Friday, February 28, 2003
My mind is too much on war this morning. What feels like the inevitable coming war. I just read the news that Baghdad has agreed to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles, but it's hard to imagine this will dissuade Bush. He has 225,000 US troops posied to invade. I imagine him looming above a vast Risk board, piling all his little pieces into the Persian Gulf, waiting for his next roll of the dice. I wonder if he doesn't imagine pretty much the same thing. We are about to be dragged into a war that virtually no one in America understands, because Bush has managed to hide so well behind the spector of Al Queda and 9/11. I don't think any of us really understand why this war is coming. I can't help but feel that nothing anyone can say or do at this point is relevant, that history is set on this account. I read Yeats' "The Second Coming" again after reading CNN.com. "The falcon cannot hear the falconer." "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity." "The darkness drops again; but now I know / That twenty centuries of stony sleep / Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, / And what rough beast . . ." A new Gallup poll shows that, at this point, only 47% of the registered voters polled would vote for Bush for another term. I think he doesn't care. After all, it's not like he was legally elected to this term.
And now we're all going to be assigned a "personal threat level" upon purchasing airline tickets. Green. Yellow. Red. If the Islamic extremists don't get us, rest assured, Republican extremists will.
I can't work and think about these things. And I have to work.
Yesterday, Spooky and I made it through chapters Six, Seven, and Eight of Low Red Moon. Today we do chapters Nine and Ten. It's going very well. As I said yesterday, I'm genuinely enjoying this read, as a novel, as a novel that I wrote, which is a bit of a new experince. I can only hope readers feel the same way. And there is still much concern regarding the title of the next novel, the one currently in utero. From Kevin Anderson:
My title proposal is this: Of Light and Shadows; with calling the books this, you loose the Queen part, even though it is still there
unseen, but you have both aspects of Her present. Tell me what you think? (Or not, depending on your mood.)
Your books just get better and better -- you ROCK!
I do, don't I? Thanks. Also, from Franklin Harris:
Feh. I still like Murder of Angels best as far as the new book's title goes. Don't throw it out yet.
I haven't. Thrown it out yet, I mean, and perhaps it is still the best of the bunch. I may write to the band and see how they feel about it. I suspect they couldn't give a crap.
The usual suspects will be over for Farscape tonight. I may go to Athens tomorrow, just to have a day away from here. Off to read now . . .
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Yesterday was a day of much work and progress. There are far too few of those. Days when everything just happens the way that it should.
I have no idea what sort of day today will be.
I do know that I need to get through chapters Six, Seven, and Eight of Low Red Moon, because I need to finish with the proofreading on Monday, if possible (I have to be out of town on Tuesday and would like to see this done before then). I am very much enjoying reading the novel. That's something else that happens far too infrequently, me enjoying something that I've written. Low Red Moon is, on the one hand, a far darker novel than Threshold, and far, far darker than Silk, but it's also peppered throughout with an unexpected humour. I've never thought myself much for humour, but reading through the ms., there are short passages that are absolutely hilarious. And I think they're needed.
The predominant sort of correction in this ms. seems to be the insertion of missing words. It's a sign of how quickly I wrote the novel, and how deeply I was immersed in its writing. I'm sure the words were there in my head at the time, they just never made it out onto the page. "The mockingbird cocked its furtively to one side and blinked its small black eyes." But these are the easy things to fix. Unlike continuity problems. So far, I haven't encountered any of those, though. No one's eyes have suddenly changed colour in the middle of a chapter. If anyone knows whether or not there are motels on Pawtucket Avenue in Providence, please e-mail me. Neither Spooky nor I can remember and it's relevant. Anyway, we made it through chapters Four and Five yesterday. Things are getting interesting.
And the e-mail keeps coming in. Marci Kiser writes:
But dearest Caitlin, you can't use Book 4. It's already the title of an Aleister Crowley work. Perhaps you should just approach it as ostentatiously as possible and just call it Shadows, and the Queens Thereof or something else with that vague grandiose feeling. Or something silly like Satin, and progressing through the lives of the Silk characters through all the varied fineries, until reaching Burlap or Mixed Fibers.
That's the most sensible suggestion I've heard thus far. Perhaps Hairshirt would be appropriate for this one . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
I think I'm even less awake today, though it's a bit later than my post yesterday. The strange, largely forgotten-upon-awaking-dreams continue. I was going to bitch about the weather, but I just saw a doppler map for the country and I think I'll skip that one. We're very lucky down here in Atlanta. I could gloat, but I'm too sleepy.
This business of a title for the next novel, which might be The Queen of Shadows, is attracting more e-mail than usual. Here are a couple (posting them helps me stave off having to think for a few more minutes). The first, from one Harry Chaplin, offers a curious translation of part of my entry from yesterday. I quote:
But I thought it was obvious that what you were thinking was this:
HI GREG111!!1 LOL THX!!11111 OMG AT LEAST U KNOW WUT A FADA IS IF ONLY I HAD A NIKEL FOR 3VERYONA WHOD DECIEDD IT WASNT WORTH TEH TROUBLE 2 INCLUDE TEH GAEILGE ACANT!1!! AT ANY RAET ARGH1!11 WTF (NO IMM NOT TRYNG 2 SOUND LIEK A PIRAET ó TAHT WAS AN ARGH OF FRUSTRATION THEN AGANE MAYB PIRAETS R JUST FRUSTRAETD WRIETRS WIT WODAN LEGS)!!11 OMG ID FORGOTAN ABOUT DA T111!11! OMG WTF H!!1!11 WTF LOL WHIET BOK B/C ITS ALSO KNOWN AS TEH WITCH IN DA WOD (1939)!1!!!! LOL MORAOVAR I WASNT EVAN R OF DA FACT TAHT THEYRE A PU ANDERSON COLACTION (1978) OF TEH SMA TITLA UNTIL I DID A GOGLA S3ARCH JUST NOW1!1!!11 WTF LOL AND RILLY TEH QUEN OF LIGHT AND SHADOW MIGHT B 2 CLOS3 BY MAH OWN REKONNG!1!1! OMG WTF LOL I DO LIEK DA WAY IT FLOWS BUT DISLIEK UNINTENTIONAL ALUSION (ANTI-ALUSION)?!!?!!! WTF WHICH TAHT WUD CONSTITUT311!!1 LOL MAH 3DI2R MIGHT B JUST FIEN WIT IT MAYB BUT IT WUD PROBABLY BUG MA FOR YAARS!!!!! OMG SO NOW I HAEV 2 WONDER IF DA QUEN OF SHADOWS IS STIL GOD!!!1!1! OMG PROBABLY AS GOD AS IT 3VER WAS!!1!!!1 AND I SHUD AD I SENSA SOM3THNG FUNDMENTALY UNNATURAL ABOUT TRYNG 2 CHOSA A NM3 IN FRONT OF TEH WHOLA WAB-BROWSNG BLOGER-READNG WORLD11!!11! WTF A BIT LIEK CHANGNG ON3S PANTEIS ON A CROWDED FREWAY I SUSPECT11!11!! LOL BUT I START3D IT!!!! OMG LOL AND ITS NO MORE UNATURAL THAN UNNATURAL AFTER AL !1!111!1 OMG LOL
So, that's what I was really thinking, hmmm? I suppose that explains the splitting headaches and nosebleeds, or vice versa. The next e-mail, from one Dennis Howard, is a little easier on those of us still clinging foolishly to English:
I just started reading your weblog recently and I've been enjoying it. But about that changing your panties on the freeway thing -- you remember, don't you, that Roger Zelazny wrote a novel called Jack of Shadows?
