Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Basically, if all I ever had to do was finish books, life would be ever so much easier. It's the beginnings and middles (and especially the middles) that are such a pain. The endings, coming with the weight of so much paper piled up behind them and having gathered sufficient momentum, seem to take care of themselves. That magical thing I went looking for in those awful first pages. The closer it gets, the more clearly I can discern its character, its shape and mood. The ending of Low Red Moon is so close now that I can almost hear it, not so peculiar a comment as this ending has certain attendant sounds. There are no doubt still surprises in store for me, in the last two chapters, and perhaps even in the epilogue, but I know that the mystical threshold has been crossed and now the ending, some ending (and I care not which ending it comes to) is inevitable. At the start of a novel, nothing is inevitable, and particularly not endings. More amazing, this book has come to me with such comparative ease. It will be finished far more quickly than either Silk or Threshold, and, I think even a little more quickly than the feverish The Five of Cups. Yes, I am rambling, but being so near the end is a very fine place to be. I can cut myself some slack and not consider the necessity of future beginnings, and simply allow this story to conclude.
I'll pass the 400-page mark on the manuscript today and I can happily say it's the last centenary benchmark this novel will have.
Also, very soon now, I will reveal something about the plot of Low Red Moon, hopefully before the end of August. I'm amazed I've kept it a secret for almost eight months!
More news. At the end of the summer, around October 1, I shall be relocating to Providence, Rhode Island. It's a move that (like the ending of a troublesome novel), has been in the works for a couple of years. Eventually, I'll come back to Atlanta, but, in the meantime, I will take full advantage of all the wonderful spookiness of Lovecraft's town. This means, though, that if you'd like to see me at a signing or reading somewhere in the southeast, it's very probable that Dragon*Con (August 30-September 2, Atlanta) will be your last chance for at least a year and a half. I'll be there Friday through Monday. And now I only have to endure two more months of Birmingham!
Oh, also, I finally left the apartment again yesterday (someday, one of you should remind me to explain my geographically-triggered agoraphobia), took in a matinee and then went to the grocery store, where I was promptly and savagely attacked by an artichoke. No kidding. It drew blood. It's no wonder I stay in so much . . .
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
I did the word count thing for yesterday already, so I don't have much to say, but felt obliged to say something. Today should go well. I have to speak with my agent and work on Chapter Twelve. There you go.
Monday, July 29, 2002
The headache finally decided it'd had its fill and went off to torture someone else, and I was able to do the first 1,005 words on Chapter Twelve today. So. Back on track.
Also, I recieved the first semi-annual royalty statement from Penguin for Threshold. I usually dread these things. But, to my relief and surprise, the novel's return rate is extremely low, just over 5%, as of March 2002. For those of you unfamiliar with the mathematics of publishing, the return rate is the number one gets after dividing the number of returned books by the number of books sold. It's a sum of which all writers live in mortal terror. Low is good. High is bad. Bookstores are allowed to return unsold books to the publisher for refunds and publishers set much stock by how many books get returned. For this same first periord, Silk didn't even do one-fifth this well, scoring a return rate of 26.2%. So, something to smile about.
Oh, and it's official. It's never going to rain in Birmingham again.
I woke this morning with the headache still flickering about in my skull. I've been staring at the iBook screen for two hours now, to no avail.
I need to begin Chapter Twelve today, but it's a complex part of the story, logistically and emotionally. I can't go into it with a headache. So I'm not sure how the day will turn out.
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Today has been a long, useless headachey day. I woke with the headache, which actually began late last night, and it's had me in a fog for hours and hours. I'd intended to go to Atlanta tomorrow, but now that seems doubtful. A hot bath seems awfully ambitious.
But I did finish "The Drowned Geologist" yesterday, getting the last 1,337 wds. done before the headache found me. Bleh.
