Bluejo's Journal

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4th May 2015

3:04pm: What Makes This Book So Great nominated for Locus Award
What Makes This Book So Great is nominated for a Locus award in the Nonfiction category, yay!

Check out the whole list, so much really great stuff there. It's not a perfect list, there are things I'd have liked to see that aren't there -- like Ruthanna Emrys's "Litany of Earth", and Patrick Rothfuss's "Slow Regard of Silent Things" but it's really a very good list.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to go to the Locus Awards because it's the weekend I'm going to ALA and I can't be in San Francisco and Seattle at the same time.
2:53pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2889 (some Friday, some today)
Total words: 63559
Files: 5
Tea: GABA dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter

Well, that's that chapter done. And rysmiel says the alien biology works.

Also, There's a giveaway for The Philosopher Kings on Goodreads.

1st May 2015

7:29pm: Tolkien's refutation of Plato
Socrates said he was waiting to hear
An answer to whether it's useful to see
The world through reflections that are poetry
Or whether it's better to lay things out clear.

He's waiting, with Glaucon, it's poetry's turn
To argue with Socrates: good for the soul
Or pretty fake shadows obscuring the goal?
The question's still open, they're eager to learn.

Tolkien would explain that all art still can save,
It isn't mimesis, artists subcreate,
Art comes around corners to help us be great
Grabs us hard by the soul and heads out of the cave.

So would you learn wisdom, learn virtue, do well?
Art's a friend at our side as we try to excel.

I just posted this as a comment on Daily Nous, where it was, honestly, relevant, and they asked for comments in verse, so there. Putting it here (as usual with reposted comment poetry) so I can find it again. Over there, I was posting it to an audience who know Plato, but probably not Tolkien, here, the opposite, how interesting.

So footnotes: Plato -- in book 10 of The Republic, Socrates and Glaucon really do decide to leave the argument about whether or not poetry, and art in general, is good for the soul or whether it's just imitation (mimesis) and pleasant but not beneficial, and Socrates says he'll hear arguments either in poetry or in prose on poetry's behalf. Some people think that ass Aristotle made a response to this in his Poetics, but in fact I don't think there was a really good argument in response to Plato on this point until Tolkien's On Fairy Stories, 1939, where Tolkien explains the concept of "subcreation" which was exactly what Socrates needed. And he would have been pleased and excited.

29th April 2015

4:31pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2388
Total words: 60669
Files: 5
Tea: GABA Dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, also nearly time to make dinner

Another Crocus chapter. Crocus chapters are fun.

If you read my Thud posts, you will naturally encounter a certain level of spoilers. I do try to be careful about spoiling certain things that I think would spoil enjoyment of reading. I am having extra trouble with this for this book, because so much spoils either the end of book 1 or the end of book 2, and the end of book 2... well, both endings are deliberately deus ex machina. So I'm not saying the other thing I got to have fun with in this chapter. But it was fun!

I expect spoilers for the end of The Philosopher Kings to be all over once more people have read it, but I advise you to read it unspoiled if you can. It's coming out June 30th, that isn't all that long now. Ths snow has all melted and there and flowers starting, it's nearly May.

Oh, and thinking about the end of June, I am going to ALA again. It's in San Francisco this year, which is much more civilized. So I will be in San Francisco at the end of June if anyone wants to meet up in between me doing ALA things. Let me know. And of course, I'll also be in San Francisco in August for the Tiptree event, so lots of chances for Bay Area people to hang out with me this summer!

27th April 2015

3:56pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2874
Total words: 58198
Files: 6
Tea: White tea with Elderflower, and before that Blue People
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, finally

I've been writing this chapter since Friday, very glad to have it done. I also sort of know what I'm doing with the end, I think.

And you know how people say oh, having FTL in something makes it fantasy, and usually I've heard people say this in a sneering kind of way that seems like it's putting down both magic and FTL because neither of them are actual science, and actual science trumps everything? In this universe, I have a metaphysical explanation for how FTL works which works with both the (Platonic) physics and (Neoplatonic) metaphysics of this universe. I've known this for ages, but an alien just very neatly explained it. Not the alien who works on a fishing boat. A different alien. There are lots of aliens. Robots too, And FTL drives. Nevertheless, it remains fantasy.

Oh, and that reminds me, there was a starred Kirkus review of The Philosopher Kings. This makes no sense because a) they always hate me, and b) they hated the first book, which is better. But no accounting for taste.

23rd April 2015

4:33pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2937
Total words: 54786
Files: 6
Tea: GABA Dragon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter, time to make dinner

So that's chapter 20 done. I finally got the people out of the room and headed off in different directions!

