Posts Tagged ‘Editing’

One of the perils of being an innately contrary, frequently combative person is that you sometimes find yourself backed into a corner entirely of your own making, attacking in defence for no better reason than that it doesn’t occur to you to do otherwise. My psyche is friable of late; that doesn’t excuse bad behaviour.

Yesterday evening, I put up a thread of tweets about my editorial experience with my forthcoming book, A Tyranny of Queens. My comments were made in response to a different thread about fellow genderqueer author JY Yang’s difficulties in having the singular they accepted in their work. The thread struck a powerful chord with me: I felt moved to reply, and did so, as I often do in such instances.

The issue itself is important; vitally so. But the approach I took in broaching it was not.

In writing the thread, I made an early factual error: the editor in question, Amanda Rutter, was my structural editor, not my CE. That distinction is an obvious and crucial one to other, more experienced writers and professionals, but I am still a journeyman in that respect; I apologise for the confusion. I also erred in assuming that, because I hadn’t named Amanda directly, I’d somehow left her out of it; that I was discussing her editing in, not exactly a vacuum, but a context where her identity was both ambiguous and beside the point. I thought – inasmuch as it occurred to me to think – that, even assuming someone did realise who I was talking about, it wouldn’t actually matter, because the actual issue was a wider one.

As a social media veteran, I should have known better. I should have thought better, and I’m very sorry that I didn’t.

In referencing Amanda as clearly as I did – in citing her comments without first giving her warning or recourse to response; in letting my personal upset colour my discussion of an issue that exists beyond me – I behaved both badly and unprofessionally. My sincere apologies to Amanda for doing this; she deserved better of me.

I would also like to apologise to my publisher, Angry Robot, and to all the amazing people there who’ve worked with me, especially Marc Gascoigne and Phil Jordan. A Tyranny of Queens is a book which I’m immensely proud to have written, and the final product would be nowhere near as strong without the feedback, help and encouragement I’ve received from the AR team. Though hindsight renders the conviction both naïve and ridiculous, I can say with utter sincerity that I never intended any criticism of Angry Robot, whom I’ve always felt honoured to work with, and I’m furious with myself for slighting them in any way. I’m deeply sorry for this.

I’m sorry for putting my agency, Red Sofa Literary, in a position where they had to deal with my unprofessionalism, and I’m sorry for letting my actions detract from a very serious and necessary conversation, one I should have had the sense to contribute to in a far more productive manner.

It has long been my position that deleting things you said on the internet as a belated form of takebacks is a bad idea. For one thing, screenshots and retweets exist: removing the originals doesn’t ever stop their circulation, but rather tends to increase it, as the act of retraction makes more people eager to see and preserve what was (intemperately or wrongly) said. For another, and with very few exceptions, it strikes me as a gross way of pretending that the conversation never actually took place, like a form of self-distancing. This is why I’m leaving the thread itself intact: other conversations more useful than the original have sprung up from it and within it, and in a forum like Twitter, deleting any retweeted content is rather akin to shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. I said these things, and now I have apologised for them, and I hope that a more productive conversation will subsequently come from it.

I am sorry.

Advertisements

So, remember that thing where Mark Oshiro and I are co-editing the Speculative Fiction 2015 anthology? The fabulous cover and even more fabulous TOC are here! Feast your eyes on the magnificence!

SpecFic2015FrontCover4 (1)

And here’s the TOC:

