08 February 2016

Since there may have been some confusion...

This is the best place to follow for notice of future releases of my books, Commonweal or otherwise.

I'm presently writing #4, provisionally "Under One Banner", and intermittently posting about the progress of writing it.  It's late, because it should have been done before #3, "Safely You Deliver", went to the copy-editor.

"Safely You Deliver" is expected to escape into the wild in April sometime.  (Yes, that would be April of 2016.)  This would maintain the vaguely-annual schedule I've been aiming for.

May no ill thing arise.

31 January 2016

Plausible simulacrum of progress

Word count screenshot for 2016-01-31
13,418 is pretty poor for January.   Less than half the goal rate.  Though this is all of Eugenia's narrative thread, and now I get to go write Blossom's, which could theoretically be easier.  I've had longer to get to know Blossom.

On the plus side, _Safely You Deliver_'s first-stage copy edit came back and got turned around.  The cover designer has been activated, quotation permission has been obtained, and it's feeling disturbingly real.

01 January 2016

Two hours late, and two thousand words short

Word count screenshot for 2016-01-01
56969 - 44859 = 12110
2016-01-01 - 2015-12-18 = 14

So ~ 85% of the goal rate.  Not too bad.  And that's the end of Eugenia's first narrative arc, so it feels like actual progress.

18 December 2015

Commonweal #4 current status 2015-12-18

word count screenshot for 2015-12-18
44859 - 27966 = 16893
2015-12-18 - 2015-11-22 = 26

So about 65% of the desired rate.  Still, not nothing and much of it is lamentably philosophical.

09 December 2015

Call for typos

I have excellent readers and they send me typos and formatting infelicities so I can fix them.  (And if I've received them I have fixed them.  Thank you, one and all.)

The current idea is to publish updated epubs of  The March North or A Succession of Bad Days around about the Gregorian new year.

So if you have any typeaux or formatting niggles that you'd like to be fixed and you don't know that I have them, please do feel free to stick them into the comments should you be so inclined.

25 November 2015

The inherent illegitimacy of social power

Every now and again I get to feeling like some things are really obvious, but no one else seems to get them.  Or maybe they're too polite to talk about them.  And then sometimes I get writing fiction and bits of reality insist on intruding, or maybe vice-versa, and I get an explanation of why I cannot stand to read a lot of otherwise excellent writing.  And then I wonder if I ought to post this at all.

But, anyway; if we talk about "power" in a human social context, power is the ability to have other people not fight back when you harm them.

(If you're doing a really good job exercising power, they'll come up with reasons why they deserve to be hurt.  A mediocre job will have them come up with reasons why they cannot hope to retaliate effectively.)

Any power structure has to do two things; it has to make it unambiguous who is allowed to hurt whom[1], and it has to get itself copied into the future.

Attaching the exercise of power to individuals isn't the only way or the best way to organize society, but it's extremely persistent.

It's extremely persistent because it's simple—better usually means more complicated means more maintenance and more trouble with system exploits by defection—and because it provides a powerful motivation; no one wants to be powerless because being powerless means you get abused.

There's a big set of social and economic changes going on where the (obviously) economically superior form of organization says "let's not structure society around who gets hurt" and there's enormous pushback from the people who have power and want to keep it.

(This is why it's useless to talk about "privilege"; privilege is in the passive voice, and you don't get from impersonal historical forces to a recognition that those who now have power ought not to because there is no legitimate exercise of social power vesting in individuals.)

So one response to the helpless—refugees, the poor, anybody lacking the social connections to have a good-enough lawyer—is to hurt them.  This has (from inside that social structure) the positive feature of reinforcing the social order.

So when people get up and make calls for refusing any and all Syrian refugees, the harm to the refugees isn't a lamentable side effect of due public caution; it's the point.  It establishes who legitimately exercises power.

When people engage with art by adding layers of story, there's a ubiquitous tendency to make violence and cruelty not that character's fault because that's the character they like. This is arguably what art is for.  This context of art makes looking at the legitimacy of social power vested in individuals difficult.  (There isn't any, unless you agree that you should be hurt for the convenience or pleasure of others.  It's…awkward, to have to start over.)

This presents the really difficult question of "what else should we do?"

Social power structures depend on getting copied into the future.  Imagining an entire future is too difficult; no one can, or can expect, to be able to do that.

Fortunately, an entire future is not necessary.  Delegitimizing social power vested in individuals -- agreeing that nobody gets to hurt others because they want to (or claim they need to, or have a belief system which asserts the positive good of coercion…) -- is enough.  The result isn't predictable in detail, but is predictably better in result.

It's enough to get something better; that's success.  Control, specific foreknowledge of just what better thing can be had, isn't available and (fortunately) is not required.

[1] this is why "gender neutral" children's clothing looks like boy's clothes.  In a patriarchial culture, girl's clothes label you as someone anyone male can hurt.  Very nearly someone who anyone male should hurt.

22 November 2015

Commonweal #4 current status 2015-11-22

Word count screenshot for 2015-11-22
A bit over 8,000 words.  So I made my thousand a day.  (Not much more than the thousand a day, so it feels kind of an average week, but a good average.)  The plotty bits appear to be headed somewhere, and the protagonist hasn't gone on strike for a better writer, so it'll do.