Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Sunday, December 29, 2002
I don't think that I've ever done an entry this early. It's 9:05 a.m. at the moment; I'm not sure what time it'll be when I post it. I woke up from an unpleasant sort of dream of werewolvery and didn't want to go back to sleep.
Last night, Jennifer and I proofed the TFoC preface again, in light of the discovery of the September 1990 notebook and made a few changes and additions. I'm going to work on it a little more this morning, before e-mailing it to Bill Schafer. Thanks to Poppy, Jim, Byron, and Spooky for helping me along with this thing the last couple of weeks. I despise writing autobiography (that's a lie, of course, as all writers love to talk about themselves above all else — but it's a lie I have a duty to perpetuate). It'll be good to get back to something fictional, to Murder of Angels, back to Niki and Daria. That's going to be very, very strange. Writing those girls again. They're different now, of course, older and relocated to the western edge of the continent, but it'll still be strange.
My books are having a stellar morning on Amazon.com. Silk's sales ranking is currently at 9, 941 and Threshold's is at 3, 758, which may be the highest ranking I've ever seen on one of my books. I figure people are spending those Xmas gift certificates. At least they're spending them wisely. Should you like to join them, the Silk page is here and the Threshold page is here.
When I was finally too tired to work anymore (either real work or unpacking), I collapsed in front of TCM, waiting for Kathryn to call me from wherever it was on the road she'd be stopping for the night. I was trying to watch a Montgomery Clift movie I'd never seen, something called Lonelyhearts. I've said before, if I'd written Threshold and Low Red Moon in the '50s, I'd see Deacon Silvey as Montgomery Clift. However, having written them in the '90s and this first odd decade of the 21st century, I see Deacon as Edward Norton. Anyway, I kept dozing off and finally Kathryn called from some horrid motel near the North Carolina state line. She'd left Providence yesterday morning, it had taken her an hour to find a room, and she was exhausted. When we rang off, I went back to trying to watch Lonelyhearts, but finally fell asleep. I awoke about 3:15 a.m. to Manhattan. I was starving and spent about ten minutes looking for something edible. The best I could do was unsalted sunflower seeds. I ate sunflower seeds and watched Woody Allen until about four, when I finally dragged myself away to bed.
Saturday, December 28, 2002
It's easier to talk about writing (or, as the case may be, to talk about not writing), than to actually do the deed itself. And since I did say that I'm past the point of making excuses, it's sufficient to gripe about the inconvenience of "real life" and how easy it is to allow it to take advantage of me. It feeds off time, reduces time, removes time from my grasp and digests it. I didn't really get anything done yesterday. I wrote the entry here. I had phone conversation with Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press. Mariah at Vertigo called to say that I need to do a couple of additional captions for the last page of Bast #3 — I intend to get on that this evening. I did force myself to spend most of the day in my office, sitting in front of the computer, which is at least a step in the right direction. There's still so much unpacking going on, and trying to get things ready for the imment arrival of my oftmentioned Rhode Islander (more on her later).
I did discover a notebook that I thought I'd lost, the one in which I made the first notes for The Five of Cups, in September 1990. I'll be revising the "preface" a little in light of the discovery. Along with it, I found the absolute earliest typescript (discounting the high school fragments that made their way into the novel at various points), also circa late 1990. It was originally intended as a prologue, though I actually ended up using the scene in Chapter Five.
Then, last night, when I unpacked the video tapes, I turned up about a dozen or so that were unlabled. Most were nothing of interest, crap that should have been thrown out or taped over years ago, but a few were more interesting. First, I found a tape I made in early or mid October 1993, video that I shot as reference just before or just after I'd started work on Silk. At the time, I'd thought the novel would be set in Athens, Georgia, and there's about an hour of footage of the town. Then it cuts to Morris Avenue in Birmingham, where much of the novel actually was set. I think I'd intended to transplant Morris Avenue to Athens. Anyway, it's just me and Jennifer (I'm filming), walking up and down Morris not long before sunset. The building that had been Dr. Jekyll's was still standing. But the disarming part is when we finally reached the eastern end of the street and there's the old Liberty Overalls factory building, deserted and in disrepair. Of course, when we moved back from Athens to Birmingham in August 1997, the building had been converted to lofts and we rented #303. It was astoundingly weird, looking at the footage, at the me who didn't know that just four years later I'd be living right there at the end of Morris, in that big, empty building. Dot to dot, connecting this moment to that moment to now. It always frells with my head.
Then I turned up a tape of a Death's Little Sister show at the 40-Watt Club in Athens, from November 1996. I watched about four songs worth of it —” "Anchorheart," "Pretty," "House of the Rising Sun/Amazing Grace," and "Twelve Nights After" — before I was too freaked out to continue. Unfortunately, both the sound and video quality is pretty crappy. The sound tech was supposed to be minding the camera, but it turned out to be one long, out-of-focus, static shot of the stage. Still, it really made me miss the band (never mind that we pretty much all hated each other by that November), being in a band, doing music, singing, and it made me wonder how extraordinarily different everything would be today if, in February '97, when I left the band and it subsequently split up, I'd chosen DLS over my writing. It made me dizzy, realizing just how much would be different, the things that never would have happened, the things that might have happened instead. Sad and tired and dizzy.
The last of the three "interesting" tapes was raw footage from an aborted attempt at a little documentary that was originally to accompany the limited edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder. Me outside the water works tunnel on Red Mountain, and then on top of the mountain, talking about history and industry and geology. It wasn't nearly as strange to see as the two before it, since it only dates back to September 1999.
I swear, moving is like dredging, disturbing all the dusty, forgotten layers that have been allowed to accumulate at the "bottom" of your life, out of sight and mind.
And speaking of residential archaeology, I figured out yesterday that, back when this building was still an elementary school, my office was a restroom. I found a roughly circular depression in the concrete and finally it dawned on me that I was seeing a drain that had been sealed up, and that all the other patched spots along the west wall must be where toilets or sinks or urinals once stood. It kind of grossed Jennifer out, but didn't really bother me. It seems oddly appropriate.
Today my Rhode Islander (she has a name — Kathryn, or Thryn, or just Spooky) is en route to Atlanta. Right about now, I expect she's probably somewhere in Maryland. I'm trying to get the loft ready for a new round of boxes. She'll be arriving late tommorow, hopefully about 24 hours from now. So, I should end this longwinded entry and get back to work. Not real work, though. Cleaning, unpacking work, which is necessary, but annoying and only makes me feel more guilty that the frelling writing isn't being done.
