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Stephen R Donaldson On the Web
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:19 pm    Post subject: Stephen R Donaldson On the Web Reply with quote

This is a thread for sharing any references to Donaldson that people come across: news, blogs, etc. (I see some now and then, and I guess I want a place to share if they're interesting.)
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SRD expounds on "writing crap".
Valley Courier wrote:
It Seems To Me: The magic of writing
Posted: Friday, Jun 7th, 2013
BY: Phil Ray Jack
[link]

People often tell me that they would like to write a book, and then they explain why they don’t. Sometimes it’s because they simply don’t have time, but most often it’s because they don’t know how to begin. They are unsure of themselves and can’t imagine themselves as writers.

Several years ago, I had a chance to visit with Stephen R. Donaldson, a well-known fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novelist. At the time, I belonged to a creative writers’ club at Eastern New Mexico University, and Stephen was our guest speaker.

I got to chauffeur him around during his visit, picking him up at the airport, driving him to his hotel, and then taking him to the university for his lecture.

The second trilogy in Stephen’s “Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” series was on the New York Times Best Seller list, and I was an aspiring writer myself, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask him some questions.

“Stephen,” I explained (I should mention here that he had invited me to call him by his first name or I would have called him “Mr. Donaldson), “I want to be a writer, and after I graduate, I plan to teach students who want to be writers, too. What is the best advice that I can give my students?”

I expected him to think about it for a while, and then to pontificate and share some of the mysteries of being successful as a writer, but his answer was immediate and short.

“Tell them to not be afraid to write crap.”

I was so surprised that I almost ran off the road. After a moment, I caught my breath and asked, “What do you mean?”

Stephen went on to explain that we always look at the final product and tell our students what they did wrong. “Students will agonize over the wrong things – things like how long their papers need to be and whether they need to put their commas – instead of thinking about the most important aspects of writing – thinking and communicating.”

We teach that the most important paragraph in a paper is the first paragraph because it lets the reader know what we are going to say, and the most important sentence is the first one because it’s the hook that catches the reader’s attention. When students turn in their papers, we take our red pens and circle every flaw that we can find.

“That’s what causes writer’s block. Our minds will be full of ideas and things we want to say, but we will look at that blank piece of paper [or that blank computer screen] and agonize over coming up with the perfect first sentence.”

“Words on paper for a writer is like clay on a wheel for a potter,” Stephen continued. “A potter will drop a clump of clay on a wheel and then start shaping it. It ends up becoming a beautiful work of art, but it starts out as a clump of clay on a wheel.”

Revision is more than simply correcting errors in grammar and spelling. That is what editing is all about. When we revise, we find ourselves making major changes, and our final product often looks no more like our first draft than pottery looks like a lump of clay.

The magic of writing takes place during the revision process. We begin with an idea – and sometimes it’s not a very clear idea – and then we start working with it. As we revise, our ideas become clearer, and we usually make new discoveries along the way. It’s a learning process, and we learn more about ourselves and the world we live in by going through it.

So, if you are one of those who wants to write a book, start writing it. You can always revise it later.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's just an awesome point.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's brilliant. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the importance of a typed manuscript:
Quote:
It Seems To Me: If at first you don’t succeed
Posted: Friday, Jun 21st, 2013
BY: Phil Ray Jack
[link]

One of the advantages of being a writer is learning about the failures of successful people. Rejection slips are as much a part of our lives as learning the rules of grammar and spelling, and we find solace in knowing that even the great writers receive them. Sometimes, we even get excited about being rejected!

Unsolicited manuscripts are relegated to the “slush pile” until they are eventually read by interns. The interns will select a fortunate few to go to the next level, where they go through a similar process. Most are returned to the author with a standard form that says something like, “Thank you for submitting your manuscript. Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs at this time. Good luck.”

I remember my first hand-written rejection slip. I had submitted a story to Esquire, and I received a short note from the editor that said, “I really enjoyed this, and I wish we could use it. It just doesn’t fit the theme for our next issue. Good luck on getting it published, and please send us more of your work!”

I was ecstatic, and I rushed to tell all of my friends about it. “You’re happy about being rejected?” they asked, and I tried to explain to them why a “personal rejection” was a major step forward in my career.

Stephen R. Donaldson’s story is one of my favorites, though. He finished the first book in his “Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever” trilogy and started submitting it to publishers. By the time he was entering the final stages of the second book, his manuscript had been rejected by every publisher in the United States.

“I decided to start sending it to publishers in Canada and England, but I wasn’t sure how to do that. I knew that my book would never sell if it was sitting on my desk, so I started at the top of the alphabet and re-submitted it to the first publisher whose name started with ‘A,’” Donaldson said during one of his presentations.

Then he began researching how to submit manuscripts in the international market. At the same time, he finished the second volume of the trilogy and began working on the third. He didn’t give up.

