Hell isn’t other people. It’s me.


No way to capture, even with HDR, the range of tonal values in this photo; the dim cafe, my wonderful table in it, the music, my terrifying, momentary freedom.

You know when you buy junk food; a bag of fluorescent orange Cheetos or a can of pringles or a tub of Trader Joes peanut butter cups or whatever. And you think, it’s ok, if you don’t eat too much at once, it’s not that bad for you.

Then you eat the whole fucking thing.

The fleeting pleasure wiping out the sure knowledge of just how bad an idea this is. The moment collaborating in this nihilistic twinkling of fulfillment. Afterwards you feel stupid and degraded. Your finger tips are bright orange.

Oh, and you’re still hungry.

Well, social media is my bag of Cheetos. Probably not that bad for you, if you don’t eat like a huge bag a day. Or two.

I’m a triple bagger.

I have a few hundred readers on FB, or it seems like I do, versus the few dozen of my blog, so I tend to write over there, making Mark Zuckerberg some tiny fraction of a cent richer with every unpaid word.

Facebook’s business model, in which everyone is simultaneously a customer and a supplier and an employee, is perhaps one of the most horrific ideas to emerge from internet culture. FB makes up about half of all web traffic at this point. It is an entirely voluntary horror, of course; you don’t have to be there. You don’t have to have electricity, running water, or pants either, of course. There reality is if you want to be in business you’re on FB one way or another.

So. I’ve been pretending I have a busines being there.

I wrote a post recently, about how there’s this way now as a writer to check on your progress, or lack thereof, on a minute by minute basis, and experience a sense of failure and paralysis continually, shocking yourself, over and over again.

Watching books not sell; watching stories sit in queues, the days tick by, and then not sell, watching the awards spin by, checking absently for your name on various reading lists, etc. Googling reviews. Being careful not to replay to any.

It’s one of those things you have to learn to stop doing. Like eating the whole fucking bag of Cheetos.

I’ve been angry since the AME shooting. Politics consumes me.

I’ve had no good news on the writing front for what feels like a good long time. I’m finishing up the latest in a series of what feels like utterly doomed efforts. In retrospect, I know why I wrote them, but for God’s sake, I know, I shouldn’t have. Or rather, I know nobody wants to buy them.

Sure feels like my fifteen minutes are over.

One thing that social media, and email before it, has been able to do for me, though is to capture the sense of my personality over time. I can go back and read myself, over the last 20 years, in various ways. And find out that I’ve always been like this. Always hanging on by my proverbial finger nails. Since I was sixteen years old, or so, post-puberty, anyway.

For whatever reason, I’m happiest in made up worlds. Mine or those created by others. The worst imaginary dystopia is somehow less painful than our world, which I feel could be a utopia, if we weren’t so fucking idiotic a species. I’ve loved stories and shows and movies and games and writers and writing, and been barely able to stand anything else, for a long long time.

My few decades, moving in and out of various business-esque jobs and roles, inform me, but represent nothing I want to return to.

I struggle now with the political dimension of my very existence.

My participation in progressive politics triggers an intense self loathing; it is the feeling I had when I learned about the Holocaust, about the genocide of the native americans, the My Lai massacre, about Jim Crow and Slavery. The feeling I got when my wife explained that she would never dream of walking to the convenience store at night for fear of being raped.

The solid cores of my identity exist as a kind of shorthand for oppression, murder, and rape. European ancestry. White. Male. Het. Cis.

Add to that now, middle-aged. Boomer. The generation that ate the world, and gave us… all this.

I feel stuck.

If there is anything to gained by my fifteen minutes, my ten pro stories of my Second Try at writing, it has been an effort to bend my thinking in more positive directions through the sheer application of will.

Medication never worked. Mediation sort of worked. But writing, storytelling, works, when I let myself do it, because in story telling, you’re there, and your’e not there, you disappear and reappear moment by moment. Existence is less painful when it is periodic.

Fictively, I conspire, cajole, lie, if necessary, to create some sort of positive direction for my characters and plots. It’s like I’m trying to dream my way out of myself. Escape from the hideous legacy of my own identity.

For me, the lie is often what tells the truth; because my mind lies to me a lot. In this I think I am far from alone, of course. Sanity is really just a kind of useful delusion.

I model it, to the degree I’m able. I’m pretty good at it really.

I’ve lived now among the humans for half a century, and they think of me as one of their own.

