Monday, March 31, 2003
The cold air came last night, as predicted. I forgot to bring the jade plant and shamrocks in off the back porch, but both seem fine this morning. Hardier plants than me, I guess. Outside all is bright and green and you'd think it a glorious spring day, if the temperature wasn't hovering somewhere in the thirties.
I spent about four and a half hours yesterday afternoon getting a package ready to go in the mail to Penguin today. The prologue and first three chapters of Murder of Angels, along with the lie. It's a very short lie, at least. The finished bit of the ms. is about 140 pp., approximately 34,607 words of text. Hopefully, my editor will like what she sees.
And today is the last day of March.
Why the hell did I bother leaving Birmingham? In the past nine days, I've left the apartment once. All that seems to matter is this room with my laptop and my books and files and endless, circling thoughts. This is where I am, regardless of that room's geographic location. I moved it from Birmingham to Athens, from Athens to Birmingham, from Birmingham to Atlanta, from Atlanta back to Birmingham, and finally, from Birmingham once more to Atlanta. And it is still the same room. All the same ghosts are here. All the same anxieties and dreads. The word coffin, word womb, word labyrinth. Move it around and around (keep your eyes on the door, now) and everything stays the same. Neat trick. I should take it on the road, only that would entail leaving the apartment. And I'm not that desperate, yet.
This book, this new book, Murder of Angels- I need it to be something more, and I have no idea if there's something more in me. I mean, it needs more dimension, greater depth. It needs to be whole and entire. It needs to do all the things that Silk didn't do, because I was to young, too inexperienced at this, too uncertain of my voice, to go there. To take it there. I need this novel to fill in the space that Silk occupies now. I need it to supplant that novel, to rewrite that part of my - what? - my mythos? Gods, that poor word's been abused until it's all but meaningless. But I mean that portion of my fictional landscape, mindscape, dreamscape. I need it to find the heart of the matter and speak it in words so clear that no one can ever mistake my meaning and need more or less than what I've put on the pages.
I may as well wish for wings.
Sunday, March 30, 2003
The cold comes slinking back down, ribsy beast, for what I can only hope is a bitter last smear of winter. It should be gone tomorrow, but it's ill-timed, all the same, seeming to match my internal thermometer. And I was doing just fine on my own, without sympathetic emotional echoes from Nature.
There's a wilting dogwood blossom lying on my desk. The storms last night blew it to the ground and Jennifer brought it in to me.
Dorothy Parker said, "If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you."
See, here's the peril of this "blogger," this journal for the public eye. The thing I feared from well before it's beginning. The temptation to be truthful, to take my masks off and show you what is neither persona nor art, but that thing propelling the art and demanding the persona. That vitis that should remain in a little amber jar high on a dusty shelf of my soul. Faced with the same temptation, day in, day out, we are saints or we are sinners, and it's plain enough almost all of us are sinners.
The dogwood flower is looking pretty done for. As a small child, my sister and I were taught that the wood used for the cross upon which Christ was crucified was dogwood. The tree's enduring sorrow, that it was so used, we were told, could be seen each spring when it blooms. Cruciform flowers, the tip of each petal dabbed with a bloody reminder. We show no discretion in the horror and cruelty of stories we may tell our children. I could never look at a dogwood without feeling a stinging sort of guilt, that some man, long ago, nailed God to its branches, and for all history, every single spring, all dogwood trees must share that shame and burden. I did believe it at the time. It never occurred to me that, being rather small and spindly, dogwoods would be a poor choice for crosses, or to ask if they even grew in the Middle East.
Anne Sexton wrote, "All I am is the trick of words writing themselves."
Is that all I am? If it is, what will become of me when the words are done? A river and a pocketful of stones? No, that's been done. The critics would find a dogwood tree and nail me to it.
There is a stigma at the center of the wilting flower on my desk. That's what botanists call it, anyway. A stigma. A stigmata. Botanists don't put great weight in religious folklore passed thoughtlessly along to children. But there it is, anyway. The stigma. The corona.
I should write today. If I am not writing, I am only thnking that I should be writing. It's all a dream. My fingers on the keys, the words across the screen. If I am not dreaming, and I am not awake, if I am neither, what then? And I am not awake. Because I am typing.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
Hay fever, my ass. My present suffering involves neither hay nor a fever. Pollen snot, that's a better term. I've spent the day weighed down by the deleterious effects of pollen snot. Ugh. Straight from the cold to this.
However, the lie has been told.
At least that is put to rest.
I'm going to attempt to begin Chapter Four of Murder of Angels tomorrow. I confess, though, I'm in one of those deep troughs, one of those sinking places from which inertia and indifference make it hard to rise. More damned words. More words in exchange for nonrefundable moments of a finite lifetime. Times like this, it seems a very questionable exchange. It's not like I delude myself with fantasies that the world, or any part thereof, really gives a shit, one way or the other, what I do, what I say. It's not that. It's never been that. It's just what happens, sometimes, when I look back over the past ten years and wonder at all the other ways that time might have been spent. Instead of writing stories. And I have to have doubts about devoting another decade to the same pursuit. Is it better to have written six novels than to have written three? To have sold a hundred short stories instead of fifty? Do I actually have anything left to say that I haven't already said several times?
You tell me. Right now, I sure as hell have no idea.
It keeps me awake some nights. And keeps me from writing some days. What's an hour worth? A day? A week? Not in money (though money's pretty goddamned cool), but in whatever intrinsic or extrinsic value may be assigned to units of life. I left the apartment for the first time this evening since last Saturday. Between the sickness and struggling with my work, there's been nothing to lure me out of hiding. It's hard to see past the keyboard anymore. It's been that way for a long time now. I don't expect I'm making sense. That means that I should stop. But the original mission of this journal was to provide insight into the process of working as a novelist. And there's a reason that suicide rates are particularly high among writers.
It's a strange place to be. It's a strange place to live. The little house I've made, nouns for board, adjectives for lathe, and I could drag this metaphor out to painful lengths, couldn't I? It's a strange place. And like most strange places, it seems wonderful going in. It seems positively delightful. But that wears away. Well, it's worn away for me, at any rate. And all that's left is the strange, and the knowledge that, in the end, it's just me and these keys and the words swirling about inside my skull. That's all.
I knew I should have gone to see The Core tonight. Enough cheese will cure anything . . .
Friday, March 28, 2003
When I was a kid, and, for that matter, on into college, various people went to considerable trouble to impress upon me that when we choose to speak or write publically, we should, above all else, strive for clarity. Without clarity, we may as well keep our mouths shut. "What the hell's she on about now?" you may be asking yourself. Well, if you aren't, you should be. Clarity. That's what I'm on about. And how, at times, the web seems to have short circuited even the dullest comprehension of it. We have this fabulous unprecented tool, which potentially gives everyone on the planet A Voice. That's a wonder. But it's also a bit of a problem. At least here in America, we all like to talk, but few of us ever learn to speak clearly, and even fewer learn to translate that speech into written communication. To make things worse, most of us aren't so swift with reading comprehension, either.
Why does this come up now? A "review" on Amazon, of Wrong Things. The author of the review begins with praise for Poppy's "The Crystal Empire." Well, okay. That's cool. It's not terribly impressive or lucid praise, but it manages to communicate that the author likes the new direction that Poppy's writing has taken. Then the author moves along to "Onion" and writes:
"Onion" is actually the best CRK story I've read since reading "Souveniers" in The Dreaming series. However...she still needs work. I had to read and reread "Onion" to figure out just what was going on. It's better than Silk or Threshold, but not by much. Oh well.
Opinion is fine. The author doesn't care for my writing and seems to do a pretty good job of getting that across to us. Fine. That the story in question was chosen for Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and received an IHG for Best Short Fiction goes a long way towards innoculating me against negative criticism of it. I do question the author's confusion, as the story's narrative, though intentionally weird (in the literary sense), is perfectly straightforward. But, overall, the above is fine. It's the last paragraph (after a bit about "The Rest of the Wrong Thing") which is problematic:
All in all, a B+ effort from two great writers.
Okay. My prose "still needs work," neither of my novels are very good, "Onion" is confusing (not much better than the novels), but . . . I'm a "great" writer. And here we come to the problem. The contradiction that entirely ravels the "review." If the author is truly so unimpressed by my work, then "great" is hardly an applicable adjective. If the second paragraph is any indication, I'm hardly even mediocre. And I'm left with questions. Was she/he just trying to be nice? Is he/she completely unaware that there is a contradiction here? Mountains from molehills, I know. I know. But it bugs the hell out of me. If you're going to speak publically, or write publically, and put your name to it (as this author did, and she/he is to be commended for eschewing anonymity), please, please, a thousand times please, go to the lengths necessary to be coherent. It's annoying when you don't and only adds to the Great White Noise of the internet. Look back over what you've written. Make sure that if A = B, than B = A, that 1 + 2 doesn't end up equalling 14, and all that good shit. It's not hard. Some of us out here would appreciate such attention to (here's that word again) clarity.
