Friday, April 27, 2012

The Bacon Cat Theorem

As I wrote my first novel, I discovered that knowing the English language and its conjugation isn't enough. Our craft requires us to (at the very least) have a working knowledge of a wide set of topics. History, sociology, psychology, biology, chemistry, foreign languages, art, anatomy and physiology, technology, popular culture......the list goes on. In my opinion, this contributes to our "oddness".

To be less polite, it makes us a bit wacko.

Not the "I'm going to stalk you until I know the sound of your farts" kind of wacko, but the lovable eccentric kind of wacko. The Sheldon Cooper kind of wacko. Being wacko of course, leads us to develop unusual habits and the impulse to do unexplainable things. It makes us fall victim to the Bacon Cat Theorem.

What is the Bacon Cat Theorem?  I'm glad you asked.

The Bacon Cat Theorem of course gets its name from one of John Scalzi's more famous acts. (If you don't know what I'm talking about you can educate yourself here: The theorem is thus:

Every great author has at least one habit, hobby, attribute, or something they did at band/summer camp that makes them stand out from the pack and therefore adds to their fame.

John Scalzi taping bacon to his cat clearly proves this theorem but for the sake of science I'll provide further proof. Mary Robinette Kowal composes (delightful) pornographic puppet construction tweets, Brandon Sanderson has an almost unholy love of macaroni and cheese, and Dan Wells occasionally signs books like a serial killer. (ok, maybe it was just that one time but it totally qualifies.)

Of course, you don't have to be a published author to fall prey to the Bacon Cat. My friend, and fellow writer, Sarah Parish is a hive mind and I conlag road rage. It's a reflex. (I also licked a slug at summer camp but it seems to be superfluous to have more than one Bacon Cat.) The simple fact that publication isn't a requirement of the theorem has led me to the conjecture that such a person has the potential of becoming a great author. However, until such a person achieves said greatness, this conjecture will remain unproven.

If you too are or know someone who is proof of this theorem and/or my conjecture, feel free to post it in the comments. I'd love to know.

Friday, April 20, 2012


First off, on Monday I attended SFWA's latest installment in the Northwest Reading Series. I was honored to hear Lilith Saintcrow, Ted Kosmatka, and Shanna Germain read from their excellent individual works. However, for me, the real event was after the reading. You see, I made a claim to a group of friends that I make the best pie. Since we were all going to be attending the reading, I offered to substantiate my claim. So after the reading I sliced my freshly baked country apple pie and shared it around. It's now official that I make the best pie.

On Tuesday night I had the opportunity to join Brandon Sanderson in his Google hangout with Google Play. (Squee!) You can watch the video here:

Last night I met with some of my beta readers to collect their thoughts on my manuscript. One of them passed along the reaction of one of her sons. He read the manuscript and not only did he love it, he's also clamoring for the second book! That's the second biggest compliment my work has received. The biggest compliment was that this same young man was inspired to start writing a book of his own!

I am flabbergasted. To my knowledge, this is the first time that I've inspired anyone. It's a heady feeling. It makes me wonder who else I can inspire as I continue to write and seek publication. It's not something that I'd anticipated. I've been so focused on perfecting my work and establishing a writing career that it never occurred to me that others would see this small amount of progress as a huge accomplishment. That's because to them, it is a big accomplishment. They don't see the long road ahead of me, just how far I've come, and the opposite is true for me. I can't afford to look back because then I might sit on my laurels and not take that next step. I have to keep looking and moving forward if I'm ever going to make my goals a reality.

One of the things I love about the writing community is that we pass it forward. We share our knowledge and experiences, both good and bad, and we become stronger for it. Newer writers, like myself, can learn from the wisdom of the great masters and stand on the shoulders of giants. To this young man, I am such a giant and rather than be afraid of this new status, I'm embracing it. Why? Because just as my friends officially established me as the Queen of Pie, this young man has confirmed that I'm not a beginner anymore. I may be still standing on the shoulders of giants and gleaning wisdom from the masters, but I also have knowledge and experience that I can lend to those that follow me on the road to bestsellerdom.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Clicking in the Dark

It's a sunny Saturday morning and I should be outside gardening, playing with my nieces, walking the cat, or some other outside activity. I'm not. I'm in bed, snuggled under the covers with my geriatric cat, writing this blog. Why?

Because I'm a writer.

You see, writers (and actors too, for that matter) are creatures of the dark. We stay indoors, sit in our writing space, away from the distractions of the world (like the sun), and we write. Our pasty flesh often rivals that of professional gamers due to the number of hours in front of a computer. Some would consider that a bad thing, but it's not. It's a badge of honor that says "I'm dedicated."

I know, it is true that I could write outside. My laptop is very portable, but the screen is easier to read in a dimly lit room. Yes, I could go old school and write by hand or do it the Kevin J. Anderson way by using a hand-held recorder, but then I'd just have to type it up later. I may as well save time by typing it from the start...

You see how this goes?

There are very few arguments for this that can't be countered with "but it's easier to do inside." It's a vicious cycle, so why fight it? One word: SUNSHINE!

You see, like all human beings, writers need sunshine to thrive (and to keep us from slitting our wrists). Doctors are still arguing what those of us in the Pacific Northwest already know to be gospel truth. A lack of sunlight makes you depressed. I'm convinced that Edgar Allan Poe would have lived a long productive life if he'd laid off the booze and gotten more sunlight.

The answer to this is to pace yourself. Write for a few hours and then take a break. Go outside, do some gardening, mow the lawn, walk the cat. Soak up some precious rays before you return to pounding the keys. You'll be glad you did.