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April 4, 2007

Speed learning
Posted by Patrick at 05:28 PM * 73 comments

A metric ton of books, conferences, and seminars about The Realities Of Publishing, distilled into one convenient line:

“It is impossible for human nature to believe that money is not there. It seems so much more likely that the money is there and only needs bawling for.”
—Dorothy Sayers, Busman’s Honeymoon
Making Light, saving you valuable time in your many endeavors!
Comments on Speed learning:
#1 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Yes. What you said. What she said.

#2 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Ouch. That's harsh.

Do all of us aspiring writers seem like that to you? Usually, my tears in this business are my own.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Oh, far from just aspiring writers. Fret not.

#4 ::: gurnemanz ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 09:36 PM:

How did you happen to capture that, Patrick? DLS is one of my favorite practical philosophers!

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 09:43 PM:

I realized long ago that I would never make anything like my current living (or even my then-current living) by writing. I'm no Stephen King, thank gods, or even C.J. Cherryh, alas.

That used to bother me. Now I find it oddly freeing. I can write (when I write) without worrying about whether it's supercommercial or not. (Of course, it has to be commercial enough to sell to a publisher, or people won't get a chance to read it, and commercial enough to sell to the public so that the publisher will buy the next one.) I'll never be stuck ghostwriting for WFS like whomever really wrote the Tek books; in short, I'll never have to be a whore.

Now if I could only make myself actually, you know, write.

#6 ::: gurnemanz ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 10:25 PM:

Xopher@5 - " . . . or even C.J. Cherryh, alas."

You reminded me of something. Back in STL around 1981, some hanger-on of Glen Cook's told me C.J. was "nothing but a hack with a word processor."

Talk about magical thinking . . .

I'll be so bold as to claim her acquaintance. She has less fear of hard work than any but two other writers I know, she loves the work for its own sake, and she's willing to do 'the biz.'

So we come around again to that analysis of self-delusion by Dorothy Leigh Sayers . . .

Happily, it looks as if Cook has done all right for himself, too.

Here's to having at least a little bit of grounding in reality. Skol!

#7 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 10:49 PM:

I would love to be as much of a "hack" as Cherryh. I don't even dare aspire to being as good as Bujold.

#8 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 10:59 PM:

#7: I don't think about stuff like that. Down that path lies madness. I just try to make the next paragraph I write better than the previous paragraph I wrote. Fortunately, I enjoy the process.

OTOH, it's probably not healthy that I know that it's been 52 days since I sent a story off to Strange Horizons and 31 days since I sent a story off to Asimov's. (I mean, all this tells me is when I might expect a response.)

#9 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Sadly, you could easily replace "publishing" with "academia."

#10 ::: gurnemanz ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 12:22 AM:

JC@8; " . . . it's been 52 days since I sent a story off to Strange Horizons and 31 days since I sent a story off to Asimov's."

According to the folks kind enough to teach me, tracking this info is part of the 'biz.' It has to be taken in hand if you're serious about doing business. And it's work, no question about it.

Good for you, I'd say. Press on!

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 01:03 AM:

It's crossing the three month line for the three SF narrative sonnets I sent to Asimov's, meaning that they've fallen into the "lost in the post" category (per their website).

I wonder if I should send them back for another go, send them elsewhere, or give up?

I would have preferred a rejection. This just feels like being ignored. Not worth a rejection.

#12 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 01:16 AM:

Not merely the realities of publishing, alas. So also fall so many earnest technologists.

#13 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 07:11 AM:

Asimov's, in my experience, can take quite a while to get back to people. They're nowhere near some of the other markets, but more than three months is definitely within my experience there. Fret not, ye Asimov's submitters.

I also recently got a rejection from Largish-Magazine-Which-Shall-Remain-Nameless on a short story I submitted back in December of 2005.

(And all this is reminding me it's time to query on that rewrite request story I resubbed in... ack, that was really November?)

If you're wondering if the time your submissions have spent out is normal, the Submitting to the Black Hole market response time tracker is a good place to find out.

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 08:21 AM:

Try again, abi.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 08:43 AM:

Xopher @ 5... I realized long ago that I would never make anything like my current living (or even my then-current living) by writing.

I realized a long time ago that I couldn't write fiction to save my life. That realization was liberating. In a bleh kind of way.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 10:41 AM:

(cont'd from #15)... So of course I married someone who can write fiction. I highly recommend that solution.