Anyway, moving along, yesterday the required lie was not written. Instead, I entirely reorganized my office, three hours of taking books off shelves, moving shelves into new positions, and reshelving books. It needed to be done, and I was determined that I would do something of merit with the day. I also nailed a length of black velvet that Spooky had given me over the window (sunlight is just too distracting when I'm trying to work, and it fades books and such). It's a very tall window, and the velvet's about 3.5' x 8'. That's what I did yesterday. It left me sore and breathless, but was somewhat more satisfying than the lie will be. Of course, the lie still has to be told. Perhaps today.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Tapping the Vein blaring through my headphones. Me, trying to wake the fuck up. Harder this morning, a lot harder (no, now it's afternoon, you dumbass), because I had to take a Benadryl last night and it doesn't mix so well with other the pills that I take on a regular basis. Pharmacologica Kiernanii 101. Oh, and I should add a note about my hypochrondria, since, for some reason that shall remain unknown to all but omniscient creatures, I felt compelled to share the fact of it with the world yesterday. I currently recognize two classes of hyprochondriacs: Class A) active hypochondriacs, who go to the doctor at every imagined symptom and often take scads of medicines prescribed by doctors too lazy, greedy, or irritated not to send the person in question to a psychologist instead (or, better yet, just tell them to shut up and go the hell home), and Class B) passive hypochondriacs, who worry constantly over every imagined symptom, thinking themselves always at Death's door, but who steadfastly refuse to go to the doctor, even if they really are ill, especially if they really are ill, and who rarely take medication for their nonexistent illnesses. I'm classic Class B. I almost died four or five times last year alone. No shit. It's a wonder I'm alive to type a single of word of this. You should all be very thankful, to who- or whatever you might bother being thankful to.
Remember when this journal was actually about writing? Before Farscape was cancelled and Bush went on the warpath? Before Eminem won a bleeding Oscar? Well, good, because it's about the be about writing again.
I have to write a proposal today (yesterday, the day before), an outline for a nonexistent novel. Worse still, the novel isn't merely nonexistent, it's unimagined. Because that's the way that I write. Most of the time, I'm running blind. I start Here, at the start, and proceed forward towards There, the fabled point beyond the horizon which I have, in the past, spoken of with such awe and trepidation, that place where The End might be found. That's how I make novels, and short stories, and novellas, and so forth. Fuzzy ideas that slowly solidify as I move from word to word, page to page. Often, as with both Threshold and Low Red Moon, the novel may repeatedly veer in directions I never imagined. I consider this a natural and healthy part of the creative process, the unconscious mind making itself conscious, the process of art unfolding at the rate it requires of itself. It can be rushed, but only at risk of ruining the work. Obviously, all this makes it very hard to write what is, in essence, a book report before the book exists. Nevertheless, it is required by my publisher.
And it's not as if this is the first time. I did an outline for Silk back in 1995. I did one for Threshold (still Trilobite at that time) at some point or another. And I did one for Low Red Moon early in 2002. But I seem to suffer from some sort of selective memory phenomenon when it comes to writing outlines. I seem to actually forget I've ever done this before. There's no scar tissue from the last outrage. It's always the first time, and I'm just as clueless as if I'd never had to sit down and cobble together a story from nothing but the need to cobble together a story. That's not writing, by the way. That's hackery. I've told my NYC agent and my publisher at Penguin, more than once, that the outline is pointless, that it will, in the end, bear little resemblance to the actual ms., but they merely reassure me that's immaterial, not to worry. And remind me that it's required, regardless.
Which leaves me here.
And I figure, hey, how hard can it be. I know how hard if can be, of course. I've had to do it three times already, but that doesn't count, remember, but cause I don't actually consciously recall having done this three times before. How hard can it be? I really don't need more than an introductory paragraph filled with tantalizingly vague phrases like "a surreal dark fantasy" and "an exploration of the weight that the past places on the present," followed by a brief synopsis, maybe a sentence or two per chapter. All told, maybe a page and a half, two pages max. Yep, sounds like a walk in the park. But, in fact, it's a lot more like a long walk on a short pier. That's exactly what it's like. I can readily summarize the three existring chapters and then . . .
Then, I don't know. Because it hasn't happened yet. Because I haven't written that part yet.
So, it's time to lie. Time not to tell a story, which should be true, regardless of its relationship to fact. But it can't be true if I haven't spent the months piecing it together, letting it evolve. It can only be that most soulless of all fictions, a lie. A necessary lie (many lies are necessary), but a lie nonetheless. This happens, and then this happens, and then this happens. I'm always put in mind of that Daffy Duck cartoon, "The Scarlet Pumpernickel." He has to pitch a story to a studio exec. At some point he's run through the entire treatment, everything he has on paper, but the excited studio exec is still asking, "Yeah? Yeah? And what happens next?" So Daffy is obliged to start making things up off the top of his head, and an absurd story quickly becomes bizarre. It concludes only when Daffy is driven, at last, to suicide. That's exactly what writing outlines are like for me.
Pulling it out of my ass. Hoping I find "the end" (as opposed to The End) without having to pull a trigger or blow myself up with big sticks of Acme dynamite or some other such messy drama of self-annihiliation.
Maybe I should post a synopsis of the three chapters I've written so far, and then you guys could send me random sentences, which I could stitch together in some order or another, creating an unsightly but perfectly adequate golem for my editor. That's not such a bad idea.
No one would ever have to know.
Poppy's new collection, The Devil You Know, is staring at me from a nearby shelf, reminding me it would be so much better to spend the day reading than lying. Oh, woe is me.
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
I awoke this morning to find that the fever had finally deserted me in the night. I'm still a bit weak, but I seem to be making a quick recovery. Some errant virus, which I most likely picked up this weekend when I went to see Dreamcatcher. One reason I dislike crowds. I've been a terrible hypochondriac since I was a small child. But hypochondria is such an utterly sensible phobia, I've always maintained, unlike, say, claustrophobia or agoraphobia.One's irrationalities should always be as rational as possible. I've discovered a hundred ways to make use of public restrooms without ever actually touching, with my hands, any surface that any part of another human might have touched. But I'm rambling on dreadfully. At any rate, I feel much, much better.
As is almost always the case, I enjoyed the illness at the expense of my workload. Writers don't get sick days (and few of us have health insurance). Monday I was to have written the proposal for Murder of Angels, 28 sentences or so to sum up the unconceived novel, so that I can send it off the Penguin. Tuesday I was to have gone back to work proper, beginning Chapter 4. Now I'm at least 48 hours behind. If my strength holds, perhaps I can get to the proposal today. Maybe late this afternoon, maybe tonight.
Here it is Wednesday, and I should be reminding you to watch Farscape this Friday night, but there will be no Farscape this Friday night. There will be a two-hour premiere of Tremors: The Series, but I'd rather have a pelvic exam with a rusty speculum, myself. Farscape will survive this indignity, because art survives, and worthy stories survive, and it's both of those things.
I haven't yet said anything about How Loathsome, have I? Well, then it's high time that I did. A new comic from NBM by Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin) and Tristan Crane. It's the best new comic I've come across in ages. I shit you not. If you like my stuff, I think there's a very good chance you'll dig How Loathsome (no, I did not just use "dig" idiomatically; you're hallucinating). In fact, you can get a sneak peak at HowLoathsome.Com. Check it out.
Oh. I've also neglected to express my dismay and disgust at Eminem winning an Oscar. Oversights abound. I was speechless that such a hateful, trashy, talentless little shit would be so honored. Clearly, the majority of the members of the Academy felt otherwise. More's the pity.
Okay. I gotta work. Thanks to everyone who sent me the get-well e-mails. And special thanks to the one person who sent the "die-of-this-affliction-you-mouthy-bitch" e-mail. I think that's what pulled me through.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
I spent most of the afternoon tripping along on a 100+ degree fever, giddy, delerious, and thankful for a respite from the aches and chills that had dominated the night and morning. I lay here, listening to Spooky reading to me, thinking of how marvelous fevers are, kind of like free drugs. By the way, as no one here has the good sense to stop the fevery, delerious lady from blogging, I can not be held accountable for anything in this entry.
I had a tiny bit of a weirdness last night. Me, and the fever, and Spooky was reading to me then, as well. "Dracula's Guest." I heard, quite distinctly, from the bed right next to my head, a short, plaintive meow. I assumed it was my cat Sophie, but when I rolled over to tell her to shut the hell up because I was too sick to hear it, there was no cat there at all. It might have been the fever. Or something outside. Or it might have been a phenomenon more akin to the ghost child Spooky encountered in the kitchen last week. I'll tell that story some other time.
