inasmuch as it concerns Idol Worship:
Heroes. Role models. Them folks what tempt me to obsess upon 'em by makin' it look easy.
this fictionette still counts as a win i don't care
- 1,087 wds. long
The first Friday Fictionette of 2018 is out on time! It is not out early, and the Wattpad excerpt will have to wait, but the bits that matter are not out late. So there.
The title is "The Ones Who Don't Walk Away Fast Enough" (public excerpt, Patron-only ebook, audiobook). It's ... a thought experiment about a thought experiment, I guess. THOUGHT EXPERIMENT INCEPTION. Which is kind of obnoxiously hypocritical of me because, typically, thought experiments make me grumpy. Why should I inflict one on you? Sure, I got suddenly interested in questions arising from Le Guin's worldbuilding but that's no excuse. THOUGHT EXPERIMENT BAD. HULK SMASH.
Except, writing this fictionette required me to carefully re-read "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" for, I hope, obvious reasons, and, in rereading it, I got less grumpy about it. It's not really a thought experiment at all, is it? It's more of an examination of the limits of thought experiments. But then I've already mouthed off about that in the Author's Note section and spent a stupid amount of time rewriting it for accuracy and brevity, so I'm not going into it further here, thank you very much.
Mind you, I futzed up the cover art. I kept forgetting the title was "The Ones Who..." not "Those Who..." and IT MATTERS, DAMMIT so I will be fixing the cover art tomorrow. This is the level of attention to detail you get for your dollar! Expect no less! Take no substitutes!
(Why tomorrow? Because you don't get that level of attention to detail from me when I'm up past my bedtime.)
So I haven't given up on eventually getting ahead of the Friday Fictionettes schedule. I just haven't gotten there yet. I think the multithreading thing, drafting next week's offering on the same days as revising the one for this week, slowed both processes down. And so the January 5th release came out at just before January 6 O'Clock after all. The various interruptions to my schedule today (and the sudden exhausted nap that became necessary 'round mid-afternoon) had something to do with that, too. But had I not let that misguided attempt at DO ALL THE THINGS bog me down this week, I might have been better able to absorb the interruptions (and the unexpected nap attack). Ah, well, better luck next week.
Except the first Weekend Warrior prompts dropped tonight. Which means I'll be writing a brand new short-short (750 words max) this weekend. So maybe this weekend will only include doing a little and not a lot toward the goal of getting ahead of the fictionette schedule. But, on the bright side, I've got six fresh writing prompts to choose between for this weekend's freewriting. I feel rich! Now if only I can find time on Saturday and Sunday to do that freewriting. (Not to mention the subsequent revising and polishing and uploading.)
what writers can learn from a sack of angry raccoons
So apparently Chuck Wendig and I have something in common, and that's a birthday in the back end of April. (Also we're both writers, but I would like to stop the comparison there before it becomes too depressing. I mean, what have I published in the last 5 years, right? NOT 20 NOVELS, THAT'S WHAT.) I'm not sure what I'm going to do about my birthday, but Wendig's using the occasion of his to reflect on the lessons of his writing career. Said lessons, he hastens to emphasize, may not necessarily be transferable to other writers--that's the first bullet point right there, Writing Advice is Bullshit and Largely the Product of Survivor Bias:
Even the list below is just meÖ spouting off. Theyíre lessons that apply to me, not to you. Maybe to you, itís gold. Maybe itís a sack of angry raccoons, I dunno. The only writing advice you can count on is: you gotta write, and you gotta finish what youíre writing. Everything else is variable.
I'm down with that. And I'm pretty much down with the whole list, actually. If any angry raccoons are involved, well, maybe they have cause to be angry. They're not saying anything that strikes me as fundamentally untrue or less than useful.
Some of it is really reassuring for me. Take number five, Find Your Damn Process--Then Challenge It:
You have a process. So go find it. Maybe that means writing 2k every day, reliably. Maybe it means writing 15,000 words every other weekend. Maybe it means you write in coffee shops, or in the crawlspace under your house. Maybe it means you eat a handful of bees before you begin. I dunno. Thatís on you to figure it out, and while itís important to figure out what you write and why you write, itís also incredibly necessary to figure out how you write. You may think how you write is the way others have told you it must be, but that doesnít make it true. Also important: when your process isnít working, you need to evolve it. Your process isnít one thing forever just as you arenít one person forever.
