This could be fun. Ficlets is a site where you post a short-short and then others can create sequels or prequels to your work. It’s a nice little exercise in brevity.
I posted a short a few moments ago.
I’m coming up for air just long enough to share this interesting NYTimes article about how the brain may be more maleable than previously tought. It discusses a field of research known as neuroplasticity (which is a new favorite word) and it’s really pretty remarkable.
While I’m on the subject of trackbacks, I thought I’d share one: Wil Wheaton’s kid has some chops. It’s a cute story, and the joke is divine.
This website is built with a “trackback” feature. To be honest, it’s been explained to me no fewer than three times by my webmaster and I still don’t get what a trackback is. Some sort of “instant link exchange.” Whatever. I’ve yet to get a trackback that isn’t some form of spam, except for once, and that was when I trackbacked myself. I’ve got the trackback option set so that I must approve all trackbacks, so it doesn’t really cause any problems. Usually I just junk them in large batches. As I was about to do so this morning I scanned the trackback messages and sender names, just to be sure that no genuine trackbacks were getting lost in the process. I found a odd sort of beauty. A trackback poetry, if you will.
So, I thought I’d share with you what I found.
“Crazy Frog Ringtone”
Hydrocodone. Hydrocodone bitartrate. Worried sick about unborn baby due to hydrocodone.
These are banners of mortal manufacture.
During the whole party, and if possible to conceive of any fortunate event that might have puzzled even an Indian virtue; and, as usual, but I’ve brought the canoe in the field.
The air, and the hut, or bound in any way except in friendship and sarvices.
I wanted to marry me in a high mountain road one evening, he remarked to Schryhart, however–Lake Geneva–and we would be an explosion in his accounts, hundreds of miles from north to south in a cell, he sighed.
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The day the thinking factory imploded everyone for miles knew there was a problem. The sound of the walls crumbling in upon themselves was heard for miles, or perhaps it wasn’t. Who’s to say except those who heard, and they may not be talking. Nevertheless, the destruction of the factory brought ruin to the town which had previously only conceived of ruin as the opposite of un-ruin. Now they knew different.
The philosophers, now without a place to work, wandered the streets. Their beards held bits of debris: pencils, unfinished logic puzzles, errant thoughts. A sapling tree lay on the ground near the site where the factory had stood, unable now to ever fall in an empty woods. Bits of Socratic dialogue echoed off the neighboring warehouses. Inside, behind their large windows, lay the last boxes of forms and principles that the factory had produced.
Where once the assembly line had kept each school of thought in its place, now all wandered across each other’s paths. Philosophers with nothing in common met, reached out for help from each other, but found nothing which they could recognize. Aristotelians angered the Platonics. Heideggarians refused to acknowledge the Neitzcheans. The tautologists struggled to agree with anyone but themselves. From out of nowhere a Freudian wandered by, calling for his mother.
Conversations broke down in games of oneupsmanship, useless attepts to out philosophize the other.
“What are we going to do?” Asked one.
“What are we going to?” Responded the other.
“What are we?”
“Go to hell.”
One of the materialists waved to the others and said, “I have an idea.” An idealist punched him, hard, in the teeth.
“This is no time for sarcasm,” he thought.
Each of them gathered a brick and held it close to his chest, pushing it, as if trying to bring it close to his heart. As if replacing his heart. They moved among each other, looking down at their bricks, each unwilling to acknowledge the others, each speaking quietly to their bricks, certain that if they spoke low enough, quietly enough, the pieces of the building might hear and understand, and spread the word to the other pieces, and rebuild into something better than before.
* Inspired by Trevor Record’s revelation that he is studying philosphy, as I once did. God help him.
Ben Dooley at The Millions has a response to the recent New York Times article which lays out the crapshoot that is modern publishing (i.e. the publishers put their money down, then hope for the best). Ben’s approach to the whole “revelation” seems to mirror my own and that of most writer/bloggers who have commented on it: “Oh, yeah… that.” But, Ben also crosses this article with a review of the Macmillan New Writing imprint, which has had some controversy. It doesn’t pay advances, takes all subsidiary rights, and gets first look at second books, but it is (arguably) bringing new writers, who would otherwise be ignored, into print.
