New Novel Pitch

I’m working on a new book (in addition to Power, which is my tortured baby). Since I also need to work on pitches:

A teenager follows a set of clues to a mysterious safety deposit box, where messages left by her past self tell her she’s one of a handful of forever-reincarnating immortals. But after she narrowly escapes a kidnapping, she’s launched on a quest to uncover the memories of her pasts and the plan set in motion that could end her lives once and for all.

No title, no set character names, no outline. But as with any shiny new toy, I’m feeling good about it. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

As if the Big Brother dystopic future had to come through revolution.

There are innovations in injustice that could accompany these products. Traditional illicit corporate profit-taking has been about denying certain products to segmented groups of people – segregation in housing, lower quality of medical care for ethnic and gender groups, predatory lending etc. But technology has now opened up a new model of profit-taking – if a company knows where you go, who you talk to, what you buy and eat, and your medical history, then it can charge you premium pricing by denying you exactly what *you* want.

From Profit-Driven Surveillance and the Spectrum of Freedom: “We will offer electronic monitoring services in every state.”

My best, most fantastic ideas always come from reality.

Where Creativity Comes From

Well, when a Mommy and Daddy idea love each other very much…

Okay, no. But there were two good posts on the nature of creativity and the origin of ideas on The 99% recently:

Tony Fadell: On Setting Constraints, Ignoring Experts & Embracing Self-Doubt

Why Sharing Your Work, Setbacks & Struggles Breaks Creative Blocks

I absolutely agree with the Creative Blocks post. I make the most progress on my fiction when I’m regularly talking about my ideas with other people. Just having to put the concepts into words that I want another person to understand helps me see the good and the bad, and often leads to new ideas and permutations that hadn’t thought of me when things were just rattling around inside my head. Not to mention the great feedback you can get, whether an idea is in its infancy or is a final draft.

Abandon Crap

I’m pretty obsessed with This American Life. It is my go-to conversation starter. It comes up at least a few times a week when talk strays into a relevant area and I say, “Actually, on This American Life…” And lo, they’re not letting me down, because I just discovered a series of videos of TAL host Ira Glass talking about my perpetual topic here, storytelling. From part two of Ira Glass on Storytelling:

All radio production is trying to be crap. It’s like the laws of entropy, the universe is dissipating, and all the atoms are getting lower and lower in energy – well basically anything that you put on tape … it’s trying to be really bad. It’s trying to be unstructured, it’s trying to be pointless, it’s trying to be boring, it’s trying to be digressive. You have to prop it up aggressively at every stage of the way if it’s going to be any good. You have to be a killer about getting rid of the boring parts and going right to the parts that are getting to your heart. You have to be ruthless if anything is going to be good. – Ira Glass

Transcriber I am not, but the point is, this is a truth for all storytelling. It’s what creates the hordes who “want to” write a novel and never sit down and do it, because it’s all nice and shiny in their heads but rather unpleasant on paper. If the agent and publishing blogs I read are any indication, it’s also what creates the hordes who have written novels and refuse to see they are really, really bad. Your baby is unstructured, pointless, boring, and digressive, but it’s your baby, and hell if you’re going to change it, right? I guess that’s what self publishing is for.

A lot of writing just isn’t fun. It’s exploring ideas that are crappy and refuse to get better, that need to be abandoned, even. I for one protest against giving things up even after they’ve proved useless, after the effort put in isn’t worth the gain got out, etc. But unless you’re a big fan of drawing out suffering, rather than just dealing with it in fits, kill your darlings. And then be willing to have more darlings that might have to go, too.

The Future is Now

I went to the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in NYC on Tuesday to see their exhibit Why Design Now? National Design Triennial. The future is now, people. Or the future is when the exhibit’s designers, engineers, architects, et al get funding. For me, a lot of the fun of speculative or science fiction is making things up that aren’t real but just plausible enough. Thanks to the Cooper-Hewitt I can now pull out of my bag of near future knick nacks the following:

  • Widespread use of garden rooftops to reduce building energy use (imagine looking down on a city and seeing forests and street grids)
  • Clothing scraps/waste recycled into chairs (thanks Issey Miyake; this can also be expanded to a widespread culture of reuse, where things we previously discarded are obsessively repurposed)
  • Solar panels integrated into rooftop designs
  • bioWAVE and similar machines installed on the ocean floor to collect energy from currents
  • Magnetic/maglev trains (as seen in the late great TV show Caprica)
  • Towers that use the currents of rising hot air to generate energy
  • Increasingly convenient and carryable folding bicycles (the one on exhibit folded and could be rolled like luggage)
  • Use of vertical space for small-area farming (gardens up skyscraper walls, spiral towers with advanced drip systems as inner-city farms); especially useful as population growth bleeds into available land
  • Light boards powered by solar energy built onto building facades, allowing for advertisements (and maybe less sinister uses) everywhere
  • Bionic arms and other limbs that can be “wired” directly to a person’s nervous system using an injectable interface that finds its way to and implants itself in a person’s brain.

Sorry, no jetpacks.