#17 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 10:51 AM:

I reread Busman's Honeymoon just recently, and that sentence jumped out at me as true of so many endeavours.

I will point out that "the money simply isn't there," does not merely apply to the money that is not there to pay authors, but also to the money that isn't there to, for example, hire a really crackerjack artist to do the cover art, get a fresh, new, exciting design for the pages, pay the author's way on a promotional tour, send a gadjillion ARCs, or do any of the other myriad things that we would love to be able to do for that book.

#18 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Serge@16: I married someone who can write fiction. I highly recommend that solution.

It's a good plan, but sometimes difficult to put into practice. While I would be overjoyed to marry Connie Willis, there is a minor logistical problem in the form of a Mr. Willis. For that matter, where would I put Mrs. Mjfgates and all the mjfgatelets?

Hm. Perhaps if I bawl for it.

#19 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 12:32 PM:

mjfgates @ 18... I think a LOT of bawling would be required.

#20 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 01:15 PM:

That's where -lets come from in the first place, isn't it?

Oh, wait... bawling. Never mind.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Abi #11: Three months is not that long a time (my first wife and I are still waiting to hear about a joint article we submitted to an academic journal seven months ago -- and we both know the editor and have worked for him)*. You could submit again, with a note saying that you'd done so over three months before.


* I'm one of his stable of blind** reviewers. In fact, he sent the article to me for review, having forgotten that my name was on the cover page. I had to email him back pointing out that this was not exactly optimal (but if he wanted my opinion, this was the best piece ever written on the subject).

** I.E., I don't know the identities the authors of the essays I review. I'm not actually blind, just short-sighted.

#22 ::: Booklegger451 ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 02:15 PM:

So, if I'm interpretting (for select values of that word) this thread correctly, the three stages of man are:

Bawl
Ball
Bowl

#23 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 02:26 PM:

re # 22:
and a horse is first steed, then stud, then stewed?

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 02:38 PM:


The money must be there, there's magic power
in all the words I use and that I write;
there's time for incantations at midnight
because, or so I'm told, that is the hour
when devilish owlets fly from the dark tower
and, as they seem pause while in mid-flight,
drop from cloaca the deep artistic insight
which from their minds valiant editors scour.
I've written a great book, so my sister says,
there must be readers out there for my prose;
but evil editorial hacks my wisdom must disdain.
They ignore my pleas, for days, for endless days;
all of them seem to look down one great nose
and tell me I can't write and have no brain.

#25 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 03:27 PM:

#11: my longest response time from Asimov's is over 130 days, and average just around 90. So hang in there (-: I definitely second the recommendation for Black Holes as a good sanity check when you start getting antsy about something.

I think the statement that personally defined publishing for me (at least in terms of my role within it) was a rejection letter I got two years ago. It said, in its entirety: "It's April and it's snowing out, so no thanks." That's the moment that I realized that there were things I had control over -- the quality of my writing, being diligent about submitting my work, behaving professionally -- and things I didn't, and that fretting over the latter set was nothing more than pointless self-flagellation.

Now, fretting about all my SASEs out there that I sent out before they announced postage was going up in May is another thing entirely (-:

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 06:07 PM:

Jules 13: that's fascinating. Tor has been known to get back to people on book submissions in 15 days? that's astonishingly quick. My guess would be that that manuscript landed on the top of the slush pile just before a slushkill, and that it was a reject-at-a-glance.

Serge 16: As a gay man, I guess I'll just eat cake.

#27 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 06:23 PM:

Fragano said (#21):
Abi #11: Three months is not that long a time (my first wife and I are still waiting to hear about a joint article we submitted to an academic journal seven months ago -- and we both know the editor and have worked for him)*. You could submit again, with a note saying that you'd done so over three months before.

Wow. In my field, two months would be considered borderline scandalous; any longer than that and the editor would almost certainly find another referee for the paper (and let the author(s) know that this has happened). The "Letters" sections of some journals are supposed to get reviewed in less than three weeks, and usually are.

#28 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Peter Erwin #27: Your field is clearly not Caribbean studies. I should poke said editor, or have my ex poke him. I just had a book ms rejected after submitting it (at the publisher's request) in November, and will be shopping it around a bit this summer.

