Interview: Speculating Gender

6 December 2007 | Comments Off

I recently sat down with Jesse Vernon of Aqueduct Press for beer and conversation about Dangerous Space, Mars, and gender in life and fiction. I enjoyed it: I hope you will too.

Read the interview on the Aqueduct Press blog, and wander back this way if you’d like to talk more about it.

Please try your call again

6 December 2007 | Comments Off

Ah, the joys of new websitery… if you have tried to post a comment, or start a conversation and been rejected as an evil spammer, please try your call again. I really do want to hear from you, regardless of what my software may have said…

@U2 articles posted

5 December 2007 | Comments Off

I’m a stone U2 fan, and am fortunate to be part of the writing team at @U2, the world’s most popular U2 fan website. My work for @U2 includes personal essay, vehement opinion-spouting, articles, and an interview with a most interesting French-Italian author… On the horizon, another “Like A Song” essay in early 2008.

I’m proud to work with @U2 — the quality and passion of the writing, and the teamwork among the staff, are the flat-out best I’ve found in a volunteer or fan organization. You’ll find links to all my writing for @U2 on the Essays page. Enjoy.

Humans At Work

3 December 2007 | 7 Comments

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.”Peter Drucker

A few people have asked me about the consulting business I’m putting together, Humans At Work.

The company motto is Work is a human thing. Let’s treat each other that way. The core of the business is a training program that gives new managers a grounding in the essential skills of managing human beings.

Because Drucker is right. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have at least one horror story of a Manager From Hell — most of us have more than one. And it’s my experience that bad management happens not because people are evil or insane, but mostly because they have no idea how to be good managers. When we get our first management job, no one sits us down and tells us that the most important thing we can do to be successful is to deal well with the other humans in the building — to communicate clearly, build relationships that help everyone be more effective, share information, collaborate on decisions with the people whose work will be affected, and give people control of how they do their jobs. No one teaches us how to do these things. If we’re lucky as managers, we eventually figure out how to be better… generally at the expense of the people who work for us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. So I’m going to see if I can do something about it.

No one can learn to be a good manager in a classroom or a seminar — like writing or cooking or sex or conversation, or any of the other really fun stuff, being good takes practice. But it’s absolutely possible to point people in the right direction and give them basic tools and skills to help them start right. That’s what I plan to do with Humans At Work.

Managing is something I do well. I’ve been thinking about these ideas for 15 years. I have the skills and the passion for passing them along. I have notions for the training, and the business model, that I think will surprise people. We’ll see. The training curriculum is nearly done at the detail level, and I plan to start building the website in the beginning of the year.

This is not something I’ll ever give up writing for. If I’m doing it right — if I manage it well (grin) — I can help other people without having to lose myself.

So that’s what’s up. And I’d love to hear from you what you think good managers do, or don’t do, and what you wish your managers had known how to do better.

Welcome to the new digs

2 December 2007 | 3 Comments

… which are pretty different from the old ones. I hope you enjoy the new look and structure. It’s meant to be more clear and more user-friendly. If it’s not, or if you find anything broken, please let me know at (contact at kelleyeskridge dot com).

And one of these days I’ll get a handy spambot-proof email link generator so that I don’t have to keep spelling out the addresses.

This blog takes the place of Virtual Pint, my former virtual space for reader interaction. It’ll take a while to transfer all those conversations over to this format — there are over a hundred questions/comments/responses spanning nearly five years — but they are still available here in the old format.

This new space — “talk about” — will be more of a proper blog than Virtual Pint. You can expect to find random musings as well as pointers to things of potential interest.

And we can still get interactive. On the sidebar is my offer to talk to me. You’ll find a form where you can make a comment, ask a question, or start a discussion. I’ll respond as soon as I can, and since it will take the form of a post, anyone who visits can comment. That feels even more like a real conversation to me, and I’m looking forward to it.

I hope you’ll enjoy the new space and stop by often.

The Rule

2 December 2007 | Comments Off

As I’ve been thinking more and more about the writing I want to do next — the fiction, and the screenplays — I find myself wanting to publish The Rule on billboards from Hollywood to New York. And maybe tattoo it on a few foreheads.

I first came across The Rule in 1985, thanks to Alison Bechdel. It’s one way of assessing a movie from a feminist perspective.

The Rule is:
1. It has to have at least two women in it
2. who talk to each other
3. about something other than a man.
(and the optional 4th element — it’s really cool if the women have names!).

Go ahead, do the math. You might be surprised how many movies don’t pass the Rule Test. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

Does this mean that Right-Thinking People shouldn’t see movies that can’t pass the Rule Test? Of course not. Good lord, it would certainly leave out a bunch of great film with all-male casts. But if your movie includes women, wouldn’t it be cool if they were real people too? And got to do real people things just like the guys?

Me, I think it would be great. I’d much rather see a film with no women than a film where the men are human beings and the women are mirrors.

See The Rule in action. With thanks to Alison Bechdel for putting it in the world, and her friend Liz Wallace for nailing the idea.

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