Bluejo's Journal

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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.

5th March 2015

11:30am: Books
The UK paperback of My Real Children is out today. I think the cover is a bit blah, it doesn't really say anything at all. I preferred the hardcover cover. Oh well. US paperback is due out in May.

The auction for the ARC of The Philosopher Kings has reached $150 with one day to go -- amazing.

1st March 2015

8:56pm: The most notable, longstanding friends
"If you, my reader, have enough freedom from other serious matters to attend to this, I ask that you read my essay through, harboring neither contempt nor lack of sympathy, and that you ponder whether anything is sweeter or more desirable than a friend, one with whom you may talk about anything just as freely and safely as with yourself, and one who equally rejoices with you in all good, happy times and warms you with consolation in adversities. Such a friend, I know, is not easily found, and once found, may be lost, causing great torment to your soul. The passing of Roscius was such a heavy loss to me that I feel compelled to express this eulogy in the hope that it may help perpetuate or even enhance his memory. When posterity names the three or four most notable, long-standing pairs of friends, I hope the friendship of Minus Roscius and Philippo Beroaldo will be among them."
Beroaldo, Filippo, 1500, Oratio Proverbiorum, Bologna.
Translated in Beroaldo, Filippo, 2009, “Appendix B: English Translation of Filippo Beroaldo’s Symbola Pythagorica (1503),” in Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, Pythagoras and Renaissance Europe: Finding Heaven, Cambridge, 248-265.

If I could draw I'd draw Beroaldo
sitting, with pen in hand, and Roscius
behind him, hand on shoulder, bending low
to point a word to him, without a fuss.

Raphael could have caught them, full of light,
books on their desk, their hands with penman's grip,
their thirty years of work to get things right
full of the joys of friendship, scholarship.

This world holds nothing better for the soul
a friend who you can talk to, work beside,
rejoice in good times, and in bad console,
and trust with thoughts that come back magnified...

...and lose, and grieve, across five hundred years
so all who have such friends are moved to tears.
9:38am: And suddenly, it's March!
I sent rysmiel out a shopping list that said daffodils (or leeks), so we have leeks, which are more useful if not as delightful. Seemingly daffodils were not to be found. I can't get used to St David's Day happening in the depths of winter with snow everywhere and nobody thinking about flowers yet.

I am doing a thing in Ottawa on Friday. It's a reading and Q&A thing. It's open to the public, if anyone is in Ottawa and free on Friday afternoon and wants to come.

28th February 2015

7:54am: Proofs
I'm doing The Philosopher Kings page proofs.

It's one of those things that always feels as if it will be more of a chore than it is.

Bidding on the ARC has reached $80 -- amazing. If it passes $100, I will, if the winner wants, strike out the two sentences I have struck out on the proofs so far, and hand-insert the new sentence I have written.

I will also, whether anyone wants it or not, strike out the amazingly annoying insert of the word "capitalize". I mean, yes, I totally did write that in the margin of the copyedit, but funnily enough I did not mean "insert the word capitalize" I meant "Capitalize the word Worker"...

Saumel Delany talks in about hand-correcting paperback copies of Dhalgren in bookshops. I do not do this. I do not even want to start thinking about it. But I always do when I am correcting proofs.

Onwards and upwards. I've also been helping Ada transcribe and translate Renaissance Latin and Greek this week, so it's all very productive, even if not of actual words in chapters. It's wonderful what perspective looking at sixteenth century lives of Pythagoras can give, in terms of the time between and the layers. Also, I have a whole new appreciation for scribes. It's amazing anything was passed down anything like accurately. There they were copying obscure classical things without any knowledge or belief that civilization would come back and be grateful, when everyone wanted more psalters and more copies of St Augustine. "Is than an m or a ui?" they'd have wondered, without any way to make the text bigger, without artificial light, with an imperfect understanding of Latin, bless them.

Infuriating as it may sometimes be, modern proofreading is so smooth and simple in comparison.

26th February 2015

7:01pm: Auctioning an ARC of The Philosopher Kings
Vericon this year is March 20th-22nd, in Harvard. I'll be there, and it will be a lot of fun, a small con with enthusiastic young fans and a large percentage of guests for its size. This year's GoH is Ken Liu.

It also has an auction, which is arranged in a fun way. This year's theme is Godzilla vs Shakespeare, and I've written some sonnets for that theme, some of which I may be posting here in due course.

The austion this year is to benefir Cittadini del Mondo, an organization for refugees in Italy. We met some of these guys when we were in Italy in the summer. They've escaped from their war-torn countries, and they're safe in Italy, which is great -- except that as they're no longer in danger it's hard for them to get refugee status anywhere else, and Italy's economy isn't great so it's hard for them to work there. The organization helps them with bureaucracy, helps them learn Italian and become more employable, and runs a library. This is a tiny charity I really care about, and the Vericon auction can make a real difference to them.

(You can donate stuff if you want, using this annoying form where you have to fill everything in every time. You can also donate money there.)

But what I'm going right now is auctioning off one ARC of The Philosopher Kings, which I will sign and send to the winner, with the money raised to be donated to the Vericon auction and thus to Cittadini del Mondo. Bid in comments, and probably better if you follow up to the last person, so they can see they've been outbid. I'll keep this open for a week, until next Thursday, and whoever is ahead when I get up next Thursday morning will get it.

