See, smell, hear

I love thinking, but most of these links are more tangible. How we see, smell, hear, and interact with the world around us. Or the world a forever ago. That one is pretty to look at too.

Yarnbombing!

Fantastically beautiful and cool projects. I’ve seen some of these in my city. I’ve never done one myself, but I have absolutely considered it.

Smell tourney

What smell would win in your world? I like the smell of thunderstorms and campfires a lot. Though enemy’s tears? Hm…I think maybe I haven’t smelled enough of those. Is that good or bad? What would win in your tournament of smells?

Nightmare Monster IRL

And it needed that weird-ass eye arrangement to see what it was doing at the end of its mouth proboscis. Once again, science has helped us understand the origins of nightmare fuel in evolutionary history.

I don’t think it is a monster. But it is super cool, and it is amazing that we still manage to continue to uncover new things about very…very old species.

From Nature

see, smell, hear ancient monsters
Cool and terrifying images

Australian Fairy Circles

Similar things in different areas, might have different reasons or similar ones. But the more fairy circles they can find and compare, the better. Off to google earth! (I would have sworn I saw about five since I read this article. Not really, but it is still very cool.)

Sleep tools

Each word or phrase is very different from the previous one. It might get you to imagine a pear, a lamp shade, a rock, fishing, trying on hats, skiing, whatever. This is meant to imitate and induce the first stage of sleep (“N1″), where your mind drifts from one “random” thing to another.

This is a fascinating tool. I’ve used it a few days and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I love that there is science behind it. Worth trying if you have trouble falling asleep.

Feedback

I’ve been reading a lot about beta-readers, critiques, feedback, editing, and all the things that surround it. This post (well series of posts) is me working out my thoughts about feedback of all kinds. It’s going to start fairly traditional, but expect it to take a weird turn at some point in the second or maybe third post…(UX…dun…dun…dun)

I’ve read about writers who are scared of feedback, nervous about sending things out into the world, and protective of the things they’ve written.

I’ve read from the professionallier people that you have to get lots of betas, you have to take in everything, you have to pay all your betas, you have to do 2 or 5 or 7 rounds of feedback, or that you have to [insert thing I read once here x 74].

I have absolutely zero authority, and zero whatever it takes …this is what I think!

Feedback is important

What is feedback? From who? What kind? How do I get it? What kind? What do I do with it? How do I respond to it? How do I use it? Oh god oh god it is all awful I should just delete the whole thing! (STOP!)

You may already know the answers to all of these questions. I didn’t. I still don’t. I guess we all have to struggle with our own things, but hopefully someone else is helped by me flailing in my continued quest to sort out the answers to these questions.

Getting feedback

I have tried a lot of stuff. So this is sort of the ways I’ve gotten feedback, not really what I do with it, or even so much what kind, how I respond, how I use it. I’ll get to all that later.

Critters.org

I am a member over at Critters.org which is a site where you submit your own pieces, and other people critique it. You have to critique about three pieces for every piece of your own that gets critiques. The feedback varies greatly. Sometimes it is awesome and detailed and helps pinpoint exactly the problem. Sometimes it is…not great. It isn’t quite anonymous but you don’t know the people, you might get to know them a little after doing a bunch of critiques or getting a bunch, but the turn over seems fairly high, so there will always be people who know nothing about you giving feedback.

The anonymous aspect of it is interesting, people are generally quite polite, but people aren’t afraid to say that something doesn’t work for them, that they hate characters, arcs, etc.

There are also some other aspects of this that make it more or less useful. It is always weird to get people who don’t read flash fiction critiquing flash fiction and saying they wanted like pages and pages more background. It is odd to get things from people who hate that genre or type of work reading it and then saying how they didn’t like the thing that fits the genre. There seems to clearly be a sweet spot of length that works best.

I know there are other sites like Critters that do similar kinds of exchange things. I just haven’t used them.

Friends and family

I have a couple of family members who read inside my genre and a couple friends who do as well. Personally, I’m very nervous about sharing my work so it took me a long time to get to the point of sharing things with them. (I have a friend who bugged me for years before I let her read anything.) I generally have them read a fairly close to final version and some of the picky ones come back with grammar things (which I love, comma fail).

