TT: Tangenting for Two Years

Looking for the Wednesday Wandering?  Just page back one to where I explore the peculiar convolutions that me led to starting my current novel.  Then come back here and

A Toast to Two Years!

A Toast to Two Years!

join Alan and me as we celebrate two years of nattering on about anything and everything.

ALAN: Well, Jane, we’ve been exploring tangents for two years now. I don’t know about you, but I’m still having lots of fun.

JANE: Oh, I agree.  Every time we think we’ve run out of things to talk about, something new comes up.  I’ve gotten to the point that I’d seriously miss these discussions.

ALAN: One of the more surreal aspects of writing these things is that, although you and I haven’t met in person for eighteen years or so, we still find it so very easy to talk to each other. Scarcely a day goes by without an exchange of emails.

JANE: I agree about this relationship being rather surreal.  I was saying to Jim the other day that I wouldn’t know the sound of your voice and, since you’re as camera shy as I am, I could probably walk past you at a convention without knowing you.  However, our chats ‑ both those that become Tangents and those on other matters ‑ have become pulse points in my day.

ALAN: I’m the one who keeps winning the George R. R. Martin look‑alike competition. You’re the one with the wolf and the ecstatic expression. Easy!

JANE: I still see problems.  I know George fairly well, so I probably wouldn’t mistake you for him…  And I never have a wolf with me at conventions.  I fear we’d be ships passing in the night.

Another oddity is that, although we exchange e‑mails on a nearly daily basis, those days are  often not the same day.  If I’m writing you in the afternoon, especially, the 18 hour time difference means that even when your reply comes within moments, you’re writing me on the next day.  I feel as if I’m corresponding with the future.

ALAN: Ah! But that gives me a huge advantage. Because it’s always tomorrow here, I know what happens! Now I have these lottery results that you might be interested in…

JANE: If you can figure out the results for the lottery here, I’m all for it.  I’d even split the take with you and Robin!

I will admit, although you’ve been a very good influence on me overall, you have played havoc with my already challenged spelling.  I keep fighting an urge to add “u” to words like “humor” and “favor.”  My computer’s spell check is constantly trying to get me to Americanize your spelling, but I refuse.

Paul Dellinger, who proofs for us, is very patient in preserving the differences in our spelling and punctuation, something I like because it provides a tacit reminder of our different cultures.

ALAN: Well, since you don’t need to use ‘u’ very often, would you care to send me some? You must have a lot to spare, and I’m starting to run out.

On a more serious note, one of the things I’ve really appreciated about what we’ve been doing is the insight you’ve given me about the way your “foreign” society works. We have a lot of similarities, as you might expect because of our shared European roots, but we also have a lot of differences as well.  Pinning these down has been truly fascinating.

JANE: Yes!  That’s something I’ve enjoyed as well.  Although often our topics have been light ‑ two years ago, we started with names for items of clothing ‑ we’ve managed to tackle some serious subjects as well: voting practices, medical care, and education systems all  spring to mind immediately.

ALAN: And naked ladies. Don’t forget the naked ladies!

Of course we’ve also spoken a lot about books; our mutual obsession. That’s been useful as well as fun in that you’ve introduced me to writers who I might not otherwise have stumbled upon. I read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett so I could discuss the Yorkshire aspects of it with you. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. Excellent book! You also introduced me to Jacqueline Winspear’s “Maisie Dobbs” novels, which I absolutely loved.

JANE: The same for me… I spent a happy week or so immersed in the complexities of James Blish’s Cities in Flight based on your enthusiasm.   And I read Jack Vance’s Space Opera.  Most recently, I read Harry Harrison’s The Technicolor Time Machine, because you mentioned it.

ALAN: Technicolor ‑ amusingly the British edition retained the American spelling on the cover.  But the audio book, which was produced by an American company, used the British spelling – “technicolour.” How weird is that?

JANE: Oh, it’s not weird at all.  They probably just got a good deal on the letter “u.”

ALAN: A question that I know both of us have been asked is whether or not these tangents are real discussions. And of course the answer is yes. They derive quite naturally from email conversations that we have. We certainly edit and polish and rearrange the bits and pieces, but even as we are writing them, the early drafts are full of gaps where the other person can make a contribution. And sometimes that contribution sends the conversation off in all kinds of unexpected directions. Just like in real life.

JANE: Yes.  Over time, I think we’ve found that the subsequent piece stays most spontaneous if we trade the evolving essay back and forth repeatedly.  This also tends to lead to new topics…

In fact, we often have so much to say on a given topic that we need to sub‑divide, which is why one topic may stretch out over several weeks.

Really, it’s been a tremendous amount of fun.

In fact, too much fun…  I’ve turned the revised Artemis Awakening in to my editor and I really should be working on the sequel.  So, until next time…


4 Responses to “TT: Tangenting for Two Years”

  1. Heteromeles Says:

    I’d like to thank you both for sharing these conversations. On Thursday morning, they’re the first thing I read when I turn on the computer, and they always get my day off to a good start.

  2. Paul Says:

    I’m looking forward to the next two years (and many more).

  3. OtherJane Says:

    Hard to believe it’s two years! I enjoy these conversations and the comments…even if I’m sometimes weeks behind.

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