inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #26 of 91: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sat 25 Nov 00 08:14
    

So Cory, how did you get involved in openCOLA? I mean, you're also an
acclaimed science fiction writer with the potential for a long, lively
career in that field. And you probably could make an excellent living
selling the weird and wonderful collectibles you've scrounged from swap
meets, garage sales and dumpsters.

Are you setting aside your role as King of the Craphounds and your writing
career to dedicate yourself solely to openCOLA? Are you planning to juggle
all these things simultaneously?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #27 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 25 Nov 00 09:51
    
How did I get involved with oC? Well, Grad and John (the other two founders)
and I had been working together for about five years when we decided that we
wanted to start our own firm and execute our own projects. We maintained a
list with two columns on it, one labelled "Bread," the other, "Sex." In the
former was a list of stuff that we knew we could earn our living with
(mostly service work and consulting), the latter was a list of stuff that we
knew we could have a totally killer time doing. At the top of that list was
the project that became openCOLA. Working on that project gave us the Holy
Fire, and we realized that there was nothing else we wanted to do. We went
out and raised some angel financing, maxed out Grad's credit-cards, hired a
few people (Erik "Possum-Man" Steward, possumman on the WELL, was our first
tech hire, Helen Waters, www.drokk.com, was our first general dogsbody and
sysadmin type), and got to work.

openCOLA does eat up a large portion of my life, but I'm also finding that
it's fuelling the writing I do. Last year, I wrote two books, "The Complete
Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction," (which I co-wrote with oC's
structured document guru, Karl Schroeder, www.kschroeder.com) and "Down and
Out in the Magic Kingdom," my first novel, which is currently on the desk of
Patrick Nielsen Hayden at Tor, pnh on the WELL. The novel is an exploration
of the ideas that gave rise to oC, though of course they diverged over time.

I'm doing a lot of fun nonfic that oC has also inspired -- the piece I wrote
for Mindjack is a good example, and I'm writing any number of white-papers
on subjects COLAesque. Some day, I'd like to collect the white-papers into a
single volume -- I think they're some of the best writing I've ever done.

I've just started percolating my second novel, a book called "Eastern
Standard Tribe," which is inspired by the challenges of working in Pacific
Time with people who adhere to Eastern Time. The thesis is that the only
thing the Internet can't funge is the circadian rhythm you adhere to -- that
as communities are increasingly decentralized and Internet-mediated, the
thing that'll be the most important factor in our identity is our sleep-
schedule. Any hardcore WELL user who's switched timezones will know that the
WELL's a different place depending on what daylight you prefer.

I haven't nearly enough time for thrifting these days, but that's mostly due
to the fact that having just moved from an ENORMOUS loft in Toronto to a
relatively tiny apartment in San Francisco, I have less space to hold my
stuff. Also, since I spend so much time on the road these days, I like to
enjoy my Saturdays on the sofa with the crossword, which means that I miss
all the primo yard-saling times.

I tend to write very early in the morning, and on airplanes. Time to write
isn't the problem, really -- the more challenging factors are time to mull,
and the lack of a routine that lets me set aside regular time for working on
writing projects.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #28 of 91: Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 25 Nov 00 10:01
    
That place in San Francisco is huge!--for a one-person place in San
Francisco.

I have written a bit on airplanes, but it's not easy.  Elbow room alone.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #29 of 91: Scott Underwood (esau) Sat 25 Nov 00 10:07
    
One nice thing about California: garage sales year-round. But you'll
probably have to go visit the great unwashed in the suburbs to the
south.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #30 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 25 Nov 00 10:24
    
In my experience, the very best yard-sales are to be had in nabes where the
residents are likely the original owners of houses built before 1970. The
reasoning goes that with every move, the likelihood of cool ephemera being
tossed out gets higher, so you want people who've been living where they're
at for nearly ever. Newer houses are no good -- chances are, they don't have
anything you can't find retail -- not enough time to accumulate vintage
cruft.

The best yard-saling in Toronto is up around Bathurst and Sheppard, a
neighborhood they call "The Gaza Strip." It's where my folks grew up, a
largely Jewish neighborhood built about 15 years after WWII. The newly middle-class
immigrtants bought the houses, and then raised lots of kinds, doting on them
and buying them all kinds of trendy tchotchkes of the day -- toys, LPs,
puzzles, clothes, etc -- and now they're all empty-nesters and the houses
are starting to fall apart, so they're moving en masse out to the deeper
suburbs of Richmond Hill, Forest Hill and Vaughan, and to condos in
Lauderdale. Any spring/summer Saturday in that area is a goldmine of
wonderful detritus, sold cheap by a generation not clued in to eBay.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #31 of 91: Scott Underwood (esau) Sat 25 Nov 00 11:10
    
Some cities in the south bay, like Sunnyvale and I think Mountain View,
have an annual garage sale day where they encourage everyone to pull
their crap out into the yard.