I bolded a bit there 'cause it's speaking to me. My current process, the one I was so proud of coming up with, the whole 5 hours a day thing, morning shift, afternoon shift, fill out a time sheet, check the boxes on Habitica, do the daily gotta-git-dones... it's not working. I hate that it's not working because it ought to work and I don't know why it's not working. But it's not. And maybe I have to acknowledge the possibility of some answer other than "Try HARDER tomorrow."
I don't know what the right answer will be, but it probably starts with "change something." Change what? To what? I don't know. But asking the question generally comes before answering the question, I guess. I may not like the period between ask and answer, since it's filled with confusion and despair and flailing around and going WTF I CAN'T EVEN, but I suppose it's inevitable to spend some time there.
Which means this bit is also reassuring. From number 24, You Know A Whole Lot Less Than You Know, And Thatís A Good Thing:
Every day of a writing career is exploring a new planet. All the truths you hold are likely half-truths or even cleverly-costumed lies. Embrace that. Every day I know less than I knew before, and I find that oddly and eerily liberating. It means I donít have all the answers and neither do you.
So it's OK not to have answers. Not having answers is a necessary state of art, and in fact life.
What is also necessary: continuing forward, despite that lack of answers. Despite the lack of success. Despite the lack of hope, even. Quoting number 25, which--given all the times I've gritted my teeth to hear someone say, "Not everyone's cut out to be a writer, so there's no use encouraging the ones who aren't"--sings harmony with my heart of hearts:
Writing as a career takes a certain kind of obsessiveness and stubbornness, I think: the willingness to put a tin pail on your head as you run full-speed into a wall, hoping to knock it down. Again and again. Until the wall falls or you do. Sometimes I think maybe that the thing that separates those who have it from those who donít is simply those who decide, ďFuck it, Iím a writer,Ē and then they do the thing. They choose to have it, to count themselves among that number rather than those who donít. But I have no idea. I donít know what the hell is going on. And neither to do you. What I know is this: writers write, so go write. Finish what you start.
The rest is negotiable.
It may look like I've already quoted the whole darn article right there, but, honestly, there are 25 bullet points in that there list, and Chuck Wendig wrote them all, which means they are (mostly) verbose and profane and hilarious. And also wise and inspiring and reassuring. At least, I thought so, so I thought I'd share it with you.
Besides, I didn't have much news of my own to share. I mean, I got up, I took care of some household necessities, I wrote, I went to see the Doctor Who Season 10 screening at the local theater. Things are OK. They're just not news.
The Volt is back in full repair, by the way. The part that needed replacing--essentially, the charging port--was more specific to the make and model of car than I thought, so I actually had to take it to the Chevy people in Longmont. They spent about three hours chasing down warranty approval and one hour doing the actual repair, so I got very familiar with their waiting room. Too familiar. I kind of had to take a break from the waiting room and go skate around Sandstone Park for awhile. And I have to say they weren't very proactive in giving me updates. Even when they were done, it was like the dude was on his way to another errand and since he just happened to be passing by he thought he'd mention that "We're all done whenever you're ready." Dude. I've been ready all afternoon, where were you? But, hey, all's well that ends well, and I went on to treat myself to Popeye's fried chicken because I was practically at I-25 and 119 anyway.
And now the car is fully functional, the still extant manufacturer's warranty paid for it all, and I was able to charge it all the way up not far from the movie theater tonight, and it's all ready for John to drive it down to New Mexicon for the weekend. The end.
"What the heck does auld lang syne mean, anyway?"