Queen, Jack. Someone else can write the Ace and King novels. :)
Hell. Maybe I'll just called the dratted thing Book Four and be done with it. That does have a certain postmodern something or another about it that would at least sit well with the academics. "Kiernan has boldly eschewed the distracting and antiquated baggage of a title beyond the self-evident, exploring the potential links between minimalist signification and fundamental narrative divisions blah blah blah." I could do better, though. Book 4. Or just B4, which could serve double duty as a title and an allusion to this story's role in overall scheme of things. Wait. I'm not even sure what I'm talking about anymore.
Anyway, yesterday Spooky and I proofread chapters Two and Three of Low Red Moon. I think Chapter Three is one of my best pieces of writing to date (every now and again I get to say something really cheeky like that). I also worked on a bit of an interview that I'm doing by e-mail (I do most interviews by e-mail). My comp copies of Bast: Eternity Game Part 3 arrived. Today I have to send a new short story off to Gothic.Net (I'll let you know when it goes online), take the signature sheets for the Embrace the Mutation chapbook to the p.o., read chapters Four and Five, and wait for a call from my Hollywood agent.
And I have to remind you to watch Farscape on Friday night. If you want to know more, follow the frelling link. You're all big boys and girls.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
It is ungodly early to be doing this blogger thing, but here I am, regardless, because I'm supposed to be getting an early start today. Another restless night of dreams that weren't quite nightmares, but definitely had ambitions in that direction. And today the weather's cooler again. Not quite cold, but close. Too close for my reptilian ectothermic likings. At least the sun is shining bright. I think there's rain on the way.
I'll throw out an e-mail. I know it's the last resort of the not-quite-awake-enough-to-be-entertaining, but what the frell:
My apologies; I can't figure out how to do the fada on the 'i' in this e-mail. I just wanted to say that despite what your editor might think, I don't think there's anything wrong with The Queen of Light and Shadows as a title; it echoes T.H. White's The Queen of Air and Darkness. I don't know whether that would be a good thing or not, though.
Hi, Greg. Thanks. At least you know what a fada is; if only I had a nickel for everyone who'd decided it wasn't worth the trouble to include the Gaeilge accent. At any rate, argh. (No, I'm not trying to sound like a pirate ó that was an argh of frustration; then again, maybe pirates are just frustrated writers with wooden legs.) I'd forgotten about the T. H. White book, because it's also known as The Witch in the Wood (1939). Moreover, I wasn't even aware of the fact that there's a Poul Anderson collection (1978) of the same title, until I did a Google search just now. And really, The Queen of Light and Shadow might be too close, by my own reckoning. I do like the way it flows, but dislike unintentional allusion (anti-allusion?), which that would constitute. My editor might be just fine with it, maybe, but it would probably bug me for years. So, now I have to wonder if The Queen of Shadows is still good. Probably as good as it ever was. And, I should add, I sense something fundamentally unnnatural about trying to choose a name in front of the whole web-browsing, blogger-reading world. A bit like changing one's panties on a crowded freeway, I suspect. But I started it. And it's no more unnatural than "unnnatural," after all.
At any rate, I'm off to work on Low Red Moon. Spooky and I made it through the Prologue and Chapter One yesterday; today we need to do chapters Two and Three. The editorial letter wasn't the nasty beast I always dread editorial letters will be, but rarely ever are. But I think I may still not have enough distance from this novel to be objective about it. Of course, that will probably always be true.
Monday, February 24, 2003
I'm running just a little late today, my eyes hurt, and can't seem to wake up. I hate that. I think the pull of my dreams, which were especially vivid last night, are too strong. Dream gravity. Deformations in the fabric of consciousness. Comas may be black holes.
Yesterday I read Chapter Three of The Queen of Shadows aloud (this is me, seeing if I'm going to get used to that title, if it's going to stick). I'm still happy with it. Today I need to either begin Chapter Four or begin the read-through on LRM. I'd prefer the former, as I feel the need to write, but I probably ought to do the latter, instead. It's more pressing. And, I admit, I'm a little anxious to see if it still holds together. I haven't read the entire book yet, as a book. That might seem strange to some people, but I can't ever read back through a novel, not for months. It's just too fresh in my mind. It's more like something that just happened, something I've just lived through, than something I've just written. That close, it's hard for me to bring to the read an appropriate degree of objectivity and willingness to make changes that need to be made. That close, I'm still too weary from the writing, from the thing itself. But it's been almost six months now since I finished it (damn), and I think that there's enough distance.
Bookkeeping. On Saturday, I got the earnings statement for Threshold, for the period ending September 30th. Very good numbers and a very low return rate. It's something to be cheerful about. Bookstores are ordering the book and, for the most part, those copies are selling to readers and not being returned to the publisher. Returns are worse than nightmares. Returns, for authors, are worse than taxes. Yeah, I know this is boring stuff, but it's part of the Big Picture.
Here's something to make up for the boredom. It's also a fairly accurate depiction of my mood at the moment:
I've begun reading Wicked by Gregory Macquire.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
I really do have to stop peeking in at Usenet. This, which I found yesterday evening, written by one Eloise Mason (nťe Beltz-Decker), in response to a thread discussing books which end abruptly:
I'd like to nominate CaitlŪn Kiernan's Silk in this category. It was lovely, creepy, atmospheric, with all these neat people ... and then, towards the end, not only did she avoid easy, obvious resolution - if this were a car, she swerved violently around several POSSIBLE points or endings she could have hit, and then just stopped the car, got out, and let it run there with the keys in until snow began drifting over it, leaving it for future generations of archaeologists to wonder about.
As I finished reading this passage aloud to Jennifer, I was ecstatic. Here was someone who really did understand the ending of Silk. To be blunt, she got it, the effect I was trying to achieve, the reason I threw out the first ending I wrote and wrote another instead. It was truly one of the most flattering paragraphs of amateur criticism relating to Silk I've read (and there have been volumes). I was actually smiling. But then I read on. How the ending made her want to fling the book against a wall, how that's a shame because she'd really loved the book up until the end, how any resolution, including one involving space aliens, would have been preferable to no resolution at all. I sighed and sat back and shrugged my shoulders. It didn't really diminish my joy at the first paragraph of the post. She still saw what I was trying to do. She just needed a little bow tied neatly on the top of everything.
There's a very close connection, I suspect, between our instinctual fear of death and the disdain many people have for stories that choose to avoid resolution. In both cases, things just stop, more or less. You never see how it all ends, because it doesn't really ever end, except for our part in it. "What? That's all?! No, no, no! I want to see what comes next!" The fictional lives of the characters in Silk didn't end at the end of the novel, just the part I chose to reveal at the time. And when we die, whether our consciousness continues or not, the rest of the world goes merrily on without us, and we never know. I suspect it's all harder these days, so weaned are we all on instant gratification.
Anyway, Eloise Mason understood, I think, she just didn't like what she understood. I suppose that's fair enough.
For my part, the paragraph quoted above is a fine description of one of the countless lessons that writers need to learn.
And, for what it's worth, the novel I'm working on now is a continuation of Silk, which is to say, the story didn't end at the end of that novel. It will be continued, though back in January 1996 I thought I'd ended it and was happy with that unresolved ending. There's great beauty in unanswered questions, often far more than in the facts we pry from the world.
