JOHN MEANEY

11.3.06

EVERYONE'S A METAWRITER...

...um, depending on what you mean by 'writing'. Huh? Does writing a book review make you a metawriter? Or should we reserve that term for someone like Stephen King when he produces a book called On Writing?

Anyway, it's a correct use of the term 'meta'. Once upon a time, I was sitting in a seminar room in Oxford with Chris O'Shea (known to Brit fandom as The Magician) while Jim Davies (head of the grad school) was producing a mathematical description of Trivial Pursuit. Chris launched into a description of the different varieties of Trivial Pursuit that you can buy; I pointed out that this was metatrivia. Um, you had to be there... At least Jim was heartened by my accurate use of 'meta'.

Some writers are emotionally affected by reviews of their work (as Martin Sketchley writes in his blog). My tendency is to speed-read-and-forget them, just as I do my best with interviews and then forget to tell people when the interview appears. My Beautiful Webmistress tends to turn into the Raging She-Hulk when I do this... so I'm getting better. And I do enjoy reading a review where someone particularly appreciates what I was trying to achieve in a book or story.

Just like Stephen King, I sit up and take notice when a review is written by a writer: Peter Millar, Jon Courtenay Grimwood or Paul di Filippo. And now, by the great Norman Spinrad, a great review. Thank you!

As you'll see when you follow the link, Mr Spinrad's essay covers not just Paradox and Context, but also the Pyr imprint -- my most wonderful US publishers -- and the enlightened editorial policy pursued by the perspicacious and energetic Lou Anders.

And Norman Spinrad rightly says that the Nulapeiron sequence is for intelligent readers who truly know science fiction. Feel privileged!

When it comes to interviews, I'm not sure that writers often give their all... Not everyone opens up in conversation, just as not everyone is used to public speaking. Put me in front of a thousand people and tell me to ad lib solo for an hour or several, and I'll have a great time. Many people wouldn't. None of this has any relevance to writing ability. (Although I might be wrong... maybe self confidence goes hand in hand with self discipline. But it's the discipline that counts: the daily workout with the Muse. You can be as shy as you like in public so long as you write honestly and always.)

Anyway, I do my best. Here's the interview I did with John Joseph Adams for the SciFi Channel's web service, SciFi Wire.

Oh, you can find out who Mr Adams is by visiting his website .

And a while back, Paul Goat Allen also asked me insightful questions, interviewing me for the Barnes & Noble online magazine, Explorations. Next month, Resolution is a lead title, with a review by Mr Allen. Ta lots! I'll post a link to that when it appears.

(See, BW? I can do this...)


The photo shows me and my dinner companion in Washington, D.C. It was Halloween...

And in the Knuckledragger post below, the photo of me and the bear comes from Berlin. Somewhere close to the Ku-Damm, I think.

Explore the world, Pilots! And take care.

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