#29 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Xopher at #26: Well, you could move to the UK and get married there.

Small comfort, I know. But I do actually know of at least one American couple who seriously looked into whether they could get civil partnered while they were in the UK on business for a couple of months, half of the couple being a writer.

#30 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 08:52 PM:

Six to eight months for a review of an academic book for publication is pretty good.

I once submitted an academic paper that the journal took two years to reply to -- and the anonymous reviewer rejected it.

#31 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 09:41 PM:

Julia @ 29: I seem to recall that a number of gay couples were married at TorCon III; I'm under the impression that the con organizers did some of the basic setup stuff in terms of making space available and assisting people in finding qualified officiants. They were warning people that though the laws of the time same-sex couples getting married, they didn't yet cover same-sex divorces. (I don't remember if Canadian divorce law has caught up with things yet.)

#32 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 10:25 PM:

sara #30: What did you do? Polish and try again at another journal?

I've got a couple of articles I'll be sending out in the near future (as well as the book ms from which they're taken). My worst cases are two book chapters which were solicited and accepted. The books, however, aren't anywhere near publication (in one case five years later -- though, in that case, the press is slow and the editor suffers from sickle cell anæmia*, so he's been slow; he's hoping to get the intro done this summer, if he doesn't fall ill).

* He's an old friend, and I'm just glad he's still among the living.

#33 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Xopher #26: Tor got back to me in less than a month. Not quite 15 days, but I thought it was quick compared to some of the horror stories that you hear.

#34 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 02:05 AM:

The only way I know of to get fast turnaround on a paper in my field is to submit it for the proceedings of particular conference. I've gotten rejection in less than four months that way. Otherwise it can take a year.*

* Mind you, that's my experience as of about 15 years ago, after which I gave up on reviewed papers and just gave presentations. That's a lot more fun anyway.

#35 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Julia 29: I could move to Canada and get married there. I could move to Massachusetts, though it wouldn't be recognized at the national level.

My state has civil unions for same-sex couples. I want full marriage rights, I want to be able to put "married filing jointly" on our (my and my as-yet-only-putative husband's) income tax returns, I want nothing less than everything different-sex married couples have.

And I'm not going to shut up until I get it. Or I die, which seems likely to happen first, even if I live to be 100.

#36 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 04:42 PM:

okay well, the idea that money is there is perhaps because there is money there in some way, publishing is, as far as I have been able to determine, still a viable business. There are publishers that manage to publish and not go bankrupt. Therefore there is money there somewhere, in the same way that there is money of some small amount in any number of other industries.
Furthermore I have a suspicion that those who think there is a lot of money there are apt to come from a lower economic or social position than a lot of people in publishing and thus to be essentially deluded as to the nature of the money to be had, basically because they do not understand much about money and what is a lot of it in their society.

#37 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 05:36 PM:

Xopher at #35: and I want you to have it. In part because I actually encountered the "married filing jointly" problem via a different route -- there was no provision for straight married couples where one was working in the US on an H1 visa, and the other was still working in the UK. That cost us significant amounts of money, so I know very well that this discrimination isn't just a token thing.

I'm just hoping that the number of other countries that are giving gays full civil rights will increase the pressure on the US to do the same.

#38 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 12:22 AM:

Julia Jones #37: I'm just hoping that the number of other countries that are giving gays full civil rights will increase the pressure on the US to do the same.

You mean like how the number of other countries that didn't want us to invade Iraq convinced us not to?

#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 03:01 AM:

Xopher @ 35

You'll be pleased to learn that another bastion has fallen. You and and your to-be-intended can now be married in the Fairy Tale Wedding ceremony at Disneyland. Of course it doesn't have legal standing in the state of California yet, but I'll tell you, I thought it would be a lot longer before Disney fell over.

#40 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 01:10 PM:

ethan at #38: True. My previous experience of a similar situation was the Mixed Marriages Act, and the relevant government was nearly as pig-headed as the Bushies, but a good deal saner.

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 01:26 PM:

Julia 40: That's it! That's what we'll call "different-sex" marriages! If we call them "Mixed Marriages" that will a) confuse people (always good if, like me, you have a strong streak of Dada deep in your soul), and b) make a point that needs making.

It's probably too subtle. But I'm going to start doing it anyway.

I say we will have no mo marriages. Those that are married already, all but one shall live. The rest shall keep as they are!