Oh, and I think, maybe, that new book has a title now. It came to me yesterday, while I was signing the signature sheets for the chapbook that will include "Andromeda Among the Stones." I think the title will be The Queen of Shadows. I thought about The Queen of Light and Shadows, which is closer to the truth, but may have too many syllables to make my editor happy and, besides, Jennifer and Spooky both said it sounded more like a fantasy novel. I didn't point out that it is a fantasy novel. I knew what they meant. Elves and fairies and unicorns, oh my. That sort of a fantasy novel, the faux Tolkein meets AD&D brand of fantasy, which it certainly isn't. Though there might be a dragon or two, before it's done.
Last night we went out for Thai, which was nice. The weather has kept me too close to home, of late. I was determined to take advantage of the warmth. Then Spooky and I watched the restoration of Fritz Lang's Metropolis on DVD. This morning, I'm feeling a little icky again, like maybe the cold's not quite done with me after all. I was being grumpy about it until I got an e-mail from Neil and learned of his recent bout with the flu. Spooky's organizing a mountain of comic books on my office floor. I'll go work now.
Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Cat Dentures.
Saturday, February 22, 2003
I seem to have made a very rapid recovery from the cold, and Spooky's better, too. And it's a nice early spring day here in Atlanta. The cryosphere weeps for winter, which will soon enough be only a memory and something far off, on the other side of another summer, only something to dread. We had marvelous thunderstorms last night. The thunder woke me at four and I lay awake until almost five. I made a brief entry about the storm, by candlelight, in my hardcopy journal. Sometimes, I am in love with storms. Sometimes, they seem more organic to me than my own flesh.
My mood is better than it's been in a week or so. Hopefully, that means the writing will begin again. Today I have to sign a boxful of signature sheets for the Embrace the Mutation chapbook, to be released with the numbered and lettered editions of the anthology. It'll have my story, "Andromeda Among the Stones," and a story written by J. K. Potter. The chapbook will only be sold with the lettered edition, but I'll offer a few of my comp copies on eBay. Speaking of which, Sophie still needs those dentures and I still have lots of stuff for sale.
I think Spooky and I must make an Exterior Excusion today. It just looks too inviting out there to stay indoors all day.
I'm wearing the glittery purple and black striped toe socks (missing the superfluous extra pinky toe) that were given to me by Sissy and Kat and Jean-Paul at Dragon*Con this past year. My nine remaining toes are snug and happy.
Friday, February 21, 2003
I have a cold after all. A nasty one. Ugh. And, of course, Spooky has it, too. We watched Val Lewton's Cat People last night, but I think we were both too ill to enjoy it very much.
The editorial letter from Roc still hasn't arrived. Remember, waiting is at least 75% of writing. If waiting's not your cup of tea, do something smart, like bartending or freelance paranormal investigation, instead. You'll thank me for the advice.
I dreamt last night that I was having an affair with Kelly Osborne. I rarely confess my dreams to anyone, but that was just entirely too bizarre to keep to myself.
Anyway, since I'm still stalled and I don't want to risk more whining, that's probably it for the day. At least I get Farscape tonight.
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Yesterday was one of those unenviable days when I'm pretty sure that the cosmos is possessed of some capricious form of consciousness and it's out to get me. That somehow I've pissed off the entire universe and now it's time to pay the price. The death of a thousand cuts. Piranhas and thorns and rusty thumbtacks lying on the floor. That sort of day. The sort of a day that makes writing impossible. I've never entirely bought into the "room of your own" bit, feeling that a writer will write, if she truly is a writer, regardless. But a certain degree of sanity and space is required, and yesterday, and, actually, for quite some time, that sanity and space have deserted me.
God. I'm whining, aren't I? I loathe whining. When I started this blogger, back in November '01, I swore to myself, and several other people, that I would maintain a strict barrier between most of my "real life" and the journal. It wouldn't get personal. No emotional venting. I would write about writing the books and that was all. But, slowly, while my back was turned, that barrier has come down. And, after all, all this dren nipping at my heels is part of writing the books, the part that makes it almost impossible for me to write the books. It's getting very hard to tell where one thing (my personal life) and another thing (writing) ends. What I write is the direct product of the chaos or calm (or both) in my life. My writing arises from every level of being alive and interacting with other people. It's about what I feel and how I try to cope. Don't let the ghosts and goblins fool you; it's all True.
It's all True.
Most of yesterday was wasted. I wrote nothing, except a blogger entry, a few e-mails, an entry in my hardcopy journal, and a dozen or so posts to the discussion phorum on my website.
I did manage, in a brief moment of calm, to read through a short story I wrote in December 2000, "La Mer des RÍves." It was written for an anthology that never materialised and has sat unpublished for two years. That happens sometimes, usually through no fault of the editor/s. Sometimes books just don't happen. I've been fortunate in that most books I'm commissioned to write for do happen (though, sometimes, they may take years to see print). I was glad to see that I still like the piece and it'll be included in To Charles Fort, With Love, if nothing else. It's the sort of surreal, dark fantasy that I feel is what I should be writing now. No one would ever mistake it for "horror" (whatever that might be this week), though it's pretty macabre. Wait, I just realised it may be perfect for an anthology I was recently asked to write for. Anyway, I think that a lot, maybe most, of the next novel will be that sort of dark fantasy. I hope so, anyway.
Oh, and I think I'm getting sick. A cold maybe. Hopefully nothing worse than a cold. It might just be allergies. The weather's warmer and things have begun to bloom and bud, so I'm sure the air is thick with pollen. I suffer for plant sex. If only the biosphere had stuck with good, old-fashioned, tried-and-true asexual reproduction.
I do think I've settled the buisness of a cover for To Charles Fort, With Love. Maybe. I'll know sometime today. I hope.
I'm fighting the urge to go sit with the dinosaurs today.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
I just finished off a bottle of Mari Mayans and my tongue is numb.
I wish that my brain were numb.
The introduction is done. Iíll read through it once more this afternoon. Things like this, I get very fastidious about. Okay, I get more fastidious than usual about things like this. Itís my obsessive need to be understood, precisely understood, and leave no room for misinterpretation. Thatís impossible, of course. But thatís never stopped me before. Also, when working on a piece like this, the Sony Bullshit Filter (patent pending) gets set to MAX and run across the prose again and again until there are no more little beeping noises. No beeps can remain. Nary a one.
I think Iíve found a cover for To Charles Fort, With Love and Iím going to try to make a final decision this evening. My editor at Roc promises to have the editorial letter to me by Friday, so I can get moving again on Low Red Moon. I tried to start the synopsis for [insert whatever the hell the next novel will be titled], but didnít get very far before the sheer boredom and foolishness of synopsizing an unwritten and mostly unconceived novel made any real progress impossible. Maybe Iíll give it another shot today. I need to. Iím supposed to have dinner with friends this evening. Hopefully I can get it together and not have to bow out. I have a house guest coming this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, and I need to try to hang a few more pictures, stop by the florist for flowers, stuff like that. I need to send a short story to Darren McKeeman for Gothic.Net, and that means making an rtf. Spookyís gone to the post office to pick up packages of her books that her mother has shipped down from Rhode Island. I have some buisness with The Five of Cups to get to for Bill Schafer. So, itís likely to be a day of details and minutiae. I hate those.
I think my new ambition, as far as being an author is concerned, is to someday reach a point where I can make a living off my short fiction alone. Itís the only writing I do that I truly love, and even thatís a relatively newfound love.
Louisa John-Krolís Alexandria (Hyperium) is on the headphones, "Contradiction is the Dragon." Iíve really fallen in love with this CD over the past two days. Check out her website.