I had a dream last night, it was so good, so pure, that it made my whole life feel like an ill fitting suit. It’s a feeling I’ve been struggling to hold onto, even though it is painful, so I can put it into something.

A few more hours left in the day. Let’s see what I do.

Posted in Making a Writing Life

Advice to a Newish Youngish Writer

When as a youngish person I first thought I'd write a short story...

When as a youngish person I first thought I’d write a short story…

So a person FB messaged me to say he’d read my F&SF stories and wondered if there were any more. I said no, but happily thrust a indy-pubbed antho of four of my Asimov’s stories at him, which, you know, is something writers might do, if you talk to them.

Be warned.

It turns out he’s a writer, or trying to be, though he has yet to submit anything, and he’s tried doing some workshops, but nobody around him is taking it seriously. Classes have been briefly useful, but haven’t given him any lasting writing community.

I’ve written my cycle of pieces on workshops, there’s a sidebar link to that category, which are sort of the diary of my creative life to date, and there’s info in there, but its mixed with a lot of autiobiography.

This will be more focused. He says.

I’m 51. I am speaking now to 20-30 year old me, who might or might not be like this guy, or like my friend Rob, or Leslie, or Ben, from one of my workshops. I don’t think they read this blog. (Between you and me and Google Analytics, very few people read this blog. Shhhh. It’s ok. It’s fun to write anyway.)

1. Write some prose everyday.

2. Write when your life is a mess. I have personally lived through long periods of unemployment, underemployment. The temptation, when the market keeps telling you you are worthless, is to internalize that message and figure you have nothing in you worth saying. So you waste that time. Then, when you have work again,  you’re tired, and you kick yourself, because now, you wish you had time to write.

If you have time to write, write. Please. Fifty one year old me it telling you. There is time in your life you are wasting, youngish, newish, person.

Waste an hour a day less of it. Write.

3. Finish what you write. Badly, if you have to. Do a sucky job. Write a terrible ending you are ashamed of. But finish it. You only grow when you finish. Its like the end of the Dungeons and Dragons game, where the points get totaled. Level up! (I know how dated this reference is. Sorry.)

4. Share what you write with someone who will read it and talk to you about what they thought you were saying. These people at first are not professional, but, they are readers who read books like the ones you are trying to write. Do not share your writing with people who do not read the genre you are writing; when you do, in workshop settings, listen politely to what they say, but don’t take it to heart. You will be told that old ideas are really novel and wonderful, or, that your text is completely unintelligible, both statements true, for that person, and both statements that don’t mean anything.

Professional people, in general, will have no time to talk to you yet, because most of you will quit, and the value in most prose is roughly equal to the gold content of sea water. Gold is in there, but there’s no profitable way to distill it. So accept the fact that for the first few years or so, you’re on your own.

If this writing and sharing process is enjoyable for you, and you actually do it, I grant you permission to call yourself a writer. Should we meet in the real world, which is unlikely, I will sign something to this effect, if you want. You are a writer.

Now, that that you have the scarecrow’s diploma, do you still want to write? If so, repeat steps 1-4.

6. Send finished things to appropriate people, as a kind of second opinion, to see if what they say lines up with what your non-professional readers say. So your girlfriend or best friend or workshop friend says your stuff is as good as Stephen King? Way cool! See if you can sell it. Google on-line market listing sites. (Submission Grinder and Duotrope are two current ones.)

Things that might happen:

  • Your friends say you are great, but you get only form rejections. Keep writing.*
  • Your workshop mates say you aren’t publishable, and you get form rejections. Keep writing.*
  • Your workshop mates say you aren’t publishable; you sell the stories they said wouldn’t sell. Keep writing.*
  • You aren’t published but you get short notes after very long waiting times from editors that sound sort of nice. Believe every nice thing said. Keep writing. *

So this is the broad outline. Right now, my youngish newish reader is stuck on the ‘finding people to work with’ stage. He’s in a smallish city. I did my writing life in a big one. I’m going to do some research on on-line workshops for that, and get back to that for him.

* What is the asterix? It’s the caveat, if you want to. If it feels right. Note, I didn’t say good, because sometimes, the stuff we have to do doesn’t feel good exactly.


Posted in Making a Writing Life, Workshopping Short Fiction

Help me keep my current job…



So, one of the things I’ve been doing lately is working for this magazine put out by my long-time friend, editor, and supporter Warren Lapine. I was published in the first Fantastic anthology he put out, before the webzine started. Now I’m on the staff.

