of recognition.” At no point in the novel did I feel the hero was in any danger. In fact, pretty much a quarter of the way in I pretty much knew exactly how it was going to end, with, spoiler, him getting everything he wants, including the trophy girl. (More on the real problem of that in a second.)

Earnest Cline also wrote the 2009 film “Fanboys,” which has many of the same problems. Primarily, for me, was the climax of the film (as well as a demi-climax halfway through), was entirely a trivia contest. The protagonists had to prove they’re worthy by answering trivia questions, see how much esoterica they knew about Star Wars. That’s the “final battle” of the film. And Ready Player One is essentially that “soulless stimulation of pleasure of recognition” for an entire novel.

The problems I found with the writing are well-stated in the critique, “Why So Much Backlash? Ready Player One is Basically Twilight for Nerds” which I found myself nodding the entire way through:

The relentless references soon started wearing thin, and Wade’s ability to effortlessly conquer his challenges—like playing a perfect game of Pac-Man—started feeling empty and undeserved. By the time one of Wade’s obstacles for saving the world entails him and his friends reciting dialogue from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (a feat they accomplish with glee), I felt like a kid who thinks eating an entire cake by himself sounded fun—I was sick of it, and craving something of real substance. But the thing is, Cline really loves the ‘80s and expects the reader to feel the same. If he’s right to think that this affection is enough to carry the reader along on its own, then his deluge of pop culture references makes sense. If he’s wrong, the reader is left with references they either don’t know or don’t care about, an onslaught of nerdy nostalgia that often doesn’t advance the plot, and very simplistic writing. As in, even more basic than Twilight’s writing. In fact, film analyst Lindsay Ellis recently released a video apologizing to Meyer for getting caught up in the frenzy of bashing Twilight years ago, and acknowledging now that Meyer’s writing is really not as atrocious as everyone makes it out to be. A book Ellis mentions as having legitimately terrible writing, on the other hand? Ready Player One.

That said, I won’t not see a film because of that! One bit. I have a very low bar for quality when it comes to movies, so long as it’s audio-visually appealing. And, “Ready Player One” does promise to be that!

No, the real problems with the novel (and most likely the film), come from the toxic masculinity, the tokenism, casual racism, and misogynistic sexism deeply embedded in it.

Remember that trophy girlfriend mentioned? That’s essentially the only purpose the female character serves in the novel is to be something to be won by the hero. And to push the hero to winning his destined reward, herself getting nothing except, presumably, the pleasure of being his to own as well. On top of that, the novel falls deeply into the now-toxic trope considered a standard of so many “rom-coms,” of the guy not taking “no” for an answer. He continues to barrage and harangue her, stalking and badgering her, until she’s finally worn down and gives in — and this is considered “romantic”! Huge problem with that.

The article “The Trophy Woman of Ready Player One” does a good job focusing on that problem of the novel/film.

Then we have the tokenism and racism, addressed in this article, “We Need to Talk About Representation in ‘Ready Player One’.” This article does a far better job than I can at addressing the racism, and abelism, I felt reading it. More than implying that is you’re black, gay, disabled, disfigured, female, you better hide it… the crass patronizing only we privileged can commit by, “looking past those flaws, anyway.”

But finally, here is where it comes down to for me, where my patronage, my support or rejection, speaks directly to my experience: Ready Player One reinforces the misogynistic penis-measuring gatekeeping found rife throughout nerd culture.

I’m a nerd, been one all my life. Playing D&D since I was 10, read The Silmarillion at 12, spent every lunchtime in the school library writing programs in Apple Basic at 14, etc etc and all the stereotypes of being a geek and nerd since. And one thing nerds of all stripes do, is challenge each other to prove out worth in how much we know about something. Usually, among what has traditionally been a male-dominated culture, a newcomer says “I’m into X too!” and we fellow nerds might ask, “What’s your favorite Y from it?” and with even a vaguely acceptable answer, they’re in the club.