  • Aaron Bady
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Aidan Moher
  • Alex Dally MacFarlane
  • Aliette de Bodard
  • Amal El-Mohtar
  • Arkady Martine
  • Bárbara Morais
  • Bogi Takács
  • Carrie Sessarego
  • Cecilia Tan
  • Charles Tan
  • Chinelo Onwualu
  • Claire Light
  • Claire Spaulding
  • Daniel José Older
  • Erica McGillivray
  • Erin Horakova
  • Fabio Fernandes
  • Fran Wilde
  • Iona Sharma
  • Ira Gladkova
  • JA Micheline
  • JY Yang
  • James Whitbrook
  • Kari Sperring
  • Kate Elliott
  • Keguro Macharia
  • Lauren Smith
  • Leah Schnelbach
  • Leslie Light
  • Lincoln Michel
  • Liz Bourke
  • L. J. Vaughn
  • M. Sereno
  • Mary Anne Mohanraj
  • Mathilda Gregory
  • Maureen Kincaid Speller
  • Miranda Dawson
  • N. K. Jemisin
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Octavia Cade
  • Phenderson Djeli Clarke
  • Renay Williams
  • Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • Rose Lemberg
  • S. L. Huang
  • Sady Doyle
  • Samantha Field
  • Sarah McCarry
  • Savannah Stoehr (honesteve)
  • Sofia Samatar
  • Sunil Patel
  • Tim Phipps
  • Troy L. Wiggins
  • Usman T. Malik
  • Vajra Chandrasekera
  • Veejane
  • Will Partin
  • Zen Cho

SpecFic’ 15 will be released in the summer and all profits from sales will be donated to Room to Read. We really hope you enjoy it!

It’s still in rough at this point, but for those of you who are interested, behold: The Key to Starveldt!

(Apologies for the tiny graphic – the other images I have are all Adobe PDFs, and I can’t figure out how to make them into JPEGs for ease of use.)

As I type this, the edited pages for TKTS are sitting just to my left, and I am anticipating that a fully updated manuscript will be sent back to Ford Street  – who now have a shiny new website – by the end of this weekend. I can’t give you a concrete release date yet, but right now, it’s looking to be sometime in August/September 2011. Apart from all the work involved in sending final edits back and forth, printing the actual books and organising promotions, the fact that I now live in Scotland means that physically getting myself to the launch has become a much more involved process than it was for Solace & Grief. However, while it would be nice to be on hand when the book hits shelves, I understand that certain of you are keen to see what’s been happening to Solace, Sharpsoft and the rest, so regardless of what happens with my travel plans, I’ll do my best to ensure the book comes out as soon as it reasonably can.

News!

Posted: November 6, 2010 in Life/Stuff
Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I have this whole half-written blog about the internet scuffling over steampunk this week that I want to post, but right now, I just don’t have the energy to finish it, because in less than two months, Toby and I will be moving from Melbourne, Australia to St Andrew’s, Scotland, where he has accepted a job. So, huzzah! But also exhaustion. Because two months is not a particularly long amount of time, and there are a hojillion billion things which must be done before then. The most significant of these involves teh visas, acquisition of which is guaranteed to break the human spirit faster than a crash course in waterboarding. Also, selling our unwanted possessions on eBay, figuring out what to do with our cats (who will eventually be coming with us, once the 6 months it takes to get them pet passports are up), buying airline tickets, looking at accommodation, getting those things we do want to keep freighted over, attending my sister-in-law’s engagement party, travelling to Sydney for an early Christmas and my mother’s 60th birthday, dealing with the next round of edits for The Key to Starveldt, finishing up my job and ending our lease, to say nothing of the fact that, prior to learning Toby had got the job, I signed up for NaNoWriMo.

So, a bit busy, then.

Having only found out about the job a week ago, it’s taken until now for the full reality of it to sink in. We’ve been running around organising things, telling people and trying to figure out what to do next, with the result that only today did it actually hit us that we are moving to Scotland. This resulted, not unappreciably, in a form of localised collapse, viz: multiple naps, a trip to Max Brenner’s for chocolate frappes, the renting of the new Sherlock Holmes movie (because action films starring Robert Downey Jnr are soothing unto my soul and, yea, also pleasant to look upon), and a world-first decision not to attend a friend’s karaoke party on the grounds of exhaustion.

By way of properly comprehending the import of this last, know that I will happily walk over poisonous snakes and swallow hot glass if it means I get to sing Kiss By A Rose in front of other people, many of them strangers. Because I love me some karaoke.

So, yes. Busy! But just for tonight, we will revel in a glorious state of pretend un-busyness. With Nicoise salad.

So, as per the ancient prophecies, by which I mean yesterday’s post, The Key to Starveldt now constitutes some form of finished product. I have completed my changes, read over the whole thing, and am feeling confident enough to pass it over to the eagle eyes of my publisher and editor. I do not have a release date, but you may now rest assured, dear readers, that Things Are In Motion. Huzzah!

