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Editorial – February 2019: A wider sense of sanity.

February 3, 2019 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Editorials are often odd beasts to write. If I want to be topical, then I really have to wait until the last minute or at least the last few days and hope that there is a suitable subject that has a connection with our genre that I can opine about and ensure its up-to-date to current changes. Sometimes, that can involve removing something in situ when a better topic turns up. That’s happened a few times in the past year.

Other times, I might look in my editorial idea file or even have a topic I can write up that I feel energetic about.

A lot of the time, preparation is everything. Even so, I doubt if you can tell how much time is spent on any one piece before it gets to the editing/polishing stage. That would be the same for anyone as all we see is the end product and very rarely the preparation leading up to it.

Well, that’s not strictly so anymore. From the various books and magazines I review, with art, we get to see a lot of the preliminary designs and sketches that we wouldn’t have seen decades ago. Artists are clearly showing that they just sit at a canvas and in a few hours they have a painting finished. If they are working as cover artists, they have to present several strong design ideas and can almost bet that the one chosen will be the one they like least.

more pulp

With writing, things are a lot different. Do you really want to read the earlier drafts where things are still in flux? The preliminary idea can be anything from a few lines to a few paragraphs. Expanding is more the addressing the various ideas to the core idea, sorting out the logic and order and then writing readable copy. Sometimes, some of these things can be circumnavigated depending on how strong the idea is carried in the head. Whether that’s true of every writer is debatable. We all employ different methods for completion. The written copy isn’t just suddenly there.

At some point, I’m working in percentages. If I think a piece is at least 90% finish, it’s just a couple days polish before it goes on-line and I can step back and look at it anew. Like a lot of creatives, no work is truly finished, just acceptable to be seen by a wider audience. There is always a knife-edge where too much work can destroy the spark that made it a good subject or dull its edge. Perfection is something to aim for but never to achieve.

Even so, all you really see is the end product, not the work that leads up to it. Seeing dismissed ideas doesn’t really help. With writing, it likes laying your creativity on the table. Unlike artists, you might like an idea that is dismissed but it’s not you writing the article. You wouldn’t really see why a writer dismisses an idea for all manner of reasons. Likewise, an idea does not become intellectual property that can be copyrighted until it becomes a complete piece. Hence, you rarely see any writer’s work in progress.

I seem to have got designated and a reputation as a heavy thinker but that’s my normal process as I work at different levels. I also tend to be even-handed by looking at the pros and cons equally in articles before drawing a conclusion. I’m not driven by bias thinking, just strong consideration to be fait. If you learn anything from my writing you learn that as it stops making judgements without all the facts.

The same also applies to a learning curve as I learn new things. With several books I’ve reviewed in the past year, the same subject of crowd manipulation has come up repeatedly showing how easy it is to convince people black is white, simply by repetition. The fact that people can be swayed so easily is worrying because it tends to indicate some form of weak-mindedness that can be manipulated.

More so by political leaders with their own people that you have to wonder just who is the enemy? If you’re not aware of your own suggestibility, the simplest solution is not to rush into any decision. The world isn’t just advert manipulation. Spend time thinking about what you really want. Do you really want me to sell you a few square feet of real estate on the Moon?

I tend to find crowds chaotic, more so when they don’t have leadership. However, when the leadership is out to be manipulative for its own ends rather than common good, then it becomes a dangerous agency. See the previous paragraph. Oh, you remember reading it.

We like to think of the world as being something we can’t change but as the Internet had spread its tentacles, it’s increasingly gotten smaller as we see global problems close-up. There are a lot of fractures, especially when it comes to environmental issues and global warming. It is also tends to make many people think there are instant fixes for everything when, really, there isn’t. We can put clay in the holes but just as it took decades to get into this mess, it will take as much time to get out of it. As such, we need to encourage the next generations to keep a similar fire burning in their souls and knowledge is power in making the right decisions and become mere puppets to their suggestion.

Leaving it to a few people in power, whether it’s business or political without being answerable for their actions is positively disastrous because old mistakes will continually be made. Remember that point about how easily it is to be manipulated. You did read that paragraph thrice back, didn’t you? Just keeping count.

To be shouted down without rationalised explanation has to change. We should all be allowed to see the rationals for the choices given, and not just see the end result. That even includes writing, as long as it’s in the text. Showing how you came to those conclusions should be the persuasive element as equally as showing where information is faulty. How you can tell the difference depends on how you look at the information and how willing you are to trust it.

Scepticism has its uses but needs to be looked at with practicability and look at all the possibilities, especially for the inner truth. Actions always speak louder with words. To not have an opinion of your own is far scarier, even if it is wrong. Then you’re reading me, which is appreciated, but I only act as a guide and arbiter showing options. The geek way is to have your own way to do things. If it can be used to work for the common good then we rise beyond mob mentality and that can’t be a bad thing.

Somewhere out of all of the above, there is an editorial bringing together odd thoughts into a collective whole. To not think about what you read and just take everything at face value is to lose your own ability to make decisions. If that’s heavy thinking, then we really need more of that in the world.

