Monday, June 20, 2016


We've been having very hot and humid weather with heat advisories, which used to be called livestock warnings when I was a kid, and Minnesota was a farm state. Last night we had thunder and lightning and some rain. North of us there were funnel clouds, one confirmed tornado and hail the size of tennis balls.

Today was bright and coolish, and the next few days are supposed to be pleasant. There's a full moon tonight, not yet visible from our windows. A bunch of stuff I ordered online arrived: three DVDs, tea from Harney and Sons, a new messenger bag and a tote for me, and a Game Developer Barbie for Patrick. The doll is brand new. Patrick thought it was a wonderful idea and wanted it. Barbie is still in her box and hanging on the living room wall. I don't know how long she will stay there. She doesn't entirely match the decor.

Tomorrow I plan to exercise, run errands and maybe get some writing done. Hot weather takes a lot out of me, even when I am mostly inside with air conditioning. Now I feel better.


I really dislike the comments that say, "I love your blog; it's fabulous; and here is a service I offer..." It is preying on the need that most bloggers have for some kind of feedback and even (maybe) emotional support. I delete those comments, of course, but they leave a bad feeling. Someone was trying to con me. I was being offered lying praise.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sticking with Your Raising

A facebook friend suggested that he is intellectually radical, while having a conservative temperament, and he thought I might be the same. (His actual statement was more complex, but this will serve.) I wrote this in response about myself:
This is a complicated topic. I believe this society is badly effed up and needs a radical change, as in it needs to be torn out by the roots and remade. As the old union song says, "We can bring to birth a new world from the the ashes of the old." This is not a belief that I came to through reason. This is the way I was raised. I was also raised to challenge ideas about art, since my father hung out with avant garde artists, who were very interesting people. I grew up in a house of the future, and this is not a metaphor. So what does this make me? Radical or conservative? As far as temperment goes, I'd say I am timid, which is not the same as conservative. (Remember that I grew up in the Midwest in the McCarthy era, which was also the height of the Cold War. That does not lead to a lot of confidence, though it does lead to believing ordinary middle class American life is poised above an abyss, and you cannot trust the neighbors. No wonder I loved SF.)
If you are true to your raising, are you conservative, even if your rising is in many ways radical?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Weather here is gray and very humid. I have two stories and an essay to get out the door. That's it for now.

Monday, June 06, 2016


Patrick and I went to Wiscon over Memorial Day weekend. Traditionally, it has been a feminist con -- the only feminist con I know. However, there was a change of administration last year, and now it is an all-purpose identity politics con.

I am not entirely comfortable with the changes or the new, brash, young con members with their new issues and their new ways of dealing with issues. However, I figure this is my problem. Change happens. I can still go to the con and see friends and do a little non-political programming. The drive down is pleasant. We take Highway 12, a two-line which parallels the Interstate, going through small towns, farm land and some forest. Patrick and I both like Madison.

I figure I need to detach myself emotionally from the con and appreciate things like the drive down and the city of Madison -- and the friends I meet at the con.

Friday, May 20, 2016


This is from a facebook discussion:
Why does one write? I loved stories when I was a kid, and I told madeup stories to my brother before I could write. When I could write, I wrote stories, and I have kept doing it.

I guess I think archy the cockroach's answer is the best one: "Expression is the need of my soul." Though I would add a love of stories.

I lose my passion for telling stories fairly often. I continue either because I have something to finish or because I get an idea that strikes me as neat and funny, and then my interest in writing is back.

Thinking about it, the story of mine that best expresses my attitude toward writing is "Telling Stories to the Sky," published in F&SF and reprinted only once -- in Chinese. There's a wish fulfillment element, because the heroine gets a powerful patron: the North Wind, who lives in a cold and windy palace in the sky. She can visit there in dreams, but she can't stay, because her body back on earth would die; and because the palace -- though very splendid -- is too cold and windy and uncomfortable. She needs her life on earth to stay alive and to get material for her stories -- as well as good meals that aren't cold, the way food in the palace always is.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

More Cleaning

We are doing more housecleaning. Three days ago, Patrick and I took apart the two bedrooms and vacuumed everywhere. I actually opened a box that I haven't opened in ten years and began going through it.

It's been a lovely spring, mostly cool and bright, though with some nice rainy days. A good time for spring cleaning.

