Saturday, May 31, 2003
About 95% of the mail I get from readers is e-mail, which is cool, but I truly love getting the old-fashioned paper kind of mail that arrives at the post office and yesterday I got just such a letter from Osaka, Japan. It's the first time a Japanese reader has written me and I was oddly pleased. It sort of made my day.
I also wrote 1,037 words on Chapter Four of Murder of Angels yesterday. Which left me stranded in the middle of a rather difficult scene that I have to finish today. It's a retelling of a scene from Silk, where Daria Parker meets Keith Barry for the first time (Roc edition, Chapter Six, pp. 133-139). It appears in Chapter Four of Murder of Angels as a flashback, only this time we see the scene from Daria's POV, instead of Keith's. Kathryn read the section from Silk to me yesterday and I was surprised and pleased to discover that I still liked it. I haven't read much of Silk since the proofreading for the Gauntlet limited back in 1999. Anyway, today I find the end of this scene that I must have originally written, the other way round, sometime in 1995.
Ryan Obermeyer and I also discussed the artwork for the endpapers of the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon.
This morning Bill Schafer sent me a jpg of the cover layout (front and back, with interior flaps) for The Five of Cups. It is intensely weird, seeing it at this stage after so many years. But it's going to be a pretty book.
For everyone who's lent a hand in the campaign to continue Farscape, here's an encouraging thank you from Claudia Black, Ben Browder, and series Executive Producer and writer David Kemper. I loved the comment about "reality tv" and IQ.
And I see that Eric Rudolph's luck finally ran out. All karma may not be instant, but I can settle for eventual.
Friday, May 30, 2003
In all the rambelation, I almost forgot. Last night, Thryn and I were talking about her making Dancy and Spyder dolls. She does that, make dolls. Really fine ones. So, I said I'd see how many people here would be interested in buying one. We'd limit each doll to probably no more than 50 (and it takes Spooky about a week per doll, so orders would take time). We haven't settled on a price yet. Later, I'll post some pictures of her dolls to give you a rough idea what we're talking about. If you're interested, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Right now, we're just talking Dancy and Spyder, though there might also be a Sadie doll, and she might take special orders for other characters.
A strange mood I am in this morning. Not as glum and angry as I've been of late (don't worry, kiddies; this too shall pass), but, I don't know. Something else. Something flighty. Something . . . strange. I was just reading the livejournal of Sherilyn Connelly (My Face for the World to See), an acquaintance of mine who lives in San Francisco. Sherilyn's diary always makes me curiously nostalgic. She still lives in The World and I admire that. I suspect I abandoned The World a long time ago. We've traveled a lot of the same ground, I think. And it always makes me feel odd to read other people's online thingies. I hardly ever do it. Only when I'm in the same sort of mood of which I was speaking. So, anyway, this will be a long and rambly, going-nowhere-in-particular sort of entry. Forgive me.
Ryan Obermeyer sent me what I think will be the final version of his cover for Low Red Moon. It's absolutely beautiful, like a single frame of the film that played in my mind as I wrote the novel. I'll post it somewhere, and put a link here, as soon as I can. Dr. Jack Morgan (The Biology of Horror) also sent me the final draft of his introduction for the Subterranean Press edition. It's very peculiar, having an academician write about me before I'm even dead.
I wrote 1,051 words on Chapter Four of Murder of Angels yesterday. I hope this novel sells Spanish translation rights, if only because the title sounds so pretty in Spanish.
Bill Schafer (Subterranean Press) asked, the other day, if I'd be interested in putting out a CD of Death's Little Sister material. I declined, because I don't have access to the DAT's of our 1996 recording sessions and a transfer from cassette would be atrocious. Moreover, I don't exactly own the songs. The copyright thing gets tangled up with music. I wrote the lyrics and sometimes helped with the vocal melodies, but Michael Graves and Barry Dillard wrote most of the music. And I have no idea where those guys have gone.
Last night, Kathryn and I toyed with my Nebari costume a little (this is the part of the entry resvered for the worst sort of geekery). I've replaced the kneepads with leg shields that extend from the tops of my feet to just above my knees. Each one weighs about 2.5 pounds, leather and steel, and is a bit like having a saddle strapped around each leg. We're also remaking the gauntlets to eliminate some design problems, and I'll be adding a replica pulse pistol (courtesy Dreamland Replicas), utility belt, and holster. I guess this will be Na'reth Version 1.5. She is a work in progress. I've actually found the costuming to be a very effective means of reducing stress. And, what the fuck, it's fun.
Spooky and I are currently reading Mark Helprin's A Winter's Tale (1981), which I've somehow managed to never get around to before now. It's the sort of novel I'd probably write if I were a much better novelist.
That's enough ramble for one day, I think. Oh. The chocolate-coloured doll arm Spooky found a couple of days ago turned out to be filled with ants. That was kind of wonderfully grotesque, like something from Jan Svankmajer's Alice.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
I wrote 1,016 words on Chapter Four of Murder of Angels yesterday. Scheherazade stays the inevitable for another night. Looking back over yesterday's entry, I think maybe I was being a little melodramatic when I wrote, "Here we are. Entertain us. Or die." I should have said, "Here we are. Entertain us. Or starve and live in a cardboard box on the street." But "Or die" fit better with the whole Arabian Nights thing, so there you go. Writers rarely receive quick, merciful beheadings; for our lot is reserved the Death of a Thousand Cuts. Anyway, I'm going to try to finish Chapter Four by Monday evening. Five days should do it (counting today and Monday).
I'm listening to Ben Folds on the headphones. He and Tori Amos are touring together and I've been trying to decide whether or not to shell out the small fortune for tickets. I rarely go to big shows anymore. I just can't bring myself to pay the exorbitant ticket prices.
That's it for today. I need to conserve the words for the novel.
Oh, if you urgently want something from the Cat Crutches Auction, you might want to order now. I think we'll soon be putting the Auction on hiatus for a while.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
I think I've become Scheherazade. As long as I can keep telling my stories, as long as the ideas, the dreams, the images, the characters, the magic, keeps flowing, Schahriar won't put my head on the chopping block. But the stories have to keep coming, and they have to be good stories. They have to leave you, my surrogate Sultans, wanting more, and more, and more. It doesn't matter how contrived or fantastic the stories are, so long as they entertain, so long as they engage, and buy for me another day. And clearly 1001 nights were not enough. Already, a rough estimate puts me at 4,015 nights, with no end in sight.
