First Pages: The Word For World Is Forest

The Word For World Is Forest

Apropos of nothing, here’s a photo of the really excellent opening page of Ursula K. Leguin’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel, The Word for World Is Forest, which I happen to have on my bookshelf.

I’ve become obsessed with studying the openings of novels I love due to a writing course I just finished, and this one truly stands out in my mind. So I went back to find it an decided you ought to check it out, too.

The reader gets a complete picture of who Captain Davidson is and what he’s all about from the first line.

“Two pieces of yesterday were in Captain Davidson’s mind when he woke, and he lay looking at them in the darkness for a while.”

Controlled, cold, but perceptive. Military, obviously in charge of…something. What?

A few lines later and most readers have realized this captain a total ass. Captain Davidson is not remotely likeable. From halfway down the page I want to punch him in his smug face, the picture is that vivid. Yet he’s irresistibly engaging, too.

And then there’s that lovely line of setting amid his ugliness…

“…thinning the mud to a red broth that ran down rocks into the rainbeaten sea.”

If that doesn’t let you know how this man feels about the planet on which he’s been stationed, I can’t help you.

A great opening. Deep into the character so quickly. Really makes me think. And want to reread the book, but this time I might start at the beginning of the series instead.

 

The Word For World Is Forest

Milemarker #200 on this blog

Tonight is noteworthy because this is the 200th blog post that I’ve published here on MGHerron.com!

A little history will help provide perspective.

I registered this domain and launched the website in December 2013, shortly after I settled on a pen name and began to write and publish fiction seriously. That’s almost four years ago now.

Looking back at the early posts, you can tell what my goal was setting out. It was all about writing and getting published. There was still a lot I didn’t know, but if nothing else at least that much is clear.

The first blog was published on 12/12/2013: The Oxford Comma Makes a Funny.

I shortly followed this up with some modest writing goals a few weeks later, in the form of writing resolutions for 2014 (1/4/201).

Fast forward 4 years

As I’ve published a dozen stories, 3 novels, and a nonfiction book since then, looking back at the beginning is surreal, almost like I’m looking into someone else’s past life instead of my own.

I’ve run personal blogs on and off for a decade before this one, publishing articles and stories and links and quotes and conspiracy theories and code snippets and other various things I was interested in at the time.

But none of those blogs had any staying power. They were all attempts to find myself in some way. Those projects taught me different aspects of writing and critical reasoning and creative collaboration and website management and HTML/CSS and other important skills. Eventually, though, I grew bored or restless of each and moved on to something else.

The biggest downfall of all those previous attempts was that they all lacked direction. This blog, for any failings it might suffer, at least knows what it’s about: my journey as a writer and everything that entails.

My journey, told in my own voice. After four years, I finally feel like I’ve embraced that. That’s liberating in its own way.

So 200 posts is a milestone I’m glad to have reached. I’m grateful to be able to look back and see that I’m a different person than I was then, that I’ve grown, and that I’ve got a few books on the shelf and many hundreds of thousands of words under my belt.

I wonder where I’ll be four years from now…?

Well, there’s no reason to rush it. If you’re not diligent, you blink and life rushes by.

I’m just going to continue being present here, trying to squeeze the most of each day, and be a better writer this year than I was the last.

The finished fence

The fence is done!

There are a few details left to clean up, but the gates are on and the yard is once again completely enclosed. And bonus: Between the cedar wood scraps we’ve been burning in the fireplace and the fresh-cut lumber of the cedar planks, the house smells amazing.

I love how the new fence makes the yard feel so much bigger, even though it runs along the same property lines. Really strange but cool. And now we have privacy in the yard that the old chainlink fence never provided.

My father deserves most of the credit for the work. I just followed orders, while he designed and directed the construction. Couldn’t have done it without him.

It’s always gratifying, whether it’s a book or a fence, to be able to look on something you built with your own hands and say, “I did that.”

Today was uneventful

Inevitably, as with any significant undertaking, there are days when I am tempted to say “screw it” and skip the daily blog.

Today is one of those days.

Perhaps it is because today was uneventful. I went to the gym and I worked. And then I worked some more.

Or perhaps it is because my focus is on the novel and what’s going on in my freelance work.

Either way, one of those days. Not much else to say. I’m going to go finished reading The Lives of Tao and have a glass of wine, and then probably watch Stargate SG-1 reruns.

Enjoy your night!

It is change, continuing change…

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be … This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”

– Isaac Asimov, “My Own View” in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock; later published in Asimov on Science Fiction (1981)

Much blood has also been spilled…

“Much blood has also been spilled on the carpet in attempts to distinguish between science fiction and fantasy. I have suggested an operational definition: science fiction is something that COULD happen – but usually you wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that COULDN’T happen – though often you only wish that it could.”

– Arthur C. Clarke

A third of the way on Translocator 3

Almost two weeks since my last update on Translocator 3. Now I’m sitting at just over 32,000 words, which is about a third of the way to done if I use my upper limit of 90k as a gauge.

I didn’t find much time to write over the weekend but I got back on the wagon today. Managed 450 words on the novel and another 800 words for a fiction writing workshop assignment for a total of 1250 words for the day.

I’ve been learning and doing at the same time. I figure I can trade a few words on the book once or twice a week if the time investment makes me a better writer. In the case of a writing workshop, that’s almost certainly the case.

This particular workshop, which has just one week left, has been an eye-opener for me. I’ve read a ton of books on writing fiction, but there’s no replacement for taking a class and getting feedback to help you calibrate. I’m excited to try some more advanced classes in the future.

So much to learn, so little time.

Artwork from the launch of THE REPUBLIC

It’s time for me to release the beautiful artwork that I had commissioned for the launch of The Republic to the world.

Originally created for the launch of my novel, it was only available for people who bought the book.

But I thought, what the heck. This art should be for everyone to enjoy. So here it is.

In the future, you can find this sort of bonus material stuff on the book pages for each novel. Here’s the book page for The Republic, for example.

•••

Artwork for The Republic

First up, a sketch of the mech vs. protestors battle in Telerethon Square…

Click to enlarge

Next, a sketch of the three main characters by my friend, illustrator, and author Ross Boone.

Click to enlarge

The original cover and typography by Kevin Summers, now turned into a wallpaper (note the old version of the title).

Click to download: 2880×1800 | 2560×1440 | 1600×1200

And finally, the deleted scene. You can read the full text online, or download the PDF.

If you haven’t read it yet, a look inside the book that inspired this artwork, a science fiction thriller called…

Another day on the fence

Another day working on the fence, so no new words today. I’m beat.

It’s hard work but coming together nicely. We got the rest of the supplies purchased, and I figure we’ll be done soon…maybe not tomorrow, but a day or two after that.

Here’s the garage, full of the aforementioned supplies.