Tag Archives: ray bradbury

I Don’t Love You Because You Love That Book

Do you look at people’s bookshelves first thing when you visit their homes?

I think it’s interesting to find out what people read. Somehow I have it in my head that this knowledge will help me understand them better – maybe even clue me in about our chances of becoming good friends. I have no idea whether this method is accurate, but, hey. It’s something I do.

Apparently I’m not the only one. This article describes a dating site that focuses on what people read as a matchmaking tool. Pretty neat idea.

There are lots of books I love to read, mainly in scifi, fantasy, or spec fic in general, but I’m flexible.

And, of course, there are some books I really don’t like to read. I have nothing against the publications or the authors themselves; the stories just aren’t my cup of hot cocoa.

Heart of Darkness is one that doesn’t do it for me. I recognize that it is a classic work of literary art, but I can’t get into it. I imagine that I would not have much in common with someone who absolutely loved Heart of Darkness more than anything in the world.

That seems like a petty reaction, doesn’t it? Surely I could have other things in common with someone who enjoys a book I don’t care for. Joseph Conrad doesn’t manage the universe… does he?

I have a similar reaction to anything by Ayn Rand (who, I should point out, was a great writer with entertaining stories). She rubs me the wrong way, even though I enjoyed Anthem. This may be because I once dated a guy in high school who said I should check out Rand’s much debated essay “About a Woman President” because it might give me a useful perspective on life.

“For a woman to seek or desire the presidency is, in fact, so terrible a prospect of spiritual self-immolation that the woman who would seek it is psychologically unworthy of the job.” – Rand

I’m still not exactly sure what the boy in high school was suggesting when he asked me to read that essay, but ever since then I’ve felt a little hesitant around Ms. Rand’s most die-hard fans. 😉

Now, show me someone who’s a Neil Gaiman reader, a Ray Bradbury enthusiast, or a Shakespeare fanatic, and I’m ready to sit down and chat for hours. Toss in some Harry Potter or Sookie Stackhouse for fun, and we might just be best friends for life.

Are these reliable measurements of compatibility? Is it fair to say, “I don’t love you because you love that book”?  🙂

How often do you do the Bookshelf Check?

The Internet, Ray Bradbury, and… That Other Thing

I know several authors who shut off their Internet while they write. That blows my mind. Shut off the Internet? How do they breathe?

Yes, I’ll admit freely that I’m one of those people who can’t function if the Internet is not working. For one thing, I communicate with my critique partners and other essential contacts primarily online. If I’m off, I’m out of touch with what needs to get done.

But let’s be honest, even during a personal day all to myself, I’m often still online. On regular days, I get up early in the morning or stay up later in the evening to take care of to do list items, and I’m plugged in then, too. There is rarely a time for me when the Internet isn’t within arm’s reach. And that definitely goes for when I’m writing.

Why? One word: procratstina — ahem. Research.

This is when you look at From Light to Dark and then back at me and say, “Um, Irene. Those worlds aren’t real. What research did you need to do for that?”

Lots, actually. First of all, I included puzzles throughout the novel, and I needed to double-check their accuracy. The Internet helped me speed up the process. In addition to that, Dark World has a large collection of plant and insect life that I wanted to feel authentic. The Internet allowed me to search for swampy things I could use. Finally, I wrote a scene in which a main character got punched in the nose. Never having been punched in the nose before, I felt I should probably look up what that feels like.
…(okay, for that one I also interviewed a few people in person, but the point is that you wouldn’t believe how much useful?less information is available online when you’re writing fantasy).

The same goes for my other work.  Whether it’s a story about a place that exists in the “real” world or not, I rely on my Internet connection to keep my research options open at all times. You never know when I might decide to write about the thing… or… that other thing. 🙂

Do you need the Internet to do your work? Is it a distraction, as the great Ray Bradbury said, or is it a help? Maybe a little bit of both?  🙂