It just happened that the publisher Donaldson sent his manuscript to was getting ready to go on a weekend cruise and had forgotten to pick up a book to read. He went to the slush pile, picked up a manuscript, saw that it was handwritten, dropped it back on the pile, and then picked up Donaldson’s manuscript. It was typed, so he tucked it under his arm and took it with him to read.

When he got back from the cruise, he called Donaldson. “Just read your manuscript. How are you doing on the second book?”

“I just finished it and I’m working on the third,” Donaldson answered.

“In that case, I’d like to publish it.”

Since then, Donaldson has published more than 20 best-selling science fiction and fantasy novels and has received numerous awards for his work.

Think about that for a minute. He had been rejected by every publisher in the United States, but he believed in what he was doing. Instead of giving up, he kept working on his trilogy, and he kept trying to publish that first book.

Donaldson was asked, “What is the secret of your success?”

His response: “I typed my manuscript.”

Of course, there’s more to it than that. He didn’t give up.

I hadn't heard about the cruise aspect of this story before.

(I wonder if Phil Ray is anyone we know.)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I think it came up at the last Elohimfest. Not only was it typed, but it had proper margins and everything. Though I did not know about the phone call afterwards.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's pretty cool. Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

High praise for some fellow Watchers Very Happy


Quote:

Q: What role do beta readers play for you in the process?

SRD: I'm entirely dependent on my personal readers, John Eccker and Robyn Butler (may their names be blessed unto the third and fourth generations). Although I strictly avoid people who want to tell me how to write, I have an enormous appetite for what A. J. Budrys called "reader symptomatology" (I like this; I don't like that; I find this character revolting and/or hot; I took a nap in the middle; I don't understand what you mean here; I wish you would do something different there). I can only improve as a writer if I have readers who will tell me what my prose actually communicates (which has been known to diverge significantly from what I thought I was communicating).

Long, long ago-in a galaxy far, far away-editors performed this service for writers (and for readers!). Before he published my books, Lester del Rey sent me any number of 20+ page letters excoriating my efforts. (For which I'm more grateful now than I was at the time.) But modern editors are shamefully overworked, and they simply don't have time to provide the kind of detailed symptomatology I crave. Hence the importance of my personal readers. These days, my editors don't see my books until my readers and I have been over the text page by page-and sometimes line by line.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AintItCool News posted an opinion article about fantasy series that should be movies. With a bit of trepidation, I scrolled through the author's top choices and found ...

Quote:
THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT



Thomas Covenant, at first glance, may be one of the most unlikable characters in fantasy literature. A former writer stricken with leprosy, Covenant rages against his lot in life. When Covenant is knocked unconscious by a police car, he awakens in the Land, and due to his refusal to accept this new reality, calls himself Unbeliever. Covenant learns that he wields great power through his white gold wedding band, but his rage threatens to consume him. Covenant is not an ordinary hero but as the story grows we find ourselves becoming more sympathetic to his plight.

I have not read the Second and Final series of Donaldson's books, but Covenant is such a compelling character that I can't imagine any actor not wanting to play him. On the surface Covenant seems bitter, angry, and lost, but he is also a deep well of nobility - a nobility that is learned as opposed to being simply born into. There are some amazingly beautiful moments in THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT, and while the series is now in its tenth (and likely final) book, if done right could be a sweeping epic series.
[link to full article ]

AintItCool is a relatively influential blog site, so maybe this could be a little nudge in our favor.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if this is exactly the right place for this, but it'll do for the present.

On my way back from the 'Fest in Albuquerque I spent a few days in Toronto. Due one thing and another I ended up with some spare time on my hands and I just happened to pass the Toronto Public Library where I noticed that they had a science fiction and fantasy collection called the Merril Collection. Since I was in sci-fi and fantasy nerd mode, in I went for a look. Of course, the first thing I did was check out the SRD references. There were quite a few, so I put in a request for a couple of critical articles.

One I read: 'The Hero's Education in Sacrificial Love' by Matthew A. Fike was quite good, so I photocopied it. I'll scan it shortly and upload it. Others weren't up to much, book reviews and so on, but I did take down a long list of references by hand which I'm going to post here. They're not directly available on the web, but you may be able to request them through the Toronto Public Library.

General References (SRD as a contributor or referenced):

    - New Boundaries in Political Science Fiction by Donald M. Hassler, Clyde Wilcox (2008)

    - Paratexts : introduction to science fiction and fantasy by Gunn, James E.

