Archived Messages from October 23, 1998 to November 5, 1998

S.N.Arly Thu Nov 5 18:19:10 PST 1998

Jack - Didn't have the time to find your email. Is this site html friendly or not? I KNOW I closed my command on that one. And the last italicized fiasco too. If it's not html friendly, let me know, I won't use it (code that is).


Oh, and everyone else, just use the link in my name tag to get to ShallowEND.

S.N.Arly Thu Nov 5 18:15:13 PST 1998

The November issue of is up and running. Go see it!

And now for my completely belated answer to "Why are you a writer?" See the article titled To burn with a passion. >

W. Olivia Race Thu Nov 5 18:09:27 PST 1998

Hi all. Had a killer workload so I haven't been doing much except coming home, cooking the fastest dinners possible for the little one and then zoning out in front the "Glass Teat" (aka television-- gosh I just love Harlan Ellison!)

Anyway, I'm getting further with "Bad Mojo". I have brilliant ideas that I just haven't gotten around to committing to print just yet. I actually printed out my novel at work the other day. The darn thing is so big I almost broke my back getting it from the office to the car park!!! I'm doing edits and corrections on what I have in longhand. Then I get to piece it all together on the PC (yee ha!!!!)

My feet have almost healed from carting around a bunch of kids (my best friend and I took our kids trick or treating) I dressed as a witch and decided to wear high heeled boots (BIG MISTAKE). Also as a pagan studying Wicca I felt a little redundant in the costume --oh well I had fun)

Well, I've done enough warbling for one night... gotta go mop the kitchen floor and do some writing.

Good Writing all..

Sue Thu Nov 5 15:43:06 PST 1998

Hello all,

On this weeks topic:-
My 9-5 job is in IT, so I spend most of my day staring at a computer screen (usually writing design documents or something similar). Hence when I get home I use pen and paper for my creative writing, at least for the first draft of a story/chapter. I've found I really struggle if I try to use the computer - perhaps because I associate it with writing technical documents, I can't get into the right frame of mind to write fiction when I'm using it. I do use it to assist with revision/editing though (I usually type my work up once I've completed the first draft). I keep lists of possible story topics/titles, character notes etc on the computer. I also have a laptop, but I'm still more likely to take a pad of paper with me if I'm going away for a few days!!

Caroline - From what I've read I think someone starved of food and water for 60-70 hrs would be perilously close to death, particularly if they had been weakened by torture as well. Symptoms - unconcious? I've read about people hallucinating as well, although I don't know if thats a common thing or not. I suppose they could feed her soup/liquids (probably high in sugar) to help rehydrate her? Just some thoughts - but I'm no expert on these things!

Sue Thu Nov 5 15:42:56 PST 1998

Hello all,

On this weeks topic:-
My 9-5 job is in IT, so I spend most of my day staring at a computer screen (usually writing design documents or something similar). Hence when I get home I use pen and paper for my creative writing, at least for the first draft of a story/chapter. I've found I really struggle if I try to use the computer - perhaps because I associate it with writing technical documents, I can't get into the right frame of mind to write fiction when I'm using it. I do use it to assist with revision/editing though (I usually type my work up once I've completed the first draft). I keep lists of possible story topics/titles, character notes etc on the computer. I also have a laptop, but I'm still more likely to take a pad of paper with me if I'm going away for a few days!!

Caroline - From what I've read I think someone starved of food and water for 60-70 hrs would be perilously close to death, particularly if they had been weakened by torture as well. Symptoms - unconcious? I've read about people hallucinating as well, although I don't know if thats a common thing or not. I suppose they could feed her soup/liquids (probably high in sugar) to help rehydrate her? Just some thoughts - but I'm no expert on these things!

Allein-chan Thu Nov 5 14:17:07 PST 1998

Caroline - w/out food, a person can live about 3 or 4 weeks, so the girl you speak of would be very hungry and weak, but as far as I know, no side effects from that. A 16 yr. old girl would die without water in 3 or 4 days. She'd be highly dehydrated. In medevil times, they would probably just use water, maybe some type of herb to help with the whip markings and bandage her up. It depends on how deep they are. If they cut into the dermis, the cuts will bleed, but if it's only up in the epidermis, they won't - not that medevil people probably knew about that. If you want her to survive, don't make the cuts too deep - she'd bleed to death. Bruising will most likely heal on it's own - deep bruises will take 2 or 3 weeks to heal completely. If the chamber is dark - then when she gets out, her eyes will be sensitive to light. If she's very fit, she'd probably survive - unless she's w/out water for over 4 days, then she'd die. Any infection to the wounds would also probably result in death if they didn't have good technology back then. Well, I hope that helps a little. I may be wrong about a few things, but to my knowledge, all is correct.

Rhoda - thanx. My candy is almost all gone. :)

Litter - if you're still writting here, I want to know how you got thename or nickname Litter. It's a cool name, by the way.

Well, gotta jet, see ya in the funny pages.

Caroline Heske Thu Nov 5 08:32:07 PST 1998

I'm writing a torture scene, and am trying to get my medical facts right so it's reasonably authentic. If anyone can help, that would be great.

The scenario is this: 16yo girl, fit, put into dark isolation chamber with no food or water for 60-70 hours. Bashed up once or twice - actually they sort of whip her back, so there are cuts, bleeding and bruises.

What would be the symptoms?
What would you give her to recuperate (assume medieval world with limited technology)?
How likely is it for anyone to survive under these conditions?
Would cauterising the lacerations on her back manage to halt any infected wounds?

Caroline Heske Wed Nov 4 22:11:44 PST 1998

grr... just a quick note to say that if you bother to put your website at the top of your post, bother to make sure you got it right so it actually leads somewhere...

I'll just go back to barking at passing posties ('posties' ha ha, get it? 'posties'? No, it wasn't very funny, was it?)

toby b torhyth@yahoo Wed Nov 4 18:28:15 PST 1998

Accounts of my maturity have been greatly exagerrated...

Yeah, I also never intend to grow out of childlike joy and fascination with the world around me. This is one of my goals in life...

Thomas Wed Nov 4 14:32:14 PST 1998

I am new in this group so forgive me if my subject has been covered before.
Lately I have been brought to rage by a number of editors whose teatment can only be viewed as insensitive and, perhaps, deceitful. I wonder how many freelance writers feel the way I do right now.
The editors I refer to contacted me because they liked the clips I sent along with my proposal but they could not use that particular idea. They encouraged me to send along more ideas. Two of the editors phoned me to rave about my writing skill and to encourage me to send ideas. And then most of the editors do not respond to countless messages either via e-mail or the dreaded voice-mail.
When I do finally reach the editors, many of the ideas I sent were met with "this subject is already in our pipeline" or "has already been covered" -- the former response rubs the wrong way; the latter could have been avoided had the editor made reference to what he/she does not want.
I am left to wonder at the process. Have I missed something or do editors no longer assign stories after the staff meeting? And do editors really expect writers to read every issue of every magazine to keep up with what has and what has not been covered?
Oh, I am talking non-fiction.

Rhoda Wed Nov 4 07:12:56 PST 1998


I don't think you have anything to apoligize for. Enjoy your youth while you can. I think it would be fun to dress up and eat chocolate too, but I am 38 and probably is a bit too old. As it is I have to borrow candy from my children after they have dressed up and acquired it, and then I can't borrow very much because I have to watch my weight. I hope you enjoyed every bit of your candy and had a wonderful time. You are always welcome to trick or treat at my house if you are ever in Perryton, Texas.

Happy writing!


Allein-chan Tue Nov 3 16:11:04 PST 1998

KC - I only do it because I like to dress up and I like candy - you know I'm a chocoholic. In fact, I'm eating M&M's right now and no, you can't have any!!

I worked more on my story - I'm getting more into the past of the king and queen.

Well, I have to go. Bye bye.

Rachel Tue Nov 3 15:00:13 PST 1998

On Topic - I use the computer when it's avaliable and when I don't mind being bound to the desk.

When I am in the mood to move round I just grab up a pencil, pad and eraser and head off to who knows where. Outside, inside whatever seems good at the time.

I like being able to delete stuff quickly, but when I'm put to it I am very handy with an eraser. Not like the old days when I had acers of land and could just go out and burn all my manuscripts in discust. I think that the neighbours would be pretty alarmed if I marched out into my backyard and started burning stuff.

Oh well I better run I want to go over my Katas before the kids come home.

Have a happy, happy day all


S.K.S. Perry Tue Nov 3 05:18:40 PST 1998

I'm not saying that writers don't influence people or the world in general--Howard's examples are an excellent case in point. I'm saying that maybe we don't have as much influence as we would like to think. Sure, the pen is mightier than the sword, but it depends on who's weilding it (the pen, I mean.) I could sit here an write political rhetoric or propaganda till I'm blue in the face, with probably very little impact. Now if Presidet Clinton or Ted Turner were to do the same, I'm sure the results would be vastly different. It's not just the ideas that count, it's getting them heard, and having credibility with the public.

P.S. I use MS Word because that's what the Canadian military has gone to as a standard. For the basics, like copy, cut, paste, spell check, and thesaurus, I don't see much difference between MS Word and Wordperfect. We used to use Wordperfect, but when we made the switch--well, it didn't really effect me all that much.

S.K.S. Perry

Caroline Heske Tue Nov 3 02:38:10 PST 1998

Actually, forget the previous reference - not that it's not quite good, but this one will completely blow you away...