Friday, December 27, 2002
For another year, it's over. Okay, well, almost over. There are still the big after-Christmas sales to go, but that's just epilogue and endnotes and suchlike. Allow me a Scroogely moment. Refer to my entry of 12/22 if you're not sure why I'm going on about this. I have to confess a guilty pleasure at hearing that the increase in retail sales this year was the worst in thirty years. Of course, most people are taking that to mean that this year's retail sales were the worst in thirty years, which isn't what it means. Retailers still sold a lot more than they did last year; only the rate of increase was down. No one at CNN or MSNBC is going to a lot of trouble to point out the difference. Growth is down, that's all. And, at some point, some future point which we will one day all eventually be forced to acknowledge, growth has to stop. Whether it's the growth of an economy, or a city, an organism or our own population, a military or a tree, unchecked growth cannot continue indefinitely. Nature imposes ceilings, even if our own selfish imaginations are unable to do so. In time, all things cease to expand (excepting perhaps the universe, depending which theory is presently in vogue). A point of absolute growth is finally reached. I doubt I'm the only person who finds this comforting.
Time may prove me wrong. It has before. I'm only working on historical precedent.
Move along, move along, move along.
If a writer is not writing, actually putting pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard, she is not working. This problem was discussed recently on my phorum discussion boards. And I'm at a point (it often comes just after the holidays) where I am forced to realize that I am not working, not really working. I finished Low Red Moon in August, just before Dragon*Con. I wrote three essays on the cancellation of Farscape in early and mid-September. In October, I wrote a long short story, "Andromeda Among the Stones," for Subterranean Press. In November, well, in November I did some editing and proofreading on The Five of Cups, and I had to deal with this move to Atlanta, but the truth is, in November I didn't write jack shit. In December, so far, I've finished the proofing and editing on "The Five of Cups and written an 8,000+ word preface for the novel. But, again, that's not real writing. I've done no real writing since I finished "Andromeda Among the Stones" back in October. Nothing that matters. Nothing that, by my reckoning, counts as work.
This is one of the reasons I'm stingy with that feeling of accomplishment that everyone seems so enamored with. It's a trap. At least it is for me. Nothing makes me lazier than patting myself on the back. This fall has been a good example. In early September, I looked at the feverish summer I'd spent on Low Red Moon, the nonstop, 7-days a week work that typified the writing of the book, and I was very proud that I'd worked so persistently and so hard and that the novel came out, in my estimation, pretty damned good. And, thought I, you deserve a little break. Just a little one. After all, I'd not had a real break in some time. Maybe a month or so to gather my wits and then set to work on the next novel, Murder of Angels. But a month turned into two months, and then three, and now four. Yes. It's been four months since I finished Low Red Moon. And that means it's time to get off my ass (so to speak, since a writer is pretty much doomed to a life on her ass) and get the gears turning again, the juices flowing, the word count going up and up and up. To stand, again, at the starting point, that steep drop off the edge down to nothing at all, nothing to catch me or break the fall until I make it. The beginning of the quest for The End. One of the most difficult things that I've had to reconcile myself to, as an author, is the way these quests have to continue, one after another, forever, until I die, because that's what writers do. There is no, "And then, having survived the trials of the journey, our hero arrives at last at the fabled The End and there she lives happily ever after." Because there is always another quest waiting. For all my forever. If I look at it that way, though, it can crush me. I have to try to keep my eyes on the next book, not the necessity of all the books that are waiting in my future. Just the next book. That's more than enough. And now it's time to make it start happening, no more excuses, no more back-patting, no more "yeah, but, really, there's been so much crap to deal with," nothing but getting down to the business of writing, taking the first step, falling and having faith I remember how to write the Very Soft Place at the bottom. That is what writers do. The rest of it, the rest of it is just the space in between.
The sun is bright and warm today, though we had lows in the twenties last night and will again tonight. Last night, Jennifer and I met Jim and The Other Jennifer at The Vortex at Little Five Points. A good dinner and conversation to help clear the holidays from my head. And tomorrow my Rhode Islander leaves for here, where she will arrive late on Sunday. And then all the pieces will be in place and the game starts itself over again.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Christmas morning. But, for the time being, I shall spare you all any further humbuggery.
No work yesterday. I'm waiting to hear what Bill Schafer thinks of the The Five of Cups introduction (actually, I'm calling it a "preface," as it really does consist more of prefatory remarks than any formal introduction to the novel). I finished it on Monday afternoon and e-mailed it out to Bill and others. Poppy and Thryn and Jenny all liked it. That's a start. But I felt there was so much left unsaid, considering the stacks of letters and files and drafts of the manuscript, considering the ten years I was trying to compress into a fairly brief essay. I suspect, no matter how many times I rewrite, it will always seem, to me, to come up short of the truth. And I keep thinking, this is most likely the only edition of this novel that will be printed (at least in my lifetime) and I'd better be sure and say it all, everything I want to say, because I won't get another chance. But then, not everything that can be said is worth saying. It's a lesson that more authors would do well to learn.
Yesterday, no work. I got up at 8 AM and watched the Farscape marathon until 3 PM, when I went out to do my last minute Christmas shopping and get some groceries. I considered going to see The Gangs of New York, but the latest showing at a nearby theater was at 6:10 and I'd wanted to go later. So, instead, I came home and spent most of the evening on the phone with my Rhode Islander, who, I might add, will be here in only three days' time. That's enough to keep my spirits fairly high.
The phone's ringing. Annoying. I need to shut off the ringer in my office, or at least turn the volume down some.
It's Jim (a friend) on the phone. He and Jenny are planning dinner tomorrow night. My life is filled with J's and K's; even my C's are hard.
The wind is wild today (there was sun for a moment), and was wilder last night. A truly blustery night. But the bluster is better than the torrential rain yesterday and night before last. We had some flooding here in Atlanta. Here in Atlanta. I like the sound of that.
Monday, December 23, 2002
Getting a slow start today. Now that the DSL is up and running, I'm trying to streamline my hard drive, getting rid of software I never use, upgrading stuff I do use, and making the switch from Netscape, which hardly seems to work with anything these days, to IE5. This is my first entry written in IE and it's a bit odd. The letters are HUGE. I wonder if there's some way to adjust this . . . hold on . . . there, that's better. Text zoom. It still looks very strange, though; I suppose I will get used to it, in time.
Yesterday I did more than 2,500 words on the introduction to TFoC, writing until early evening. This would count as my new record for Most Words Written In A Single Day, but as I said earlier, it doesn't feel quite right counting non-fiction. And, mostly, this is non-fiction. As non-fictional as I can make it without boring myself (and everyone else who has to read it) silly. So, the total word count on the introduction now stands at 7,767 words . . . and it's still not finished! I have to find the end of this thing today. Hopefully, it won't go past 8,500 words and I can be done by three or four this afternoon. This is an introduction I'd thought would only take me a day to write.