Actually I think the government should offer ONLY Civil Unions to anyone, and that CUs should have all the legal privileges and obligations marriage has under the civil law currently; "marriage" should be exclusively the province of churches, synagogues, mosques, ethical culture societies etc., but should have no legal standing whatsoever. THAT would be something I'd call "separation of church and state" on this issue!

Funny, that's how it works in many countries, even some with no metalaw forbidding the establishment of religion.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Julia Jones #40: You're South African? I'd hardly call a government that punished people for wanting marry persons of a different 'race' sane.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Xopher #41: The term 'mixed marriage' has already been appropriated to describe interracial marriages and interreligious marriages.

#44 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 02:18 PM:

Xopher and Fragano (41 & 43): Besides, 'mixed marriage' sounds to me more like heterosexual marriage than gay marriage. Gay marriage is between two people who are alike, not different, which is what mixed marriage means.

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Fragano and Mary Aileen: That's what I mean. As I said, I want to use the term 'mixed marriage' to describe a marriage between people of different sexes. I want to use that term for "straight" marriage. And all the connotation it's acquired in the decades and centuries of racial and religious politics are all to the good.

It will seem like a negative connotation to some. Them, I'm happy to annoy. For others, it will serve as a reminder of the bad old days, and draw an odd, reversed analogy to the issues of today.

Riddle: what's the only thing that has to be imperfect in order to exist? Answer: an analogy, because a perfect analogy is not an analogy, but two cases of the same thing.

Also, this makes a semiotic point: it's unjust that same-sex marriage should be the marked case. I sometimes refer to people who do not have ADHD as having "Linear Thinking Disorder," as another example. LTD is characterized by a lack of multitasking ability, and indeed obsessive focus on single tasks for extended periods. Other deficits include a general lack of ability to see large, subtle patterns, draw conclusions from subliminal data, or appreciate minimalist music.

Get it?

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 04:00 PM:

Xopher #45: All I can say to that is 'good luck'. I would point out, though, that there are people around who would like to outlaw interracial and interreligious marriages.

#47 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Xopher (45):As I said, I want to use the term 'mixed marriage' to describe a marriage between people of different sexes. I want to use that term for "straight" marriage.

Doh! Missed that the first time. Okay, then.

#48 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Xopher (41): Actually I think the government should offer ONLY Civil Unions to anyone, and that CUs should have all the legal privileges and obligations marriage has under the civil law currently; "marriage" should be exclusively the province of churches, synagogues, mosques, ethical culture societies etc., but should have no legal standing whatsoever. THAT would be something I'd call "separation of church and state" on this issue!

I agree.

You may be interested to know, Xopher, that you've influenced my thinking on gay marriage. I originally supported the 'compromise' position of civil unions, but you've made see why that isn't sufficient. Although I still feel that your above-quoted proposal is better still.

#49 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 05:11 PM:

[..] I still feel that your above-quoted proposal is better still.

I think it is exactly the right answer.

#50 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 08:12 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 48:

I originally supported the 'compromise' position of civil unions, but you've made see why that isn't sufficient.

I've had that discussion with acquaintances who felt that gay couples being allowed to have civil unions was "good enough". "It gives them all the same rights! It's just as good! Why do they have to co-opt the word 'marriage'?" It sounded ridiculously like something out of a dreadful Classic Trek episode: "'Mah-rij' is one of our worship words! You will not use it!"

My gay friends who've gotten married didn't want something that was "just as good". They wanted the word -- the symbol, the symbolism, and all the implications and semantic baggage that it carries in our society. They didn't want to be "civilly united", or whatever the adjective would be; they wanted to be married.

#51 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 08:59 PM:

Fragano at #42: I'm not South African, but I lived there for a few years. And yes, I'd say that the government that abolished the Mixed Marriages Act as part of the slow process of dismantling apartheid, against the inclinations of many of its own members and very much against the wishes of a large chunk of its own electorate, was a good deal saner than what's in the White House right now.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 09:01 PM:

Julia Jones #51: That makes sense.

#53 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 09:41 PM:

In some sense, the separation of church and state part of Xopher's proposal above is what actually exists now, except that both the civil and religious ceremonies are called marriage (and I do understand that that terminological distinction is important).

