Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Saturday, 02 March 2002

It's so nice to have a day off! I've enjoyed it immensely.

There was a favorable review of Bones of the World that included a little capsule review of my story "New Song of Old Earth." It's the first review of any of my stories, as far as I know. The review is up at SFReader and Tangent.

The review of my story was basically positive. But there's a kind of back-handed compliment in the middle which makes it a bit hard to pull out a blurb.

Here's what the review actually says (after a six-sentence summary of the story):

I enjoyed the speculation here; and the mystery, while not irresistible, is interesting enough to pull the reader through. I thought the descriptions of the VR recordings especially good.

I exchanged some email with my brother about it. Being the sort of person I am, my first cut at a blurb quote was "The mystery, while not irresistible, is interesting enough to pull the reader through." (I'm actually perfectly happy with that sort of description of my work. It probably won't attract the wavering reader, though.)

Steven's response was:

I think that, like Robert Reich, you should be more interpretive of what he really meant. But if you want to be boring, I guess that would do.

Steven was referring to Robert Reich's memoir from his days as Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, Locked in the Cabinet, which received some criticism for taking liberties with the truth, mostly in places where Reich remembered conversations. (Personally, I think Reich's book was perfect as a memoir. If it had been a history, I might have had some objections. It's also hilarious.) So, Steve's version would go something like, "Wow! The speculation is fantastic and the mystery compelling. It pulls the reader through. The descriptions are fabulous!"

Fortunately, Clarion classmate Genevieve Kierans is a pro in the publicist business, and came through with this quote:

I enjoyed the speculation here. The mystery is interesting. The descriptions are especially good."

Now, I couldn't quite do that myself. It stretches the truth of what the review said just a little too far. But, I find that I can let my publicist do so for me.

The local paper had an article about a free screenwriting workshop next week. It's associated with a screenwriting contest sponsored by the state of Illinois (the office that promotes Illinois as a location for movies).

I've been feeling kind of burned out on short fiction, and have been thinking about writing a novel. But I've also been resisting that, wanting to get to the point where my stories sell reliably, rather than just one here and another there. Maybe a screenplay would be a good in-between choice. Not as ambitious as a novel, but still a change from writing short stories. And I wouldn't have to worry about it stretching on endlessly, because the deadline for the contest is in less than a month.

Anyhow, today I started fiddling with a screenplay. It's not sf, it's more of an action adventure. It's an idea I've had for years, that just seemed more suited to a screenplay than to a novel. I've got an outline for about a third of it and about a page of the screenplay itself. (The contest requires 100-125 pages, so a feature-length movie.) I'll work on this for three or four weeks, if it continues to seem like a break from short-story writing. If I get something I'm pleased with, I'll enter it in the contest. I think I'll also go to the one-day workshop.

Speculations got in touch with an apology, explanation, and generous offer, so I'm satisfied. (Or will be, once I get my contract and check.) They had an old address for me, from back when I was a print subscriber. I moved a year and a half ago. The thing is, I didn't more very far--my new address is on the same street--so it's easy for people to glance at my new address and think that it's the same as they one they have on file.


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