Itís Wednesday againe, so hereís your mid-week Farscape reminder. The Sci-Fi Channel (whatís in a name?), Friday night, 8 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. EST (which is, technically, Saturday morning, of course). Only six episodes left.
Ah, well, thatís probably enough blogging for one day. Blogging. God, I hate new verbs.
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
I did write yesterday. Three pretty good hours and now I have the introduction, though it still needs a little polishing. I'll do that today. I should also do the synopsis for the novel (was Murder of Angels) for Roc and make a decision regarding the cover artist for To Charles Fort, With Love. The lapse in weather is slowing me down. The air feels like cold soup. I wish I could take the day off and sit with the dinosaurs at Fernbank, pretending I was somewhere long ago and tropical. I need a spark.
Monday, February 17, 2003
The cold has returned, but I've read the news and know how much worse it is for much of the East. Atlanta dodged another bullet.
Inertia. I give myself an inch, then take a mile, and half a forever is required to get moving again. Moving in earnest. I'm trying to write the introduction for Gemma Files' Kissing Carrion, but everything I wrote yesterday was trite nonsense. So I'll start fresh today and try again. Maybe a little absinthe will clear my head of all these Distractions. It worked so well while I was writing "La Peau Verte." And one day, someone will say, "I remember the days before CaitlŪn Kiernan was entirely seduced by The Green Fairy, when she didn't smell like licorice all the time. Oh, you haven't heard? Yes, these days she's entirely dissolute, poor old thing. Someone should have taken the bottle away from her years ago." There are worse dissolutions, though. Anyway, this morning I read the preface I wrote in January 1999 for the Gauntlet edition of Silk, trying to get my head back in that essay-preface-introduction place. The trick is not to sound as full of shit as you actually are.
Spooky and I sat on the floor of her sewing room last night and read the Gloomcookie Christmas Special (my comic store took for bloody ever to get me a copy) and the new issue of Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics. Then we watched The Hunger (I'd not seen it in years), and listened to Louisa John-Krol's Alexandria. Jennifer spent part of the evening on a bunch of proofreading she's doing for Subterranean Press.
The trick is also not to embarrass or annoy the author you're trying to flatter and introduce.
There's a big yellow ladder lying on its side in my office, because I'm supposed to be hanging pictures, but I haven't hung one in days. The hall is lined with them, still wrapped from the move. You'd think a painter lived here, or some poor fool with an art gallery.
Last night I watched reports of the anti-war protests on CNN. It was encouraging. Escpecially the 1-3 million who marched in Rome. That was almost unbelievable. Bush will do what he damn well pleases, but at least the world is letting him know what it thinks and, perhaps, how we will remember him.
God, why don't I shut up. Enough people dislike me already.
Oh, yeah. Don't forget the eBay auctions. Sophie needs dentures.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
We had warm weather yesterday. Not some shoddy approximation of warmth, but actual warm weather. I wasn't able to leave the apartment until evening, but I could still smell the faint scent of warm asphalt from the street. Warm asphalt and growing things. Two of the finest odors on Earth. I was able to go out to dinner without a coat. I know there will be more cold weather, but I also know this is the first genuine sign of spring. This morning it's rainy, but not too cold.
So, something to stand against the annoying mopiness which has dogged me the last few days.
Lord, I need to buy some new clothes . . . but I suppose that's not very interesting.
This morning, before breakfast, I read "Playing God in Other People's Sandboxes," the introduction I wrote for From Weird and Distant Shores, and was amazed to see that I'd written it way back in July of 1999. It sure doesn't seem that long ago. The book was only released in 2002. Of course, there was a delay because Mike Paduana (owner of the now-defunct Sideshow Books and the originally-intended publisher) vanished from the face of the earth, owing me and lots of other people money. Fortunately, Bill Schafer was there to get the project back on track. Paduana's still MIA, as far as I know. I think there's still a website out there for Sideshow, listing From Weird and Distant Shores as one of its forthcoming titles. Yep. Here it is: Sideshow Books. Just scroll down a little ways from the top and you'll see what I mean. The last update to the page appears to have been on 10/02/00. The web favours derelicts, drifting endlessly, half-remembered Mary Celestes built of html and jpegs, doomed to wander phosphor oceans until someone finally pulls the plug. Did I just mix metaphors? Who gives a shit. "Not me," said the little red hen. But then, you can never be too careful about these things.
Oh, and as long as I'm beating dead horses, "Angels You Can See Through" was originally written, at Mike Paduana's request, for Midnight Hour #2, which was never published, so the story was eventually first published in Tales of Pain ands Wonder (the first edition of which mistakenly acknowledges Midnight Hour #2 as the place of the story's first appearance). There's still a website for the zine, too, complete with cover mock up for the second issue and mention of my story's inclusion. Derelict Two. Things that never happened, but, still, we have websites that imply otherwise.
"What the hell's that sound?" Spooky said just now. "Sounds like pipes." But hey, stuff like that happens all the time around here.
Last night, we started watching the Best of Bowie DVD, which I really can't recommend too highly. 47 videos/performace clips, amounting to more than four hours of footage.
I should at least pretend to work, lest I attract the goblins.
Saturday, February 15, 2003
Sometimes stories, or, perhaps more precisely, characters, wriggle in beneath my skin and then refuse to wriggle back out again. It happened with Jimmy DeSade and Salmagundi Desvernine, Magwitch and friends, and so I wound up with Tales of Pain and Wonder, a little more than a short story collection, but not quite a novel. It happened with Chance and Deacon and Sadie, and so I wrote Low Red Moon. It happened with Spyder and Niki and Daria, and so I'm writing the novel that is no longer called Murder of Angels. And yesterday morning I awoke with the realization that Low Red Moon hadn't ended exactly the way I'd thought it had ended and now I think instead of these four interconnected novels, there may be five. I think this all arises from my belief that stories do not have genuine beginnings and endings, in the way that most of us traditionally accept that they do. A novel, or a short story, is a somewhat arbitrarily chosen portion of a continuum of a fictional timeline. I might have begun Threshold well before I did, and I might have ended it somewhere besides the place I chose to end it. Which is not to say that good writing doesn't require a recognition of structure and cycle, because it does. But, ultimately, fiction, like life, has no absolute beginnings and endings. Only the brackets that the author arbitrarily imposes upon her own imagination. Like the way we look at a history in decades or centuries or generations. A tool for our convenience that should never get in the way of understanding a deeper sense of the boundless fluidity of time.
I've been neglecting the words, which is Sloth, mostly, and a little Distraction and Despair.
And I begin to feel them pushing at me, wanting out.
Much of Thursday was spent searching for potential cover artists for the Subterranean Press editions of Low Red Moon and To Charles Fort, With Love (that's the title of the next short story collection, for now). Spooky and I spent about two hours browsing through the websites of various artists. We saw a little bit a very good stuff, and a fair amount of merely competent stuff, and a disheartening amount of crap. But I think what bothered me the most were the dozens, literally dozens, of people recycling H. R. Giger and calling it their own artwork. I'm not talking about people who've obviously been influenced by Giger. I'm talking about people who are simply parroting him. Copying. In writing, we call it plagiarism. The worst of the bunch even included illustrations of his biomechanoid monster from Alien. It's one thing to doodle such images for your own pleasure, or as an exercise to hone your drafting skills, but it's another thing entirely to do it and then present it in an online portfolio as your artwork. You might as well be using a scanner or a photocopier. It would have been a bit less disheatening, perhaps, if the plagiarists had at least presented me with a little variety, maybe some obvious rip-offs of Dore, Beardsley, Beksinski, Dali, or Bosch. Anyway, like I said, I did see some good stuff and I have a few leads on cover artists.