My comp copies of the Embrace the Mutation chapbook arrived today (which includes my story "Andromeda Among the Stones"), as well as a copy of Poppy's new short story collection.
I've used up all my energy again. I shall go now, and lie useless as a pile of old rags and sip at my mango/tangerine juice.
I'm writing this from my bed, propped up on my largest cushion, because when I try to write sitting at the desk in my office I get woozy. I've run a fever for almost twenty-four hours. I feel like shit. But I think the worst of this bout of whatever it is is behind me. I hate being sick and feeling useless.
And since I've done nothing much but be sick since my last post, there really is nothing for me to say here.
Monday, March 24, 2003
Last night, just before the Academy Awards ceremony began, my head started to ache and the first pangs of a sore throat set in. I thought, I hoped, it was only allergies (it's pollen grand central down here). But the sore throat got worse and kept me awake much of the night. This morning my voice is almost gone. So, it would seem I'm sick. Never mind that I don't have time to be sick. I'm sick anyway.
The Academy Awards. A very peculiar 75th anniversary, indeed. I wouldn't say the tone of the ceremony was less glitzy or subdued or somber, just odd. Steve Martin did his best, given the situation. Sean Connery's suit was impeccable. But I can't say that I'm happy to see so much attention lavished on Chicago (is this supposed to be atonement for not showing more attention to the far more deserving Moulin Rouge?), and I'm astounded at the way Gangs of New York and Martin Scorcese were shut out entirely. I do applaud Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) and his fellow documentarians for his statements regarding Bush and the war. Ficticious election results, indeed. It was good to see Peter O'Toole.
Damn, my throat hurts.
I think I may go back to bed, which is entirely idiotic.
Sunday, March 23, 2003
If I am to continue to comment on the war, and on the sad state of the world in general, I will, occassionally, have to eat some crow. It's the responsibility that comes along with constantly mouthing off online. When I am, in some respect, wrong, I should acknowledge that fact.
So . . .
The following e-mail from Larne, who I've apparently spoken with at Dragon*Con:
We've never met beyond a couple of questions asked and answered during
Dragon*Con panels last year, but I've been lurking on your blog and
message boards for a while now.
I thought you might be interested in a Reuters story (available at link) which reports that on Thursday night NBC's sitcom reruns drew significantly higher ratings than ABC's live war coverage. No information is given on how CNN, MSNBC et al faired, but as they reach fewer homes it seems likely that they drew even smaller audiences than ABC.
While I too would hope this leads to a quick cancellation, knowing how networks function I expect it is more likely they will play up the homeland terrorism angle, and go for more and bigger explosions. And when all else fails, bring out the leggy models: link.
Thank you, Larne. Very interesting. I will add two additional bits of information. Yesterday, Jennifer informed me that, in fact, the 24-hour news channels are losing something like thirty million dollars a day, from lost advertising revenues, in order to televise the war without commercial breaks. And, finally, this morning ABC stressed repeatedly that they would not air footage of casualties and prisoners. So, exceptions to my comments duly noted. I stand amended.
And, incidentally, Atlanta protesters did march on CNN yesterday.
But, this morning I watched an interview with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who stressed, repeatedly that we were not attacking Baghdad. We were, instead, attacking select military targets within Baghdad. He was quite annoyed at the misperception that the US is dropping bombs on the city itself. Later, he stated that the 9/11 attacks were attacks against all America. It seemed an odd contradiction to me. By this logic, can not we fairly say that those terrorists attacked carefully selected military and financial targets, but not New York City and Washington D.C,, per se, much less the whole of America?
Yes, that is a somewhat foolish suggestion, but it points to a certain hypocrisy and inconsistency within the administration. The terrorists attacked America, and we are bombing Baghdad.
Also, much ado is being made about Iraqi intentions to telecast images of Amercan POWs, an act which would violate the Geneva conviction. But yesterday, or perhaps the day before, I saw images on CNN Headline News of Iraqis that had surrendered to American troops. Again, I only wish to point out the contradiction.
And then there's all this noise because one of the American POWs is female. We've come a long way . . .
Saturday, March 22, 2003
I awoke nauseous and disoriented. It took me about five minutes the remember why. The tequila. Oh yeah, the tequila.
For now, Farscape is gone. I thought I'd have something more to say about it all this morning, hangover or no, but I don't, really. No more. That's all. The "final" episode was superb. I thought, actually, it was going to end in way that, despite Chi's blindness, might serve as a sort of pseudo-ending. John and Aeryn in the boat. He's proposed. She's accepted. The camera pulls out for an extreme high angle shot and . . . that's it, I thought. Then, in the last twenty seconds, all hell breaks loose, as it should at the end of a season of Farscape. Maybe even a little more hell than usual. Then "TO BE CONTINUED." At least the Sci-Fi Channel didn't snip that out. Then the smug little message from the network thanking the crew of the show. See? What else is left to say. Stories end with THE END, not TO BE CONTINUED. Ergo, this series hasn't ended. I'll take that as a stingy shred of hope. All shreds are welcome these days.
I'm a bit directionless today. I need to do something about that. Monday, it's back to work on Murder of Angels, full tilt, as they say. I need to print a hardcopy of "Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea" to send to Steve Jones in London. I need to think about finishing "The Rose Garden" (for Candlewick Press' Gothic!), or coming up with something else to write instead.
Tonight, I think that I shall go see Dreamcatcher, as much to see The Last Flight of the Osiris beforehand as to see the movie itself.
WAR-TV is on in the living room. I meant to shut it off after breakfast and forgot. I sat on the couch this morning, waiting for the nausea to pass, watching fireballs and smoke rise above the Baghdad skyline. It's reality TV, the grandest, greatest, realest reality TV possible, and I expect CNN is very happy, even if all their journalists were expelled from the city yesterday. They have the action film to end all action films, droning on monotonously, but keeping the audience glued with promises that anything, anything at all, could happen at any moment, and it will happen to real people. Fuck shutting down streets in San Francisco and New York. We need protesters to shut down the offices of CNN here in Atlanta. A peaceful demonstration that would entirely shut them down. Keep them off the air for a few hours and the sheep might lose interest and wander off to other, bloodier, pastures. Without an audience, perhaps the war could be cancelled. We'd have to shut down MSNBC and Fox, too, of course, but that just might do it. Bush would have to find another route to re-election.
Does no one else realize how perverse we've become? This macabre voyeurism? Look, past all that smoke and fire, people are really dying down there. Really. Their lives are ending. Their consciousnesses, ending. Do you think the networks wouldn't air the actual moments of death, if they only had the opportunity. Do you think the cameras wouldn't linger lovingly on the grieving families? Do you think millions of people wouldn't watch? If so, then you haven't been paying attention.
Friday, March 21, 2003
This has been a long, long day, but at least I got to spend a good deal of it outside in the sun and greenery.
A little less than three and a half hours remaining until the final Sci-Fi sponsored episode of Farscape. Then begins the long hiatus. That's how I've decided to think of it. The long hiatus. I've taken great care to avoid spoilers for "Bad Timing." Here at the end, I don't seem to have much to say. I've said so much of it already. I expect I'll have thoughts tomorrow morning, afterwards. Someone asked by e-mail for links to my Farscape essays. The two that are still online are at RevolutionSF and SFSite. The Gothic.Net one is down. I've thought about writing another, post-"Bad Timing," but I'm not sure I have the, uhm, time. Anyway, this is it. The night we've dreaded (well, some of us) since September 6th. Farscape. 8 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET/PT. The (turn your head and cough, please) Sci-Fi Channel, home of Tremors: The Series and Scare Tactics. Turn off the war for an hour and see which cliff we're left hanging from. Too good for television? Damned straight. Oh, and selected cities will see the latest fan-produced Save Farscape commercial tonight.
I've been away from WAR-TV all day. I'm not sure where it stands. I saw some Dantesque photos on AOL a few minutes ago of burning oil fields.
I've gotten no work done today, though I did manage to install an additional 512 megs of RAM on the iBook this afternoon. I can't decide whether or not that counts as work. At any rate, Victoria Regina is now maxed out, at 640 megs. And let me say, she goes like stink. Oh, and I pleased to say that Ryan Obermeyer, the artist who did the design on Rasputina's The Lost and Found will be doing to cover and endpapers of the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon, as well as the cover for To Charles Fort, With Love. You can see some of his work at his website.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
If indecisiveness were a virtue, I'd be a goddamned saint by now.
