Sunday, September 14, 2008

Flushing the Buffer

Whither the Ranting Room?

Okay, I think we can consider this experiment to have failed conclusively. It seems that, as with any other form of writing, if I don't blog daily, I don't blog, period. Instead, I develop a terrible case of Writer's Constipation and keeping putting off posting until I have something Important & Meaningful to say — with the result being that I never post anything at all.

Ergo, as of Monday, I'll be back to posting something new daily, even if it's only idle chatter and nonsense. After all, isn't that what the blogosphere is all about?

Whither the "No Politics" Rule?

Speaking of Terribly Important & Meaningful scribblings, I did spend several days last week trying to write a suitably august conclusion to my big piece on the "No Politics" rule. The trouble was, the whole thing turned into a very weird load of self-negating pretentiousness, and it just kept on a' gettin' bigger an' bigger, with no end in sight.

When a plan fails, it's sometimes worthwhile to return to the beginning. (Other times, it's more worthwhile to walk away from it quickly, but not so quickly as to draw attention to yourself, and later deny that it was ever your plan in the first place.) In the case of this post, my original plan was to make four points:

1. The core political polarity, whatever you think it is, has remained insoluble since the origin of our species. Therefore it's highly unlikely that a bunch of bloggers are going to sort it out anytime soon. Chosen Ones who bring Balance to the Force exist only in infantile fantasy fiction.

2. When you succumb to the urge to write about contemporary politics, you can get a lot of attention, but it does not help your fiction-writing career. Witness the cases of Dafydd ab Hugh and Bill Quick, both of whom were once promising young SF novelists, and both of whose fiction careers have since been completely devoured by their unpaid political blogging. John Scalzi, sadly, seems determined to follow them.

3. Being at heart a frustrated history teacher, among many other things, I sometimes greatly enjoy writing about contemporary politics, when I think there are lessons that could be learned. Other times, I would rather be sitting on my butt in some cold, damp, and bug-infested swamp, trying to get the perfect photo of a snowy egret or a great blue heron, than even thinking about the hot political topic d'jour. The closer we get to elections, the more strongly I feel I would rather be out somewhere very far afield, and this year is no exception.

4. In general, online political discussions have very poor signal-to-noise ratios; or to use a different metaphor, they generate far more heat than light. I try not to start them here because they are not what I, as a writer, am primarily about. If you want to start or participate in such things, there are plenty of other sites where you may do so, and I invite you to explore them. Start with Free Republic and The Daily Kos. (Which, to my puzzlement, is pronounced like the headphone maker, "Koss," and not, as seems obvious to me, "K-OS.") I'll still be here when you return, running and screaming, from those sites.

Whither Were-Creatures Anonymous?

When I launched Were-Creatures Anonymous and the Curse of the Were-Weasel website, it was as an experiment in collaborative, online, interactive fiction. The idea was to pull together a group of talented people, give them posting rights and a rough structure in which to work, and then turn them loose and see what happens. I was hoping that some sort of non-linear shared-world narrative would develop spontaneously, as I gave people license to develop avatars and alternate identities and express thoughts they wouldn't normally express in public. (After all, isn't that what we all do on the Internet all the time anyway? Well, all except Bane, of course.)

To some extent that has happened, from time to time, although it has not happened as much or as often as I would have liked.

Therefore, at this point I must apologize to Henry, Vidad, Rachel, and Sean. While they've upheld their end of the bargain, I've failed to uphold mine. The big lesson I've learned here is that a Creation such as this requires far more attention from it's Creator than I've been giving it. I never finished developing the Curse of the Were-Weasel website, and while I wrote a nicely pseudo-scientific backgrounder on ALPS ("Acquired Lycanthropic Polymorphism Syndrome") and a 12-Step creed for the WCA, I never pushed either past the rough draft stage or published them. I have been remiss, and again, to Henry, Vidad, Rachel, and Sean, I apologize, and promise to be more involved in the future. (And I also promise to post a new Question of the Month real soon now!)

The shtick, for those of you who haven't been following the site, is that were-creaturism is no longer a curse, it's now known to be a rare viral disease transmitted in bodily fluids. (Typically, but not always, in blood and saliva.) Therefore, as with any other loathsome disease in the 21st century, persons with it are no longer hunted and feared monsters, but rather victims, protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and along with this change in legal status has come the nationwide support group, Were-Creatures Anonymous, a 12-step program dedicated to helping ALPS victims cope with that pesky, annoying, but ever-present urge to rip some stupid jerk's throat out and feast on his still-beating heart.

There's more to say about the idea, and I should have said it all in print some months ago, but for now, I want to close with my formerly traditional Sunday morning announcement:
"The weekly meeting of Were-Creatures Anonymous begins at 7pm Central time today in the Community Room on the 13th floor of the Rampant Loon Media Empire building. All Friends of Lon are invited to share fellowship, stories, and non-sanguinary beverages. Tonight's featured speaker is Henry, who will share with us some fascinating insights on —"
Well, you'll just have to show up for the meeting to find out, won't you?