Right now, there are quite a few churches, synagogues, ethical culture societies etc. that will happily marry same-sex couples; but those marriages have no legal status unless the state has same-sex civil marriage. The religious ceremony itself clearly has no legal force, or all those same-sex couples would have all the legal rights of opposite-sex married couples, and sadly they don't.

The first same-sex religious wedding I attended was back in the mid-'80's, so this pre-dates same-sex civil marriage by a fair bit.

#54 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 11:16 PM:

#53:In some sense, the separation of church and state part of Xopher's proposal above is what actually exists now...

and except that the civil ceremony is not available to everyone unless you live in Massachusetts.

BTW, for some reason, people seem to forget that there is one state in the Union where civil marriage is available to everyone. So I like reminding people when possible. This is especially since allowing same-sex marriage has not yet caused the collapse of civilization. I will, however, be very depressed if we take a step towards the dark side in the 2008 referendum. No, the anti-marriage amendment is not on the ballot yet, but it only needs the approval of 25% of the legislature to get there. It amazes me that any legislator would vote to strip rights from a section of the general public. They can hide behind the "we're merely allowing the public to have its say" fig leaf. However, democracy is not supposed to be a tyranny of the majority. The whole point of having the legislature vet referenda is to prevent this sort of mob rule.

(I mean, if we're going to pontificate about the fall of Western Civilization, I'd argue that the Bush administration has done more to cause the decline of civilization than same sex marriage. I mean, Bush administration controls the entire country. Same sex marriage is only legal in MA. Allowing same sex marriage has not deprived anyone of their civil rights.)

#55 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 11:19 PM:

I would point out, though, that there are people around who would like to outlaw interracial and interreligious marriages.

... did we stop calling those people bigots?

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Mary Aileen 48, Rob 49: Thank you, and that's very gratifying. Sometimes I feel like things I say here are greeted with "well, DUH" by the fluorosphere, that I'm preaching to the converted or even teaching my grandma to suck eggs...nice to know it's not always the case!

Joel 50: Yes, but it's not just the semantic baggage. The word itself makes it harder to discriminate. Yes, CUs are supposed to be equivalent (the phrase that springs to mind is 'separate but equal'), but that won't keep the owners of a small B&B from saying "our weekend special is only for married couples," and only those with the money and patience to sue can do anything about it. And when the hospital staff tells me I can't visit my husband because we're not related, because only married people are, he could die before I have a chance to do anything, even if I had a huge war chest and the world's best lawyers.

Stephen 53: In my state the legal contract must be solemnized with a ceremony performed by a qualified person, and people who are qualified are basically clergy and judges. Certain things are required of that ceremony for the legal contract to come into force; for example, the officiant must ask both members of the couple if they are entering this contract freely.

I know this because I've been the officiating clergy a few times. I can't do this anymore (my coven dissolved, so I'm no longer "entrusted by a congregation with the oversight of their spiritual affairs," and thus don't qualify).

So while you're right that the ceremony by itself has no legal force, the marriage license also has none until the solemnization takes place. The state is in bed with the church on this, and I feel it's time to break up that inappropriate linkage.

#57 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 02:20 AM:

In California, anyone can be empowered temporarily by the state to perform marriages. There's no requirement to be clergy or a judge; you just have to go pay a fee and get a document good for a day. My father performed my brother's wedding. (Afterwards he pointed out that he was still good for the rest of the day, and asked if anybody else would like to get married. Nobody took him up on it.)

#58 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 03:18 AM:

In Australia since 1973 (Whitlam government) anyone who successfully completes an approved training course and meets the "fit and proper person test" according to the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants can become a Marriage Celebrant — sometimes called a Civil Celebrant, that includes more ceremonies than only marriage, involving more certification. It's rather like the becoming a JP (Justice of the Peace), but Marriage and Family Law is under Federal, rather than State law. There have been changes recently in both the Celebrant and JP systems, but that's the gist of the idea of the essence of it.

#59 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Sandy B #55: Not in the least.

#60 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 01:52 PM:

Mez #58:

That page is *seriously* bureaucratic.

What other ceremonies does a Celebrant get to perform?

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Xopher @ 56

I wasn't exactly among the converted; as an old civil rights marcher I have some faith (not much any more, I grant you) in the "work within the system" paradigm of social change. So I figured that civil unions were a good way to start the process, and that it would be acceptable, if unappetizing, to many gays if the process took a few years, but got there eventually.

