Amanda Palmer on Blogging, A R Wallace, ROW80, IWSG, and Nathan Bransford's First Paragraph Challenge

Wallace! Alfred Russel Wallace, that is.

I've been volunteering with the Wallace Correspondence Project for over a year now.

"This ongoing project, currently funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based at the Natural History Museum, London, aims to locate, digitize, transcribe and interpret all surviving letters to and from the great 19th century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Wallace has many claims to fame, not least that he is the 'father' of evolutionary biogeography and the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the process of evolution by natural selection. For more information about his life and work CLICK HERE. Our policy is to make scans of Wallace's letters available to users via the project's online database" - and this database, Wallace Letters Online, was launched last month!

Meanwhile, today is Insecure Writers Support Group Day!

I'm going to be a little more insecure than usual this month. Especially since I've discovered how blah the first page of Druid's Moon is...

Not only that, there's this:

On Monday, Neil Gaiman ran a Twitter event, which was basically him asking a question related to each month of the year [snipped tweets]:

"Why is January so dangerous? #keepmoving #JanTale"
"What's the strangest thing that ever happened to you in February? #FebTale"
"what Historical figure does March remind you of? #MarTale"
"What is your happiest memory of April? #AprTale"
"What is the weirdest gift you've ever been given in May? #MayTale"
"Next question: where would you spend a perfect June? (reply with #JunTale"
"What is the most unusual thing you have ever seen in July? (I'm tracking these with #JulTale"
"If August could speak, what would it say? #AugTale"
"Tell me something you lost in September that meant a lot to you. #SeptTale"
"What mythical creature would you like to meet in October? (& why?) use #OctTale"
"What would you burn in November, if you could? #NovTale"
"Who would you like to see again in December? Don’t forget #DecTale"

You can definitely still reply to him with your stories. But the main thing is that Gaiman's going to be writing twelve stories based on replies that inspired him. And we can do the same!

So you can see why I'd feel insecure... Now I've got to think of some wildly wonderful and original stories... while I'm still editing four short stories, two novellas, and five novels. At least. Argh!

Okay, freakout over. Let's resume our schedules...

I did have one thing ready at least... Nathan Bransford is hosting his 5th Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge! The deadline for entry is 7pm Thursday. And I had my first paragraph ready to go. I guess there's no harm in sharing it here?

The Beast stirred from his long sleep. Hunger and thirst ruled his waking, and he snuffled around the rocks surrounding his bed. A leftover bone from last night's sheep poked out from the matted grass and hay. He crunched it with his back teeth, and clambered up on all fours. A shivering stretch of each back leg, and then all trace of sleep was gone. He bounded up through the cave, snout lifted, scenting for movement, for news. He slid to a halt in the last passage. Far down, framed by the entrance, stood a man and a woman, arm in arm, the man's head resting on her shoulder. A deep sniff, and her full scent hit the Beast's senses. Roses, sea salt, and something else, a smell he had no name for, but which the Man part of him recognised as maple. He inched closer. He had not been near other humans for five years. Not since the night of the curse.

It's from Druid's Moon, obviously, since I'm busy editing it - yes, ROW80 is back on track! I've got till this weekend to finish the on-screen edits. And then I'll read the whole thing over again...

Among all her other awesome blog posts, Amanda Palmer had a great post the other day about blogging itself. Here's a thought I've had myself, every once in a while, since I started blogging [highlights mine]:

"i'm a writer. i don't normally identify as one, and i feel unqualified calling myself one (being married to mister whoozeewhatsit certainly doesn't help), i cannot edit for shit, but when i look back at my blogs from 2004, my writing style has evolved. i've spent a lot of time writing. so i think, maybe, i can get over it. blogging is an unrecognized, unpaid art form. not complaining, but it does strike me as funny: the medium determines how seriously people take things. if i wrote a blog about this long (which'll probably end up being... 2,000 words or so) and published them in short-novella BOOK form... and hauled copies down to my local indie book store and tried to get critics to review it... it'd have a decidedly different feel, no? i'd be demanding people critique it and Take My Writing Seriously. Posterity, the cannon on english literature, blah blah blah. can this shit that i'm writing here be considered legitimate, even though it's as disposable (MORESO, actually, given it's digital-cloud nature) than a daily newspaper?"

(itching to comment that it's canon not cannon, but cannon on English literature sounds kinda fun, too!)

Also this: "this makes me wonder if the best writers of the young generation might indeed be bloggers, and nobody will ever find them in the future. unlike emily dickinson, they're not going to print out all 8,238 pages of their entire blog oeuvre and leave them nicely wrapped in string in a collection of antique bureau drawers. it'll just be gone. does anybody else worry about this?"

I do. Especially my packrat self. I've gone as far as exporting and saving the blog, but haven't printed any yet...

"i wonder this about email too. we have books upon books of famous letters written between artists and lovers and writers and diplomats and and and... the email has killed the letter. will we ever have those beautiful windows to look into again? i wonder."

I used to print emails in the very dawn of the internet, when it seemed so ethereal and was a lot more iffy. Websites would crash, emails wouldn't load properly, everything took ten times as long. So for posterity's sake, I printed the longer emails, the ones that were pretty much typed letters.

