Rudy Rucker’s Writer’s Toolkit

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I found Rudy Rucker’s Writer’s Toolkit to be clear concise and extremely helpful.

While most guides to writing are full of bubbly, non-sensical advice about finding a voice and Coach Taylorisms about work habits and inspiration, this one is the complete opposite: a nuts and bolts guide to building a novel brick by brick. getting it done and selling it.

It’s a really good, really enlightening read. But what’s even better is the large collection of book notes  – journals that reflect the construction of each novel – he keep on his site. Honestly, I’m surprised that he would release these to the public, as they seem really personal. but hey, he did, and they are fascinating

 

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I spent all of last week eating nothing but whole foods. And one unexpected side effect was my development of junk-vision. That is, everywhere I went I could see nothing but junk. Strange concoted inventions that were called food but weren’t. Not when compared to the perfection of, say, a grapefruit.

Case in point: the potato chip which, as much as i LOVE to eat them, are not actual food, but rather inventions created in factories. 

So it was with great interest that I read this interview from the Atlantic with Michael Moss, the author of Sugar, Salt, Fat about them:

As I researched Salt, Sugar, Fat, I was surprised to learn about the meticulously crafted allure of potato chips (which I happen to love). When you start to deconstruct the layers of the chip’s appeal, you start to see why this simple little snack has the power to make a profound claim on our attention and appetite. “Betcha can’t eat just one” starts sounding less like a lighthearted dare—and more like a kind of promise. The food industry really is betting on its ability to override the natural checks that keep us from overeating.

Here’s how it works.

It starts with salt, which sits right on the outside of the chip. Salt is the first thing that hits your saliva, and it’s the first factor that drives you to eat and perhaps overeat. Your saliva carries the salty taste through the neurological channel to the pleasure center of the brain, where it sends signals back: “Hey, this is really great stuff. Keep eating.”

The industry calls this salty allure a food’s “flavor burst,” and I was surprised to learn just how many variations on this effect there are. The industry creates different varieties of salt for different kinds of processed foods: everything from fine powders that blend easily into canned soups, to big chunky pyramid-shaped granules with flat sides that stick better to food (hollowed out on the inside for maximum contact with the saliva).

Man Emerges from 25 year prison sentence to experience the Internet for the first time

Salon has a fascinating article written by Michael Santos, who emerged from a technologyless 25-year prison stint to have his mind blown by this thing we call the Internet. 

Articles like this are interesting and useful because they allow us to see ourselves objectively, if only for a split second. It reminds me of the documentary God Grew Tired of Us featuring refugees from a Sudanese tribe who are brought to America and made to assimilate into society. There is just something about seeing the world through foreign eyes that opens our own to the way we are living:

On the day that my wife, Carole, drove me away from prison, she handed me an Apple iPhone. After she showed me how to use it, I touched the Safari icon and began to access the Web for the first time. I used Google to search my name. It amazed me to see how the search engine indexed so much of what I had written about the prison experience over the years. I was determined to learn more about the Internet, to figure out ways that would help me connect with others. Using my iPhone that afternoon on August 13, 2012, I sent my first email message, writing an open letter that described my first hours in liberty for family. I watched my first YouTube videos, scanning various professional speakers to get an idea for their presentation styles. The Internet helped me learn in this way. 

Within a few days, authorities allowed me to leave the halfway house and begin working. I had a job waiting for me and on my first day, I accessed an Apple laptop, the WorkBook Pro. I’d never used a laptop computer before, but I loved using the Mac to familiarize myself more with the Internet. I had a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but I didn’t know much about a best-practices way of using social media. I wrote book-length manuscripts in prison, but during those first days I spent researching the Web, I realized that I would need to develop skills to reach my audience in short messages, often in 140 characters or less. Attention spans in society, it seemed, had shortened.