I do have one extremely picky and brutally blunt friend who I will ask to read early things, because I know he’ll say things I don’t really want to hear. He never feels bad (at least he doesn’t seem to!) about saying that something sucks, or needs a rework, or even isn’t working at all.

Most friends and family you’d share things with should like you, and want to be nice to you. This is great, and can be a good way to sort out ideas early on, get a boost that you should keep working, and the like.

Novel swaps from NaNoWriMo

I’ve done this a couple times. Or tried would be a better way to say this. I’ve signed up and read a lot of books for other people and sent critiques, feedback, reviews, whatever you want to call it.

Sometimes this works well. I’ve met people who are wonderful are excited to give feedback and are glad to hear what you have to say. Sometimes people don’t ever respond past the first, here’s my novel now read it.

Personally, I’ve found that sending a sample of the first chapter or two back to the person and then asking them if that is the level/type/kind of feedback is what you are looking for helps. It helps identify the people who never respond again. It helps make sure I’m looking at the things the authors wants looked at. It helps make sure we are on the right page. And personally, if they say thank you? It helps me feel better about spending a lot of time on a read and feedback.

Paying

You can pay for beta-readers and all levels of editors, copy editing, proof-reading, etc. I know some people think this is absolutely vile and disgusting, but whatever. I don’t pay beta readers. I do try to:

  • Show my extreme gratitude with specific and thoughtful thanks
  • If they are also a writer offer to give them feedback/beta-read for them (and then make sure that I do a detailed and thoughtful job and a quick turn around)
  • If they are a local (friends and family basically) and not a writer, buy them dinner
  • Help with other things, if appropriate (I have NonWriterly skills…most of my skills maybe…)

On the other side when I do give feedback to people I want to be thanked, to know my contribution was valuable and useful. I want reciprocation (most of the time).

Memory Roundup

I’ve been thinking a lot about memory and the brain, again. I feel like I always loop back to stories about memory, the brain, and perception. They are the thing that interests me. That captures my imagination. I thought I would give a memory roundup of some of the things that have been rattling around in my brain the loudest and some of the very interesting stories I’ve re-dug up this week. (Many of them are older, but from what I can tell still relevant.)

Long Term

Long Term Memory Priorities

Because P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way…

Spaced Repetition

It isn’t just about remembering something or repeating it often. It needs to be repeated in the right kinds of ways, as well as retrieved which is a huge part of things, if I say something to you a thousand times you won’t be nearly as likely to remember it as if I made you say it.

or Spaced Retrieval (which personally makes it easier to remember what we are talking about because words mean things…)

This technique is also called spaced retrieval, because you are retrieving the information from your memory over spaced intervals.

Memory and Forgetting

Memory is such a tricky thing, but it isn’t just what we remember that is important, what we forget can change our view of the world.

So, there we have it; it’s not just about how much information we can cram into our memories at once, it also about how much we can keep out.

Next time you find yourself having a hard time remembering a phone number or image, just blame your distracted brain.

Myth of the Neurotic Creative

It is entirely reasonable to be creative and be not be neurotic. And creativity is so much more than just making art.

One can be creative in any field. There are a lot of uncreative artists and a lot of creative accountants.

Perception vs Reality

Perception is strange. I’ve had a couple things come up this week that make me doubt my memory and my perception of the world, which quite frankly hangs by the thinnest of threads anyway. It helps to remind myself that others have gap filled, confusing, incoherent memories too. Just some people might have a better ability to smooth those gaps and cobble together a cohesive story out of it.

Memory itself is not like a video-recording, with a moment-by-moment sensory image. In fact, it’s more like a puzzle: we piece together our memories, based on both what we actually remember and what seems most likely given our knowledge of the world. Just as we make educated guesses in perception, our minds’ best educated guesses help “fill in the gaps” of memory, reconstructing the most plausible picture of what happened in our past.

Heuristic bonus