Saturday, July 27, 2002
I was good and, despite being sleepy all day, got all my work done yesterday. Chapter Eleven is proofed and I wrote another 514 words on "The Drowned Geologist." I have to finish that story today and immediately e-mail it to the editor (I'll start Chapter Twelve tomorrow). This whole e-mailing manuscripts thing is a little freaky. I may not even need my laser printer much longer. When I recently sent the completed portion of Low Red Moon off to my agent and editor, I sent it not as a paper manuscipt, but as an rtf. attached to an e-mail. Weird. But it saved me the time of printing (several hours) and the cost of ink, paper, and postage. My inner Luddite balks, but my outer miser is pleased. No other news of note from yesterday. No rain. I think we're heading towards drought territory around here, which is probably a good thing, actually, considering that the roof in my office leaks and the landlord hasn't seen fit to fix it. And so it goes. Time to write.
Friday, July 26, 2002
Yesterday (Thursday) morning, I sat down to finish Chapter Eleven, and, after spending an hour on a paragraph, realized that the chapter had already been finished the day before. There was a very climactic scene thart I'd been writing the chapter towards, and then I discovered, suddenly, that the whole thing would work ever so much better if the events of the scene were more hinted at, implied, that shown in step-by-step detail. So, Chapter Eleven is done, but it left me off-balance for the rest of the day. I did write 557 wds. on "The Drowned Geologist," but it still felt like a strangely unproductive day.
The unexpected-finishing thing happens every now and then. It's always somewhat disarming. It often feels like cheating. It's one reason that my "outlines" and "synopses" are always rather pointless. And sometimes, like this instance with Chapter Eleven of Low Red Moon, there's a bit of disappointment attached. I actually wanted to write the scene that will not now be written. It was so clear in my head, and so filled with wonderful visuals. But that was one reason I decided to let it go, because I know I couldn't ever communicate those images from my head to the iBook to the reader as well as I need to, that they would not be true, and I'd only be horribly dissatisfied with the end result.
Perhaps I'll write the scene for the limited edition. We can call it something absurd like "the director's cut."
Still no rain in Birmingham. Not that I've seen. But I haven't left the apartment since Monday, so I might have missed something. But I doubt it. And today is promising to be very hot.
Anyway, now it's time to proof Chapter Eleven, then write as much as I can on "The Drowned Geologist," which I must finish by sometime tomorrow. Also, I expect to begin Chapter Twelve tomorrow, Sunday at the latest.
Thursday, July 25, 2002
Things went more slowly yesterday (Wednesday), for no reason I've been able to put my finger on. A lot of frustration materializing out of nowhere in particular. Words that didn't want to come when called. But, finally, I'd done another 950 wds. on Chapter Eleven, which, if all goes as planned, I will finish this afternoon. It's the longest chapter in the book so far, though Chapter Thirteen, the last in the book, may turn out longer. I also did 730 wds. on "The Drowned Geologist," which is beginning to feel more like a story, finally. Also, I had a thirty-minute or so conversation with my agent, which was not discouraging.
Again no rain, though we did have some impressive thunder late in the day.
Last night I wrote a blurb for Jack Morgan's The Biology of Horror, and, in hopes of lifting somewhat droopy spirits (there's an image), shopped for pony falls and goggles online (because, let us never forget, "Big hair matters."). Late and stricken with insomnia, I watched the DVD of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, which I bought weeks ago but had forgotten about.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
It wasn't difficult getting back to work yesterday (Tuesday). I did 1,301 words on Chapter Eleven, which now looks as though it will be finished on Thursday, and another 596 words on "The Drowned Geologist," which I have no choice but to complete by sometime on Saturday.
The rain teased us again.
I realized that there's one of Maureen's questions (see 7/22), implied if not stated, that I didn't answer, regarding the word count for Low Red Moon, and my novels in general. I have no pre-set word limit on novels. My editor would probably be just as happy, probably happier, if I wrote a 1,000-page novel as if I write a 259-page novel (which is what Threshold came to in print). But, at least for the moment, I hold fast to a convinction that most novels should be short (I make allowances for James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon, though most of their novels are short, come to think of it). It is the inherent weakness of the novel form of fiction that it is too long to start with, allowing the writer the opportunity for excess. The longer the novel, the greater the likelihood that the contrivances of literature will become even more transparent than usual. So, with these beliefs in mind, I've set a length for myself, that comes out to about 140,000 words. It's really longer than I'd like my novels to be (70,000, or even 50,000, would be preferable), but the lowest number I think I can get away with right now. That's one reason I keep up with the word count. It's a way of keeping myself in line, reminding myself that certain things have to be done by a certain point in the manuscript, because this puppy wraps at about 140,000 words.