Farscape News: Starting at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, the Sci-Fi Channel will be rerunning the first eleven episodes of Season Four in succession, as a lead in to the last eleven episodes of Season Four, which will begin airing on January 10th (I'll be in frelling San Francisco at SpookyCon, of course; surely someone there gets SciFi). So, the Farscape Chain Reaction runs Christmas Eve Day, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. (EST). Here's a schedule of the episodes:
8:00 AM "Crichton Kicks"
9:00 AM "What Was Lost" Pt. 1 - "Sacrifice"
10:00 AM "What Was Lost" Pt. 2 - "Resurrection"
11:00 AM "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing"
12:00 PM "Promises"
1:00 PM "Natural Election"
2:00 PM "John Quixote"
3:00 PM "I Shrink Therefore I Am"
4: 00 PM "A Prefect Murder"
5:00 PM "Coup By Clam"
6:00 PM "Unrealized Reality"
The SFC will also rerun the most recent three eps of the first eleven of Season Four (yes, it is confusing) - 4.09, 410, and 411 - on January 3rd.
So, this is a good opporunity to catch up with the show and avoid another dose of It's A Wonderful Life.
If you're entirely new to the show, here's a primer that will help orient you a bit:
Unexpectedly, the SFC has moved Farscape back into its 8 p.m. (EST) Friday night time slot, where it should have been all along. As Producer David Kemper pointed out in a recent interview, it's a rather odd move, considering they have no intentions of continuing the series after the end of Season Four. The move to a 9 p.m. time slot was responsible for the small ratings drop in the first place, which the network used as part of its justification for cancelling the show. There are rumors that the move back to 8 p.m. may be cause for hope, hope that the SFC is still open to the possibility of renewing the show if it the final eleven episodes of Season Four do well in the ratings. So, please tune in tomorrow if you have the time, and keep an hour open Friday nights.
Off to work . . .
Sunday, December 22, 2002
I made the mistake of going "Christmas shopping" yesterday. I'd put the deed off as long as I could and, finally, sacrificed a day to the crowds and noise and conspicuous consumption. What else was I supposed to do? The President has made it plain that not indulging in gluttonous holiday spending is unpatriotic and cowardly, and I'd rather brave a whole herd of anthrax-infected reindeer than ever be thought either of those things. I may only be a lowly writer of crude melodramas and lurid horrors, but I still have to live with myself, you know. So I went. It was amusing for about the first two hours. And then the tawdry spectacle of the whole mess began to sink in. The sheer weight of it. All of these people, spending, spending, spending and I just wanted to start asking them, why? Why are you doing this? Sure, the economy would bloat and float like a dead carp if you didn't max out the credit cards, but that's not why these people are shopping. And it doesn't have anything to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, either. Of that much I'm almost 100% certain. A few might say that it's because they want to show family, friends, and loved ones how much they care, and, after all, in this society, spending money and accuring debt is the ultimate proof of love. Buy overpriced crap you can't really afford or your children (or parents or lover or whoever) will hate you. But I think most were on autopilot. They were shopping because it's Christmas time and at Christmas time we shop. I sat down on a bench and just watched them for a while. There was an intense, driven surreality to the scene. The dreadful piped-in music, the gaudy decorations, the halfhearted attempts, here and there, to make Christmas into anything but the secularized fiscal duty that it is. It was, in fact, enough to take your breath away, if you stared directly at it for long enough. If you stopped to consider the scope of it, that all across the country this same scene was being enacted, hundreds of millions of people in America alone, spending, desperately racing to beat the clock. Sure, they might pause at some point to pay lip service to church and family and goodwill towards the less fortunate (as long as the less fortunate are on the other side of the street), but this, this ugly feeding frenzy of buying, this has become the heart and soul of the season. No sense of a deeper meaning, that the gifts are merely symbolic gestures to convey anything of greater substance. The gifts aren't even truly gifts. They're as compulsary as any tax. They're a civic responsibility.
Bah humbug. You better fucking believe it.
There was one moment that almost brightened my day, though. In Saks, a couple of boys passed me. Both shot me disapporoving glances. One said, "Damn, she's scary." The other replied, without missing a beat, "Yeah. She dresses like my art teacher." God bless 'em.
I got back home later than I'd intended, sometime after dark, and sat down about 9 p.m. to work on the introduction for TFoC. I mananged another 951 words, despite a headache and the lingering taste of tinsel at the back of my throat. I knocked off about eleven. With luck, I'll finish the thing today and can move along to something else.
Excuse me. I'm still trying to scrape this yule thing off my feet . . .
Saturday, December 21, 2002
I think I'm still not quite awake. I woke up far too early this morning, at about 8:30, and couldn't get back to sleep. It's very cold here in Atlanta, but bright and sunny.
Yesterday I did another 1,784 words of the preface to TFoC. That's two good days work in a row. I think it's improving my mood, even though the subject matter, the vile days during which I wrote that novel, are nothing I'm eager to revisit. Work is work. Don't knock it. Also, many thanks to the fabulous Jennifer Lee, who showed up yesterday and straightened out my DSL situation. No more dial-up for me. It's amazing how much less annoying the web is when it actually works!
Today, it's back to work on the preface (which I need to finish by tomorrow at the latest). But first, I've put off the Christmas shopping as long as I may. I have to go forth into the crowds of faux good cheer and blaring holiday Muzak and be a good little consumer. Blegh. Fortunately, being the "crotchedy" individual that I am, my list is very short and, with luck, it won't take all day. Yes, Virginia. Christmas really does suck ass.
Friday, December 20, 2002
I'm a bit rushed this morning, as a techie friend who does computer consulting is coming over at one this afternoon to help us get the DSL up and running.
Yesterday I wrote a great deal. And it was good to be back at work. I did close to two thousand words on the preface for The Five of Cups. I'd say that's a personal record, most words for a single day, but it's non-fiction, so I'm not sure it would count. Anyway, I figure I'm slightly less than halfway through the preface, which I will return to this evening, when said DSL business is out of the way. It's a weird time to be talking about, those dreadful months in '92-'93 when I was writing TFoC.
