A Goal in Mind

Every so often, something catches me off guard and I realize I may have presented a wrong or at least incomplete impression. One dimensional, really.

I rave about how much I lovelovelove lime sherbet–my very favorite!!!–so frequently that folks get the impression I don’t like blueberry frozen yogurt or chocolate/strawberry/vanilla ice cream. Or black walnut. Or pineapple sorbet.

But this isn’t about desserts.

I occasionally give myself a repeat of an old college assignment: list the titles of every book I remember reading cover-to-cover. No cheating by looking at my bookshelves or wandering through the library. The original assignment had a time limit of about a month, but with this most recent repeat, I gave myself a longer period.

I haven’t utilized Goodreads much, but as I look over the massive list that’s grown over the last several months, I think it’s time to organize this list both at Goodreads and here.  Here will be both reviews of books I like for whatever reasons as well list groupings of titles.
(BTW, I don’t take requests for reviews. The ones I post are because I want to, not because someone asked me to do so.)

Anyway, I just think it’s time to share that I like more than just “lime sherbet” in what I read.
And write.

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Cavalry in a Box

The thrill never grows old, and lessons never end. Some lessons are more memorable than others. This was one of ’em.

A short story accepted for publication. As I expect, the editor asks for a few reasonable changes, but one…I have no clue what she’s talking about.

“First page is too rainbowized.”

The story is science-fantasy and is not an LGBT tale. I’ve made no mention of Noah’s Ark. No leprechauns gambol around pots o’ gold at the rainbow’s end.

I read the first page. Then again. I look at her comment, re-read what I wrote, and I’m just as mystified as before. I fire off an email. “What do you mean by rainbowized?”

This is a teaching editor with saintly patience. She wants writers to learn for themselves how to write better, to figure out what to do with minimal guidance. She replies with a hint. “Too many colors in your first few paragraphs.”

My cybernetic navigator watches a blue-green planet growing larger on his monitor, and he reads a green line of data. That’s two colors, but no more show up until later in the story. I check to make sure the original attachment on my submission email is the same version I’m trying to fix rather than some early draft. It’s the same.

Where’s my literary cavalry when I need ‘em?

I invent a number of complex and pleasing finger-drumming rhythms while I stare at the computer. I’m no closer to figuring out what needs correction but infinitely closer to feeling thick-headed. If I calculated my density with ρ (kg/m3), it would prove comparable to a 1×10 to the 18th power stellar-mass black hole.

My next email: “I’m so sorry, but I still don’t understand.”

The first page comes back with three highlighted paragraphs. The dogs scatter from my primal scream. The cat stalks off to a less disturbing part of the house. Outside, tornadic wingbeats erupt as a thousand starlings launch off the roof.

Deep breath. I’m trying too hard. Time to step away, do something else.

I dig out art supplies for an illustration–a marionette troubadour–using watercolors with crayon resist. I sort through my crayons for the ones to color his bells and lute gears. My hand hovers over gold and silver crayons.

The cliché lightbulb over the head doesn’t flash. Instead, the top of my skull gapes open to the explosion of a nova.

Among many jobs, I spent several years as a machinist and several more in electronics assembly and inspection. Practical knowledge served well as I created details of my cybernetic characters and the ships they navigate. Gold, silver, copper, bronze, pewter, platinum–these are metals to machine, cast, solder, braze, inspect. Powdered sapphire is a component of certain types of ceramic substrates in electronics. Ruby, sapphire’s gemstone cousin, appears as tiny mechanical bearings, abrasives, laser components. Garnet, too, is used for abrasives as well as for water filtration fillers.

Returning to my story and highlighted paragraphs, I get it. Yes, there’s the sapphire console made of gemstone and ceramic, but anyone reading will simply envision dark blue. The ruby laser refers to the stone used for the light-stimulating rod in its guts, not the color of light it produces or a red hue of the unit’s paint. Gold, silver, and copper are metals of the pads and traces on the characters’ hands, but how many readers possess knowledge of conductive materials? They’ll see descriptive colors. I de-rainbowize my story’s first page.

My laughter’s a little hysterical, but I do laugh at myself. Specialized knowledge displaced more common meanings. Life experience bit me in the literary butt.

A box of crayons to the rescue.  My cavalry arrived.

Shouting into the Wind

The dichotomy we so often feel about our blogs, our writing, our place in the world.

Through Alien Eyes

Sometimes writing a blog feels like shouting into the wind—tossing words out into emptiness without listeners. But I knew when I started this blog it was apt to be like that. As an introvert, I’m less likely to engage with large numbers of people, and with my busy school schedule, I have little time and energy left over on the weekend to keep up with the massive chat campaign necessary for successful blogging.

So why do it? Why blog and throw out my opinions and ideas on a vacuous sea of cyberspace?

The challenge. Writing a blog challenges me as a writer and as a person. It takes work to come up with an interesting article that doesn’t bore me or potential readers. I like the thrill of crafting words that might touch a reader or stick in someone’s mind long after they’ve forgotten who wrote it.

The interaction

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