Getting a new magazine off the ground in this day and age isn’t easy. Doing it while Amazon is re-inventing publishing from the ground up makes it even harder. But the magazine has shown steady growth in readership, has attracted some great stories by new and established writers, and is becoming an important part of the online magazine world.

Unforeseen circumstances–there are a lot of them in writing and publishing–has forced the  magazine to seek gap-funding while it continues to build towards a sustainable business model.

So. Here’s where you come in.


For ten dollars, you can get the first five issues as a perk.

Any contribution is appreciated. Five dollars would be wonderful. I can see where the hits and money come from, so, I’ll know, if you do me this solid. Thanks for listening.

Oh. I do the cover design/illustration and the web stuff. I do those things.

Posted in Fantastic Stories, Reinventing Science Fiction

Auditioning for Starship Sofa

So I got this tweet…

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 11.58.47 PM

and I thought, hey, that’s way cool.

I’m not a big podcast person, and so, like an idiot, I wasn’t aware of the stature of the folks whose stories are in this thing, so I thought, hey, I’m in this thing, this will be nice.

I get now that I have been invited to submit, submissions are by invite only, so, I did.

There’s stuff here by golden age masters I read in my teens and the hottest up-and-comers like Ken Liu, so, anyway. it’s cool to be considered, regardless of what happens.

I sent the requested story, and a few more as well, so, we’ll see what happens.

Very exciting though.

Posted in Making a Writing Life, My Publications

We interrupt this blog to bring you this important announcement…

Actually, it’s not that important.

But here it is anyway. I’m writing to tell you that, every time you read something you really like, that really moves you, that you think is really cool, you should feel free to google the author and see if there’s a place to mention this to her.

You can also search on twitter; some authors don’t make it easy to email them, but, they allow twitter comments to be made to them publicly. Twitter comments are short of course. What you might be able to say to someone you bumped into.

Either way, what I’m saying is, feel free to say, ‘hey, I liked X. (insert name of thing for X, the story or novel or show or comic or whatever.)

It makes a difference, in the life of the writer, to hear that.

I guess it’s no secret here that I have had battles with depression, with writer’s block. Tons of people do. The comments I’ve gotten on my work to date, the positive ones, anyway, heh, have made a difference to me.

If you are like me at all, and you try to make things, there will be times when you’re pretty sure that nothing you say or do is worth the doing.

As I’ve gone along, I have collected now, a small series of badges, of sales, of notices, and when the ego collapses, as it does for me now and then, leaving me becalmed in a sea of futility, I find every single scrap of acknowledgment comforting.

I had a friend who was an art director I worked for, who talked about managing designers, and looking at what they’d done, and even if it wasn’t usable, wasn’t anything he wanted to show a client, the fact of it, the proof that work was done, was there, in what he called ‘evidence of industry.’

So I’m pushing t through  my latest collapse, putting words down still, looking forward to feeling better about it again.


Evidence of industry.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Asimov’s novella “Of All Possible Worlds will be included in Allan Kaster’s Best of the Year antho

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 1.20.51 PM

Just an example of this antho series, not the one I will be in. So you know I’m not making it up.

I was delighted to get a note from Mr. Kaster asking me if I’d like to be included in his anthology of Best of the year Short SF novels. The anthology is ebook and audiobook, which is exciting, as I’ve never had anything of mine done as an audiobook before.

The list of authors included in these anthologies sparks this trip down memory lane for me; there are my Clarion instructors from the 90s, Nancy Kress and Michael Swanwick; there are the folks from the Cambridge Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop, Steven Popkes and Alex Jablokov, who exposed me to high-powered workshops before I went to Clarion, at Readercon, back in the day.

There are a bunch of people I’ve read in Asimov’s over the years, Robert Reed and Elizabeth Bear, Steven Baxter, Greg Egan, Allen Steele…

Mr. Kaster has been putting out anthos since 2000 or so, so there’s over a hundred names of authors I could mention, but these leapt out at me, people I’d looked up to, workshopped with, studied under.

It’s a good feeling; the story was short-listed for the Dozois year’s best but didn’t make the cut in the end, so it’s nice for it to appear here; one of the only complaints about Kaster’s anthos is that sometimes there’s too much overlap with the Dozois or other collections, so, in this case, I’m glad to be of service.



The story will also be translated into Czech and published there in XB1, which is way cool.

Today, indeed, is a good day for me.