I hope that I've not become a nuisance regarding Farscape. I'm afraid of getting the way Lenny Bruce got towards the end, annoying the hell out of everyone with a personal crusade. I just haven't encountered a lot of television worth fighting for and I think it's thrown me a little off balance. Last night's episode, "A Constellation of Doubt," was another of those amazing hours that leaves me sadly bewildered, wondering how SciFi got its head so far up its own ass, wondering why more people aren't watching, wondering why doing a thing well is never enough. I think this whole silly mess with Farscape has struck too many chords with me as a writer. All along, my part on the campaign to save the show has been, in large measure, a defence of my own work. We're all in the same boat, really. The same leaky boat crowded to overflowing with unimaginative, soulless fuckers we should have left back there on the sinking ship. I know what it feels like to do a thing well, and know you've done a thing well, which is all that can be asked of any artist, and watch while the bottom line has its way with you. That knowledge that you might be damn good at what you do, but there are words like "salable" and phrases like "more accessible" always getting in the way. So, to everyone who I might have annoyed, or who might be wondering why I've lavished so much time and attention upon a television show, there you go. Sympathy. A prayer that art can triumph over marketing and Nielsen ratings and the fickle strategies of network executives.
I should write today, but I have that flat, listless feeling that says that I probably won't.
A confession may be necessary, if this keeps up.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
An addendum: I forgot to make the weekly mention not to miss Farscape tomorrow night, 8 p.m. and 12 midnight (EST) on the inappropriately-named Sci-Fi Channel. "A Constellation of Doubt" promises to be one of the most interesting and innovative episodes since Season Three's "Avenging Angel." And, as I've been saying for weeks, all eyes are needed. Ratings are low and any hope of the SFC changing its mind regarding the cancellation is a thing of the past, but the series deserves, at least, an audience here at the end. Meanwhile, for those of you nostalgic for the stalest of space cheese:
"The SCI FI Channel has cast the key roles of Starbuck and Apollo for its upcoming original miniseries Battlestar Galactica, based on the 1978-'80 TV series. Oregon native Katee Sackhoff (Halloween: Resurrection), 22, will play a female Starbuck in executive producer Ronald D. Moore's reimagination of the series, SCI FI announced."
No entry yesterday. Spooky and I had to drive to frelling Birmingham because I had an appointment with my frelling dentist. There are things I hate worse than trips to the dentist, but it's a short, short list. On the way, a doe made a dash across I-20 and, somehow, we missed it and the cars behind us missed it. It was four or five long seconds of life-before-your-eyes terror though. I was glad the deer survived, but spent the day with visions of me and Spooky having to be buried together, fused with a scorched heap of venison. We stopped shortly afterwards, at the Alabama welcome center ("Abandon All Hope . . . " and the Confederate battle flag), where we watched half a dozen or so anoles basking in the sun. The two things are oddly paired in my mind, yesterday's wildlife bookends. During the drive, I read William Gibson aloud ("Johnny Mnemonic" and "Burning Chrome"); I dozed on the trip back. To decompress, we watched Portrait of Jenny and The Haunting (the original and superb Robert Wise adaptation, not the recent abomination). And that, my pets, was yesterday.
David Bowie on the headphones. Heathen.
It's time to get back to work on something. I've been fairly idle since I finished "La Peau Verte" on February 4th. There was the two or three days I spent trying to find a way into "The Rose Garden," to no avail, and there's been a ton of business-of-writing type work. But it's time to get back to the writing part of writing. Of course, as soon as I do, as soon as I get going good, the editorial letter from Roc will arrive and I'll have to stop everything and attend to the read-through and revisions on Low Red Moon. It always goes that way. I think I'm ready to begin Chapter Four of the novel formerly known as Murder of Angels (I have got to come up with a new title, because typing that is driving me bahooties), but I hate to be interrupted, once things get rolling along. Interruption isn't a Deadly Sin, it's just an external nuisance, unless you allow it to become Distraction, in which case you're in trouble.
I'm having one of those "why do I bother" mornings. For example, this from Karlsweb.com:"According to an article in issue #102 of Dreamwatch magazine, the SciFi Channel rejected J. Michael Straczynski's proposed new series Polaris because they deemed it 'too science fiction-y.' Mr. Straczynsk reveals that instead, '...they went for a project about intergalactic vampires called Bloodsuckers.'" Pretty soon, looking for sci-fi on Sci-Fi will be more futile than looking for beef in a McDonald's hamburger. Oh, and this gem off usenet, regarding Bast: Eternity Game (someday I'll learn to stay the frell away from Google): "I read it. I thought it was typical of most of the Gaiman wanna be writers ó forgettable drivel that D.C. is trying to make a buck off of by cashing in on Gaiman's rep and slapping on a fancy McKean cover." I suppose people are catching on. Why, just the other day, I was telling Neil that my only ambition in the whole wide world is to be him. I've been talking to a plastic surgeon who says he can manage a reasonable facsimile, but the disparity in our heights is going to be a little troublesome.
It's shit like this makes my want to go back to bed.
But hey, you can't blame Sci-Fi for wanting to make a buck and you can't blame fan boys for mouthing off on usenet. There is a Natural Order to things, after all.
And speaking of making a buck, the eBay auctions have been going very well. Thank you all. I have a big stack of book's to inscribe so that Spooky can whisk them off to the p.o. And there's a lot more stuff to come. Maybe I'll reduce the book mountain in the closet before all those copies of Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold and Waycross show up in a few weeks. Oh, and the NYARLATHOTEP cds, which will be here next week. So, if you haven't already, check out the auctions:
CaitlŪn Sells Out
And remember, even fan boys get the blues . . .
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
The late morning sun through my office window is white and is making blind-slat patterns on the floor. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was actually warm out there. But I do know better. Eliot was wrong. February is the cruelest month. It breeds nothing out of the dead land. But I'm not the optimist old Tsetse was, so there you go. Tom Waits on the headphones, Blood Money, and he feels very appropriate for the day.
Today, I think I'll do a little more work on the ms. for the new short story collection. I may call it To Charles Fort, With Love. I have a list of possible titles, but that's the one that Spooky and Jennifer like the best. And maybe that's what I've been doing all these years, writing letters to that old skeptic, that old heretic, sweet love letters filled with damned and squirming things. There are certainly less reputable occupations these days. I might be stuck doing something truly despicable, like managing a Wal-Mart, or clear-cutting Alaskan wilderness; I could be the President of the United States or the Director of Homeland Security. With luck, I'll only get Purgatory, or that place reserved for Dante's virtuous pagans. Tom Ridge should be so lucky. But I digress. And I have to stop that, especially these snarky "political" digressions, before someone out there devotes some special bit of spyware to this blog. Never mind. I adore Tom Ridge, and George W. Bush, and the four horses they rode in on. But yes, the ms. for the new collection. That and other things. My editor at Roc says the editorial letter on LRM will go out soon, by e-mail (I miss hardcopy). Then I'll begin the read-through, and when that's done, back to work on the novel formerly known as Murder of Angels. Or maybe I'll begin Chapter Four sooner than that. It's beginning to nag at me, impatient fetus.
I'm supposed to call Neil and I haven't. That's a note to self.
