Thursday, July 31, 2003
Ugh. Last night was another of mine and Spooky's Tomb Raider marathons, more than four hours and it was almost 4 a.m. when I finally got to bed. I'm sadly amazed at how the game can be so much more engaging than either of the films has been.
Anyway, yesterday was the rare sort of day when I actually did almost everything I said I was going to do. I wrote about 1,000 words worth of notes for Chapter Seven, which I will begin today. I finished up editing the notes for the Subterranean lettered of LRM, and we proofread Chapter Six start to finish. I didn't get to the research I needed to do, but that's hardly a surprise. This is such a peculiar book. I fear my editor may be at a loss. At least Publisher's Weekly won't be able to accuse it of being "conventional." And it appears it may indeed be only ten chapters. It was in my head more than usual yesterday. When we finally crawled off the bed last night, I was still babbling about the characters. That's a good sign. Had I been able to get my head that into the book a couple of months back, I'd be almost finished by now.
Obsession is the writer's friend. It's an anti-sin. It is the antithesis of Distraction.
I'm wondering whether or not this will be a less sorrowful novel than was LRM. I think there will be more triumph at the end, though many readers will still probably find great sadness there. I expect I will, as well. I'm a little sensitive on this issue. I have been ever since a reviewer in Fangoria complained that the ending of Silk was more sad than horrific (that's a paraphrase, but very close to what was said; I don't feel like digging out the review to quote it). He was correct, of course, but he reacted as though that were a bad thing, when it was, of course, exactly as I'd intended the ending to be received.
I am a great believer in the importance of authorial intent, though I know it's long been out of vogue with literary theorists. Most times, I have about as much use for literary theorists as I have for, say, artificial sweeteners. There is what I intended a book to convey and that is of the greatest significance. There will be other things there I didn't consciously intend, or intended not at all, and it's great when the reader gets those things as well, but they are secondary, tertiary, quarternary, etc.
Time to get to work now. The words will have their bloody way.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Mornings after An Act of Completion are always a little out of whack. This one (and I see it's actually afternoon, but what the frell) is no exception. I spent a chunk of the morning investigating the fact that AMC Theater's has trademarked "Silence is Golden." That's how out of whack it is.
It would seem obvious that, having completed Chapter Six, I should now proceed, forthwith, to Chapter Seven. Assumptions of linear progression will get you almost every time. I need to try to finish up this interminable editing on the "extras" for the Low Red Moon lettered. It's dragging on and on and on, and I'm not sure why. And I want to put down a lot of the things Kathryn and I discussed yesterday about the remainder of the book. As you probably all know by now, I'm not one for outlines or notes, but there are always exceptions. This is one. I'm looking for a particular economy of storytelling in the second half of this novel and I'm afraid a rough outline has become necessary. Also, there's research for Chapter Seven that I should do before I start it, instead of during its composition. I have a bad habit of researching as I go, which is really annoying as hell and flows from one of the Seven - Procrastination. This evening, I need to read Chapter Six aloud to Jennifer and Kathryn to catch all those things that need catching and get a feel for it before I continue.
So, I'll probably begin Chapter Seven tomorrow. If I could finish this novel before October 1st I would be pleased. Then I'd only be about a month behind schedule.
Murder of Angels is an even more troublesome child than was Threshold. On the rare days I don't feel utterly lost within it, I feel like I'm surely floundering. Every now and then there comes a day when I seem to get my balance. I almost feel optimistic (what an ugly word). Then the floundering begins again. It seems, sometimes, as though stories wish to follow a path of least resistance, perhaps following some inherent Jungian dictate. And my instinct, which may run at odds with a collective unconscious will, is to guide it towards a path of greater resistance, to seek friction and shallow, rocky water and ascension. Obvious things make me nervous. Easy things make me more nervous still. A reader's expectations exist to be foiled, I think. And, at ms. page 296, I think I can see where a lot of people might think this novel will go next, so I'm trying to find an alternate route. And an alternate destination. And, more importantly, a depth that will drown any naive preconceptions of fantasy and heroism.
