Please Stop Telling Me How Great Defectors Are

Of all of the arguments one can make, the one I hate most is the Defector Argument.  You know the one: a famous general suddenly says, “Oh, Bush is wrong on Iraq!” when the rest have been firmly  in Bush’s camp the whole time.  Or a climatologist breaks with the other 99.9% of scientists who agree that global warming is a real thing to claim that no, this isn’t man-made, just a mini-ice age.  Or a billionaire who’s been for low taxes the whole time suddenly reverses course and admits that higher taxes on the rich are needed.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind the arguments on their own merits.  Or even if it’s about a single person, as in, “I’ve long respected Joe Schmoe despite his opposition to our cause, but  today he’s said something important.”  But the arguments are never about that.
The arguments are always about, “See?  A general/scientist/billionaire believes what we do!  Look at how much more important that makes it!”
Fuck off, jack.  You never cared about any of those generals, scientists, or billionaires until they started agreeing with what you wanted.  And now you’re trying to tell us that generals/scientists/billionaires are very knowledgeable and smart and hey you should listen, when the vast majority of them are still opposing you? If their opinion was of such great import, then why weren’t you shaken in your belief when nine-tenths of them looked at your ideas and went, “No, that’s crap.”
No.  You actually don’t care what these guys think.  What you’re doing is a sad, transparent ploy to convince other people who believe that these folks are important.  Broken down, the argument is really, “Hey, I’ve been thoroughly ignoring the reasoning power and wisdom of this group all along, telling people loudly they’re full of crap… but now that one of them has defected to my side, suddenly they’re filled with insight and beauty!  Maybe you, who are stupid enough to follow whatever herd animal walks by you, will be convinced by this!”
Seriously.  Fuck that.  If you’re just going to cherry-pick your sources, then I’m not interested.  Likewise, all of those breathless articles I see posted all the time about “I was a Republican, and then I saw the evil of their party, and now I’m a Democrat!”  Dudes, there are plenty of articles on Democrats who became Republicans, and I don’t see you citing them.
The truth is, all these folks were people who had opinions you were perfectly willing to dismiss until they agreed with you.  That doesn’t make you compelling, it just means you’ve found another preacher for your choir.

Who Wants To Go To World Fantasy? Who Wants To Go To The Clouds?

I have in my hands a ticket to the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto next weekend.  For $150, you get not only some of the best barconning in the world with your favorite authors, but they literally give you a bag full of books.  Good books.  Last year, I got the 10th anniversary hardback issue of American Gods, among many others.
They tell me it’s easy to sell off World Fantasy Memberships, and I’ve seen others do it, but damn if this thing ain’t sticking to me like napalm.  I’ll sell it for cost, if anyone wants to go.  Please email me at my usual digs at If I cannot sell it, I will be forced to conclude that I have cooties.
Speaking of cooties, my cootie-generating wife Gini will be out of the house tonight, and I would like to see Cloud Atlas with someone local.  If that someone local is you, please get in touch.  Otherwise, I will be forced to sit alone in a blackened room and reflect upon all my sins.  Which may be preferably to the Wachowski siblings’ latest experiment, but still.  I’d like to see.

More Useful Bullshit

I’m having a depressive incident today – not quite suicidal, but the serious mood dive where you stare at things and can’t concentrate for all the swarms of self-loathing flitting about.
I’m trying to think about Why This Is.  Is it because of my terror of starting a new novel, and potentially failing at it? Is it some unexpected fallout from the Jezebel post the other day?  Is it a slightly awkward conversation I had with an old friend/crush last night?
The thing is, if I find a reason, I’ll feel better.  “Oh, that’s it,” I’ll go, and having found the core of my anguish, I’ll manage to get on with my day.
Except I probably haven’t.  I think for many people – myself included – the process of self-analysis is actually making up reasonable-sounding explanations for this incoherent mass of emotions at the center.  You don’t really find the reason, because there often isn’t a single reason – no, it’s this intertwined mixture of chemicals and subconscious bits floating about in your brain, nothing tractable, a mess.
But you find a reason.  It jines up with the random signals bouncing around in your head, like a line drawn neatly through several points of static, and you decide that this is the Reason.
And you feel better.  Because even though it makes no legitimate sense, you’ve just Learned A Lesson and Made Sense Of The Universe and Had A Personal Breakthrough, and the triumph suffuses your system, and you feel more rational and focused.  And lo!  Things are solved, for a time.
Right now, I’m deciding that this is a bunch of blog-fear I’m working through, as I always feel terrified whenever something I have is about to go out to a wide audience, and this is the sort of, say, sub-drop that you feel after an intense scene.  That’s probably not it.  But as I decide that is the reason, I feel a shadow lifting, and I find myself a little happier, and more able to start buckling down and doing real work.
It’s bullshit.
Useful, useful bullshit.

