you always find incredibly interesting info to do writing about. how do you find this stuff
This question always baffles me whenever it comes up. I don’t think I use the internet in any special way. But maybe the following is news to someone:
Most websites that update regularly emit a kind of file called RSS, which can be captured by things called feed readers, that gather them up and save them. Google Reader is a feed reader. It’ll collect up all those RSS feeds and present them to you in a way that lets you read all the websites you’re interested in on a single page.
So all you do is get the RSS of a website that has interesting stuff and shove it into your feed reader.
I use Google Reader. I also use an iOS app called Reeder that links into Google Reader. And, every day, wherever I am, I read as much of what Google Reader captures as I can.
I also read a newspaper every day, and I read the BBC Online news every day, and watch BBC Newsnight most nights, and a few magazines a week, and — perhaps most importantly, these days, I have a well-tuned Twitter feed full of people who like to post links to genuinely interesting stuff. Let me reiterate that bit: for FREE, you can arrange for a bunch of well-connected strangers to push interesting news to your screen, LIVE, updating every second.
So, that kind-of acquaintance whom you feel you should follow but whom talks mostly about sandwiches and the shape of his turds? Dump him and add @qikipedia or @brainpicker instead. To start with.
I would also point out that you can do the same thing on Tumblr. There is no natural law or official quota that means you have to do nothing but scroll through a bunch of shit cat macros every day. Tune your digital environment until it brings you all the good stuff.
Why do you think yhat "Story without theme is just a bunch of typing"? Why is theme and subject so important to you?Since many fiction works' themes can be hard to figure out, including maybe some of your fiction, couldn't that be seen as pointless?
It’s hard to believe that you quote Hemingway on your tumblr but yet have apparently never read him.
Would you say there's a point in Transmetropolitan where Spider Jerusalem stops being Hunter S. Thompson and starts to resemble you? Or was Spider Jerusalem always a mix?
Oh, he was always a mix of people. He writes more like Tom Wolfe or Chris Roberts in a lot of places, and he can be as inhuman as Mencken. There’s a lot of people in him — and a lot less of me than people think. He would often say things I didn’t agree with. I used to say that if he were real, I wouldn’t give the bastard house room. I also used to say that if there was any of me in him, then it was me when I first get up in the morning — that’s when my temper is at its worst, closest to the surface, most easily triggered and most impervious to logic or simple human empathy. Also, when I am at my most crap. I once almost killed myself trying to kick a cat after being woken by said beast after three hours’ sleep. I missed the cat completely and very nearly got flung down the stairs by my own momentum. (And I would have deserved it, too.) That’s Spider, really.
A bit more: be incredibly opportunistic and on the hunt for places that can use your art. Be hard on yourself. Shun all the woo woo vagueness that people tell artists: “fulfilling your dreams”, “nurturing your creativity”, the whole lot of that. It…
I don’t know whether what I’m trying to do, and what some of the most audacious, inspiring young people I’ve had the privilege to meet over the past two years are trying to do is worth all that much in the long run. There’s always a chance, isn’t there, that my affection for my friends and colleagues makes the best efforts of our young lives loom larger in the heart than their ultimate significance deserves.
Privately, though, I doubt it. I believe in fearless journalism, and I believe that it will continue, and I have seen it change the world in the most daring and intimate ways. I am still inspired by the brave reporters and polemicists who laid the path we run on, I still look to my peers to give me courage, and I still wake up in the night dreaming of the perfect paragraph – the one yet to be written. Some day, I will get old, but I don’t think honest writing ever willl.
When scripting comics, do you prefer to provide a detailed panel layout and detailed descriptions of each panel, or give a more general description of what should be on the page and let the artist do the rest?
I’ve talked about this countless times, and some time spent with Google would probably find you a lot of it. But let’s make it easy: here’s three of my comics scripts. See for yourself.
If you grow a functional human brain in a jar, give it artificial stimuli capabilities (cameras for eyes, microphones for ears, etc.), and then give it manufactured memories and a manufactured personality--assuming this would work--would that be considered Artificial Intelligence?
There’s a lot of gimmes in there. I think maybe I’d trade the word “artificial” for “synthetic”? Which is a semantic handwave, I know. I’m also reminded of the term “simulacra” - a copy of something that isn’t real, if you like.
Do you usually know the heart of something when you start writing it, or do you have to have dig around to find it first?
What I always say is that the two things I first need to know are what the story’s about, and what the book’s *really* about. That is to say, the basic plot, often very basic, and what I’m actually there to talk about, the themes and subjects of the book. Story without theme is just a bunch of typing. Often, the themes — the stuff I’m actually there to talk about — will assemble themselves before the plotline.
And, also, the end. I do need to have a clue of how it ends. I’ve been known to start with the ending and work backwards. I mean, to the point where I thought of an ending first, gathered the themes that suggested themselves from the ending, and then plotted in reverse time up to the opening scene.
I see you have an iPad in your EDC, curious what apps you've found useful/productive
This is going to be some deep dark tech nerd shit right here, isn’t it?
Managing information is a big part of my job. So the topslice is:
Twitterific, for Twitter. Flipboard. Reeder, for reading Google Reader (which is wired into Pinboard for saving links and Instapaper for reserving long articles for later). BBC news app. Guardian for iPad in Newsstand. Foreign Policy for iPad. The Economist in Newsstand. These are all daily, sometimes hourly checkpoints for me. Can’t do without them.
For writing, I’m either in Plaintext or iA Writer — haven’t decided which I like better, a chunk of GUN MACHINE was written across both — or Quickoffice for iPad (which is currently being used more for reviewing documents).
Dropbox. Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox. All the writing programs hook into Dropbox. It’s essential.
For sketching, I’m using either Bamboo Paper or Notes Plus. Am test-driving Paper by FiftyThree right now.
For reference, I’m buggered without Wikipanion and Wolfram Alpha.
And, as I’m starting a new novel, I’m going to be living in Evernote more.
(For when the iPad is standing as a second screen, I use Trickle for Twitter and Readlines for Google Reader to use the iPad as a glanceable.)