There are days when I seem to know nothing whatsoever of storytelling, and feel as though I need to start back at the beginning.
If only readers would be commonly plagued by similar doubts.
A circle could finally be completed.
I often find readers to be terrifyingly arrogant. I may doubt every line of prose, every word, but they seem to know exactly how things should go. The most terrifyingly arrogant of all readers are those Tyrant Kings we call reviewers. I fear them most of all.
Joseph Campbell wrote, ". . . it will always be the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find, together with a challengingly persistent suggestion of more remaining to be experienced than will ever be known."
It is my belief that a good writer knows the first part by heart - that "marvelously constant story" - having come up with it since childhood. If she has listened, the constant is the simple part. The chore is the "challengingly persistent suggestion." Which brings me back to Murder of Angels and my distrust for obvious, easy things. Here is a hero and a wasted land, a magical talisman and a dragon and a goddess of light, and here is a blank space on the map. You know the story. I know you know the story. We beg for originality, but, in fact, we want familiarity dressed up in unfamilar clothes. As Gibarian says in the 2002 remake of Solaris (a beautiful, brilliant film which I saw again last night), "We don't want alien worlds. We want mirrors." This is a very true thing. So, as a writer, I must try to give you alien worlds. It's the only good I can do in this life.
Ah . . . and George Bush doesn't believe gays should marry. And I don't believe homophobes should be permitted to breed. We all have our little crosses to bear, I suppose.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
I did nothing yesterday. Which is not to say I did Nothing. I wrote about 200 words on Chapter Six and the end eluded me.
Today, I did another 607 words and finally finished Chapter Six. I also spent an hour or so discussing the remainder of the book with Kathryn. I see now how it ends. For a long time I had no idea. That's not unusual. I rarely know what comes at the last, before THE END, until I get there. This novel may have only ten chapters. Silk had fourteen. Threshold had thirteen. Low Red Moon has fourteen. But this novel may have only ten. I have an instinct that says it should be shorter, because it wants to be much, much longer than any of the others. It has Epic Ambitions. I suspect it's misguided in this respect, and I look at books on my shelves that would have greatly benefited by being 500 or so pp. shorter than they are and I think, What a bloody waste of trees.
The screenplay is languishing, and I still haven't finished getting all the "extra" stuff together for Subterranean Press. I feel like I'm juggling a kitten, a chainsaw, and a bag of garbage. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which is which.
Be nice to me. I need it. Go to eBay and buy something.
Monday, July 28, 2003
This is the sort of morning when I'm pretty certain I'd feel better if I just cut off my head and got it over with.
I have VNV Nation ("Frika") on the headphones, trying to nudge a little motivation and passion from my cloudy, discontented skull.
Because I have to finish Chapter Six today.
Otherwise, I might head for the museum and spend the day sitting with the dinosaurs, or treat myself to ice cream and a second viewing of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or drive all the way to Athens and spend the day drinking Guinness at The Globe.
And that's the most important thing I have to tell you about being a writer. All of these things are within my grasp, all these infinitely more enjoyable, alternate ways the day might be spent. By my own will, I shall sit here in this chair at this computer in my cluttered office and do that other thing instead. I will trade a good day for another 1,000+ words of Murder of Angels. One day of my life for five or six pages. Forgive me. I don't know any better.
There is nothing much to say about yesterday. I spent most it editing notes I made for Low Red Moon in November and December of 2001, and adding a few footnotes, to be used in the lettered copies of the Subterranean Press edition of the novel. Twenty-six people will benefit from what I did yesterday, though it's still not finished.
I think I may have misplaced my work ethic.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
I did another 1,420 words on Chapter Six yesterday, and could finish the chapter today, if not for the fact that I have gaming at a friends' house at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon. So, instead, I shall work on the editing of the "extras" for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon. That's something I desperately need to finish.