Is there an ungendered term for "fisherman"? I've managed to get away without using it so far, but I sort of need it for "I'm not a philosopher, only a fisherman. Plato's Allegory of the Cave is good enough for me." The person saying this is male, so he could say fisherman, but the two other people who work on the fishingboat are a woman and an alien, so it would be nice to have a term that worked for all of them if possible. Fisherman, fisherwoman, fisheralien is just too clunky.

22nd April 2015

7:25pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2905
Total words: 51748
Files: 6
Tea: White tea with Elderflower and Apricot, then Elderflower and Lemon
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter

So that's chapter 19 done. Progress!

21st April 2015

3:11pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2789
Total words: 48843
Files: 6
Tea: White Orchard
Music: Brandenberg Concertos
Reason for stopping: end of chapter 18

That chapter was much easier than the previous chapter! Now I have to figure out the next one. Always the way.

"Trying to use words. And every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learned to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling
Undisciplined squads of emotion."

T.S. Eliot, East Coker, Four Quartets

There's masses in Four Quartets about how difficult it is to write. On the one hand, it's suprising there's not more poetry about that, considering. On the other, what do people who don't write make of it? It's like Paul Simon assuming that writing songs is a basic human activity.

20th April 2015

3:53pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2675
Total words: 46032
Files: 6
Tea: Pu erh, then elderflower and lemon
Music: Brandenberg concertos
Reason for stopping: I was writing this on and off all weekend, not really stopping

Chapter 17 done, very slow and annoying and containing too many people, but mostly OK now I think. Now working on chapter 18.

Boat people -- if you were familiar with sailing schooners and really very familar with little Greek fishing boats (some of them with solar powered emergency motors, perhaps) and you saw a trireme for the first time, what would be the obvious things you'd notice and mention as differences? I want a couple of things to put into "this boat was weird because" in addition to the colour of the sails.
12:31pm: Philisopher Kings ARC on Con or Bust
The Con or Bust auction is live, and as usual they have a ton of great stuff -- go and see. There is a copy of the Philosopher Kings ARC, signed and with the word "Capitalize" hand-crossed-out by me, and if you want to bid, get over there and do so.

(I only have one ARC left which I'm donating to the Balticon auction, which essentially means I have no ARCs left.)
9:52am: Among Others nominated for Seuin
Among Others has been nominated for a Seiun, the Japanese award.

This is really neat.

For one thing, it means it has been nominated for awards in five seven countries now -- US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Spain.

For another, there's a really awesome shortlist, the kind of shortlist that it's really exciting to be listed on, where just being listed with those books is a huge honour, and also where whatever wins it'll be great. It's for books that were translated into Japanese last year, so the books obviously came out in English at different times.

Ernest Cline Ready Player One
Ian MacDonald The Dervish House
John Scalzi Redshirts
Jo Walton Among Others
Andy Weir The Martian

Yay, Seiun, go Japanese fans and their excellent taste.

16th April 2015

3:10pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 2509
Total words: 43357
Files: 6
Tea: Jin Die
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: end of chapter and have to get ready to go out

Unexpectedly fun Crocus chapter.

No, that's not fair, all the Crocus chapters have been fun, to the extent that when stuck I've been asking myself if I couldn't write the whole book in Crocus POV. (No.) Unexpectedly plot-heavy, is what.

14th April 2015

9:24pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 1667
Total words: 40768
Files: 5
Tea: Elderflower and Lemon
Music: Actually nothing
Reason for stopping: Chapter done, also bedtime.

So that's that chapter done, good.

And, over 40k, so technically a novel, excellent. Not quite half way yet.

There's that thing where you suddenly realise that there's a paragraph that could be a whole other book -- it isn't going to be, because I really wouldn't enjoy writing it, and because I try to write only the books nobody else could write. But it could be -- a person goes and spends a year in a place and has adventures and comes back changed.
4:43pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 1715
Total words: 39101
Files: 5
Tea: Magic writing tea (Huiming Vert, but they told me it was magic writing tea and I am so very not arguing here)
Music: Brandenberg Concertos
Reason for stopping: not actually stopping, wanted to ask some stuff

So having finished stupid chapter 14, with the stupid 9 person conversation, I'm now half way through stupid chapter 15, with only three people, yay, and some actual events not just talking, but the time travel irritation of having to deal again with a character I killed off in the last volume. This is nobody's fault but my own.

Notes and Queries

1) Could you have a solar powered outboard motor for a boat? If so, why don't we have them? If not, why not?

2) Name your favourite slave revolts and emancipation proclamations, whole planet all of time.

Also, Hermes hates the Enlightenment because powdered wigs. It makes sense to me! It may even make sense to you eventually.
9:59am: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award
My Real Children has won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award in the category of Best Fantasy Novel. (It's still SF, but never mind.) This makes the fourth time a book of mine has won this nifty award.

Here's a list of all the winners and you can see the huge range of genres they cover.