Time to go make words.
Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Back from Atlanta. Actually, we got home fairly early, about 1:30 a.m. On the way home, I listened to Diary of Dreams and Attrition and watched lightning over the mountains. It was a good little trip. I bought new zines (there's a good review of Wrong Things in the new Cemetery Dance), then went off to the Righteous Room on Ponce with friends. I got a little tipsy on tequila (really, not genuinely drunk, just pleasantly tipsy) and woke up this morning with bruises I can't quite explain and sore knees. We talked about all the geeky stuff we usually talk about: music, Farscape, movies, Farscape, writing, Farscape, the "old days" in Athens, and, well, Farscape. A very nice break from work, though the heat on the drive up was atrocious. And I came home to find a big box from Gothic.net waiting for me, because I'd won last month's monthly drawing for Cool Stuff. I didn't open it until this morning, because I was entirey too pooped last night to appreciate Cool Stuff. This morning I was delighted to find the box contained: one Snow Globe of the Apocalypse ("locusts"), a Gothic.net t-shirt, a Mothman Prophecies t-shirt, the From Hell DVD, a hardback copy of Ray Bradbury's From the Dust Returned (!!!), and a very cool Bela Lugosi-as-Dracula action figure. Go join Gothic.net and you too can win cool, free dren.
Anyway, now I have to work. Low Red Moon and "The Drowned Geologist." I'd rather watch Johnny Depp smoke opium and chase Jack the Ripper. But there you go.
Monday, July 22, 2002
No rain again today. Just clouds that swept past the city with no intent of cooling anything off, teasing with a little thunder and a few glimmers of heat lightning.
But it was a productive (and exhausting) workday. First a bazillion e-mails (How many zeros is in one bazillion?), then I did 1,017 wds. on Chapter Eleven of Low Red Moon. Afterwards, I did another 1,039 wds. on "The Drowned Geologist." So, I earned my milk and cookies for the day. And on this subject of my obsessive accounting of numbers of words per day, an e-mail from Maureen:
The word count seems a common thread but what did you do
before there were word processors that counted them for you? Did you
go by pages back in the dark days of the typewriter? I remember our
tech writers wrote to a template and page count but it seems odd for
me to think of fiction in terms of limits like that. I guess I've the
idealized notion that the book will fit the story rather than having
the story try and fit the book. From reading your journal I get the
feeling that there are guidelines even for fiction? Next thing you
know someone will tell me the Great Pumpkin isn't real. Does tossing
numbers around keep the editors from freaking out? If so, too bad
there's not a similar count for artists to give them a progress
report. If graphic artists measured workloads like writers do, we'd
have to offer up milestones like "I pushed 4,342,024 pixels today for
that Photoshop collage". Hmmm....... wonder if Adobe could put that
feature in there for Photoshop 8?
In the old days before word processors . . . Lord, I barely remember that far back. I had an old Royal that my mother had used once upon a time. It must have weighed about 25 pounds and most of the vowel keys either stuck or punched holes in the paper. I hauled that hunk of metal from one apartment to another. I didn't count words. I only counted pages. But there were never very many of those to count, as I was always too busy rewriting yesterday's words to get around to anything new. Then I met my first Mac and it was something akin to love at first sight. And since then, I have counted words, and paragraphs, and lines, and letters, obsessively. There's some magic in arriving at such precise numbers in mere seconds, merely by clicking the mouse. I don't think I will ever get over it.
I'm the tortoise that needs the carrot on a string if I'm ever to get anywhere at all. And counting numbers is one of my carrots.
As for required word counts, or rather, word limits, yes, they do exist. Not really for novels, except that editors seem to think longer is better, and my novels are fairly short by today's dark fantasy standards, I think. But for short stories, yes, an editor genuinely says something like, "3,000 to 10,000 words. Please contact me if you have something in mind which will run longer or shorter."
Tomorrow I go to Atlanta, and try hard not to think about any sort of numbers.
Anything else of note today? I took a bath. I read a good deal of an article on Jurassic lizards from India (in The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology) and a bit of Peter Wellnhofer's The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Prehistoric Flying Reptiles. Later, I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's. There was beef and broccoli for lunch, but I only seemed interested in the broccoli. Not bad for a Sunday.