This could be a new model of publishing mid-list authors. The problem with the midlisters (from the big house’s point of view) is that the cost of printing their works is outweighed by the small profit made on the small number of books sold. If there is a chance of not paying advances and having the only cost be printing itself, which in a day of POD should be very, very low, then might more publishers take a chance on that odd little title they would otherwise pass on?
As Ben says:
If advances are the big gambles everyone says they are, then they only serve to make publishers risk averse. … By not giving writers advances, New Writing has found a way around this problem, allowing them to take a chance on a book, while reducing the considerable overhead attached. This system should be a boon for mid-list writers who, it’s often said, are not nurtured by publishing houses in the way they once were. Sure, you’ll hear writers grousing about being unable to make a living from their work, but, with the exception of the biggest literary stars, isn’t that’s how it’s always been? For my part, I’d much rather have my books in print, giving my readership a chance to grow with me. After all, readers will seek out a good writer’s backlist, and every book that sees print should increase royalties from previous efforts.
I think he may be right.
I saw a woman on the train yesterday reading an ARC and loved the cover. What kind of freaked me out as I looked at it was that I knew it was an ARC. “How,” I thought, “do I know that is an ARC?” I checked out the title and the author’s name. Something about “Jeff Somers” rang a bell, so I did a bit of digging. Turns out he and I have the same agent. I haven’t met him, read him, or thrown any eggs at him, but now I want to do two out of those three.
People should check out Jeff Somers. His book is coming out in the fall: “The Electric Church.” It sounds like Philip K Dick crossed with HP Lovecraft telling a Raymond Chandler story. Cool stuff. And, his blog is funny, his take on the publishing industry is as fearful and superstitious as mine, and he’s got a pretty cool site dedicated to the book too.
The NYTimes has this excellent article about the publishing industry and it’s lack of research on its consumers. Basically, they buy books with their fingers crossed and hope it will sell.
Lee Carlon has tagged me. It is another opportunity to share information about myself, and force others to share it with me. It’s also another opportunity to pass along links to some of my favorite sites and get people to pay attention to what I pay attention to. That being said (I’m tired, please forgive me) the “Meme of 8” goes as follows:
1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their 8 things and post these rules.
3. At the end choose 8 people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and to read your blog.
So, here is where we start with my 8 random facts/habits:
1. At one time I was studying to become a comic book artist.
2. Kirk’s eulogy for Mr. Spock at the end of STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan always (always, dammit) makes me weepy.
3. I have a dog who is known as Yogi, Big Fatty, Fatty, The Poopie Says, and The Original Fat-boy.
4. I have developed a sense of divinity that I felt was impossible as a child/teenager. I used to sit in church when I was a kid and think, “I believe in something, but I don’t think it’s this…” without being able to say what it was I did believe in. Because church does such a good job of making a “my way or the highway” message clear I thought I had to choose either one way or the other: belief, no belief. Now, as an adult, I realize that I believe very, very strongly in something more powerful than me. I still don’t know what it is, but I’m okay with that.
5. I believe that most people should, as general way of being, simply sit down and shut up. It would solve so many problems.
6. Advertising is evil. Always. Unless it’s funny.
7. I feel bad for children, because I know they’ll have to grow up.
8. Daffy Duck is underrated.
So now I get to tag these people: Matthew, Jaye, Jason, Scott, Anne, Trevor, Christopher, and Kurt (because I’ve been thinking about him so much as I’ve worked on my current book).
I don’t believe they’ll all respond to this, some for very obvious reasons.
Not much time to post today, but I thought I’d share a NYTimes article I was captivated by. I’m fascinated by the Incan bridgebuilding technique. I almost wish we built things like this now. I can imagine New York City’s highrises strung together by delicate lines of bridges, like spider webs covering the city. People able to walk in a straight line from the 30th floor of the Empire State Building to the 20th of the Chrysler would stop grumbling about crowds and street traffic and would instead would swoon at the vision of the city from above, as they swayed peacefully, clinging for dear life to a series of small fibers that barely hold themselves together.
It would be marvelous.