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Tiptree & tricks of transformation
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Right now I'm very happy because - for once! - I have an over-abundance of good books, so many that I'm having to read 2 at a time (3 would be too many for me to focus on at once; 1 would make me crazy with dreaming about all the unopened good ones lying around the house waiting for me). So right now I'm reading Ludwig Bemelman's novel Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which is full of wonderful, lushly-written, perfect moments of absurdity and humor, and Julie Phillips's biography James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. When the Phillips biography first came out, I wasn't tempted to read it - but finally, overwhelmed by ALL the different people who wrote gushing about it, I finally gave in and ordered it last month. And I am so glad I did! It's completely absorbing, funny, strange, and immensely thought-provoking. The first 50 years of Alli Sheldon's life are fascinating on their own, for their emotional drama and otherworldly context (her early-20th-century eccentrically-wealthy upbringing reads like science fiction to me! - not to mention the World War II female army experiences, CIA work, and more), and once it gets into her late-life reinvention as a (male) science fiction writer in the 60s, it becomes fascinating for all sorts of different reasons, especially if you're a science fiction fan. I could burble on about this book for hours, but in the end...just read it! (If, like me, you didn't grab a copy last year as soon as it came out.)

And it actually turned out to be helpful for me as a writer, too. Yesterday morning I finished Chapter One of Kat2...only to be hit by a wave of The Sucks (phrase copyright SarahP!) and massive writing insecurity. This morning I sat staring at the computer screen, completely incapable of writing something that would be inevitably imperfect...and then it hit me.

I opened up my notebook to a fresh page and wrote in big letters at the top:
Kat by Starlight [my working title]

And then I put the silliest pseudonym possible underneath. And it worked! It wasn't me writing that first scene of Chapter Two, it was [X] - and with a silly writing name like that, [X] clearly didn't care what anybody else thought! So [X] wrote the first 1,000-word scene of Chapter Two, which was as silly and funny (at least to me!) as it could possibly be, with a wedding going horrendously wrong as a Lady Catherine de Bourgh-like character charges in and causes chaos, whacking everybody with her parasol... Of course, it was exactly what I'd wanted (and planned) to write, but it was sooooo much easier to set aside the writing-panic and insecurity by removing personal responsibility for it. Awesome!

I've published stories under pen names before, but I've never tried writing that way until now. I'll definitely be remembering that trick!

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