The need for intelligent, actively thinking art receptors (i.e., readers, audience, etc.) is much on my mind this morning. In part, that's because Murder of Angels is proving so complex and unusual a novel, and, in part, it's because Bonnie Hammer, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Sci-Fi Channel, is such a frelling idiot and continues to find startling new ways to exhibit her idiocy to a world that generally tends to mistake idiocy for other things and reward it at every possible opportunity. As reported in this week's TV Guide, in an article on Stargate SG-1, she's states, "A lot of other science fiction series either become too complicated or start to take themselves too seriously. Sometimes shows are too smart for the audience. Stargate is smart, but it doesn't make people do homework." Hammer's been spouting this sort of nonsense for more than a year now, as she continues to boost the network's ratings by dumbing it down. Her gospel is loud and clear: We at Sci-Fi understand that the average television viewer has better things to do than think, and we're working hard to keep it that way.
I'm not sure if I'm digressing or not.
According to Hammer, Farscape failed because it expected too much from the viewer. She's stated this position repeatedly. In her view, the show's worst crime was asking viewers to follow the threads uniting the episodes into an ongoing storyline. To appreciate "A Constellation of Doubt," for instance, it helped greatly to have seen the earlier episode "Terra Firma" (and a whole lot of other episodes). The one followed from the other, which is, of course, the nature of sequential fiction. Otherwise you get the sort of stultifying "reset button" storytelling that demands that each episode stands alone, always beginning at and returning to point A in the space of 45 minutes. But in television, as in publishing, stultification is a good thing.
Which brings me back around to Murder of Angels. This book is a sequel to Silk, which is, for its marketing and performance, a handicap. I knew this going in. Sure, Low Red Moon is a sequel to Threshold and most of my fiction is interconnected, but this is different. MoA is a genuine sequel, a continuation of the story begun in Silk, with a ten year gap in between. I've worked hard to make it as "stand alone" as I can, but there's only so much I can do. And sure, I know that readers who enjoyed Silk will probably come willingly to MoA, but they're not the ones that I'm supposed to be worried about. I'm supposed to be worried about the readers I don't have, which is almost everyone in the world. I have no doubt that there will be potential readers who don't want to have to read Silk first, and so won't buy MoA.
Oh, fuck it. I'm talking in little circles. Somewhere in all that there's a point, but my head's too fuzzy this morning to draw it forth. I beg your pardon for rambling.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Yesterday I did a very respectable 1,425 words. Which was heartening, after what is now being referred to around these regions as The Late and Unfortunate Publisher's Weekly Foolishness. It was nice to bounce back. Boing, boing. This novel keeps taking me to strange and unexpected places. The PW reviewer lamented that Low Red Moon is more "conventional" than Threshold (it's not), but no one will ever be able to call Murder of Angels in any sense conventional. Which is probably bad for my bank account, but what the hell. It's determined to be the book it wants to be, and I've finally decided to let it be just that book.
A couple of days back, I was contacted by Derek Rush, from Dream Into Dust and, more to the point, a side project called Murder of Angels (both on Middle Pillar). You'll recall my vacillation over the title of the novel, because someone brought the band to my attention after I'd settled on Murder of Angels. Anyway, you can learn more about Derek's work at the Dream Into Dust website. It was very cool to hear from him; we seem to be treading a lot of common ground.
So . . . as I write this, twenty-three hundred "peacekeeping" Marines are being positioned off the coast of Liberia. Personally, I don't see any sign of peace to be kept in Liberia.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Here's a P.S. type thingy: Now that Farscape is on its really long hiatus, the best show on television has got to be Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Sure, it's fluff, but at least it's fluff with good taste in clothes. Actually, I find myself sucked ever deeper into the bizarre world of reality television. It frightens me.
I did work yesterday, trying to make up for all the time I squandered worrying about the frelling silly PW review, but I didn't get back to Chapter Six. I didn't really think that I would. But I will today. I promise.
Yesterday was devoted to two interviews, contracts that needed to be signed and returned to England, updates on the website, and the mountain of editing that has to be done on the "extra" material for the lettered edition of Low Red Moon. It was actually nice to have a lot of that sort of work piled up, needing my attention, because that was about the only sort of attention I had yesterday.