But to mansplain to people who are not female-identified for a second, this is not what happens to girls and women in nerd culture. If you’re female, and you dare to try to intrude into the community and say, “I like X, too,” you will be barraged with an endless challenge of questions going deeper and more minute than anything a guy would have to deal with, to prove yourself. And often times, the goalposts are moved to much and so often, there’s simply no winning, no acceptance. This kind of gatekeeping is used in such a vitriolic and cruel manner to “keep girls out!” I’ve seen it done, any woman vaguely interested in anything nerdy will likely tell you stories of it being done to her, and I thank my effing stars I never participated in it myself before I became aware of it.

Ready Player One is this gatekeeping, which the entire climax of “Fanboys” consists of, is a celebration of this, at best, pissing contest, at worst, weapon against interloping women upon the guy’s domain, purified and concentrated into the very core of what the story is.

Ultimately, I really can’t support this film, even if it improves upon the novel (which I seriously doubt it can), because of the very problems inherent in the story itself. As well as supporting the film is support of the source novel that spawned it. This is a film that if it came out some years ago, I would have raced to see, and probably see over and again as my dopamine receptors flooded with “the pleasure of (self-congratulatory) recognition” with each re-watch revealing new things I could elbow my friends with, “Didjya catch that?? Did you know what that was? Are you as knowledgeable as me??” But we don’t live in a world where we, and I’m no longer a guy who, can accept such thoughtlessly insensitive and even outright offensive representation simply for entertainment value.


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Electric Dreams of PKD and Safe with Foster

First, don’t you hate when a near-blogfaded bloggers apologizes for not blogging in so long? Yeah, me too. Sorry.

I can’t believe I haven’t complete binged the entire series of “Electric Dreams of Philip K. Dick” already, I still have a few episodes to go — but I’m really loving it. Well, I love the fact there’s more SF on TV right now, period! And, of course, being a huge Dick-head, I’m overjoyed that he’s getting even more screentime. Even though, I think, this show has been a mixed bag of both quality and level of honoring the original story the episode comes from, overall, I’m quite enjoying it.

But there’s one episode in particular I can’t get out of my head and I keep wandering back to in comparison to the original story and Dickian themes. The episode is “Safe and Sound” based on the story “Foster, You’re Dead!” I’ll give a spoiler-free general thought first, then I’ll get into some specifics after a warning.

I keep thinking about this one because the original “Foster” story is one of my favorites of Dick’s, and entirely because of the blatant criticisms it lays at late modern capitalism and disposable consumerism and manufactured need in order to make people endlessly consume. Dick has never been accused of being subtle, and this story he is at his bombastic best. The show episode “Safe and Sound,” however, does play into some subtlety and, actually, brings in some classic Dickian elements that the story did not contain, which was really interesting — but is actually at the core of my consternation. More on that after the jump.

But one of the things I thought the show did fantastically well was in modernizing the story while keeping the fundamental themes. The plot is different, but in ways in which make perfect sense, bringing story set in and critiquing late modern capitalism to that of our late postmodern capitalist world. Updating the threat of Cold War and Soviets and bomb shelters to invasive privacy issues, existential threats of terrorism, and identity. I suppose there’s not much more I can say without spoilers, so I’ll just say despite my problems with the episode, it’s a really fantastic one (even if I’m stymied whether I like the ending or not — and, even as I write this, I’m coming to the belief the ending is actually more in keeping with the story than what I would have liked to have seen in an episode they set up if it weren’t based on previous work).

And below be spoilers!

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The return of OMNI and unexpected happy

I am, dear reader, not a happy person. Not to get too personal, but I have of late been dealing with rather major life-altering situations, in addition to having people I love and care deeply about also dealing with major issues. To make it plain, I am a deeply unhappy, depressed person.

But today, I found a glimmer of happy that is touching me in very deep, profound, if likely brief, ways. I picked up the first copy of the return of OMNI Magazine to print.

OMNI was the first non-kids magazine I ever got. Something about the cover appealed to me, something about science or aliens or something I’m sure, and so my mom bought the 12 year old me my first copy, around 1983. And I was hooked, hard. And for the next 6 or 8 years, I had a continuous subscription to the magazine. I kept every one in stacks, in boxes. I waited for each new issue with anticipation and greeted it with glee. I have the most fond memories of my teen years around OMNI….

