Archive | November, 2011

Mystical, Magical World War II?

11 Nov

My friend who is doing NaNoRiMo is writing a sort of steam punk. From the sound of it, it’s a very good idea. He has set it in Britain during World War II. This I find very interesting. As far as I know, no one else has written a WWII steam punk. But I wonder if we won’t be seeing more of this kind of thing very shortly.
Perhaps enough time has passed that the greatest war in history is about to enter a sort of mythic realm where the materials of history can be reworked in ways that were not possible while the planet was covered with people who could remember what it had actually been like.
There are a couple of useful words in at least one African language that bear on this; sasha and zamani. Sasha refers to a person who is dead, but still remembered by living people. Zamani is someone who has no rememberers. World War II will very shortly be zamani. The last veterans are entering their nineties, and here in the United States they are dying at the rate of over a thousand a day. In a few more weeks it will have been seventy years since Pearl Harbor, and he war was more than one-third over by that point.
So, is it time for World War II to join its predecessor as a romantic background for popular fiction, and if so, what themes are going to emerge from that? Or is the war of Buchenwald and Auschwitz to grim ever to be written about in this way?
Any thoughts?


I’m Going To Miss the Dutch Door

5 Nov

I’m going to miss our Dutch door. The ability to swing open half the access point to this house and startle window salesmen, pizza guys, and the occasional fundamentalist (I almost spelled it fundamnmentalist, Dr. Freud) has been a charming feature of this place.
But Halloween has been the night the door really comes into its own. It has provided me was a sort of stage on which to perform my annual Clueless Old Guy act:
“Oh — it’s so wonderful. You children don’t even know me, and you’re bringing me candy.”
“Trick or treat. Trick *or* treat. All right, I’ll have a treat, please.”
“Agh! Don’t you people have anything better to do than to go around terrorizing citizens for candy?”
Of course, you can’t do that with the really little ones. Them, you have to help train:
“Say ‘trick or treat’. Please say ‘trick or treat’. I can’t give you the candy until you say ‘trick or treat’. Help me out here.”
The kids don’t think too much of my act, usually, but the door astonishes them. Some of the smaller ones don’t want to leave. They want to watch the door work. Or they hang back, looking over their shoulders to see what it might do next.
Next year, I’ll be opening a door somewhere else, and wherever it is, it will certainly be some kind of ordinary one-piece sort of a door that won’t astonish anybody.


2 Nov

There’s something about writing fast. It’s somehow more impressive that Noel Coward could dash off Blithe Spirit or Private Lives than it would be if he’d taken a year on them. Similarly, National Novel Writing Month has something of the excitement of a race about it.
NaNoRiMo, if you’re not familiar with it, is a self-imposed challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. Thousands of people do it, some of them more than once. One friend has completed seven NaNoRiMo novels, and started on his eighth two days ago.
It’s not just amateur authors who do it. Some years the YA listserve I’m part of is full of messages of encouragement as published writers use November to complete work in progress, or even to go the whole nine yards.
For myself, I don’t seem to have the discipline to make it work for me. I’ve tried a couple of times, but didn’t write any faster, or finish anything. I thought about trying again with my WIP Like cats and Dogs, but I know what would happen. So all honor to those of you who have taken up the challenge yet again. May your words flow smoothly, may you hit your goals, and may every one of you who wants it find a publisher.