Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler died on Saturday. As a reader, I’m generally hard to please and I probably couldn’t name fifteen writers whom I love, but I loved Octavia Butler. She was her own niche: a black, female science fiction author and because of that she brought things to the speculative fiction table that no one else could. She wrote of the nature of power and the struggle of the dominated against the dominator. She wrote of some truly weird alien sex with not altogether willing humans. She wrote of horrible, miserable futures and pasts and the people who fought tooth and nail for freedom from them.
Please go find her books and read them because she was a great writer who never got enough attention while she was alive and it would be shameful if she and her work were forgotten in death. I absolutely recommend Wild Seed. The book has a great premise as well as a conflict and an ending that I can’t imagine any other science fiction author writing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Random Thought

I was thinking about a life’s work last night. We all have our life’s work, whether or not we’re conscious of it. Our life habits contribute to it because whatever we do consistently is going to become enormous over the course of a lifetime. And maybe your life’s work is nothing more than shaping your mind a certain way or collecting a certain type of knick-knack. It ain’t deep, necessarily. It’s what we end up with at the end of our lives, the results of what we’ve done more than anything else in the time we had. Maybe that’s twenty albums we’ve recorded or a collection of rare computer parts and maybe that’s also clogged arteries or impacted colons.
We build more bone tissue on our skeletons in the places upon which we place the most stress. Where there is less stress we actually lose tissue. It’s just like muscle. We’re sculpting our very bones with our day to day actions. We’re sculpting not only our bones and muscles but our other organs as well. We’re sculpting our minds, our bank accounts, our families, our homes, our jobs, our world and our lives, among countless other things, not as much with the big unusual actions we occasionally take (although those can be important) but with the things we do consciously or unconsciously day after day after day. Think on that, because it’s with us in every moment like a heartbeat but how much attention to we ever give it considering how important it is?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Shoot for Magnificence

I’m looking at a couple of different things I’ve got going on at home, my self-review at work and helping my daughter with her science project (something for which neither of us has any enthusiasm), and although these things as well as many others in my life are thrown together in a slapdash way, they always come out okay. They’re not great, but they’re decent and they’re acceptable to other people.
This begs the question: What would I be capable of if I were really trying? I think great things. I also think the same applies to a lot of other people. So often we’re required to do things we don’t want to do and just make an effort to get past the problem. So I want to do something great and I want to do it deliberately.
There’s a school of thought which says that you’re not going to get greatness if you force it. I can understand this, but I also know that the truly magnificent things in this world weren’t created accidentally. Someone was shooting for magnificence. I want to create something incredible before I shuffle off, like an epic novel. I don’t necessarily want to tie myself up with an outline or anything, because I’ve always had trouble working from an outline, but maybe a real skeleton of a first draft to which I could add a lot in subsequent drafts. I’m going to get started.
By the way, if any of you out there have a lot of unfinished drafts hanging around, go finish them. Maybe they won’t turn out to be great art but you’ll get some experience in finishing things, not to mention writing. This all goes toward mastery of your craft. Stop reading now and get to work.