On Robot Workers

In 1986 I got a job working from 5pm to 11pm as a proofreader for a company that typeset books for textbook publishers and university presses. In 2009, a French publisher offered to translate and publish The Painting and the City and Psychological Methods To Sell Should Be Destroyed.

What, you ask, is the connection?


The typesetting company was a factory, typesetters, proofreaders, and paste-up artists* worked in a production line of very small cubicles.

*Paste-up artists were people who took the type (which was a form of developed film, on Kodak paper), and pasted it onto boards (also called mechanicals) that had been printed with page dimensions showing in non-reproducing blue.

Most people did their specific jobs without thinking much about how things worked in the rest of the company. Sometimes people were moved into other jobs, often because they weren’t doing their job well.

Continue reading “On Robot Workers”


Occasional Notes On Writing

Everyone who writes has their own reasons for doing it, their own way of doing it, their own justification for what and how they do it. What I think is crap and hack is produced by people who believe in what they’re doing.

Note: when I say “writing” I’m talking about writing fiction because that’s what I do.

I went to Clarion West a number of years ago. For anyone who doesn’t know, Clarion is a six-week intensive workshop for science fiction/fantasy/horror. A different writer comes in each week to teach. Participants try to write a new story each week to present to the group for critique. It was mostly a good experience for me. But at my Clarion there was pressure to write things that conformed to the tastes of editors at the big genre magazines, things that would sell to those editors. People who wrote traditional genre were more likely expected to succeed than those who didn’t.

That way of thinking interfered with my development. After the workshop it took me a while to understand what I wanted to do. I wanted to write things that came from me, that were uniquely me (and get them published). I can’t write for a market. I don’t want to write for a market. Theme anthologies?  Forget it.

Persevering with my own vision hasn’t been easy. Trends and fads come and go, writers pick up on them, get books published, etc. None of that is for me unless by accident.

New Springdale Novel

There are days to be endured, days to be celebrated, and the rest, the mundane many that shove us onward through time and space. Every morning I wake up and wonder which kind today will be. The key is to anticipate the unendurable. I’ve yet to manage that. But I survive. Most people do. The unendurable days pass like all the rest, even if they appear to take longer.

This is the beginning of chapter one of the novel I’ve been working on. It’s preceded by a prologue that I’ll post sometime. I first conceived it as another novella set in Springdale, first encountered in In Springdale Town. But after setting it aside to work on a story I decided it had enough to be a novel. Presently called New Springdale Novel.