Monday, December 29, 2014

Craving a Delicate Touch

I've been in a bit of a reading funk for most of the year. I know, with how busy I've been there shouldn't have been much time for reading but I managed to steal a few hours here and there. However out of all the books I picked up, I couldn't finish most of them. Out of the few I did finish, only two left me wanting more -- Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson and Slow Regard For Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. (Seriously, they're bloody brilliant!) The others weren't bad books. In fact one of them was by Brent Weeks, whose writing I love, but for some unknown reason it just wasn't grabbing me and I couldn't figure out why. (Brent, there's nothing wrong with your writing and I will finish and thoroughly enjoy that book. Just at a later date.)

At Tracy's suggestion I started reading Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey and was hooked from the first page. Jacqueline is a wonderful writer but thick headed me couldn't figure out why this book satisfied that undefinable craving that the other books didn't. When I mentioned this to Tracy he pointed out that I hadn't read much by women this year, which was why he suggested Carey's book. He's right (which is one of the many reasons I keep him around). However, the revelation shocked me.

I've always been aware that there are differences in how men write and how women write but I never thought the difference in approach would be something I would crave. I read for character first and plot second. If I'm in a particularly vicious mood I'll read something with a high blood and gore content. I'm not a girly girl. I've never craved something feminine and lovely in my life. It's no wonder I needed someone to point it out to me.

As a woman I'm a bit ashamed that I never noticed the lack of women authors in my to read stack. Though as I mentioned before, I never buy a book because of the author's gender, political leaning, or sexual orientation. I have the same approach for music. Now I wonder if I need to pay more attention to the gender identity of the author. If nothing else it will help me keep a variety of voices in my stacks so I never get burned out again.

Speaking of Tracy, he has a wonderful blog that you should check out. He's got some great reviews and recommendations! Click here.

Also, don't forget that my first short story will published next month in the Kobo special edition of Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. You can pre-order it here.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sometimes it's better to play poker

I've been re-watching The West Wing lately because there's never a bad reason to revisit a brilliantly written show. Also the last time I watched it I was too young to fully understand or appreciate the show's brilliance. For example, in one of the episodes Charlie (played the wonderful Dule Hill), the President's personal aide, sat in a bar surrounded by co-eds enjoying the start Spring Break. He felt very self-conscious of his lack of a college education, as if the crowd's degrees in progress were a requirement to associate with them. At the end of the episode, Charlie spent the rest of the evening playing poker with the President and senior staff.

I bring this up because Charlie, in his youth, caught up in his own wants and insecurities, failed to fully understand or appreciate his position. If anyone in that bar was paying attention to who he was drinking with, they would have been envious of him. They also would have marveled that he didn't need a masters in political science to hang out with members of the senior staff. 

I'm not saying that college degrees are a waste of time. A good education is never a waste of time. But if hobnobbing with influential people is your goal, and let's face it, one can never know too many influential people, it's going to take more than a few letters tagged on to your name to earn their trust. Some might say that Charlie was lucky. I say he was in the right place at the right time and made a good impression.

The adage "it's not what you know but who you know that matters" is still true, no matter what business you're in. It's a shame that networking isn't a required course in school. Such an essential skill shouldn't be left to fate and it seems wrong to let the extroverts dominate. Perhaps it's intentional. A culling process so to speak. Those who want it the most get the prize? Who knows. What's important is that recognizing the need for developing relationships and gathering contacts. Business-wise, the hours I've spent networking have served me far better than the hours I spent in the classroom.