I was going to go on a tear regarding this … ahem … interesting essay. I already had plenty of back and forth over it on social media, and there’s no need to belabor the point. Okay, one gem I just *must* share: “Talented writing tends to contain more information, sentence for sentence, clause for clause, than merely good writing. … It also employs rhetorical parallels and differences.…”
So, if we simply measure just how much information a sentence contains, we can easily and scientifically measure its relative goodness. If we compare “The cat sat on the mat,” to “The cat sat on the red mat,” it is clear that the 2nd sentence is closer to talented, because it conveys more information, while the first sentence is closer to being merely good.
ARGH. Folks, terms like “good” and “talent” are so amorphous and unquantifiable that they are essentially meaningless. The only thing any person can say is whether or not they liked a piece of art. Beyond that, all judgment is completely subjective. What worries me about essays like this one is that it perpetuates the idea that there’s this thing called talent, which aspiring writers can use the lack of as an excuse not to try. I’m also concerned that aspiring writers are going to take that essay at face value because it’s written by one of the titans of the field.
There are no rules. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. Even the pros. Especially the pros. Please keep this in mind when you’re sweating over your manuscript, trying to read the tea leaves in your sentences, to determine whether you are “good” or “talented” or *shudder* neither.
Anyway, enough of that. CONTROL POINT won the 2013 Compton Crook Award, and that is not aggravating or frustrating. That is awesome. Incredibly and wonderfully and fantastically awesome for a few reasons:
1.) I have been going to Balticon for years. It is one of my favorite cons, and Baltimore fandom has been a mainstay for me during all my long years in DC. I have seen so many Compton-Crook winners win the award and pass it along, and never once dreamed I would be taking the stage. I came from fandom and am anchored in fandom. To be honored by fandom, especially this subsection of fandom, is quite literally a dream come true.
2.) Two of my literary heroes, Paolo Baciagalupi and Naomi Novik, have won the Compton Crook Award. I cannot begin to describe to you how much it means to me to be classed with writers of this caliber in any category.
3.) It’s a chance to share something with the huge team of people who make my writing career possible. In the end, the SHADOW OPS series reaches you in the form it does because of scores of people from Ace, Headline, Fantom Print, Goukr, Piper, Recorded Books, WF Howes, Jabberwocky, Zeno, and a small army of friends and colleagues who all provide input, support and insights on when to zig and when to zag. It’s a chance for me to turn to the crowd and hand something back. And this is what I love about this particular award, Myke Cole isn’t the 2013 Compton Crook winner, CONTROL POINT is. The focus on the work, and not the author, is the best way I know to honor the entire team that made the victory possible. Congrats all!
4.) It’s a chance for me to honor my service. Admiral Mullen spoke about the worrisome and growing gap between civilians and the military that serves them. I wear my blues at each Nebula and WFC banquet. I wore them when I had the honor of presenting Neil Gaiman with his Nebula in DC. I’ll wear them when I accept the Compton-Crook. It’s a way of bridging the gap, to show that we are you and you are us. Service members are fans. Service members are writers. It’s also a way to share the honor with the guard, without whom I could never have done it.
Friday night at Balticon, it’ll kick off. Then I’ll stash the award in my room, change into my civvies and hit the bar. Then the award business is done, and it’s time to get down to the real business of the con, of any con.
Hanging out with my tribe, miles deep and eternal.
I’m the luckiest man alive. Thanks.