Thank you, take care, good night and never neglecting thinking and learning. Welcome to inside my head.

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Empaths know how you feel.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Bloody-mindedness does have its uses.

The Reveal: Unicorns make excellent seed trails.

Observation: It might just be my artist eyes distinguishing colours better but I do have to wonder if there are any genuine green-eyed humans because I always see them as a shade of grey. It isn’t though I can’t see green-eyed animals.

Observation: Depending on whether you let your computer do automatic updates, there are always times when you want to do a manual check, especially with things like back-up computers which you don’t leave on all the time. With W10, don’t accept the first answer saying there are none when you know your main computer has just done a major update. The second time will find them.

Observation: I’m not sure if this applies or works for all laptops but if when wake your computer from a closed lid W10 sleep mode, that you get wavy lines on the screen, don’t do a reboot. Just close the lid and open it again and things should return to normal screen. No idea why it happens but it saves a lot of problems. At least no one is given to hitting a computer. That’s just abuse.

Feeling Stressed: Stress keeps your head spinning around. Good thing it’s on a neck or your head would figuratively be rolling on the floor.

Missed Opportunity:

            The real technical details for the geeks who want all the details. If you don’t, just send me a sample review.

            I’m always on the lookout for new writers, especially that rare breed called ‘reviewer’. Can’t get enough of them. Don’t feel because we are the top of the tree, that I don’t want new talent. I just want people who can write and improve with practice and a little coaching.

            What you have below are two choices. Send me a sample review and let me pass comment. The second choice is to read all the info below, just in case you want to understand more about the protocols.

            Some things are put in bold, not so much because they are any more important but more to add a little more emphasis. Welcome to my mind and be grateful you don’t have to live it in your ability to self-express.

            If you regularly read 50-100 pages of a book a day, then you might be reviewer material.

            If you aren’t seeing the types of book or authors here you would want to read, chances are that I don’t have any reviewers who do them. I’m stocking up on reviewers right now. The extended info is below but essentially, if you can write and breathe and make good observations, you stand a chance. If you make grammatical errors, then I have your back. Email me at: gfwillmetts at hotmail.com

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers and this is the time of year to recruit as the nights are shorter and so you might be sleeping less If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

Polls And Opinions: We did have them for a time but the new version was causing a mess in WordPress so until a new version that doesn’t cause conflicts comes around, we’ll have to do without them but please use the answer option at the end of any material to express comments because we do read them.

For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, although that doesn’t preclude others. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

NB: We do get digital books and if you live abroad and not in the UK, then this avenue could be open to you. I’m not putting it in as a link to avoid spam. Just copy and paste into your emails to contact me with my address noted in the paragraph above. I’m always recruiting and details are through a link on the top of the SFC main page articles and stories as well. Just because it’s sunny, doesn’t mean you’re going to read any less. We could do with some more fantasy readers right now! We could do with any of you interested in learning how to be reviewers period.

If you’ve on a budget, a book for a review is a good bargain and I can teach the nervous how to do it by seeing what you do when you present a sample. It’s a good deal. We get books in a variety of formats these days so all things are possible to those with the knack for putting words into sentences and saying what they think.

For potential book reviewers in the UK, it’s a good way to keep up your reading habit and show you can write. There are detail links scattered over the website and on the forum. If you don’t think you’re up to scratch, you’ll discover why I’m the dutch uncle. Repeating this several times is for those who only scan and who don’t want to wind back up the page.

Another real Zen thought but this time for potential writers: If you can express an opinion independently of others and aren’t likely to bend to the masses then you might show potential as a writer.

Zen for those who are scared by all the instructions below: Many of the instructions are things you should be doing automatically if you’re developing your writing skills. If you do them already then focus on the ones that you don’t get right. They are there to help you as much as me to get the best writing from you. If you think you’re 80% there then I’ll help you get the final 20%. Trust me, I’m an editor and I can get things right.

BOOK REVIEWS    – Don’t feel intimated by all the info below or linked to. If you’re any good as a writer, much of it should be second nature already. This is just the long hand version.

Do you love books? Do you like curling up and reading a book in preference to socialising, even on the Net? You might not even want to curl up, that’s only an option. Do you have a preference for fantasy, SF or horror? We really could do with some fantasy readers!!! Do you find it the greatest pastime you have next to being on your computer?

Are you very vocal about what you like and don’t like in what you read?

Would you like to share your thoughts with others about books?

Would you like an endless supply of books to do this with?

Do you live in the UK?

Can you spare an hour every day to read?

Do you think you can write about what you’ve read?

Are you finding the recession is hitting your book buying habit?

If you’ve been nodding your head up to this point then link in below and see if you have what it takes to be a reviewer at SFCrowsnest. If you have that special knack to read and write or want to develop said skill then the only way you’re going to find out is to take the plunge yourself rather than wait for others to do it first. Reading a lot of books is a requisite for any writer. Being able to say what makes them good or bad hones your own skills. Even if you’re just happy with reading with a little writing on the side then this might be for you. It’s got to be better than waiting for the sun to come out in this weird summer and now cold winter. It’s also amazing how much you can read in an hour a day.

