There hasn’t been a lot of updated here in the past several months, as I’m sure you (one of last loyal readers) have noticed. The reasons for this are several: increased workload at my job, spending more time with my family, and working on actual serious fiction writing. Blogging comes after all of those things, which means that blogging hasn’t been happening.

Aside from the issue of time, I’ve come to realize and accept that I’m just not a very good blogger. The best bloggers are people who can write pithy, funny, or thoughtful posts, several times a day in chunks of about 100 to 500 words. I have never been able to approach that level of productivity, and when I’ve tried, the results have been substandard. When I write very quickly my posts come out poorly spelled, badly reasoned, and not very interesting. When I take the time to fix the previous problems, I can’t produce more than one post every other day or so—and that’s assuming that I even have something interesting to write about that often!

So I am conceding. Blogging is not a format that works well for me. I will never be a successful blogger of the sort who updates several times a day, at least not until my life and my writing style change dramatically.

At the same time, I don’t want to abandon my web presence, and I really do want to have a place where I can hang all of the various things that I want to write about from time to time. So rather than simply give up on the blog, I’m going to try out a different format: rather than writing lots of short posts, I’m going to take my time and craft fewer, longer, and hopefully better posts. In fact, I’m not even going to think of them as posts, but as essays. This has worked for Paul Graham and Steve Yegge, so I might as well see if it works for me.

The new plan of action is to post essays once a month of 2,000 words or so, and to increase the priority of that one post high enough so that it actually gets done. (It’s hard to make yourself write short throwaway posts, but a monthly essay will get a higher profile in my mental to-do list.) The length is approximate and will vary greatly, and I make no promises about when during the month each post will appear. But I hope to have the first one up near the end of March, which will be a discussion of origin and telos inspired by this post by Jo Walton.

Spring is finally (finally!) here, meaning that it’s both light enough and dry enough to bike to work again. Here in the Pacific NW I don’t worry about the cold, I just worry about the fine, insidious drizzle that will soak you and sap your will to live if you try to bike through it. But that’s all over now! Mostly! It hailed like hell’s frozen fury this afternoon and was still dripping when I had to ride home, but I took the bus most of the way and was able to tolerate the wet for the last few miles from the bus stop to my house.

In the morning I rode my bike to work the long way, with no bus–fifteen miles, down from my house to the trail along Lake Washington, connecting to the Sammamish River Trail, eight miles along the Sammamish River, and finally leaving the river to climb the hills into Redmond where I work. It’s a long, pleasant ride, mostly through parkland and river valley, past farms and woods and the occasional townhouse monstrosity. Today gave me an abundance of wildlife: two great herons, a plethora of ducks of different species, Canadian geese, a rabbit, a multitude of multicolored snails on the path, the usual assortment of crows, sparrows, robins, and songbirds, and rarest of all, a peregrine falcon carrying a branch for her nest! The peregrine falcon has been one of my favorite birds since elementary school, when I chose to do a report about them and fell in love. For a while, when people asked me what my favorite sport was, I said “falconry”, which tells you volumes about what kind of kid I was. You have to admit, they’re really beautiful birds:

Peregrine Falcon

But I’ve rarely gotten to see one in the wild, so this was a great treat.

(Made up for the grueling uphill in the last two miles to work. Almost murdered me, that hill did.)

It’s ironic that my first published story is one of the quickest-written stories I’ve ever done.

On Wednesday, I read Vylar Kaftan’s challenge to writers to write a fantasy piece about movies for the Cinema Spec anthology. The anthology was near closing, and the editor Karen Romanko had said that she was still looking for a high fantasy story.

Now, I had an idea for a somewhat-appropriate story that had been mellowing in my head for a long time. It wasn’t high fantasy as I originally intended it, but I was able to make some minor tweaks to the premise to make it fit. It wound up not being secondary-world fantasy but a portal fantasy–close enough that I hoped it would meet the editor’s needs. So I banged it out in a few hours Wednesday night, and mailed it to a few friends Thursday. Based on their feedback I revised it on Friday–and submitted, two hours before the deadline.

Karen was wonderful, and responded within a few days saying she was holding it for a second look. About a week after that I got the acceptance notice.

The moral of the story is: A good way to get published is to write something that fits an editor’s needs, even if you have to crank it out in 48 hours :).

  1. Over 2000 people have now climbed J.S. Bangs, with roughly ten percent dying on the way down.
  2. People used to believe that dressing their male children as J.S. Bangs would protect them from evil spirits.
  3. Baby swans are called J.S. Bangs.
  4. Forty percent of the world’s almonds and twenty percent of the world’s peanuts are used in the manufacture of J.S. Bangs.
  5. J.S. Bangs, from the movie of the same name, had green blood.
  6. The international dialling code for J.S. Bangs is 672.
  7. Peanuts and J.S. Bangs are beans!
  8. If you chew gum while peeling J.S. Bangs then it will stop you from crying.
  9. In Japan it is considered rude to talk with J.S. Bangs in your mouth!
  10. New Zealand was the first place to allow J.S. Bangs to vote.

Find out more facts about yourself at here.