Posted in Uncategorized

Geoengineering and Contraceptives, Plan B on a World Like Ours


Now five years old, this book is still a good introduction to the ideas at play in the geo-engineering debate. It’s a terrifying read. The subhead could be changed, now, however, to read Science’s Best Hope AND worst nightmare.

A traditional liberal-progressive handwringing over the horrors of geo-engineering appeared in the NYT yesterday. As a hand-wringing progressive liberal, the piece irritated me, as it cleaves through the center of my political ideology vis a vis climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The piece is dead-on. If anything it understates its thesis. Geoengineering is horrifying. But of course, as most MSM pieces, it also understates the degree to which we are already completely screwed by the carbon already trapped in our atmosphere–and the carbon represented in the already mapped fossil fuel reserves which  make up the bottom line of the stock prices of many of the worlds largest companies.

Like the most profitable company in the world, who we give billions in tax breaks to look for more of the product which makes them rich—a product that will kill us all, if we don’t start using much less of it, immediately. Or better yet, five years ago.

Think about how fucked up that last sentence is.

If we burn more than a quarter of the reserves already mapped, we will destroy civilization.

And we subsidize the most profitable company on Earth with our tax system so they can find more. 


Now think about arctic methane catastrophe, and read this article if you don’t know what that is.

In this thing liberals, who are often good at handing out bandaids and incrementally improving situations with shitty compromise workarounds, see the perfect as the enemy of the good. Perhaps emboldened by the belief that another progressive era is somehow just around the corner, that the zeitgeist hasn’t over the last thirty years slid five time zones to the right.

Liberals who scoff at the idea that knowing about contraceptives might lead to more sex are adamant that knowing about geo-eningeering will make abatement impossible.

Here’s the thing; for CO2 abatement to reach the levels we need it to in the next few years, we basically need be living in a just world. Because cold people burn things to stay warm. Starving people dig money out of the ground, if you have maps of where that money is buried. Greedy people do, too. And we’ve made the maps already.

I’m all for a just world order; but the time to construct that order will not be while said world falls apart, which it is going to do in the next decade or two. It’s too late to pretend we are a mature species. We are crammers. We are the species that plays video games nonstop until a day or two from finals. We are the species that makes new years resolutions and abandons them a week later.

We are a species without grownups. Our elites lack the capability of long-term thought or thinking.

The people who own this planet, who have concentrated wealth in a tiny fraction of the world’s populace, back political movements which undermine the basic infrastructures of the societies they harvest for their wealth. Our elites no longer support the building of roads and bridges, railroads or transit systems, dams or power grids. Our elites think they can re-invent public education on the cheap by union busting and increased use of the gizmos they make and sell.

Our elites are deranged.

In MA, our fuckwad GOP governor, who as a manager of the big dig added billions to the MBTAs debt in cost overruns, just blamed the current failure of the MBTA not on resource depletion, lack of investment, but on bad management. Because, you know, acknowledging that the system was underfunded would mean tax hikes.

I’m not HAPPY about plan B, anymore than a parent is happy about a sexually active 15 year old child, but geo-engineeriung and birth control are wonderful things in worlds that turn out to be sub-optimal.

Like ours.

Posted in Climate Change

Interview with Myself


Me wearing contact lenses signing copies of Asimov’s at the Brooklyn Book Fair, Sept 2014. My friend Steven Solomon is behind me. This photo proves I am in fact, human, made of meat, and not some disembodied renegade AI which spawned itself in the Amazon cloud, emerging out of a critical mass of monster porn.

A writer friend of mine, Kayeigh Shoen, invited me to participate in this blog-tour. So here it is.

1) What are you working on?

I’m currently working on SF short stories and novellas. Some of the stories are decades old fragments, stuff I thought I’d write when my skills were up to the task and / or I started selling. Well, I am selling now, so premises that have been lurking in the wings forever are now turning into words on the page.

I have  three novels started, but I’m waiting for some weird sign from The Cosmic All to tell me which to continue. Any day now. I hope.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I tend to write about people with, um, issues, with whom I can empathize. As a person with issues. Genre fiction is often built around kinda bland heros, decent everymen / everywomen… Side characters can be kooky and villians, of course, can always be textured and multidimensional, but protagonists… my protagonists feel to me a bit off the beaten path.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. We’ll see!

3) Why do you write what you do?

I write genre fiction because I enjoy it, and I feel like I’m allowed to write it. Genre elements, for me, push stories away from solipism, navel gazing, self-important pseudo-memoir, towards the mythic, the universal. I struggle to be purely entertaining, but of course, art and deep personal meaning creeps in around the edges.