    - Tin Stars (1986)

    - Gauntlet 2 (1991)

    - Imagination: the art and technique of David A. Cherry (1987)

    - Strange Dreams: Unforgettable Fantasy Stories (1993)

    - Full Spectrum 4 (1994)

    - The Year's Finest Fantasy: Volume 2 (1997)

    - The Book of Kings ed. Gilliam and Greenberg (1995)

    - A Very Large Array. New Mexico Science Fiction and Fantasy (1987)

    - After the King: Stories in honor of J.R.R Tolkien (1994)

    - Unicorns! (1982)


Academic References (includes book reviews)

    - Vector #242 Adams, Andrew A. (review) (July/Aug 2005)

    - Locus #360 Chow, Dan (review) (Jan 1991)

    - New York Review of Science Fiction #204 Danehy-Oakes. Dan'l (2005)

    - Vector #222 Ensley, Iain (Mar/Apr 2002)

    - Science Fiction: a review of speculative fiction #36 Foster, Marion R.K. (1996)

    Science Fiction: a review of speculative fiction #31 Foster, Marion R.K. (1991) (review of Mordant's Need)

    - Interzone #195 France Vikki L. (Nov/Dec 2004)

    - NY Review of Sci-Fi #168 Healy Kim Coleman (2002)

    - Vector #203 Malique Jan (review) (Jan/Feb 1999)

    - (review) ()

    .

    .

    .

    .


*more to be added anon

u.

P.S. I came across this reference as I was doing up this post [url=books.google.ie/books?id=le-kXkmU5kcC&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=the+hero%27s+education+in+sacrificial+love+fike&source=bl&ots=f7UQ8gSwo6&sig=z-hPlt-NwZ608xi4uE247OD4sPA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QXTRU86OEqKM7Abi7IHYDw&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=the%20hero%27s%20education%20in%20sacrificial%20love%20fike&f=false]The Leprous Man: A Psychoanalytical Investigation into Stephen Donaldson's Fantasy Novels[/url]

[EDITS: to add more references, silly!]
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ussusimiel wrote:

On my way back from the 'Fest in Albuquerque I spent a few days in Toronto. Due one thing and another I ended up with some spare time on my hands


Son-of-a-BITCH, u.
If I'd a known that, we coulda spent a couple hours or a day hanging out maybe. In summers I ain't far away from Toronto...I coulda finally met another Watcher IRL despite missing the 'Fest [[though there is a slight chance that Jenn and I met many years ago...don't think she knows that, but it is possible...long before the Watch existed]]
We coulda taken a pic and proved to the doubters that we are different people.
I coulda slapped you silly so you'd think my shit was funny [or at least wouldn't deny it outloud].

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks U,,,oh geez... The sample read of Leprous Man..another attempt to paint Donaldson as a misogynist..!!? As usual the author doesn't seem to get that perhaps Donaldson is saying Modern Man..Human Beings of the Modern Era,,,ARE Misogynistic..It doesn't take a psychoanalyst to see the Condition of Women around the world as " misogynistic"..IMHO, the author of Leprous Man needs to study up on Art, Literature, the craft of..so when she goes after a author,,she doesn't come off as having a preconceived notion to fulfill or an agenda to prove. Unfortunately the sample read gave me little want..to buy the book so I could read the rest of it.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
We coulda taken a pic and proved to the doubters that we are different people.
I coulda slapped you silly so you'd think my shit was funny [or at least wouldn't deny it outloud].
Excuses, excuses...
Still waiting for proof on this one. Wink
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lurch, I'm not sure where you get that impression. I've read a cuhnk of the first chapter in that link and I see no attempt to paint Donaldson as misogynist - indeed, the author makes a point of stating she has no intention of any judgement of the author at all and is looking only at the texts (and from a psychoanalytical standpoint, so you can expect some oddness in interpretation). She refers to his male protagonists as misogynist, which is a different matter - and completely understandable, given Thomas Covenant and Angus Thermopyle.

I'm not sure about her references to Mordant's Need, though. There's something off in the way she claims a couple of times that the ending is undermined by Geraden's "deviant sexuality". I've only read those books once, though, a long while back, and can't say where she's coming from there.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What?!? Shocked Geraden's not a deviant.

Now I've gotta read this book....
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:
What?!? Shocked Geraden's not a deviant.

Well, he likes to use a mirror . . . Razz
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay. She doesn't mention Geraden specifically, so I'm guessing she's thinking of Eremis when she talks about deviant sexuality at the end of the series. That, I would agree with.

But this author is kind of angry in general, isn't she? Shocked
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, my vague recollection of some of the things revealed late in A Man Rides Through, it is Gilbur who is most likely the focus of the "deviant" reference.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quoting from page 4:

"Even in the seemingly happy conclusion to Mordant's Need, Geraden's situation is disturbingly undermined by a potentially deranging libidinal drive that could well threaten his apparently sunny nuptials."
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm Murrin wrote:
Quoting from page 4:

"Even in the seemingly happy conclusion to Mordant's Need, Geraden's situation is disturbingly undermined by a potentially deranging libidinal drive that could well threaten his apparently sunny nuptials."

She's crazy. Either that, or she doesn't like nice guys. Maybe both.

SD -- I grant you, Gilbur's no prize, either.
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