And Cory if you haven't been to the San Jose Flea Market, you ought
to--if only for the anthropological value. (Of course, I haven't been
in 15 years, so I'll bet it's not the Flea Market of blessed memory.)
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #32 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 25 Nov 00 11:34
    
I think that's the one that fsquared keeps threatening to drag me to. I'm
off to Hong Kong tomorrow morning, but back in a week -- maybe I'll go then.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #33 of 91: Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 25 Nov 00 12:35
    
I'd love to go to one of those.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #34 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 25 Nov 00 12:38
    
An outing, then!
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #35 of 91: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sat 25 Nov 00 14:54
    
And if you make it up to Sonoma County, Cory, perhaps I can drag you to the
Santa Rosa Flea Market, which seems to be held irregularly on Sundays. It's
an amazing collection of antiques, vintage and kitch crapola that I think
you'd really enjoy.

However, you say you're off to Hong Kong tomorrow? What's up in Hong Kong?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #36 of 91: Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 25 Nov 00 21:37
    
Cory is!

The whole place is abuzz.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #37 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 25 Nov 00 22:47
    
I'm a speaker at the Digital Distribution and the Music Industry conference
(www.ddmiglobal.com), along with Cindy Cohn, General Counsel for the EFF
(and openCOLA advisory board member) and Fred von Lohmann (our IP lawyer, of
Morrison-Forrester).
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #38 of 91: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 27 Nov 00 12:27
    
Cory, what's it like to win the John W. Campbell prize? Would you rather
be writing fiction than globetrotting for OC? Or do they nest?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #39 of 91: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 27 Nov 00 17:03
    

I'm looking forward to a full report from Hong Kong?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #40 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Tue 28 Nov 00 07:44
    
Winning th Campbell Award was the most exhilerating moment of my life to
date, and five minutes before winning the Campbell Award was the most
nervous moment of my life. I was one huge tic. Afterwards, it was like being
th belle of the ball at Worldcon. Everywhere I went, authors I'd idolized
since boyhood sought me out, shook my hand, and told me that they expected
great things from me. Since then, I've found that it's a token of legitimacy
(though I usually elide the description with something like "I won the award
for best new writer at the Hugos" since no one outside of sf has heard of
the JWC award and everyone's heard of the Hugos) -- whereas before,
introducing myself as a science fiction writer felt like a bit of a joke,
now, there's a easy-to-spout credential that gets everyone's attention. It's
even in the my bio in openCOLA's business plan.

Globetrotting and writing definitely nest. For one thing, airplanes are
WONDERFUL places to get a lot of writing done, provided some nosy bugger
isn't peering over my shoulder. I'm planning to do another draft of my
novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" on the flight back from Hong Kong
on Thursday, incorporating comments from my agent, Don Maass, who sat me
down in NYC last week and gave me some very good advice.

But for another, nothing inspires like inspiration. In openCOLA, I've found
a cast of characters, a world of emotional highs and lows, and technology
and concepts enough to fill a dozen novels. My next book (which I think I've
mentioned) is called "Eastern Standard Tribe," and it's a book that's
largely concerned with how Internet-based communities tend to cluster around
a circadian rhythm, something i never really realized until I moved from
Toronto to San Francisco and realized what a different place the WELL is if
you're on Pacific time.

There will be a Hong Kong report!  I promise. If my iBook batteries (I have
three, fully charged and ready to go) hold out long enough on the plane,
I'll do it then, otherwise over the weekend, God willin' and the crick don't
rise. In the meantime, here are eyemodule photos from my excursion to
Wonchai tonight with Cindy and Fred:

http://www.craphound.com/112800
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #41 of 91: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 28 Nov 00 09:26
    
Cool! Kinda reminds me of Alphaville!

As a science-friction author, who were your influences?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #42 of 91: Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 28 Nov 00 10:59
    
I meant to write on the planes home from Chicago yesterday.  But I didn't
have room to put my arms _without_ a laptop keyboard in front of me,
especially on the long leg where I had a middle seat.  How do you manage it?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #43 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Tue 28 Nov 00 16:02
    
My influences? Well, the first book I ever read on my own was Alice in
Wonderland, so I'd have to cite Lewis Carroll as a major influence. But I
have an insanely long list of influences -- I try to go through life with a
giant in-hopper on my mental rock-crusher, grabbing interesting stuff
wherever I go. A short list, though:

Lewis Carroll, Daniel Pinkwater, Robert Howard, Robert Heinlein, Frederic
Brown, John D. Fitzgerald, John D. Macdonald, Pat Caidgan, Pat Murphy,
Martha Soukup, Cynthia Seelhammer, Nancy Kress, Kate Wilhelm, Bruce
Sterling, William Gibson, Richard Brautigan, Stephen King, Neal Stephenson,
Linda Barry, Warren Ellis, William S Brroughs and Edgar Rice Burroughs,
Orson Scott Card, Scott Edelman, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam, Iain Banks,
Ian Macdonald, Scott MCloud, Ken Macleod, Hunter Thompson, PJ O'Rourke,
Goerge Orwell, Abbie Hoffman, Marv Wolfman, Armistead Maupin, Ed McBain, my
entire writers' group in Toronto, Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett, Judy Merrill,
Spider Robinson, Octavia Butler, Kim Stanley Robinson, Isaac Asimov, Ruis,
Art Spiegelman, Knut Hamson, Dashiell Hammett, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stanislaw
Lem and so on and so on and so on.