It’s where I first learned of the author and grandfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson; it’s where I read stories by Stephen King (well, aside from every book of his I bought during the same ages); discovered the biohorror art of H.R. Gieger; and it’s also where I fell into mad crush with editor Ellen Datlow. (Yes, teenage me recognized editor’s contributions to magazines and actually crushed on one — I wear the nerd mantle with pride.) I was sad when the print OMNI shut down in the 90s, and tried to keep up with the changes it went through online, but nothing ever stuck.

Then only a couple of days ago I heard of its return after more than 20 years to print! I was overjoyed! And so today, on a long-needed “day off” from life, I stopped into my area Powell’s Bookstore, and there it was. Glorious and beautiful, the quasi-futuristic font of the title as I remembered it sitting atop some surreal art cover. It’s a bit pricey for even a quarterly magazine, I think, but I happily plunked my $11 down to contribute to the funding of something that had made my teen years far more rich and interesting, and is now trying to come back in this age of dying print.

Naturally, being a cynic, my excitement was tinged with expectation of being let down by it being a shadow of the former (remembered) glory. Would the new iteration measure up? Would it be a cheap ploy for the parent company to capitalize, for maybe a short-lived issue or two, on nostalgia?

As I sit here flipping through the contents and the masthead, my glee solidifies! There’s an interview with William Gibson of all people! One of the fiction contributors is Nancy Kress. There are thoughtful articles on A.I., time travel, and deep space exploration. And, what’s that?? Ellen Datlow is the fiction editor? The eff you say!

But, since “growing up” and becoming a hardcore skeptic, something I had to come to terms with the old OMNI of my youth was that it often put good science fact alongside sensational pseudoscience and absurdity. (Which really is the worst… with sites like Natural News you know pretty much everything they publish is complete BS, but when a source mixes good science with bad, the bad gains some amount of unearned credulity.) So my heart skipped a beat when I saw one of the new magazine’s contributing editors is a skepticism hero of mine, Michael Shermer!

And wait, what’s this I see? All the chief editors and directors are women! Half the staff and contributing editors are women! The feminist in me cries for joy!

Welcome back, OMNI magazine! You seem to be marrying the foundation and nostalgia of your heyday with a modern, aware, and rational new outlook and approach. With that, I am now happily looking for subscription information….


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Walkaway and being rich

Early in my conversion to Marxist ideology, I would have “but what about…” discussions with the professor who guided me there. There was this one conversation we had where he had mentioned something about how the rich were always part of the problem, the capitalists. And I asked, well, what about rich philanthropists like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, who give millions to various charities and funds?

And Dr. Burling started to tell me about how that’s part of the problem as well, that that simply contributes to the wealth inequality and perpetuates the status quo . . . and wasn’t able to really explain before we got interrupted. We never did get back to that specific topic before he died, and while I could extrapolate an explanation from everything else I’ve learned from Marxist criticism, I’ve not seen much direct discussion on the exact issue.

Then, the other day, I read a passage in the new Cory Doctorow book, Walkaway. (See my last post, on seeing him talk recently) :

“What about being being richer than Scrooge McDuck and staging a Communist party?”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“It’s not like you need to–”

“But I can. Remember, it’s not just ‘to each according to her need,’ it’s ‘from each according to her ability.’ I know how to find factories that are perfect for direct action. I know how to get into them. I know how to pwnify their machines. I know how to throw a hell of a party. I have all this unearned, undeserved privilege. Apart from killing myself as an enemy of the human species, can you think of anything better for me to do with it?”

“You could give money to–”

She froze him with a look. “Haven’t you figured it out? Giving money away doesn’t solve anything. Asking the zottarich to redeem themselves by giving money away acknowledges that they deserve it all, should be in charge of deciding where it goes. It’s pretending that you can get rich without being a bandit. Letting them decide what gets funded declares that the planet to be a giant corporation that the major shareholders get to direct. It says that government is just middle-management, hired or fired on the whim of the directors.”

I’m barely started in on the novel, but I know that much of the novel revolves around using the wealth of resources, knowledge, infrastructure, technology to step out of the current system: the wealth and money, the institutions and processes that justify the wealth inequality and exploitation, and creating a “utopian” society that isn’t perfect, but is just prepared for anything that can come, and can provide needs and wants better without wealth and scarcity markets.