Voice of the Shuttle: Media Studies Page

It also led me to Marxist Media Theory which was so readable that I actually read the whole thing. Accessible academia - what I like to see!

Caroline Heske Tue Nov 3 01:24:16 PST 1998

Rhoda and anyone else interested in mass media influences, here's an interesting site I dug up:

Sarah Zupko's Cultural Studies Centre (Mass Media)

Greg Butchers Tue Nov 3 00:21:11 PST 1998

Hi all,
Haven't been in for a while, decorating the kitchen etc.
Anyway I seem to write initial ideas and paragraphs long hand - usually on the train - and then fill them out on the PC. I've got a folder full of ideas and beginnings that have never reached the PC yet (good job for most of them). Unfortunately I find I can't do editing/rewrites unless I have got a hard copy to modifiy.For some reason I find it easier to read this way instead of scrolling down all the time. This doesn't pose too much of a problem at the moment as I'm only doing short stories - but god knows how I would deal with a novel (I'd definitely need a faster printer for a start).
That's it, back to the plastering.

K.C. Ramey Mon Nov 2 23:17:26 PST 1998

I agree with all the people who use Word Perfect. That is my favorite writing program. I can't stand MS Word. Don't know why, but I really don't like that program. I really can't think of too much more to say.

Allein-chan - Your 16. You shouldn't still be trick or treating. Well, tricking is a popular thing for teens but you still shouldn't do it! Hope you had fun.


S.N.Arly Mon Nov 2 20:03:25 PST 1998

Rhoda - Don't remind me of liquid paper. It has to be one of the nastiest subsances around. And old thermal photocopiers always picked it up so you'd get big blobs on any copies you made. Computers have definitely removed that horror of typos.

Olivia - I was wondering if Samhain and Halloween coincided. Suspected they did, but wasn't sure. Hope you had a nice one.

Howard - I agree we shouldn't say we won't ever have an effect on society. It's one of those never-say-never kind of things. But that doesn't mean it has to be a writer's goal or intent, at least not for all writers all the time. There is a lot of good writing that has no genuine (ie: lasting) effect on the reader.

I also don't think people read as much as they once did, we live in a society of sound bites and ADD. And in America most people don't want to be provoked to think. Why else would Contact do so badly in the box office, yet films with the same old plot rehashed again and again become big hits?
I'm not saying we can't provoke people to think, or that those who are inclined to shouldn't try. I do, however, think you overestimate our influence. I'm not selling myself short. I'm a writer. I'm good at what I do. There are a great deal of people who will never know that or even care to, but it doesn't matter to me.

I do not place individuals of any one career above those of any other. All are important for a culture and society to define itself and thrive. Hence I really can't say writers are any more or less important than doctors, teachers, bus drivers,stay-at-home parents, pro athletes... well ok maybe teh pro athletes. And lawyers. Well a lot of them.

Hayden - The force runs strong in this one.


Caroline Heske Mon Nov 2 18:52:43 PST 1998

Wow! A sudden explosion of posts...

As to writing for entertainment, I like to think of a good story as having several layers. So that if you're interested in a break from reality, you can just sit back and enjoy an entertaining ride - but if you want something thought provoking, the same story allows you to delve down through the layers and draw up interesting ideas and arguments. Which one is more important to me depends on what kind of mood I'm in.

SKS - Thankyou for putting that so well - the 'we cannot speak for everyone' bit... I don't know if I agree with you that writers have no influence... Not *every* writer is influential, but I think Howard's right when he points to those authors who have made a difference, and Rhoda when she says everyone who reads your book will have been influenced in some way...

At any rate, it's good to know you're alright - I was beginning to get worried!

The odd thing about this debate is that many of us feel so strongly, yet I doubt any of us actually know the facts. (Okay, that's a very normal thing about a debate... why do we respond so strongly to that we know so little about?)

Bob - evidently you have more experience publishing your stuff than I do... though I must say I'm surprised. I based that comment on what seems to be in the best-seller lists - which generally doesn't seem well-researched, well thought-out, but rather riveting entertainment-wise. As to the Grapes of Wrath, I haven't read it, but "I think" would be a most honest and informative comment to put at the end of any argument. It's akin to when you do a survey, and then have a page or two listing all the flaws in your method, the error margins, and the possible distortions in your results...

Olivia Race - I'm with you on the endings. I generally feel better about a mediocre book with a brilliant ending, than a brilliant book with a mediocre ending. Otherwise I go away thinking, "What a waste of a great story!" (Although with the former, I may not keep reading to the end.)

The topic - I always type, unless I'm stuck somewhere without a computer. It seems less depressing when you just press back-space over your bad ideas and they're obliterated from everything except your memory - not like nast big scribbles all over your page. Though because it's so easy to delete, I always try to get a print-out as soon as possible, because viruses and other such things seem to be everywhere (as well as general software errors and mouse clicks in the wrong places)

Hayden Mon Nov 2 18:42:35 PST 1998

Like pebbles through an hour are the cracks formed in other peoples lives...
My apologies to whoever wrote the original...

Howard Mon Nov 2 17:48:49 PST 1998

I'm not sure that any of us (even those who write "only to entertain") can say that we will never have an effect on society. Did Arthur C Clarke merely predict satellites and space shuttles, or did he plant a seed that grew to fruition many years after he wrote of those things?
Did Upton Sinclair only write to entertain, or did he intend to change the society he lived in? He certainly changed it!
And what about C.S.Lewis, Studs Terkel, Kurt Vonnegut, William Gaines, Toni Morrison, Flannery O'Conner, Gertrude Stein, etc etc? They certainly made a difference in *their* little corners of the world! Such a varied range of philosophies and values in the names I cited, but such a wide range of influence too!
Like the Russian poets mentioned earlier, they (and we) have the potential to change the world we inhabit by the simple act of putting words on paper or on tape, or film.
Lets not sell ourselves short.

W. Olivia Race Mon Nov 2 17:32:33 PST 1998

Hi all. Took the whole weekend off to enjoy Samhain (Halloween to non-pagans.

On the topic: I used to think the only way to write was in longhand. Then I discovered computers. A year and a half ago, if I hadn't just turned on the darn computer and stared at it, willing myself to write, I might have never started again. I use Word both at home and at work and I like the grammer, spellcheck and thesaurus elements it has.

If I'm working on a really difficult segment, I will jot notes or dialogue down in longhand. But the real writing begins when I sit at my writing desk and boot up the PC. I also keep a journal next to my bed. That way, if I think of something just before I go to sleep or when I wake up, I can scribble it down (hopefully, I will be able to read it later !).

I think writer need to entertain, tell a good story and hopefully each reader will walk away feeling something. Any emotion is fine. Stories make us happy, mad etc. But when I read, I definitely want to FEEL something at the end of a book. Hopefully the emotions are due to a really satisfying story and the author intended the particular emotion. Often, I read my way through a story or book and walk away mad because of an unsatisfying ending (this is why I've sworn off Stephen King lately --I almost threw out "IT" after I got to the end of that opus)

Anyway, I've taken up enough space and have to put the kid to bed and get some writing done.

Good Writing all.

Allein-chan Mon Nov 2 17:21:34 PST 1998


I went trick-or-treating on Halloween with my friends. We got tons of candy - I got seventy of those little toosie rolls. Then I went to my friend Nicole's birthday party - lots of fun.

I can't write without a computer - my writing isn't legible to anyone other than myself and my friends (some of them).

Well, gotta go. Bye everyone.

toby buckell Mon Nov 2 16:41:16 PST 1998

I really don't care what type of word processor I use, I've used everything from notepad to wordpad to word and Claris. As long as what I type goes up on the screen I am a happy person, cut and paste is convenient, as is different font size, or italic/bold/underline. Extras can include a spell check and word counter, neither of which my laptop has.

On influencing people: I believe the primary aim of a fiction writer to be entertaining. I know that when I pick up a book I pick up to be entertained. Just like when I pick up a remote control. But a good writer can also educate, influence, while entertaining. A reader should not be bludgeoned, but nudged. But I always keep entertainment at the top of my mind, ultimatly, I only write with the aim of producing something that I would pick up at a bookstore myself and enjoy. I'm out there to spin a good yarn, and a good yarn often is both entertainment and learning. I think I should take some time next weekend and develop a more thourough essay about this, but that is my summary of the philisophy behind my writing...


Clyde Dixon Mon Nov 2 13:08:09 PST 1998

Hi all. As to the topic: The computer is great for editing and spell checking and slamming out a bunch of words. But it is the last place I want to be if I am running dry or am unsure of where I am going. I need to do some writing in my head, maybe even on paper, before I get near the computer.

Now a word about content: Fiction must entertain, or no one will read it, but I think it is possible to enlighten and challenge also. Gene Roddenbury (?) certainly had some ideas about social issues which he tried to include in his works--he wanted a woman captain, not James T Kirk.


Rhoda Mon Nov 2 12:44:02 PST 1998

As far as the topic at hand, I don't know what I would do without my computer. I have used Word Perfect for over three years and have come to greatly appreciate it. I do most of my writing with my P.C. Last year I got a notebook and that has greatly expanded my abilities to write because I can take it on vacation with me. Also while my husband or children are using the Personal Computer, I can use my notebook because it is MINE and no one else's.

Sometimes when I am writing a difficult passage I prefer to write by hand. I'm not sure why this is. Sometimes the ideas come easier with pen and paper.