- 1,077 wds. long
Ahoy! So. The Friday Fictionette for January 6 is up. It was supposed to go up at 6 PM, taking advantage of Patreon's clever SCHEDULE POST feature. Only apparently I am not so clever, and I thought today was Jan 7. Eleven-thirty came around, and I was pulling up the HTML excerpt to copy-paste into Wattpad, and emergency! emergency! Where is my post?! Ya fool. It's right where you put it: on tomorrow's docket. Oops.
It's up now, though, and it's called "The Land Exhales" (ebook | audiobook | free excerpt ) It is not one of my more cheerful stories, dealing as it does with a meta-fictional land where everyone is miserable, but I like to think it ends on a hopeful note.
I wish I'd had time to do more with today--like take another crack at the novel-in-progress--but I got a little self-indulgent trying to produce a presentable four bars of "Auld Lang Syne" on the piano that I could include. Why "Auld Lang Syne"? Because it's January. Why on the piano? Why indeed. The flute version worked a lot better.
(Speaking of "Auld Lang Syne," this post's title is a quote from Barry Manilow off his double live album, segueing into "It's Just Another New Year's Eve." It may not be a very good question, but it's a pretty good song. "Don't look so sad / It's not so bad, you know / It's just another night, that's all it is...")
Artifacts are not quite in the mail yet. BUT THEY WILL BE SOON.
In other news, I skated on the track at our practice space tonight. The new floor is done. And it's so nice. it's flat. It's so nice, having a flat and level floor. And clean! So nice and clean...
i get distracted
I was going to blog about what I did today, but then John and I came home from scrimmage and ordered pizza and watched the most recent* three episodes of Steven Universe, and then we proceeded to geek out for like an hour about what we just saw, what we loved about it, and how it shook our understandings thus far of the characters and their history and their world, and also just what our understandings of these things were, and furthermore what questions we still had and what we speculated might be revealed... but then I did say "geek out," so pretty much everything past the first comma after the bit in italics was sort of redundant.
Anyway, can't blog, too busy making fannish squee noises.
*most recent: ok, well the most recent we had access to. Apparently there's more still. Already. MORE STEVEN UNIVERSE TO WATCH. Glee!
things are lumpy but getting smoother
Hi. Hello. So... didn't really get back into gear so smoothly after giving myself a Halloween holiday. Took a while to get the engines running. I think maybe taking time off so soon after starting a new routine might be contraindicated when fomenting new habits. Not that it would have been better to try to not take time off, not with everything else that was going on. But I suspect that time off didn't help.
Also, one of our skaters broke her leg Monday night during our scrimmage in Fort Collins. This is a thing that occasionally happens when you play a full-contact sport on skates. We prepare for it as best we can, and then we try not to think about it. We try to play like it's not even in the realm of possibility. And then, once in a while, it happens, and it sucks.
Pretty much everyone in the league who was at that scrimmage had a pretty shitty night after that. Not, of course, nearly as shitty as what the injured skater herself endured. But the league immediately began doing everything in its collective power to make things less shitty for her, from hospital visits to errand-running to plans for bringing her food to just plain sending all our love via the internet and phone and telepathy. That's what roller derby leagues do. It's kind of amazing.
So priorities changed, and the next few days got a little redirected. And that's life.
Today was a fairly solid writing day, if a little weird. I had a ticket to see the live Welcome to Night Vale show at the Paramount. So I took off by bus around midday for Denver with plans to work on my various writing tasks from maybe Leela European Cafe until showtime. And then I remembered that Union Station got significantly upgraded, and is no longer this cavernous hall with bad acoustics and tall penitent pews and an aura of despair. Instead, it is now a fancy hotel and a small shopping mall and a restaurant district. So I splurged a bit at Stoic & Genuine (well, kind of more than a bit) and then settled down at one of the lobby device-charging tables to plug in my laptop and make words happen on it. And words did happen.
The Welcome to Night Vale live show was amazing. Go see it if you can.
I'm writing this blog post on the bus back to Boulder. John will meet me at the station and drive me home, where I will have a bite to eat and then commence whatever the heck I wind up writing for NaNoWriMo.
Have I mentioned that I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year? Well, I am.
