Tuesday, November 27, 2001
I'd better do this early tonight or it won't get done at all because paleontologists have to get up a lot earlier than writers, and writers stay up a lot later than paleontologists and, lately, my dual life (Are there possibly only two of me? Really?) is seeing to it that sleep seems like an indulgence.
Neil called tonight and told me that it was snowing at his place. Not here. Here it's Christmas lights strung in trees that haven't yet lost their autumn leaves, and it's only raining, not snowing. Neil told me about drinking cobra wine with Poppy in a Korean restaurant in New Orleans and I told him about the night Voltaire and Lisa Feuer took me to the Milk Bar and they gave us free drinks. Neil and Voltaire are writing a circus together; I've never written anything that involved fire eaters or trapeze artists. There were orcas on television while we talked.
Eight hours with the mosasaurs today, just me and my calipers, cameras, the iBook, a microscope, and four beautiful specimens of a new species of Clidastes. Time flies when you're doing the one thing that makes your life genuinely bearable. For me, that involves sea monsters that have been dead for 75 million years. Today I spent most of my time measuring flipper bones and trying to figure out if there were minute serrations on the teeth of these beasties. Serrations are important. Just look at a steak knife sometime. You'll see what I mean.
I found a poem last night, written in the mid-19th century by a Scotsman named Robert Dick. He was a baker by trade, but spent all his spare time collecting fossil fish in northern Scotland and writing poems, and sometimes writing poems about collecting fossil fish:
Hammers an' chisels an' a',
Chisels and fossils an' a';
Resurrection's our trade, by raising the dead
We've grandeur an' honour an' a';
It's good to be breaking a stone,
The work now is lucky and braw;
It's good to be finding a bone —
A fish bone the grandest of a'.
Well, I don't agree with him on that last line, about fish, but the rest is dead on.
I've just finished with the page proofs for the Meisha Merlin trade paperback of Tales of Pain and Wonder. Actually, the indespenable Jennifer just finished them, but I helped. So that should be out before much longer. I'm really quite useless when comes to proofing my own work. I can't see the typos. I've stared at those words in those configurations for so long that obvious mistakes may as well be little chameleons made of vowels blending into consonant bushes. I mean the really dumb, big typos, such as "Edward Cayce" instead of "Edgar Cayce" in Chapter 4 of Threshold. Fortunately someone was there to catch that one for me. Writers are only as good as the people who pick through their pages for stupid typos. And sometimes we're not even that good, jiggity-jig.
Has anyone else noticed the ads for the Burger King LOTR glasses that light up? Life is short, but tacky just goes on forever. Somehow I don't think Tolkien would have approved.
Meanwhile, in another place and time . . .