So far, this novel feels a lot like the best of William Gibson during his post-cyberpunk stage of cultural criticism in his “Bridge trilogy,” except, with characters a little bit more relatable.


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Walking Away With Cory Doctorow

Cory on the right

Last week I saw Cory Doctorow, for my second time, at Powell’s City of Books. The first time was just about a month or two after moving to Oregon, not quite three years ago. (I write a bit about it in the blogpost Best Week Evar! On that tour, he was promoting his non-fiction work Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free.) This time, he’s touring his new adult fiction novel Walkaway. It’s a … well, he accepts that it’s a “utopian” novel. (And that sentence should prompt paragraphs of discussion because of everything “utopian novel” implied and leaves out. And I swear to god I wish I’d taken Professor Burling’s class on distopian/utopian fiction. In other classes I recall him discussing utopian fiction is usually ironic or is in opposition to the implied dis- or anti-utopian world that the work either is a reaction to or implies.)

I’ve not yet read far into Walkaway, but from what I gather at the talk, the book features a culture of people who have, in the near-future, walked away from the postmodern capitalist world. Have, instead of fought against the hegemony and the cultural logic, done the most efficient and effective thing and disengaged from it entirely to create a society that uses gift economy.

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After OryCon, first thoughts

Well, that was a humbling experience. I went into my first convention representing my writer role knowing that selling anything is unlikely. I head things from other that you’re doing pretty good if you sell two copies. Well, I didn’t sell a thing. I did witness a couple people pick up a copy of Singularity Deferred and put it back down… exactly like I do a million times at con dealers rooms. It’s very weird to be on the other end of that. I did my job in making a few other independent authors “do good” by buying some of their books, though. Including:

Tori Centanni’s Immortality Cure (my first real entry into urban fantasy, I have to admit. Not counting Cory Doctorow’s Someone Comes to Town…, and the TV version of “True Blood”); Toy Wars by Thomas Gondolfi; and Core of Confliction by Maquel A Jacob. They’re also all authors who are members of the incredibly supportive Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA).

Also picked up a copy of French and Cook’s Working the Table. Not that it really would have helped this weekend, it was NIWA’s table I had my titles on, and really only had my bodily presence there for an hour shift. But for when I get the opportunity to have my own table (or share one with only 1 or 2 other authors), it will be invaluable!

So, anyway, I sold no copies. But like I said, that was pretty expected (though I really was hoping for 1 or 2 sales). The demoralizing part was the failure so far of what I was there half for: my post- and business cards appear to have hardly been picked up, I’ve seen no new sales or even sample downloads on Smashwords (by the way, you’re welcome to use coupon code ES78V to get 25% off). No Amazon Kindle sales. I think most of the traffic to the website is still bots.

This sounds maudlin and full of self-pity (and it is), but it’s not all bad. The other half of my goal for going as a writer and not just an attendee, was to network and meet people, and that I did — more than I thought my introversion and social anxiety would allow. Met NIWA people I could put faces to the names to, met new people, handed my card to some people, learned of new and upcoming projects, and really felt more a part of a community. That’s a win!

And of course, the part of the weekend that I would have done just as an attendee, the panels and discussions, were a gihugic success! I learned so very much; I took pages of notes! I’ll probably process those notes and share the best of the tips and resources and bits of advice later this week — there’s a lot of it! And, despite some significant doubts and fears, I am hopeful and excited about my writing career, and am eager to do more and bigger!


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On OryCon 38 and cons in general

I have been attending conventions since… well, actually, pretty late in life. I remember being in grade school and junior high, early /mid 80s, reading Dragon Magazine and dreaming of going to the conventions listed! Ah, GenCon! The Mecca of my people! (Gaming nerds.) “One day, you shall be mine! Oh yes, you shall be mine…” But it wasn’t until sometime around maybe 16 years ago I started actually going to conventions. First, any and all gaming conventions I could get to! (It helped that I was a product rep, or a “Bounty Hunter,” for AEG during much of that (they were primarily RPG and CCG company then), and earning very generous product for demoing and running games!) Finally, attending one GenCon! And then another!

I know, this is nothing to people who go every year, and I know people who do. But it’s a big deal for always broke people, er, people of modest means, like me.