Back when I had a job, I rode buses a lot and wrote poems about my rides. Here are a couple of examples, with flowers in honor of spring:
21 A East

“Let a thousand flowers bloom .”
Mao Tse-tung

Che smokes a cigar
on Lake Street posters,
but the scent
entering the open bus windows
is flowers.

Oh, week of perfect blossoming!
When lilacs, tulips, apple trees, irises, poppies
all open together,
arguing for a new agenda
with a thousand colors.


94 D West

All along the freeway, lilacs --
blooming, blooming!

Bless the bureaucrat who decided to plant them
twenty years ago or more.

If he’s alive, may his yard or window ledge
be full of flowers.

If he’s dead, may his spirit be as sweet and pure
as a whiff of lilacs on the cold June air.


Writing and Landvaettir

This is from facebook. Why use a post only once?
It's a bright, lovely day outside. I have exercise this morning and a grocery run this afternoon. Aside from that. I'm going to work on writing. I lay in bed last night and worked out plot problems. Now I have to hope I can remember the solutions. I'm going to have go through the story after it's done and fill in emotions and motivations. Right now I mostly have an outline of the action, with some ideas of why people act the way they do. I have to explain my hero/villain.

I figure I will use the Iceland landvættir in the final magical battle. These are the four spirits that guard Iceland. They are on the Icelandic coat of arms and present-day Icelandic coins. A dragon, a griffin (or eagle), a bull and a mountain troll. They ought to be impressive when conjured up.

I ended meeting friends at the local coffee shop, while Patrick did the grocery shopping. After the friends left, I worked on the current story. I am pushing ahead as quickly as possible and don't intend to type the scribbled first version until it's done. I'm afraid if I type it, and thus read it over, I will decide it's awful. The energy I have going now will vanish. I'm not sure I'll use this technique -- a handwritten first draft -- again, though I used it for decades. What I usually do now is compose on the computer, then print out sections and edit on paper, then input the changes and make more changes as I input. So it's a looping process: I write, then go back and revise, then go forward again. It means I never read the entire story until it's done. Then I print it out and make final revisions on paper. This means I don't give up in the middle.

Friday, May 13, 2016

SF (not sci-fi!) and Diversity

Another quote from facebook.
I am clearly suffering from Adult Oppositional Disorder today. I keep reading comments and thinking, "I don't agree." There is a lot of SF (not sci-fi!) that is not about diversity and still has a point. I think Frankenstein is about the industrial revolution and the French Revolution -- and technology, of course. It's also about huge male egos, which is something Mary Shelley knew about. You could argue that it's about diversity because it has (I would argue) a female vision, though all the women in it are dips. The Time Machine is about evolution and class warfare. War of the Worlds is about biology and imperialism. These are all interesting topics and worth writing about. Yes, diversity is important -- especially right now, when we can talk about human diversity, but not -- in any meaningful way -- about class warfare and revolution. SF (not sci-fi!) is a complicated field with more than two centuries of history. I don't like sweeping statements about it.

I also don't like what I hear as a heroic tone, as if the speaker is declaiming a brave and original opinion.

There were people writing about diverse characters and cultures long before the present, including the entire 1970s wave of women writers that hit the SF community like tsunami -- and met with a lot of hostility.

There are more writers doing diversity now. But the current generation did not invent diverse science fiction.

More on Writing

This is a quote from Amy Poehler, which I found on facebook.

I have mixed feelings about it. Everyone does not lie about writing. A lot of writers describe it as slow and awful, and it isn't always slow and awful. I've had stories that came quickly and with such ease that it seemed as if the muse had descended and handed me the manuscript. Other stories were difficult to write, and I was aware the entire time that I was chipping at granite. No muse. Just hard work. I would agree that -- for me -- writing is often boring. The story I'm working on right now is not boring, and I am pushing through it comparatively quickly, though I wouldn't call it easy to write. Writing varies. That's the end conclusion.

A lot of writers have rituals -- to ward off anxiety or to create the right mood. I often write in coffee shops. Right now I am writing in a notebook with a nice, rather fancy pen. The result is a godawful scribble. I am reluctant to move to a computer on this particular story, mostly because I don't want to input what I've written for fear I will realize it's awful. Better to keep scribbling.