That said, I've made the decision not to make the 10+-hr. drive to Ft. Lauderdale today. I called Peter Straub at the hotel and told him I'd decided not to come. He was just back up from the pool. I imagined him standing there dripping on the carpet. He's going to spread the word of my absence. I'll try to reach the person moderating the reading session tomorrow morning and let them know. See? Caitlín plays at responsible. Anyway, here I stay. I can at least watch the last episode of Season Four tomorrow night. There will be people who say I missed ICFA because of it.
There's a nice article, by Newsday.coms Diane Werts, on the last Sci-Fi episode of Farscape. Check it out at SaveFarscape.com. Note, as with yesterday's article, it contains spoilers.
I'll probably write more here later. Oh, I have a copy of Study for "Estate" up on the Cat Dentures Auction. It's the first copy, to my knowledge, ever to be offered on eBay.
I've been up since 8 a.m., after sitting up till two, reading through the TFoC galleys, and I still haven't made a decision regarding Florida. I will have to make the decision in the next fifteen or twenty minutes, though. At least the next half hour. CNN is on. Nothing much is happening. Talk. Speculation. Various reactions from various nations.
This morning, Jennifer called the Permissions Dept. at Harbrace about permission fees to reprint a portion of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land in TFoC, and was told that, as far as American publications are concerned, the poem is now in the public domain. Which is weird. I said cool, but get it in writing, so she is. It means that I can include the portions of the poem in the novel that should be included. Jennifer has other people she has to contact about song lyric permissions, for both TFoC and LRM. In case you ever wondered, generally this is stuff the author is responsible for taking care of, not the publisher. We get permissions and if fees are to be paid, we pay them ourselves. Sometimes those fees can be pricey.
I have to go and be decisive now. My ears will probably bleed.
Even as days before road trips go, today was bad. Fortunately, it's now yesterday. Move along, move along.
There's a terrific thunderstorm raging outside. We've had lightning and thunder most of the evening, and a tornado watch to boot. The rain sounds nice. I suppose I shouldn't be online in the storm. I just wanted to make this entry before bed.
Thryn's already gone to bed.
The page proofs for The Five of Cups arrived this afternoon. I'm going to look over them while I try to get sleepy.
And the war has begun. Bush talked for four minutes, to confirm what CNN was already showing us, and I'm pretty sure he didn't use the word "war" once. I asked Jennifer and she didn't hear it either. I had CNN on almost the entire day, from about 10 a.m. until about an hour ago. That can't possibly be healthy. The newscaster droned on excitedly all day long, anxious, anticipatory, apocalyptic background noise. I counted down the last bit of Hussein's 48-hour grace period, keeping up with the minutes on the iBook (little clock display, upper right hand corner). Every now and then I'd stop to see if anything had actually happened. I kept catching the same story about an Hispanic kid that wasn't pulling his weight and was the cause of some consternation in his unit. He's apparently received his 15 minutes in the form of international humiliation. Maybe I should think of that as global tough love. Hey, maybe that's what's happening in Iraq. It's not war. It's just really, really tough love.
I'm seriously considering cancelling on ICFA. I know, sooner or later, I'm going to become known as "that chick who never shows at cons," but there are extenuating circumstances (again). And a zillion drunken college kids strung out (literally) along I-95, between me and my hotel room in Ft. Lauderdale, drunk and armed with SUVs and 4X4s. That's scarier than college kids squatting in the desert with automatic rifles, when you think about at. But I want to see Peter, and I want to see Ramsey, so, maybe. You guys don't mind, I'm sure. All of you have the good sense not to come to academic conferences and a.m. readings by misanthropic, bleary-eyed authors.
See ya in the morning. Keep watching the skies.
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
The day before a road trip is always insane. Today is no exception. Thryn's out running errands and I'm trying to take care of things that can't wait until Monday morning.
I had to get a biography and few lines about the inspiration for "Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea" off to Steve Jones (for Best New Horror 14), as well as an rtf. of the story itself, after I'd edited it to make the spelling British ("gray" to "grey," etc.) instead of American. That's taken up the last hour and a half. I need to e-mail "Alabaster" to the people at Camelot Books. I need to decide what I'll be reading Friday morning at ICFA. Probably a bit from Low Red Moon. They've scheduled me for a morning slot, which isn't a good thing. I've never had to do a morning reading before. I've only done a few morning panels. To say that I'm not a "morning person" would be a grave understatement. I expect I'll mudder blearily through the reading, to however many half-asleep people come to hear. Sounds like fun. It doesn't help that we don't expect to reach Ft. Lauderdale until late tomorrow night.
For those still interested in the Save Farscape campaign, there's a nice article up on SaveFarscape.com (Warning: it does have spoilers). It includes bits of an interview with Ben Browder, and he seems fairly optimistic about the ultimate survival of the series beyond the Sci-Fi Channel's cancellation. And Friday is, of course, the last episode of Season Four, and the last episode of the series for the time being. 8 and 12, ET/PT, the aptly-titled "Bad Timing." It's not the end, but it's all we get for now (I'll be in frelling Florida, of course, and most likely won't see the episode until Monday night). Meanwhile, in the end, I was somewhat disappointed with Sci-Fi's Children of Dune. It impressed me at the start, because it was truly a gorgeous production (though I'd have preferred to have seen less blue screening and more location shooting) and I'm a sucker for eye candy. However, the screenplay was horribly confusing, the casting was so poor that a lot of the characters seemed to blend one into the other, indistinguishable, and it was definitely a mistake to try to squeeze both Dune Messiah and Children of Dune into one six-hour tv mini-series. I did enjoy seeing Alice Krige. Susan Sarandon's performance was a little too campy for my taste. I hope that Proyas' adaptation of Riverworld comes off better.
Back to the chaos . . .
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
It's been a long time since I made an entry this late. I don't think I've even made a nighttime entry in ages.
Anyway, today Spooky and I had business in Birmingham that had to be attended to before ICFA this weekend. So, most of the day was spent on I-20. I tried to salvage some of it by reading William Gibson stories ("The Winter Market," "Hinterlands" (which I adore), and "New Rose Hotel").
Yesterday was much more productive. I polished up the afterword for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon, and added another short section to it. Then I did something I've never done before. I conceived of and finished a short story on the same day. I'd never even begun and finished a short story on the same day before. It's a very short piece, only about 1,000 wds., for the Camelot chapette book, titled "Alabaster." A brief glimpse at Dancy Flammarion on her way to Waycross, set before that story, Threshold, and In the Garden of Posionous Flowers. It was nice to be writing fiction again. As soon as ICFA is done, it's back to work on Murder of Angels. My plan is to write three chapters in April (though I also do have to do Phantasm and the Alabama Book Fair that same month).
I've been trying to resolve to speak no more of Bush or his war with Iraq in this blogger. It's done. Soon, perhaps within hours, our bombs, paid for in part with our taxes, may begin to fall on Iraqi citizens. People will die so that people will not die. A country will be laid to ruins (again) that we might make it free. We are told there's no alternative. This has to happen now if we're to avoid further terrorist attacks in this country. Some of us believe that. Some of us don't. The oil fields will burn, unleashing a new ecologic disaster. Billions will be spent, billions we don't have to spend. We'll win, of course. And really, what more is there left to say about this sickening bloody business? I received an e-mail from one Ryan Engel today, regarding what I've been writing about the war, urging me to "Dissent! Dissent! And keep on writing." But I'm just not sure there's anything left for me to say. Others have e-mailed to question my loyalty to my country. They've gotten it wrong. It's not America that's the target of my loathing. It's the whole goddamned human race, the entire suicidal, homicidal species. We could live in a world of wonders, and we continue to choose one fresh hell after another. Individually, some of us may well be worth saving, but considered as the product of hundreds of millions of years of mammalian evolution, we're a sad bit of shit at the end of the world.
If I prayed, I would pray tonight, for all of us. Someone else will have to do the honors.
Monday, March 17, 2003
It's raining today, but warmer. The sun came out yesterday and the afternoon was very pleasant, after all.
This morning, I forsook my usual breakfast (a can of Campbell's condensed soup) for a shamefully decadent meal of bacon, sauteed baby portabella mushrooms, grilled cheese sandwiches (made with Swiss cheese), and slices of fresh tomato. Spooky and I pigged. It was a proper hobbit's breakfast, and one that I shall not make a habit of, as large morning meals leave me feeling a big weighted and dull.
Yesterday I wrote a first draft of the afterword for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon. It turned out pretty well, I think. It's a short, rambly, going-nowhere-in-particular sort of an afterword. I'll go over it again today before sending it along to Bill Schafer. Also, today I need to write the very short piece that I've agreed to do for the Camelot Records "chapette" book. I'm planning to get three chapters of Murder of Angels written in April. It won't make up for letting myself get behind, but it'll put me a lot closer to the finished ms. I should still have it done by August.