There’s a reason fairy tales and myths survive for millennia.

There is no literary fiction from the Bronze age. All that’s left in the end is myth, fairy tales, religious texts, which themselves are a kind of fantasy. Please nobody kill me for that last sentence, OK? I devote myself to this stuff. I’m not trivializing it.

Why would anyone write anything else? Seriously, though, SF, which I mostly write, can be ephemeral and often ages badly… I am drawn into it for the usual reasons; geeky-techno lust, a brain that ceaselessly extrapolates trends into the future, that conjures worlds into being uncontrollably.

4) How does your writing process work?

My process is a work in progress.

In the past it has involved getting depressed and quitting for decades, so, I’m working on not doing that anymore. Double-plus Un-good.

Stories work themselves out on the page. There is salvation in simply sitting down and making words every day and seeing what happens without a ton of agonizing. I’m trying to think of something more cliched or less useful I can add to that, but I’m drawing a blank.

I aspire to be a plotter, and while I often am working towards some end which has been foreseen, the good parts, the fun stuff, emerges from the seat of my pants, if you’ll pardon the disgusting metaphor, which maybe you shouldn’t.

My process now involves being honest with myself about what I enjoy most in the writing of others, and what I can find inside myself which to some degree resonates with what I like to read.

This seems painfully obvious, self-evident, but for decades I found that as a person I liked to make people laugh, while as a writer I seemed intent on making them cry. It came to me that this was because some part of me disliked being alone, which one is while writing, I was also nervous about my work being rejected, and I was translating that discomfort into my text.

I call this the ‘poisonous subtext feedback loop,’

I write now in the company of my imaginary friends, who are more real to me now than ever, the made-up people on the page, with more joy and freedom than before, with some sense that what I am writing willl be read, and I want to give those readers the best experience it is in me to give.

We don’t become writers to give ourselves a shitty job. I look for the joy in the process, I look for the light, which anyone reading me will snort at, I’m sure, as there’s plenty of dark in what I do too.

And to a degree, the work is becoming its own reward. Thank God.

Practical suggestions: I leave the house to write, so I don’t do housework as procrastination. My family isn’t happy about this but I get more work done.

Cafe-writing also prevents prolonged day-time napping. (Freelance clients also prevent naps, but as I’m trying to move way from design towards writing: cafes, walking, workshops, and coffee, have been hugely important.)

I write with other people, trying to set up deadlines and expectations of word counts, hoping that my own productivity can be inspirational to others.

This can help short circuit depression and ego-fatigue.

Posted in Making a Writing Life

Sales and Galleys and Readings and Anthologies…

I’m trying to move this blog away from astonished-at-my-own-small-success postings, self-deprecating humor, to something with more universal appeal. I have a small blog readership. I’d reach more people with a bullhorn in Harvard Square.

One recurring theme which I think is uplifting is the idea of the second act, the second chance. It’s pretty bloody reassuring for those of us in our fifties and I imagine, if one was in one’s twenties, it would also be reassuring. You can shit the bed for decades! And still end up somewhere!

What’s more, the nitty gritty reality of the writing life has never been more on display. Simply follow and friend your favorite authors and you’ll be exposed to the process in a way that, even a decade ago, was unheard of.

Follow and friend the people you publish with in the magazines, your editors; google your reviews…

…Ok, lost a half hour there. Sorry. I’m back. Even ambivalent reviews of my work give me chills. People are reading me!

Authors tweet, blow by blow, their struggles with manuscripts; word counts, revisions, the dark, bleak moments of hopelessness which seem to be a part the process, and the heady joys of completion and success–and publication, and, on occasion, acclaim.

And so, I’ll say now, casually, that I’ve sold my second story to F&SF, a story titled Things Worth Knowing, and that I have galleys in hand; if they’re from the same editor who worked on my first F&SF story I know there will be a bunch of really smart changes in the PDF.

It’s  a delight, to have someone work on your text, make it better, as it goes out the door. Every now and then you’ll disagree, you’re making some point the the editor didn’t get, but nine times out of ten, you smack your forehead and say “great googly moogly, how did that get by me?”

I’ll also mention, oh so casually, the possibility of being included in a very cool anthology, which I’ll know about for sure in a month or so.

Mostly, I’m here to tell you, I’m out in the world pounding on my aging Macbook Air with the flickery screen, lugging my backpack full of books, drinking coffee in Cambridge Massachusetts, surrounded by people younger and hipper and more beautiful than I am, to be sure, but I’m here. I’m writing. People are reading what I write.