Tell Me Something Good

So I had the kind of day where I lay in bed for an hour, afraid to get up and face the day.  Not that there’s anything particularly challenging about the day, but I’m in a bit of a blue spot lately, and it is a comfortable bed.
On a day like this, I need reinforcement, so I’m going to ask a question:
What is so wonderful in your life that you just need to tell somebody about it?
That somebody is me.  The world is full of wonders, and I’m not seeing enough of them.  Bring the happiness here and share it a little, if you please.

Why I'm Giving Up My Writing Career

After graduating Clarion, I wrote short stories for four years.  I did this because short stories were easier to write; I could take drastic differences in tone and approach, attacking a different problem with each story, and get it all done in 5,000 words.
I got published in a few venues, and then I got my first professional publication, which set me on my way.  What would happen next was predictable: I’d sell more short stories to a mix of markets, until eventually I got my third pro sale (which was my entry to the Science Fiction Writers of America), and I’d sell more stories until my name was out there.  Then maybe I’d get nominated for a major award.  Then I’d write a novel, and I’d get an agent to sell it, and that novel would get good reviews.  And I’d keep writing novels until I made a name for myself, and then I’d be a Real Writer….
Except that didn’t happen.  My finished novel is circulating among agents, and has gotten some interest, but has not been an automatic sale.  In the meantime, I started work on another Very Salable Novel, which imploded after six months of writes and rewrites, and I eventually determined that I couldn’t write it at all.
Now I’ve got a third novel I’m planning, and my so-called career is a weight around my ankles.
I’ve literally been unable to get out of bed in the morning, harried by thoughts that OMG I don’t want to start it, because what if I fail?  If I don’t get it published, then I’ve wasted time.  My career is supposed to move smoothly from “well thought-of short stories” to “starred review first novel,” and if that doesn’t happen then who am I?  I’m certainly not a Real Writer.  I’m just some fraud, throwing out words but not moving down the correct path.
Plus, as I’ve gotten desperate to push this stalled career along, I’ve started thinking in terms of commercialism.  “People like happy endings,” I think.  “Maybe I should write happy endings.  People liked Sauerkraut Station, what lessons can I learn from that?  Sauerkraut Station was a Little House on the Prairie riff, what else can I emulate?”
The problem?  Sauerkraut Station wasn’t a goddamned commercial fiction.  It was this unwieldy, horrible novella I was convinced I’d never sell, let alone get any acclaim for; I liked it, and for the longest time I was the only one who did.  My best stories, as always, are the ones I write for myself.
What I’ve come to realize is that my writing career needs to get fucked.  All it ever does is make me compare myself to other writers, wondering where I’m ahead or behind on the curve, bringing unwarranted feelings of envy for people who write delightful stuff.  All it ever does is make me feel like shit for not hitting arbitrary goals.  All it ever does it is make me feel as though there will be some point in my life when I’ll feel so confident about writing that I’ll know how to do things… and the truth is, writing’s complicated.  I’m going to be taking huge chances all the time.  If I ever did get to the point where I knew how to toss off a bestselling novel, I’d start experimenting on the side with the things I didn’t understand.
I am never going to feel comfortable with this.
So fuck my writing career.  I’m still going to write, of course.  I’ve got this novel I’m excited about right now.  But when I write it, I’m not going to think of the agent who’d want it, or whether it’ll fit in this market, or what will happen if I don’t get it published.  I’m just going to put the words on the fucking paper, and make it the kind of thing that is as good as I can get it, and everything else will happen in its time.
I called a mulligan on my writing career, once.  I’m doing it again.  From today forward, I have no plan aside from my fingers, on these keys.  Writing.
Maybe someone will even like it.