Though it irked me to give the Sci-Fi Channel the time, I watched the first part of The Children of Dune last night, and was generally pleased with it. I think it comes off a bit better than their version of Dune did (which was a monumental improvement over David Lynch's). And I'm also very happy to see that Alex Proyas has done Farmer's Riverworld for Sci-Fi. I can't forgive them for cancelling Farscape, but I will admit that I'm glad to see these adaptations. A shame that their remaining original programming is such tripe. It's unthinkable that Farscape is actually to be replaced with Tremors: The Series. Sci-Fi holds the rights to rerun the existing episodes of Farscape for the next two years and they'll begin airing them, starting with Season One, Episode One, at midnight on March 31st, Monday thru Thursday, through the end of Season Three (presumably). Yes, midnight. But what's even more absurd, Season Four will be rerun, beginning, I think, April 4th, each Friday morning at 5 a.m.! It's difficult not to see this action as spiteful. Sci-Fi knows that potential buyers (and Henson is still seeking a new network for the series) will take into account how the reruns are performing in the ratings. I only hope that those potential buyers also take into account that Sci-Fi is doing it's damnedest to insure low ratings. I was under the impression that the network only aired infomercials at that ungodly hour. I'll watch the midnight airings, and urge others to do likewise (here's your chance to see the series from the start), but even I'm not game for 5 a.m.
Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day. Celebrate by checking out the Cat Dentures Auction on eBay (Jennifer apologizes for all the out-of-date info. on the page, by the way). I'll be adding some new items soon, including copies of the Study for "Estate" chapbook, ARCs of From Weird and Distant Shores, and the last of the Salammbo t-shirts.
Time to work . . .
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Sunday. Just in case you weren't sure.
The last couple of days have been rainy and cooler. Not cold, by any stretch, really, but cool enough to be annoying after last week's gorgeous weather. Things continue getting greener, though. The salvation of spring.
Today I'll try to finish up the afterword for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon. I've spent a good bit of the weekend trying to decide which direction it should take. As I think I've said already, I want it to be something more than my usual this-is-how-I-wrote-this essay. I'm going to focus primarily on the interconnectedness of various of my stories and novels, and on my preference for focusing on "real-world" locales rather than inventing my own. Or something like that. I'll start typing and it will happen. That's how it goes. Plans are for architects and politicians, not writers.
It's not too late to read "La Mer des Reves" on Gothic.Net. Don't be put off by the French title. The story is quite indifferent to foreign affairs.
Speaking of which, while hundreds of thousands gathered worldwide yesterday to protest a US-led war with Iraq, Atlanta was the scene of a somewhat more modest protest in favour of "our troops and our President." I watched accounts of the rally on CNN. I fully support the right of any American to hold any opinion on these matters, Patriot 2 or no, but I was . . . amused, let's say . . . to see some pudgy redneck fellow with a poster that read "Give WAR A Chance." I wonder who told him how to spell "war"?
Another demonstrator had a toy poodle sprayed red, white, and blue, and a placard proclaiming, "There's no FRENCH in our poodle." Damn, I wish I were possessed of such a keen wit. Alas . . .
Saturday, March 15, 2003
Rainy Saturday in March. I will stay in all day.
Yesterday was shopping. At a mall. I dislike both shopping and malls, but the time can arrive when both become a necessity. I can't believe that women are wearing velour and terry cloth by choice, and thinking it fashionable. Actually, I'm sure it is fashionable, it's just horribly distasteful, tacky, ugly, etc. See what Oscar Wilde said about fashion.
I think even he would have been taken aback at this thing with velour.
Last night at dinner the main topic of conversation was America's present hystrionic Francophobia. I'd heard about the Congressional "freedom" fries and toast, of course, but I hadn't heard about the restaurant owners dumping out French wines rather than sell them. Yeah, that's showing those damned Frenchies! There's talk of asking that American soldiers buried in France be returned to the U.S. Basically, if you won't play the game our way, hell, we'll just take our mouldering corpses and go home. Will the Statue of Liberty be next, I wonder? And what about the influence that the French had upon Jefferson and the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution? I know Bush and a lot of other Republicans (and not a few Democrats) are uncomfortable with those documents already, so this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Wait, camels are bad, too. The French Foreign Legion uses them. The straw that broke the bison's back. That's better. Bison are tres American (which is probably why they're all but extinct). At least I get my absinthe from Spain. This year, the Spaniards are the Good Guys. Or at least the buddies of the Good Guys. I wonder when we're going to decide to declare something against Quebec (I say "something" because we won't dare call it war)? And what's to be done with New Orleans and Savannah? Purging France from our history and culture could get pretty messy.
If you're reading this from France, I apologize for our childish behaviour. We're assholes. It's something in the water. Just console yourselves with the knowledge that you were always right about Ugly Americans.
I just have to wonder, if this is how we treat our long-time allies who disagree with our foreign policy, how are we going to treat our own citizens who disagree with our foreign policy?
I was going to talk about writing, and not writing, about Farscape and the termination (not end) of Farscape, but I think I'm too annoyed. I shall save those subject for tomorrow.
Thursday, March 13, 2003
I awoke unaccountably early today, considering that Kathryn and I were up working until about one a.m. I lay in bed from 7:40 until just before a quarter of nine, hoping to get back to sleep, but unable to do anything but fret about everything from the impending war to a nightmare I'd awakened from to the things I have to get done today.
Tomorrow night, Farscape, 8 p.m./12 a.m. EST/PT, the Sci-Fi Channel (soon to be in name only). Only two episodes left now. I've been trying to get into Enterprise, hoping it might fill the void, but, on the whole, the show's about as interesting as a cold bowl of Cream of Wheat.
The headache was with me most of yesterday, but seems to have finally faded in my sleep.
The work that's keeping me from working. Things are likely to be this was at least until after ICFA next week. Odds and ends. Odds, mostly. There never are many ends. Anyway, the Monday or Tuesday after I return from Florida, I'll be getting back to work on Murder of Angels. Back to my one thousand words a day. I just checked and I finished Chapter Three way the hell back on January 24th, which means that today will be the forty-eighth day since I've actively worked on the novel, since I contributed anything to it. Here it is March 13th. It all started when I stopped work on the novel in order to write "La Peau Verte," which I see I finished on February 4th. That was fine, of course. That was necessary. It produced a very good story. But then I allowed myself to get bogged down, waiting for the editorial letter for Low Red Moon, and almost a month was wasted on nothing much at all. I'm not sure how many of the Nine Deadly Sins that makes me guilty of, offhand. A goodly number, I expect.
When one is one's own boss, one must ride one's own back, or risk catastrophe.
It was 77F here in Atlanta yesterday.
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Another joyful day on Earth. The Serbian Prime Minister assassinated. Bush may only be a vote away from getting his shiny new war, complete with UN approval. The U.S. has detonated "the mother of all bombs" at the Eglin Airforce Base. Sometimes I dream of the world on fire. Sometimes I'm pretty sure we have it coming.
And I have a headache that could put down a small elephant.
This morning I had to get a bunch of stuff together for the programming people at Dragon*Con. And sign the contracts for Stephen Jones, for the reprint rights to "Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea." And put together an rtf of Low Red Moon and send it off to Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press. This afternoon, well, lots more to do, and none of it simply writing. I'm stuck in one of those periods where it seems that there's so much to the business of writing, that there's no time left over to actually write. I should have Chapter Five of Murder of Angels done by now, and I've not yet begun Chapter Four.
Thanks to Fredrik Rostlund of Sweden for sending me not one, but two, Finnish euphemisms for masturbation - "...RUNKATA or the more clinical MASTURBOIDA." I asked for it. Oh, and if you've sent me an e-mail and I haven't at least sent a polite thank you, I apologize. I usually respond to everyone, but I've gotten behind.
Here's a peek at the cover of The Five of Cups, with cover art by Rick Lieder. Subterranean Press is now taking orders.
No witty end to things today. I think my brain is leaking out my left eye.
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Typing without my glasses. It's always an interesting enterprise. But they're in the bedroom (I think), and I'm in the office, so I shall continue bravely on without them. It is still called "typing," right? Not computing or keyboarding or something? Oh, wait. I bet what I'm doing now is blogging. That sounds like a Finnish euphemsim for masturbation. I think I shall continue to think of it as typing.
Of course, now someone from Finland will write me to provide an actual Finnish euphemism for masturbation.
Yesterday the Low Red Moon ms. went into the post to Penguin. One hardcopy. One copy on CD. Once again, the baby is out of my hands. It's almost always the same in these instances. I have a very brief (10-15 min.) spell of relief, followed by a slowly building sense of disappointment and anxiety. It can get quite bad; by nine last night I was entirely despondent. But most of that's gone this morning.