Life is good.

Take a stab at whatever it is you really want to do. Humiliate yourself at an open microphone, get your stories and poems rejected, write a goddamn screenplay, fiddle with a useless agent for a decade, paint a picture, write a song, make bad art, make good art, and play nicely with others while you do. Keep your heart open, keep your head in the game.

You never know where you might end up, in twenty years or so.

Posted in Making a Writing Life, My Publications

Reading Out Loud

One of the several hundred books I've read to my kids over the last eight years. I include it as an illustration because I have fond memories of this trilogy; great characters and good plotting.

One of the several hundred books I’ve read to my kids over the last eight years. I include it as an illustration because I have fond memories of this trilogy; great characters and good plotting.

About eight years ago, I started reading out loud to my two boys. My wife started the job, using board books, picture books from the library. At some point we stopped being selective, we’d just grab a fifty pound stack off the shelf every week and read them all. I didn’t do all that many of those, for some reason, I was doing freelance stuff a lot and opted out. I’m not sure why.

I came into my own when we started reading chapter books, middle grade stuff, and young adult. I read on school nights only. Its part of the on-going negotiations required to make them go the fuck to bed. And if it sounds as if our parenting style packs the punch of UN security council resolution, well, you’re right, and shut up about that.

Because my boys are teenagers now, 14 and 16 and I’m still reading to them. Which is amazing and wonderful.

At some point, a few years back, I realized that this was the best time of the day for me. The reading. I’d turn out the lights and use a head mounted flash light; or I’d buy the books for the iPad or Kindle Paperwhite. My words would fill the darkness. And I’d be transported to another time and place.

Like anything else, if you do something for hundreds and hundreds of hours over a span of years, you get better at it. It becomes comfortable, and then second nature.

Hint: writing should be like this, too.

You do simple voices for the characters; then you add accents; it helps a listener, who has temporarily zoned out remember who is speaking. Keep the protagonists voice very close to your own, though, or you’ll be very very sorry.  You may end up with a generic male / female voice, an old person voice and a little kid voice; maybe that’s all you need.

When you read something out loud, you’re forced to notice it. You see and shape each word, engaging multiple brain regions and sensory motor cortex machinery. Reading aloud is more than reading to yourself.  It’s also of course, much slower. That’s the trade off.

If you’re me, as you read some part of you is reading ahead, and seeing dialog tags, so you know which voice to use (and you every now and then get it wrong; I always say, ‘whups, wrong voice’ and reread the passage in the right voice when that happens.)

You sense prose mistakes viscerally. like hitting a pothole while driving. A conversation that is interrupted by some huge block of description or interior monolog, which you return to — only now you don’t remember what people are talking about? Yup. You spot those.  Some prose tinkering engine in your brain will automatically rewrite sentences lightly as you read, snipping out names that could be pronouns, swapping in names when you feel the pronoun has become ambiguous, etc etc. You can’t stop yourself.

When the kids were younger, I’d hit a word I thought they didn’t know, I’d ask them what it meant; if they didn’t know it, I’d tell them what it meant; then I’d read the sentence again. Do this a few thousand times over a few years and I’m guessing you’re helping your kids with reading comprehension.

The text becomes a shared experience you can talk about. Not something that you’d think would be all that special, but if your family has devolved into a group of people watching their own personal screens, if sitting together on a couch and watching a movie or TV show all together has become increasingly rare as your kids get older, then the shared book is very cool indeed.

Mostly it’s a chance to be there, with them, when they read stuff that will get inside them and change them.

When Sirius black dies in the forth Harry Potter, my kids both burst into tears. They’d never known death, not even a pet, at that point, and those people were so real, my kids hope that Harry could have a family was so strong, that that experience was mind blowing. It was sad and I felt for them, you felt bad, for making them cry, and I felt jealous, for the immediacy, for the experience they were having, so raw and real.

You can vicariously re-enter the texts of your youth, the books that made you, and you drag your kids along with you.

I know that it won’t go on for much longer. But it has been a great thing. I recommend it for all humans, but for writers particularly.

Read out loud. It’s awesome. I’m guessing it makes you a better writer, too.

Posted in Making a Writing Life, Self Indulgent Mémoire

That Universe We Both Dreamed Of

Jay O'Connell's First Asimov's Short Story (0.99 cent short story)
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Four Worlds & Counting

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