I dozed off at eleven o'clock (!) last night, watching The Sand Pebbles on AMC (a channel which, having added commercials and forsaken letterboxing, has almost lost me as a viewer) and woke about 1:30 this morning to The Longest Day, at which point I dragged myself away to bed.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Yesterday was a terribly frustrating day, during which the chaos tried to reassert itself. First, the DSL annoyances. This place seems to have been wired by Jesuits bent of achieving a new geometry and we were finally, apparently, thwarted by a router box in the hallway. So, for the moment, I remain in the 20th Century, doomed to dial-up; we have someone coming to figure it out who knows a lot about the mathematical machinations of Jesuits. Then the introduction-preface-foreword thing for TFoC. I began reading correspondence relating to the book, dating mostly from 1993-1996, between me and Robert Eighteen-Bisang (former owner of the long-since defunct Transylvania Press) and between me and Poppy. Fascinating, weird, depressing, sad, baffling. I learned a lot about the book that I'd forgotten, but was left in a pretty sorry state for actually getting anything of substance written. I wrote a paragraph. Oh, and Poppy kindly e-mailed me her foreword for the tenth-anniversary edition of Lost Souls, which I'm hoping will provide some much needed inspiration.
Only nine days left until my Rhode Islander arrives, and this time to stay. That's pretty much keeping me going these days.
Last night Jennifer and I had an early dinner with friends, then made an 8 p.m. screening The Two Towers. I won't repeat my comments on the film here (I've already made a long post over in my discussion forum), I'll just say I liked it as much as The Fellowship of the Ring - it's a beautiful, amazing thing that Peter Jackson is doing. If you want to read my comments in the forum, go to:
The Two Towers
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Cloudy today. Those featureless gray clouds to say that winter is almost here.
I really was quite weirded out by all the TFoC arcana yesterday. Looking back at the entry I made late yesterday afternoon, I don't think I did a very good job of conveying exactly how weirded out I was (or am). Anyway, here's a fairly typical example of the many rejection slips I received in early 1993, while desperately seeking an agent who would represent an unknown author's first novel. It's from the Peter Lampack Agency in NYC (I have no idea if this agency is extant or not) and is a personalized form letter (the personalized bits are in brackets):
April , 1993
Re: [The Five of Cups]
Dear [Ms. Kiernan] :
Thank you for your letter regarding representation of the above-mentioned work. Unfortunately, having carefully considered your proposal, I am not confident we would be able to place your work successfully with any of the publishers with whom we work most closely. Today's market, as you know, is fiercely competitive.
Yes, you are the recipient of a form rejection letter and I apologize for this. It does not mean that I have not read the entire letter or package you submitted. It does mean that I am desperate and need to move fifty pieces of material off of my desk today. Once again, I am sorry if this format offends. We thank you very much for thinking of this agency and wish you the best in finding the right representation for your work.
Deborah T. Brown
These things absolutely devastated me at the time. Now, they just make me feel . . . strange. That was almost a million years ago, it seems.
Last night I had a big, geeky pre-The Two Towers dinner party. I made a pot of chili, watched the new episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then the Platinum edition DVD of The Fellowship of the Ring. The new, longer edit is really nice, and I think I actually liked it better than the theatrical release, which is unusual, as I usually feel that deleted scenes were better off deleted. The movie wasn't over until about 1:30 a.m. I hadn't seen it since June, I think, and had forgotten how utterly amazing and beautiful Jackson's vision of Middle-Earth is. Obviously, I'll be off to see The Two Towers this evening. There will be ents and wargs!
Meanwhile, today I get DSL and so will be joining the 21st Century (for whatever that's worth). Also, I'll be working on the introduction to TFoC. I only hung one picture yesterday. I have to do better than that.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
What a very peculiar day this has been. I've pretty much completed the editing on TFoC, and now have only the intro and endnotes to contend with. But that's not the peculiar part. Early this afternoon, I opened up a box of mss. that had been packed away in storage for some time, looking for the earliest existing draft of TFoC. I found it, and loads of notes and letters and things, going back to June 1992, that I thought had been lost. I spent about an hour sorting through them. Some of it will, no doubt, appear in the lettered edition of the novel, as extra goodies. Mostly, it was just extremely weird, handling all those old papers and envelopes. Smelling them. Thinking, When I wrote that . . . over and over and over again. Strange little notes that the me of then had left for the me of now (and whatever me may come to be in the years ahead). Anyway, it's all left me feeling quite odd. Oh, I also had to get a new biography written and off to the oragnizers of the ICFA.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Today, I finally felt myself slip back into the well-greased groove that I must roll along if I am to write and write as much as is necessary. It was a good feeling. I was starting to get flakyey, all this chaos and no work. I finished the read-thru on The Five of Cups. I hope that in the remainder of the week, I can do the introduction and endnotes. Then it will be done and out of here and I can get serious about Murder of Angels. Also, I wrote up my corrections for Bast #3 today and sent them off to Shelley Bond at Vertigo. we did have some gardners with noisy leafblowers show up late this afternoon, but I just turned the volume up on iTunes and let VNV Nation drown out the racket.
The weather's a smidgen warmer, just enough that the cryosphere is less active. On sunny days, the many windows in this place do a nice job of keeping the cold at bay. On cloudy days, though, it's draft city.
Oh, and I hung two more pictures today. At this rate, I should have them all up by 2003!
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Yesterday day was a bold rebellion against the inertial forces and chaos that have played so much havoc with my life the last few weeks. Among other things, I made it all the way through another chapter of TFoC. Now I only have a couple to go and I'll be done with the editing. Then I only have the introduction and endnotes to write. Hopefully, all this will be completed by Christmas. Today, I'll get through the next chapter.
I'm resisting the urge to take off and spend the day at a local gem, mineral, and fossil show. I'd just waste money on trilobites.
Last night, Jennifer and I and our friend Byron went to dinner and then a late showing of Star Trek: Nemesis. As I said on my discussion board, it wasn't the best Star Trek film, but it surely wasn't the worst, either. I liked it.
Saturday, December 14, 2002
A startling discovery. Some days, the cryosphere is much more active than others. On these days, it may have a maximum thickness of two feet or more, and sends chilly prominences even higher into the lukewarmosphere. At the moment, my feet are sunk deep in the cryosphere, which only laughs at the foolish conceit of my usually warm black-and-white stripy tights.
The last two days have been a bit of a mess. Struggling to get myself back into the routine necessary to get my writing done and being thwarted at every turn by the Necessary and the Unavoidable. On Thursday, for example, someone shows up to install the Direct TV dish (I only resorted to Direct TV because the local cable provider, ComCast, didn't carry the Sci-Fi Channel unless you got digital, and digital was unavailable in my area - which only matters because there are still eleven episodes of Farscape to go) and instead of taking about an hour, which is what we'd expected, he took [i]four frelling hours[/i] to get the job done. So, while he's banging about the roof and windows and in the living room, there's also workmen in the bathroom tinkering with the plumbing. Meanwhile, the painters are scraping some sort of protective covering from all the easterly-facing windows. Then, because this was obviously not distraction enough, the cat gets another abcess on her butt and we have to drop everything (as soon as the Extremely Slow Direct TV Guy is finally finished) and take her to the vet! I think that the sum total of the work I was able to get done on Thursday consisted of responses to a few e-mails and, late that night, sitting down and proofreading Bast #3.
