Revise and Resubmit: Science and Fiction

As the Bokononists of Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle used to say, I’m busy, busy, busy.  I’m leaving for a course in Vision Research at the Marine Biological Laboratory soon, so I’m rushing to collect and analyze data before I go.  I’ve also got to resubmit my latest study for peer-review since both PLoS Biology and PLoS Genetics passed on it.  Boo.

In addition to that, on Monday the Baltimore Review rejected one of my short stories, “Savages.”  As usual, I got a nice form rejection, though they did apologize for keeping the story so long (six months):

Thank you for sending us “SAVAGES.” We appreciated the chance to read your work. Unfortunately, this submission was not right for us. We are all writers ourselves, and we understand that it’s never easy to receive this message. Sorry for holding this for so long. Hope you’ll try us again in the future.

Right now I’m keeping all the rejection slips on a nail in front my desk.  They should probably disappoint me more, but they don’t.  Just need to revise and resubmit, revise and resubmit.

Ben Franklin: Awesome

I’m stuck this week with yet another round of revisions on my last dissertation chapter, so more posts about science and books will have to wait.  I doubt too many of you are disappointed, but I do want to share one quick thing.  I am currently reading Walter Issacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin.  Not only is it highly entertaining, it reminds me that Franklin is undoubtedly the Founding Father of Badassery. Continue reading

Do not accept candy from this man!

Humbert Humbert from Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

In case you didn’t know, you should never accept candy from strangers — especially this stranger, Humbert Humbert.  At his site The Composites, Brian Joseph Davis has taken descriptions of famous fictional characters and plugged them into the composite sketch software police agencies use to create profiles of wanted criminals.  Although the images are all black and white (just like the descriptions), the results are often surprising and sometimes appropriate, like this one of Vladimir Nabokov’s manipulative pedophile. More favorites below. Continue reading

Writing is Hard

I am writing this week.  A large part of scientific work is actually writing — writing grants or results or simply writing protocols — but I am also dealing with fiction, too.  And when I’m left staring at a blank page for this many projects, I can only think of one thing:

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I met author Richard Ford!

If you didn’t already know, Richard Ford is my favorite living writer.  I read his story collection Rock Springs  when I was 18 and those stories literally shook me — I had never read anything so frank and funny and simple.  And when I read his novel The Sportswriter, I thought it could make a great sequel to The Catcher in the RyeI imagined Ford’s balding Frank Bascombe looked just like Holden Caulfield would if he were a thirty-something divorcee.  I even own a first edition of Ford’s fourth novel, Wildlife.  Without Ford, I never would have discovered other great writers like Tobias Wolff and Raymond Carver and the wondrous Barry Hannah, so I owe a lot of my reading life to him.  So imagine my surprise when I learned that Richard Ford would be visiting a bookstore near me! Continue reading

Book Review: The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing, by Evan Marshall

Last week I paused while reading The Satanic Verses to invade a Borders bookstore that was going out of business.  I picked up a sale copy of The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing, by Evan Marshall, and read it in a day.  Marshall is a novelists, literary agent, and editor.  I don’t usually read these books (though see my past reviews of The First Five Pages and Self-editing for Fiction Writers), but I found that it actually had some good advice, especially concerning the structure of novels.  However, the Marshall plan also relies on tips and tricks from commercial mysteries and thrillers that won’t work for all novels.  But being someone who enjoys outlines and structure, I thought the Marshall plan had a lot to offer. Continue reading