Little Observations...
(Edit: for whatever reason, the image at the head of this post isn't displaying. Just in case the problem doesn't resolve itself, the image is/was a screenshot of this linked tweet -- you do not have to be a Twitter user or logged into Twitter to see it.)

...are a big part of being a science fiction writer. Of being a writer in general, really. Some nonfiction writers might be exceptions -- a writer of specialized technical texts, maybe, for example -- but even most nonfiction writers are doing the same thing that fiction writers and poets are doing: writing things that are meaningful to their readers.

That means being observant and making connections between the real world and what's in your imagination. It's a tired, old, often mocked cliche to say that writers are always writing even when they're not writing.

But it's kinda true. I think being a writer has got a lot in common with being a standup comedian -- feel free to correct me, because I've never been a standup comedian. But both professions live by imagination and by inviting the reader or listener to think about how weird commonplace things we do are if you look at them with an outsider's eyes, or how mundane things are even though we think they're weird.

That's what the tweet at the head of the story is about. It popped into my head, this expression we take for granted and how it might look through the eyes of my grown little ones (1 toddler, 1 kindergarten age). To them, "device" will be more common vocabulary. If you buy an ebook on Amazon, it may ask you which "device" you want it sent to, if you have multiple "devices." More and more of us do, even if we're relatively poor -- a computer and internet connection is vital to my work, and to the classes my wife and I take, so we have a desktop PC. I have a Christmas gift laptop (thanks, Mom & Hal!). I thought of that example because I read ebooks on my phone -- another "device." When your phone or tablet gets an updated OS, the prompt tells you there's a new OS version available for your "device."

The word "device" has still got the old wider sense of a mechanical or electronic doohickey, hoobajoob, thingamajig, whatever you like to call such things. It still has the old sense of plan, scheme, or trick. But those older senses that are still much in the mind of a Gen-Xer like me will be overshadowed by the repetition of the word "device" in the sense of the smartphone, tablet, or other computerized whatsis.

To my post-millenial kidlets, "left to their own devices" will inherently suggest something different than it does to me. We like to call that sort of thing "the generation gap" -- or at least, my generation did, inspired by the Cold War nomenclature of "the missile gap."

If you're too young to get that one without referring to Wikipedia, that's cool. We like to mock each other for being different sometimes, but I'm not doing that. That's more the wheelhouse of some comedians. I'm being a writer, and for us, and for the more thoughtful face of the standup comedy genre, it's about finding the differences between the past, the present, and the future that may come, and spinning a yarn to entertain, and to invite us all to have a good think together.


[This will be on on the 30th of this month, and will be exclusive here until then. 

With the beginning of April coming up, I'd like to take a moment to thank my Patrons. Thank you all for your continued support. Every buck helps. A lot. Right now the dollars are scarce and all five of us notice every extra one that comes our way. Moving time is coming up -- late June or the middle of July, if no unforseen delays rear their ugly heads -- and to drive us and our essentials from coastal Virginia to the burbs of Chicago is a pretty major undertaking. The preparations are already making small, early demands on our budget, mostly in packing tape and gas for extra trips to store nonessentials in town here, in my Mother-in-Law's garage. If you've been following previous posts, we did finally get the family minivan fixed. It was a dead power steering pump, and the cost was just a smidge over a month's worth of your pledges. We would likely have had to wait until the beginning of April to fix it without your support. So again, thanks. Very much.]

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