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Jay Lake's Process of Writing
Jay Lake
Apocalypse Ink Productions, 300 pages

Jay Lake's Process of Writing
Jay Lake
Jay Lake lives in Portland, Oregon, where he works on numerous writing and editing projects. His 2010 books are Pinion from Tor Books, The Specific Gravity of Grief from Fairwood Press, The Baby Killers from PS Publishing, and The Sky That Wraps from Subterranean Press. His short fiction appears regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and has been a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.

Jay Lake Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Baby Killers
SF Site Review: The Baby Killers
SF Site Review: Trial of Flowers
SF Site Review: Rocket Science
SF Site Review: All Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories
SF Site Review: Greetings from Lake Wu

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Here's an ebook I bought immediately: Jay Lake's Process of Writing. Originally I thought the title a poor choice until I started reading and realized it was perfect. As Lake himself states:

  "We're all different writers, with different processes, different goals, different paths."  

This is Jay Lake's process. If it's useful for you, great. That's the trouble: We compare ourselves to other writers, expecting our paths to be the same, expecting if we slouch, wear a T-shirt and hold a cigarette in our mouths in the same manner, we'll carry some of that James Dean aroma of success. But it does not work that way. I used to stymie myself, worried how Lake could dash out 10,000 words in one hour while I plodded along for less than half that in an entire day of writing. You let it go. We are what we are.

The book consists of blog posts organized around certain subjects: story ideas, outlines, drafts, world-building, revision, writing habits, story length, genre, writing the other, critiques, reviews, rejections, publishing, and the business end. Clearly, this is not your typical writing book. The articles eschew well-covered territory of traditional story parts in favor of less familiar territory with surprisingly mature attitudes towards author jealousy, rejections and negative reviews. Things that upset most writers -- bad reviews -- don't Lake because he chalks it up the reading to each individual reader. He's just happy someone took up their own time to review his work.

The posts are reader-friendly and generally inspirational as if you're carrying on a conversation with its author. It's warts-and-all honesty, dealing with highs and lows, ego inflation and deflation. Some readers might balk at this, but you should appreciate his candor in dealing with essential if peripheral writing topics.

It is full of Jay Lake's writing wisdom. For me, his ideas on story ideas are mystical mumbo-jumbo, but they would be useful to those with organic writing styles. However, plenty of the other stuff has juicy nuggets: names, productive lifestyles, the business, and world-building details.

If you've ever wanted advice from Lake but moving to Oregon is out of the question, this book is a good substitute -- it makes it feel like he's sat you down for a beer and a slice of pizza to chat up the writing life. I highly recommend it. I'll be reading it twice.

Copyright © 2013 Trent Walters

Trent Walters teaches science; lives in Honduras; edited poetry at Abyss & Apex; blogs science, SF, education, and literature, etc. at APB; co-instigated Mundane SF (with Geoff Ryman and Julian Todd) culminating in an issue for Interzone; studied SF writing with dozens of major writers and and editors in the field; and has published works in Daily Cabal, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Hadley Rille anthologies, LCRW, among others.

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