On Writing and Speed

hulk computerWriting can be a struggle. I think we have to admit that. And I have to admit to myself that some things in this profession are beyond my control. It may be that I’ll never be quite as fast as I want to be, and it may be that I’ll always have to spend long days in rewrite, no matter how carefully I outline.

I have scads and scads of ideas and stories I’m excited about, but sometimes I worry that I’ll never get to them because it takes so long to get one right. And I keep thinking that with practice I’ll get faster so I can write more stories, but there’s a give and take with energy levels. I may want to write a short story in my spare time, but many evenings when I have “extra time” I don’t have much extra energy.

It seems like the writing is getting better — thank God for that — but I’m not sure that speed is improving so very much. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll keep trying on that score. But I’m starting to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t shift my desires towards goals that are more reasonable for me. If speed isn’t ever going to be the result, maybe the best thing is to take more time with the original draft so that less time is required during revision.

I’ll think it over, try some things out, and let you know how it goes.



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brackett2I rose bleary a little too early this morning and read the sad and somber story of “The Last Days of Shandakor” by the incomparable Leigh Brackett. Shortly Bill Ward and Fletcher Vrendenburgh and I will be discussing it on the site, so if you have a copy of the tale I hope you’ll join us. It’s found in several Brackett collections, among them the nearly perfect “best-of” paperback Sea-Kings of Mars and the absurdly affordable Martian Quest e-book.

I say nearly perfect because A.) It contains NEARLY all of my very favorite Brackett short stories. I’d take out one or two and replace them with others, but it’s a great one-stop if you’ve liked Brackett and want to get a better sense of her before plunging into buying the expensive Haffner Press hardbacks. I own them, but I might not have if I hadn’t been familiar with this volume already.

B.) The darned thing has irritating typographical errors, the kind that crop up when the original  manuscripts have been scanned and then not proofread carefully enough.

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Winter Gaming PLUS Brackett

hornet-leaderWith the cold snap in full swing I’ve been looking into my game closet at the increasingly large stack of games-to-be-played. It’s not nearly as high as my books-to-be-read pile, but it’s starting to get embarrassing. Some of these games are pricey and took a lot of effort to track down (they were out of print) or to get trade deals for. And yet many are unplayed or even in shrink wrap, on the off chance I decide I want to trade them away for something else.

I’d been thinking that my collection was starting to get out of hand, but after I poked around a bit I realized that I’ve got nothing on the real game aficionados. I have a few dozen — some friends, acquaintances, and like-minded folks have HUNDREDS. But then maybe they collect those rather than cats or porcelain figurines, and maybe they don’t have other hobbies.

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Flakes with Special Syndrome

hulk thinkPardon me while I slip on my ranting hat. This may start like it’s going to be a post just for gamers, but it really isn’t. Bear with me.

I’m putting finishing touches on a review of a new Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons product titled Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I happen to think it’s pretty swell, but I thought it would be a good idea to see what other reviewers have written about the text, to make sure there’s not some glaring problem I missed.

It turns out that no, there isn’t, unless I’m a special snowflake. Hence the ranting hat. While there were a number of intelligent, rational reviews that seemed to have found what I did, there were also several that called it out for perceived weaknesses — i.e. the book didn’t address their special field of interest. While the monster guide has a big selection of new player classes, someone faulted it because it didn’t have another, different kind.  While it had hundreds of monsters, someone else faulted it because it didn’t have a certain KIND of monster.

I’m reminded of those Conan fans who complained so mightily about the art in the Roy Thomas run on the new Dark Horse comics that they didn’t happen to notice how good the STORY was — how clever Conan was and how much he was acting, you know, like Conan would in a Robert E. Howard story. Read More


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