Advice from Warren Ellis, Internet Jesus

In this week’s edition of his newsletter, Orbital Operations, writer of all trades and legendary Internet Jesus Warren Ellis offered the following bits of sage advice for us all to perform our own lifehack in these unprecedented times. Take heed, if you want to survive.


“If you’re on social media, make your account private, and use it to be social. Use it with your friends. 

If you rely on social media for news, do this. 1) Don’t use Facebook for news. I mean, just don’t. Facebook’s values are not your own, and they have their own rules for what you get to see. So just don’t. 2) Twitter has a function called Lists. So go to a Twitter account, press the little cog icon on the right, and select Add Or Remove From Lists. Create a list, and you can add people to it without actually following them.

The term “attention economy” seems to be making a comeback in 2017. Your attention is valuable. Also, the confusing and scattering of your attention is valuable. Overwhelming you into making bad or unfocused choices is valuable. Take back your attention.

And for god’s sake, stick a passcode on your phone this week. Six is okay, I’m told eleven is better. And turn off Touch ID before you go through an airport – that’s a thing I keep hearing.

(Addition to last week’s notes: favcleaner will wipe out your entire Twitter likes history, slowly. It will post to your account once – just delete the tweet.)

Find your news. I read The Guardian, BBC News and Foreign Policy every morning, as well as Politico and Axios daily newsletters, and I recently bought access to The Washington Post and put Reuters on my home screen.

Find your people. Do it offline. If you’re worried, turn your phone off before you leave the house to go to a meeting, and don’t turn it back on until you’re well away from the meeting place. Or leave it at home entirely, and carry a burner with a removeable battery.

Change your goddamn passwords and don’t buy any of that IoT shit.

Also, this.

“Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry”

This isn’t unexpected, and the ground has already been laid for it, in the updated ESTA and in the questioning of journalists at customs in the US over their LinkedIn accounts last year.

Sorry to be such a huge downer, but these are times for protection.

Come and sit by me. I have whisky, and I like fires.”


Do yourself a favor and subscribe to the Orbital Operations newsletter here.


Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR.  His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals.

The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013.  IRON MAN 3 is based on his Marvel Comics graphic novel IRON MAN: EXTREMIS.   He is currently developing his graphic novel sequence with Jason Howard, TREES, for television, in concert with HardySonBaker and NBCU, and continues to work as a screenwriter and producer in film and television, represented by Angela Cheng Caplan and Cheng Caplan Company.

He’s written extensively for VICE, WIRED UK and Reuters on technological and cultural matters, and given keynote speeches and lectures at events like dConstruct, ThingsCon, Improving Reality, SxSW, How The Light Gets In and Cognitive Cities.

Warren Ellis is currently working on a non-fiction book about the future of the city for FSG Originals, serialising new graphic novel works like TREES and INJECTION at Image Comics, and developing and curating the revival of the Wildstorm creative library for DC Entertainment.

A documentary about his work, CAPTURED GHOSTS, was released in 2012.

Recognitions include the NUIG Literary and Debating Society’s President’s Medal for service to freedom of speech, the EAGLE AWARDS Roll Of Honour for lifetime achievement in the field of comics & graphic novels, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire 2010, the Sidewise Award for Alternate History and the International Horror Guild Award for illustrated narrative.  He is a Patron of the British Humanist Association, an Associate of the Institute of Atemporal Studies, and the literary editor of EDICT magazine.

Warren Ellis lives outside London, on the south-east coast of England, in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

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via Warrenellis.com

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Quotes | Bob Thurber on Writing

Bob Thurber (Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel; Nothing but Trouble), one of the finest writers in the English language (and a personal acquaintance), has been a literary mentor of mine for over fifteen years now. I recently stumbled across some more sage writing advice from him over on his Goodreads page.

“Remember . . . keystrokes are hammer taps. Get words on paper. Don’t worry about connections, character or plot. Work for an hour. Promise yourself an hour. Do nothing else but move your fingers. Make coarse shapes. Follow any emotion that pops up but never impose emotion, never fake it, and don’t make up your mind or your heart ahead of time. Understand you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why you’re here. Rough it out. Anything goes. You can decide later what any piece of text looks like, what it might mean. Don’t stop. Don’t question. Don’t quit. Don’t stop to read what you wrote. Move your fingers. You mind will have no other option but to keep up. Remember that writer’s block is merely the cold marble waiting for the chisel to heat up.” ― Bob Thurber

“The first thing I check once I’m inside a story is the emotional weather. Is there a storm coming? What’s the temperature, and how powerful are the winds? The difference between walking on water and sliding one’s ass across slick ice is only a matter of degree.” ― Bob Thurber

He’s right, of course. On both topics. Thurber has been (and will continue to be) a frequent topic on this here blog. Historically he’s been a major influence on my short story prose, particularly my microfiction, which I really need to get back to myself. Reading his words always gets the gears turning in my head.

 

 

 

 

Quote | Clive Barker on Characters

This week I’ve found a poignant quote from another writer I’ve looked up to since I started writing in the mid-90s, someone’s whose imagination and vision I greatly admire. Like Anne Rice from a few weeks back, Clive Barker is another fellow Libra. This quote comes from an old interview I stumbled across that was conducted in 1991 by W.C. Stroby for Writer’s Digest.

WD: When the story ideas begin to get very bizarre or complex, what can you do to make sure you don’t lose that sort of emotional under-pinning?
BARKER: The first thing is you’ve got to believe in the characters. You’ve got to be thinking with the characters and you’ve got to be within their skins. If you’re within their skins then their response to any situation, however bizarre it is, is going to be based upon your sense of them. Any writer’s belief in his or her characters – or the situations in which the characters find themselves – is central to his ability to convince the audience.

