… for now, at least. If you don’t know, Shelfari is a site that lets you put up a virtual bookshelf of your real bookshelf. At first I put up a few of my books, but then I went … overboard, and decided to put up all of my books. Well, all of my books in my apartment. I have maybe twice as many boxed up at my parent’s home. Also, I have a stack of books that apparently isn’t in the system, and I haven’t felt like adding them in yet. So, if you so choose, you can meander through the 671 books on my Shelfari Shelf.
Archive for December, 2008
I think it was Stephen King who said that if a writer reads a really bad book they should put it in a special place on their bookshelves as a reminder that if such crap can get published …. My crappy book is Starliner by David Drake, published in 1992. (ISBN 0-671-72121-6)
To be upfront, it has been probably 10-12 years since I read it, so if there are any factual errors in my description, it is only because of my faulty memory. Okay, the book follows the Third Officer of a starliner. The first two-thirds of the book basically follow him as the ship arrives at a new planet, he has an adventure, and then gets laid. Now I don’t have anything against going to new planets, having adventures, and getting laid, but after it happens four or five times in a row, it does get monotonous. Don’t worry, there’s more to the story. This liner’s sister ship hasn’t been heard from and the fear is that it has been hijacked. Well, it has and the hijackers attack this starliner. Why? I don’t remember. But anyway, this guy fights some of the bad guys and is on his way to fight some more when he blacks out. When he comes to, the fight is over and the good guys have won. End of book.
Don’t get me wrong, if this guy had gone to the fight and bravely defeated the lead hijacker, this book would have just been another bland, clichéd book. Having the hero black out yanks the rug out from the reader. Now, sometimes that is good. For example, there is this other book about a galactic war, and the Han Solo type – who was introduced on page 1 – commits suicide around page 100 (out of 400) to keep the secrets he knows from falling into enemy hands. That yanked the rug out from under me, but in a good way. I was honestly surprised by that. (I won’t mention the book because I would have to look it up and also because the rest of the book wasn’t that great.) But with Starliner, I mean, if I was younger I might have been thrilled by all the sex, but I had matured beyond that and was looking for a good story. But after plodding through all the monotonous sex, you start into some interesting action, and then the guy blacks out. It was a major let down.
What have I learned from this? If you’re going to break a cliché, it better be something that advances the story. Don’t break a cliché just to break a cliché.
For the past three years one of my writing groups – the Wordwrights – have gotten together for a holiday dinner. This year’s was on Thursday, and I’ve written up a little photo essay about the evening. Not everybody will get the inside jokes, but all can see how much fun we had.
Nine years ago, I worked the night shift at a gas station that was part of a truck stop. There were busy nights, but there were also nights where there would be hours between customers. At first I read, but then I wondered if I could use the time to write. So, on December 3, 1999, I took a notebook with me and started writing down my thoughts on the book I was reading – The Picture of Dorian Gray.
I wrote up incidents with my coworkers and customers, dreams, story ideas, and even stories. Anything to keep me writing. And it worked. I went through that first notebook in two months. A year later I declared December 3rd Writing Day – a day for me to focus on my writing. A great idea, but over the last few years I seem to forget about it until I’m a day or two late. Like this year, when I remembered it on the 4th. I hope, the reason it’s no longer such a big deal is that writing has become an almost daily thing with me so that a once-a-year holiday for writing just doesn’t cut it.