I hate to think what life would be without the computer. When I didn't have one, I didn't really feel it was indispensible. I hand wrote sometimes ten to fifteen pages of text in a day. I think the best thing about the computer and the current word-processors is the cut and paste features and the way you can manipulate a page by inserting footnotes, headers and footers, etc. I remember doing these things in high-school and college with a typewriter. It was horrible. Anyone remember correction ribbons, liquid paper, and the tedious hours one had to spend correcting their mistakes?

As far as the philosopical question at hand. I think it is good to sometimes step back and ask ourselves why we do write. I don't believe that writers more special insights than anyone else. They are not any more brilliant, virtuous, or worthy. Writers do have the advantage that they are forced to be articulate. If you are not articulate and if you cannot organize and present your ideas, you are severly limited in your ability to persuade.

Every writer has to persuade people. Even if all you are is an entertainer, you still must be able to make the ideas you put on paper appear plausable to your audience. Because most published authors can do this, they do have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace of ideas. If you sell 100,000 books and all these people read your book, you have in some way influenced 100,000 people. Pretty heady idea if you ask me. Whatever way a writer wishes to influence people is his or her business. Everyone is in it for their own reasons.

Most individual writers do not have the ability to influence so greatly these days because there is such an explosion of media. When you consider all the television, talk radio, magazines, web sites, books, etc, the average person is subjected to, one can't expect a little sci/fi or romance novel to make a great dent on a reader's beliefs or opinions. I believe that back in previous centuries, writers did have more ability to influence their world because there were fewer of them and they didn't have to compete with Ted Coppel, Rush Limbaugh, and Howard Stern.

Personally, I wish to entertain with my novels. If I can provoke someone to think then that is an added bonus for me. Always I want to edify my reader and help to reinforce the good sentiments within this person and not try to tear them down. I strive always to avoid the "in your face" type of mentality that creeps into books at times. Sometimes when you write from the heart and you have strong beliefs, you unfortunately do offend some people. In those cases a writer must stike a balance. As a writer, respect the reader and try to give the kind person who bought your book and then took the time to read it his/her money's worth.

Happy writing!


S.N.Arly Mon Nov 2 11:17:15 PST 1998

Eeesh. Take a couple days off to enjoy my URI with associated laryngitis and bronchitis and look what I missed.

On Writer's as spokesfolks for the world: Ick. i just tell stories. Sometimes there's a message, but that's not generally the point of my writing. I agree with Hayden and SKS in that sure it may be the case for some writers, but it depends on who we are, what we write and why. I do not presume to speak for every American, every member of my racial class or socioeconomic group. For crying out loud I can't even speak for my family. Sometimes I'd swear my siblings and I grew up with different parents, and this is the most basic example of why I would never presume to speak for someone else.

On what I need to write: Once upn a time I would have been ok with a pen and paper. However when I was still a kid I developed an unusually severe case of chronic tendinitis, mostly caused by my physical design combined with excessive handwriting. It's always there and I pretty much live in my splints. I MUST a computer, and more importantly a nice keyboard with what I call a "soft touch". I recently got a laptop so I can write when I'm away from The Beast. This is great because most of my inspiration does not come when sitting in my dark little computer room. I can probably write 100 words with either hand before my fingers start to swell up, so this was a bit of a medical necessity too.

I've used a number of word processors, some much better than others. The first was Magic Desk and it was for our Commodore 64. I think I had to save each page separately and there was no cut and paste ability. My favorite is Word Perfect and I hope to change over to it completely before 1999. WP is a MUCH better program than MS Word, and I've used both extensively. It's just a better arrangement with better options. It's also not quite so dumbed down.

Hayden - I'm afraid it's true. Muppets can grant enlightement, but only if you aren't a xenophobe.

Ah, but you nearly had it that time...

Perhaps we have been going about this wrong and should try a simpler test first, eh? Allow me to present you with this pamphlet, the 12 Steps to Enlightenment.

Let us begin. Step one, what is a pebble?

S.K.S. Perry Mon Nov 2 06:56:41 PST 1998

Howdy Folks,

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been away for a while. That’s one of the beauties of military life—being called away suddenly and unexpectedly to go God-knows-where for God-knows-how-long to do God-knows-what. Anyway, now that I’ve returned, I hope to be able to fulfill the commitments that I’ve made to some of you people here, and to respond to some of the things I’ve read in the notebook. Here goes:

Barb, I’ve done some work on that little story we’re collaborating on and should have a first draft of some of it to you in a day or so. I think it’s coming along nicely, and can’t wait to “hand it off” to you so that you can take your turn.

Caroline, I’ve got chapters 10-12 (including the revised chapter 11)of Erranon and will read them and get back to you on them soon.

Lydia, I sent you my suggestions for chapter 8 of Elainna. Did you get them? If so, please get back to me and let me know if you would like me to send you more of the same.

Howard, where are you? I’m sure you must have something for me to look at and I always enjoy reading your work, and of course I always enjoy our little chats.

Gen, same goes for you.

To all you newcomers, welcome. I think you’ll like it here, I know I do.

As to my preferred writing tool, I almost exclusively write on the computer. I can type much faster than I can write (and the result doesn’t nearly resemble the hieroglyphic scrawl that my long hand does). The spell checker, thesaurus and myriad of other tools available with a simple point and click ensure that more time is actually spent being creative, and writing rather than researching and editing. Now that I’m Internet friendly (hah!) the resources available to me without putting aside my work and rummaging through my small library for that reference on shamanism that I’m sure I saw in Mythology of the Americas
(or was it Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience—well, it was on the right hand side of the whatever book for sure—I think) are more extensive and accessible than ever. And how did I ever get along before without copy, cut and paste? I’ll tell you how; I had to retype everything--sometimes entire chapters, just so that I could add a paragraph, or move it from here to there. About the only time I write anything longhand now is when I’m suddenly inspired and there’s no computer handy.

Finally, on the ongoing discussion of how writer should or shouldn’t be “representatives of the human community,” or “spokespersons for human destiny,” all I can say is, “My, aren’t we full of ourselves?” Are we having delusions of grandeur here or what?

I write to entertain. If I’m lucky, while entertaining my reader I might give them a little something to think about. In all truth, that something is probably not even all that original. Let’s face it, most of these ideas have been around in one form or another forever. At best, I can only hope to say it in a slightly different way then has been said before, and maybe make the concept clear to the poor sap who didn’t get it all the other times he’d read it. Make no mistake, entertainment is a noble calling. Ninety nine percent of the huddled masses live bland, unrewarding lives—certainly not fulfilling their dreams, not to mention their potential—and they know this. If in some small way my writing serves to enliven that existence, to take them away from their dreary lives and transport them to the fantastical worlds and characters of my creation, then I’ve done something I can be proud of. On the downside, in my own way I’m also partially to blame for the dissatisfaction the most of us feels about their life. After all, we are the ones who paint our works of art on a canvass that the average Joe’s paint-by-number existence could never achieve.

As Hayden aptly pointed out, we all have our own agendas. The most we can honestly say is that we spew out our own propaganda. To say that we speak for or are a reflection of society is absurd. Society is an awfully large beast. Do you speak for all the women, men, children, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Backs, Caucasians, Asians, right-wing, left-wing, yuppies, preppies, skin heads, goths, etc etc ad nauseum. I’m lucky if I can say I speak for myself when I write. As writers, we’re lucky if what we write even gets read. We don’t make those decisions, Editors and Publishers do. That makes us a pretty ineffectual voice of the people!

Let’s say, for the arguments sake, that everything you wrote actually did make it in to print, and, miracle of miracles, was widely read. How much impact do you think your words honestly have. Even our greatest literary works: works by Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Hemingway and so on, have had only a marginal effect on the way we think or the way our society works. In my opinion, there are only a few works of literature that have had this kind of impact, that are the voice of the people: the Bible (in all it’s versions), the Korran, the Torra, the Constitution of the United States, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms etc. etc. (If I’ve left your religion or countries doctrine out, please forgive me, but I think you can see what I’m getting at.)

Forgive me if I have sounded overly harsh or critical, but I’ve just returned from a rather nasty piece of work and I’m probably not in the best of moods (which is sometimes the best time to write.)

It’s just that I find that people in general do the most damage when they see themselves as more important or invaluable then they really are. That’s usually when we start deciding we know what’s best for everyone else.

Be Well,

S.K.S. Perry.

Michele Mon Nov 2 02:10:16 PST 1998

Sorry ! Two things :

I've just checked and the book reviews I wrote are only on - if you search on Sassoon you'll find one for Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man and one for Jean Moorcroft Wilson's biography - Making of a War Poet . . .

Second thing - Tess if you find out the answer to your question let me know ?! As I graduate in English and History in 3 years time (I hope !) I'd be interested to know. The only suggestion I have is to get yourself computer literate - it's not that hard - HONEST !!

Sorry - there goes another 2 cents !


Michele Mon Nov 2 02:01:35 PST 1998


Yes for all who've asked that is Amazon as in (or even !) - they've posted the two reviews I submitted and so I shall now have to find the time to write some more ! (As I'm on a roll !) Quite when I shall find time amongst studying and expanding the web site (see below) I don't quite know but never mind !

