March 12th, 2011

Whale fluke

The wrong approach

An author with whom I'm acquainted will soon write a novel under a pseudonym.+

Pen names fascinate me. There are persona issues that one can play with. It makes more explicit the idea of being able to write in different ways for different audiences. And there's the possibility of loosening up and writing words one wouldn't have written under one's own name. (Approximate quote from author Donald Westlake: "When it's sunny out, I'm Donald Westlake. When it rains, I'm Richard Stark.")

Heck, I can imagine writing under a pseudonym. It might be the most involved kind of performing I could do, because I am not an actor. That holds no personal interest. I think I can see acting potential in others -- I want to see Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts do more of it, I think he could do really well at that -- but the process of pretending in person to be another person is not something I want to do. (So I couldn't do what Daniel Handler used to do, where he'd schedule appearances as his pen name Lemony Snicket, show up as himself, and say "I regret to let you know that Lemony Snicket is, sadly, unable to make it to this event; he must remain in hiding. However, I may speak for him, so...")

But in words? Possible. It's performing, in a way, and more to the point in a way that I think I could do. If I acted, I worry I'd just be imitating someone, and not get past that level of performing. Whereas if I practice enough writing, I should eventually sound like I'm not imitating somebody. (Like this time when I was trying too hard to imitate Douglas Adams. To be fair, it was 1989 and I was a high school freshman. And let's not mention the other story I wrote around then that opens with a painfully imitative and obvious rewrite of his Vogon poetry scene...)++

But that's the bass-ackwards approach.

Write FIRST, Chris. How often do you need to tell yourself that? Learn more about storytelling, to the point where you sound like yourself, not someone else you read (as fun as imitating someone can be, and yes, I do enjoy doing that). THEN maybe you could put it out under the name Christopher Walsh, maybe under an easy-for-me-to-create name like Michael Nelson (my middle name plus my mom's maiden name, but that's too close to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guy, so probably not), maybe under the name Neil Gaiman, maybe under the name John Ringo, maybe under the name Al Saint ('cause I was born on All Saint's Day). The point is, don't treat a pseudonym as the end-all-be-all. It's packaging. Often fascinating packaging, but remember: Stephen King was still a good writer when he published as Richard Bachman.

Be a better writer, always. And be more of a writer.

+ In fact, I know several authors, several of whom have used pseudonyms. It's a tool.

++ You also could say, honestly, that this was almost certainly inspired by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's sperm whale scene. But I'm still fond of it. That link has me reading it, by the way.
Admiral Ackbar

What have the same first syllable? "Austerity" and "Awesome"!

Time for cheap thrills.


Here's the goal: Can I manage not to spend too much money this month? I want more of my own financial cushion for when I really need to spend. I'm not broke, but money is on the way to being tight, at least tighter than I'd like, and while I work to get more hours of work, I'll do my best to pretend that I have far less money than I actually have.

I've done this before. Back in 2009, during my 25 weeks (yes, again, I kept close track) at the DSCJ, which is how I think I'll refer to the Dog Show Company Job from now on+, I was earning my lowest wage in a decade, and I stripped down my expenses like spending had already gone out of style. Worked wonders for my book collection, because I read enormous numbers of books that I'd held onto for years and was then OK with letting go of a lot of them, via either selling them to Powell's (more money!) or donating them to Goodwill so they could be on other shelves than mine. Didn't do much traveling that year, because that's expensive. My big trip last year was paid for by someone else, which helped much.

Now, among other things, I have potential upcoming trips that I want to do, as well as tech stuff I want to get. OK; start saving for that. (I'll add that it's stuff I want to get, by myself, not be given as gifts.)

Which is one reason why today I spent the thirty cents needed to upgrade to a three-zone TriMet pass so I could ride out farther on buses and light rail than I usually do. Heck, if I keep it to two-zone trips, which covers most of where I'm likely to go anyway, I could do that all day and not spend extra. I rode, and read, and walked around some places I don't normally walk around, and that was much of my entertainment this afternoon. Now I'm home, using a computer and internet access that I've already paid for.

Let's be careful, wallet. I know you like getting fed, too.

+ And no, "The Dog Show Company Job" should NEVER be an episode of Leverage!
Captain Kris W'lash

Winter in convenient home form

There's a little winter in here, and by "in here" I mean the colder-than-normal apartment. It's slight, so I'm mainly being whiny, but I got home from my bus-and-light rail travel earlier, thought Seems a little cool in here, and after a while finally checked my little magnet thermometer on my fridge and it was.

Not as bad as it was the couple of times the heat flat-out went out two of the winters I've lived here, when the apartment got down into the low 50s. Right now it's 64 F. And no, Steven Wright, it's not true when you say "No matter what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature." Oh, okay, I guess it is. Crap.
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    cold cold-ish