But the more I hear, the more I believe that even if that's true, pushing for more now is the only way to ensure the process keeps going***. And your message upthread was very convincing that some use of the word "marriage"* is the least we should insist on. I agree, and you've convinced me that this should be the stated goal now.

* Given that complete dissociation of church and state in the US just ain't gonna happen soon, exactly what we mean by "marriage" is still to be defined. As I understand what you're saying, the crux of the issue is that whatever the meaning, it should be the same for all couples (or groups**), straight, or gay.

** and won't that twist some knickers! You didn't mention it, but I know or know of groups, and I'm not talking about ur-Mormon polygamists, who would like to have the legal and social benefits accorded to couples, and have to resort to (I would think demeaning) strategems like having two of the group "marry" and adopt the others.

*** This was also argued within the civil rights movement, and probably got less consideration then than it should have.

#62 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 04:56 PM:

Suzanne, thank you for mentioning the upcoming postal increase. I hadn't heard yet. And what's more, after reading your comment I went to check usps.gov and still couldn't find mention of it until I found the news release about the "Forever" stamp. I expected to find a news release specifically announcing "Hey everyone! Heads up! On May 14, First Class Postage in the US will cost 41 cents!" but instead all I found was the information passed on as a mere side-effect detail in another news release.

That said, the "Forever" stamp strikes me as a particularly good idea. No more worrying whether your mail gets there before or after the postal increase. It costs current first class postage to buy it, and it's good forever. Now if only it came in other flavors than Uberpatriotic. Not that I've anything against the Liberty Bell, but I'd like to see a Forever stamp in the "Love" series, maybe, or in the Generic Winter Seasonal. Maybe that'll come later.

#63 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 05:23 PM:

Wasn't there a rumor that F&SF is so fast that it once sent a rejection notice before the manuscript arrived? I mean, there's something to be said for the false hope of a slow response.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 06:14 PM:

Bruce 61: Thanks, and yes, I know some too. It's not especially my issue, though (the n-tuple marriage thing).

#65 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 09:00 PM:

Xopher 56: I grew up in California, where (as David Goldfarb points out in 57) the list of authorized officiants is rather larger, so I wasn't thinking of the restriction on who can perform the ceremony as a church and state issue. But that does make sense.

And I quite agree that the state shouldn't be in defining legal rights and tax status narrowly based on gender. (I started to say "in the business of deciding who can and can't get married", but I do want there to be a requirement of meaningful mutual consent, which would rule out some marriages -- including some that are currently legal.)

#66 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 10:28 PM:

joann, Yes, it's part of the Federal Attorney-General site and not at all the chatty informal style of governmental communication. I think marrying is the bit that needs a full licence, but there are actually diplomas and degrees in "celebrancy' if you want to make it your career.

The Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants says the most common ceremonies conducted are Marriages, Namings, Entry into adolescence, Funerals & Memorial Celebrations

It also says these are becoming more popular: Renewal of Vows; Ceremonies of Commitment (of several kinds); Significant Birthdays, which include Coming of Age Ceremonies, legally 18, traditionally 21 and legal recognition as a "Senior", as well as the 'decade' birthdays; Significant Anniversaries; Citizenship; Business Celebrations; Graduations; Boat Naming ceremonies.

They also mention Rite of Passage ceremonies marking events like starting school, moving from primary to high school, or to university, or retirement. They don't mention, but I've heard of people arranging Divorce commemorations, whether as a celebration of freedom or a more sober rite of passage.

Most of these don't need licences or legalities. Funeral directors (undertakers) need all sorts of legal things, but not the celebrants. 'Graduation' is puzzling, 'cos there's already elaborate ceremonial at University; maybe it's for other kinds. 'Citizenship' also, is usually done by a local government official, like the Mayor, at a special occasion arranged by the local council or a community organisation after your application is approved by the Federal Department responsible (keeps changing its name, currently Immigration and Citizenship). Affirmation? That's new. Hmm ... a suspcious mind could see problems in future for that.

#67 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Could I just mention that, like Xopher at #41 I've said for some while that the 'civil' and 'spiritual' sides of marriage should be quite specifically and clearly separated, with the civil part engaging all the legal superstructure and available to all humans (pace First Contact), and the religious - Hindu, Hippy, Holy Roller, whichever - being an optional extra which may have deep personal & community meaning to those involved, but doesn't affect citizenship, superannuation, tax status, welfare rights, hospital visiting, etc.

