"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tips, Rules, Rules, Tips - More lists, etc. Part Two

Now it's Hilary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpurgo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Philip Pullman, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Tóibín, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson.

1. Get an accountant. (Hilary Mantel)

2. Trust your creativity (but if you are not good, accept it). (Jeanette Winterson).

Part two, here.

I hope no one will follow these rules without a bit of editing. I'm more interested in what individual writers do than in copying their systems. Not all of us have to deal with "bowel-curdling terror" (Sarah Waters), or want to listen to Schubert (Colm Toibin) or can go back in time and make sure to read a lot of books "when a child" (Zadie Smith).

But they're still fun to read. The lists, I mean. Books, too.

Tips, Rules, Rules, Tips - More lists from writers we like

Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, and AL Kennedy weigh in with rules ranging from:

1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can't sharpen it on the plane, because you can't take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. (Margaret Atwood)


2. Don't have children (Richard Ford).

Part one.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Margaret Atwood's Ten Tips for Writer's Block


In #5, she recommends chocolate. In other tips, she recommends sleep, a bath, reading a book. I've just found her excellent blog, and have added it to my list to the right.

In another post, she is a fan of paper books. Always one of my favorite authors, I think she must now be my idol. One feels the world is in good hands (unlikely, I know, but still comforting).

Email, Privacy, Social Networking and Copyright Protection

Am I right in seeing a connection between Google obnoxiously signing up all its email users for Buzz without asking and the German teen author who thinks plagiarism is cool?

I think the answer really is that if there is the technology to do something, there is the likelihood that it will be done. Teens have always wanted music to be free, e.g., and once DVDs came out, movies, too. We only start to respect the idea of copyright protection when we have to pay our own bills and can identify with not being paid fairly for our work. Realizing this may not end violations, but we all understand that it is wrong/illegal. The German author is arguing that it's not wrong at all: "'There's no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,' Hegemann pronounced in a statement to the press." She goes on to state, disingenuously, that she meant it to be a collaboration, but, oops, forgot to mention the other author. Oddly, the jury of the Leipzig Book Fair doesn't see anything wrong, either.

In the same way, Google is perfectly capable of signing everyone up for Buzz, so they figure, why not? Maybe it's wrong, maybe it's not. They can always backtrack, which they are now doing, adding opt-outs after the fact, just as Hegemann is claiming collaborative intent. Fortunately, technology has also given us the ability to search text for plagiarism much more easily than before, and Google can make global changes to its gmail network in a matter of days. Scary, isn't it?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And take that.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) removes Amazon buttons after Amazon's removal of Macmillan's buy buttons. Their goal is not retaliation, but to keep members' books available for purchase. If Amazon refuses to sell them, then links must, of course, go somewhere else -- indiebound.org, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, and Borders, which I thought was owned by Amazon, but apparently still has its own online storefront and identity.