Keep talking. Keep typing. Keep them listening. Keep the people who pay me to do this convinced that someone out there will buy what I have to sell. What I offer them to sell. At least Scheherazade didn't have to deal with middlemen.
Today I thought, in a moment of suicidal disregard, about driving to Myrtle Beach, or Savannah, or the Tennessee Aquarium, or Athens, or just as far as the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. I could sit in the great atrium with the Gigonotosaurus and the Argentinosaurus and not say a word. Not tell a single story to a single soul. But I won't go anywhere. I'll sit here, instead, and write, or pretend to write, or pretend to pretend to write (sometimes that's enough).
Five novels (one ghost-written), fifty-nine finished short stories, forty-eight comic book scripts, and uncounted introductions, afterwords, prefaces, poems, and proposals. All in eleven years. Most of it in the last eight. And here I sit, wondering why I'm having so much trouble coming up with ideas.
You tell me.
Yesterday I spent three hours and fifteen minutes signing the signature sheets for The Five of Cups. The edition is limited to 1,052 copies (1,000 numbered and 52 lettered), but I'm pretty sure that I signed at least 1,500 sheets. Afterwards, my arm was so stiff and numb I went outside and slaughtered innocent foliage and twigs with a bullwhip until the feeling returned and I could move my wrist again. Late last night, I watched Alien Ressurrection for the first time in ages and wished to whichever omnipotent being might be listening that someone would tell Joss Whedon that he just isn't a very funny man, and wished also that Jeunet had chosen a different screenwriter. Despite the occassional flop of an inappropriate one-liner (most heaped upon the ample shoulders of poor Ron Perlman), and the inexplicable death of the delightful Michael Wincott barely halfway through the film, I still think it's a worthy addition to the story of Ellen Ripley. The first and third films are still my favorites, of course, but there's not a turkey in the bunch. I'm rambling. But that's how Scheherazade avoided the axe. She rambled, night after night after night.
Here we are. Entertain us. Or die.
What could be easier than that?
Postscript: As I was editing this entry, Spooky walked into my office with the arm of a doll she'd found somewhere on the grounds. It has bits of dirt clinging to it and is the colour of chocolate.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Sunday, May 25, 2003
I have tremendous difficulty with days that I neither work nor try to work. Worse still are "days off," which are generally dealt with by leaving the apartment. Spooky forces me out into the wide, annoying world, driving me from my cocoon and far from the keyboard, and, usually, that makes it less difficult to avoid obsessing about the fact that I ought to be writing. Or at least thinking about writing. The latter situation characterizes the "try to work" days, which, lately, have outnumbered the actual work days. Anyway, as I have a house guest, today is one of those days when I'm simply at a loss. I'm no good at this leisure thing. I know that's very unAmerican of me, that we should all strive for more leisure, but I'm pretty sure I have a genetic predisposition against it.
Next year, I think I'll work straight through my birthday.
Death will be very leisurely, I suspect, and I have an eternity of it to which I can look forward.
Meanwhile, I work. Except these sorts of days, when I don't. But wish that I were. I should stop now, before someone discovers what I'm doing and yells at me for working.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
I have a house guest flying into Hartsfield from Little Rock, Arkansas, today, so things are hectic. The dreaded birthday party is tonight, even though the dreaded birthday isn't until Monday. Spooky has given me my first gift, a totally cool rubber octopus that squeaks loudly and obnoxiously when squeezed. I shall name him Lovecraft and take him with me everywhere.
Apologies to anyone who may have been offended or physically harmed by yesterday's gratuitous journey into cute. I know, there's no excuse. I just hope no one puked on his or her keyboard.
That's it for today. I have to prepare for guests and such. But, Lovecraft the Squeaky Birthday Octopus says to please be a dear and visit the Cat Crutches Auction. Lovecraft has a big heart for such a small cephalopod and hates to see a cat limping about the place.
Friday, May 23, 2003
I just got an e-mail from a friend admonishing me for being so gloomy in the blog and informing me that such behaviour was unbecoming a Nebari of my stature. He also send me a link unlocking all the mysteries of Trogdor the Burninator, so I will a) let him live and b) not give you his home address and phone number and c) try to be a little less gloomy today. I shall think only happy thoughts. Here we go:
Happiness. Sunshine. Kittens. Flowers. Baby chicks. Smiles. Cuddles. Sugar. Teddy bears. Rainbows. Hearts.
Know what? This blows.
Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. Maybe I need to try harder. Hmmmm.
Bunny rabbits (with twitchy pink noses). Jelly beans (but no black ones). Ponies. Sanrio. Teletubbies. Elmo. Clowns. Cotton Candy. Cherubs. Fruit-scented Magic Markers. Glitter. Smurfs. Valentine's Day. Precious Moments figurines.
Nope. It's not me. This really does blow. Or suck. Depending on your point of view. There's an interesting bit of grammatical paradox. That we use "blow" and "suck" to mean more or less exactly the same thing. Cuteness blows. But it also sucks. Simultaneously.
Yesterday I did absolutely nothing worth writing about in this blog (but I feel really good about that).
I think I'll go kick a puppy now . . .
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Nothing and no one seems sincere. Nothing even seems artfully deceptive, anymore. The surface of things, once perfectly opaque, perfectly obsfucatory, threatens to become transparent, and I can do without that sort of truth, thank you very much. Reality has no use for me and I have even less use for it. I mean - that reality which so many people assume they share in common, devoid, as they are, of any genuinely objective means of determining that they are indeed experiencing a common reality. "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one," said Einstein. He also said:
The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books - a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.
And Henri Ponicare, in Science and Reality, wrote:
All that is not thought is pure nothingness; since we can think only thoughts, and all the words we use to speak of things can express only thoughts, to say there is something other than thought is therefore an affirmation which can have no meaning. Thought is only a gleam in the midst of a long night. But it is this gleam that is everything.
