John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright

Serious Tip on Writing from A Professional

One of my fellow writers reports that he calls a good writing session one where he ends up with more words than he started with. Any positive sum is a good day. "I have a tendency to open up my word processor, stare at the last few paragraphs in disgust, delete them, and close the file."

Perhaps your problem is a lack of self-esteem, what we writers call "Writer's Ego". I found an easy means to combat low self-esteem. It is my habit to sing to myself in the mirror.

Fortunately, in our current all-surveillance society, the cameras in the bathroom at the Science Fiction Writers of America Guild Hall in Penury, New Jersey, allowed me to tape record one of my self-boosterism sessions. This was a few years ago, before I grew a beard and put on 300 pounds, and I just so happened to look exactly like the actor Robert Morse.


Yes! I believe in Me! I believe in the Me-ness of ME! That is what allowed me to write such stunning works of fiction as ASLAN IS A SLAN, the authorized sequel to the collaborative efforts of A.E. van Vogt and C. S. Lewis. (I am even now at work on the sequel, OUT FROM THE SILENT WORLD OF NULL-A). It was not trying hard, not writing by a quota, not good advice and support from my wife, no! It was self-affirmation through Looking Glass Versification! What an adorable gap I have in my teeth!

You may think it odd that there were a number of other men, also in the men's room, also singing in the mirrors about how they were going to stop me. This tape was shot just before the Nebula Awards a few year ago, and we were competing for the same prize. You might not recognize them, but perhaps you can pick out Harlan Ellison, John Scalzi and Scott Westerfeld, Joe Haldeman, Corey Doctorow, and the Life-Model-Decoy robot Bud Sparhawk sends out to perform his dark deeds on behalf of the Analog Mafia.

In this clip from the security camera, you might notice that Scalzi and the others are periodically freezing and unfreezing. Why, you ask?

Good question! You see, after World War Two, and the horrid affair of the Whitechapel murders, the Science Fiction Writers of America was the only organization the British Crown trusted to keep HG Wells' working model of his time machine in working order and not to use it. Of course we use it all the time, nipping back and forth into the future for story ideas, and merely writing down what we see.

You don't think we actually make this stuff up in our heads, do you?

For some reason, back in the 1940's Robert A. Heinlein used the Time Machine to nip into a future inhabited by gun-toting nudists who were all as physically perfect as Playboy Bunnies, but he did not tell the rest of us the settings to find that year and timeline. Instead we keep stumbling into nightmare futures of war and desolation (see the writings of Ellison, Scalzi, Westerfeld, Haldeman and Doctorow for details). He used to bring some of the pistol-packing nudist girls back with him, just to show off, and doting on him during SWFA meetings and shooting NY Times reviewers, and he refused to send them from the room when it was time for port and cigars. Darn that Bob Heinlein! How I hate him! Eventually, Alice Dalgleish at Scribners made him put clothes on the girls and send them back home.

HEINLEIN'S FUTURE GIRLS (L to R) Marjorie "Friday" Baldwin, Dejah Thoris "Deety" Burroughs Carter, Gillian Boardman, Her Wisdom CXXXVIIL "Star."[file photo]

In any case, NASA also gave us the twin aliens they found at Area 51, who turned out to be drunks, loafers, suger-sniffers and poop-flingers just out for a joyride when they crashed their hivequeen's space saucer, and they refuse to tell us how to contract the Galactic Omninarchy, because they don't want to get in more trouble. NASA budget cuts in the 1990's would not allow NASA to keep Blip and Gleek in their Roswell facility any more, and the CIA and SHADO and the Si Fan would not allow us to go public with the info, since the aliens are really kind of an embarrassment (all those designs they trample into crop circles are swearwords in their language and gang signs) and it might cause a panic, but among science fiction fans, Blip and Gleek not only pass unnoticed, but sometimes win the awards for original costuming.

So, partly out of pity, partly because his daughter asked, John Scalzi, President of SWFA, agreed to let Blip and Gleek live at the SFWA mansion in the broom closet like that little brain-damaged kid in Ursula K, LeGuin's short story THOSE WHO WALK AWAY FROM OMELAS, and he gave them some odd jobs to do around the place that humans from earth don't like to do, like brushing Harlan Ellison, and yes, cleaning that darn Time Machine.

Whenever they clean the Time Machine, the parachronic warp field sometimes catches people in the men's room next door and chrono-freezes them for a second or two. So that explains what you are seeing on the tape. Scalzi keeps telling Blip and Gleek to shut down the main flux capacitor BEFORE opening the moebius coil for cleaning, but the two aliens just mumble and nod, and they do the same thing again next time.

Fun insider's tidbit! Corey Doctorow was really pissed to find out that the phone company is cooperating with the US government to keep security tapes of science fiction writers singing in their bathrooms. That was the real reason why he wrote LITTLE BROTHER. Pleorma Books, his publisher originally hired him to write a sequel to John Crowley's masterpiece, LITTLE, BIG; and John Crowley in turn had originally been hired by Arcane House Books, his publisher, to write the novelization of the movie LITTLE BIG MAN, but in each case the writer changed the story from what had been agreed, while keeping the title. True story!

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