I have spent the last 42 days splitting my time between my second-storey apartment and a hidden complex of glass-walled rooms we call the lab. I could go into great detail about the lab, how all the walls on the inner rooms are made of glass from waist-high to the ceiling, and how if you are standing in D Room and look back toward the elevator it sort of feels like you're in a carnival fun house. Someone could easily just stand still in the hallway between the elevator and the D Room, and you probably wouldn't see them because of all the weird, eerie reflections and glares. I could go on at length about the creepy machinery here in the D Room, the circulator and the penning trap, or the centrifuge… Or how about the awkward and cumbersome helmet that hangs in the corner on a shiny steel post,…
I was talking to a friend the other day about what it's like to create. This friend has recently been welcomed into the small and selective group of friends I call my Ideal Readers Group, named after Stephen King's suggestion in On Writing. I know I've spoken about that book before on this site. Anyway, this group helps me attain clarity in my books, after I've written them, but before the first real edit. During my time of shelving the project and letting it simmer, they go through it with a fine-tooth comb and make notes of anything they find that doesn't fit. Continuity errors, misspellings, bad grammar, plot holes, the usual stuff. So we were talking about how I write. Or what it's like to write. To create. The magic feeling of seeing things appear on the screen as my fingers are pounding clumsily on the keyboard - things…
I am not an old man. I still consider myself a young man. I don't feel young in my bones, in the mornings, when I wake up and creak out of bed. But I feel young in the mind. In the spirit. I do young things. And I grant there might be some merit to the argument that cause becomes effect. Maybe doing young things makes one feel young. Maybe it's the other way around. All I know is that I didn't take the adult pill when I was twenty-three, driving off the Air Force Base with all my personal belongings stuffed in the trunk and backseat of my Cavalier. I grew up, sure. And now I had a job as a Software Engineer at a corporate web-hosting company. That's not a child's job. And I didn't make a child's wage. But in my head, I just chose to take…
I’m not very big into antiques. In fact, I think I don’t much care for them at all. I’ve stopped at antique stores before, and browsed through the old roll-top desks and the antique china cabinets. I’ve seen the old grandfather clocks and the coffee tables that were built back in the early nineteenth century. And I do a whole lot of yawning, but not much else. That stuff just doesn’t do it for me. But I got a phone call yesterday that changed everything.
Well, not everything. That’s just a cool way to close the opening paragraph of a column. It changed something though. My grandmother called, you see. And she’s the last living grandparent I have. She happens to be my dad’s mother. Happens to be. I mean, I guess she happened to be the one to marry my dad’s dad and thus, happened to end up becoming my dad’s mother. Funny how that happens. She actually didn’t even call me. She called my dad. And she had something she wanted to pass down.
If you read this site and you’re here right now, this message is for you. I write some books sometimes. I write real good, to. And people are starting to take notice. No seriously though. My buddy Spencer is the director of the public library where I live. And he thinks I write good to. So the library is going to host a Meet the Author night at the library, and I’m the author you get to meet! I know, I know, most of you have already met me. But it would still be fun for you to show up and pretend we haven’t met. You could walk up and shake my hand and act all star-struck and whatnot, and I could introduce myself, and people who don’t know you will think I have a ton of followers who have never met me. Followers who read authors who write real good.
Exciting times though, these are. Spencer will be ordering a large stack of each of my three novels to give away at the signing. Apparently the night will start with my lecturing for a bit about the perils of living in 3D, followed by some advice on being a writer in this here Metropolis and not in LA or New York. You don’t have to live there to write, you see. Following that will be a question answering session. I will be asking the audience a series of questions and seeing how good their answers are, in other words. At least this is my perception of the definition. And then I’ll sign some books. And that will pretty much be it. Well, aside from the after party at the Broken Anchor Pirate’s Pub.
In the age of self-publishing, and the ease with which anyone can be a writer and publish his/her own work on Amazon and the like, we find ourselves both blessed and cursed. On one hand, it’s great because anyone who’s ever wanted to write can do so. And be heard. On the other, there is no QA for the work.
Listen, I’m not trying to criticize any particular writer here. I’m sure we all have fine stories. And I applaud everyone who self-publishes for seeing it through, for writing terrible drafts and making them better until they finally have a product they feel is ready for readers! That’s the process we all take as writers. My first manuscripts were pretty horrific. But that was because I didn’t know much about storytelling. The grammar, on the other hand, has to be there.
Fourteen years, guys. FOURTEEN EFFING YEARS this site has been up and running. And that doesn’t include the slash tilde days before I even had a domain name. You know how long that is? That’s long enough to have a child, watch it grow up through the diaper and talking-back phase and hit puberty. That’s long enough to own a dog, watch it grow old and have to put it down. That’s long enough to own several cars. In short, that’s a long ass time.
Maybe you would think that should mean I have a thousand columns on here. Well keep in mind, that during the early days of the site I had up to six writers at a time (including myself) sending in columns for their publication. So I didn’t write every day. But if you count all those columns other writers wrote, and all the columns I trimmed off as being no longer relevant, plus all the four hundred fifty something I have currently, yeah, you get real close to a thousand columns.
What I didn’t consider when I wrote volume two was that it was Memorial Day. I mean, of course I knew it was Memorial Day. But I hadn’t considered that the breweries would be closed. So in short, what this meant was that we could take our time getting to Portland. There was no need to rush to make sure we had plenty of daylight left to hit as many brewhouses as we could. And you know, that worked out after all, because we were able to have a nice leisurely drive back. What should have taken three hours took almost six. And it was completely cool.
Cadillac Mountain was very nice. Gorgeous views. It was a little cold up there, but we had a great experience. Then we sat at Jordan Pond and had a brunch of popovers and lobster rolls with coffee. One of the most excellent brunch experiences of my life, right there. Completely worth the drive, friends. The wind was cool and fresh off the lake, as we sat outside at a picnic table staring out over the water while we ate. So beautiful.
These popovers are apparently the latest craze up there. The bake a muffin until it gets huge and just sort of explodes. So it’s a gigantic muffin that’s hollow on the inside. You put butter and jam on it, and – well, let me back up. You know those spherical scoops of butter they give you in breakfast diners? Yeah, I took that whole thing, sliced a hole in the pop and stuffed the entire butter sphere in it. Then poured the entire cup of jam inside, and sort of mashed it all around. Dear sweet WOW.
Minnesota Chronicles, Vol. 3
No seriously. It has been made clear to me that alls I have to do is leave my towels on the rack instead of the floor, and it will save the planet. Well, friends, I am happy to announce: the planet is SAVED. You can thank me later.
I’ve done many things for you guys over the years, but none of them probably had the impact that this one single event did. I’m just wondering though… instead of printing up this cute little sign and going through all that trouble, couldn’t the person who placed the sign just left the towels on the rack? He could have saved the planet back when he hung the sign. Oh well, it’s really no sweat to me, and I’m happy (and honored) to have gotten the opportunity to perform such a magnanimous, philanthropic detail.
by Jack McDevitt
as posted on Goodreads
This book was like a “wave” at a football game. You know the one where people stand up in turn waving their arms around and it gives the effect that the stadium is an ocean? Yeah. That. Let me explain the analogy.
Well you probably got that it was up and down with the suspense, drama and general kickassery of the story. It was indeed. The gait would pick up and get me real interested, then it would slow back down and even bog down with unnecessary character introductions and irrelevant loose ends. But it also reminded me of a stadium wave because of how imperfect the wave part of the wave actually was.