Oh. "Nor the Demons Down Under the Sea" (from The Children of Cthulhu, John Pelan, ed., Del Rey) was selected for Steve Jones' The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Volume 14. I got the letter from London yesterday, informing me. It's always sort of fascinating, seeing which story makes a year's best anthology. I've made at least one year's best volume every year since 1998, but it's still a neat little thrill.
Today's a day off. A real day off. As in, I don't answer the phone, or reply to e-mails, or edit, or write (except this), or anything of the sort. The first one I've allowed myself since - wait, I'm thinking - I may have to go check my journal (my hardcopy journal, the kind with pages that you write in with a pen or pencil) - ah, it was Valentine's Day. Almost a month ago. I knew it had been a while.
Still lots of good dren available on the Cat Dentures Auction, by the way, so what the hezmanna are you waiting for? And yes, I am a big ol' geek. Anyway, buy now, today, right this frelling microt, and I'll send you my cat. No, really. She's a pain in the eema. You'll love her. Then we won't need no steenkin' cat dentures.
Monday, March 10, 2003
What I am is not awake.
I didn't finish with the printing until after 3:30 this morning. I'd have stayed in bed, but I have to write a cover letter and get the frelling thing to the frelling post office. And find a box that's big enough to hold it. At 548 ms. pages, it's too thick for the ms. boxes I usually use for mailing. Maybe if I stood on it and jumped up and down a few times. I can tell I'm not awake, because that seems like a reasonable idea.
I'm giving myself a day off tomorrow.
Jack Morgan, who wrote an amazing book called The Biology of Horror, has agreed to write an introduction for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon, and I'm quite happy about that. I still have to write an afterword for that edition. I want to do something more than my usual this-is-how-I-wrote-this-book sort of thing, but, as yet, I've not figured out what to do instead. We have a cover artist (details TBA) for the subpress edition. It's all coming together. I have an interview for a comics site that I still haven't finished. Beyond that, hell, I don't know. I just want to go back to bed.
Last night we watched Below, which I think was a pretty decent ghost story (and a submarine movie, to boot; I love submarine movies). But I'm not entirely sure. I kept having to pause it and check on the printer.
Have you read "La Mer des Reves" at Gothic.Net? Why not?
I need some needles to prop my eyelids open. Off to Spooky's sewing room . . .
Postscript: This week the Senate will have another crack at limiting the reproductive freedom of American women. With 6,279,568,553 people currently clogging up the planet (figure courtesy the U. S. Census Bureau's World POP Clock, Bush is ready to sign a ban on late-term abortions. Of course, the truth is, he'd be happier to ban all abortions. Today's unwanted pregnancy is tomorrow's voter, after all.
Sunday, March 09, 2003
It's a fine spring day here in Atlanta. At the moment, it's almost 70F outside. The air is filled with the soft drone of honeybees and bumblebees, and the smell of green things waking up. Hopeful smells. They're welcome after this cold winter. But I've said all that before, in earlier entries. Thryn and I sat out on the backsteps a while early this afternoon, just enjoying the warmth. I couldn't get any work done because the electricity was off across a large portion of southeastern Atlanta for a while. Sometimes, forced breaks are good things.
I'm about to begin printing the final draft of Low Red Moon, which will take several hours. First, I'll run through the formatting one more time. Yesterday, we spent about three hours on the various continuity problems and I think they're all cleared up now. I hope so, at any rate. I'll get another chance to catch those sorts of things in the Roc CEM, and the Subterranean Press galleys, but I like to turn in clean mss. It irks me to do otherwise. Monday, the ms. will go in the mail to Penguin, and I'll e-mail a copy to Subterranean Press, and then it will be out of my hands (at least for a time) and I can move on to the other matters that needed attending to weeks ago.
After the work on LRM yesterday, me and Thryn and Jennifer went to a wonderful antique shop, then to see Roman Holiday at the Georgia State University Rialto Theatre. It was part of TCM's Oscar film festival. Sadly, I only had time to do that one film. Afterwards, we had pizza. It was a good evening out. At the antique shop, I bought an old postcard of the Providence River and Harbor by night. The postmark is Providence, RI, August 5th, 1921, and it's addressed to Richard Gill, Genessee St., Cuba, N.Y. There's a message, also dated August 5th: Have been sick most of the time since I came here, but am getting better now and hope to get out and have some good times. Signed George R.
In the painting on the postcard, there's a full moon above the Providence River.
How can it be three o'clock already?
I have to start printing soon.
Darren McKeeman asked me to remind everyone that my short story, "La Mer des Reves" is now up on Gothic.Net. Free fiction. What more could you ask for?
Today's question: Does North Korea really believe that the U.S. would launch a nuclear attack against them, provoking nuclear retaliation from China, and perhaps a global thermonuclear war, or are they just idiots, or bastards, or only having fun yanking Bush's chain? All of the above? Why the hell not.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
At 1:30 a.m., I was still working on Low Red Moon, lying in bed scribbling notes for the Subterranean Press afterword, while Spooky alphabetized CDs and Jennifer slept. Today, Spooky and I will spend several hours wrestling with the needed continuity fixes. Then I think I shall throw caution to the winds and do something fun tonight. Something fun outside the apartment. It's been quite some time.
A thank you to everyone who sent thoughtful and supportive e-mails about yesterday's entry. Special thanks for the thoughtful part. Supportive is easy. Thoughtful shows effort and commitment.
Last night, Spooky and I watched the remake of Cat People. The film has some nice imagery, from time to time. But the screenplay's all over the place, unable to decide if it wants to be a shot-for-shot remake of the original Val Lewton film, an entirely different sort of film, or a soft core porn flick. David Bowie's song is nice, of course, and the little bit of transformation SFX we get to see, but Natasha Kinski and Malcolm McDowell are as wooden as George Washington's false teeth. It also suffers from looking far too much like it was shot in the eighties, which, of course, it was. But that's no excuse. All in all, not even as good as I remembered.
Friday, March 07, 2003
Most of this morning and early afternoon were spent dealing with the arrival of a CD case/shelf thingy large enough to hold most of the 1500+ discs that Kathryn, Jennifer, and I own. It's now sitting in the hallway, waiting to be filled, reminding me that I should have let it wait until tomorrow and worked today. Of course, I'll have to work tomorrow anyway. And Sunday, as well. So what's the difference?
An e-mail brought the war back to my mind this morning, too. Well, it's not like the thought of it ever really leaves my mind, not for very long, at least. I think there are people getting various wrong ideas about my position on Iraq. And America, too, for that matter. And I'm not in the frame of mind or possessed of the patience at the moment to adequately explain. Sound bytes (or is it bites?) are dangerous. Just look how much Bush likes them. That should be proof enough. If I say, for example, that Bush has, to my thinking, failed entirely to provide justification for a war against Iraq at this juncture, for example. Or that we need to stop the promulgation of the idea that fighting Iraq is fighting the al-Qaeda and avenging those who died on 9/11. Or that I find our leaders' plans to drop thousands of bombs of Iraqi civilians as morally unacceptable as the suicide bombings of civilians at the World Trade Center was, or the killing of civilains in Vietnam, or Dresden, or London, or Afganistan, or Hiroshima. I could object to Bush's comment that American anti-war protesters, people who are citizens and voters, have no say in what's happening. I could point out that we do have time to seek another solution, that if anything going to war will only make the world more unstable. But each of these comments only begs for lengthy discourse. Arguments, facts and figures, lines of reasoning that I don't have time to pursue.
So perhaps I should stop talking about the war in this journal.
Or maybe I shouldn't. I hate what I see happening to this country, and I'm horrified at the thought of what we're willing to do to the rest of the world. I have a right to say so. But, in exercising that right, I also have a responsibility, which few of us ever acknowledge, to explain myself. I am accountable for my beliefs. I don't recall if they even bothered to teach us that part in high school civics. Probably not. But it's important to me.
I see protesters on street corners here in Atlanta and I do support what they're doing. I want very much to support them and join them. I only hope they understand their own protests, that their positions are more thought out than tautologous nonsense like "War is bad" or "Bush is an idiot." Kneejerk liberalism is as dangerous as kneejerk conservatism. Maybe I don't mean kneejerk. Maybe I mean "default."
Anyway . . .
Kathryn is still reading for continuity. At 12:30 this morning I was reading William Blake, thinking about chapter titles. Hopefully, the final revisions can be made tomorrow and we can print tomorrow night and/or Sunday. The book that might become Murder of Angels all over again is languishing in the extenuated process of getting this book back to NYC (and ready for Subterrean Press, too, for that matter). And I've been thinking a lot about the book that will come after Low Red Moon. Stray scenes keep flashing, bright and urgent, before my mind's eye. I've never had two novels in my head before, both urging me to write them now.