Thanks to everyone who hit the eBay auction last night. There's a lot more to come, though. I have some ARCs (advanced-reading copies, uncorrected) to go up, and some limited editions, and maybe even a ms. copy or two. Stuff piles up and I have no use for it, though its presence comforts me. But I will forsake these comforts for your well-being, gentle reader. That's just the kinda girl I am. Need the link again? Sure you do:
My Comforting Stuff
Meanwhile, I hear we should all be stocking up on duct tape. Apparently is has magical smallpox-repelling qualities.
Monday, February 10, 2003
Let's add two additional deadly sins ó Despair and Failure. Along with Insincerity, they may be the worst of the bunch, the author's ultimate undoing.
So, we lucky whores, authors get Nine Deady Sins. There are those who might foolishly argue with me that Failure cannot be a sin, that it is, instead, the product of innocent, though unfortunate, happenstance. But I know better. If we allow Failure to reside in our consciousnesses as a mere possibility, one that may befall us regardless of our actions, we risk making it more likely. If we fail, after all, we might say, we're not necessarily at fault. A failure may follow from injustice, from idiotic critics or editors, agents or readers. A failure may be entirely a matter of bad luck. Failure becomes mere misfortune, a cause for pity. But if we see it for what it truly is, one of the Nine, we must assume responsibility for that possibility, which may only befall us through our own shortcomings. And we may not fail. Ever.
My head's somewhere awfully Old Testament these days. Maybe it's the oily smell of war in the air, or Bush's glib determination, or spyware, or the Office of Homeland Security. Maybe it's all of those things and a thousand more. Time feels short, shorter than it did only a couple of years ago.
"The Rose Garden" has been reshelved. I spent yesterday busying myself with things that had little to do with writing. I hung two pictures in my office. I'm not sure if it was Sloth or Despair, or both. Today was a little better, a viler but more productive day. I put together a rough draft of the ms. for the next short story collection and e-mailed it to Bill Schafer and Richard Kirk. At the moment it's 15 stories, about 95,000 words in length. There will probably be another story or two before I'm done. I need a new title, too. It was to have been Worse Things Yet, a title I came up with back in 2000 or so. But then Poppy and I did Wrong Things and Worse Things Yet would sound too much like a sequel, which it isn't. I exchanged e-mail with my editor at Roc.
In the interest of making room in a closet, currently filled with extra copies of my books, Kathryn and Jennifer have begun a big eBay sale. New stuff will be going up every day. Spend your money. Buy my shit. I'll write anything on it you want me to. Anything at all. Really. The auction's at:
Stuff by Me
Last night, Kathryn and I watched Wicked City and Fallen. Cool monsters in Wicked City, but I'd forgotten how unintentionally funny the dialogue is and that the animation is pretty terrible. I was pleasantly surprised by Fallen, which I'd somehow missed at the theater.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
Yesterday, I fell prey to Distraction and Sloth.
I think I'm shelving "The Rose Garden" for a second time. It's just not happening and, even if it were, I'm uncertain it would be the story that the editor of the anthology is asking for. I have to think, and read, and see where I stand afterwards. I see the heart of the story, clearly, in my mind, which is always a good sign. I know what its central images are, and its characters, and their relation to one another, but the language is failing me. And that's probably because I'm trying too hard to find a new voice for the piece, one that's more friendly to the "14 and up" audience that is the book's target. I could, at this point, resort to Primadonnaism and say that I must be true to myself and all else be damned, if my usual voice isn't sufficient, then I'm better off not being involved with this project. But that would be bullshit, and writers who do not bend go broke. I want to do this story, and I want to do it as I am being asked to do it. I am cognizant of the fact that my usual voice would not be quite appropriate. In this case, I am, by choice and with forethought, writing for a specific audience and writing to please myself. This story must satisfy the editor of the anthology and satisfy me and, hopefully, a few of the readers. But, I may be trying too hard and second-guessing (the editor, the intended readers), which is usually a bad idea.
Which leaves me at, "So, what do I do now instead?" I'm still waiting on the editorial letter from Roc to begin the read-through of Low Red Moon. I have an afterword to write for The Best of Subterranean Press and an introduction for Gemma Files' Kissing Carrion. Chapter Four of the novel formerly known as Murder of Angels is waiting to be written. I also need to put together a synopsis of it for my editor at Roc (and, as we all know, I despise synopses). I have another short story to write for another anthology (there's always another short story for another anthology). I have plenty to do. But I hate unfinished things, loose ends, and so "The Rose Garden" will nag at me.
Last night, Jennifer and Kathryn and I watched Derek Jarman's The Last of England, which put my head in an even more difficult and more desolate place. The inclusion of music by Marianne Faithful and Diamanda Galas added a queasy, bittersweet punch to the last third of the film.
This winter has to let up soon or I'm heading for the Keys . . .
Saturday, February 08, 2003
I have the headphones on, and the Sisters of Mercy ("Lucretia, My Reflection") playing so loudly that there's no hope of distraction. And that's what I feel most of all today. Distraction. One of the author's seven deadlies. Distraction. Procrastination. Indifference. Sloppiness. Sloth. Primadonnaism. Insincerity. They're an ugly, seductive lot. They play well together. Days like today, I want to play, too. It's a better option than spending the entire day at this, or any other, keyboard. Spinning gold, loaves and fishes, lead to precious metal, rain from a clear blue sky. I could be sleeping, or sitting in a nice bar somewhere, or reading a book someone else had to write, or just about a thousand other pleasantries I could list. And it's on these days that I must write, because that's the choice I made.
If you can't write on the hard days, you may as well go to bartending school.
Hell, you may as well go to bartending school, anyway. Writers don't get tips.
All of this is to say that the story which I am calling "The Rose Garden" is not going well. Truthfully, it's hardly going at all. And coming off "La Peau Verte," with which I am very pleased, it's more frustrating than usual. I stopped yesterday and looked back over the guidelines for the anthology. Stories in the tradition of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, and Joyce Carol Oates. There's a pretty big gap in there somewhere. Ages 14 and up. What was I reading at 14? What shouldn't I have been reading at 14? There wasn't much of anything I didn't read at 14, unless it bored me. Lots of things bored me, though. Lots of things still do. Enterprise bores me silly, for example, and so does most rap and hiphop. But I'm drifting, aren't I? Floating away towards something less . . . boring. I suppose stories in the tradition of Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson may be a little more than I'm being asked for. Though, I think people underestimate Poe's perversity. Poe was a most admirable pervert.
I don't suppose you watched Farscape last night, did you? Only seven episodes left and the best science-fiction series on television today (and, in my opinion, the best ever on television), will be silenced in mid-story. We'll never know whether the Scarrans get wormhole tech and invade Earth, or if John and Aeryn finally get it together, or D'Argo and Chiana, or Scorpius and Sikozu. We'll never know what Einstein and the Ancients are really up to, or how Earth ultimately deals with that first contact, or how Humans, Sebaceans, and Interions came to be related. Will D'Argo and Rygel ever get home? Where does Chiana go, if not with D'Argo, since home is obviously not an option? Will she join the Nebari Resistance? Will Aeryn have the baby? Who's the father? If it's Crichton's, which Crichton's? Will time and circumstance prove Scorpius a noble anti-hero or a vengeful monster? What the frell happens when the Nebari finally get tired of watching the escalating cold war between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans and decide to take their place on the battlefield? Where's Nerri? Jothee? Jool? Stark? All stories should end with unanswered questions. That's always been one of my . . . what? . . . one of my mottos. CaitlŪn sez, "All stories should end with unanswered questions." But. Stories should not end before they're finished being stories. But that's what's going to happen to Farscape, because, as with so many other things, its viability has been determined not by merit, but by popularity. And by a dubious, antiquated means of determining popularity, at that (i.e., the Neilsen rating system). Then again, we get the art that we deserve. That's the big We, not the little we. Some of us deserve better. Those of us who want better. Looking back, I think maybe it was all the chicks and sex that doomed Farscape. That and the complex characterization and plot. But mostly the chicks. Mass-market sci-fi isn't ready for the plethora of strong female characters that has been one of Farscape's trademarks. Strong female characters who have not been divested of their sexuality in exchange for their strength. I expect I'll write a eulogy soon. In some form, Farscape will survive, though, and there's always hope (yeah, yeah, yeah), and the story will be finished somehow, someday. Meanwhile, we have 88 episodes and they are a fine thing, even without a conclusion.