That would be the good news. The bad is more of a rantish thing and completely unrelated to the above, so unless you share my rage at the current team of morons responsible for marketing Vegemite, feel free to leave class early.

Now, look. I have about as much native brand loyalty as the next person, which is a fancy way of saying that I am disinclined to making informed decisions about irrelevant shit. By and large, I do not care about ad campaigns, but seeing as how I am both a lazy mammal and prone to the influence of subliminal messages, there are doubtless times when my purchasing one brand of toilet paper or pasta sauce or whatever has less to do with the price and everything to do with the fact that I’ve heard of it before. If the product doesn’t entirely suck, I’m likely to buy it again – but then, the same is equally true of something I’ve tried and enjoyed, but never seen advertised. At base, humans are conservative creatures. We might like a wide variety of products from which to choose, but in reality, that only allows us to feel superior about our choices when money isn’t a factor in making them, and relieved that there’s a lower-cost option when it is. (For an interesting assessment of this phenomenon, I recommend you look here.)

For me, the main reason I try new brands at the supermarket has to do with money. If I see something cheap that appears to fulfill the same function as the more expensive item I originally reached for, chances are I’ll give it a shot. But, like it or not, there are a few instances in which I find myself buying the costlier product simply because of some wrongheaded, ingrained notion of its betterness. This is called brand loyalty, and for me – and, I suspect, most people – it manifests in the conscious mind as the end result of a skewed cost/benefit analysis. The logic goes like this: I know that the more expensive product is good, or at least, not so bad that I’ve stopped buying it, which has lead to an unresearched belief that what makes it good cannot possibly be duplicated at a lower price without a significant loss of quality. However, I am unwilling to test this theory on the offchance that it turns out to be right, because in the event that it is right, I will have wasted good money proving something I already knew. If I am wrong, then ignorance is bliss, and I am still getting something useable for my dosh. If the product is one I’ve been exposed to for a long enough period of time – like, for instance, the Australian institution that is Vegemite – then my brand loyalty is all the stronger. Stupidly so, because familiarity does not equal quality, but stronger nonetheless.

Not so long ago, there was webwide furor over Kraft’s blunder-slash-publicity-stunt with the iSnack 2.0, which occurence had me grining my teeth with frustration. It’s not that I spend large amounts of time lounging around and thinking about how marvellous Vegemite is, but the whole thing was so ludicrous that it was hard not to feel as though the global human intelligence had somehow been insulted, regardless of whether the move resulted from idiocy or base cunning. And then I found myself in the UK, where Marmite is plentiful and not at all frowned on as some kind of  usurper, and realised that actually, not only was it cheaper, it was also just as good. I mean, salty yeast product? How the fuck can Kraft have a monopoly on that? It’s not like there’s a secret Goddam recipe. The stuff is basically edible tar.

So when we came home to Oz, I went to the supermarket. I ignored the Vegemite and bought a jar of its cheaper, equally-as-delicious cousin. Exchanging one brand loyalty for another might not seem like the most momentous event in the world, but the thing is, I didn’t realise that was what had happened until just now, when I saw a rerun of this 2009 article, wherein the phrase “the new Vegemite experience” was used without irony to describe the original iSnack fiasco. And I thought, what the fuck, Marketing Guys? Foodstuffs are an experience now? Are they fucking really?

As a direct result of which, I have decided never to buy Vegemite again. In fact, I’m tempted to forego Kraft products completely! Because while my passive consumer hindbrain is mostly content to putter along on its own, there comes a point at which the idiocy of any one marketing department causes me to lose all faith in humanity. I have now reached that point, and damned if my hard-earned dollars aren’t better directed towards a product whose corporate engineers have not so blatantly assumed me to be a moron.

So, now I have a new consumer choice to feel smug about. I believe there’s phrase occasionally used to describe this phenomenon – something about cycles and visciousness, I wasn’t really paying attention – but I’m pretty sure it started life as part of an anti-dryer campaign organised by the Hills Hoist Liberation Army. Bastards.

OK, so, remember how I said I’d be back in a week, like, three weeks ago, and then I wasn’t?