And Joseph Conrad wrote, "The mind of man is capable of anything - because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future." I'm especially encouraged by this last quote. I don't know why. It seems damnably hopeful. Almost optimistic. And I think I'm talking in circles again. I was talking about the transparency of reality, wasn't I? And I drifted slightly south and east of there. Which is probably for the best. Keep picking at that scab and it will never heal. But. Art, including fiction, including my fiction, is dependant upon illusion which, in theory, reflects truth. It's a marvelous paradox. By gazing at the lie, which is not really a lie, but only something that hasn't "happened," we are led to understand, or at least perceive, truth. The fiction is a vessel for truth and may, indeed, be said to be "true," even if it isn't factual. One should never confuse "truth" and "fact." All facts are fictions, standing in for truth until something better comes along. I'm drifting again.
I suspect I've contradicted myself any number of times by now.
The stories I write should be truth, as I understand it. But I must accept that a) that understanding is probably false and b) it posesses little, if any, validity beyond the assumption that we can possess truths in common, that there is some value to a consensual reality. By value I mean "reality," and the statement becomes circular. Like the stories that I write, which seem increasingly circular. An endless parade of closed universes, twin wormholes leading one into the other, hollow Oroboros, wheels within wheels within wheels. These are thoughts that I think late at night, and sitting here in broad daylight. A circular hallway that must have doors leading out, if there's to be any point in traveling the circuit, but all the walls seem black as midnight and smooth as obsidian.
"Where do you get your ideas?" Strike that. Reverse it.
"Where do they get me?"
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
I've written nothing on Chapter Four of Murder of Angels since May 17th. I have better reasons than usual. None of the Deady Sins. I can't admit the reasons here, because there are political considerations. There are always political considerations. Sometimes, more often than you might think, they get in the way of the art. That said, I do think that I'm getting closer and closer to the heart of the novel, in my head, even if I'm not actually putting down the words. I'm beginning to understand it clearly. It cycles through my head. Each cycle seems to bring it closer to articulation.
Last night, I read Harlan Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman" and "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" aloud to Kathryn. Ellison, whose writing has been a profound influence on my own, is one of those authors who helps me find the center again when I drift off course. And I am drifting, make no mistake. The rambling entries of the last two days should be proof enough of that.
Thanks to the people who wrote me after yesterday's entry. Your thoughts are very much appreciated.
But I do this thing, this writing thing, in a vacuum. The outer shell of my office; the inner shell of my head; the innermost shell of my mind. After the last eleven-plus years, I'm pretty sure that's the way it has to be. Which, I think, means I have to find direction myself, whenever I drift. Spyder says something like that to Niki in Chapter Three of Murder of Angels: "You're going to have to find the truth of this for yourself. There are no maps here, because no one but you knows the geography. It's different for everyone-" Sometimes I can only speak to myself through my characters. Or maybe it's that I only listen to myself when I'm speaking through my characters.
I have a couple of short story deadlines on July 30th. But I don't really have time to set the novel aside again to devote myself solely to short fiction. Like I said, the novel has to be God until it's written. Even so, this God is not so important that it can't be eclipsed by the aforementioned politics. The day-to-day bullshit of being an author, as opposed to the bullshit of just being a writer.
The copies of Le Terre del Sogno: Souvenir e Lacrime are now up on the Cat Crutches Auction. We haven't put the galley copy of Low Red Moon up yet, because there hasn't been time. But it will go up at some point in the next few days. Details to come.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Thus far, a most entirely frustrating sort of a day. But no one wants to hear about that.
I'm listening to System of a Down and trying figure out where the day's gone. And how I could have accomplished so little in the last few hours. It's a fool's game. I should just accept it and move on.
I had an unsettling moment last night. I was suddenly certain that I was completely unsure why I'm writing what I'm writing, and that certitude of doubt set off a cascade of questions. This afternoon, the questions seem less urgent, but I suspect that's only because I've been avoiding them all day. But they seem so less urgent that I think I would have trouble simply articulating them. It might be that old nagging doubt which has always attended my writing fiction. For so much of my life, my primary concerns were scientific and, I believed at the time, matters of an objective, discoverable reality. Fantasy, though I enjoyed it immensely, was, by comparison, of little importance. My work as a paleontologist added to a great something, a something greater than myself. Bit by bit, I was aiding in the accumulation of knowledge. Even if everything I "discovered" turned out to be false at a future date (and I understood it most likely would; science works like that), I was still part of an essentially cumulative undertaking. Of course, we could argue endlessly about whether science is actually a cumulative enterprise. Personally, I'm no longer sure what I believe in that respect.
But art has never really seemed like a cumulative enterprise to me. It serves a fuction for a given time. Some art may, probably as much by accident as anything else, last for many centuries, even millennia, functioning across the ages. But most art is extremely transient. Like Shakespeare said, just a moment on the stage. However, despite the way I've become accustomed to thinking about art, a view that largely followed from my years as a scientist, despite that, I can see a cumulative nature to art. What I write is built upon all that has been written before me. Even if my work vanishes in a moment, it will most likely have left some small imprint that will affect what is to come (and perhaps what has come before, but that gets back to the temporal collapse, and I'd rather not think about that today; I'd rather not think about this, either, but I have to think about something).
Which is to say, perhaps art is at least as "progressive" as science, perhaps moreso. "Progressive" may be the wrong word, even qualified with quotation marks. The problem here is my need to feel a part of something larger than myself. To fit myself in somewhere, to serve a function. I do not write these stories solely, or even primarily, because I enjoy writing them. I'm writing them in the service of a collective mythologizing, one that few of us ever pause to consider. I'm talking in circles. Trust me, I can tell when I'm doing this. If I talk in circles fast enough, I can usually get a glimpse of my backside. But. I think the heart of the question I found myself asking myself last night was, "Am I telling the stories that need to be told, the ones that I need to tell." I'll probably never know the answer. Am I merely being self-indulgent, turning back to Daria and Niki and Spyder, writing more of the story begun in Silk? Was I behaving self-indulgently when I wrote Low Red Moon, revisiting Chance and Deacon and Sadie? Is self-indulgence at the heart of all good art?
I think I've lost the thread of my own thoughts.
Perhaps the upshot is as simple as, think less, write more.
Sometimes the counterintuitive is required.
