Got My Back

9 May 2001

Despite what Lisa Goldstein's book claimed, we did not find any dog-headed men or secret iron doors on our BART trips. We did, however, find a Heather and some really nice noodles, so it worked out okay.

We are not royalty. We just sound that way sometimes when we have people with us. And it was really nice to have Tim with us all day yesterday. He should come home from North Carolina soon. Even though he just left this morning.

Liz was talking yesterday about how she figured she could do some stuff because I could. That hanging around with me (even in a metaphorical sense) made her think she could do a journal, too. And she can, and I'm glad she is. But then she was talking about how this is why you should hang out with people you respect, so that you can learn from them. I think that's only half of it. Sometimes you can learn from them. But sometimes they can have stuff covered so you don't have to have it all right there.

For example, take Liz, since she was the one I was talking about. Liz has the "flaming objects" category quite firmly under control. So I can move on to something like "water purification systems" (thanks, Dad!) or "Finnish mythology," confident in the knowledge that should I need advice about large flaming objects, Liz has my back.

This was particularly helpful with my college friends, because I had someone I knew well enough that I could still e-mail them now, in pretty much every discipline my college offered. So when I decided that more SF needs to be written about the AIDS crisis in Africa, I could write to Jen and say, "What books do I need to read to have a good sense of Kenyan and Ethiopian history and literature, and is there anything major they're not going to tell me?" It's not a foolproof system, and it doesn't keep me from learning things myself. (Thank God!) But it is sometimes comforting to know that I don't have to do everything myself.

Except, of course, for novel-related topics. Then I have to do everything myself because I'm dumb enough to pick topics about which nobody seems to know anything. Finnish history and mythology are only the latest two in the list. The worst one was Thomas Tallis. I haven't written that book yet, but I did do a related short story, and I'm now one of the country's top experts on Tallis. Really. I almost can't wait to see what my brain decides is important next. Sometimes it goes skipping along without me, and then I have to shout, "Wait! Slow down! I have to special order that from the U.K.! What's wrong with you?"

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