I've written yet another biography for the old web site - which leads me onto the topic of needing a PC to write. I *cannot* simply sit down at a PC and write - I have this nasty habit (as evidenced here) of forgetting what punctation is for and writing endlessly long sentences ! Also I tend to think differently sitting at a computer (perhaps it's the programmer in me sucking out the creativity !). I sat down for an hour or so yesterday and wrote that biography of Blunden in longhand in a shorthand notebook and the words flowed, no problem. Besides all that - because I spent so long using computers in my 9-5 job I preferred to write longhand in order to relax from staring at the old flickering screen. I handwrite all my essays as well as my study and lectures notes, I handwrite notes to myself and yes I write a journal - but then I'm an oldfashioned kind of girl - despite the love of technology that allows me to talk to all you people across the world ! As far as I'm concerned the pen is mightier than Bill Gates !! :-)

Anyway there's my two cents worth - which I forbid Hayden to pick up - it's about time I reclaimed that virtual Porsche - you might reach enlightenment in a more enlightened state that way Hayden ! :-)


Mon Nov 2 01:44:31 PST 1998

Tess Sun Nov 1 20:43:52 PST 1998

Hi all -

Just stumbled across this site and found it very interesting.

I enjoy reading the comments from everyone. As an
aspiring writer myself, I find them very helpful.

I graduated from college last year with an English major
and history minor, and while I enjoy both, I am finding it
difficult to find jobs in those fields. My professors always
told me that and english major could do just about anything
for a job because of the communication skills and such,
but so many employers want computer skills, which I have
only a very basic knowledge of.

Does anyone have any tips on specific jobs that someone
who loves to write could get? And if so, how does one
go about convincing employers to give someone with
little related job experience a chance?

Any help would be great!

Thanks and happy writing!


Bob Hanford Sun Nov 1 15:00:22 PST 1998

"What sells isn't necessarily original, or well thought out or well researched..."?????? We have to live in different worlds. I cannot sell my columns if they don't meet all that criteria. Or any non-fiction. And I doubt any fiction.
And yes the right for the reader to disagree is always implied. I for one wouldn't have wanted John Steinbeck to add, "I think." to the end of The Grapes of Wrath.
And Hayden, I have no compunction at all raising writers above other groups; we already do that with doctors, senators, clergy etc. In many countries in Europe and Asia writers are near or at the top of the totem pole.

Jack Beslanwitch Sun Nov 1 14:38:25 PST 1998

I was away for the last day or so, but caught the suggestion about a possible topic. So, plunging ahead.

Why not take the suggestion from the Notebook and ask what people need to do their writing. Do you require a computer or can you get started better by writing long hand. If you only can write using a computer, what software do you need to get the job done. Some people have mentioned different software packages
they find useful to essential. Do any others have suggestions

     Just a couple of quick comments about this topic in terms of my own perspective. My father taught we how to type on an old manual type writer at the age of eight long before I ever encountered a computer. This gave me an almost automatic prejudice for a keyboard, irregardless of whether it was a typewriter or computer keyboard. However, I have also discovered that when I am really stuck and the ideas are not flowing that getting far away from my computer to an interesting spot where there are other people, a legal pad and a pen, can work wonders. In my case, this usually means Ranier Square at South Center or Pike Place Market. Place is not important, but I can testify from experience that the ideas and words do not flow quite so well with a laptop as they do with a simple yellow legal pad and a pen or pencil. Once the dam is broke and the words are flowing and I have the beginnings, trying to do something long handed would be tiring at best. Then I want the automatic response and speed that typing has become for me over the close to forty years that I have been a touch typist. Good writing all however you set about doing it.

Hayden Sun Nov 1 14:33:27 PST 1998

I'm enjoying the current discussion on the writers' (etc)ability/responsibility to define the world as we know it (which includes values, mores, whatever). I would warn against building a messia complex while writing, because we humans define the world as we know it in so many ways that to focus the responsibility on one group is to raise that group above all others. You don't need to have a creative bent to be able to describe what is going on with your life. A laugh or a cry can do the same thing. And maybe more succintly (?sp)than words or "icons".

Those of us who write for a living can well afford to focus in on issues that take our fancies, but we are only is a lot larger than we are...we can only produce "propaganda" for some cause or point of view.

Also it is terrible to think that others can only achieve true experience of the world by living it through someone else's eyes/words/deeds, so if we get one group to be the spokespersons and then focus on what they are telling us, we will be like poor old Grasshopper trying to catch SNarly's pebbles while being bent by the rules of the game. Instead of picking the pebbles off the beach in the first place, we wait for others to take them into the palm of their hand and offer them for our snatching grasp.

Mind you, that doesn't mean we cant have a bit of fun while we are doing what we are doing, and make a living from it.

Bob Hanford Sun Nov 1 09:55:02 PST 1998

Howard (first):
You bet. Another example: During the Great War, Leningrad (now once again St. Petersburg) was the only city in the USSR not invaded by Hitler. As you and everyone know, the citizens were under siege for 900 days. One reason: with extremely limited electricity available only a couple of hours per day, one hour was given to the radio station so Vera Inber, a poet, could read poetry to the starving, freezing people. Troops at the front requested poets to come and read to them and the poets went.
The leading poets in Russia consistenly fill a football stadium for their readings.
Caroline: Will respond after giving myself time to chew over
what I'm going to say.

Howard Sun Nov 1 06:51:34 PST 1998

"And who other than photographers, artists and writers can be spokespersons for us?"
It's an interesting question, Bob. Did you happen to watch the shuttle launch this past week? The CNN coverage included Walter Cronkite, with a panel of former astronauts, in celebration of John Glenn's return to space. (Now I've watched *both* of his flights).
In a discussion of who should go and why, one of the panel members said that we should really send up a JOURNALIST - in order to properly communicate what it is like up there. He seemed to feel that only a writer could really communicate the thrill of the ride -- the grandeur of space. The rest of the panel -- especially Cronkite -- seemed to agree with him.
It brought to mind an old science fiction story (I can't remember the name or author) that told of the imminent destruction of earth. Ships were built to take the entire population to another world. One man was left on earth, to record the end for the rest of them over a radio link. They chose a poet.

Caroline Heske Sun Nov 1 01:21:04 PST 1998

Rhoda - don't be sorry! It is good to hear more than two voices on this issue... We had a lecture on the media the other day, and I gather the current academic theory is that although people are pretty good at critically reading overt propaganda, the mass media has enormous control over WHAT issues we choose to think about. So, for instance, at the moment in Australia most of what gets discussed is economic issues - it is difficult to get fired up about, say, the environment, when it's painted as such a non-issue... I think that I'd pretty much agree with this analysis.

Bob - Who other than photographers, artists, writers should be spokespersons for us? Everyone, I would suggest. The ability to write or draw or whatever is hardly criteria for being a spokesperson for humanity... The ability to write will get you published, or a job as an author or journalist - but not because you have a well developed sense of morality, but because your writing will sell. What sells isn't necessarily original, or well thought out, or well researched... it may grab a hot issue and say something controversial, but generally it's comfortable feel-good stuff.

By no means am I suggesting that writers should limit themselves to reflecting community values! Rather I was trying to say that it is very difficult to reflect community values... Individual biases always creep in. Everyone has an individual bias - there's nothing wrong with that, it's perfectly normal. What I find difficult to grasp is why we need to be the spokespeople for humanity... Why can we not simply be the spokesperson for ourselves? State your zany ideas and say: these are my opinions, no more, and no less. Writing is an excellent means of doing so, and this gives us a (perhaps unfair) advantage... Rather than giving us the right to lead the community, I think it should place on us the responsibility to ensure that we are not drowning those without this advantage.

You are right, we are uniquely positioned to be the "reminders" to the community, and it is a role people expect us to fulfil... It is a role that has undisputable benefits to the community if used considerately. By considerately, I don't mean we should force ourselves into a mould, but rather to be aware of our limits. There is a difference between saying, "We are ruled more by our emotions than our intellect" than saying "I believe we are ruled more by our emotions than our intellect. You may disagree."

The right to disagree may be implied in the first instance, but shouldn't a responsible writer be aware that there are those with little opportunity to take it up? Or are discouraged from doing so...

Goodweed of the North Sat Oct 31 20:33:59 PST 1998

This is an easy one for me. I wrote the entire first half of my first story on any paper I could find. I finished it on paper in fact. However, when I moved into the house I now reside in, I had help from others and the entire wecond half of my novel came up missing. I haven't found it in the five years following. I re-wrote it of course, and probably better than the first time around. I did it on computer where I have redundant copies on my hard drive at work, on my home machine, and on a master floppy, and backup floppy. The ability to easily make duplicates sold me on the benifits of writing on the computer. Another plus for me is that I edit every third or so time I sit down as I work on the first draft. It's much easier to do on screen. I use the spell checker often. It frees my time to worry about creativity rather than spelling.

I am not a slave to my computer, but it is a powerful tool that makes writing for me move more smoothly. It allows me greater organization, allows me to use other tech skills such as competer aided drafting to draw maps of my fatasy world, I keep a running glossary of new terms, characters, animals, etc. which I can access in an instant. No I don't "need" a word-processor, but it sure does enhance my efficiency.

