I’m going to vote this morning (early voting, in both senses of the term), but first I’m signing up for NaNoWriMo. I pulled some oracle cards on this to help me narrow down what would be the best project for me to work on, and here’s what I came up with:

Who can be my guide on deciding what to work on:

The Bodacious Bodach
Alright, this guy is all about cleaning up loose ends before some mischievous helper comes along and decides to ‘help’ cleaning them up for you in… interesting ways. That’s a good reminder, since all my projects are loose ends right now except for And The. So, I should spend some of my writing time this month finishing and polishing the following stories:

The Preserved Head of Jeremy Bentham – Needs to be polished
Sam’s Tale – Needs to be finished
And All the Rest of Their Lives – Needs to be finished
First Contact – Needs to be finished
The Possibility of Ways – Needs to be finished
The Devil’s Due – Needs to be finished

Of these, Bentham and Sam are the two that directly need working on, and chapters of Possibility and Devil are good ‘churning out’ practice. This could act as a good writing warm up for me. I didn’t feel like this one really answered the question of what I should work on for NaNoWriMo, so I moved along.

Who can be my guide on deciding what to work on for NaNoWriMo for the month of November (with faeries, specificity is sometimes key. Their minds, they do go a-wandering…):

The Master Maker
This guy is about designing to the best of your ability, and then surpassing yourself in execution. He’s about creating masterworks, paying attention to every detail of your craft, becoming a master. He’s a magician, but a magician fully grounded in the craft of magic.

To me, that screams Teleidoplex, and therefore the City of Light and Shadow. As much as I like some of the other projects I’m working on (including The Adventures of Mr. Mystic and the Dragons of Heaven), they don’t have the depth, weight, or gravitas of the Teleidoplex. That set of novels is my first masterwork. The other stuff is just noodling around. I love it, and I think I will return to it and may even try to publish it, but it’s not the stuff I want on the shelves of a bookstore with my name on it. So, I need to stop noodling, stop worrying, and start crafting, Master Maker-style. Plus, I’ve only done planning on CoLaS stuff, rather than much actual writing, so it is much more in the spirit of NaNoWriMo to work on CoLaS.

The question is: how?

Who can be my guide to writing consistently during this time?:

Unity
This is a hard one for me when it comes to writing. Unity is about remembering our spiritual oneness with all creation. It’s also about reaching out, helping yourself through connecting with others. It’s about community (communication with unity?) and collaboration (no funny plays on words for that one).

I suck at this. I don’t often seek support from my fellow writers. I don’t blog about it, I rarely talk about it, and at best I was sporadic in attending the one writing group I’ve ever been involved in (despite the fact that they were the best writing group ever). I hate being cliché, but writing is a very solitary activity for me, and I’ve never found useful the things that other writers find useful. I can’t listen to music when I write (although I do use iPod magic to get me in the mood for writing). Posting quotas and other progress meters on sites like NaNoWriMo or Novel_in_90 annoys me, as do a lot of the other motivational tips I’ve found when I’ve gone out looking for motivational tips.

But this isn’t necessarily a good thing. I do recognize in the abstract why community is good and useful in any endeavor, and how it can be useful to me for writing in particular. My fear stems from a lack of ease with using such tools: I don’t know how to use it well, so why bother?

Well, that’s a silly excuse, and not at all in keeping with the whole Master Maker thing.

So, one of my writing goals this month is to try to utilize the various community tools at my disposal. I’m going to get comfortable with them and see which ones actually work for me, and which ones I can drop not out of fear, but out of a recognition that they don’t fit with my working style.

Of course, all this may be moot if Obama loses on the 4th, and I go spiraling into a pit of despair worse than anything since… I can’t even recall when (not even 9/11 will have been as bad).

Please, let my birthday curse not go into effect. Please!

Right. Off to vote. One small step for Alyc, one giant leap for Alyc-kind.

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9 thoughts on “

  1. I’m in awe of your brilliance.

    Where were the cool-ass teachers like you when I was in school? Hell.. I might’ve even stuck around long enough to get a degree. 🙂

    You’re amazing.

  2. Fascinating stuff. I myself am grappling with ways to productively relate world-building to anthropology — I feel like there’s something there for me to say, but I’m not yet sure what it is.

    • I think there’s a lot of association between some older theories of ethnography and folklore collection (late 19th/early 20th century), and world-building. The things that anthropologists “collected” in order to get a holistic picture of a bounded culture are similar to what gets focused on in world-building (religion, music, costume, dance, folklore & myth, social structure, marriage rites, roles of women within a male dominated society and the inescapable assertion that gender is one of the primary determinations for social difference). As a result, I think that there are similar problems for these two things, and that the contemporary critiques that are being levied against this type of ethnography could be levied against this type of world-building.

      • Two things come to mind for me when you say that. One is that worldbuilding (at least for me, and I think for a lot of other authors) may start with simple topics like that, but it quickly becomes slippery and hard to keep a grip on, and nice neat bounded units fall apart into much more interesting messes. So it may be a nice illustration of why and how that approach is inherently flawed.

        Second, I think the way I distinguish between worldbuilding that feels solid to me, and worldbuilding that feels shallow or stupid, is that the latter will grab random topics like you’ve just listed, and slap on things that look interesting as decoration. Good worldbuilding, by contrast, will start from basic principles (these people feel this way about the world), and will construct clothing and marriage and so on as expressions of those underlying feelings and patterns. The former approach deals with concepts that are easy to grasp, which is why poor worldbuilders and poor ethnographers will take it — it’s easy to make a laundry list of surface details like that. The latter approach, however, will describe/create the social reality in a much more meaningful and coherent way.

        BTW, you’ve gotten me motivated to type up my thoughts for what might become an ICFA paper, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for the last week or so.

  3. I walked in on the end of that conversation (I believe) but was a little distracted to comment.
    What is interesting is that what you had said has been knocking around in my head eversince.

    My thought is that a well designed syllabus and therefore a well designed class is like a good research paper. The syllabus acts as an outline and general thesis topic for the class/paper, while the actually teaching and participation with the class becomes the actual work/body of the paper/class.

    You are correct, when Professors have such a clear understanding of what they hope to impart and take from a class, the class is more interesting and it moves at a much faster pace. I think it also helps bring in from the cold those students who may have come into the class with less energy (ie those who take the class because they have to for some reason other than a driving interest)

    By the way, your class sounds interesting, I hope you get to teach it.

  4. Because I will be crazy with election elation and blues (Obama will probably win California and Prop.8 will most likely pass)

    I wanted to say to you now…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

    You are an Amazing, Lovely, Yankee*, Caring girl. You are Alyc!

    *hey, for Y it was the best I could do 🙂 And I set for this challenge to everyone, what wonderful word begins with Y and describes Alyc.

  5. I still want to have that phone call where you and I hash out some of the stuff we’re both working on, so I volunteer that flavor of community for you to give it a whirl.

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