Cat Valente, Working Live Without a Net

Cat Valente is a fabulous award-winning writer and a friend of mine who with her upcoming young adult novel is planning to show you how writing can be a performance art:

Starting Monday, I will start posting chapters of a full-length novel version of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. I will be writing it in real time, posting every Monday. It will be free to read–but please know that the sheer calories to make my brain create it require funding, and I would very much appreciate your support. Pay whatever you like for it, whatever you think it’s worth. It’s kind of like an old-fashioned rent party. There’s a button at the bottom of the post to start things out.

Why is she doing it and why should you think about supporting her? The details await you here. I’ll vouch for her writing skill: Cat’s a keeper (you may recall her Big Idea piece on her most recently-published novel, Palimpsest). This should be interesting — and worth your checking it out.

15 Comments on “Cat Valente, Working Live Without a Net”

  1. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, who wishes summer would come and warm his ass up.

    Cat is the woman. Donate. Help the girl out. That is all.

  2. I was skimming this until I hit “Palimpsest”. That’s sitting next to my bed waiting for me to finish “The Magician and The Fool”, so I’ll check this out. (And I did skim the Big Idea entry, thanks for the repoint).

    Speaking of weekly installments, Underland Press (who I am in no way affiliated with) does this, calling it a wovel. Except each installment comes to a branch that the readers get to vote on.

    I think it’s between projects, but the last one “First World” (written by a friend of a friend, so I’m a little connected) turned out pretty good.

    http://www.underlandpress.com/whatwovel.cfm if you’re curious.

  3. I wish I had money, but I’m in a similar boat (ie, jobless, trying to find a job). But if I had money, I would read, and I would donate.

    I suspect this is the (online) future of writing, somewhat–putting up some of your work online, and getting “patrons”. The hard part is getting your name out there and building a fan base. And getting the public used to the idea of being patrons of an artist. :) Everything old becomes new again!

  4. As another friend of Cat’s, I have to second your opinion of her merit, John.

    @Domini, that’s very true, but it’s very possible. I’ve been making my living as a writer doing what Cat’s starting to do now, for… going on like two years now. At the start, I used social networking (Livejournal, mostly) and cheap advertising on webcomics (many of which already use the patronage model) paid for out of my pocket. The fact that Cat has an established fan base and such well-regarded advocates spreading the word is going to give her a huge boost, but I think someone of her talents would be able to work even building from the ground up.

  5. To those of you trying to find her on Amazon.com, be aware of Amazon’s ocasionally _HORRIBLE_ searching, and try searching for ‘Catherynne Valente’ instead of ‘Cat Valente’ to get a different set of results.

    Bizarre.

  6. This is an intriguing idea. Kudos to the lovely Ms. Valente for doing it.

    I feel compelled to admit that my mind filled in the line break at “Cat Valente is a fabulous award-winning writer and a friend of mine who with her. . .” with the term “super-hotness”. So you know, brains, looks, and (metaphorical) balls: even more kudos.

  7. There’s also an auction going on in an LJ community here so if you’re thinking of donating, but want something back, you might as well get something nifty out of it.

    Also, I’m incredibly overstocked in ARC’s. So here’s a Whatever Readers boost – donate… oh hell, what’s a good amount? and I’ll do my best to send you a nifty ARC.

    How’s $20 sound. Donate $20 (or win an auction for $20), and you get a nifty Advance Reader Copy. All of you who’ve been drooling over how Scalzi always gets books in advance? Now you can lord it over people too. Email me your address if you’ve done so after I post this. We’ll work on the honor system. $20 gets you an ARC. $40 gets you 2. And so on.

  8. @ Tumbleweed: People can also see everything Cats’ got going on by checking out her website, catherynnemvalente.com – and by clicking through to Amazon from there, she gets the clickback as well.

    The ebooks which she markets directly are also available from there, and priced very reasonably at $5-10. All of her older work and poetry collections are available as e-books.

    Thank you so much, Mr. Scalzi. Cat is indeed a keeper, and a friend to many, and your support is appreciated.

  9. Pope,

    thanks for the link to Cat’s site. And wow… a classicist. Some of the stories sound just great and the best thing? You can download a bunch of her stuff as ebooks for very reasonable prices. Just grabbed a long form poem of hers that sounds like it will be a fun read (The Descent of Inanna). So if you want some of Cat’s writing that’s another option.

  10. I just discovered Cat at WisCon recently (well, really, a friend sort of said “OMG! She’s amazing and you *have* to read this!”). I’d seen Palimpsest and it was on my “mental” books-to-read list … so when I heard her read from Orphan Tales and connected the voice and those words to that cover that I remembered … well, the rest is history. I bought two of her books at the con and just purchased three ebooks from her site.

    And as an aside: It’s really cool to see how many people have *run* to help her. The Internets are made of win today!

  11. Hey John, if you want to signal boost this, Bill Shafer at Subterranean Press just offered ARCs to up to 20 Whatever readers who’ve donated (via paypal or auction) $20. As with me, $20 gets you an ARC.

    “Folks could get anything from our new Jack Vance title, to a Tim Powers limited edition, to an ARC of Stephenson’s SNOW CRASH and anywhere in between”

    Don’t take this as a hard limit – I have more ARCs to offer as well. Bill’s just might be cooler than mine :-)

  12. It isn’t mentioned anywhere on her site currently but you can get PDFs of backdated Omikuji Project issues(currently there are 15) by Paypaling Ms. Valente for them. They cost 2$ per PDF, and the two I just bought are worth every sent.

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