Three-quarters of a good story beats all of a lousy story ten times out of ten.
I am prattling. I should be writing (no, this doesn't count). Or at least staring blankly at the screen. No days off for good behaviour. Well, not since Wednesday, anyway.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Friday already. Friday again. At least it was a productive week.
Yesterday, rather than begin the read-through on Low Red Moon, I went back to work on "The Rose Garden" (working title), the young adult story for the Candlewick Press anthology, Gothic!. I'm very firmly in short-story mode right now. I may await the arrival of the editorial letter from Roc before I begin the read-through. Anyway, I did about 500 words on "The Rose Garden." It's hard shifting gears to that story, after "La Peau Verte." And it's a hard story, period. I've never written specifically for a younger audience before, so finding that voice, that balance, is tricky. I think I'm having to learn a new voice for this project, lest I find myself holding back or "writing down." It's a story that I want to be one of my best, but I don't doubt it's going to be one of my most difficult.
Let's see. Other things from yesterday. Yesterday was one of those days with many Small Things Demanding Attention. I talked with Bill Schafer about getting permission to reprint an excerpt from James Dickey's "The Heaven of Animals" in The Five of Cups. I talked with my editor at Roc about the cover of Low Red Moon. I talked with my agent in New York about the proposal for the next novel (was Murder of Angels). That sort of stuff.
Don't forget. Farscape tonight. 8 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. EST.
Last night, Spooky and I watched Fassbinder's Zšrtlichkeit der WŲlfe (The Tenderness of Wolves). In 1973, Kurt Raab looked disturbingly like Peter Lorre, which, I suppose, was the point. We watched Blade 2 the night before last.
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Ah, an addendum to today's post (even though it was dreadfully long). From M'ris:
Yes, one can overcook it (oatmeal), even if one adds more water. †It becomes shrivelly brownish bits floating in a vaguely starchy lake then. †(As opposed to just shrivelly brownish bits if one doesn't add more water.) †And this is why I get up and cook my own oatmeal now, even when I feel like death on crackers.
Thank you. You have probably spared me some awful morning trauma.
Yesterday was supposed to have been a "day off." I don't believe that writers deserve "days off," but Thryn insisted. So I tried. It was a bit of a failure, and, in the end, trying not to work was more stressful than just bloody working. Too many intrusions from people who also don't think writers should have days off. But I tried. Now I go back to work . . .
My mind is in some slippery, cosmic frame this morning. I was reading an article in National Geographic just after I woke up and before breakfast, after having already read Thryn Ray Bradbury's "The Exiles" at bedtime last night. I made it halfway through a piece on new theories of galactic formation. And I had one of those all to familiar, dizzying moments of "existential shock." Less than a century ago, astronomers believed ours was the only galaxy in the universe. Then Hubbel discovered Andromeda and now we're looking at a universe with 100 billion galaxies, with 100 billion stars in our little Milky Way alone. I computed the numbers of planets that would have life, if only .001% of that 100 billion stars in our galaxy had biospheres on a single planet. That number alone was staggering, before you raise it to a universal order. As a biologist, I suspect the universe swarms with life. Just as it swarms with so many other unlikely, but inevitable, chemical reactions. But, for an "intelligent," technologically-prone species to arise, and then a civilization, and then to manage to survive long enough without annihilating itself, and to discover a means of interstellar travel, or at least communication. Even then, the number must be very, very high. Millions of galaxies with empires and interstellar ultrasuperhighways. Pools of life scattered across a near inifinity, straining always to reach one another, even as they quarrel with themselves, ever lessening the chances of making contact. And some of us, here in dark spaces between spiral arms on undistinguished galaxies, cosmic boonies as it were, may be too far off the beaten path, or an interesting path, to ever come to the notice of others.
But. That wasn't even the point. The point, of the shock, was how poorly we've adjusted to the new cosmos we find ourselves in. It's not surprising. We've had a million years to become entrenched; it's probably asking too much of our poor gray brains to expect them to make that jump ó 1 to 100,000,000,000 ó in hardly the span of one human lifetime, much less to consider the implications. No wonder the creationists continue to get apoplectic on a regular basis, and we continue to fight wars for gods, and most of us are little more conscious than a codfish.
And Columbia steaks across the sky, a fireball against our loneliness, a symbol of our striving. That we may not be alone and earthbound forever.
I pray that someone finds us.
Then again, I think of the invasion of North America and South America by the Europeans. And of Africa by everyone. And so forth. And I know how unfortunate it might be, contact. We would be bumpkins, savages, animals, I think.
How have we treated whales and dolphins and other primates? Why should we expect better, from beings who can cross the spaces between stars as easily as we cross busy streets.
Still, I pray that someone finds us. We won't last here on our own for very much longer.
Sorry to get so heavy. Astronomy does that to me.
Tomorrow night, a new Farscape, speaking of cosmic, speaking of interstellar dynasties and all not being right in the heavens. Watch. "Bringing Home the Beacon" promises to be a very good episode, I believe. The Girls of Farscape, since we had the Boys last week. 8 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. (EST) Friday night.
Today. What do I have to do today? Well, for one thing, tell you that Subterranean Press is having a special 50% off sale on pre-orders, which includes three of my forthcoming books: Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold, Waycross (almost sold out), and The Five of Cups. But, it's an offer by e-mail, so you have to sign up for the newsletter, and the offer is good for today only, I think. For more information, go to:
Oh, wait. Here's a preview of the cover of Low Red Moon, coming from Roc November 2003 (and from Subterranean Press sometime before then):
I finished "La Peau Verte on Tuesday afternoon. The last stretch was only 858 words, for a total of 9,748 words, in only 8 days. Anyway, the story's for an anthology coming from, Medium Rare Books, Verte Brume, which will also include stories by Poppy Z. and Ramsey Campbell and others. But today, I have to begin a read-through of Low Red Moon, as the editorial letter from Roc should arrive soon and there will be revisions. It needs more proofreading, as well. And I need to do the Gemma Files introduction, and an afterword for a Subterranean Press anthology, and the short story for the Candlewick Press anthology (Gothic!), and about a zillion other things.
And my head is full of stars.