Yeah. That may have been some species of lie.

It wasn’t deliberate. I didn’t set out to deceive you all. Well, when I say all, I mean whoever-you-are who reads this blog, because presumably someone does? I mean, it gets hits, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that at least some of you aren’t turning up here by accident after taking a wrong turn at Google. The point being, I’ve been absent. And now I’m trying to be…less absent.

So, by way of quick explanation: I was, in the first instance, sick. Two weeks ago, I took the Monday off, went in the next morning under the impression that I was cured, and then collapsed beneath a coworker’s desk while waiting for someone to sign off on my Sick Leave form. As in, I fainted. One minute, standing, the next…on my back, with a very bruised arm from where I’d cracked it on the edge of the desk, and trying to figure out how I’d got there. Sufficed to say, the sight of several concerned editors standing over me discussing what to do with my feet was rather alarming, especially given the fact that one of them was reading out loud from the First Aid manual. In the end, a friend drove me home and I stayed there until Thursday.

Then came a furious spate of work on The Key to Starveldt, which I’m hoping to hand to the publisher before the end of the month. This may be outrageous optimism on my part, given that I’m still not happy with the structure and flow of events in Act Three, but then again, I’ve met far crazier self-imposed deadlines in recent memory, so why the hell not? Since my recovery from the Fainting Flu, and taking into account the number of words I’ve also chopped out, the manuscript has grown by about 20,000 in a bit under two weeks. With the exception of two small scenes near the beginning, I’m almost 100% happy with the way the novel works up until about Chapter 17, at which juncture I am currently stalled. This is due almost entirely to the fact that the current version of TKTS is about the fourth major draft I’ve produced, each one being significantly different from its fellows, and while the ending has never changed, there are now about six scenes leading up to it that either have to be dropped entirely, massively sleeked to fit the flow or else recombined in a different order. That’s my goal for the next two weeks: thanks to a thoughtful lunchtime deminap under my desk today – because I have been known to sleep on the floor a’purpose, and not just after my immune system goes flonk – I’ve suddenly realised two very simple, obvious-in-retrospect Things I Can Do To Make The Third Act Work, which is extremely helpful. With the end in sight, I’m taking the deep breath before the plunge in preparation for my traditional mad dash to the ribbon. Wish me luck!

As for the rest of the time: I’ve had work, and extracurricular writing projects, and the discovery of romance novels, which is a whole ‘nother blog post in and of itself. Also, I may have played a bit of Wii Tennis and Super Mario Galaxy while rewatching all of Firefly with Toby. I know, I know. But now I’m back, so let’s have a digital hug and get on with business as usual. Rant, anyone?

There is every reason why today should have seen me curled in a foetal ball of nausea, hissing at natural light and sobbing at the prospect of solid food, viz: the fact that I stayed up until nearly 4AM last night listening to music from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and doing my level best, along with Fiona, in whose house we are currently lodging, to polish off a fifth bottle of wine. There are precedents for all these things, usually resulting in the afforementioned state of misery. Instead, I woke up at quarter to nine, made myself a large serving of scrambled eggs with pesto, ham and fetta, drank some OJ, brought the washing in, watched some Stars in Moderately Priced Cars segments from Top Gear on YouTube, and then spent the rest of the day writing. Admittedly, this also involved a nap around 3PM, the making of BLT sandwiches for our hungover household and a reasonable quantity of internetting, but by and large, I’ve had a productive day. Which is astonishing.

Currently, the sequal to Solace and Grief is sitting pretty at 50,000-odd words, many of which are being systematically replaced with better ones. As a WIP, The Key to Starveldt has been causing me endless strife, partly because of my perception that the second volume in any trilogy is inherently the trickiest, but mostly because I stuffed it up bonza on the first go. Happily, those scenes are now a thing of the past – well, almost – and the process of trying to fix my own errors before anyone else can point them out has been an extraordinarily valueable learning curve. After months of strategic note-making, scene-rearranging, word-scrapping and character-changing, I’m finally making what feels like genuine progress. Sure, the word count isn’t rising much, but that’s because I’m deleting old words at a rate  roughly consumate with my addition of new ones. 

And this time, it feels right.