About that, more later.
from the oops department
- 883 wds. long
Finally got the audio version of last Friday's fictionette up. Don't know why it took me so long. Guess I've been in kinda full bumming-around-the-house mode since I got back from Avon. The two-hour drive home in the sun was so much more exhausting than the four-hour round trip between Avon and DIA at night. It sort of took it out of me.
But it's Monday. Dragging around the house on a Monday is OK. But what happens on a Monday gets left behind with Monday when it turns Tuesday. Tuesday is working hard day! Just you watch!
In reading through the fictionette, I noticed and fixed two typos, so after uploading the MP3 I got to upload a new version of the PDF and correct the excerpts posted to Patreon and here. And this is why I try most weeks to record the MP3 before publishing the fictionette in any format--reading aloud is my best method of proof reading. Even reading the piece slowly so that I could "hear" my voice reading it aloud in my head--which I did while out at dinner Friday night--isn't quite as effective.
Thankfully, Patreon has greatly improved their publishing experience, such that it is now possible to delete and re-upload attachments. Genius, right? Used to be you couldn't do that, which made late-discovered typos terribly frustrating. But now it's simple.
In other news, John and I have been watching a lot of Steven Universe lately. Steven Universe is a cartoon that is awesome and you should watch it. It is good for the heart, it is emotionally deep and gloriously silly, it is constructed with such meticulous care that no detail can be rightly called "throw-away," and it boasts some amazing voice acting talent as well as a cast of characters who are wildly diverse in a delightfully unmarked way. (And it's totally stolen a plot point from my semi-trunked novel trilogy, but nevermind, it's my bad for not having converted it from semi-trunked to publishable by now.)
I've just discovered Vrai's recaps at The Mary Sue. These are smart and rewarding reading, articles that love to delve deep into subtext, point out resonances with other popular animated works, and revel in the show's unapologetic yet entirely understated political statements.
Don't know where I was going with that. What is this, a thesis? Go click on the links and read smart articles and watch good cartoons. That is all.
the illusions we subscribe to
The repaint job on our building is over, as far as our unit is concerned. They've got a few more units to finish tomorrow, but our front patio and back balcony are all done. Everything we had to bring inside is outside again, with the exception of the bird feeder--I found out it's against our HOA rules and regs. Which is sad, but fair; if you're worried about raccoons, it makes sense to ban animal attractors. We can put our hummingbird feeder out, but that's the one exception.
The back balcony was the last thing, and the paint crew got to it yesterday. I was in the guest-bedroom-turned-office in the front of the house, but I could hear the racket of ladders--ladders being extended and put in place, people jumping down from ladders onto the balcony, people climbing up ladders to the balconies above ours--when they arrived.
Itís this idea of ownership, I think, which is twined so closely with responsibility and duty: this little patch of earth is indisputably yours, and you must take care of it, because no one else will.
But I think I sensed that this concept of ownership was a lie even then. I knew there were countless infrastructural and financial systems whose whole beings were devoted to allowing me and every other person on the block to engage in this happy fantasy. And for them, there were no boundaries. The men who came to check the meters or the gas or cable lines were perfectly within their rights to hop a fence or open your gate and stroll right in.
A fantasy, in other words, must be maintained. And for it to be maintained, it must be violated from time to time, its fragile penumbra punctured by outsiders going about their day to day business.
That's Robert Jackson Bennett, on a very particular fear that inspired his novel American Elsewhere. Only, of course, in that story, the officially sanctioned trespassers are up to something rather different than checking the meters and maintaining the cable. They're not necessarily men and women, either.
But it's a fair point even without the special pleading of horror/fantasy. We lock the door at night and when we leave the house, and we close the office window that looks out onto a ground floor patio. But because the back-of-house access points are some ten feet off the ground, we feel safe leaving them open so that the evening breeze can freshen and cool the bedroom and living room. And it's all an illusion, pierced the first time someone--legitimate or no--comes around the back with a ladder. Hell, the illusion of security wouldn't even survive a single person who didn't mind breaking glass. And yet we lock the door and feel like we've done the whole of our duty thereby.