We're going to try to get a couple of more unusual items up on the Cat Crutches Auction this evening (after the final episode of Buffy, of course). I have several extra copies of the Italian edition of "Souvenirs." It's a nice trade paperback, if you can read Italian. It's a nice trade paperback, regardless. Also, I have a copyedited set of galley pages for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon which I may put up. It's the original page layout, which is being redesigned at my request. So, you could be the very first person out there to read Low Red Moon. Be the envy or your friends and neighbors, etc., etc. I used to hang onto all the mss., but they're starting to pile up; half a large book shelf in my office is currently occupied by various drafts and CEMs of various books. Please, help me renounce my packrat ways.
Monday, May 19, 2003
The website (and blogger and phorum) came back online sometime after midnight last night (or this morning, whichever). Sorry about the downtime.
Last night I finally started watching Season One of Six Feet Under on DVD. I've been putting off trying this show off for ages, because, I confess, I have an absolute loathing for funeral parlours, morticians, and all associated undertakings (ha hah). Few things ellicit from me such an instant and complete revulsion as embalming. Likewise, our culture's extreme santizing of death, as well as our encouragement of the obscene profiteering from grief, makes me long for simple pine boxes and good old-fashioned rot. I'm not too keen on cremation, either, for that matter. Anyway, despite my prejudices, the show rocks. I feared that the gimmickery of the concept would grow tired after one episode, but the cast (with the possible exception of the overly pretty Peter Krause; Would someone please wax this man's chest?) is superb and the writing quite marvelous. With Farscape having begun its extended hiatus and Buffy about to end, I was looking for something worthwhile on television and now I've found it. I still hate funeral parlours, though. And it's frustrating, when you find television this good, because it only serves as proof that the remaining 99.99% has no excuse for being such unwatchable drivel.
Speaking of dead and dying things, the birthday looms near. May 26th. Ugh. I have announced that this will be my last birthday. From here on, the day passes unmarked. I shall break the fingers of anyone who dares to mention it next year. I will use a hammer.
As for the temporal collapse, I'm considering prolonged sensory deprivation.
I should mention that Farscape scored another Saturn Award last night, for Best Syndicated/Cable Series, beating Sci-Fi's favoured Stargate SG-1 and UPN's Dead Zone. I am so amazed. No, really. Would I gloat?
Finally, because everyone (even birthday-loving freaks) deserves to laugh so hard they choke on their own saliva, I will leave you with this. You're very welcome.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
I'm writing this entry early on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 12:31 pm, but I don't know when you'll get to read it. My website (and blog) have been offline since yesterday afternoon, along with Poppy's and Gothic.Net. I assume it's a server problem. We're looking in to it. Of course, by the time you read this, the crises will have passed. Which is really not that different than the rest of what I write. I write it in The Present and each reader reconstitutes The Moment, simulating an earlier Present. I create those moments of Present and package them, condensed time, events placed on hold until the moment you have time for The Moment. It's all the same.
I'm in the midst of a moderately severe temporal collapse today. Hence, the extended metaphor above. It all folds down on me, weeks compressed to days, days compressed to hours, hours hardly halfway decent minutes. I haven't seen a second in ages. I'm not sure that they exist anymore. Not here. Not now. Somewhere, seconds may still have relevance. In fact, I'm reasonably sure of it. But here they're past before they can be registered, underscoring my conviction that Present is, at best, illusion. Past, I can see, and Future is only unrealized Past - unless it's all the other way around. It depends which "direction" you're headed. "Cause" and "effect" are only arbitray turns of phrase based on the direction we happen to be traveling through time. I drop the glass and it shatters, because I am a traveler moving Past to Future. But to suppose that all travelers move the same direction as I do is to adopt a sort of temporal fascism. The glass shatters and someone drops it. Because it shatters, they drop it. The one event demands the other. Order is beside the point. Because they drop it, their elbow strikes the glass. Because they are startled, a dog barks loudly. Some days it's easier for me to pretend I am not stitched to this runaway Past to Future train. What has this to do with my writing?
If you can't see how, you haven't been paying attention.
Back up. Start again.
When I was a child, a day seemed to last forever. When you grow up, things seem smaller.
I often feel that if I knew the right word, or the right way of looking at things, or could only shout loudly enough, I could find the brakes. Sparks would fly. The accerlation would stop, and forward movement would become constant, sane, considerate of my limitations. I have no doubt someone will figure all this out one day. Or they have, which is worth consideration, and time collapses around us as a consequence of the realization of a single mind, a single mind's perspective, spoken word, shout. The clock says it's 12:50 (now), and I believe the clock, because I'm terrified of being alone in a cave without a flashlight.
I can't think of any other reason to believe it.
My senses tell me it lies, but there's little comfort in my senses. They rarely bring more than bad news, anyway.
Sophie's feeling better.
Saturday, May 17, 2003
No writing today. The weekly day off. So far, I've helped Spooky patch a latex catsuit and helped Jennifer deal with Sophie's latest sudden butt swelling. Sophie had to visit the vet today, actually. Now she's groggy and uncomfortable.
Yesterday I wrote virtually nothing. I did try. Hard. I read back through much of chapters One and Two, for continuity, then tried to get back into Chapter Four, to no avial. I think I wrote three sentences, and that took me two hours. One of my lit professors in college, in a seminar on Ulysses, told a story (which I sometime suspect of being apocryphal), of James Joyce being asked by a woman at a party how many words he'd written that day. He replied, so goes the story, "One word. Today I wrote one perfect word." Sometimes I find an absurd sort of solace in that anecdote. Mostly, yesterday was one of those days when I couldn't stop thinking about how I have to write, how, for the rest of my life, this thing that I once did only for my own amusement is the source of all my income, my livelihood, and I have to do it. It doesn't matter if I'm not inspired, or if I'm bored, or would rather be doing something else, or can't think What Happens Next, or I'm sick to death of writing frelling novels - it's still what I do. It's a bad thought to get stuck on. It shuts me down. Locks me up. Freaks me out. It's like having to have sex for a living. A word whore. I am a word whore. The truth is rarely romantic. It's rarely even true.
Sense escapes me.
Back to my hard-earned, undeserved leisure.
Friday, May 16, 2003
We didn't get home last night until 1:30, and didn't get to sleep until about 4 am. And my head wants to ache. But we had amazing thunderstorms last night, truly amazing. Unfortunately, a small bit of ceiling in the hallway began to leak during the storms, which is odd, because we're on the ground floor and there's another loft above us.