I love spam. I'm beginning to suspect it holds some great cosmic secret, if only we could assemble the innumerable quanta and see the profundity of the whole. For example, yesterday I received a piece with the following subject line: "Ladies, want a big penis?" There's so much to ponder here. Is this just another ad for a Viagra knock-off, or is it a query on the sublimated transsexuality that haunts so much of our culture? Is it about strap-ons, or size preference, or both? Is it really a question, or a statement with a cleverly misappropriated question mark? Oh sure, I could open it and find out what it says, but you gotta remember Shroedinger's cat, right? Perhaps each of these states - each interpretation of the question - is implied by the question, "Ladies, want a big penis?" Perhaps, each of them is equally true and not true, until I read the e-mail. My poor noggin. Why must people continually vex me so with these terrible existential dilemmas! "Ladies, want a big penis?" indeed! I can see through your little games.
And speaking of strap-ons, if you aren't already reading Tristan Crane and Ted Naifeh's How Loathsome, you are to start today. It's one of the few "must-read" comics being published. A new ish came out on Wednesday. Rush out and buy it. Delicious, hilarious stuff. Sexy, fab art. Gritty realism. Do yourself a favor. It's cheaper than a date and you won't even need a condom.
And speaking of dicks, I'm not going to waste a lot a breath and adrenaline on the new and tellingly censored report detailing the intelligence breakdowns that led to 9/11. Instead, I will direct you to the following editorial, which says it much better than whatever rant I might be able to pull together at 12:03 p.m. on a Friday afternoon: "Weapons of Mass Redaction". Thanks to Jada for the link.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Here it is Thursday, and I haven't written since Saturday, when I finished "The Dead and the Moonstruck." And I still haven't seen the frelling Publisher's Weekly review of Low Red Moon. Never mind that all of New York had the July 21st issue on Monday morning. Here in Atlanta, it has yet to arrive. We are now theorizing that all shipments of the magazine from Manhatten have been waylaid by alien spacecraft intent on driving me insane. That's a fairly reasonable conspiracy theory. Yesterday, there were some fairly elaborate attempts to get the review to me from NYC, all the no avail. It's beginning to feel a little weird. It's just one frelling paragraph, probably half a column, and it's had me locked up since frelling Monday morning.
If you are reading this and have in your possession such a thing as a copy of the July 21st Publisher's Weekly, if you will be so extraordinarily kind as to type the text into an e-mail and send it to me at Desvernine@aol.com, I will be grateful and . . . hold on. A call from Bill Schafer. The review is in my e-mail at AOL. I go now and read. I will return . . .
Isn't it just drad, getting to watch my pathetic little life played out right here before your very eyes?
So, anyway, approximately 72 hours after being told by my editor that the review was in print, after countless calls to bookstores (Atlanta, Athens, even frelling Birmingham), two lost faxes, various dubious sedatives, and half a nervous breakdown, I've read the damned review. It would appear that the reviewer, whoever this person might be, likes Low Red Moon, though they do proclaim it more conventional than Threshold and complain that there's too much action and dialogue. I especially love that last bit, since one of the most common, most annoying criticisms of my work has been that there is too little action and dialogue. Sometimes I feel like all I'm doing is moving holes around, at the whim of people who don't even like holes to start with. But it's a good review, give or take, which is all that ever matters. A bezillion thanks to the merciful Bill Sheehan for taking the time to type this thing up for me. May the gods never rain marmite and snails upon your head.
Christ, what a mess of a week.
So, you want to be a writer, hmmmm?
In other news (and thankfully there is other news), my copies of Waycross arrived bright and early this morning. The UPS guy, who knows we sleep in mornings, was apologetic, though we were actually up already. Anyway, the book looks great. Ted Naifeh's illustrations are absolutely killer. Thank you again, Ted. Also, look for the new issue of Ted's comic, How Loathsome, which arrived in most comic shops yesterday. According to Subterranean Press, Waycross is now out of print, except for a few copies of the hardback lettered edition. But I'll be offering copies of the paperback numbered edition on eBay, as soon as we can get around to putting them up. For those who don't know already, Waycross is a Dancy Flammarion story set just prior to In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers.