12th April 2015

10:04pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 3530
Total words: 36844
Files: 5
Tea: Dr Stuart's Elderflower and Lemon (Hey, I bought some online, and it came in a box with the customs form marked "beauty products". Who knew?)
Music: Brandenberg Concertos
Reason for stopping: bedtime

This is about half Thursday and half today.

So this chapter is insane. Talk about council scenes -- why did it seem like a good idea to write a scene that has nine people in it many of them people who like to talk, and some of them people who will not shut up? Also, time travel, wah. Having time travel in a book means you're inherently writing out of order even when you're not. Necessity, bah. Anyway, I finally got it sort of working and I'm going to bed. I can work on it more tomorrow. And there are two more chapters before I get to another one that's as hard as this one.

Also, in Camellia Sinensis this afternoon they gave me some magic tea. I haven't tried it yet, but just having it in the house seems to be helping, so we'll see how it goes.

Next time I am going to write a nice easy book, because this is the hardest thing I've ever written except Lifelode.

Also, apart from the bits where people are in different times, and the Crocus bits, this whole book so far has covered about four hours.

10th April 2015

4:41pm: The other Godzilla sonnets
Posted for carbonel

Godzilla in Shakespeare

She was too big to sneak, she couldn't hide,
She did well at Harfleur, the wall went down,
If Bardolph then got splatted in the town
All well and good, Flewellyn got to ride.

Verona fell out differently, no feud
Of family could stand against those feet
She could go nowhere that required a street
Dancing or love-making, too big, too crude.

When troops were needed, she advanced before,
She sheltered Lear on the blasted heath
She stood outside, or waited underneath,
And lurked before the walls of Elsinore.

She couldn't seem sincere as Romeo.
As Caliban she really stole the show.

Godzilla Weeps for Baldur

A little Viking boat, with tattered sail,
Frigg, by the curved carved prow, bids everyone
To weep for Baldur, her lost murdered son
To bring him back from Hel, she cannot fail.

She's what, a radioactive dinosaur?
Destruction manifest, and Japanese?
Frigg begged her, even deigning to say please
And left her sitting weeping by the shore.

Aesir and monsters close beneath the skin
Berserk rampager -- Frigg could work with that
She told her what they'd lost, and as they sat
Godzilla wept for Baldur, as for kin.

So what was Baldur that Godzilla cared?
Each cherry-blossom petal that she'd spared.

Godzilla in Love

It is the nightingale and monsters all
Come tripping through the glades of some strange wood
Godzilla sulking, trying to be good
All balconies inevitably fall.

(All right, she stomped Verona really flat.)
But this is different, this is fairy-time,
With transformations, turning on a dime
The size of others, and she longs for that.

Or failing that, some great iambic man,
Scaled up to her and talking like the Bard
They'd stomp together, would that be so hard?
Uncertain, frightened, questions if she can --

Does love change when it alteration find?
She wants someone to love her for her mind.

Godzilla at Colonos

Alive she is destruction, people flee
Mouths opened wide in screams before her tread
But that great body when it falls will be
A benediction after she is dead.

She raged and roared, but failed at family,
Her sons wreak devastation, fight and fall,
Her daughters seek to bury them, but see,
One destiny to perish over all.

But once there was an answer she could give
People and monster met in what they knew,
That time's inexorable, but people live,
And grow and change and die, and monsters too.

So though she threatened life and home and city
The faces hold not terror now, but pity.

5th April 2015

9:14am: Have some good news: Guest of Honour at Pasgon.
Pasgon is the 2017 Eastercon, the British National Science Fiction Convention, which has just won their bid. Other GoH are Lyn Evans and David "DC" Carlile.

Not only is it in Cardiff, which is pretty cool in itself, but my first convention was Follycon in 1988, which means that I'll be GoH at an Eastercon twenty-nine years after my first one, which is really amazingly awesome. Or I might even go so far as to say that it's brill, which in fact I do not say any more, except very very occasionally, when something really really is.

4th April 2015

8:27pm: Some poetry
Auden's Elegy for Rilke, from In Time of War, 1936

When all our apparatus of report
Confirms the triumph of our enemies,
Our frontier crossed, our forces in retreat,
Violence pandemic like a new disease,

And Wrong a charmer everywhere invited,
When Generosity gets nothing done,
Let us remember those who looked deserted:
To-night in China let me think of one

Who for ten years of drought and silence waited,
Until in Muzot all his being spoke,
And everything was given once for all.

Awed, grateful, tired, content to die, completed,
He went out in the winter night to stroke
That tower as one pets an animal.

Kipling's If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

To Be of Use Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
7:20am: Tiptree Award
I'm deligfhted to tell you that My Real Children is the co-winner of this year's Tiptree Award, with Monica Byrne's The Girl In The Road.