But the real eye-opener for me was going to literary and scholarly conferences! I first attended the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) I think in 2009, while in grad school. (Aw, man! N.K. Jemesin is the guest of honor next year! It’s so expensive to go when you’re not a student/professor.) And it was mind-blowing! Days of panels and discussions and free books at catered meals and late night discussions with people galaxies smarter than me who were eager to talk with people like me, as a peer! I got to meet my favorite editor, Ellen Datlow, and runners up James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel…. and it’s where I first learned about intersectional feminism and privilege! And also how it connects to Marxist cultural criticism. And so much more! It was the first real hint at what it’s like to be a real, active, scholar.

Then, later fandom conventions, scifi conventions, I focused more on panels and the artists/writers tables and rooms, and learned a great deal about what it means to be a real, active creator and writer.

And so it is to cons and conferences I owe so very much of my desire, drive, meager skills and knowledge, regarding writing, publishing, scholarship, and living in that world. At least, the desire to live in those worlds.

Well, this weekend is OryCon 38, “The premiere Portland SciFi Convention.” This will be my first year at that one, and the schedule is simply flooded with some amazing-sounding panels! I’ve hardly been able to even begin to plan my time, there is at least one fascinating thing in every slot regarding writing, storytelling, the craft, the business, so much more.

But, and maybe I’m burying the lede, of all the cons I’ve attended the last decade and a half this will be the first con where I’m actually participating (in a small way) instead of being purely an attendee! (Well, aside from ICFAs where I presented papers. And gaming cons where I ran games, but that’s very different: I was just a facilitator of an activity at those, not featured as a person with a product and a voice!) Thanks to my membership with the absolutely amazing Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA), I’m getting to have books on sale at the table, and, I have a 1-hour slot as a “featured author”!

Of course, it’s at 2pm on Sunday, a couple of hours before the con ends, but that’s not a complaint! I am over the moon at the opportunity to sit at a table, hawk my wares, network and talk to potential new readers. That’ll be a nice time to have comfortable conversations with attendees, and while many people will be broke by that time, a lot of people are also at the end of the weekend deciding where they want to contribute their monies to a small or independent artist and discover something new.

Well, I still have a lot of preparation to do before I go here shortly: I got my first business cards, promotional postcards, copies of my books to sell, stuff for the table Sunday… and I am so ready to start putting out more content here, on Patron, the new newsletter, and make it valuable to people who want to follow my and Tragic Sans’ progress! So much wonderful work to do ahead!


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Fading Suns fanfic – Another Day in the Life

Here’s a little story I wrote as Fading Suns fanfiction. Thought I’d put it up for a bit, check out any comments, before I ebook it and put it up (for free) on Smashwords and the Writing page of this site.

Side note: Fading Suns just just moved publishing from FASA to a favorite game publisher of mine, Ulisses Spiele! I am very excited by this news! It will be the best thing to happen to Fading Suns since… not the move to FASA, uhm… certainly not the addition of d20 rules! Well, since the 2nd edition came out, I would guess.

Anyway, fanfic — what do you think? (Here’s a PDF, or click more/scroll down for the story…)

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Moleskine, the perfect pen, and other hipster issues

moleskine1I must have deliberated over what Moleskine I wanted to get yesterday more than anything in my life! I stood in Powell’s Bookstore for 30 minutes picking them up, putting them back, placing them next to each other, comparing line widths, making them kiss, checking features, until finally I decided on one that I thought I’d actually use. I’d then browsed Web pages for lists of ways in which people use Moleskines (is it really pronounced /mole-SKEEN/ and not /mole-SKIN/? That feels as pretentious as pronouncing it /nee-an-dur-TAL/), because I was already doubting if I’d ever want to actually use the thing more than my phone, which I am never without.

Interestingly (not really), just the day before, someone reminded me of Google Keep as a note taking tool. I’d checked it out and saw I’d already used it a couple of years ago, once, putting in it a solitary gumbo recipe. I told myself I use Evernote!

So, I looked t my Evernote account. Sure, maybe a dozen notes . . . over a period of nearly 10 years.