On Friday, yesterday, I had an appointment in frelling Birmingham and so we had to drive back there (ugh) and didn't get home until about 9 p.m. So, needless to say, no work was done yesterday. Well, that's not quite true. From about 10 p.m. until about midnight I tried, unsuccessfully, to finish the Farscape article for SFSite.Com, to meet the deadline at noon today. Despite a can of Sobe Adrenaline, I was just too exhausted, my head too fuzzy, and I finally had to concede defeat and give up on the piece. Almost nothing pisses me off like defeat, or failure, or coming up short, or whatever you want to call it, especially when that means missing a writing deadline. In my entire career as a writer, I've only had to cancel on editors three times. The first time was in late 1996 and it was because I was stuck in Death's Little Sister; missing the deadline was a wake-up call that I had to choose the band or my writing. The last two cases have both been in the last ten days: first, it was necessary for me to pull out of the Cemetery Dance anthology, Taverns of the Dead, because I knew I didn't have time to get the story written, and now this thing with SFSite.Com. It's embarrassing, unprofessional, and, as I've said, pisses me off.
There is no greater asset to an author than time. Time is that magical thing that there is never enough of, that upon which everything hinges. Every letter I type is a second, a word a handful of seconds, a paragraph perhaps an hour, and so it goes. You lose time and the writing stops. The writing eats time like a bull hippo in a cabbage patch and must be fed. A writer who does not have time to write is not a writer. All of which is my indirect way of saying that, as of this afternoon, the moving chaos ends, whether or not the boxes are unpacked and the pictures hung and the bloody, frelling plumbing is functional. Today I go back to being Caitlín the writer, first and foremost and no more bullshit.
Yesterday, on the drive, I read more Derleth — "The House in the Valley" and "The Sandwin Compact." It's easy to pretend that reading is part of working (but, in honest moments, it must be admitted that this is a falsehood and only writing is truly working).
Last night, I watched the rather awful Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000. There was a halfway interesting fight at the end, and the opening sequence was fairly nice, but mostly it was an exercise in silliness. The movie was over at about 3:30 a.m., I think, and I dragged myself off to bed. Tonight, after I work (back to TFoC before Bill Schafer sends someone around to break my legs - never break an author's thumbs, just her legs), I'm going to see Star Trek: Nemesis.
And, now, because time is that thing that there will never be enough of, I will end this blogger entry, as it's 12:26 p.m. and the day is already slipping away from me. Oh, wait. Thanks to Steve Burnett for fixing the Farscape Chain Reaction banner ad, divesting it of the superfluous apostrophe.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
First off, thanks to Jason Lundberg, who wrote to tell me that the ICFA meeting is not in April, but in March. Jennifer actually caught the mistake right after I made the entry, but I was too busy to come back in and fix it. I'd confused the ICFA with another con that I have here in Atlanta in April. These days, I'm having enough trouble not confusing up and down.
The floor of my new office is concrete, covered over with some sort of smooth, brick-red finish. A dense layer of cold air hovers perpetually above the floor to a height of perhaps six or seven inches, no matter how much the heat blows; let's call it the cryosphere. And I hate wearing socks while I write (a point that my biographers, if any, will certainly overlook). So, it's going to be another winter of chilly feet. But i imagine it will be quite pleasant this summer. On very hot days I can lie on this floor and stay cool.
I fell asleep last night reading August Derleth's "The Seal of R'lyeh." It's a shame that Derleth didn't have just a little more of Lovecraft's magic.
A strange mood on me today, trying to think of something of consequence to say, something about the book I haven't yet begun or the one I just finished or the one from 1992 that I'm trying to edit. But nothing's coming, not really. It's a sign that i need to get back to writing, I think, back to real writing. I know it's time, again, when I begin to catch myself daydreaming as much I have been lately. My head off in a place that needs to be realized. Soon.
Meanwhile, most of yesterday (and a good chunk of last night) was spent on the aforementioned Farscape essay (with a lot of help from Jennifer). It's not going so well and my deadline in midday Saturday. Trying to synopsize 77 episodes into about 2,000 words. Trying to convey the story in the fewset possible words, without losing anything essential. And I loathe synopses. By their very nature, they are unreliable, untruthful things. They are the bane of writers (just have a look at the jacket copy on Silk sometime), who spent months or years trying to communicate subtleties, complexities, nuance, only to have it all melted down into a dry little cube for easy consumption. Nonetheless, I have to try to finish this thing, because I've promised and I hope that presenting a "clear" plot synopsis (groan) might turn a few new viewers on to the series, here in its eleventh hour. In case I fail, though, there's a very, very brief primer available at:
as a downloadable color PDF file. It's a start.
As for other work yesaterday, I had a conversation with Shelly Bond at DC/Vertgio about my forthcoming (January-March 2003) mini-series, Bast: Eternity Game and about future projects. You can get a sneak peek at Bast, including Dave McKean's great cover for Part One, at DCComic.Com. I have to proof Part Three today. Also, yesterday, I finally got all the fossils, skulls, things in jars, etc. unpacked, which cleared the place of yet another shitload of boxes.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Dreary, cold winter weather here in Atlanta. Wet, dreary, cold winter weather. But it could be worse. My poor Rhode Islander is having to contend with snow. I'm not a fan of snow. Snow was put here to make polar bears and musk oxen happy. It usually just annoys me.
Yesterday was a bit of a mess. But I did get more notes done on Murder of Angels, which was good. I think I've reached a point where I would commence writing the novel, were it not for all the editing left to do on TFoC That must be done first. Ducks in a row. Ducks in a row. Whatever.
Today, I'm writing my fourth essay on the Farscape cancellation, this time for SFSite.com. Well, actually, this article will be less about the fact of the cancellation and the campaign to save the series, and more of an "our-story-thus-far" primer for new viewers who want to begin watching the series when the SciFi Channel runs its Chain Reaction Christmas Eve day — the first eleven episodes of Season Four — and then resumes in its new 8 p.m. (EST) Friday night slot in January (the last eleven episodes of Season Four). If I can write a decent synopsis, the article will allow new viewers to be a little less lost. I haven't given up on the series. There is still hope. It's a damnable fact of this damnable universe — there's always still hope. Well, almost always. I also need to get a long-overdue updated biography off to the people at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, which I'll be attending in March.