Gratuitous shots of my cats to break up the text, a trick I learned from Pam

I do this much less often now (though I'll print other people's blogposts, especially if I'm reading them for research), but I still can't bear to throw anything out. I've got 10,000 emails each in my Gmail and Yahoo, separate Gmails for photos and writing workshops, with about 1200 and 500 emails respectively, and all the stuff older than 2002 or so that's saved on CDs. Plus my work email. Facebook messages are the only ones I don't really keep track of as much, though I have a few hundred saved.

"speaking of Posterity, i live with a burning low-level anxiety that my blog isn't actually very safe, as in: archived. most of it is probably backed up on hard-drive it’s not in a cardboard box i can put in a safe. it’s not fully archived anywhere"

How often do I go back through my saved emails? Hardly ever. Except the writing related ones. And some are saved for info, especially the family history and genealogy ones. Sometimes I go through the ones labelled Jokes, and see if I can cull something, but I invariably end up giggling, and decide that even they're worth saving.

Then there's the house full of paper - newspaper clippings, pamphlets, concert tickets, cards from nieces and nephews... Why do we collect so much? Why do we save anything? That's what non-collectors usually ask me. But if that, then, why create? Why write or scrapbook or photograph or sing if you're not going to revisit your creations? And everything is someone's creation (or subcreation).

Speaking of all this, a few upcoming blogposts will feature:

Interview with Hélène Boudreau!

Joy Campbell's Love... the Second Time Around Celebration!

Brenda Novak's latest Whiskey Creek story!

More Tolkien!

Of course. Now I'm off to continue organizing my A to Z posts!

What do you think of the whole blogging, writing, posterity, saving, and deleting issue?


Don't worry - all the ideas in the world haven't been used up. Your first paragraph proves that - and it's very vivid in its descriptions.
Hi Deniz .. well done on being involved with the Natural History Museum in London - Alfred Wallace must be a fascinating character to get to know through his letters.

I've no problems with my blog - or its 'legacy' in cyberspace!!

Cheers Hilary
Ciara said…
A great 'cursed' story. I love those. Great job on the intro para. Yes, the ideas and work never stops, does it? It's a crazy game we play. Keep going, sounds like you are rocking it so far.
nutschell said…
I was trying to follow Neil Gaman's tweets but got busy during the day. Managed to leave a little response for his August one though. It's such an awesome idea!

S.P. Bowers said…
There are certain emails I've printed out and put into a binder to keep for posterity. Most of them though are stuck in cyberspace.

I've been thinking about entering Nathan Bransford's challenge but I'm so not good at beginnings that I don't really think there's a point.
Zan Marie said…
I like your paragraph! It's mine I'm worried about.
But I entered it anyway. Only time will tell. ; )
amy kennedy said…
So many things to comment on! Love what you're working on, the Alfred Wallace letters. Your first paragraph I pulls me in--love the cursed aspect and the descriptions. Wish I would have seen the Gaiman tweets...ah well, fabulous idea.
I may try the Nathan Bransford thing...
Lara said…
Great start to your story--I hope you'll share more.

With respect to archiving, I tend to be ruthless when culling my inbox because I don't like 'clutter.' If I want to save something, I'll squirrel it away in a file folder so I don't have to look at it [g]
Michael Di Gesu said…
Hi, Deniz,

When do you find time to sleep? I am exhausted just reading all the things you do from your post... I have lots of energy, but you must have some magical source.

Take a breath and stop worrying so much.

I love how sentimental you are. Keeping emails, letters, family treasures, is what gives us security and stability. Lately they have had rerun marathons of the Brady Bunch. Of course I had seen these episodes growing up and countless time there after, but they give me a homy feeling. I lived that life back then... the fashions, the expressions, the simple, sweet way of life. No cell phones, computers, or other high tech gadgets. Just a simple TV in the family room. Not even a remote control. Lord, have times changed. It's AMAZING what has happened in forty years. One can only imagine what the world will be like in another forty.I doubt if I would live that long, but anything is possible and I certainly would like to see how far we advance as a culture.
Susan Fields said…
I love your first paragraph - good luck with the contest!
Great first paragraph!

I was recently going through one of my email accounts and trying to empty some of it--our ISP gives you accounts, and it's an antiquated system that only has 100 MB of storage. Compare that to my Gmail account which has 14k (15k? by now?) emails in it . . .
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks for the compliments everyone!

I remember that kind of tv watching, Michael! Can you imagine? We had to actually GET UP to change the channel - and it's not like there were that many options, either! I also remember using the one phone in the house, and dragging the cord as far as it would go to the next room, so no one else in the family would overhear my oh-so-secret conversations...
Betty Alark said…
I enjoy blogging! I think it is an excellent way to meet new people; to learn new things and to have a storehouse of other peoples talents at hand.

Its an easy way of getting your thougt out and providing others with a different point of view or promoting a book, etc.

I think technology is amazing! It puts everything at your finger tips. Everything has its pro's and con's however convenience is a plus!

I think google+ is great! Convenience makes life simple!

I really like your paragraph and I too hope you have great success with the contest!
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks so much Betty!

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