- Anaxagology for October 2023
Anaxagology for October 2023
A free monthly(ish) newsletter from award-nominated TV writer, SFF author, and middle-grade novelist David Anaxagoras
The soundtrack for this mont’s newsletter is Duran Duran’s haunting “Secret Oktober,” the B-side to their single “Union of the Snake”.
Original Union fo the Snake vinyl 12-inch single from the author’s collection.
Hello and Welcome Back
One nasty, naughty Anaxagologist unsubscribed last month. Four good, sweet little Anaxagologists signed on. Welcome to the October 2023 newsletter, new and returning Anaxagologists!
The best thing about starting this newsletter up (finally) has been hearing back from so many friends. There’s a real, qualitative difference between posting to each other publicly on social media and exchanging a few private words via email.
Also, it’s increasingly difficult to find each other out there with the collapse of the bird site into naked fascism and overt racism. I’ve long since abandoned Facebook for being evil. No one wants to hassle with Mastodon, apparently. I found being on Instagram like being back in high school and who needs that. So here we are. If you’d like to say hello, you can leave comments on the web version of this newsletter or just hit Reply and send me a note!
This last month I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of non-writing stuff, administrative stuff, personal stuff, and that always makes me very cranky. Fortunately I’m finishing out the month having had a burst of creative energy and tackled the few remaining issues with my current WIP (A middle-grade novel—more about that in subsequent newsletters!). Next month: the first draft begins.
I’m pleased to announce that my (possibly blasphemous) short story, “Under a Star, Bright as Morning” has been sold to Lightspeed magazine. They have previously published two of my stories so far. With this sale, they have two more on tap. I can’t wait to share the new story with you…but we’ll both have to be patient as their lead time is about a year. For now, here’s a(n Anaxagology exclusive) teaser of the opening sentence:
Writing Tip: Purge emotional distraction with the rage page
When I was writing my first novel, the pandemic had just hit. Generally speaking, it felt like the world had gone insane. People were angry about masks. People were angry about vaccine mandates. The President of the United States thought it might be a good idea for you clean out the inside of your body with disinfectant.
It’s not easy to write when the whole world seems to be conspiring to murder you. I found the whole mess rather rage inducing.
The truth is, of course, that there is always chaos to some degree. There is no perfect future in which you will be able to write freely, effortlessly, without cares or worries, and without real-life intruding. You will always have to deal with negative feelings. The question is, in additional to those feelings, will you also have a novel?
I wanted to find a way to get past the emotional turmoil of the moment and focus on writing. That’s how I came by The Rage Page.
It’s just what it sounds like. The Rage Page is a journal, a place to park all my distracting emotions (which at the time was mostly anger). I created a folder in Scrivener, right in the same project file that held my novel draft. Before starting my day’s writing, I’d take a minute or two and blast all my rage onto the page in a stream-of-consciousness free-write session.
Partial screen capture of Scrivener app showing the “Rage Page” folder in the Binder.
I have to admit, I was surprised at how well this worked. In fact, as you can see from the screenshot, I only needed to do this for three days running. Once I learned to put those feelings in their place, I could allow myself to get on with writing.
The Rage Page doesn’t just have to be for rage, of course. Any gnawing thought or emotion that distracts you can be (temporarily, at least) banished this way. Impostor syndrome whispering in your ear? Write down everything it says. Boss make you feel small? Tell them off on the page. Dog ran off, goldfish died, cat turned into a zombie? File your complaints on the Rage Page.
In one session, I came back to the Rage Page several times in one day, between writing sprints. That was a rough day, but thanks to the Rage Page I was able to keep going.
I finished the novel, by the way. And it landed me my agent.
"Everyone has a right to a gun. Nothing can take that away from you. What you lack is a right to the lives of your children."
Rachael K. Jones’s short story, “The Sound of Children Screaming” (link below) is a profound takedown of American gun culture using the trope of a portal fantasy. When a shooter enters their school, a teacher and children hide in a closet and find themselves transported to a Narnia-esque fantasy world. But there’s no escaping violence when even the fantasy world is willing to sacrifice children to satisfy its own bloodlust. This is a story that stuck with me long after I read it. Rachael’s story is real, and unflinching, and true. It won’t allow us to look away. It won’t allow children to be silenced.
The Freedom to Read
The first week of October was Banned Books Week. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to think about banned books for only one week of the year.
The current book banning frenzy is not a grass-roots effort. It is not driven by “concerned moms”. As The Guardian reports, It is a political effort funded by wealthy right-wing donors.
Book bans are not about books. Book bans are an attack on Black people, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized communities. The Right cannot ban people (yet) so they ban books.
Book bans are not about books. As Salon reports, Book bans are an effort to create chaos and sow distrust in the public education system, with the ultimate aim of privatizing education:
I have a much more to say on this topic, but this newsletter is already late and running long. For now, the thing to remember is that book banners are organized, well-funded, loud, and they are counting on our complacency.
The first way to help is to get informed. Two resources I have found helpful are For The People, a website which has practical information on how to get involved in the fight against book banning, and Literary Activism, a free weekly Substack newsletter that curates book-banning news from across the nation and offers tools and ways to engage to keep our freedom to read. Follow the links below:
Finally here’s a quote from Neil Gaiman that I think neatly explains another reason why authoritarians are so terrified of books:
If you’re just joining the party, here’s a rundown of what I’ve been up to and where you can find my work.
I will be a guest on the Shining Moon podcast in December, discussing YA and middle grade fiction.
I have new short fiction forthcoming in Lightspeed (“We Shall Not Be Bitter at the End of the World”, and “Under a Star, Bright as Morning”). Consider subscribing to get great science fiction and fantasy stories every month.
My most recent short fiction, “The Boy Who Ran from His Faerie Heart” is free to read at Lightspeed. They also published my SF novelette, “Anything Short of Death is Survivable.” Visit my Bibliography for a full list of works and links.
I wrote for Nickelodeon’s Glitch Techs, an animated sci-fi adventure about teens who hunt video game monsters that have broken out into the real world. I also created and co-executive produced Amazon Studio’s first live-action kids and family series, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, about three kids whose life is anything but normal.
Have Something to Say?
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About this Newsletter
Anaxagology is a free monthly(ish) newsletter from TV writer, SFF author and novelist David Anaxagoras. Subscribe now! You can find more about Dave at his website, or follow him on Mastodon or Bluesky.