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Blah, blah, frelling bloody blah. No, really. I mean it. What else should one say at 11:14 a.m. on Tuesday, hung over, annoyed, quarrelsome. I'm sure there's something I should write about in the blog today, but frell me if I can remember what it is. The perpetual drama and drudgery of the writer's life. I could just quote Dorothy Parker, or William Faulkner, or James Dickey, and be done with it. They all said it better than I ever will. I think the boredom's the worst of it. No one ever warns you about the boredom. But there it is, like oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every single day. Overcooked, unflavored oatmeal; instant with water, instead of milk. Wait. Can you overcook instant oatmeal? I shall have to research that. It might show up in a story someday. "Hey!" he shouted at the frowsy waiter. "This instant oatmeal is overcooked!" "No," the waiter replied calmly. "It's merely underwatered." Bored, bored, bored. I know. I shall amuse you, amaze you, dazzle you all, by describing all the items currently on my desk:
1. A stack of five CDs (VNV Nation's Futureperfect, Delerium's Poem, 12 Tales, Mors Syphilitica's Primrose, and VNV Nation's PTF 2012).
2. My desk lamp, which is a pretty little thing, Victorian, cloth shade with a beaded fringe and brass base.
3. A tin of spearmint Altoids.
4. A heart-shaped tin of peppermint Altoids.
5. A tin of Altoid tangerine sours.
6. A stapler I stole from UAB when I was director of the Film Series.
7. A letter from Peter Straub.
8. A bottle of Mari Mayans absinthe, which is nearly empty, as I have been using it to dull the boredom; soon, I shall need a new bottle.
9. A very tiny blue lizard with black and red spots and a yellow belly.
10. A bent paper clip.
11. A clear plastic paperweight with a yellow scorpion inside.
12. A weird plastic spider thingy.
13. My Morticia Addams action figure (and Thing), which is holding up
14. An old nude photo of Kathryn when she was only a babe of 22.
15. My iBook.
16. My headphones.
17. My DSL modem.
18. The folder with a printout of the story I am currently avoiding finishing.
19. 8 books and I'm too bored to list the titles. You'll live.
20. My Yale-Peabody Museum coffee mug, with art by Rudoplh Zallinger (The Age of Reptiles), which holds all my pens, pencils, highlighters, a letter opener, and old cigar (circa 1996) from somewhere.
21. A very nice green glass box which holds my business cards, unbent paper clips, and stamps. It is docorated with a painting of Peruvian mummies and was a gift.
22. My Emily Strange mousepad ("Emily doesn't aim high. She aims low.").
23. My snazzy clear Apple mouse.
Wow. I think that's it. And I'm still frelling bored. But now, I bet you're bored, too. Which is an improvement.
I suppose I should go work.
Monday, February 03, 2003
No writing today, though I should have been finishing "La Peau Verte." Instead, the entire day and night was wasted in the most meaningless, vile sort of Real Life. Writers have that too. Sometimes it comes as a surprise. Today was one of those days that could have been better spent removing my toe and fingernails with a grapefruit spoon. With luck, tomorrow will be better (it could only get a little worse) and I'll finish the story. I did a modest 833 words on it yesterday.
Last night I watched The Scarlet Empress, which, I think, does Gothic as well as any film ever has.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
Though it was 4 a.m. before I finally got to sleep, I've been up since eight, trying to get focused. Too much to do today, and me half asleep. Time for Sobe.
This morning, lying in bed, watching the sun through the blinds make golden stripes across the wall, I started thinking about the sheer hell of doing art for the masses. It didn't just come to me out of nowhere. I was listening to the new album by Hem, rabbitsongs, and being somewhat amazed that this band landed the record deal they did. I think we're all at least a little cynical about the chances of "popular" art also being good art. We have the likes of Britney Spears and Thomas Kinkade, Dean Koontz and River Dance and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood to constantly remind us just how bad bad often is, and how much it's appreciated. As an author, as a working author whose sole source of income for these past seven years has been my writing, it's a thing I have to contend with day to day. I'm doing okay, as a friend reminded me Friday night when I was kvetching about the difficulty of winning over The Really Big Numbers, and I know that. I have very little to complain about. It will probably never stop astounding me that I can do what I do, with so few comprimises, and get paid for it, and have an audience. For that I am grateful. I certainly know far too many talented, accomplished artists, musicians, and writers whose work has been resigned to obscurity because they refuse to pander. But still, there's another part of me that will never cease to be outraged at the popularity of tripe and hackery and pabulum. That the "popular" in "popular arts" is determined by majority rule, not by merit. That there are people who will argue until they expire from lack of oxygen that popularity is the only means we have by which to distinguish between bad art and good art, that no objective criteria can exist. Hell, most people never even come close to giving the matter that much thought.
And I console myself with the exceptions. They're not uncommon and, in a society that's willing to spend so much of their money at Taco Bell and Wal-Mart , that's a remarkable thing. That the Lord of the Rings films have been so good and been so popular, for example. Or that films like Mulholland Drive, Moulin Rouge and Magnolia ever get made at all. That the Harry Potter books are actually wonderful books. That a band like Hem landed a contract on a major label. All these things are reason to hope, when faced with an industry that actively encourages me to "write down" in order to score better sales figures. One editor (I won't use her name, though she's not even an editor anymore) actually told me once, seriously, "Picture your average reader as a 14 year old, and then you'll know the level we need you to write at." I told her, quite frankly, that was one of the most cynical, idiotic statements I'd ever heard and I'd do no such thing. She sighed that long-suffering sigh that says, "Oh, I'd help you, if you'd only let me."
We all know that crap floats. The real alchemy of the matter is getting gold to float.
I did a respectable 1,314 words on "La Peau Verte" yesterday. It's now at just over 8,000 words, and I can see that I was right in predicting that it would go to nearly 10,000. I expect I'll finish it tomorrow. Then I think I'll write the Gemma Files introduction before returning to work on the novel formerly known as Murder of Angels.
I think we have warmish weather forecast for today.
Saturday, February 01, 2003
You'll have heard the news by now. I'm sitting here thinking about that morning in 1986 when I was late to Biology 103 because I couldn't stop watching the images of the Challenger explosion. And about the fireball streaking across the Texas sky this morning, and what might have gone wrong with Columbia at 9 a.m. today, seventeen years after we first lost a shuttle. I'm sure it was a very small thing. I watched CNN this morning and kept thinking, We're never going to get off this planet. The thought may have been unwarranted. I'm trying to think, instead, about the seven men and women on board. And trying to make myself keep moving, because it's already history, one way or another. But this will be one of Those Days, the sort that, years and years from Now, I'll look back and say, "Oh, I was There, right There, when X happened." Like Challenger, and September 11th, Sadat's assasination, the deaths of John Lennon and Kurt Cobain, the Oklahoma City and first World Trade Center bombings. One of Those Days.
"'One thing,' he said later, 'it's quick in space. Death. It's over like that. You don't linger. Most of the time you don't even know it. You're dead and that's it." ó Ray Bradbury
"Tonight, he thought, even if we fail with this first, we'll send a second and a third ship and move on out to all the planets and later, all the stars. We'll just keep going until the big words like immortal and forever take on meaning. Big words, yes, that's what we want. Continuity. Since our tongues first moved in our mouths we've asked, What does it all mean? No other question made sense, with death breathing down our necks. But just let us settle in on ten thousand worlds spinning around ten thousand alien suns and the question will fade away. Man will be endless and infinite, even as space is endless and inifinite. Man will go on, as space goes on, forever. Individuals will die as always, but our history will reach as far as we'll ever need to see into the future, and with the knowledge of our survival for all time to come, we'll know security and thus the answer we've always searched for. Gifted with life, the least we can do is preserve and pass on the gift to infinity. That's a goal worth shooting for." ó Ray Bradbury
"What I wouldn't give to go with them. What I wouldn't give." ó Ray Bradbury
Anyway, I wrote 1,166 words on "La Peau Verte" yesterday. I should do as well today.