I wrote 1,034 yesterday, and I'm glad to say they came to me easier, as What Happens Next became a little less opaque. The day before, I wrote 1,040 words. Chapter Three is beginning to get some substance to it. But, as the novel unfolds in my head, I begin to wonder if all those people who wanted to know what happened after page 353 of Silk are going to wish they'd never asked. Someday, I'll write a happy book. Someday, the sun will be a cinder at the heart of a dead ring of burned-out planets. In some ways, I think Murder of Angels is going to challenge me in ways that a book never has. It's taking me back places I don't especially want to go, and forcing me to ask myself questions that I don't necessarily want answered. Artistically, if not psychologically, that can only be a good thing. One thing this book will most emphatically not be is more of Silk, even though it resumes the story begun in that novel. I says "resumes," rather than "continues," because there's a ten-plus-year space between the two books. It's the only way I could have done this. I never could have cast my mind back to 1994 (probably the year that Silk is set, though I could make a convincing argument for 1992, as well), and pick up where I "left off." This isn't that sort of sequel. It is, however, as much a resolution for Silk's characters as there is ever likely to be.
In some minor ways, it's also a sequel to Low Red Moon, which is very odd.
Now, I go write.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
I was, of course, entirely correct in my estimation of what was lying in wait for me yesterday, and in my lament that I should have stayed in bed. It was a broken-glass-in-the-colon sort of a day. I wrote until sometime after 6 p.m., and only just barely managed to reach the required 1,000-word mark. Not because the words would not behave, as is often the case, those unruly days when the language simply deserts me, but because I simply had no idea What Happened Next. Sometimes it's like trying to see the future. No, it's always exactly like trying to see the future. That's what writing is. Prognostication. Worse, it's the creation of the present, laying time like stones in a road, one after the next. Yes, that's it. Only there are days, like yesterday, when I reach for the next stone and it isn't there. There's only the wilderness in front of me. And my metaphors and similes have run somewhat amuck here, haven't they? That's oddly appropriate, I think.
I ended the day with two shots of tequila, which didn't help as much as you might think.
Today I need to write "flap" copy for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon and get my thousand words out. Tonight, I go to see The Matrix Reloaded.
We did finally get the new chapbooks up in the Cat Crutches Auction last night. Sorry that took so long. There are only a few copies of the Embrace the Mutation chapbook and when they're gone, I won't be able to get any more.
Last night I suffered through two back-to-back episodes of Enterprise. I can tell that this series is having serious trouble, because I haven't yet received a single piece of hate mail from a rabid Enterprise fan taking me to task for my comments on its astounding dullness or my alternate plotline. I was particularly annoyed, last night, that UPN's commercials for "Bounty" focused on T'Pol's premature bout of Pon Farr (the Vulcan mating frenzy - frell or die), which turned out to be a lazy, comic-relief subplot to Archer's kidnapping. Yes, sex sells, but if it's what you're offering you really ought to deliver. The bait and switch thing will only work a time or two. I watched the episode anyway, and imagined all the ways that Farscape would have solved its problems. Spooky and Jennifer are entirely annoyed with the underserved attention I'm giving Enterprise. I think it amazes me. I keep thinking, This has to get better. And it keeps not getting better. It keeps getting worse.
Go write, you damn geek.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
I'm listening to a VNV Nation remix of an Apoptygma Berzerk song, loudly through the headphones, wondering how long it will be before I break down and buy an iPod, and wishing I could have stayed in bed today. I just have a feeling it's going to be that sort of day, the sort that, at it's end, would have been better spent in bed.
That said, I did write 1,079 words on Murder of Angels yesterday. That's the start of Chapter Four, and the first I've written on the book since I finished Chapter Three on January 24th. That's abominable, I know. Unforgivable. I could point to all the other things I've written and edited in the interim, but that would be both pathetic and entirely beside the point.
Another 1,000 words today, minimum.
Also, I have to choose between two different enlargements of one of the "blood bath" photos that will be used with TFoC. They're enlargements of the same photo, but one cuts off just below my navel and the other just below the my crossed arms. This indecision is a fine example of my incurable vanity and narcissism. My clone would be my ideal lover. Maybe in another life.
I'd settle for an android replicant. No, wait. I'd just envy it to the point that I would soon come to hate it. Never mind.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Jennifer recently brought the following to my attention. It's from an article on Henry James that T. S. Eliot wrote for Vanity Fair:
James has suffered the usual fate of those who, in England, have outspokenly insisted on the importance of technique. His technique has received the kind of praise usually accorded to some useless, ugly, and ingenious piece of carving which has taken a very long time to make; and he is widely reproached for not succeeding in doing the things that he did not attempt to do.
It amused me and struck a nerve, because of a recent online conversation regarding my work and genre "horror," in general, and Silk, in particular. I would elaborate, but I have a weakness for crypticisms.
Yesterday, Spooky and I read through Chapter Three of Murder of Angels (which, too my relief, didn't suck as much as I'd feared), and it is my goal today to begin Chapter Four. It's a bit like finding oneself in a staring match with an angry bull Allosaurus, starting this next chapter.
Sophie is meowling forlornly in the hallway.
The story place feels very close to the surface this morning. The place I pull the stories from. The dark and sticky place. Press my skin and its seeps from my pores like an obsidian syrup: the fictions, the myths, the dreams, the worse-and-better-than realities, the domnio tumble of nightmares. It pools in my eyes and leaks from the corners of my mouth if I'm not mindful. It clings to everything I touch, staining things and people and moments. Fortunately, it's hard to see. You have to not look directly at it, intently, and bide your time, just to get the barest glimpse. It has no odor, which is also fortunate. It buzzes in my head and my heart and my gut like wasps. It wants nothing but to be set loose, but, more often than not, refuses to leave when I open the door to let it out. Inside me, it is true and safe and sheltered from the blinding light of knowledge and opinion and other irrelevancies. I am the perfect unsane ecosphere for its continued existence, but it knows, as do I, that its destiny lies somewhere beyond the familiar atmospheres of my imagination. An outer space, I suppose. A space outside me. The space where other minds may draw their own fractured conclusions - unwelcomed, inevitable, necessary. My skin strains, a thin, thin surface for some placental, amniotic sea of squirming foetal-primitive mythosyllogisms.