Funny thing is (not really), I am all the time wanting to take a note down and looking at my phone ineffectually, willing it to read my mind and figure out how to store the bit of info, the reminder, address, gift idea, website, whatever that is hanging tenuously to the front of my mind. I’ll generally not think of what I want to do to take said note, lie to myself and say ah, I’ll remember it! And then one shiny object later, I’d forgotten I’d even had something I wanted to save much less what it was. And no improvement made in my note taking ability.

So yesterday, I made the effort to learn how to use Google Keep effectively (why Keep over Evernote? Well, Evernote charges for decent features, and since I already use the Google empire for everything in my life from email to photo storage, I figured why not give a hacker one more part of my life should they get my Google password?), set up a widget on my phone for easy note taking, and even converted all my Evernote notes to Google docs to import into Keep.

So, once I was all set up and ready to use Keep for all my note taking needs, what did I do? I excitedly went out at bought the Moleskine, because I love the idea of sitting somewhere to write incoherent thoughts longhand.

I did find a cool Molehack (I just made that up) about segmenting your Moleskin into sections (like using labels in Keep) and using the back few pages as an index (like using Keep’s excellent search function — including text in images!)

The idea of having my Keep available all the time, and highly searchable, is paramount to my needs. But I still can’t shake the desire I have had all my life to write notes, write thoughts, story ideas, snippets, character and dialog ideas, the price of a USB drive, in a notebook I can date and file away.

Obviously I needed a new pen.

A few years now my mostest favoritest pen has been the Pentel EnerGel 0.7mm pen. I will go out of my way to find them. I have had to order them online before. I love those pens! But, it seemed like it might not cut it for being the best pen for a Moleskine, which seem to be kind of finicky. To the Googles!

Found a website where someone reviews a bootyton of pens specifically for Moleskine use! Gawd love obsessive-compulsive people. My EnerGel was in the list, ranked not bad. But I wanted better! I searched and found their highly suggested Uni-Ball Signo Micro 207. Turns out, love it! I just finished numbering every 190 pages of the Moleskiene.

Oh, that little tab out the side of the notebook in my pic? That’s an adhesive pen holder attachment. What?! Yes!

Does it matter to me that most of the sites I found advocating for and providing hacks for Moleskine use were from before smartphones became ubiquitous pocket computers? No, why, should it?


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Why you should research a bit before you write

(photo is Aaron Siskind's)

(photo is Aaron Siskind’s)

So during my writing retreat yesterday, I wrote a chapter involving a character in an escape pod that’s tumbling through space. A not bad chapter for a first draft, I think.

But I used my uneducated assumptions about what the occupant would or wouldn’t feel, perceive, of a tumbling craft in space, to create some tension and drama, and drive the plot forward. What I thought I knew, I made important to the action and actions further in the book. I did this without researching first the reality of the situation — and I was wrong.

Why did I do this? Usually I research things before I write about them, at least a little bit. Well, I did promise myself yesterday that I would just get words on the page and not worry about anything else, I would keep myself offline and away from distractions. Which, in that sense, worked. I got a lot of writing done.

But now, having researched today (I’ll share the Reddit post I made on my Patreon feed, and the chapter draft itself to patrons at that level), I realize I absolutely can’t have it work that way and will need to rewrite the chapter and plan different later events.

Part of me wonders, can’t I just fudge it? I mean, I’m not writing hard SF, it’s an adventure story. I’m already doing impossible things regarding faster-than-light travel (of course, that’s a necessity in any SF story that’s going to take place beyond our solar system), how dark mater works (probably), space-time, relativity. . . . But, the thing is, a lot of that is mostly theoretical fields and the fudging has been necessary to even have a space adventure story at all! Otherwise, I’ve been pretty good at keeping with the integrity of classical physics: the danger of high-velocity objects in space, what exposure to space really does (or doesn’t do actually) on a person, etc. Whether or not a person inside a tumbling pod in space tumbles with and how, on the inside of it, falls right smack in the middle of basic classical physics. Like, junior high centrifugal and centripetal force, basic.

Well, I guess I have no choice. I have to be logically consistent, and definitely don’t want to be scoffed at by readers who paid attention in school, or have essentially ever ridden in a car. I better get creative. . . . (Gasp! The tragedy!)


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