I listened to a lot of R.E.M. yesterday — Life's Rich Pageant and Green. Wait. That was day before yesterday.
Last night, we watched Hardware (1990). Spooky and I actually had to visit three different video/DVD rental shops to find a copy. We finally found it at Videodrome. Great selection, by the way. If you're in Atlanta, give them a try.
And tonight is Farscape. I missed the Wednesday reminder in the chaos of the week. After tonight, we only have two episodes to go, and then it . . . stops. Just stops. I will hope that the Henson Company succeeds in getting a Farscape film off the ground, and that someday we learn the rest of the story. I've felt a little odd, harping on the loss of a television show when so many lives are about to be lost. But that television show is art. And art is what makes life worth living. Art is one of the reasons we fight, or choose not to fight. It is the soul of civilization. If we abandon art, because it seems less important, less immediate, more trivial than the situation in Iraq or John Ashcroft's determination to unwrite the Constitution, we've already lost the fight. Ah, and Farscape has received nominations for three Saturn awards this year (it won two last year), including Best Series, Best Actor (Ben Browder), and Best Actress (Claudia Black). The Saturns are awarded by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films. Last year Farscape brought home to Saturns for the Sci-Fi Channel, Best Series (Syndicated/Cable) and Best Actor. I'm pretty sure Sci-Fi knows what they're giving up; they just don't care.
Thursday, March 06, 2003
I've been working non-stop since about 10:30 a.m. and I'm pretty sure I haven't really gotten anything of substance accomplished. Fantasies of getting the revised ms. of Low Red Moon printed last night were dashed upon the cruel rocks of my own sloppiness (how's that for purple prose?). Spooky's currently re-reading the entire novel, marking all references to time, so that we can correct the aforementioned continuity frell up. Problem is, originally, the book began on Monday, October 22nd, 2001, but, as I've said, in order that it climax on October 31st and end on November 1st, it was necessary to rewrite so that it began instead on Thursday, October 25th. Jennifer and I did that back in September. Or at least we thought we had. As Spooky and I read the ms. last week and this past weekend, it became clear that we'd missed a lot of things. And you can't correct this sort of systemic disaster with MS Word's "search and replace" features. If one casual, but incorrect, reference to the temporal setting is missed, it's all screwed up. At least as far as I'm concerned. So, we have to go back over every line. This is the tedium that is my life.
Poe's Haunted is on the headphones. It makes a nice accompaniment to my gentle slide closer to insanity.
Other loose ends. I need to write the afterword for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon. And I need to decide whether or not the chapters shall have titles. They always have before, but this book may be different. I'm debating whether or not to do a glossary of geological and palaeontological terms, as I did for Threshold. A lot of people won't know what a bryozoan is, or when the Mississippian Period was, but this book is much less about the fact that Chance Matthews is a palaeontologist than Threshold was, so I'm not sure the glossary would be as appropriate as it was to Threshold. I suppose I could leave it out and people can either a) use a dictionary or b) keep reading on in blissful ignorance. Anyway, I really do need to have this thing done by Monday night, at the latest, as my schedule is once again beginning to resemble a trainwreck.
Some good news. The CD Our Thoughts Make Spirals in Their World, by the Pittsburgh-based neoclassical/ambient/industrial quartet Nyarlathotep (derek cf. PEGRITZ, Jeremy Long, Alexx Reed, and the disembodied brain of H. P. Lovecraft) is now available! We listened to the whole thing last night, as a thunderstorm pounded Atlanta, and it's really impressive. This is the music you should listen to while reading Threshold. It would make a beautiful soundtrack to the film adaptation. I contributed vocal samples and a sort of micro-essay for the insert. You may purchase copies signed by me directly from:
Cat Dentures Auction
After listening to the disc, Spooky and I watched the American remake of The Ring on DVD and we were both quite impressed. It's certainly the creepiest thing I've seen, to my memory, since M. Night Shyamalan's Signs. I know some film geeks are giving it a cold shoulder, preferring instead the Japanese original, Ringu. However, I think this film deserves to be judged on its own merits (and, besides, I've not yet seen the Japanese film). It starts with a familar trope of the genre, teenagers fixated on an urban legend, then heads off into weird and marvelous places, fools us with the misdirection of a happy ending that isn't actually the end, then gets really nasty. The scene of the horse on the ferry was one of the single most horrifying things I've ever seen in a film. And I mean, specifically, horror, not terror, not gore. Horror.
I should go find some new way to be useless.
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
All day yesterday, and much of the night, until 11:30 p.m., sacrificed to reworking Low Red Moon and tidying up the ms. Finally, when a little sticky bit of gray matter leaked out my left ear and fell, plop, on the office floor, I stopped and watched Farscape DVDs (all three parts of "Liars, Guns, and Money"). Today, Spooky and I have to go through all of Jennifer's notes. Hopefully, tonight I can begin printing the revised final draft for Roc. I loathe this tedious work. Discovering that Sadie's cherry-red hair suddenly turns black partway through the book (it was black in Threshold, of course). Discovering that four different characters at four different points in the novel say, "You won't shoot me." Or something damned close to "You won't shoot me." But the worst of it has been issues of continuity relating to time: days of the week, phases of the moon, the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, etc. At some point, I moved all the action forward, because the book has to climax at moonrise on Halloween 2001, and Spooky started discovering places where Jennifer and I had missed references to time that needed to be changed. Thursdays that ought to be Sundays. Stuff like that. Almost impossible to track it all down. And my copyeditor will be far more obsessed with capitalizaing trademarks than actually editing for continuity and suchlike.
The issue of capitalizing trademarks is a particular sticking point with me. It never came up with Silk, but became an issue with Threshold. I was told I had to capitalize words like Laudromat and Dumpster, or Roc would be sued by the copyright holders. Sheetrock, for Christ's sake, has to be capitalized. This all arises from fears by trademark holders that their trademarks will be devalued if words like Spam and Naugahyde fall into "common usage," and a belief that allowing authors to demote the TMs from proper to regular nouns is a significant agent in that fall. Corporations actually buy ads in magazines like Writer's Digest, imploring authors to respect trademarks. Nothing looks stupider to me than a manuscript filled with capitalized products. Especially things like "laundromat" and "dumpster," which have long since fallen into the common vocabulary. Copyeditors are quite zealous about trademarks. Without them, capitalism as we know it would collapse over night.
No, I'm not exactly in a bad mood. But I am tired of picking at this poor ms. I want to write something, do an honest day's work. And the galleys for The Five of Cups will be along very soon, and the galleys for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon won't be far behind.
My idiot "grammar checker" in MS Word has been trying to convince me to use "that" when "who" or "whom" is actually called for. It insists that inanimate objects and persons require no distinction. It can go to Hell.
I should stop now, before someone gets hurt . . .
Tuesday, March 04, 2003
I've been thinking about our culture's burgeoning obsession with the penis. It's rather difficult not to, since I get a pile of penis-related spam every day (and having four active e-mail accounts, well, that adds up to a lot of penis spam). I've received thirty such solicitations at Desvernine@aol.com in the past week alone. A few address the issue of male impotence, but most of them are concerned with drugs (usually Viagra) and exercises which will, supposedly, increase the size of a man's penis. I'm not exactly sure why. I don't know many women who think bigger is better. I sure don't. I think it's something that's spread from the gay male subculture to mainstream culture. At any rate, it's a fairly monotonous lot of spam. I was amused yesterday, though, at one such advert with the intriguingly cryptic subject line, "accesxory phoaodiode." I had to look, even though I suspected what was waiting for me. With a come-on like that, how could I do otherwise? "Strengthen and harden your erection like a length of steel pipe," it promised. "Develop your PC muscle to form a truly muscular-looking penis that will impress and arouse your lover. I guarantee they'll brag to their friends"
I think I'll take this as proof positive that I really don't don't live in the same world as most people. I'd rather not consider a gaggle of women bragging to one another about their man's steel-pipe erection. It's just too icky.
Don't think I have anything against penises. No, they're fine things (though they'd be significantly more practical and attractive if they were retractable). Within reason. I'm not so sure that 7"-8" is within reason. Way too much of a good thing. I know that excess is in these days, but there are certain considerations of the female anatomy that should be entertained. Unless one has no intent of employing one's penis in male-female intercourse.
I started wondering, what would the world be like if it suffered from a collective vulvic fixation, rather than a phallic one? Instead of skyscrapers, might our cities consist of fantastic inverted architectures? Certainly they would pose no greater engineering difficulties than skyscrapers did (and do). It would all be about a race to have the deepest, not the tallest. It's a neat idea. But it's my idea and if you steal it, I'll sue.