Sunday, July 21, 2002
Any moment now, Birmingham may burst into a bright white ball of fire. Which wouldn't be such a great loss, but I'm sure I would find the experience briefly unpleasant. That is to say, it's a little hot down here. But there are clouds, so we may get cooling storms towards afternoon or evening. I hope.
I did 1,143 wds. yesterday on Chapter Eleven, and nothing on "The Drowned Geologist," which is rather unfortunate, as my deadline is only seven days away (counting today, and I am). And since I'll be in Atlanta tomorrow, that means I've only six days to complete the piece. But I'm sure I'll get it done (she said, pretending she's not thinking just the opposite). Meanwhile, Low Red Moon is gathering enormous momentum as it moves towards the ending. Momentum is nice, and would be ever so much nicer if it would come at the beginning and middle, as well as the end. Anyway, having been very bad and not written anything on "The Drowned Geologist" either Friday or yesterday, today I must get my LRM work done and do double-time on "The Drowned Geologist," to try to make up for lost time. I have absolutely no idea what a "weekend" could be.
I got some very cool studies of Dancy Flammarion from Ted Naifeh this morning. A nice thing to find first thing in the morning in your e-mail. He's doing a few illustrations for the "Waycross" chapbook that Subterranean Press will be releasing.
Saturday, July 20, 2002
Well, not a bad day. 1,155 wds. on Chapter Eleven. I expect to finish it by Tuesday or Wednesday. It'd be a day sooner, but Monday is the raincheck for the missed Atlanta trip. No work on "The Drowned Geologist" tonight though, as it was Farscape night.
I spent most of the afternoon reading an advance reading copy of The Biology of Horror: Gothic Literature and Film by Jack Morgan, which Southern Illinois University Press was kind enough to send me. It's a delightful study. About 5 p.m., an unexpected and marvelous thunderstorm roared over Birmingham, helping to bring the dreadful temperatures down just a bit.
Friday, July 19, 2002
Belatedly, I'm becoming aware of how monotonous these posts must be. There are times I want to ask, "Is anyone even reading this foolishness?" (I guess I just did. Ask, that is.) Today's numbers, like the stock report on frelling CNN. So maybe, if I break it down into pages and a total word count, that would help. At the moment, the ms. of Low Red Moon stands at 93,613 wds., which comes out to 363 double-spaced typescript pages (in New Courier, 12 pt.). In print, that would come out to about 228 printed pages, if the book's a trade paperback. If it's a regular mass-market paperback, that's about 325 printed pages. These are, of course, very rough estimates. When complete, this ms. will probably weigh in at about 140,000 wds. and most likely result in a trade paperback somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pages, give or take. The good news is, that means I can see the light at the end of this particular tunnel. The bad news is, novelists don't get paid by the word.
Anyway, yesterday I wrote 1,286 wds. in two hours. I'm really moving fast now; I just wish I had more stamina. It seems I'm only good for so many wds. per day, regardless of how quickly or slowly I write them. I seem to max out around 1,500, and average about 1,000. Also, last night I did another 578 wds. on "The Drowned Geologist," which is a major shift, going from Low Red Moon, as it's set in 1897 and is being written in epistolary form, as a single letter. This does give it the distinction of being the very first story (out of about 55) that I've ever written in first person narrative.
It's hot as bloody hell in Birmingham. And it's only going to get hotter. Fortunately, I leave the apartment so infrequently. Unfortunately, there's that bit about my office being so damned hot. I have to crank the AC down to 60F for a couple of hours to get it bearable in here, which turns the rest of the apartment into a deep freeze.
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Yesterday I wrote 1,439 wds. on Chapter Eleven, in only two hours (10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) and then, after braving the Birmingham heat for an afternoon matinee (my first time to leave the apartment in six days), came back and spent an hour and a half on "The Drowned Geologist" (10 p.m. — 11:30 p.m.). And I assure you, the very last thing I wanted to be doing at 10 p.m. was more writing. Thanks to the novel, my short story output for this year will be very low, indeed.
