Short Hiatus

Jeff VanderMeer • January 17th, 2010 @ 11:07 am • News

In part due to developments I’ve just set forth on Facebook and in part because I need a break–fragmentation is not conducisive to good writing or doing good work on any creative project–I’m going to be absent from this blog through the first week in February. Come back around February 5th or so. (Any prior guest bloggers who still remember their logins and passwords should feel free to post if they’d like to.)

Booklifenow.com will continue to run content during this time, including a guest blogging stint by Shared Worlds founder Jeremy Jones, and you’ll find a few posts from me over at Omnivoracious.

Before I go, a few things I wanted to talk about but won’t have time to.

– The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick is great and you should buy it. The bits on the discussion between men and women in the 1970s and 1980s is fascinating and seems to mirror much of what we’ve seen in the past couple of years. (I still hope to review this when I get back.)

– Situations like Kage Baker’s can occur at any time. It reminds us to tell people you’re fond of or whose work you like…well, just how much you like them. Now. Not later.

– Stupidity rather than malice is the main reason bad things happen in genre. Let’s be a little more forgiving and also a little less willing to contribute to a sense of vast conspiracy where none exists. It is always good for one’s health and to a community to assume the best until it’s proven otherwise.

– Avatar was a steaming pile of poisonous eye candy that’s a rehash of every stupid Hollywood movie ever made.

– My Finch posts about technique…some wondered why more novelists don’t post such break-downs. In part it might be because it takes away the mystique. It’s one thing to talk about process and craft in the context of a writing class, where it’s limited to a finite number of people. It’s another to let the world in on it. I think I understand this better now having gotten a few comments that seem fixated on the idea that if you think about technique there can’t be anything passionate about your writing. I’ll go into this more after I come back, but there are two modes (at least): the crazy, passionate, almost spiritual spewing of stuff onto the page and then the more rational, measured rewriting stage, during which you also go back into the crazed passionate phase in places where you tear up what you did before and start all over again. But you can’t get to anything good without both.

– The situation in Haiti is dire. Please contribute what you can.

15 Responses to “Short Hiatus”

  1. Leonard Greycloud aka @verybrave says:

    ok C U in Feb.

  2. the darkness grips us all sometimes « paper fruit says:

    [...] personally think that Jeff VanderMeer summed up everything very nicely on his blog: Stupidity rather than malice is the main reason bad things happen in genre. Let’s be a little [...]

  3. Hellbound Heart says:

    ….well, you’ve just saved me the cost of a movie ticket with your concise and pithy critique of avatar…..

    see ya later

    peace and love……….

  4. jeff vandermeer says:

    if avatar wins the best picture golden globe award over the hurt locker or precious…that’s just a travesty.

  5. jeff vandermeer says:

    OMG. That steaming pile of shit Avatar won. Unbelievable.

  6. Larry says:

    Not surprised that it won….lowest common denominator and all. Haven’t seen it (and likely won’t, outside of the trailer I endured back in November), but it seems to have all the depth of Anna Nicole Smith’s “acting” career.

  7. Jesus Maria Alvarez says:

    Hi Jeff, The “Jeff’s Daily Twitter Cookie’s” link is not working. I found you there but I had to do an old search-a-roo. Just thought you might want to know.

    Glad I found the site!

  8. david Mynning says:

    And to think–Avatar will probably break the all-time box office record. I saw it, but didn’t pay for it. Found some 3D glasses lying around and drifted in the door at the Multiplex. Accidents happen!

  9. Samuel S says:

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this, quite funny:

    http://www.treehugger.com/avatar-pocahontas.jpg

    The interesting (or rather sad) thing is that a lot of people thought that the story was thought-provoking and innovative! Maybe if your eight years old and have never been to the movies or read a book…

    The visuals though were amazing.

  10. Divers Hands says:

    HA! Concerning your comment on technique and readers I have found that you are dead on. I have all but stopped explaining to people that I almost exclusivley read works based on their prose style, structure or technique because – as it is continuously being pointed out to me – I can’t possibly be enjoying what I read. There seems to be this strange (and oddly large) group of readers who feel that if you are not totally immersed in the plot and characters, than you are just reading a work as an act of labor or criticism. Apparently, it is some kind of sin against the gods of Words to actually be more concerned with HOW something is written than WHAT is being written.

    For a while I made the mistake of taking the logical high road, and pointing out that there are really only a fairly small number of possible plots, and that even with differing tropes found across genres, the level of variation in how those plots were presented, or how characters interact with them, didn’t offer all that many more significant differences. But! But point out to them all the lovely, lovely ways you can tell that story, how you can manipulate the language, the depth and breadth of metaphor and/or allegory available, the fascinating ways you can manipulate space and time and pacing and perception simply by how you order events… and you mostly receive a blank stare and a repetition of their certainty that you aren’t really enjoying the work the way you are supposed to.

    Honestly, I miss college Lit courses more and more with each passing year.

  11. jeff vandermeer says:

    interesting point. but I wasn’t saying style and structure trump plot and character.

  12. Julie Andrews says:

    Let’s see if we can at least stop Avatar from getting a Hugo. Or if the sf/f world is equally as stunned by flash into not seeing the lack of substance.

  13. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    It’s really peculiar to me, because if that storyline was a published novel or a short story, people would be dissing it all day long. But I keep hearing the refrain of “oh let’s give it a pass. it’s good for SF if it wins stuff.” good for what kinda SF?

  14. Samuel S says:

    Close to the end of Avatar’s loooong 3 hours I found myself thinking about Joss Whedon’s Serenity – an excellent SF-movie and so much better than Avatar. Unfortunately, if Avatar sets the trend, we’ll probably be seeing less SF with depth and story and more cliched and shallow eye-candy in the future. :-(

  15. le pianoctail says:

    I agree with you on your remarks about technique VS passion. I think that this belief, that calm and calculated technique is an enemy of passion, is one of the few influences that the movements of dadaism and surrealism still have. A friend of mine though once said, – and I really liked it- that when one is performing – and by performing meaning every act that aims to move, or to instill a certain emotion, image or sense to third party-, one cannot always be the leaf that trembles from the winds of creativity; one also has to be the wind that makes the audience tremble.

    I apologize for my bad English, which doesn’t allow me to express what your work means to me- that and my doubt that this is the appropriate place to do so.

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