Monday, January 30, 2012

The power of music

A question that writers and other artists get asked often, or will answer anyway even if they're not asked, is what type of music they work by.

I used to play some music - often classical, sometimes rock - when I was painting, but I almost never played music when I was writing.

One of the main reasons I don't listen to music when I write is that I love to sing. If I'm listening to rock, or other singable tunes (and I loooove me my Nat King Cole), I'm 99% certain to sing along. Even if I'm listening to classicals, I will end up whistling along....or, even worse, start conducting.

Singing or whistling or conducting isn't conducive or helpful to writing.

Recently, while doing laundry, a tune popped into my head and I began to whistle it. One minute, I'm my current pushing-50 self taking down laundry, next minute, I'm having teen spring fever, itching to get out of my horrible high school so I can attend university.

The song was Steve Winwood's While You See a Chance. It came out sometime in my junior or senior year. While it wasn't like I was a huge fan of the song, it transported me back to the time in my life when I heard it often. And there I was again, feeling all antsy and uncomfortable with myself as I did back when I was 17, 18.

That was when I realized that the other main reason why I can't listen to songs while writing: if I listen to songs I know, I can't stay inside my story. Heck, I can't even stay inside my present, very real, and very satisfying life. Music, like scents, for me, immediately transport me to a different place and time and, usually, a huge wave of homesickness washes over me, even if that place and time was not nearly as happy as my current state (such as the example above: I really hated my high school).

Does this happen to you or can you work well with music?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, January 23, 2012

DailySF - How do I rate thy stories? Let me count the ways

Coming off a week of particularly excellent tales from Daily Science Fiction (the week of January 9-13, 2012, but I write my posts in advance now and set them for future publication), I got to thinking about the ratings for stories from DailySF.

I've been subscribing to DailySF since last summer, I believe. It's enriched my life in many ways.

So, some time ago - unfortunately, my faulty memory prevents me from remembering dates - DailySF started a rating system: you can give a story from 1 to 7 rockets. Cute, no?

Anyway, I have never rated a story lower than 4 stars (which is still a passing grade). My reasoning is that if the story passed muster with the good folks at DailySF, editors Michele and Jonathan, and any editorial assistants they might have, then the story has to be half-way decent.

My criteria or system for docking rockets is:
1) if I finished reading the story and my first reaction is "huh?"
2) if I find any glaring technical - grammar or science, etc. - faults
3) if I have other instances in the story where I also go "huh?", or if it just didn't sit right with me for reasons I can't articulate

You can see that by my system, I can't give a story anything lower than four stars. I've seen people give some of the stories fewer than 4 stars on DailySF's Facebook page, and I'm not sure how they justify that. Being an introvert and one who doesn't like to engage in confrontations, even of the friendly sort, I, of course, never ask them.

If you are a fan of speculative fiction, do yourself a huge favor and subscribe to Daily Science Fiction. The subscription is FREE for goodness sake! How many things in life  are that good and also free, besides air and water (which is not free, but is practically free given its value versus what we pay the water company for it)?

Well, so much for keeping my posts short.

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, January 16, 2012

To do or not to do

One of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes is "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

Sometimes, though, it's hard to live with others because we all do things that drive each other crazy.
"If you don't shut up, I will have to punch you."

In the arena of social media, I have some advice for myself (and anyone else who sees him/herself in these) to help us live together more harmoniously:

1) Stop making obscure and provocative remarks. It's like that old advice for when you're angry: count to ten before you say anything. I know if I did that, I'll find that I really needn't be saying anything at all. Instead of going to Facebook or Twitter and announcing something just to get people to say "are you ok?" or whatever, write it down in my journal instead. I'm guessing the need to make obscure and provocative posts stems from a passive-aggressive personality...thanks, mom, for passing that trait along.  :P
**Hey! I'm not the only one who thinks that's annoying - see top peeve at the poll at Real Simple. 

2) Don't be subtle. I get subtle jokes only if I'm operating at 98% and I, and most people I know, aren't usually operating at that level of capability. If I'm going to be subtle, chances are people won't get the joke. Or the hint. And then I'll just get annoyed at people when it's me I should be mad at.

3) "Like" more. The "Like" button is easy to use and generally appreciated by the recipient. So even if a particular person has rarely acknowledged my posts, I can still be nice and "Like" their statuses and posts - this also lets me check "random acts of kindness" off my daily to-do list. Now if only Twitter has a "like" button...

Hope you're having an introspective and socially-conscious Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!


"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nothing like a badge

...to show "Fail!" in a stylish way.

My buddy Tom continues with his generosity. This time, he made a NaNo Loser icon that he's letting me proudly display!
Soooo, who's up for Camp NaNo with me?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tackling 2012

...like Frenzy obviously plans on doing:
Or superhero style, like Green Lantern. :)

My buddy Tom sent me his vintage (Gen 1) Transformer action figure and its weapons. As if that wasn't enough to make my heart go pitter-patter, he also gave me a hand-painted Green Lantern ring. I'm so psyched to wear it out and have people give me thumbs-ups as an acknowledgment of our secret Brother/Sisterhood of Geeks.

Or maybe I'm being too optimistic. I thought people would be giving me thumbs-ups for my Firefly shirt, but that never happened. Once, though, when my Firefly theme-song went off on my cellphone at the library, a gal who worked there said to me, "I love your ringtone!" There's hope.

Did you get any cool gifts this holiday?

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day." – Alexander Woolcott