It would be nice if there were rain today, but there won't be.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Despite a headachy day, Chapter Eleven of Low Red Moon, and hence Part Two, is begun. I did a solid 1,063 wds. today. I was afraid starting the book's conclusion would be difficult, but it's going very smoothly. I hope that bodes well. If I'm right, the book will be finished just before I have to leave Birmingham for Dragon*Con in Atlanta at the end of August. If I work extra hard, I might get a week's breathing room in between, which would be very nice.
But I'm also racing to finish "The Drowned Geologist" (the Lovecraftian Holmes story) in time to meet my extended and re-extended and re-re-extended deadline, so breathing room does not seem likely.
Anyway, back to LRM, I sent the first chunk off to my agent yesterday (Monday) morning, and she'll be passing it along to my editor. That feels like a small milestone. If only there were time to celebrate.
After writing this afternoon, I lay down on the chaise to rest a few minutes and try to fight off the headache, watching the high, rainless cumulus clouds, and dozed off listening to Górecki's Symphony No. 3. I awoke half an hour or so later, the headache worse than ever, and drank a glass of limeade that Jennifer had made. I wrote my sick Atlanta friend a letter about Jung and made a long post to my discussion board in answer to a question about the terminal Pleistocene megafauna of southeastern North America (let it never be said I'm not a Renaissance woman). But I didn't get back to work until about 9 p.m., when my headache abated just a smidgen. Unfortunately, it regrouped and I can only hope it gets slept away tonight.
Tuesday, July 16, 2002
The trip to Atlanta yesyerday was postponed a week when I discovered that one of the friends I was going to see has some sort of nasty stomach flu. So, instead, I just stayed home and listened to CDs and slept through the heat of the day. I did nothing of merit, nothing whatsoever. I did get take-away egg drop soup and egg rolls for lunch. We had many glorious storm clouds towards sunset, but, sadly, no storms.
Then, in the evening, I got a phone call informing me that Meg had died. Meg is a cat I got as a six-week-old kitten back in April 1985, so she was seventeen and not in good health, besides. Meg hadn't lived with me since 1992, but I saw her often. To say that she will be sorely missed is a grave understatement. Though it rings a bit sentimental (I think when one has known a cat for 17 years, a little sentimental can be excused), here's a short poem by H. P. Lovecraft, written upon the death of his cat Sam Perkins:
The ancient garden seems tonight
A deeper gloom to bear,
As if some silent shadow's blight
Were hov'ring in the air.
With hidden griefs the grasses sway,
Unable quite to word them —
Remembering from yesterday
The little paws that stirr'd them.
Today, I have to begin Chapter Eleven.
Monday, July 15, 2002
How can the month be half over? It's amazing. Anyway, yesterday I did a rough polish on all of Low Red Moon so far, and today that huge chunk goes off to my agent in NYC. It's right about three-quarters of the finished book. I also had to write a synopsis of the three remaing unwritten chapters (plus an epilogue) and I hate writing synopses. Then, last night, I did a short interview for a book Nancy Kilpatrick is writing on goth culture, to be published in 2003 by St. Martin's. That was my Sunday, give or take a few hours.
I read Carl Jung and William Blake ("The Marriage of Heaven and Hell"), a little Joseph Campbell and Lovecraft, and a bit of the marine biology book, Deep Atlantic, by Richard Ellis. It rained, but nothing like on Saturday. Today looks like it will be a very hot and rainless day.
I'm taking the evening off and going to Atlanta.
Sunday, July 14, 2002
I managed to revise Chapter Ten yesterday, which was a pretty minimal endeavor. What was rather odd was, upon reading straight through it, discovering that I actually liked the chapter. That doesn't happen very often.
But now I have to a) get the ms.-so-far ready to go to NYC tomorrow and b) get back to work on my Lovecraftian Sherlock Holmes story. And my enthusiasm tank is damned near empty at the moment.
Yesterday I read some Shelly and Matthew Arnold, but not much else. We had really wonderful rain all day, which would have been unqualifiedly nice, except the leak in the roof of my office has resumed. Come October, I am so out of here.