Besides, this computer doesn't belong to Bill Gates. I wrote much of my first book (almost all of it in fact, on Norton Textra. Word Perfect for Windows came much later. I has more powerful features. Always remember though, the computer does not enhance your writing ability, or creativity. It is merely a powerful tool which when used properly can help you get the manuscipt pollished and ready for the world more quickly. The notes written in the spur of the moment at lunch is still a valuable tool. Don't give up the hand written skills. This may not be true for everyone. Each person must decide what works best for them. I choose to use the computer.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

Litter Sat Oct 31 16:25:42 PST 1998

Aye Jonas, it fair brichtened ma day tae see yon poem. Bide a whilie ma loon and tell tae me fit like? ;o)


Bob Hanford Sat Oct 31 14:37:16 PST 1998

The whole idea of this forum is to generate discussions. I'm surprised more people haven't joined in.

K.C. Ramey Sat Oct 31 10:19:45 PST 1998

Howard - I almost always write on the computer once I have my main Idea down. If I come up with a story idea I have to write it on paper first or I go brain dead when I reach the computer. But that is kind of understandable seeing as I have had a computer available to me for over half of my life and my teachers always want things typed on the computer at school. I do keep a journal. All my little starts and ideas for stories are in it. And then I have all my notebooks that are full of beginnings and need to be completed. I have on friend whom I am co-writing a story with and she writes everything in notebooks. I believe we are on page 200 of the written story. I get the lovely job of deciphering her writing and putting it on the computer so that it is easier to change. That is another reason I like to use the computer. You can go back and take out or insert a section in the middle of the story and it is so much easier to read.

Well I have a party to get to.

Happy Halloween!!!!!!

jarell Sat Oct 31 09:44:02 PST 1998

Howard: I travel with my job and have gotten tired of lugging my laptop around airports only to have two hours of batery power. So I've forced myself to write chapter outlines in a notebook. It's actually very nice. The pages look like a chicken has steped in ink and walked accross them, but I do get the main outline down. Then when I'm back at the keys things go a lot quicker. I don't think I'm ready to give up the PC though.


Rhoda Sat Oct 31 08:16:59 PST 1998

Caroline and Bob,

I don't mean to get into the middle of your difference of opinion, but I think it does raise and interesting question. To what extent are people's views shaped by what they see and read in the media? How much influence do we writers really have and how much should we have?

Do we reflect views around us or do we really lead them? Are the views and moral standards we see today a reflection of the standards in the media, or does the media just parrot what we think? I believe this is a classic chicken or the egg situation, and would make a lively discussion. I'll ponder this question myself as I read Goodweed's story this week-end.

Happy writing!


Howard Sat Oct 31 07:33:27 PST 1998

Tory! Write a page today! BUT:
...put me in a little cage, with a computer....
You know, Jack, that might be a decent topic sometime -- do we *need* a computer in order to write?
How many of us -- myself included -- do *any* writing without the benefit(?) of one of these infernal machines lighting up our existence?
Do we need to stare into this glowing screen in order to find, then set down our ideas? Are we so dependent on Bill Gates et al that we cannot communicate without them?
Tory, you reminded me that I almost never write anything using pen and paper -- outside of the odd occasional note to myself.
How many of us keep a journal? I used to, and now I think I'll go back to doing it.
And maybe I'll go back out to my treehouse, with paper and pen, and see if the Muse is still staying there.

Bob Hanford Sat Oct 31 06:42:19 PST 1998

Were I to limit my role as a writer to do nothing more than reflect society's values, I would find another occupation.
It is contradictory to say witers should make people think and then to limit them to reflecting current ideologies. Writers must ask the hard questions, the unpopular questions and above all else I believe writers are "reminders", reminders of who we are and who we are not. E.g., we are not homo sapiens, "thinking man"; we are more ruled by our emotions than by our intellect. We want to bellieve we honor reason above emotion but in fact we don't. Were I to simply reflect society's beliefs, I would not say than and write about it.
And who other than photographers, artists and writers can be spokespersons for us?

Tory Niemann Fri Oct 30 11:54:05 PST 1998

Arggggghhhh!!!! Someone make me write a page a day! Someone track me down, put me in a little cage with a computer and don't feed me till I write a good page per day! Otherwise, I'll never get these books out to the world, the they will writh in my brain forever, gnashing their teeth and wailing.

Barb G. Fri Oct 30 10:39:35 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Howard: Thanks a million. I'll be out today, so I'll see if I can find them. Hey, what have you done with Aunt Aggie?

I'm going to leave that hanging out there, Howard, to tantalize the others and make them wonder...

I would like to ask those of you who write Dark Horror/
Dark Fantasy, to send your ms/s to Underworld Magazine at:

(and don't be surprised to see my name on the acceptance/rejection note because I'm now co-editor)

Thanks, guys

Fri Oct 30 04:39:17 PST 1998

Howard Thu Oct 29 19:34:24 PST 1998

Barb, for some "mild" or "gentle" Science Fiction, try my absolute FAVORITE -- Zenna Henderson. There's a fairly new collection of her "People" stories out now in hardcover -- it's titled "Ingathering," (I bought a copy from Amazon) and it's wonderful! Zenna was a school teacher, and she wrote stories for her elementary school students. I wrote to her a few years ago, asking for more stories, and received a letter from her sister, informing me that Zenna had died the year before, from complications following routine surgery. She had published several collections of short stories based on the People: "Pilgrimage," and "No Different Flesh," then "Holding Wonder," and "The Anything Box." I would recommend them to anyone as wonderful examples of good writing, and excellent (albeit old-fashioned) science fiction.
Other good examples are Alan Dean Foster's "Midworld" (not so gentle, but good), CS Lewis' trilogy, Hal Clement's "Needle," and two more favorites -- Keith Laumer's "The Great Time Machine Hoax," and James Schmitz (I think) "The Witches of Karres." The latter two are on a par with Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide" (a five book trilogy). Even better, I think.
So many books, so little time... but Zenna is worth the effort to find and read.

Allein-chan Thu Oct 29 14:13:31 PST 1998

KC - Yeah, I know what you meant. I was joking - but since you have no sense of humor, I didn't expect you to know that. :p Just kidding. :)

Bye, bye.

Hayden Thu Oct 29 14:07:09 PST 1998

Snarls...the path to enlightenment is paved with all your blasted pebbles!


I think I'm gonna take my porsche and drive it right up the pathway, and when I get to enlightenment, I'm gonna give them a clip in the ear for making it so god-damned difficult.

Then I'm gonna pack the Porsche with all the secrets of the ages and I'm gonna sell it to all those who would rather "try" rather than listen to a muppet!

What, me, angry at not being able to catch some stupid pebbles? You gottit all wrong. I could at any time I wanted to catch any of your stinking pebbles!



Two out of three?

And so the road to enlightenment get just that little bit longer.

Rachel Thu Oct 29 14:01:59 PST 1998

Hi all

Stories are all moving along nicely and I have become more comfortable with what I am writing. I'v even cranked out a couple of poems. I guess I am just exploring round my head looking for what I am most comfortable writing.

Hayden - Good to see yah

Take care all

Barb G. Thu Oct 29 13:38:33 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

Patrick: Welcome to our motley crew, and Yeah! I love x-files. I'll swear, I came to this sight: fresh of cheek, tentative of genre (mine being Lit/Mainstream with occasional leaps into the dark, dark horror place) but I have been won over to SF/F.

People have been kind enough to answer my questions and suggest good reading and I'm almost ready to dip the big-fat toe into the realms of Cyber-Sorld!!

I have another question, though for you SF guys. Is there such an animal as a "mild SF story? For lack of a better word, let me explain, I know editors sometimes say: SF(hard on science, soft on psychological). What is the soft on psychological? Am I being clear here?

Is there a blending of mild SF with mainstream? And if so can you, anyone, name a writer I can look at to see how he/she blends the two.

Please help an old lady longing to learn!!


S.N.Arly Thu Oct 29 11:17:21 PST 1998

Caroline - I'm gonna eat a lot of peaches and think about it.

Michelle - As in Congrats and viel Gluck.

Hayden - Aaah, the path to enlightenment is long and difficult. Perhaps my little grasshopper is not yet ready to be tested by the pebbles? Go now and meditate. Return only after you have purified your Porsche. This, you must do alone. You may take with you only your spirit and the words of our sovergn to guide you.

"Do, or do not do. There is no try."


Caroline Heske Thu Oct 29 04:10:22 PST 1998

Just had my very last first year class today - politics - and it was wonderful weather, so I returned from uni to my room in a chirpy mood (buoyed up with copious amounts of caffeine) and decided I'd try and do some writing. I managed to persist all afternoon (about eight hours) and am happy to say that I have now finished chapter 11!!!!!

And all the people did rejoice and say... Well I'm not sure what they said - considering the plotline was a tragedy I doubt they were actually rejoicing at all. But it's definitely put me on a high! That I-*can*-write-and-accomplish-something-so-there sort of high.

Isn't life beautiful?

Michele - Good luck with your reviews!

Toby - Thanks for visiting!

Bob - Hmm... Probably because I personally believe that the most important thing to acknowledge about power is that it is amoral (ie. it can be used equally for good or evil). Writing, through directly affecting readers, and indirectly influencing a culture's hegemonic ideas, has immense power. While many authors have used their power to open people's minds - to encourage fairness and justice - there are many who have contributed to devastating oppression. I doubt that many writers do the latter deliberately... The most powerful propaganda is that which sounds reasonable and fair - take White South African apartheid literature, and its appeal to god-given rights of domination. Okay, that doesn't sound particularly reasonable to me, but its proponents clearly believed they were saving the Afrikaaners from moral corruption.