25th February 2015

7:57pm: WMTBSG out in paperback
For anyone who may have been wanting the book but waiting for a paperback, the US paperback of What Makes This Book So Great is now available, yay. It's been out in the UK for a little while already. Buy paperbacks while they still exist!

I have some ARCs of The Philosopher Kings, which arrived today. I may auction one here for the Vericon auction, when I've figured out a good way to do it.

17th February 2015

12:25pm: Large Print Among Others
I just got sent a large print Among Others, it's great that there is one for people whose eyes can't easily read regularly sized print, I am all in favour of large print editions, and it's also a sign of a successful book that it's worth doing a large print edition.

AOlargeHowever, I hate the cover. Hate it. Among Others has, with all the translations, had many many covers, and I've discussed many of them here and talked about them on my website. This is my least favourite. I may see a foreign cover and be baffled, and if so that's probably because it's speaking to a market that's educated to see different things in book covers, to have different expectations and be differently cued. This isn't the case here. This is an English language book, and I know exactly what it's saying, and I hate it.

Here, have a link to all the covers ever, for reference.

The original cover, and the UK cover, are both more in the direction of "girly" and "pastoral" than I'd ideally like. The Polish cover does the same thing in a direction I like much much better. This takes the same thing in a direction I like much less.

I can read the semiotics of that picture and those fonts and so on, and what they are saying is romantic and pastoral and edge-of-childhood innocence and magic in a very comventionally magical way -- everything from the bare feet to the trees and the dress and the angle of the girl's head is doing that trembling on the edge thing, and the light and the soft focus and the sylvan setting. There are books like this, and I have read them, and Among Others is so very not one of them.


This is leaving aside the whole not showing disability issue, which everything except the Polish and the Japanese covers do, so I just expect it at this point.

There's a kind of contract between reader and writer about the kind of story something is and expectations, and getting the cover so wrong can violate that, and it's not the writer's's fault or the reader's fault but it leads to a mismatch where the reader feels ripped off, while people who would have liked the book have not read it because the cover repelled them.

9th February 2015

10:45am: Just City Spoiler Thread
It's been out long enough now for some of you to have had the chance to read it, and I'd rather keep spoilers in one place than have people post spoiler questions to me on random other threads. If you want to ask me anything, or roll your eyes at me about anything, this is the place. There was a spoiler thread on Making Light too, if anyone wants to see what was said there.

There's things I'll answer and things I won't answer, and there will be no spoilers for PK or Necessity -- well, beyond the degree to which if you choose to read this journal you get spoiled a tiny bit for my writing by reading my Thud posts anyway.

5th February 2015

7:17pm: New Userpic
I have a new userpic... not quite for the first time ever, but a new default userpic for the first time.

This is Kathryn Finter's illuminated J. I'm buying a copy of it, and I asked her if I could use it as a userpic and she kindly said yes, because she's just that nice.

My old scale pattern was made by Z when he was 12, and I think it looked like me, and has done well at that for a long time. But this is the J for Jo I've always wanted, and I think it looked even more like me, and I'll be using it now. I'm making this post to thank Kathryn and also so you'll be sure to recognise the new me.

I'll also be also using it for Gmail and Twitter.

4th February 2015

2:47pm: Thud: Necessity
Words: 4306
Total words: 30159
Files: 6
Tea: White Tea with Elderflower and Apricot
Music: No music
Reason for stopping: think that's the end of the chapter

I had to take out a bit yesterday and then I wrote another bit to replace it, and now this bit.

The characters keep talking instead of getting on with things, so actual progress is slower than I wanted, but we do have some actual time travel in this chapter, if not as much as I was expecting.
11:54am: Libr'a nous Award
Morwenna, the French translation of Among Others, has won a French booksellers award, the Libr'a Nous -- as best "Imaginaire", essentially fantasy. Not the best one in translation, the best one, which is pretty impressive, and shows the quality of the excellent translation by Luc Carissimo.

2nd February 2015

7:01am: Four cool things, plus what genre was that again?
1) My Real Children is on the Locus Recommended Reading list, as SF.

2) And What Makes This Book So Great is also on the list, as non-fiction. Yay!

Lots of great stuff there in all the categories. Congratulations to all my friends who are listed.

3) ALA, the American Library Association, have announced their Genre Reading list, and My Real Children is the winner of the category Women's Fiction. Now in fact, MRC is a crossover with women's fiction (as Farthing is a crossover with cosy mystery) and it's really cool to see that I managed the crossover such that that librarians think I did it well enough. People trying to put down SF/F sometimes say the writing can't compete with mainstream. I don't think that has ever been true and certainly isn't now, and MRC winning in a mainstream category is a really good vindication of that.

Special congratulations to truepenny whose Goblin Emperor is the winner of the Fantasy category.

4) ALA also give Stonewall Awards, for books with LGBT interest, and MRC is listed as an Honor Book in the Literature category.

As their categories are "literature" and "non-fiction", it's not so weird really. But it does mean that the same book has been recognised on the same day, by experts, as being SF, women's fiction, and literature. It has also, as previously been mentioned, been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, as fantasy. OK then!

Also, none of the people who said I was "moving away from genre" when they reviewed AO or MRC have said "I guess I was wrong about that" when talking about The Just City.

Genre. I like it and find it fascinating. ALL of it.
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