Saturday, July 13, 2002
Yesterday, Friday, I wrote 1,353 wds. on Chapter Ten and finished it. That means I'll spend the weekend proofing that chapter and getting what I've done so far ready to go out on Monday to my editor and NYC agent. I hate proofreading. Since I write everything in a single draft, no real rewrites or revisions, there are inevitably all these little flaws at the end. Never anything big, just small annoyances that all add up to a headache. Things like, "I used the word 'yellow' too many times between pages 241 and 243." That sort of thing. Or someone's eyes changed from green in Chapter One to brown, somewhere before Chapter Eight.
Yesterday, I read Lewis Carroll, William Blake, and "The Man With The Twisted Lip" by Conan Doyle. We had thunderstorms all afternoon, and a heavy rain about 1:30 a.m. that was very nice.
Friday, July 12, 2002
Today. Today I wrote only 836 wds. on Chapter Ten, but they were 836 wds. of Significance. As I approach the end of the novel (I'm guessing 14 chapters and an epilogue), it begins to feel strange and sort of sad. Partly, it's knowing the drained feeling I always have at the end, and the certainty that I've failed to convey all the lights and darks, all the highs and lows, the intensities and subtleties. But it's also (and this part always catches me a bit by surprise) simply the sadness that conclusion gives me, even though I acknowledge that all conclusions are illusory, arbitrary things. At any rate, I expect to finish Chapter Ten tomorrow afternoon, which is good, because I've been stuck in the same fictional thunderstorm now since I started the chapter way back on June 24th.
The rest of today. There was more. I dug out a bunch of old videos and spent most of the evening watching Kate Bush, NIN, Bjork, and The Smashing Pumpkins, because, after the storms this afternoon, I just didn't feel like going back to work. About 11:45 this evening, Ted Naifeh called and we talked about the work he's doing for me on the "Waycross" chapbook (it's another Dancy story - a prequel to In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers, so also a prequel to Threshold, to be released by Subterranean Press). Ted's a cool guy. If you haven't read Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things (Oni), well, you ought to. Especially if you, like me, have a soft place in your heart for spooky, grumpy little girls without noses.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
I was so longwinded last night, I'll keep it short tonight. Today was a fairly good writing day. I did 1,076 wds. on Chapter Ten. This is going to be a long chapter. Anyway, then I went out for sushi and came back home to watch the thunderstorms.
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
After any extended time away from the iBook, I get antsy. There's a dread, that I've lost the rhythm. That finding it again will be very hard. But today set my fears to rest. I did 1,357 wds. on Chapter Ten in only about three hours, and I did it with a headache, which usually shuts me down. And I think I've found the solution to the Matter of Great Importance. I think, ultimately, it was simply a matter of allowing myself to understand that this is the only proper way that the story can end. Every story may seem to have an infinity of conclusions, an endless parade of alternatives, but that's really just an illusion. The more I write, the more I understand the illusory nature of these alternatives. A story may go down a million paths, but only a few are true. Maybe only one is true.
And on a note that may, or may not, be completely unrelated, I thought that tonight I might relate a couple of very recent and strange little incidents. They aren't quite proper "ghost stories." Just little things that have seemed inordinately strange. I seem to be "blessed" with such experiences on a fairly regular basis, say once or twice monthly. There have been so many, I generally let them pass without comment.
First, on Sunday, I was, as mentioned in the entry for 7/7, lying on the chaise near one of the big windows in the front of the loft, listening to a Bjork CD and enjoying the clouds drifting by overhead. They were very high bluewhite clouds in a hot and hazy sky, and it was good to be watching them from a cool place. Kathryn, visiting from Rhode Island, was in the kitchen. We'd been talking, joking about something. I forget what. Anyway, as I lay there, I realized that she was whispering to me, very close to my ear. Because we'd been joking around only a few minutes earlier, I decided to be difficult and ignore her for a bit. I watched the clouds and listened to Bjork, but the whispering finally became so loud and insistent that I turned my head to respond, though I'd been unable to make out a single actual word she was saying to me. But. She was still in the kitchen, at the sink, with her back to me, and the "whispering" ceased immediately and did not resume. I thought it might have been something in the music and I played the last song back, listening closely, but the sounds I'd heard, which it had seemed were being spoken directly into my ear, were nowhere to be found on the track.