This is why I object to the final line: 'There is no more essential and nobler task for writers established writers, new writers, aspiring writers - than to regard themselves as spokesmen for human destiny.' Even without getting nit-picky on the gendered language (which when you're used to terms like 'spokesperson' really does appear clumsily inaccurate), I would argue that there is nothing more dangerous than for a writer to regard themselves as the spokesperson for human destiny. This is not to argue that writers are incapable of contributing positively to human destiny, but that their two most important tasks should be:

a) to get people thinking
b) to accept that they could be wrong.

This may sound unnecessarily pessimistic, but with power needs to come responsibility, and there is clear evidence of the power of writing in some of my aforementioned examples (particularly influencing the values and behaviours of children).

You're right, though, I do realise that many people today would whole-heartedly support that quote. Personally though, I don't believe that any writer should appoint themself 'the representative of the human community' A representative, certainly, but only the if unanimously democratically elected - and with reservations even then. Writers have a valuable role in trying to reflect community values, but I don't think this can ever be anything more than a reflection tinted through the glasses of individual values and experiences.

Michele Thu Oct 29 01:54:02 PST 1998

Hayden - how can I email you and thank you for enlivening the guestbook on my web site if you don't leave me an email address ?

I've now branched out and begun writing online book reviews for the Amazon - whether they'll post them or not is an entirely different matter, but watch this space !


K.C. Ramey http://www, Wed Oct 28 22:54:35 PST 1998

Allein-chan - You know what I ment!! I love manga and anima also, but not nearly as much as my A's (Andrew and Albert{K9}).

Well I got an A on my midterm english paper but I didn't do so good on the Parts of Speech and Verb Classification sections. I figure the adverage of the two would be about a B.

Does anybody ever enter writing competitions (ie. Story's short short story competition or whatever its called)? If so which ones are the best to enter? Just curious.


Bob Hanford Wed Oct 28 17:31:03 PST 1998

Of course I meant "half-empty" not half-full.

Bob Hanford Wed Oct 28 17:28:53 PST 1998

Caroline: Don't know why you chose to find the glass half full. The quote is timeless. It could have been written last week.

Hayden Wed Oct 28 16:38:13 PST 1998

Okay SNarls. I'm ready...



Allein-chan Wed Oct 28 16:32:57 PST 1998

Patrick - welcome. I like Anime/Manga too (but, I guess KC mentioned that already) - I draw a lot of it (mostly from the stories I write). I'm an aspiring writer (16 yrs. old) and I write about aliens, coming-of-age, fantasy - a whole range of things.

KC - what do you mean 'a guy after my own heart'? You already HAVE a boyfriend. :)

Bye bye.

Caroline Heske Wed Oct 28 15:44:54 PST 1998

Dear all those nice people who sent me letters - Thankyou! I am gradually replying.

Bob Hanford - An inspiring quote... But it has prompted me to wonder, did they do a good job? Or did they define what was meaningful for petty political ends? (Or even not petty political ends, I don't know which is more scary...) Consider the huge bulk of colonial and imperialist literature... It certainly defined the issues, and gave people moral guidance, but was that a good idea? What about German fascist literature of the 30s?

Patrick - Welcome! I like Manga too, and would like to see more of it... This at least partly stems from Astroboy nostalgia. Reading back on your other posting you seem to enjoy the 'quest' type of fantasy... What do you think is most enjoyable about it? The action? The sort of problem-solving nature? (These aren't needlessly annoying questions, it's good to know when one's writing what to aim at.)

SNArly - I must say you really light up my day with your dives into personal reflection. Er... is there a reason? Stupid question. Who needs reasons when you can identify so well with small animals? (incidentally, do you like the presidents of the USA? I mean, the band.)

S.N.Arly Wed Oct 28 11:07:12 PST 1998

I can speak for human density... oh, destiny. Nah. Not interested.

Hayden - OUCH! Good thing you were wearing your seatbelt. That could have been really ugly (as if it's not ugly enough already).

Come grashopper, let me show you the way of the pebbles. See them as I hold them in my hand. Pretty, aren't they? So colorful, so perfect. Be one with the pebbles. Are you one with the pebbles? On three, then. One..... two....


K.C. Ramey Wed Oct 28 10:22:27 PST 1998

Patrick - A man after my own heart. I love Anime and Manga. It is interesting to see the difference in what we allow our youth to watch and what they allow them to watch. My favorite manga artist is Rumiko Takahashi creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha. There are a few of us here who like anime a lot. Allein-chan and I both love it and Jyuu-chan is an obsessed fan but she hasn't posted here for a while. Anyway, Welcome.

Everyone have a great day (hopefully), I have to get to school.

sayoonara, matta ashita

Patrick L. Burks Wed Oct 28 08:49:52 PST 1998

Hello. I would like to thank the two replys to my resent posting to the notebook.
Let me introduce a little more of myself.
I like watching Japanese anime as well as reading manga.
I'm into Isshin ryu karate, and martial arts in general.
I'm a big fan of Babylon 5 and X-files.

Bob Hanford Wed Oct 28 06:35:32 PST 1998

A heartfelt hello to old friends and new. Just wanted to share a "kick in the pants reminder of who we are" written by Dr. Norman Cousins, June 17, 1950:
"Beyond this is the need for writers who can restore to writing its powerful tradition of leadership in crisis. Most of the great tests in human history have produced great writers who acknowledged a special responsibility to their times. They defined the issues, recognized the values at stake, and dramatized the nature of the challenge. Today, in the absence of vital moral leadership on the official world level, it is more important than ever that writers see themselves as representatives of the human community. For the central issue facing the world today is not the state of this nation or that nation, but the condition of man, that higher level today needs its champions as it never did before. There is no more essential and nobler task for writers - established writers, new writers, aspiring writers - then to regard themselves as spokesmen for human destiny."

Michele Wed Oct 28 01:10:29 PST 1998

Congratulations Caroline on getting to the end of the first year. Umm . . . have you considered that if your academic writing is taking off so quickly and your fiction is not that it might be worthwhile concentrating on the academic writing for a time ? No, you're right this isn't a non-fiction forum - very definitely not as I usually discover - if you or anyone else out there knows of a non-fiction forum do let ME know, please ?

Hayden why aren't you taking better care of that Porsche I paid for ? :-) Seriously I hope you can sort your hardware problems out. I'm feeling some excitement and nervousness as I am getting a brand new computer next week - my first new (as opposed to used) computer in 12 years of computing life and my first ever new PC ! Oh the joys of surfing the net from home on a FAST machine !


Hayden Tue Oct 27 14:15:49 PST 1998

To all those who reminded me that...

The porsche needs a car wash
The porsche needs fuel
The porsche needs a service
My writing stinks
It was about time I returned

Well, I have some bad news. The porsche has had a slight accident. It ran into a URL parked on the side of the hiway. Seemed the URL lost a download and dumped a series of viruses into the lane. The Porsche is currently under reconstruction, along with about 80,000 words of my latest novel. Luckily a spare "everything" was parked on my backup hard drive.All I have to do is call in a dump truck and get rid of the trash, then reconstruct some of the damaged parts.

On, by the way, SNARLY, the slurpees sold me. And I am still waiting for you to drop the pebbles so I can catch them. The ones on the ground don't count...they were just practice...okay.

Caroline Heske Tue Oct 27 02:53:39 PST 1998

Hi everyone! I have 3 weeks to go and I've finished first year!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeh!!!!!!!!!!! (Well, there are exams and essays and nasty stuff in between but there's not need to be unnecessarily pessimistic). Yes, this means the whole 3 MONTH summer holidays to write - and actually stuff I want to write, like my novel, rather than politics, history, and law. Though they haven't been going too badly, lately (she adds in rather smugly)... I took a risky angle in my Oka essay, and a completely insane one in my young-women-and-feminism essay, but as it's turned out, I got good First Class Honours for both, and my politics tutor recommend I polish up the feminism one and submit it to a major Australian political journal (like Arena or AQ)! So that was pretty exciting... (and surprising since I thought the only thing running around in my brain at that time was caffeine).

Why do I have this dismal feeling that my academic writing is going to take off before my fiction writing? (This is depressing when I've been pursuing the latter for 8 yrs and the former for a mere 7 months.) Hmm... this isn't really an academic forum is it? It's not even much of a non-fiction forum. And that's probably a good thing, cause if I started working on this stuff for FUN you'd know there was something REALLY wrong with me.

Well, I shall stop ranting now. Have a lovely day all (or night if you're somewhere like me)

Michele Tue Oct 27 01:59:21 PST 1998

Hey would look at that ! My two favourite critics/jokers are back on the Notebook - boys you just made my day ! (And if you don't know to whom I am referring - I mean Hayden & Philip).

I've added yet more biograhies to my web site if anyone out there is interested in reading them. And my first term paper is being handed in tomorrow (they might decide to throw me out of here yet !).


jarell Mon Oct 26 18:15:49 PST 1998


I agree with S N Arly, but would like to add one thing. You're a kind of a good position to just sit down and write. Don't worry about length. Don't worry too much about the topic. All that will come.

In the past I've written short pieces that I knew would never sell or get into print, but I thought the idea was good enough to put down on paper.

Sometime they grow into a nice short story or in my current situation, several of them combined have formed the bases for a novel.

The bottom line is write! Let your brain go on auto-pilot or what ever, but write.

As I've said in the past…Keep your fingers on the keys and the rest will be a breeze.

Happy writing!