So far, all the religious and hippy versions I've been to have blurred and passed over the civil, legal section. There should be a standard short, simple, obligatorally (sp?) public part which has to be done as part of the larger ceremony and which 'seals' the legal obligations and responsibilities of the couple and the government. In operas they show a formal contract signing as part of old-style Italian weddings, for instance.

OTOH, there's still a problematic part where 'de facto' couples are involved. The idea behind our current Australian rules is probably good, but the different bodies concerned still put me through nearly an extra year of paperwork hell when my partner of ~5 years suddenly died while I was very sick, since assorted disruptions had delayed our planned marriage. For instance, somehow I was still responsible for his debts, tho' without access to any of his funds. In fact, there's still some paperwork doing the rounds five years on.

#68 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2007, 12:12 PM:

You didn't mention it, but I know or know of groups, and I'm not talking about ur-Mormon polygamists, who would like to have the legal and social benefits accorded to couples, and have to resort to (I would think demeaning) strategems like having two of the group "marry" and adopt the others.

Aside from being demeaning, wouldn't it make them technically guilty of incest under some laws? One might *hope* that nobody would prosecute "incest" between consenting adults that aren't genetically related, but given a sufficiently self-righteous prosecutor (and self-righteousness is an occupational hazard in law enforcement in general), I wouldn't care to count on it.

They're going to be technically guilty of adultery under anything less than full legal recognition of their actual family relationship, but a malicious prosecution for incest is likely to be far worse than one for adultery.

#69 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2007, 11:36 PM:
In California, anyone can be empowered temporarily by the state to perform marriages. There's no requirement to be clergy or a judge; you just have to go pay a fee and get a document good for a day.
You can do that in Massachusetts as well.
#70 ::: Lynn Kendall ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2007, 04:58 AM:

Of course, Dorothy L. Sayers also said in Busman's Honeymoon: "Editors are ghouls and cannibals," which may sum up publishing from the authorial point of view.

As a writer, I deplore the editor who lost my book manuscript twice and took a year to respond. As an editor, I have to mention the notorious tardiness of many writers, even writers under contract. I once handled a book that was turned in five or six years late (the author had spent nine months in traction after being hit by a car, then moved to China for three years). Worst, though, was an academic book I finally received during the mid-1990s -- originally due in September 1974, when I was entering high school. At least as an author, I've never yet waited more than 20 years for a response to a manuscript.

#71 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2007, 07:36 AM:

Chris @ 68

You're quite right; it's like any other half-assed solution: you only use it because there aren't any better currently on offer. There seems to be always a period of time* between when a previously socially unacceptable behavior ceases to be formally illegal, and when it becomes sufficiently acceptable that the legal forms are changed to explicitly incorporate it. In that time between people are often forced into choices which aren't just not optimal, they're potentially disastrous if the wheels ever come off.

* I have developed what I call the "2 generation" hypothesis: every major social change takes approximately two human generations from the time that the polity as a whole grudgingly agrees that discrimation exists until, on average members of the formerly oppressed class are no longer prevented from full citizenship and social and economic choice.

The underlying mechanism is simple: things change when the previous adult generation is not only old enough to be out of power, but also dying off.

On this view, the clock started ticking for African Americans sometime in the mid 1970's, so the alarm should go off in the early 2020's. For gays, I think the clock only started in the mid-1990's, at best, and possibly not until around 2002 or so. Sorry, guys, it will take awhile.

#72 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2007, 02:23 PM:

"Wasn't there a rumor that F&SF is so fast that it once sent a rejection notice before the manuscript arrived?"

F&SF editors have a working time machine with the following limitations, it can only travel two months, always forward, and you always travel to the same physical location - the F&SF office facing the slushpile.

#73 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2007, 07:41 PM:

Virginia is much more conservative than California or Massachusetts. Celebrants used to have to be approved by the circuit court and when one refused a Wiccan priestess, she sued. Now they have to make you a long-term celebrant if you bring in your certificate of ordination and info about your congregation, etc. Anybody can be a one-time celebrant by putting up a $500 bond and filling out a form. They get the bond back after they turn the marriage certificate in.

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