Then, later that day, I found it necessary to remove all the jewelery from my ears, something which I only rarely do. I have three rings in the right lobe, the topmost being a small gauge captive-ball affair. Monday, when I put them all back in, I was having trouble getting the very tiny onyx ball into the ring. I finally asked Jennifer to help, but she couldn't get it in either. I was feeling impatient and finally said never mind, we'll get it later. I placed the ball safely inside the whorl of an iridescent glass sculpture of an ammonite in my office and forgot about it. Then, last night, Monday night, I was watching a DVD and, as I often do when watching television, fidgeting absent-mindedly with my ear piercings. And suddenly I realized that I was playing with the captive onyx ball. I had no memory of getting it back into the hoop. I checked, counting up from the base of my ear lobe, to be sure it was the third piercing. It was. I thought about going to the mirror to look at it, and about going to my office to look in the ammonite sculpture, but by this point I was feeling a little silly about the whole thing. If I got up, I'd miss part of the movie, and, surely, I was only being forgetful. Sometime during the afternoon or evening I'd put the ring back together, or Jennifer had, and I just didn't remember. It's a small thing to forget. I continued to play with it for five minutes or so, then the movie got my attention again and I stopped worrying about it. But at breakfast this morning, Tuesday morning, I was once again absent-mindedly fidgeting with my right ear lobe and realized the ball was missing. Because it was still in the ammonite, where I'd put it. Because it had never been set back into the stainless steel ring. So, I can be absolutely certain of two completely contradictory things: first, that the ball was in my ear on Monday night, and that I played with it while I watched television; second, that it remains there in the glass ammonite on the bookshelf, right where I placed it Monday, and from whence it has not yet been removed. I've been trying not to think about the possible significance of the ammonite itself, of golden curves and the like. These other things are enough for now.
It's the little inconsistencies I find so fascinating.
Monday, July 08, 2002
Guest away. But I'm still no closer to resolving the plotting dilemma that I mentioned back in the 7/2 entry. The Matter of Great Importance taunts me still. I'll go back to work on the novel tomorrow, and hopefully figure this out by Wednesday.
Sunday, July 07, 2002
Checking in again. A great night in Atlanta last night. I caught Men in Black II with a group of friends. Tomorrow my Rhode Islander goes back home and on Tuesday I go back to work.
Earlier, I was lying on the chaise watching clouds and listening to Bjork, and I thought a bunch of things I wanted to say here today. But now I've forgotten them all. I absolutely hate that.
Thursday, July 04, 2002
Just checking in. I've been busy entertaining a house guest from Rhode Island (she's hiding from all the damned Connecticut tourists) and rethinking the final quarter or so of Low Red Moon. It looks like I'll be "back to work" on Monday. Any other news? I almost had to bail on the Lovecraftian Sherlock Holmes anthology, but the editor kindly gave me a three-week extension on the deadline, which means if I work my ass off night and day until mid-July I should be able to finish the story and keep LRM on track.
By the way, if you've not yet read Neil Gaiman's Coraline, do so at once. It's one of those extraordinary and all-too-rare children's books, the sort that speaks to children, not down to them, and speaks to adults as well, not up to them. Go and read it. Now.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
It didn't go as well yesterday as on Sunday, but that didn't come as a surprise. I wrote just over 900 wds. in five hours. But it was a very difficult and emotional scene. Then, as we were proofreading for the day, Jennifer made a rather harmless, offhand remark that has set me thinking in an entirely different direction about the way this novel's going to end. I thought it was all decided. Graven in stone. And now it may go a completely different way. So, I'm taking a few days off from the novel to think this over. It's a Matter of Great Importance. I'm approaching the fabled end, but there are suddenly conflicting road signs.
Monday, July 01, 2002
Yesterday was a rather remarkable writing day. I did 1,108 wds. in only two hours. And I even liked what I wrote, which is virtually unheard of these days. There was an amusing bit of research into the specifics of semi-automatic weaponry right smack in the middle that I was afraid would derail things, but it didn't. The answers were forthcoming.
Now I have to go write captions for the photographs in Trilobite:The Writing of Threshold, because I was supposed to do it months ago and the patient and long-suffering Bill Schafer is, I'm afraid, losing patience with me.