W. Olivia Race Mon Oct 26 18:15:12 PST 1998

Hi all

Patrick: I agree with Snarly on word length. Most of my short stories are around 3900-4000 words in length. I have never managed a short-short (always have too much to say)
While college is great for making sure your education is well rounded, I have only taken classes and learned through reading voraciously (although I graduated highschool with about seven English credits in my pocket, I just couldn't afford it-- I had to work. I think that, if you can afford it, college is fantastic. It opens up your life to things, people and experiences that you take with you all your life.
(Yes, I am feeling quite wistful tonight)
As for writing: just sit down and start. Don't analyze it, don't ponder it, just start. Think of publication as a plus, not a primary goal and you will succeed.

S.N.Arly Mon Oct 26 13:21:29 PST 1998

Patrick - Different places will have different guidelines for their story length. You may want to check out the markets you're interested in and see what length they like.

Generally speaking, if it's shorter than 1000 words, it's a short short. These can be tough to place. Anything up to 10 k words is considered a short, although if you get above 7,000 words it can also be tough to place.

It's true, you don't need to have a college degree to be a writer, but it can help round you out and give you knowledge you didn't have before. As a writer, more knowledge can't possibly hurt.

Philip - Long time no see. Hope all is well.


Litter Mon Oct 26 12:53:59 PST 1998

Barb G - will send the info on StoryBuilder as soon as aol will allow me to send e-mail again. Don't know what the problem is???


Patrick Burks Mon Oct 26 11:55:10 PST 1998

Hi. I decided to sit down and write a little comment.
I'm an aspiring writer who hasn't felt ready to publish yet.
Back when I was a teenager I played role playing games
all the time.
One of the big influences was the Dragonlance series written
by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman.
I also was influenced by The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
I'm going to a local community college as an english major
even though I don't really have to go to college to be a writer.
I feel that it helps me get feed back on what I'm writing on.
It gives me a feel for writing under deadlines, and under a little pressure especially when I'm having trouble on finding a topic to write about.
As a writer I find my self watching way too much TV and procrastinating instead of getting to work.
I'm considering writing a short story, but I have no idea what the range of how many words I need to write.
If someone could e-mail me a figure I then wouldn't have to worry about writing too much or too little.

K.C. Ramey Sun Oct 25 22:33:25 PST 1998

Since Allein-chan brought up the fact that I hadn't posted here in a while I decided to drop in for a few seconds.

I just started college (through Running Start, I'm still a high school junior) and am having a lot of fun. My Composition teacher gave me a wide variety of topics to write about and got me over my writer's block. I have written 4 essays and received an A on all of them. I will probably post one of them on the work book soon because I want to perfect them and add them to my collection of stories. My midterm is tomorrow so I am a little nervus but I know I will Ace that also.

I had a fun time at the Homecoming dance that Allein-chan was talking about. My boyfriend actually remembered a bit from the one swing class we took from a friend of mine. What fun!

Everyone keep up the writing,

jarell Sun Oct 25 21:12:32 PST 1998

Hi all,

JACK: Just returned from the Northwest Bookfest here in Seattle myself (went both days). I also got to hear Ursula Le Guin speak and had the chance to meet Poul Anderson. Both were great people to listen to.

The Bookfest was fantastic. There were hundreds of Authors, Editors and Agents present for interviews, readings, and book signings. It was great. This was my first such venture in the Writer's world and had a great time. I usually spend most of my time writing and haven't venture out much into this type of events, but after this weekend, I would suggest that anyone wrapped up in writing attend similar events as often as possible.

Your feedback and experiences with writer's conferences would be of interest to me.


Philip Sun Oct 25 19:10:44 PST 1998

Hello Ed,


Try this site, it's a start with links to other sites ...

Good Luck - Philip

W. Olivia Race Sun Oct 25 13:19:56 PST 1998

Okay, okay. I am officially relaxing as of now. Actually, I was ignoring the pesky little novel late last night and was again watching the TV when I got this great idea, ended up writing it down in long hand, and then just HAD to get it down on the puter. I stopped writing at 3am and the ending of my novel, which had been plaguing me, is finished. I do have some minor changes to do to the middle, but I'm not pushing anymore.

Snarly: Thanks for the congrats.

Barb: I got your e-mail and thanx.

Dinners burning (again) gotta go.
Good writing all.

Barb G. Sun Oct 25 11:32:23 PST 1998

Hi Y'all,

With a special welcome to our new people, I say jump right in the water's fine...

Howard: I'll e-mail re: "Aunt Aggie" later today.

SKS: I'm going to the library tomorrow and look up those things we talked about.

Litter: Please send me the name of that soft-ware you spoke of and how I can get it. I write at such a speed and have so many projects going simultaneously, that it would be wonderful to have some help sifting through the Ms/s at times.

W. Olivia: Did you get my e-mail? I tried twice to send my "pearls of wisdom" but I don't think you got them. (Maybe it's better that way. I tend to get a little maudlin at times...) But, let me say this: I think with each acceptance, we put more pressure on ourselves (maybe some don't do this). And pressure, when unvented, is my enemy -- maybe it's yours too. Give yourself a break. You know you can write and so does that editor who accepted your piece. Hang in. You're doing fine!


Allein-chan Sun Oct 25 09:38:24 PST 1998

Hi Everybody!!
I just went to my school's homecoming dance last night with my friend Carl. We doubled with his friend Robert and Robert's girlfriend. We ate dinner first - I had grilled salmon, which was super delicious.
Then we went to the dance and I saw a bunch of my other friends - including KC (who hasn't written here in a while). Of course, I was going across the dance floor between friends because I have my good friends and my not-so-good friends who don't know each other. A girl there taught me how to swing dance - very fun. Carl and I slow danced when they played the theme to Titanic. But, we're just friends - I danced with a bunch of other people too.
I got home around 11:30. I went straight to bed because I was tired and my feet hurt from dancing in high heels. But, all in all, it was a good night.

Unfortunately, my life still hasn't given me much free time to work on my story or write back to my pen pals. So, I have to do that today sometime.
Bye for now!!

S.N.Arly Sun Oct 25 07:44:32 PST 1998

W. Olivia - I think we all feel that way at some point or another.

I find that if I leave a stroy alone for a while (and it's usually got to be a month or more) I come back to it fresh and with an unhampered perspective. My judgement is much better then, and I can make good editing choices to improve the stroy. It also makes the story feel "new," in some respects. New, yet also nearly complete. I also think that the well runs a little dry after pushing so hard, which I know I do at the end of a novel. And I really need to work on something else before I can even come up with ideas for the completed piece.

Congratsy, by the way.


S.N.Arly Sun Oct 25 07:39:17 PST 1998

I didn't miss the point, and I still say ick. Generally speaking, I don't have any trouble remembering what I need to. I still think it would squelch my fun, since I don't like to figure things out in advance. The truly enjoyable aspect of writing, for me and I realize we're all differeent in this respect, is to sit down at the computer without a clue as to what I'm going to do. I just write. I love to watch the story unfold before my eyes. To me, building a DB for charcters, plot and description is busywork and I'd rather spend the time actually creating. Perhaps I'm just one of the writers who it isn't right for.

On barking, because I'm Alpha and it's fun.


W. Olivia Race Sat Oct 24 20:30:29 PDT 1998

Hi all. After four hours of TV, I felt the need to do something constructive, like visit you guys.

Jack: Thanks for the advise. I put the novel aside and looked at last years novella's I'd written. It made me see that even though the present project isn't quite the way I want it, it's a hell of a lot better than what I wrote before. It gave me some perspective. The thing is, I feel that now that I actually am going to have a short story published, I have to get something else out there and QUICK. I know I'm only pressuring myself...but it's hard not to. Anyone else ever have these feelings?

Donna Streeter Sat Oct 24 18:55:58 PDT 1998

Freelance writer in Santa Barbara, California just sutmbled on to this site. Am glad I found you all and hope to visit often.

The "discussion topic" is agents? I have not had any experience with them yet. From what I have been learning thus far, there are a lot of things to consider before "going" with one. I have been directed to contact one after I sent a query via email to his agency. Am supposed rto call him on Monday, October 26. I shall share my experience to be sure.

Howard Sat Oct 24 18:33:29 PDT 1998

Some of the reasons I write are outlined in "The Summer I Swam the Panama Canal" -- you can see it at the following url -- look for "Stories Worth Telling" under Literacy Volunteers. So far it's my only real claim to fame. Feels good to walk into Barnes&Noble and see the book there, even if it *is* only in that store, and only in the Local Writers section. If you go to the web page, don't mind the typos. They scanned it in, and their ocr software is like most -- not 100% accurate.

Litter Sat Oct 24 15:41:34 PDT 1998

'nother oops! Forgot my name on the last one...

Big thanks to Barb G for the welcome. Appreciated. :o)

Sat Oct 24 15:39:32 PDT 1998


Ahhh SNARLY, methinks you have missed the Point. Storybuilder is merely an aid – it won’t write stories for you. If you are a good writer it helps you keep track of what you write but if you are a crap writer it won’t magically make your efforts any better. (Better planned crap perhaps) There is no need to plan ahead if you do not wish, as it is a multilevel integrated data-base in concept. However as a certain Joan Collins found out at great cost to Random House – getting your characters in a tangle doesn’t make for a publishable story. She even managed to miraculously resurrect one of her characters…

I often find myself referring back to what I have previously written. It is a pain and a great waste of resources. All I can say is that it hasn’t stopped me from having ‘fun’ with my writing, nor has IT ever written anything for me – it has saved me a great deal of time and a few embarrassing gaffes. I dare say it is not for everyone, but why have a dog and bark yourself?