The Tiptree Award is an award for feminist SF, or as they put it "an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender".

Here's their explanation of why they chose it

"My Real Children by Jo Walton, Tor Books, 2014
Consisting of richly textured examination of two lives lived by the same woman, this moving, thought-provoking novel deals with how differing global and personal circumstances change our view of sexuality and gender. The person herself changes, along with her society, and those changes influence and are influenced by her opportunities in life and how she is treated by intimate partners, family members, and society at large. The alternate universe trope allows Walton to demonstrate that changes in perceptions regarding gender and sexuality aren't inevitable or determined by a gradual enlightenment of the species,but must be struggled for. My Real Children is important for the way it demonstrates how things could have been otherwise--and might still be.

I can't go to Wiscon to accept it -- it's the same weekend as Balticon and I can't bilocate -- so we're going to have an event in Borderlands in San Francisco in early August, which will be a ton of fun. Watch this space for more information closer to the time.

29th March 2015

9:12am: Sleeper in Year's Best
My short story Sleeper will appear in the Rich Horton edited The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015. Complete ToC at the link.

20th March 2015

3:58pm: Thud
Words: 3155
Total words: 33314
Files: 4
Music: No music, on train
Tea: Jasmine
Reason for stopping: train got to Boston

Fixed chapter 12 and wrote chapter 13. This was yesterday, the most productive day I've had for ages, on the train between Chicago and Boston. I started this book on a train. Maybe that's the problem with writing it, and it just wants to be written on trains? No, not really. But anyway. Words.

People sometimes ask me if I've been writing and not posting thuds, always with the tone of voice that assumes that of course this must be the case. I think they are raised on the doctrine that writers write every day, and if you write 100 words a day you'll have 36500 words a year, or something. But that isn't how it works for me at all. I can't write a hundred words a day to save my life, not fiction, I can't write little bits and stop, and sometimes I can't write at all. So the answer is no, I write as much at a time as I say here -- nothing for weeks, and 3000 words yesterday. Sometimes I conflate several sessions in a day, or very occasionally two days, into one thud post, but I am actually very honest about wordcount here. I may stare at the screen without telling you, and I may read through the whole file and tweak, but if I write an appreciable number of words, I post. A lot of my writing process consists of not writing. And then, you kmow, writing again. Bursts. It may not be the best way of doing it, but it's what I do, and I am honest about it, in the hope it might help other people who write like this feel better about their process.

18th March 2015

5:01pm: Vericon Auction -- Godzilla Vs Shakespeare
So, I mentioned the Vericon Auction here before. This year's theme is Godzilla Vs Shakespeare.

I wrote a sonnet to illustrate this:

Godzilla Vs Shakespeare

Up on the ramparts all await their time
Each heroine, the fools and knaves, each king,
Ready to catch our hearts, the play's the thing
A cockpit where they arm themselves with rhyme.

The monster tries to hide, but shows through plain,
Behind a frond ripped up with giant claws
We see his scaly hide and gaping jaws
As Birnam tropics come to Dunsinane.

All rally to defend now, each with each,
Juliet with dagger, Richard on a horse,
Dear Hamlet with his poisoned foil of course,
Harry with swords and longbows, at the breach.

Godzilla, shuffling closer, knows what's what.
Size matters. But then so do prose and plot.

If you like this and you'd like me to post the rest of this sonnet sequence, including Godzilla in Shakeapeare, Godzilla at Colonos, Godzilla Weeps for Baldur and Godzilla in Love, I suggest that you show your appreciation by donating Veribux to the auction at this link -- any amount helps , and it's a really awesome charity that I care a lot about. Donate money at the link, and I post to say you have (on the honour system) and maybe I will post more poems tomorrow night (going to be on a train in between) and Friday.

13th March 2015

6:06pm: Reading and signing in Chicago on Monday
I will be reading and signing, and Ada will be singing, in 57th Street Bookstore, Hyde Park, Chicago, on Monday at 6pm. Come if you can!

jo walton

8th March 2015

7:48pm: Tigers
"I have a tiger. Do you have a tiger?" elisem, sig.

I hear you have a tiger.
I'm sorry, I have not.
But all the same, I'd like to know
What sort of one you've got.

I'd guess it's large and orange
With hints of stripey black
But maybe it's Siberian,
White fur and great arched back.

Perhaps you are like Elinor
And loll on tiger fur?
(I think that seems unlikely
That's not your brand of err.)

It could be just a ginger cat
Who thinks he's tiger brave
But how about your allergies?
I hope they're not too grave.

Or maybe it's like Hobbes and turns
From tiger-fur to toy?
Whatever kind of tiger 'tis
I'm glad it brings you joy.

I wrote this ages ago and just found it while clearing out my drafts folder. I thought I'd share it here as it's kind of fun.
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