As a writer, you have to therefore always try to trip yourself up, look for the places where you’ve done something which was conve-nient rather than true. Convenient because sometimes characters can do things which are convenient to plotting, you know? But very often you realize “This character is not going to do that. This character is going to do X rather than Y.” And sometimes that can be a pain in the ass, but it’s worth the trouble if it’s going to convince the reader of the truth of the situation.


Clive Barker

Quote: Anne Rice on Being Aware of the Reader

A double-shot of Mrs. Rice today. Not long after posting an older quote from her earlier today regarding being a writer, I stumbled across this quote from her on her Facebook page today.

“For me the reader is all important. I’m really a popular writer; I believe in being for the people — that’s what popular means. I want an eight-year-old to be able to understand my book completely. If I use a four syllable word, I want that eight-year-old to be able to understand it in context. So I’m always aware of the reader. You know, somebody gave me a wonderful piece of advise 35 years ago, and it was: make things easy for the reader; don’t make it difficult. I’m always trying to make it easy for the reader to get what I’m trying to say. I’m always inviting the reader into my world.” — Anne Rice

It fits pretty much in line with how I approach my writing as well. I write with an audience in mind.

As I always say, writing is a performance art. Like the visual arts, writing is created to be received by an audience, whether that’s the masses or an audience of one. Rarely is it ever created for an audience of none, at least not if it’s put into a public forum or venue of some sort.

Quote: Anne Rice on Being a Writer

Anne Rice is one of those authors whose fiction work I don’t read much of, but yet I read a great deal of interviews, advice pieces and watch videos of her talking. She’s always so very sharp, deep-thinking and astute. Like Clive Barker, she’s a fellow Libra too. Anyway, this bit of writerly advice is so basic yet so on-point, that it’s undeniably a sage piece of wisdom.

“If you want to be a writer, write. Write and write and write. If you stop, start again. Save everything that you write. If you feel blocked, write through it until you feel your creative juices flowing again. Write. Writing is what makes a writer, nothing more and nothing less.” — Anne Rice

I definitely keep everything, going all the way back to 1989’s “Apocalyptic City” that I wrote for a creative writing class. And I have a Write-or-Flight initiative I’ve been trying to comply with. I mean, I certainly write as well as I can EVERY day. Unfortunately that’s not fiction writing everyday. Need to change that. Fifteen, twenty years ago this was not a problem (bachelor life).

Working on my personal library RUCKERPEDIA the the past two weeks has really reinvigorated my muse. It can only help when you read your previously written words — the good ones — and find yourself inspired by them.

Quotes | Stephen King – On Writing

In honor of Stephen “Uncle Stevie” King’s birthday this week (Sept 21st) I am going to forego our regularly scheduled programming in favor of five poignant quotes from Mr. King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft that I bookmarked with lots of Post-it Notes so many years ago. By the way, this isn’t the first time Uncle Stevie’s been quoted here recently.


 

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”

 

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

 

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

 

“Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don’t make any conscious effort to improve it. (You’ll be doing that as you read, of course … but that comes later.) One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.

“I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct. Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word—of course you will, there’s always another word—but it probably won’t be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.”

 

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.”

 


Yes, I’m filing this a bit late. It’s my birthday weekend, so I’ve taken it easy today (I have Monday off from work as well). I had originally intended to write and post a Ruckin’ With You column for this week, but alas. I’ll either produce it in a couple of days, or just wait until later in the week.  I also need to do a Workbook update (I skipped the August-into-September one). At any rate, I do remain committed to composing a blog entry that uncorks my headspace on a weekly basis, though.

So until next time, keep reading, keep writing, keep rocking.

-BLR

Quote/Advice | Ed Brubaker on Health & Work/Life Balance

Celebrated and award-winning comics/graphic novels author Ed Brubaker (CRIMINAL, VELVET, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THE WINTER SOLDIER), one of my faves, shared some sage writerly advice and wisdom today in his latest newsletter From the Desk of Ed Brubaker, of which I must make note.

On health:

“If you are a writer, if sitting and thinking followed by sitting and typing is what you want to do for a living, I can’t urge you more strongly to get regular cardio and get up from your desk a lot and stretch.

I can’t stress enough how easy it is to fall into bad habits in this profession that can cause you major health issues. In my career I’ve had to deal with repetitive strain injuries, tendonitis, chronic TMJ pain (from clenching my jaw when I get lost in writing) and lower back problems. And recently, while trying to get back into good cardio shape, I injured my ankle – the cause, having my foot bent weird while I typed.”

Actually, that’s good advice for anyone who works at a desk for long periods. He even provided this handy infographic.

As for writing work/life balance, something I know I personally struggle mightily with, the crime/noir-loving writer said:

“And work/life balance? That can be hard to manage, too. When I’m being good at sticking to my work routines, ideally I’m not in front of the computer for more than four or five hours a day. Kurt Vonnegut said no one should be required to be smart for more than four hours a day, so I try to follow his example. Then lately, after I’m done typing, I go for a 20 mile bike ride, and I’m starting to take some yoga classes. But I’ve had long periods of my career where I spent all day in front of a computer for months with no exercise, and I regret that a lot.

Writers are always writing in their heads, even when they aren’t typing or scribbling, so that’s one anyone in a relationship with a writer has to put up with. Even when they’re with you, they’re kind of not.”

The struggle is real. I know it’s a rather trendy and passe thing to say these days, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.

Mr. Brubaker’s words (and the source from which they come) are Copyright © 2016 Basement Gang Inc., All rights reserved. Mr. Brubaker’s photo is courtesy of Comics Vine.