If you’ve survived this far in the editorial, let me reiterate something from the website newsletter and the above editorial. As you can see from the main page, we have one of the biggest SF/fantasy/horror monthly reviews columns on the Net. Our success has increased the number of books that comes in and our policy is to read everything and give it a roadtest before giving a review so you have some idea of what you’re letting yourself in for. You want the bottom line about what you’re going to choose to read. That means we need people actually willing to read the book and tell others they’re opinion in reviews. For that, we’re always on the outlook for more reviewers.

Do you think you have what it takes to review a book? It’s a skill that can be easily mastered and we need a few more. If you love fantasy, we have more than enough to keep you busy for instance.

Apart from the ability to put words into sentences, you also need to know how to précis, do a little research on associated subjects and can express opinions constructively about the good and bad points about the books you read. We even let you choose from our pile of received books rather than foster something on you that you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll even get a little editorial help in how to write good copy and that can always lead to other things. I’m not as scary as I sound editorially and it’s better to do the test review and see how you fare than not attempt to see how well you did. I did say you have to love books and willing to read beyond your favourite authors, didn’t I?

If you like reading books in the genre and can average two or maybe three a month, can really think and show you can write a decent review and, most importantly, live in the British Isles (sorry, expense, time and distance travelled mostly prohibits elsewhere), then use the link below and see our requirements. We can’t pay you but writing a review has to be cheaper than buying a book and a good incentive to see if you have what it takes to develop your writing skills.

Do you think you’re up to writing a review? If you think you can, then you’re really going to think you’ve landed your hands in the biscuit tin. It won’t hurt to try and see if you have the right stuff by sending me a sample review to show me you can write. If you want an added incentive, it can also be good for your CV.

Look up the Review Guidelines by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_reviews.php”></a> with a press of a mouse button.

SHORT STORIES

We always have an interest in running short stories which can be anything from one to thirty or so pages long. We’re always willing to give short story writers a chance to be seen if they can withstand my scrutiny even if we can’t pay for their efforts, your material will be seen by a lot of people if it’s shown on the SFCrownest website. If you can get a short story written well then it’ll make it easier to move up to novel-length.

Look up the Short Stories Link by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse.

FLASH OR ONE-PAGE FICTION

We’ve also a teaching ground of one page stories, so check out the rules elsewhere on the website. It’s a lot tougher than it looks and far too easy to just write and write and hope something good comes out of it. What writing a one page story does is test your ability to control your word count and still tell a story in a concise way. This doesn’t mean we don’t accept stories of different lengths – a short story can be anything up to 30-40 pages long after all – but opens up the means for really short stories from ideas that don’t need as much space.

Flash fiction stories by linking here: <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_flashfic.php”></a> with your mouse.

NOVEL-LENGTH SAMPLES

For those keeping track, I’m actually now caught up but don’t tell everyone as I’m undecided as to whether to keep looking at novel-length story samples, move over specifically to short stories – which we do anyway for the website – or get a couple of my own book projects completed. The latter, I still intend to do anyway and now actually working on but don’t let that put you off too much. If you want me to look over a sample, you can contact me through the links on this website.

Before you submit, study the next section below as it’s there to help you do some of the right things and reduce the number of times I’m repeating myself over silly grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that you shouldn’t be making if you’re serious about becoming a writer. It makes editing a lot easier if any editor has less work pointing out poor English which you should have been sorted out in the first place and more focused on other areas of your work that deal with plot and the other serious elements of storywriting. As a writer, it is your command of the English language and its grammar that will show how serious you are about writing.

There might not be much of a wait unless I get a deluge, however those sending in ebook samples, please read the Guidelines by linking here <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_bigfiction.php”></a> with your mouse here or through the bottom line menu on the opening page of the SFC website.

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING BUT AFRAID TO ASK

General advice for those who want to become writers of any sort: There’s an old editorial adage: If you can’t aim for perfection why should an editor nurse-maid you to that state? Nominally, my job is to catch minor glitches not total mishaps. If you’re a writer, then you should understand the words, sentences and grammar of the job you’re supposed to be writing or are you considering it as mundane and boring as any other job to get right? Fall in love with making every sentence the best you’re ever written, read up and understand the rules of grammar. Put the time in researching any subject you’re using in the story. Be prepared to put a story away for a few weeks and go back to it for a self-edit until it’s as good as you can make it. Even I do that. You look good. I make you look better but you have to start off with good.

A lot of the time, errors will just stare you in the face when you didn’t see them the first time round. Once you know where your weaknesses are, they can be sorted out and allow you to move a little higher up the ladder towards making your material look its best and more importantly, getting your material seen by readers.

The link here will show you the Common Problems Link page and what I see mostly <a href=”http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/contribute_commonprobs.php”></a>

with your mouse. It’s the smart writer who doesn’t get caught out with these.

Good luck.

Geoff

Category: Culture

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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