It's not so much that I have faith that no one will break in, or that no one will steal the patio furniture if we leave it out overnight. It's just that I choose not to think about, because if I think about it, it scares the crap out of me and makes me paranoid as hell. And that ain't no way to live.
Makes a great basis for writing horror, though.
different ways of being self-indulgent
So sometimes Mondays aren't for getting things done. Sometimes Mondays are for recovering from the weekend. I had a very full weekend, and, considering Monday is not a work day under my current schedule, I spent most of today luxuriating in not having to get out of bed.
That said, I really wish my favorite self-indulgent "Not being productive today, thanks" activity, that of alternately napping and devouring books whole, didn't universally result in headaches and cricks in my neck. There's no right posture, no correct amount of pillows, no position whatsoever that's comfortable for long or doesn't result in the abovementioned afflictions if I fall asleep. I think this must be one of those "getting older" things, along with taking longer to heal from minor injuries and not being able to make it through the night without an extra bathroom visit. Dammit.
But I went to the Rush concert Saturday night! That was awesome. Lots of great music, good humor, lovely memories, a stage design that was itself worth the price of admission, all of it only made a little bittersweet by having gone alone to what was likely to be the band's last tour "of this magnitude". Besides, I wasn't entirely alone--I spent a small amount of the second half tweeting back and forth with an old high school friend who'd seen the tour a few stops earlier, so I had someone to share happy thoughts with during the concert after all. Yay!
So that was awesome. And since that's all I really have to report today--here's a recipe! There may be no writing content in today's actually writing blog, but, darn it, you get a recipe. I call it...
"Wait, This Isn't Shakshuka, What Is This Mess?"
I'm a heedlessly adventurous cook. I will throw things together that do not go together, just because the thought of them together sounds good in my mouth. It is a good thing that I am also an extremely non-picky eater. If the experiment had gone poorly, I would probably have eaten it almost as happily as if it went well. As it turned out, the experiment went rather well. It made a dinner that was almost as deliciously self-indulgent as today's reading-in-bed session was.
Defrost and brown a pound of bulk (not link) sausage. I used breakfast sausage, but anything would do, really. Ground beef would have been fine too. Anyway, while it's browning, chunk and crumble it up as best you can. You aren't going to need to drain the oil. Well, you can if you like. I don't.
Chop up and toss in all the tomatoes burning a hole in your fridge. Between a friend's contribution to the housewarming potluck feast and my husband's experiments with pizza, there were a bunch of tomatoes in the refrigerator, in danger of being forgotten until they composted themselves. This was the main reason this meal happened, actually. "Oh, Gods, I have to use up those tomatoes. Why don't I simmer them with sausage and... oh! with some of that kimchi that I also need to use up?" I have thoughts like that. There may be something wrong with me.
Add a generous portion of kimchi. I am guilty of having about four different half-ful jars of kimchi in the fridge at any given time. Look, they're all different kimchi, OK? After a tour of the available varieties, my nose told me I should use the classic daikon kimchi from MMLocal. It smelled slightly sweeter and less sour than the others, thus matching the flavor profile my mind was reaching for when it said, "Let's put those tomatoes in with some sausage and kimchi."
But wait! It gets better.
Add the juice of half an orange, which also needed using up. These were leftover from another of my husband's cooking projects, tofu marinated in orange juice and soy sauce, then baked until delicious. He bought rather more oranges than he needed, and I keep forgetting they're there. I do not know why I looked at tomatoes, sausage, and kimchi, and said to myself, "This needs orange juice." I may be a genius. A very strange genius.
Add a handful of basil, because there's some in the garden on the back porch, and because when orange juice and tomatoes are on the stove, they obviously need basil. That's the herb that goes into the orange juice tomato soup I make for Winter Solstice, from the Cooking Like a Goddess cookbook.
And also a generous splash of fish sauce, because you already put kimchi in there, so what have you got to lose?
Simmer, stirring often, until the sausage looks fully cooked. Then, because the sight of sausage simmering in juices with vegetables reminds you of that time you attempted (with some success) to make shakshuka, even though this dish really doesn't resemble shakshuka at all, considering the kimchi and orange juice and the total lack of cumin or paprika, crack a couple eggs on top of the mess. Do not stir from here on out. You're going for poached, not scrambled.
