I’m scared to talk about this. But I need to talk about this. Here goes.
One of the things I want to do with my science fiction is avoid doing what everyone else is doing. That makes sense, right? I can’t call myself creative unless I’m pushing into new territory. The question is, what territory? Where does creativity stop and thoughtfulness begin? These are all the questions I’m thinking about as I work on a new short story.
‘Body Issues’ is a short about a teenage girl and the new social issues coming our way. I don’t want to give away the plot, but the main character is a girl and she’ll be non-white, too. For those of you saying, “So what?” let me say this: Thank you. I think this should be a no-brainer, myself. Given the current landscape of humanity, I’m afraid of negative repercussions. I don’t think it’s right to let that stop me.
Can’t believe how fast the week has flown by. I’ve been banging away at a few things and I can’t wait to share them with you. On a personal note, I’m working through some stuff. Not fun, but that’s life. I don’t want to focus on my mess. I’d rather tell you about the State of the Art. Here’s what happened on InkICan this week:
Introduced you to Geekuinox – a new category of blog posts
This comes from Youtube – one of my favorite bands when I was a teenager was Information Society. They introduced me to cyberpunk and modern rock long before anyone else. The band was rather innovative – they had a track at the end of one album which, when played, gave you a little ASCII story that would appear on your modem screen. Back in the 90s, I loved how music embraced technology and it’s always occupied a warm spot in my heart.
I’m friends with Tim on Facebook. You might know him but you know his work (Firefly, Buffy … X-Files). He’s a supremely cool cat – Sent him a meme based on one of his pictures from the Emmys and he re-posted it. That happened on Monday and it made my week.
Sharing it because awesome stuff can happen to anybody – need to celebrate it if you want more awesome in your life. It’s only a meme, but it’s a start.
You might have read the earlier post and asked yourself – “What’s ‘geekquinox,’ anyway?” Good question. Long and short of it is that I’m trying to put all of the blog posts I plan to do in neat and tidy boxes. I want to tell stories and talk about other relevant topics. Sometimes I have announcements, or maybe I’ll have thoughts about writing. Other times I’ll talk about geeky topics from my perspective. InkICan isn’t going to become ‘the place to discover all things geek.’ After all …
I don’t want to talk about geek from that perspective. I’d rather talk about the Way of Geek, the Principle of Geek. Geek as a manner of being, not as a manner of buying. I thought about all that and then I thought about what to call these posts. I found a word on Urban Dictionary that helped define what I wanted to accomplish:
when a geek does something great, and they pass into the realm of coolness
I saw that and thought ‘bingo.’ So the times I post about geeky topics, that’s the perspective I’m coming from. Yes, there are other ‘geekquinoxes’ out there and I celebrate them all. If the name of this category becomes too much of a distraction, we’ll find a better name to use.
We lost two of our own in the past seven days. I was saddened to hear of the loss of two of our elder geeks. You won’t see trending #RIP hashtags on Twitter for them. They won’t make the Oscar’s ‘In Memoriam’ reel either. Yet, their contribution to science fiction is both significant and enduring. These two geeks’ names are unknown except to a precious few, but their achievement is immortal. Like Steve Jobs said, they put a dent in the universe.
To me, it’s infuriating that two celebrities and their personal lives dominate the public consciousness. It shouldn’t be that way. Perhaps things can change. Let’s bypass that debate. Instead, let’s simply remember our friends for the amazing people they were. C. Martin Croker and David Kyle changed the way you see science fiction. Let’s take a moment to examine why that is:
C. Martin Croker
You didn’t know him but you loved him. Clay Martin Croker was both an animator and a voice actor. You enjoyed his work on the seminal Space Ghost show … he was the voice of Zorak and Moltar. It didn’t stop there: Croker was also an animator for the show. That made him a bit of a unicorn: animators rarely do voice work. Continue reading
When I started this journey toward a ‘third act’ in my life, one of the things I wanted to do was tell stories again. I love doing it. I missed the creative process and the way a good story connects you with other people. To that end, I’ve been thinking about the kind of stories I want to tell and doing some research. Then I got an ‘a-ha!’ moment when I stumbled on this list of rules that Pixar uses in their stories. These rules can be incredibly valuable for any storyteller, so I’m posting them for you as much as I’m capturing them for myself.
Human beings communicate via stories. For good or evil, storytelling is a very powerful way to share ideas, get your point across, or draw people to your cause. I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples of this, but for me I just turn on the news. All you see now are different people telling stories to explain their politics, their personal feelings or their reasons for whatever they do. Stories are powerful. Therefore, as a storyteller, I must learn to tell good stories. I’m life-hacking my way through this process, and the following 22 rules are a good step in that direction.
Let’s look at them together, shall we? I’m not going to try and break them down for you: like a good story, I think they speak for themselves. If you’re having trouble reading them, just click on them for the big version:
One of the key benefits of science fiction is that it lets us discuss important social issues without preaching about them. Imagine how much good science fiction could be doing right now skewering racial prejudices as Star Trek did back in the Sixties. Imagine how much good sci-fi could be doing toward getting kids into STEM. Imagine how much good sci-fi could be doing inspiring us to treat each other with dignity. Imagine how much good science fiction could be doing if the storytellers were as brave today as they were back then.
It’s a future worth fighting for. More thoughts on this later.
One of the things that’s really bugging me about the idea of writing is the idea of being famous for writing. Telling stories is great, being famous is not. There’s a short story by Louis L’Amour called ‘The Trap of Gold.’ I think about a lot as I contemplate writing and whatever might follow.
Have you read the short story? Give it a whirl, it still holds up. In it, a prospector locates a rich vein of gold in rough country, miles from anywhere. The vein sits at the base of a 3oo-foot-tall granite rock that might collapse on him at any moment. What does he risk if he approaches it? What does he risk by walking away? The story builds to an unbelievable amount of tension before its resolution. Even now, fifty or sixty years later, you can understand why L’Amour was such a successful writer.
Enter Jackson Allen.
I have a lot of thoughts and opinions about fame and they come from hard and bitter experience. In fact, they remind me of the massive rock this prospector must navigate to secure his fortune. The given wisdom is that:
I cannot write unless I can sell books.
I cannot sell books unless I am famous
I cannot pursue notoriety without jeopardizing whatever gains I’ve made in rebuilding my life
This is a three-way tug-of-war. I want to save my life without selling my soul. I don’t have an answer for any of this yet. Perhaps we’ll find them together.