Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for March 7th, 2012

If you’re joining us for the first time…

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Last summer, after a certain post on this website led to an unexpected bump in traffic, I wrote a roundup of previous posts for readers who had just discovered the blog. Now that six months have passed and The Icon Thief is out in stores, it seems like a good time to do this again. My advice for new visitors remains the same as before: after you’ve made the obligatory stop at my author bio and novel page, you should check out the Quotes of the Day, which provide a convenient snapshot of many of the issues I care about. When I launched this site almost a year and a half ago, I didn’t expect that it would evolve so quickly into a blog focused on writing and the creative process, with frequent excursions into pop culture, but perhaps that was inevitable: as someone doing his best to write for a living, I find questions of creativity, productivity, and craft not merely interesting, but vitally important. As a result, it’s one topic that I can talk about at length without any fear of running out of material.

On the writing side, over the past six months alone, I’ve shared my own ten rules of writing, discussed the importance of artistic indifference and irrational optimism, and raged against the excessive use of backstory. I’ve talked about how writers need to be both intuitive and relentlessly resourceful, and explored such matters as finding the perfect title, practicing the art of getting by, and when not to revise. I’ve explained why some of my favorite works of art center on a deeply unfair universe, why true love joined by destiny has no place in most good fiction, and why I don’t like semicolons. I’ve examined the nuts and bolts of preparing the dreaded synopsis and writing the detailed outline. And I’ve gone into possibly excessive detail about the origins of my stories “The Boneless One” and “Ernesto,” both of which appeared last year in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and the former of which can be read for free here.

Because I also love books, I’ve talked a great deal about other authors, from some of the greatest, like Dante and Edgar Allan Poe, to the less fortunate, like Irving Wallace and the unhappy Q.R. Markham. I’ve uncovered the uncanny similarities between Catch-22 and The Phantom Tollbooth, and written about the unexpected lessons of the early years of The Family Circus. I’ve described my youthful obsession with the Great Books of the Western World and delved into the influence of the Whole Earth Catalog on both myself and Steve Jobs. I’ve spoken of my recent discovery of great novels ranging from Little, Big—with a surprise appearance from its author in the comments—to The Magic Mountain, and written about old favorites like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Frederick Forsyth, and Isaac Asimov. I’ve defended the importance of suspense and lamented the decline of the science-fictional mind. And I’ve shared my love of used bookstores, culminating in my recent triumphant purchase of the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

My other great obsession, as regular readers will know, is pop culture, especially the movies. As a result, I’ve talked endlessly about my own favorite films, listing off my personal top ten, of course, but also going more deeply into the legacy of other classic movies, including Citizen Kane, Vertigo, and Blue Velvet. I’ve discussed the power of two shots from Psycho, glanced at the future of Pixar directors in live action, and used Unknown to examine the problem of fridge logic. I’ve written about my own short stint as a professional movie reviewer and discussed what makes a great critic. I’ve composed posts in praise of such disparate cultural figures as Walter Murch and Lady Gaga. Inevitably, I’ve ticked off my own list of the best movies of the year, and looked for lessons in such recent films as The Artist, In Time, Drive, and Haywire, as well as television shows like Community. And there’s a lot more, if you’re inclined to dig for it—and probably a lot more to come. If you’re just joining us now, I hope you’ll stick around.

Written by nevalalee

March 7, 2012 at 10:31 am

Posted in Books, Movies, Writing

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Quote of the Day

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Written by nevalalee

March 7, 2012 at 7:50 am

Posted in Quote of the Day, Writing

Tagged with

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