Rocket Sat Oct 24 05:30:17 PDT 1998

Hey all...

I've been writing, getting to the end of my fantasy novella "Adriel L'Anglin" aka the Moon is a Harsh Mistress (and thanks for the comment whoever reminded me that that title is already taken ).

I went to my fiction writer's group on Wed. and it was only me and the group leader, so we got to spend some quality time. She hadn't heard any of my writing in the last year (I was working nights) and she did tell me the writing is getting better since she last heard it (and she liked it before.. so THAT's cool..

I guess I ought to put "L'Anglin" on the Workbook so I can get some Real feedback on the story, characters, etc etc as I haven't gotten ONE response from the website it's at - except for the editor.

Well.. that's about it. I'm thankful for this site; you all encourage me by what you say and the fact that you are all in Love with writing comes through in every post.

Be Well

Jack Beslanwitch Sat Oct 24 03:33:05 PDT 1998

p.s. Got a moment and archived up to my mention of Ursulla Le Guinn. The more I get into her book the more impressed I am becoming. Take care and good writing.

Jack Beslanwitch
Fri Oct 23 21:55:06 PDT 1998

W. Olivia: I think you have the right strategy. Get away from it for a while and let it lie. Taking a fresh look when you are not so close to it is definitely the best approach. Also, if you drink too much wine there is always the hangover factor. Be careful you are not too critical of your own work at that point ;-). All of us have been where you are at at one time or another. And lived through it too. Take care and good writing.

W. Olivia Race Fri Oct 23 19:01:05 PDT 1998

Hi all. Hope everyone has a great weekend. I have graduated from beer to wine now...although a couple of sips and I start hitting the wrong darn keys...

I sat up last night trying to piece together the re-write on
my novel. Right now it just seems like a disjointed mess (and no, I wasn't drinking at the time --although that never hurt Hemingway).

How do you take old plot elements and join them with new ones? If you are anything like me the answer is...NOT EASILY! The more I fix the deeper the hole I write myself into.

Anyway, I am rambling, so is my novel and I am taking the night off.

Good writing all.

Barb G. Fri Oct 23 17:52:40 PDT 1998

Hi Y'all,

Toby: Hey, no problem. I love beer. I just put an eight-pack of "little kings" in the fridge. Come on over...

Y'all have a great weekend!

S.N.Arly Fri Oct 23 16:02:59 PDT 1998

Story builder? Ish. Where's the fun in that? I'll build my own stories, thanks. Especially since I don't always follow traditional rules, and I don't plot in advance.

Hey all I found this great site called Black Holes and it lists response times for paying magazines. They wouls like writers to report their own response times as well,you know, we all help each other out.


Litter Fri Oct 23 14:49:54 PDT 1998

oops - forgot the Site URL for those interested...

Litter Fri Oct 23 14:34:57 PDT 1998

OK y’all. I’ve been looking in on you for a couple of weeks and not really contributing too much, but all good things come to an end, so without any further ado…

The Book I most like to have with me is not actually a book but Software called ‘StoryBuilder’. I saw it on a website and was initially not overly confident about it making my writing either easier or better. However it made planning and characterisation amazingly easy and it ‘asks’ the right questions when you are looking to progress your plot or flesh out your characters. It also comes with examples of ‘good’ writing, inspirational quotes from famous writers and a plethora of pertinent plotting and character questions with answers when you need them.

NO, I am not on commission or a partner in the business – It just happens to be a good aid. Official blurb follows…

<< StoryBuilder is an outliner for fiction writers. StoryBuilder helps you to organise the elements of your story until you're satisfied that your concept is complete and ready to write. Just as your word processing program speeds up and improves the actual writing, this program speeds up and improves the task of planning to write.

StoryBuilder creates a file, or folder, which contains the elements of your story. Within the folder are sections for the story overview, for the problems that drive the story, for characters, for settings, and for a plot outline. The sections are organised using a tab card format so that all of the parts of your story are always available. The parts are automatically interrelated. Just as a sculptor may work on any part of a statue at any time, you can work on any piece of your concept at any time- add a scene, flesh out a character, beef up the conflict.

The elements in the outline provide the structure to assist you in creating a complete story. Lists of choices for many of these elements help you to get, and keep, ideas flowing. Key Questions will stimulate thinking and help you to analyse and refine your concept. Special tools, based on sound and familiar dramatic devices, assist in building a plot. Other tools provide access to common topic information, such as specifics about particular genres.

Many of the elements, and especially the topic information, can be customised, so that you can tailor StoryBuilder to your needs and tastes.>>>

Rhoda Fri Oct 23 12:48:27 PDT 1998

S.N. Arly,

Here in my town, you only get a 32 ounce soft-drink with fill-up. I remember back in the old days when it was a free car-wash.

Speaking of a car-wash, isn't that Porshe due for one, Hayden? Isn't it time to get rid of that layer of out-back enchantment on your nice, new car?

S.N.Arly Fri Oct 23 11:00:46 PDT 1998

Oh come on. It's not a rip off. You get a free jumbo size slurpee with any purchase of petroleum-based products.

And pebbles... Boy have I got some pebbles for you. Here in the vitual wasteland I have granite, obsidian and quartzite pebbles on special. Any pebbles you could possibly be seeking, though only the silicates are on sale. And if you catch them when I drop them, you get two for the price of one....


S.K.S. Perry Fri Oct 23 10:27:53 PDT 1998

Why did I become a writer? Because I have a rich fantasy life (no, not the perverted kind.) When I was growing up, the entrance to our house through the garage wasn't just a hallway, it was an airlock; my winter clothes became my space suit, or armour; my bike became an attack sled; the chemical plant ruins a mile from our house were the remains of an ancient or alien civilization; my dad's van was a transport shuttle; school was the academy, and I don't even want to tell you what kind of creature my football coach became.

The first book I can remember reading was Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes. To those of you only familiar with the Tarzan in the movies--well, let's just say there's no comparison. Mr. Burroughs Tarzan bordered on genius, and was a true hero in the old tradition.

For once I was allowed to enter someone elses fantasy world. My parents encouraged my reading, and usually bought me the next book in the series (I think there were 24 in all). If not, I saved my money and bought them myself. The rich worlds that Mr. Burroughs created only fueled my own imagination, and my appetite for reading. I went through our public library in short order, and bought books when I could afford them.

It was after reading my umpteenth book, that I decided, "I could do this--maybe not as good as this guy, but better than this one," so I did. It gave me an outlet for my imagination, and my frustrations. I've led a very interesting life. Most of you would probably call me a liar if I told you of some of the things I've done, my accomplishments, and the events that have occured to me over the years. In writing, especially Science Fiction and Fantasy, I can take these events and twist them ever so slightly, or I can give voice to the things that I wonder about and maybe make you wonder about them too. It's very theraputic.

Well, you asked.....

Be Well,

S.K.S. Perry

Rhoda Fri Oct 23 09:57:52 PDT 1998

I have finally got my manuscript polished. I hope to get it sent out Monday morning. I hope this agent who requested ithasn't had to wait too long for it. It was probably not very wise of me to have queried before I moved. I just never realized it would take me so long to get into the groove again.

It is nice to see you back, Hayden, with your fine Porshe. Good thing you don't drive one of those wicked SUV's the environmentalists complain about here in the States.

I went to Perryton's only print shop yesterday. They told me (with a straight face) they would copy my 500+ manuscript for ten cents a copy. I suppose I am going to have to do my own copying with my tempermental laser printer. Living in a small town is fun, but it has its limitations.


I haven't forgotten you. I hope to read your story this week-end. Since I have no idea what I want to write when this submission is done, I should have some time to spare with the Workbook.


For information on Zaire or anywhere else, try For Writer's Only, or whatever Jack is calling it now. I started there for information on Dark Age sailing ships. I actually found what I needed. The Britannia site at is good. I hope you read French. That is what they speak in Zaire and many sites are bound to be in that language. I had a similar problem when I researched the East Frasian Islands and the Elbe River only everything was in German which I don't understand. I would also suggest going to the juvenile section of your library and finding some children's books about Zaire. You'll get lots of basic information and maybe some good pictures. I've used children's books many times and have found them many times more helpful than adult books, espacially if you are really green in the subject.

Got to go!


Edo Fri Oct 23 04:41:53 PDT 1998

Hi All,

Does anyone have any information on The Rebublic of the Congo or Congo (Zaire) River?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

I've dipped in and out of this site over the years and, I know it's terrible, enjoy reading others comments. I feel like a nosy neighbour. All very interesting stuff though.

Good work Jack.


Jack Beslanwitch Thu Oct 22 23:13:31 PDT 1998

     Just got through watching an appearance of Ursulla LeGuin here in Seattle. She is truly awesome in person. I have always been an avid fan of her fiction works. But her new book on writing is truly great. You can check it out at

      She has some truly insightful concepts about writing. Also, I picked up a copy of her translation of Lao Tzu's the Tao Te Ching. She has put a truly idiosyncratic spin on this ancient Chinese masterpiece. Certainly, I am going to be employing some of the suggestions in the books for suggested topics here and perhaps a lesson managed writers workshop on the Workbook. Take care everyone.

Oh, and Heydan, do you need some STP for that Porche ;-).

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