Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On writing a million words

They say you don't get good at writing until you've written a million words. I'm not really sure what that means. Does it mean you need to write a million words of fiction in order to be a good fiction writer, or is that million words any words that you've written? If it's any words you've written in your lifetime, then I'm pretty sure I've eclipsed the million word mark. If it's a million words of fiction writing, such as novels, short stories etc., I'm probably well below that level.

I kind of like the 10,000 hour approach. Basically that is that one must spend a minimum of 10,000 hours at something in order to become really good at it. It's definitely a good rule of thumb for guitar practice, and I'm pretty sure I could become a darn good writer if I spent 10k hours doing it. I don't know about golfing though. I'd probably become better, but that would just get my hopes up and get me spending more money playing golf, which, since I've only golfed twice in my life, would be a substantial increase. Still if 10,000 hours would make me really good at it, perhaps I could make it back.

Back to writing, I've started a "million word" file in OpenOffice and I'm trying go do as many words as possible. Still though, it would help to know if they all need to be fiction in order for me to become great at writing fiction.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My thoughts on "Life, the Universe and Everything: the Marion K. "Doc" Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy

This past Thursday and Saturday (I missed Friday, because my cold got the better of me), I attended the LTUE Symposium held in the Marriott Hotel in Provo, Utah. I had preregistered for the event and it only cost me thirty bucks. I didn't attend any of the things you had to pay extra for, like the dinner etc., which meant I didn't get to listen to Brandon Sanderson. I feel bad about that, but I didn't want to fork out another $30 to do so. Like most of these events, there are some good classes and some that aren't as good as one had hoped. I attended a few of both. The class presenters and panels were a smattering of local writers and some who weren't local. Some had published many books, and some had published few. The number of books published wasn't necessarily representative of how good of instructors they were either.

One of the highlights was Orson Scott Card as the keynote speaker. Card had been expected to arrive earlier in the week, but due to weather, made it for the Saturday sessions. The talk he gave was effective and interesting, geared in large part to the majority LDS audience. It was marred a bit in the end when those running the symposium kept cutting in and telling him his time was up. You could tell he was frustrated by the interruptions. "Those of you who need to go to other classes can go," he said at one point, "I won't hate you." I'm not sure he understood that the large room where he was speaking was taking up three rooms (movable walls) in which some of those classes were supposed to take place, or if he didn't care that this was the case. It didn't hurt my feelings either way.

At any rate, for most of the people in the crowd, he was the one they had come to see, so they didn't care all that much if the other classes were shortened. One has to wonder how the other presenters felt about it though.

I had arrived early in the morning to get on the list for a class called "1000 Ideas in 1 Hour" taught by OSC--a class that would be a maximum of fifty people. When it was time for that class in the late afternoon, I thought it was well worth the time I spent arriving early in order to take part. With five minutes to go, one of the organizers came in with a sign that read "Five minutes". Card said "It'll be ten." In fact, it ended up being closer to thirty. However, unlike the earlier time, there weren't repeated interruptions.

It was my first time attending this event and I'd definitely go back again if my schedule permitted it. Whether or not the classes were valuable, the action of attending helped me to focus more on writing and getting on with it. That's a plus in and of itself.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Olympics=nation versus nation

No matter if you like to look at the Olympics as the opportunity for great individual achievement--it's certainly that--at their core, the Olympics are about nation versus nation.

If not, then why the national anthems played for the winners? Why the parade of nations? Why the medals tally?

Of course national pride is on the line.

When one goes to an NBA or NFL game, one doesn't go to watch great individual achievement, although that often happens. One goes to support one's team. In the Olympics, one's team is that team which represents one's country.

That great individual sports achievement occurs and sometimes transcends such support is what often makes the Olympics a thing of beauty. I might have gone to watch the Utah Jazz play the Chicago Bulls, but the fact that Michael Jordan scored 45 points was not lost on me. At the core though, it was about the Jazz winning even when MJ was at his best.

The same goes for the Olympics. I want the Americans to win against the best the world has to offer.