Jennifer's continuing to unpack boxes in my office as I write this. It's distracting. Later today (or, more likely, tonight), I hope to finish unpacking the fossils and other specimens for the display cases.
Monday, December 09, 2002
How can it possibly be the ninth already? Oh, wait. That's an easy one. It was the eigth yesterday. Or, it'll be the tenth tomorrow (shortly, at that). Either way, there's my explanation.
Time waits for no one. Not even writers pursued by drooling packs of deadlines.
Today I finished proofreading the novella, "Andromeda Among the Stones." I think it's really one of my very best stories, up there with "Spindleshanks," "The Road of Pins," "Tears Seven Times Salt," and "A Redress for Andromeda." It is, of course, a "prequel" to the latter. And to "Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea," for that matter. That took about three hours. There was a ton of e-mail to deal with this morning. I think my post of 12/7/02 has now officially generated more e-mail than any single post before it. I spent a lot of time thinking about Murder of Angels, but never got around to actually sitting down and making more notes. But, I can say that I devoted the entire day to work, and none of it to unpacking. That's progress.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Sunday afternoon. Gray and chilly. Last night I had a combination my-friend-Jim-finished-his-huge-paper-on-poisons-in-Shakespeare/ housewarming party type thing. To say that I overindulged would be a shameful understatement. Sushi. Wine. A bloody huge box of Godiva chocolates (courtesy Bill Schafer, damn him). And I made Thai coconut chicken soup. So I woke this morning with an awful hangover, ate two tuna sandwiches for breakfast, drank a Sobe Power, then promptly fell asleep again until about 12:30 p.m. I awoke feeling somewhat less like ass, which was good as I had a Farscape Webmaster's Association meeeting at two o'clock and more unpacking and all the backed up writing stuff.
Lately, I've felt not so much like a writer as someone who spends her life endlessly packing and unpacking.
I hope I didn't offend too many readers with yesterday's diatribe. It's not that I didn't mean every word of it, because I did. It's just that my foul mood may have led to a less than tactful presentation. Thanks for the e-mails that didn't tell me to go frell myself with a corkscrew.
Something lighter for this afternoon. My recipie for Thai coconut chicken soup. One need not have read anything I've ever written to make it. Well, except what you're reading now, I suppose. Anyway, here goes:
Four cans of coconut milk (Goya's good, just be sure it's unsweetened)
Two cans of Campbell's chicken broth (it's better if you make your own broth and throw in some of the chicken, but the canned stuff works fine and is ever so much faster)
A generous number of fresh mushrooms (sliced)
One handful of fresh cilantro
A cup or so of finely sliced scallions
The juice of four - five limes (fresh, not that bottled stuff)
4 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 tblspoon chili oil (a little more if you like more heat; this one's really a "to taste" situation)
1 tblspoon salt
Mix the broth and coconut milk in a large stewpot. Add all the above ingredients, in whichever order suits you. Be sure to crush the cilantro firmly in your hand before adding it, to better release the flavour. Bring to a vigorous boil and let simmer for 45 min.-1 hr. Serves 6-8 (I have always been incapable of cooking small amounts of anything).
Well, that was different. I need more Tylenol.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
I'm feeling unaccountably depressed and irritable this morning, listening to The Crüxshadows hoping to lift my spirits. Sometimes I just wake up this way.
I think that I'm becoming extremely anxious to start the new novel. I don't mean to write these silly notes, these cheat sheets, but to actually get back to the business of writing. To stand at the beginning, again, and take the first step towards that inevitable, elusive end. Often it seems that my writing is almost entirely about finding endings, shining a light down paths so that characters may survive long enough to reach conclusion (though conclusion may entail their death; Dancy and Elise in Threshold, for example). Standing here at the start and knowing that I shall not be this near the starting point again for many, many months. The books all wind back upon themselves. Closed universes. Einstein had a name for these sorts of temporal loops, but I can't remember what he called them. The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning is the end. Again, again, again. I suppose that was very literally true with Threshold and Low Red Moon, but in a deeper sense, it seems always true of what I write. I see the end from where I stand, at the start, forget it in the long walk to completion where I will discover it again, transformed utterly but still somehow exactly the same as when I began. Round, and round, and round. Here I am now, and the characters, my unfortunate actors, are waiting in the wings for the curtain to rise and the lights and the crowd and that first line of dialogue. All this life is in our way, mine and theirs, all this moving and illness and romance and obligation, all these things rob us of the time needed to make the trip from beginning to end. Jealous little gods, these books inside me wanting out. The worlds writhing inside my skull. My skull is small and tight and lacks the space they require.
I am going on, aren't I?
Something I've become curious about, though: people who read my journal, but haven't read anything else I've ever written. None of the novels, or short stories, or novellas, or comics, or non-fiction — nothing but the journal. They write me letters, these people. "Dear Caitlin," they will say. Or, the polite and mannered ones, who are few, "Dear Ms. Kiernan, I've never read your books or stories, but I read your blogger . . ." Something to that effect, always. I never know what to say to these people. Why the hell would anyone want to read this damned thing except as an appendix to my fiction? I mean, who gives a frell, otherwise? I'm a writer. I write books and stories. The blogger was only an idea to promote the books. Nothing more. It wasn't even my idea that I keep one while writing Low Red Moon. It was Neil Gaiman's. And yet I get correspondence from people who seem to see the blogger as an end unto itself. They seem to read dozens and dozens of the web journals, many of them. Is this something more real to them, to replace the annoying and necessary fantasy of fiction? A new specie of voyeurism? It seems that way to me. I especially love the ones who read the blogger, but not my real writing, and then e-mail me to say that I shouldn't complain about this or that or anything, and that they know all about me because they read my online journal. The joke's on them, of course. All of this is lies. Every single word. Of that I am almost quite certain. I save the true things for my fiction. See Ursula K. LeGuin's indespensible distinction between that which is "true" and that which is only "factual." Facts are, of necessity, falsehoods, for they will all change, in time. This blogger is nothing but a pile of damned facts and you'll learn nothing of consequence from reading it. It's only a diversion. A way to mark my mornings. Or evenings. Or whatever.
A way to spill a little of the irritability out into the gluttonous, masochistic world. The world that slows down for car crashes and speeds up for yellow lights. The world that thinks "truth" can be found only in the "real world" and that fiction is just someone trying to make them smile or laugh or scream. Those people.
