In between teaching English and putting in my daily word count (between 1k and 2k most recently), I’ve come across some interesting things worth sharing. If you’re a fellow writer, I’m sure you’ll appreciate this stuff, but even if you’re just a reader, it’s worth checking out.
First, there’s an excellent article at The Nation on the rise of Amazon and how it took the publishing world by storm. The author isn’t very pro-Amazon, but he paints a much more reasonable and far-seeing picture than anything I’ve seen from the Amazon-bashers. If you’re interested in indie publishing at all, it’s a must-read.
The way I see it, Amazon has fundamentally changed the paradigm by cutting out the middle-man, facilitating a direct connection between readers and writers. Everyone who sees them as some kind of harbinger of the apocalypse is so focused on their particular niche that they fail to see all the positive ways in which the system is being remade.
For example, ebooks never go out of print–never. Isn’t that awesome? And yet some people turn around and claim that Amazon is on some kind of crusade to destroy books and literature. Wha?? Yes, they’re probably cannibalizing mass-market paperback sales, and perhaps even hardcover sales as well, but they’re also opening all sorts of new literary possibilities, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the days of Gutenberg.
Well, so much for that. The next item is a lot less controversial: it’s a round-table discussion from Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing in which several writers discuss productivity and various aspects of their writing process. If you’re a writer, this is definitely worth checking out–it’s probably the most comprehensive discussion on the subject that I’ve heard in a while.
Some of my takeaways: the best way to unblock yourself and get the writing flowing again is to take a walk. When I listened to the podcast, I was actually taking a walk for that very purpose–and it worked! Also, if you have the time but the writing isn’t flowing, it’s better sometimes to do something else rather than force it. If you do try to force it, chances are that you’ll just get a bunch of crap. For some writers, that’s just part of priming the pump, but for me, I’ve got to take the time to fill the well.
Third, I just listened to a fascinating interview on the Sword & Laser podcast with Todd McAffrey. I’d tell you what it’s about, but really, they went off on so many fantastic tangents, it’s really more interesting just for that. The practicalities of space exploration, human-host bacteria and emergent AI, the secrets of the human brain and the potential for long term collective consciousness–reminds me of an uber-nerdy conversation I had at the con-suite for World Fantasy 2010. Man, those were good times.
To be honest, I took issue with many of McAffrey’s comments. When it comes to science and engineering, he’s extremely intelligent, but when it comes to bio-ethics, the sociological implications of his ideas, and a general awareness of the proverbial 99% of humanity that still lives on less than $10 USD per day, I think he’s a little too short-sighted. But if you put us in a room together, the argument would be so fascinating it would definitely be worth listening to.
Finally, I just got the new cover art from Hideyoshi for Bringing Stella Home, and it is seriously kick-ass. Check it out!
Now that is what I call Science Fiction! Expect to see the updated ebook with the new cover in the next couple of weeks.