The only difference between bleeding and writing is the efficacy of a tourniquet.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Yesterday was frustrating, as all days concerned with multiple loose ends must be, and to make things worse, the DSL was down all frelling day long. But, this morning, everything's ready for the post office. Low Red Moon goes back to NYC. I'll still have two "passes" with the page-proofs, once the typesetting is done, but that's minor stuff. I did a little more polishing on "Riding the White Bull" yesterday, as well. It was almost like actually writing. That also goes off to an editor today. I'm still not comfortable with the title, but can think of no suitable alternative, nor can Jennifer, Spooky, or Jada (who have all read the story for me). It happens more often than you might think, my sending stories out into the world with titles I'm not 100% certain I like.
Today, back to Murder of Angels. It's been so long, I have to go back and read through it, again. I suppose that's the first step. I may need to read through Silk again, too, though I expect I'll resume writing first.
I'm not sure I have much else to say this morning (it's almost not morning anymore). There's only the work.
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Sunday morning and here I am on the cusp of a headache. If I ignore them, they usually go away. If not, Excedrin's just another word for caffeine. A decent day yesterday, complete with sushi and a good movie. Today will be a day of tying up loose ends so that I can move along to all that which needs writing. Jennifer and I have to go over "Riding the White Bull" one last time before I send it to the editor. We also have to go over my corrections to TFoC galley. Spooky has to photocopy the CEM of the Roc edition of Low Red Moon so I can get that back in the mail to NYC tomorrow morning. Working on three books and a short story at once is, to say the least, disorienting. That's today.
Yesterday, I got the news that my story, "The Road of Pins," has been nominated for an IHG (International Horror Guild awards) for Best Short Story 2002. I was very pleased. Almost without exception, those stories of mine that are selected for Year's Best anthologies and nominated or win awards are not my personal favorites. "The Road of Pins," however, first published in Dark Terrors 6, may have been my favorite story (of those written by me) from last year. So I am grateful for the nomination.
Tomorrow, I have to set myself on the road to getting Murder of Angels moving again. Many of the Deady Sins (see earlier posts) are involved here. Several notable transgressions disguised as more innocent things. The novel is due in December. I'd planned to have it written by the end of August. Now I'll be lucky to have it done by the end of September. These are the wages of sin. I have to put myself back in that place where Writing The Novel is the only thing that matters. All other considerations have to become secondary, tertiary, quarternary. The book becomes my nexus, my sole focus, my lover and god and nemesis until I find The End. No more excuses. No more setting it aside for a day that becomes a week that becomes a month that has - ahem - become three months and a quarter. I write the book and the book repays me in kind. This is the way that I move from here to there, and I have been neglecting it. Even the reasons behind my neglect are beside the point. Speaking them only adds to the crime.
It's time to write the goddamn book.
Daria Parker. Niki Ky. Spyder Baxter. All those characters I thought I was done with when I found The End of Silk in January 1996. But, stories don't end. Not really. And I knew there was more to be written even as I pretended that Silk was finished. But time was required, for the characters to move ahead without me. Now it's my turn.
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Today is, by Spooky's dictate, a day off. So, you're all off the hook this afternoon. Read a book. Go fishing. Later . . .
Friday, May 09, 2003
Okay, I'm a big liar. I didn't get the copies of Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold and the Embrace the Mutation chapbook up on the Cat Crutches Auction last night. I finished a day of Rather Significant Work and was too exhausted to even think about such things. I made quacamole and chili (with chicken sausage, portabella, lime, and tequila), and after dinner, Spooky and I watched The Muppet Show on DVD. It's such things that keep me alive. But, we'll try to get the books up tonight.
As to the dullness I spoke of yesterday, well, it's still here. I awake to it. By bedtime, I've usually forgotten about it, or I'm half hopeful that the next day will find it vanished. But it lingers. It doesn't just linger, it gathers. It's not like The Wall. It doesn't stop me. It only makes all progress seem futile, and all work utterly unsatisfying. It doesn't stop me. It slows me. Which, in the end, I think may be somehow worse. I want to go back to the eager workaholic that I was six or seven years ago, instead of having to live with the reluctant, indifferent workaholic I am now. Oh, never mind. I'm tired of listening to myself whine.
The pit yawns before me, all possibility and too-familiar drudgery.
Maybe I will spend the day hanging pictures, instead. It's almost as infuriating as writing, so I wouldn't feel like I was slacking off. The equity of quanta of tedium. Quanta of, as I've mentioned recently, what John Gardner called "the worst pain." I might get lucky and hit my thumb with the hammer.
Hey, you should have to live with me. The blog only gives you the watered-down, sanitized, filtered-for-my-own-protection Cait-Lite, not the hardcore shit. That stuff will grow hair on your palms. It'll take the skin off your tongue. It'll send you screaming into dark and rainy nights. Blah, blah, blah.
That's enough for one morning, surely.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Ah. Wait. I promised Jennifer I'd say something about the Cat Crutches Auction (which has been very busy the last 24 hours), but was too wound up in my ennui to remember. This evening we'll be putting up copies of both Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold (offered alone and as a set with the Nyarlathotep CD) and the Embrace the Mutation chapbook that has my story, "Andromeda Among the Stones." Previosuly, we've offered neither of these books on eBay.
Back to the pit . . .
I feel dull this morning. Unresponsive. Disinterested. The trick of writing, the only trick that actually matters, is, I believe, passion. The possession of and communication of passion. This morning I seem devoid of any scrap of passion. Perhaps it's a consequence of all the editing, all the work that isn't writing. There was at least a little passion last week, and the week before, when I was working on "Riding the White Bull."
The year is slipping by too fast. The shorter time gets, the greater the weight of the work to be done.
This morning I was lamenting the furious pace at which I worked just a few years ago. I brought up, as an example, May 1997. That month alone I wrote four short stories, a script for The Dreaming, went to the World Horror Convention in Niagara Falls, and attended to various other things, no doubt. Back then, I used to relish the challenge, purposefully taking on more than I should be able to handle, just to see if I could do it. I had passion to spare. Now I seem to be drifting.
