Indispensable Advice

So I got asked today about how-to-write books — specifically, I was asked to recommend a few. Given that this seems to be a topic that comes up now and then, I am going to recommend two-and-a-half of them (one is specific for F&SF writers).

The first is On Writing by Stephen King. This is the book that I re-read every so often. King puts together an autobiography and a lecture on craft into one easy-to-read manuscript. The thing is, most writers would put together an autobiography that would read as “if you didn’t grow up like I did, you’ll never amount to much.” King doesn’t do that. Instead, he draws on elements of his upbringing that illustrate how his life shaped him as a writer, and are easily identifiable as things that could have just as easily happened to you. The result is a frank, sometimes funny, sometimes sad book on not just craft, but what it really means to be a writer.

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Fanfic, the Creative Commons, and the SF Writer

So recently, sci-fi author Steven Brust released a Firefly fanfic novel as a free download. A friend who is making strides in the business of being a sci-fi writer, if I recall correctly, cut her teeth by writing fan fiction.

I’m reminded of John Scalzi and his adage about “paying work gets written first.” It’s a phrase that can easily be interpreted as “don’t write anything unless you’re going to submit it to a paying market first.”

Lately, I’ve been musing on the trend in sci-fi circles toward releasing one’s work under the Creative Commons license. And I’ve been musing on fanfic, because I’ve got an idea for a piece rolling around in my brain.

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Productivity

If there’s one thing that unemployment is really good for, it’s productivity. (I am, of course, ignoring the bad things it causes — like stress, the shutting down of one’s brain, money woes, an urge to drink heavily, and so on.) Since my lay-off from my previous employer nearly two months ago, I have spent a great deal of time actually getting back into my writing — both from an actual emotional investment in the process and the actual creation of work. Granted, there’s been a bit of a dent in my productivity since I brought the new TV home, but I anticipated that.

At first, I dreaded going back to work. Specifically, I dreaded the lost time.

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