Oh, I'll stop ranting a moment to heap thanks upon Darren McKeeman of Gothic.Net for running, free of charge, banner ads for Farscape, which returns to the Sci-Fi Channel in January. Darren (or Durwood or Darwin or Derwin) is also organizing SpookyCon in San Francisco and e-mailed me an article this morning, the gist of which seemed to be that all true (i.e., native) San Franciscans talk funny.
I need to go find something useful to do with what little's left of the morning.
I'm too tired to post. So why am I here, typing? My index finger wants to sleep. But it's having to settle for a compromise. A short entry, then sleep. I'll do a better job of things in the morning.
Much work today, but mostly of the unpacking boxes of books sort. The office is looking like an office. There are still twenty or so boxes of books and a lot of pictures to hang, but we're in the home stretch. The rest of the place is looking pretty good too, I think. I did do some writing work today. Another page of notes for Murder of Angels and proofreading on "Andromeda Among the Stones." Also, aRvin sent me the back cover design for the disc for my comments. It's going to look great, as well as sound great. I believe Derek and crew are doing the last bit of studio work on it this week. I think I did other things, too, but I'm too sleepy to remember them.
The black kitty, whom Thryn and I have named Goblin (and whom Jennifer refers to as Young Master Goblin) is currently residing in Jennifer's bedroom. Being declawed, he was getting a rough time of it from another local tom and we've taken him in, at least for the weekend. I have to decide what's to be done with the poor little fellow on Monday. I'm really not up to taking on another cat just now, but we had to go and name him.
Tonight I rented the newly-released third volume DVD of Farscape, Season Two, and watched "Won't Be Fooled Again" and "The Locket." The latter is truly one of the best episodes of any television series ever made.
Now I go to bed. Now.
Friday, December 06, 2002
Friday morning. I think that tonight I'll take a break from all this unpacking and go to see Wes Craven's They. I'm not a fan of Craven's work, but I feel like a good scary movie and the trailer looks good (oh, and you've said that before, haven't you, Caitlín?). Anyway, at least the sun is shining today. A bright December morning here in Atlanta. There are still a lot of leaves of the trees, red and gold and yellow in the sun.
Slowly, my life is becoming less about boxes and packing tape and more about writing again. Slowly, but surely. Yesterday was mostly unpacking, but I did look over the front cover design for the insert for Our thoughts make spirals in their world; beautiful work by aRvin. I think everyone's going to love the disc. I know I'm going to. It's nice to be working on something musical again, even if my involvement isn't on the musical end. Also, Bill Schafer sent me a pdf of the Embrace the Mutation chapbook to proof (it includes my rather long "short" story, "Andromeda Among the Stones") and it looks great, too, but still has to be proofed. Yesterday I also bowed out of an anthology, something I've only ever done once before, I think. It was a book called Taverns of the Dead, forthcoming from Cemetery Dance Publications, and, regrettably, I'm so far behind because of the move and the Crüx flu, I just didn't have time to meet the Dec. 31st deadline. No more notes on Murder of Angels yesterday, but I intend to get back to it this afternoon.
I did stop by Oxford Comics last night and pick up the new Gloomcookie and Nightmares and Fairy Tales, both by Serena Vanentino (Slave Labor Graphics).
The black almost-still-a-kitten I mentioned briefly back in my 12/4/04 entry may soon be coming to live with us. He seems to have been abandoned, an especially unforgivable sin as whoever had him before had him declawed. It's an horrific practice. I say that as a cat owner with antique, clawable furniture. Imagine having the third joint of each of your fingers removed. That's how a cat is declawed, as the actual bony core of the claw is the third phalange. And then to abandon the declawed, defenceless thing — well, anyway, if he checks out clean at the vet he may be coming in to keep Sophie company in her old age. I didn't really want a second cat, but he left us a dead chipmunk this morning and I'm easy to bribe with dead things.
Last night, I fell asleep on the sofa, watching Passport to Pimlico, and woke, about 4 a.m., to The Lion in Winter. I lay there a bit, eating jellybeans and trying to recall why I'd used the latter in "Salammbô." I finally gave up and crawled off to bed.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Apparently this morning's headache was mostly a severe case of dehydration, which I treated with a half-gallon of iced tea. By late morning, I felt much better.
And the office was made functional. Which is not to say unpacked. It's still far from unpacked. But it is functional. I was actually able to get some work done today. Real writing work, not packing and unpacking work. I burned a CD for Derek with my contributions for the Our thoughts make spirals in their world disc and finally sent it off to the post office. I did some stuff I had to do for the disc's insert. I e-mailed Bill Schafer a line drawing of Dicranurus monstrosus for Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold. But, most importantly, I began notes for Murder of Angels. It seemed appropriate, that I should begin work on the new novel on the first full day in the new apartment. I did a fair amount of notes last November, gearing up to write Low Red Moon, and the exercise proved quite useful. As I've often said, I steer away from conventional outlines, which I a) find confining and b) never follow anyway, but I am discovering that a dozen or so pages of notes prior to the commencement of the actual writing isn't such a bad idea. I just have to not allow them to become restrictive. I have to remind myself, "You can ignore all this later on if you want to do so." The first hurdle that I'm having to overcome is exactly how I'll go about writing what will be, essentially, a sequel to Silk set ten years after the events of that novel. I can see that it will be more of a true fantasy than any novel I've written to date. I think I'll like that part; I'm not sure how other people will feel. More on that later.
And speaking of San Francisco, this evening I finalized my plans for attending SpookyCon in January. I'll be staying on three days afterwards, thanks to the hospitality of Darren McKeeman (Gothic.Net guru and SpookyCon organizer) and his wife Eliza, to do research for Murder of Angels. I've not been to San Francisco since May 1997, so I'm beginning to look forward to the trip.
So far, I've found only one casualty of the move, but it's a significant casualty. My old Apple, Pandora, the Mac Colour Classic, apparently got bumped about at some point and some bit or another that controls the monitor was jostled out-of-whack (technically speaking). So, she'll have to go to see a Mac doctor, just as soon as things calm down a little. It will only be the second time in the nine and a half years that I've owned her that she's needed a repair; the first was only a broken on/off switch. In computer years, I suppose she's a fossil, but I'm fond of the old gray thing.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Sorry there was no entry yesterday. It would seem that Blgger is rationing service in an attempt to herd everyone towards BloggerPro. I know far too many people who pay for BloggerPro, only to have it be as unreliable as the free version, to play lemming on this one.