The recent encounter with The Wall serves as an illustration of this lack of direction, passion, drive. I worry that the very act of writing is, for me, dangerously close to having become automatic. That I may be reaching a point where I will write because I write, not because I have something to say that I think is worth saying, something to show, some passion to spill out into the world. Looking at Low Red Moon and my short fiction the past year or so, I see the very best work I've done, but it seems to be getting more difficult to nuture the fire that produces that work.
I promised myself, back in November '01, when I began this blog, that I wouldn't make this sort of confessional entry. It seems somehow exhibitionist, maudlin, to parade my doubts and insecurities this way. On the other hand, it's right there at the heart of writing a novel, or anything else for that matter, and so is in keeping with the stated mission of the blog. And, I have to face the fact that this entry may be the best, or only, thing I write today.
Wake up, Caitlín. I know you're in there somewhere. Come on, bitch. Wake up. The curtain's rising.
The curtain's always rising.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
It's been a weird morning. I spent a piece of it reading about Peter Reich and his father, Wilhelm Reich, and the younger Reich's A Book of Dreams, and Orgonon, and Orgone Energy, and Orgone accumulators, and UFOs, and cloudbusting, all following from a discussion of Kate Bush on my discussion boards. It's all left my head a little farther afield than usual.
Last night we finished with the Roc CEM. I thought it would take us four nights; it only took three. Now there's still the Subterranean Press version to be done, which has to be proofed against the Roc version (and vice versa). Doing two editions of this book is complicated, trying to see that the texts diverge in any no unintentional way. There will be small differences. For example, I'm rewriting little bits of the Roc edition to avoid capitalizing trademarked words in those cases when using caps would look absurd ("Sheetrock" always comes to mind first). The subpress edition will throw caution to the winds and print trademarked words as I wrote them, usually lowercased.
I know I've bitched a lot about the Roc CEM. I'll probably bitch about it a lot more before all is said an done. But I will say that this copyeditor is, for all the annoyances, probably the best I've ever had on a Roc book. She generally catches things that need catching, and her attempts to rewrite my prose are minimal. If only she didn't have it in her head that the Chicago Manual of Style has anything at all to do with fiction writing, then she'd probably be a dream. Such obsessive (and almost always arbitrary, and often illogical) standardization is all fine and good for newspapers, professional journals, non-fiction magazines, and the like, I suppose, but it is only a detriment to art. I have written what I have written the way I have written it for a reason. I couldn't give a rat's ass what the Manual of Style has to say to the contrary. It's not relevant. Fortunately, in most of these matters, I have veto power over changes made by the copyeditor. But it's a huge waste of time, having to put things back the way I meant them to be.
Much of yesterday was spent typing up old notes (1993) I'd made for a proposed sequel to The Five of Cups. These notes (along with other TFoC-related arcana) will be included with the lettered state of the Subterranean Press edition. The numbered state won't have it.
And while I'm on the subject of Subterranean Press, they're now taking orders for Low Red Moon, so you might want to drop by the website and preorder. The printing will be limited to 750 numbered copies, and 26 lettered. It will likely be the only hardcover edition of the novel. Also, I'm told Waycross should already be out; there's been an unexplained delay at the printers, which should be resolved shortly.
Last night we relisted a bunch of stuff for the Cat Crutches Auction. There's surely something there that you can't live without. And remember, I'll sign anything almost any way you wish it signed. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between. Just as long as everything I write conforms to the dictates of the Chicago Manual of Style, of course . . .
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
I am not even half awake. We were still going over the CEM of Low Red Moon at midnight thirty last night. To my knowledge, no one has ever used "midnight thirty" before. The copyeditors would be appalled. I should use it often. The whole affair became quite amusing last night. The copyeditor questioned my inclusion of a dinosaur alphabet ("A is for Ankylosaurus," etc.), doubting there were enough kinds of dinosaurs for an entire alphabet. So I wrote out an entire dinosaur alphabet, A to Z, on the page in question. There are, by the way, about a thousand described genera of dinosaurs (only a small fraction of the species that must have actually existed), including lots of Q, X, and Z names.
Spooky's sitting next to me, looking at New Rocks boots online, distracting me, making me drool over sexy boots, sexy expensive boots, when I ought to be bitching about copyeditors. But there are some nice leg shields, that would go wonderfully with my Nebari costume . . .
Anyway. As I was saying. The other high point of the evening was being asked to obtain written permission for song lyrics included in Low Red Moon, lyrics written by the fictional Daria Parker (she of Stiff Kitten, in Silk), i.e., lyrics written by me. I'm currently seeing if I'll cut myself some slack on the permissions fees. Me and I may be able to work something out.
I don't know. I can be a real hard ass about these things.
Or, perhaps I can be a real hard-ass. I'm pretty sure I'm not a hardass.
But I might be wrong.
Yes, I'm in a truly foul mood. Thanks for noticing. Today, my foul mood and I have to type up notes on the fornatting of the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon, do more work on the lettered-edition "extras" for The Five of Cups, and, well, lots of other tedious stuff that isn't writing. It's currently rainy and overcast, but, the way my luck is running, the sun will probably come out soon and spoil everything.
Watch your fingers . . .
Monday, May 05, 2003
I think I will write a sonnet on my dislike of copyeditors. I do my dislike a disservice, using "dislike" instead of some stronger word. But all is politics. Still, I fear some of the notes I wrote on the Roc Low Red Moon CEM yesterday were far from politic. I have an urge to recount some of the sillier comments made by the the copyeditor is question, but, alas, that would probably not be politic, either. I will amend my dislike: I have nothing but praise for the copyeditor who catches my misspellings and missing commas. However, easily 70% of the marks on this ms. fall into another category entirely. If copyeditors wish to write novels, they should write their own. I think they would quickly discover that their knowledge of the dubious "rules" of English are only a small part of what is required for the task. Clearly, they tend to run short of imagination. And a knowledge of how human beings actually speak to one another.
We spent most of yesterday, and a big chunk of last night, dealing with the CEM. Three of us working together, me and Spooky and Jennifer, and managed to get to Chapter Seven. Far better than I'd expected. And I didn't even bite anyone. Good for me. However, a small problem with the Subterranean Press text, discovered as we were finishing up last night, has complicated things. We'll continue with the Roc text for now, then circle back to the subpress text. This work is dreadful. It's not writing. It's not art. It's pointless, unnecessary drudgery. It's pure tedium, which, I'm reminded, John Gardner described as "the worst pain."
