Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Orson Scott Card

Today I went to go see Orson Scott Card. He said that he doesn't do many signings, so I'm lucky to live so close (about 1.5 hours) away from him.
The man is brilliant. And hilarious.The best thing was how much I could identify with him-- a middle-aged man who's not my dad. Just offhand comments like: 

  • "Most writers are, I'm in control of the situation, but having dinner with a stranger?" SO TRUE. This is why I speak in English and don't in math. I'm confident in the former, and less so in the latter, plus math has right and wrong, where as English has write and support. (See what I did there? Ah, lame puns.)
  • "I was once in an elevator with one of my favorite authors and didn't say a word to him- not because I was shy, but because I literally had nothing to say." That is how I feel every time I'm in the room with an author I admire. I let my dad do the talking and then build off of what he says.
  • "When you're 15 and reading your 13 year old diary, you just want to burn it. But when you're 30 and reading your 13 year old diary, you love yourself. Don't burn your diaries." Well...does it count if I've scratched out lines and torn out pages?
  • "You've got to understand, I keep talking because no one at home listens to me for this long anymore." Me too. Maybe that's why I blog so much.
Someone asked him what he was currently reading. He pulled out his iPod and read off a list of audio books, saying that he listened all the time, and his family had gotten to the point where they just had to tap him on the shoulder to wait for him to pause it. My dad felt very validated by this. Then he said how he read in bed all the time as well, except he's lately been watching a lot of Doctor Who on his iPod while in bed. He doesn't like the old series (which I haven't seen), loves the new stuff, and loathes the daleks. He must have ranted about daleks for at least a full minute.

He also had what I thought to be very good writing advice. In short:

  • "Just keep writing your brains out all the time."
  • Ignore grammar rules. Write how you speak. (But "if you're teaching MAKE those kids learn grammar.")
  • Don't consciously develop your style. It'll just ruin the voice you have already. (This was particularly helpful to me)
  • Ignore people who give you general writing advice. Content is a different story.
  • Have people read your stuff aloud to you.
When I walked in (since he started during writing club, which I left early to listen), he was talking about how the genre of science fiction is running out of "space," so SF authors are simply writing sci-fi in a fantasy setting. Example: a book where people breed dragons, but then the dragons take over. It's the basic Evil Robot story, only with dragons. I thought that was a cool idea.

When we got to the signing table, my copy of Ender's Game was made out to me, but Dad said that he didn't want the new one to be in case my sisters got jealous. So instead it reads: "To Don...Olivia's dad...and Sarah's dad...and Nicole's dad. So many paths, so little time. 12/1/10"

And I have surprisingly very little to say about the actual writing club meeting today, other than that it was very enjoyable, as always.


  1. I am really surprised about what you said about Card. I heard him talk a little afterwards and he said too things that I found to be rather arrogant and strange

    First he said that the phrase "thin characterization" means nothing. Call me crazy but I think it does mean something.

    Second he said that you should quit writing workshops and groups after a year because after a year it becomes a social group that you only stay in "if you're lonely"

    I have never read anything by him and I only heard like a minute and a half of his talk but he really bothered me, maybe it made more sense in context

  2. Actually, after going back and reading the whole post(I tend to skim), I saw that he made some very good points but one of my favorites was the one about being in an elevator with his favorite author and having nothing to sat.

    I have never met an author who I am in love with except once. I had a one on one(or rather one on two because one of his author buddies was there) conversation with David Levithan, heard about his relationship with John Green, and made him laugh.

    Problem was, I had never read anything that he had written. So, since he was famous and I had met him, I decided to read his books and found that he a genius.So now, after reading OSC's quote, I wonder what I would have said to him if I had read his stuff.

    But by far the most uncomfortable conversations are with authors who's book you hated. Those are kind of awkward.


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