A Shocking Confession

I’ll just come right out and say it: After 20+ years of being unengaged at best in the world of automobiles outside of their strictly utilitarian purpose of hauling my pasty white ass from Point A to Point B, I’m totally in love with my new car, the Mini Cooper S Countryman All 4. It’s not the sort of love that will compel me to start going to “Mini Meets” and get new Mini friends, to whom I can talk about my new Mini-centric lifestyle — I mean, where am I going to fit those in around my science fiction conventions — but it’s the sort of love where I am actually happy to get out of the house and drive places, whatever that place may be, because I get to tool about in my little car. I’m like a dog excited for a walk — oh boy! A walk!! — except my walk is a drive, and my leash has all wheel drive and satellite radio.

I’m vaguely discomfited by this and wonder if it’s some sort of late-onset midlife crisis thing, which I wasn’t aware of until after I got the car (which, I’ll note, was gotten at the instigation of my wife, since her 1997 Sidekick is in the midst of dying on us). I suspect it might be, in which case, I suppose it’s better this than a 23-year-old, which was the other midlife crisis option. 23-year-olds don’t come with satellite radio, and if they do, it’s not tuned to a station that has anything I want to hear.

I think possibly the reason I like this car so damn much may be that it is actually the first car I’ve owned that wasn’t simply purchased for pragmatic reasons. I mean, it was purchased for pragmatic reasons — Krissy’s car dying, we needed a car with four doors and all wheel drive, not too expensive, and one we can have on hand for years to come — but, come on. If we were aiming for entirely and blandly functional, we could have got a Subaru Forester for cheaper (sorry, Forester fans). We also got the Mini because it’s supposed to be a fun, cool car, and it is just that. And now I drive about in it, a happy dorky dork who is dorky about his car.

I didn’t mean for it happen. But, well. There are so many things we don’t mean to have happen. This is probably one of the more innocuous of those possible things.


Di Filippo on Fuzzy Nation

Paul Di Filippo reviews Fuzzy Nation for the Barnes & Noble Review, where he says stuff like this:

Taken solely on its own merits, Fuzzy Nation is a jim-dandy, thought-provoking thrill ride. Readers will race through this novel and demand more at the end.


That said, Di Filippo has some further thoughts on the differences between 1962 (when Little Fuzzy came out) and 2011, and what they mean in the context of my book. They’re interesting points, and you can read the whole thing here. Note: there are some mild spoilers in the piece.


How to Have a Writing Career Like Mine

You can’t.

Which is not to say you can’t have a career as a writer; maybe you can. But you can’t have a career like mine. Because here’s what you would have to do:

1. Start writing freelance in college.
2. Get a movie critic gig right out of school.
3. Have your second job be for the largest online service on the planet.
4. Get laid off and go solo.
5. Start a blog and have it become very popular.
6. Sell four non-fiction books before you sell your first novel.
7. Sell your first novel off your Web site.
8. Have that novel be an award-nominated breakout success.
9. Etc.

Each of these steps is actually important to having a career like mine; each step informs the steps after it. Skip a step and suddenly your career isn’t like mine anymore; it’s something else entirely, and the map I used to get where I am is no longer useful to you. You can’t have a career like mine. The only one who gets a career like mine is me.

Other careers you can’t have: Neil Gaiman’s, Ursula Le Guin’s, Robert Heinlein’s, Cherie Priest’s, Nalo Hopkinson’s, Toby Buckell’s, Pat Rothfuss’, Mary Robinette Kowal’s, Cassandra Clare’s or Robert Silverberg’s, to name just a few people off the top of my head. Their careers are not replicable, because they are to a very large extent the product of time and personal circumstance — and in many if not most cases a healthy helping of luck, which matters, too. Learning how each of them reached their successes can be interesting, and may yield some general ideas that you might apply to your own career-building. But if you look at their careers with an eye to ape particular moves, you’re likely to be disappointed by the results.

If you feel you must look at other writers’ careers, a suggestion: Look at more than one, and see what they have in common. What did Neil do that Ursula also did that Robert did too that Cherie is now doing? Look at the things that consistently appear in the careers of multiple authors, and you’ll find the things that might be worth incorporating into your own. As a warning, they are likely to be boring things like “write regularly,” or “minimize distractions” or some such, which are the “eat less, exercise more” of the writing career world. But that’s life for you.

I can guarantee you this: If you try to have a writing career like mine, you won’t have a career like mine — and more to the point, you won’t be having the career you could have had. And that will happen no matter whose career you try to make yours like. So don’t try to have a writing career like mine or anyone else’s. Have your writing career. You’ll be happier.


Technical Update

The repairman at CenturyLink came out, fixed the phone line, then fixed it again fifteen minutes later when it went dead again, then fixed it again an hour later when it went dead again, and then finally, though whatever alchemy phone repairmen use for such a thing, switched my home phone line and DSL to another physical wire entirely. This seems to have solved the problem, since I’ve been able to use my Internet service for several hours in an uninterrupted fashion for the first time in a week. So three cheers for Gary, the CenturyLink phone repairman. Let’s hope it stays up from here.


Attack of the Cromulent Box Office

This week at I take a look at the less-than-genuinely-spectacular box office grosses of some of the summer’s hits and explain why it is Hollywood probably isn’t too horribly concerned (yet). Yes, it’s me getting all wonky about the business side of things, but that’s why they call it “show business,” right? I’m glad you agree. As always, leave your comments there. Because I know you love to comment, and it’s one of the things I love about you.

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