But it has led me to find creative ways to avoid trademarked words. I've ditched Sheetrock, Realtor, Kleenex - easily replaced with drywall, real-estate agent, and tissue, respectively. So much for product placement. I marveled that no one has trademarked duct tape. Oh, and to hear the manufacturers of Styrofoam tell it, Styrofoam-brand polysytrene foam is most emphatically not used in the making of disposable coffee cups. Yes, I spent yesterday thinking about such things. I will do so again this evening.
I also have to get the last little bit of stuff together for Bill Schafer for The Five of Cups, mostly extra material to be used exclusively for the lettered edition (a preface that wasn't used, deleted sections of text, notes, etc.). This will be my day.
Please send help.
Sunday, May 04, 2003
And it was a good day off, thank you very much. Spooky and I drove around all afternoon listening to the new Future Bible Heroes ep (The Lonely Robot), doing nothing in particular. Doing nothing that needed doing. That's a very strange thing for me.
Today, though, the work on the Low Red Moon proofreading begins. Simultaneously proofing two editions (Roc's CEM and Subterranean Press' proofs). I'll be reading from Roc's, Spooky from Subterranean Press'. Jennifer will go through the Roc CEM separately. I need to get through two or three chapters a day, as I'm so far behind on everything. And I'd been needing something to nudge my interests back towards the novel. Fortunately, it came this morning, in the form of a rough draft of Ryan Obermeyer's cover for the Subterranean Press edition. Absolutely gorgeous.
And, of course, I have a paragraph of "Riding the White Bull" to tweak or toss. Then that story will be done.
A couple of people e-mailed Jennifer, worried that the Cat Crutches Auction had ended. Worry not. We still have tons of cool stuff. Spooky and I were just taking a break, trying to get caught up on everything. I think I have only one more of the ARCs for The Five of Cups, so the next one that goes up will probably be your last chance to pick one up from me. We have more books, Nyarlathotep cds, Salammbô t-shirts, and comics, as well.
That's it for this morning. Ah, thanks to Kirin for writing to remind me of the full lunar eclipse on May 15th! Later . . .
Saturday, May 03, 2003
It's a wonderful rainy day. Rainy springs days are one of the few things about which I have nothing bad to say. The thunder is magnificent. After breakfast, I stood in the rain for a bit. I'm under orders from Spooky to take the day off, so this will be short.
Yesterday was beyond frustrating. The DSL was down all frelling day. I kept stubbing toes and dropping things. I couldn't wake up. I was intermittently nauseous. It was almost impossible to concentrate on work. But I read through the new story a couple of times (which is now entitled "Riding the White Bull"), once with Spooky, and polished a lot. There's a short passage that still needs work (though it may actually only need deleting). I'll do that tomorrow and send it off to the editor on Monday. I finally realized yesterday, late in the afternoon, that the problem with the day was the post-partum depression that, for me, generally attends the completion of any story or novel or script. On the one hand, I'm sick to death of the "child" and just want it gone, out of my sight. I want it to be history and move along to the next conception. All I can see are its flaws and weaknesses. On the other hand, I keep pulling it back to me, straightening its clothes, fussing with its hair, cleaning its dirty face. It happens almost every single time. Back and forth. Back and forth. Be gone. Wait, you're not finished.
Spooky is sitting next to me, reading alt.gothic.fashion on her iBook, whose name is Perfidia.
Well, as I'm not working today, I suppose that's it. I think we have to make a trip to the fabric store and the comics store, plan dinner, maybe rent a movie. See? Writers can be just as dull as everyone else. Duller, really.
Friday, May 02, 2003
I did 923 words on the new story yesterday, and finished it. Well, except for a polish today. I read the whole thing through to Kathryn and Jennifer last night. I think they like it a lot more than I do, but that's nothing new. I am my harshest critic. Okay, not my harshest. But harsh. It still has no title. I'll have to find it one today. As for the ending, my comments yesterday, about finding the true ending, were oddly prescient. Actually, this story has two endings, one of which is the truth, and one of which is merely wishful thinking on the part of the narrator. Regardless, it's almost done. The word count stands at 11, 238. The final will be a little higher or a little lower.
I've let the proofreading on Low Red Moon (both editions) and the final work on The Five of Cups ms. go neglected too long. I have to attend to both in the next couple of days. Well, the work on Low Red Moon will require a week, at least, to complete, but I'll be getting started on it today, hopefully.
I suppose that's it for today. I'm more in work mode than waxing-tedious-in-the-blog mode. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Happy May Day.
Today I will finish the story. As of yesterday afternoon, the count stood at 10,308 words. I wrote to the editor the see if it would be okay to go to 11,000 (the maximum was 10K) and he said sure. So, I need to wrap this thing up in the next seven hundred words. I did 974 words yesterday. Coming to the end without a title is strange. And it's strange finding the end of such a very long short story. I'm surprised at its length. Apparently first person sf agrees with me. As for tense, it's largely past, though at times it switches unexpectedly to present. It's one of my most complex and non-linear narratives to date. But, as I was saying, coming up to the end, with the weight of so many events, having to end it after having spent almost two weeks doing little else, there's an urgency to find what is absolutely the right ending, to choose that ending from what is probably an infinite number of possible endings. It's a question of what really happens. What's true.
I'd not left the apartment (literally, hadn't stepped outside) since Saturday evening, and Spooky and Jennifer made me get some fresh air yesterday before dinner. We played on the swings and I climbed a magnolia tree. I got two mosquito bites. Sounds like I'm writing home from summer camp, doesn't it? For dinner, I cooked venison with a mushroom and onion gravy. And I didn't work last night. I planted myself in front of the television and watched Enterprise, Angel, and Farscape.
Speaking of Enterprise, going hohumly where no man has gone before, I never got back to my alternate plot. Last we heard, the Klingons had just arrived. I think cannibalism and human sacrifice are in the offing. Maybe flaming Porthos kabobs? And Captain Archer's looking a little more constipated than usual . . .
Trust me. I do this for a living. They pay me to do this. You're in good hands.