What I do on airplanes is this: unfold my iBook so that it stands vertical,
prop it on the tray-table, and type with my wrists bent at an unhealthy
angle.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #44 of 91: Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 28 Nov 00 18:15
    
I'm impressed.  I don't think I could have physically typed last night.

I'm also impressed you can keep your list of influences that--short.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #45 of 91: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 28 Nov 00 20:37
    
I gotta ask: how is it that you have Hunter Thompson in there, but not
Philip Dick?

Also wondering how you feel about Worldcon and the minicons? Are you put
off by the strong "dragon fantasy" element? Have you ever, secretly,
wanted to ride a dragon?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #46 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Wed 29 Nov 00 00:18
    
I find I like the idea of PKD more than the actual work. I mean, Dick was a
speedfreak and he wrote like one: long, rambling, disjointed. The short
stories really work for me but I find the novels really tough going. OTOH,
I'm a *hyuge* Tim Powers fan, and Tim was a protege of PKD, so maybe what I
need is an abstraction layer on top of Dick to make it work for me.

I have a blast at the cons I attend. I'm generally present at Ad Astra in
Toronto, Philcon in Philly and the Worldcon every year. I've also had a real
good time at the World Fantasy Con and Readercon, but the timing is rarely
very good fo me. This year, I'm attending Baycon and Confusion as well.

I've got nothing against fantasy, high or low (I'm especially fond of the
Scribblies and the stuff they produce: Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books, the
Borderlands stuff etc, as well as Will Shetterly's recent stuff, notably
ogland, which is a really, really marvellous piece of magic realist fic). I
don't write or read much of it, though.

IMO the market segmentation between fantasy and sf is artifical, really the
work of maarketeers more than fans. Sure, the average Neal Stephson fan
won't be reading a Dragonlance book any time soon, but a Star Trek reader
may.

I've never wanted to ride a dragon. I hate air-travel.
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #47 of 91: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 Nov 00 05:35
    
There's a cool preview running on the telly: a "Dungeons and Dragons" film
with skies so full of dragons, I thought when I first saw it that
somebody'd finally filmed Anne McCaffery.

We've talked about the obvious time management issues here, but this
brings me back to the question of Getting Everything Done and still having
dreamspace. Are the real-world demands of the OpenCOLA job squeezing your
time for reading as well as writing? Do you feel any danger that your
vision will be channeled so much into the business side of your life that
you'll lose your inner monkey? (Maybe I'm harping on this because it's
been an issue for yers truly)....
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #48 of 91: Life in the big (doctorow) Wed 29 Nov 00 08:16
    
In truth, a little. But openCOLA is massively supportive of my writing --
hell half the company showed up at the signing for The Idiot's Guide -- and
I think it's a myth that time is the thing most precious to a writer. If
you can write 1,000 words every day (just four pages, just 15 minutes at the
70wpm I type), you can crank out soemthing like five novel-length
manuscripts a year.

The writerly scarce resource is not time, but inspiration. Finding
interesting stories to tell, and more importantly (for me, anyway), finding
emotional hooks and satisfying endings. Working on something as grandiose
and intense as openCOLA gives me plenty of both, as well as a more-than-
healthy dose of wish-fulfillment fantasies, all of which go into the
writing. Not to mention the amazing and exhausting inspiration of Hong Kong!
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #49 of 91: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 29 Nov 00 11:32
    
Hey... that's inspiring!

How did you decide to write the 'Idiot's Guide'?  Were you at all
constrained by the series format, or did they pretty much let you write
what you wanted?
  
inkwell.vue.95 : Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything
permalink #50 of 91: Mark Frauenfelder (mark) Wed 29 Nov 00 11:41
    
Sorry that I had to step away from this conference for a few days. I
went to a wedding in San Franciso and was off the grid (except for
email on my wireless palm.)

Anyway, I see that Jon has been doing a great job filling in as
interviewer, and he has a question waiting for Cory, so I won't jump in
until Cory has answered it. I'll just comment that you can read a
sample chapter of Cory's "Idiot's Guide to Publishing Science Fiction"
at http://www.cigsf.com/chapter.html
  

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