When the eggs are done to your taste, spoon them out into a bowl along with a heaping helping of the juicy sausage-tomato mixture that they poached in. Then exercise supreme restraint and same the rest to eat later, probably over pasta shells.
this fictionette can carry a tune
- 1,103 wds. long
Behold! On this very last day of the month, we have the Friday Fictionette for the fourth week of June 2015. It's called "Every Note Passes Away Forever." It's got music in it, and also another funeral. Possibly a tiny bit derivative--I mean reminiscent--of the beginning of Tepper's Raising the Stones, now that I think about it. Sorry?
Patterns! After weeks of doing these freewriting sessions every day (or almost every day, shut up), patterns tend to emerge in the way I respond to writing prompts. After a while, it's like a metro bus system, and each writing prompt is like a stop on a bus route. Turns out, some of these stops are on the same bus route. They go to the same places, but maybe they see different sights along the way.
I'm still a bit behind and will have to choose the June 2015 Fictionette Freebie tomorrow. I'm also like two months behind in posting Wattpad excerpts. Backfilling the audiofictionettes? Have not even begun to think about it. But this is a good week for getting caught up. My roller derby team is taking the week off (a well-deserved break after the game on June 27) and some of our friends are out of town, so hopefully I'll be able to put all that sudden glut of free time to good use.
Meanwhile, I have begun reading Robert Jackson Bennett's City of Stairs. I brought it home from the Boulder Bookstore on June 19, the Friday that was declared TorsDay in response to a threatened boycott of Tor Books. (The threatened boycott was in fact laughable, but we're SFF fans. If we can at all afford it, we'll jump at any excuse to buy more books.) Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "But Bennett isn't published by Tor, is he?" Indeed, City of Stairs falls under the Random Penguin umbrella. (OK, Random House Inc. But "Random Penguin" is more fun. It sounds like a chapter of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.) But while my arms were full of books by Elizabeth Bear and Jo Walton and Cherie Priest and an anthology by the VanderMeers (and if you think that sounds like a heavy armful, you are right!), I spotted the Bennett and I pounced. Without dropping any books.
Bennett is also the author of the Shirley Jackson Award-winning American Elsewhere, which persists in being one of my favorite books ever. It lives on the horror end of the SFF street and it's got beings from beyond space and time, a female protagonist who kicks ass while dealing with seriously strange mother-daughter issues, no romantic subplot whatsoever, and supernaturally unreliable architecture. I am a fan of supernaturally unreliable architecture. (Speaking of which, have you read this fantastic House of Leaves/Sherlock Holmes crossover fanfic? You're welcome!).
Bennett's Locus Award-nominated City of Stairs also has supernaturally unreliable architecture (the eponymous stairs, miraculous walls that are sort of transparent and opaque at the same time, buildings stuck half inside other buildings), but the beings from beyond space are less cthulhuoid and more, well, Gods.
I'm only three chapters in, mind you. I would very much like to be four chapters in or more, which is why I'm going to end this blog post here.
literature and sports take turns taking bites out of my brain
So I was a penalty timer at the Shamrocks And Shenanigans scrimmage tonight. When you're a penalty timer, everyone comes to visit you. Everyone gets penalties, after all. Maybe not everyone on every night, but everyone eventually. If you never ever get penalties, it's questionable whether you're in the game.
When I arrived, I told our head coach, "I'm ready to be assessed! Whenever works for you." (I got injured before the league went through skills assessments and travel team tryouts. I still need to do that before I can skate with any of our teams.)
She said, "Great! Get your gear on."
And I said, "Er, tonight? I... didn't think that would be an option." I hadn't brought my gear. Drat.
By next week, though. Between Sunday practice and the following Thursday scrimmage, I should have ample opportunity to demonstrate my skills to people empowered to fill out my score sheet. After that... team practice again? Please? As soon as possible? Back with my Bombshells? Pretty-please?
