Thursday, July 23, 2015


I will be at Diversacon this weekend. It's a small local science fiction convention, which is attended by a lot of my friends. I'm going to be on four panels, at the following times:


Noon: Leigh Brackett

4 pm: Writing Routines


11 am: Folk Tales and Fairy Tales

4 pm: Marvel Movies

Two more


My friend Sean Murphy took some author photos of me. I hate, hate, hate being photographed. But Sean got me talking about -- among other things -- otcopuses and great white sharks and kept shooting and got some good results. Usually, I look grim and tense when I'm photographed.

I think this is my favorite, though it isn't a head shot, which is what's need for an author photo.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Other Thoughts on Psychological Survival

The advantage of writing a detailed synopsis -- or merely plotting ahead -- is, if you know where the story is going, you can force yourself to keep writing, even when you don't feel like it. If you don't know where the story is going, it can be difficult to write through resistance.

I don't believe in writer's block, because I feel you are giving power to the problem by giving it this name. In my experience, it's possible to keeping writing, even if you don't want to. (This is a personal response. If someone else feels writer's block is a real thing, I can only defer to her knowledge of herself.) Plotting ahead makes it far easier to keep working, and writers usually feel better when they are writing. So one key element of psychological survival is to keep writing.

The one thing a writer can control is writing. So this is the thing to focus on. Several people on the panel said promotion and marketing are a waste of time. I know it's common wisdom these days that writers need to self-promote. I'm not good at it and don't like it. I keep this blog, so that people can find me on the Internet. I could do the same with an up-to-date website, but I haven't done that yet.

I do facebook because I enjoy it. I like cat photos. I like the latest stories from NASA. I like kidding around. I do some pushing of my work, but mostly I hang out and chat. My sense is, the contacts made through facebook are somewhat useful. But I do it because I enjoy it. Facebook is also can be a huge waste of time. So if you do it, pay attention to the time.

For me, community is important, which is a reason for facebook -- and going to cons -- and belonging to two writing groups. I like knowing other writers and editors and critics and readers. I get help information and emotional support, and I find SFF people fun and interesting.

There are two parts of psychological survival. One is do the best job you can as a writer. The other is dealing with the emotional effects of setbacks. That's where you get to ordinary self-care. Eat well. Exercise. Seek help if you are feeling really down. There is some evidence that writers and artists are more subject to mood disorders than (say) scientists. The studies are too small to be anything except suggestive. However writing can be a very up and down life. The highs are fantastic. The lows can be severe. It makes sense that writers might be moody.

I guess that's the only advice I have: write and take care of yourself -- and realize that the writing life can be difficult.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Pscychological Survival for SF Writers

Someone on facebook asked what the panel was like, and I wrote the following.

(The panelists were me, Kelly McCullough, Joan Marie Verba, Adam Stemple and Wesley Chu. Chu's career seemed to be taking off well, but the rest of us have all had setbacks, not career stoppers, but enough so we have thought about psychological survival.)
(The panel) turned into a combination of self care tips, such as get exercise, don't rely on alcohol, see a doc if you are depressed, and writing tips. What do you do when you seem blocked on a story? Wesley Chu impressed me. He is apparently a very disciplined writer, who outlines his novels in detail. When he isn't able to write, he revises the novel synopsis or works on background.

Someone -- Adam or Wesley -- talked about focusing on the things you have control of, and don't make yourself crazy by worrying about the parts of getting published that you can't control.

Writing groups are good. Day jobs can be great, since they take off the pressure to make money. Adam is working in a warehouse and loves it. He gets paid to do physical exercise 40 hours a week.
I will add more later.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

CONvergence Con Report

July 2:

Brian Thao Worra is doing a poetry reading tomorrow on the theme of giant lizards. He felt he was short of poems, so I wrote one, beginning it in the hotel lobby while watching at car ad that featured a happy, white, middle class family going to the beach. So the poem is about a happy family at the beach and giant lizards.

This is not going to end well for the family.

July 3:

I spent much of the evening at CONvergence. 6,000+ people is too many people. Every communal space was way too loud, full of excited young people. Some of the costumes were fantastic. Many were okay. The giant lizard poetry reading went very well. I then listened to a panel on made-up languages. Ruth Berman was on the panel and enjoyed it. I was not crazy about it, but maybe I was tired and ready to go home. So that's my con report.

My giant lizard poem went over well. People laughed at all the right places.

July 4:

As I went to sleep last night, I thought about what I'm going to wear today. I am still considering, though it doesn't matter. The only way to stand out at CONvergence is to be covered with flashing lights. The range of hair colors is amazing. No one can notice my stylish blue. There are ladies in corsets that push their breasts up under their chins. There are young women covered with jingling metal. There is purple hair, red hair hair, blue hair, pink hair. There are high heeled boots to die for. I would die in them, crashing down like a felled tree. So I will wear my modest New Balances and a nice outfit that no one will notice, except me.

Anyway, one more day at the con. I plan to clean house on Sunday, rather than going back. The commute across the Metro Area is too long. My panels today are Psychological Survival for Writers and Georgette Heyer. These are two separate panels, though Heyer is one way of coping with setbacks in one's writing career. Both panels are full. I think I will try to lean back and let other people hold forth.

In spite of my reluctance at the start of cons, I really enjoy them. I can feel myself coming out of my post-Wiscon funk, which lasted a long time this year. CONvergence is the perfect way to recover from Wiscon: a hotel jam-packed with costumers, oohing and aahing each other. And in among the costumers, friends...