Here I am in the "new place," and I have a headache and outside the sky is gray and threatening ice. Nothing ever goes the way I plan (well, not often enough to see any statistically significant pattern). The movers didn't finish by 2 p.m. on Monday. It was more like 4:30 p.m., and we were 6 p.m. getting out of Birmingham. Even then, we had to leave some things behind (including the cat), requiring a very annoying and, considering how exhausted Jennifer and I both were by last night, dangerous trip back to Birmingham. At 11:27 p.m. (CST) we departed Liberty House for the last time and got back to Atlanta about 3:30 this morning. I went straight to bed. I think that once you've ammassed enough "stuff" that it cannot all be transported in the largest available U-Haul truck, plus a medium-sized U'Haul trailer, it's time to stop frelling moving.
Today I have to try to make the office functional, so I can get back to the business of writing.
Yesterday morning, while the movers unloaded, I walked around the grounds of the new place. We have absolutely marvelous oaks (huge and ancient), sycamores, magnolias, and dogwoods. It's nice to have grass and trees and squirrels and such. Nature at one's doorstep (though I will miss the sound of freight trains in downtown Birmingham). I met a pretty little black boy cat with a red jingly collar, hardly more than a kitten, who followed me about the property (he seems to have been abandoned here). I found a nickel. The old schoolhouse (circa 1907) is really remarkable. We even have swings and blackboards on the walls. This will, I think — I hope — be a very good place to live. Grand thanks to Byron, Jennifer (the other Jennifer!), and Jim for going out of their way to help us get here. My Rhode Islander will arrive late in December, come to stay. Before then, I have at least a thousand things to do. At least.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
I'm writing this entry from the Linn-Henley Research Library at the Birmingham Public Library. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post it. Later today, I hope. At the moment, it's 12:18 p.m. Back at Liberty House, Jennifer is overseeing the movers. Here, I'm trying to get a little work done, amid the chaos. Well, there's no chaos here. Here is one of the very few places, one of the few things, that I will miss about Birmingham, Alabama. This long gallery with its seven tall windows facing south, its great mural of mythological and literary figures, painted by Ezra Winter in the late 1920s. The dark wooden shelves. The calm. This room appears in Threshold, of course. Chance and Dancy have a short conversation here. In Low Red Moon, Deacon walks past this room on his way to the pay phone. If you'd like to see the murals, visit the BPL website, at BPLOnline. There will be a photo of the mural in Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold. When I was a kid, before they built the ugly, angular new library building on the other side of Twenty-First Street, with its featureless, smooth, 90-degree walls and pointy glass atrium, this was the central portion of the BPL and on rare occasions I'd get to come here from Leeds. It seemed like a very long trip at the time. This place always felt, to me, like a church. Good libraries often feel like churches to me. When Poppy and I visited the old library at Trinity College in Dublin back in 1996, we both cried at the sight of it; awe and reverence and the weight of so many books and time and history stacked about us. This is becoming a rather long paragraph, isn't it? Sorry.
Hopefully, the movers will be done by 2 p.m. and, after a last check through the loft, we can be on our way to Atlanta.
I've spent 61 months of my life in Liberty House. When I was a kid, when this was the main library building, Liberty House was the factory for Liberty Overalls. It had been a sweatshop during the 1930s and '40s. There are still holes in the hardwood floors where the massive sewing machines and cutting tables and such were bolted. One wonders what ghosts haunt such a place, who the women were who spent their lives working in the heat and noise and air heavy with dangerous textile fibers and the stink of dye. Their callused hands. The place has its share of odd angles, as visitors have often remarked to me. Anyway, 61 months, more than five years. It's hard not feel a little sad, leaving the place for what will be the last time. This morning, I checked my e-mail in my eviscerated office, the last "work" I'll ever do from Liberty House.
There will be a few other things I'll miss about Birmingham, to be honest. I've gotten a good number of e-mails the last few months, chiding me for being so down on the "Magic City." Personally, I think I've been not half so hard on it as it's been on me, and many, many others. It's still not a friendly place, but there has been progress. This may yet be a good place someday. Maybe. I'll miss dining at Silvertron in Forest Park and at Surin West (Thai) at Five Points South. I'll miss the sight of the Red Mountain cut (again, see Threshold), with its spectacular layer cake of Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks. I'll miss some of the old buildings downtown — the Redmont, the Tutwiler, the Transportation Building. I'll miss cobblestoned Morris Avenue, which has figured so prominently in my writing. I'll miss the old Alabama Theater, one of the South's last grand movie palaces, with its "Mighty Wurlitzer" organ. I'll miss the Fourth of July fireworks over Red Mountain, and the rusting, Gigeresque hulk of Sloss Furnace. I'll miss the little parks along Highland Avenue — Rhodes, Rushton, and Caldwell — where I've spent many summer and autumn afternoons walking. I'll miss oddities like the water works tunnel, and the Temple of the Sibyl in Vestavia. But I think that's about it. A few good things, but nothing to keep me here.
I'll not miss the small-mindedness of so many of the city's inhabitants, their dogged unwillingness to let go of old hatreds and fears and ignorance. All the old prejudices that Birmingham likes to pretend are old, but which are still alive and well and obvious to anyone who doesn't fit the mold. Once, I thought that the whole wide world must surely be as fouled by this meanness of spirit, this hardness of soul and mind, but then I spent time in places where people have better things to do than try to mind the business of others. Someday, maybe the conformist Bible-Belt mindset and its accompanying xenophobia will vanish from Birmingham. I'd like to think so, because there are some good people here who surely deserve better. And please, don't bother e-mailing to tell me how I've not been fair to this city. I probably won't read whatever it is you write and I have been fairer to Birmingham than it has ever been to me. And I've lived here, on and off, since 1983, so I think it's safe to say I've given the place "a chance" to show me its good side. It's not my duty, as a writer, to heap undeserved flattery upon places I've lived. It's my duty as a writer to tell the truth, as best I can see it, even at the risk of being both wrong and unpopular for having done so. The City Council can deal with Birmingham's image problems.
I am moving on. Those who stay behind will make of Birmingham what they may, with whatever strength and resolve and insight they find to carry it foreword. I'm not burning a bridge, I'm only crossing one. It will always be there, behind me.
My film-rights agent at UTA in Los Angeles asked, a little while back, how leaving Birmingham would affect my writing, as so many of my books and stories have been set here. At the time, we thought I was going all the way to Providence, not just over the state line to Atlanta. But I couldn't answer him then and I still can't. All I can say is, "We'll see." The next novel, the one I'll begin writing this month (tentatively titled Murder of Angels) will divide itself evenly between Birmingham and San Francisco. And then I intend to set no more novels here. Maybe the occasional short story, but that's all.
I should go now, as there are other things that need attending to.
Posted Tuesday a.m. by Jennifer. We are in Atlanta