Obviously this has been much on my mind.
It has been sharing space in there with something very random: the Mark Reads archives for the Discworld novels.
You know about Mark Reads? Blogger Mark Oshiro began a project some years ago to read the Twilight novels and comment on them, chapter by chapter. And, well, a lot of people came along for the ride. It wasn't so much that they enjoyed watching him suffer, per se--it was that he suffered so entertaingly. And also enlighteningly, if that's a word. His criticisms were spot-on and his pain was shared and familiar.
Inevitably, the blog community began urging him to read something he'd actually enjoy. As soon as he got through Breaking Dawn, they said, he should treat himself. Read Harry Potter, they said. Because, as it turned out, he hadn't read those books yet. There were a lot of books, beloved classics of the fantasy genre, that he'd just never been exposed to. And his fans not only wanted him to enjoy a reading experience, but they wanted to enjoy watching him experience it.
And Mark read it. And it was wonderful.
You can never go back and read a favorite book for the first time all over again. Not so long as your memory is intact, that is. But the privilege of watching someone else read that book for the first time, witnessing them falling in love with the characters you've come to know so well, that's almost as wonderful. Maybe it's even better.
Mark has since then read many, many wonderful books, and his fans have enjoyed the heck out of watching him discover all these worlds and characters. And for a commission of $20, I think it is, he'll add to his written review video footage of him reading the chapter aloud. And that's the best. His reactions are priceless, hilarious and touching by turns.
So about a year ago he embarked upon a chapter-by-chapter read-through and review of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. In--and this is important--the order that they were published. (Which means he's only now making his way through Eric.) Discworld fandom is large and it is contentious; veterans will often try to curate newbies' experiences by telling them which books to read first. "Oh, don't start with Colour Of Magic, he hadn't gotten good yet, you'll be turned off. Read Reaper Man first," or, "Rincewind is tiresome. Read the Vimes books instead," or whatever they'll recommend.
Which is understandable, but at the same time, it's kind of arrogant. Like, dude, you're so proud of having been around when Colour of Magic came out, you read them in publication order because you had no choice--you still fell head over heels in love with them. Why do you think someone approaching them for the first time today couldn't do the same? Why do you think they need you to shepherd them through the experience? And why is it so important to you that they come to the same conclusion about the characters that you did?
Sometimes it's understandable, like I said; you love a thing, you want them to love it too. You want to spare them the jarring moments of the not-quite-good-enough. But sometimes I think, there are some fans who have a bit of ego involved in being the living filter through which someone experiences the material. I suspect that, either consciously or un--, it makes them feel important.
To hell with that. Mark is going into this as completely unspoiled and unbiased as a reader on publication day would, only without the three-year wait between The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. His spoiler policy is aggressive, and I share it: If I haven't gotten there yet, don't talk about it. Allow me to experience it the way you did--without you hanging over my shoulder saying, "Oh, this is when it gets good" and "Just wait until you meet [CHARACTER] in Chapter [X]!"
I only heard that this was a thing the week after Terry Pratchett died. And it's been fantastic. I've been watching his videos or, where appropriate, converting them to MP3 and listening to them in the car. Not only does it convert these old familiar books into brand new experiences for me, but it comes at a time when 1. I wanted to commemorate the author's passing with a read-through of my own, but 2. all my books are in storage and I can't easily get to them. So I get to have Mark read them to me! And I get to hear him react to the awesomeness! And the hilarity! And the puns, dear Gods, the puns. (Oh Gods the "horse d'oeurves" pun. Mark's reaction to the pun. It takes him like three minutes to get past it, it hits him that hard. I love Mark this much, y'all.)
I've just gotten up to Mark's read-through of Mort. And it occurs to me I may never actually have read Mort before. I could swear I'd borrowed it from a friend back in the late '90s, but I'm not recognizing any of it at all. Maybe my memory isn't intact--which would be odd, for me--but maybe The Last Continent isn't the last Discworld book I've yet to read? This is such a treat.
Like I told John, "Mark's reading Discworld! Expect my productivity to dip a bit." And so it has. Drat.