Yesterday, Spooky and I spent over four hours editing the LRM ms. and there's still a lot to do. So I cancelled my plans to be out of town today. With any luck I can be mostly done by this evening. With any luck. Inevitably, I underestimate the time that will be required for a revision job. Almost every frelling time. We discovered eleven separate instances where, in the book, I'd used the phrase "long, long." Oh, and "long hall" or "long hallway." That's pretty damn vulvic, which is appropriate for this novel. Now that I think about it, my fiction's pretty damned vulvic, all in all. Jennifer's almost finished with her proofreading, then I'll have that set of notes, as well.
After a brief respite, the eBay auction is on again. Lots of stuff. Lots of stuff you can't live without. It's not stuff that'll give you a deeper vagina or a harder clit, but it's still pretty cool stuff.
Yesterday, Spooky and I picked up a copy of Nick Cave's latest, Nocturama. I've only had time to listen to it once, but it's good. More robust than his last album or two, I think.
When my eyes started bleeding too much to work on the ms. any longer, we watched "A Clockwork Nebari" and "Die Me, Dichotomy" from the Farscape Volume 5, Season 2 DVD, because everyone knows that television screens are much easier on your eyes than a computer monitor.
Monday, March 03, 2003
Already, it's Monday. But at least it's a bright, sunny early spring Monday. By next week, it should begin to feel like spring proper.
Death. Rebirth. Renewal. Fertility. Death. Rebirth. At least something still makes sense, for the time being. The older religions got it mostly right. It's a shame we had to come along and muck it all up by cutting non-human nature out of the picture entirely and inserting our various avatars in place of the truer masks of the universe. Easter wears a thin disguise, but thick enough that those who don't want to see to original meanings of rabbits and eggs and reborn gods have no difficulty remaining ignorant. Spring is the most holy season, I think.
Yesterday, Spooky and I made it through chapters Thirteen and Fourteen, and the Epilogue, and finished the book. Today I shall pick through it, finding all the annoying little things that have to be made right. I'll be out of town tomorrow and probably have to come back to it again on Wednesday to finish up the loose threads. Hopefully, on Thursday I can send the revised ms. off to New York. Then I have a short "chapette book" to do for Camelot Books, which I think they'll be giving away free to their customers who buy something of mine. That'll be my palatte cleanser before getting back to that which might yet be called Murder of Angels. To that end, here's an e-mail from Franklin Harris:
It may well be, of course, that Murder of Angels is not the right title for the new book. Obviously, when others and I say we prefer it, we are judging it in isolation, without reference to the book it names. But it has a certain intrinsic interest to it, mainly, and if for no other reason, because it is clever. It has the double meaning and, of course, the allusion to ravens going for it, which conjures an oddly sinister notion of angels. (This, of course, fits with Spyder's experience with "angels" in Silk.)
That said, The Queen of Shadows, regardless of its appropriateness, has an intrinsic sameness to it. As I glance around my library, I see books with titles like Queen of the Damned, The Book of Shadows, etc.
Ah, but what do I know? I preferred Trilobite to Threshold.
These are good and salient points. I also preferred Trilobite to Threshold, obviously. But the new title has sort of grown on me. And speaking of Franklin Harris, he sent me a beautiful tarot deck for Xmas (yes, I should have mentioned this two months ago, but I have been remiss), The Victoria Regina Tarot by Sarah Ovenall. I did my first reading with it yesterday. So, thank you Franklin, on both counts.
Finally, I have a new short story up at Gothic.Net, "La Mer des Reves," which I hope you enjoy. It's a somewhat experimental piece, which may be very indicative of the direction my work will be taking in the future.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
Ugh. Sunday's as gray, or grayer, than Saturday was. But at least it's a spring sort of gray, which always beats the winter sorts of gray hands down. Spooky just distracted me from writing this entry, to look at photographs from the October 5th Atlanta "Save Farscape" rally. Now I've entirely lost my train of thought, such as it was. The rather moribund weather. The ground is turning green, at least. Dandelions, henbit, doc, clover, moss, bits of grass. I lived through another goddamned winter.
I always have, so far.
I'm listening to Rasputina's The Lost and Found, 2nd Ed. and thinking that I need to get to a music store to pick up the new Nick Cave disc.
Yesterday, Spooky and I made it through chapters Eleven and Twelve. Today we do Thirteen, Fourteen, the Epilogue, and the read-through will be finished. Jennifer made it through the first six chapters yesterday, I think. I liked Threshold well enough, but I might actually love Low Red Moon. I suppose I'm an awful sort of artistic parent, publically favouring one child over another (and let's not even get started on poor first-born Silk; at least she won two awards). Low Red Moon just keeps doing all the right things for me. It's weird to be happy with a book. Mostly happy. It's never happened before. Anyway, tomorrow I'll try to make most or all of the corrections/changes that need to be done, the mistakes and such that we've marked, but there's nothing big. Apparently, I'm a better novelist when I write novels more quickly.
I stopped to look at photographs again. Sorry.
Hmmmm. Let's look at some e-mail. This from emily (she did the e. e. cummings thing to herself):
Hello. Though I like The Queen of Shadows, I believe I agree with the person who liked Murder of Angels the best. It suggests so much, not of plot or of ideas, but something deeper, an emotional response that makes me want to buy the book (which I would anyway, but I try to be objective). Like you, I have a feeling that the band wouldn't care.
I tell everyone about your stories, tell them to buy your books. I never know if my word means anything, but hopefully someone will be inspired...
let the idiots babble. Murmurings of praise might be less strident and visible, but are no less real and constant.
Thank you, emily. I do like it when people say "I liked X" and then include some sort of argument for their preference, as you did. Perhaps I actually will contact the band. It would be sort of weird if the book goes back to being Murder of Angels at this point.
Now, this from Andrew Bishop:
I must appeal to your authority. I have a friend who I want to introduce to some great comic books like Moonshadow and Channel Zero and Cages, but I don't know what tack to take with her. She's a smart person - she likes your books, she studied English in college, she still remembers what poststructuralism is, she likes PJ Harvey - but I don't want to insult her and say, "Since you're a lesbian, you'd love Strangers In Paradise or The Sandman: A Game of You. But then again, I can't think of anything else to draw her in with. I don't want to make the case with Brian Bendis or Dave Sim and alienate her. But then again I don't want to say anything that would make her feel dumb. Being an intelligent woman and having written in the medium yourself, is there some insight you have for introducing intelligent women to the medium? Thank you for your help.
Never thank someone for helping you before she actually does (help you, I mean). Honestly, I'm not sure how to convince non-comics readers to read comics. And you haven't said whether or not your friend is actively hostile to the medium, or just doesn't read comics. Different strategies might be called for in each case. See, I'm not being helpful, and you've already thanked me! Hmmmm. My best advice, don't be shy about recommending to your friend what you think is good literature, whether that literature be illustrated or non-illustrated. Don't be obnoxious, or shrill, or condescending. Just tell her you think it rocks and you think she might think so, too. It helps to begin with stories that have beginnings, middles, and ends, and not to try to get someone hooked on an ongoing title right off the bat. Moonshadow's a very good place to begin. Maybe The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns (it's odd that I always go back to the late '80s for things like this). And yes, The Sandman. Stress that comics have gotten a bad rap over the years and that this isn't adolescent superheo silliness, but complex adult fiction that just happens to come with pictures. I think that's all the advice I have. When I want someone to read something (or see a movie or a television show or hear an album) I'm usually much less tactful. I usually put it in his or her hands and say something blunt like, "Read this."
That's why I'm loved by millions, I suspect.
Saturday, March 01, 2003
A disappointingly rainy Saturday morning. I'm abandoning the excursion to Athens, though The Globe is nice on rainy days, and will wait, intsead, for a sunny day.
Clan of Xymox's Notes from the Underground is playing on the headphones.
Yesterday, Spooky and I read chapters Nine and Ten of Low Red Moon. It took us longer to do two chapters yesterday than to do three the day before. Sometimes it goes that way. Today we have to do chapters Eleven and Twelve. I think the book is affecting our moods. I had perhaps the most spectacularly horrific nightmare of my life last night, and it seemed derived from the matter of the novel. Jennifer is proofreading the ms. behind us. I hope to be done with it early this coming week, so that I can get back to work on the apparently still untitled novel and other pressing things.
Someone e-mailed this morning to say that there's a new "review" up on Amazon, on the Threshold page, accusing me of writing my own "reviews" of the book. I must admit that I'm rather appalled. I haven't got time to bathe, but I've apparently had time to write something like 53 "reviews" of Threshold for Amazon. I should be ashamed. I am ashamed. Obviously, I need to set myself down and have a long talk with me. Baaaaaaaaad Caitlin.
The world is full of idiots.
Watch where you step.