Yesterday, because I could not write, Spooky and I went to see The Eye. What did I think? Mother and I are still collating.
Ah, and this from Jim Shimkus, who makes me wear clothes and knows why I lost my wings: "If red is the new brown, which was the new black, then half-dragons are the new drow, which were the new half-elves."
Maybe I'll be able to get my head together and get back to Chapter Six today. But it may be tomorrow. I'm going to throw up now; excuse me.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
I have not yet seen the PW review, and, as a result, I have not yet gotten back to work on Chapter Six of Murder of Angels.
Yesterday was, at best, an exercise in writerly housekeeping. I deposited an advance check that had been sitting around since January. I dealt with more annoying questions from the production manager at Roc. I spent a good portion of the evening reading through the blog, looking for suitable selections for the Subterranean Press lettered. I only made it as far as April 2002. Etc. Etc. Etc. and you get the picture. That sort of thing, which, I suppose, is better than no sort of thing at all.
Word from Bill Schafer is Waycross will be shipping any moment now and the softcover is sold out on publication. Only a few of the hardcovers remain. I think I should be happy about that, and maybe I will be, later.
The eBay autions are on again.
Monday, July 21, 2003
I'm not exactly running late today. Just a little tardy.
I just got word from my editor at Penguin that there's a review of Low Red Moon in the new issue of Publisher's Weekly. Someone at Writer's House is trying to track it down for me. To say that I am nervous about how this novel will be received critically, after the sucess of Threshold, is an understatement. So, I've realized that until I've read this review, or had it read to me, I won't be writing today. There's a knot in my belly, and a bit of nausea, which always attends a moment such as this. For better or worse, a lot rides on the PW review.
Yesterday, I polished "The Dead and the Moonstruck" and then realized that it's going to take me considerably longer than I'd thought to put together the "extra" material for the Subterranean Press lettered edition of Low Red Moon. The better part of that material will be excerpts from this blogger, and, as they need to be the most relevant entries, I have to read back over an enormous amount of material. Why I thought I could do this quickly is entirely beyond me. Beginning with the first entry of November 23, 2001, I must have written several hundred thousand words in this blog, in nearly a thousand entries. So, I called Bill Schafer and told him to give me another week. Hopefully, it won't take longer than that.
So, maybe I'll write today, and maybe I won't.
Are we mad or are we popular?
I shall see.
Has anyone else been particularly disturbed by the "suicide" of Dr. David Kelly (the British scientist who may - or may not - have been the BBC's source for a report on doctored intelligence files)? The whole thing has this creepy Three Days of the Condor feel to me. Found in a vacant lot with one slashed wrist and a bottle of painkillers nearby. Does that really sound like a suicide? Tony Blair promises an inquiry, but now that he's playing footsy with Bush, and coming under so much fire for his role in the bogus reports of Hussein buying uranium from Niger, I find his promises to find the truth of the incident a little less than comforting.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
I wrote another 1,604 words yesterday and finished "The Dead and the Moonstruck" at about 4 p.m. Today I'll read it aloud to Spooky and Jennifer and then do a polish, and get it in the mail to Candlewick tomorrow. It's a story I'm very pleased with. It's somewhere new and, at the same time, somewhere very familiar. And it's the 59th short story I've written and sold since July 1993, almost exactly ten years ago.
My dinosaur post yesterday seems to have been popular. Thanks for the e-mail, etc. I was thinking about the post through much of the day. I'd forgotten about the Aurora models that came along about the time I was "getting too old" for the regular plastic dinos. All these things fall under the category of Stuff I Wish I Hadn't Let My Mother Sell At Yard Sales. My mother was a yard-sale fiend, and even blue plastic ankylosaurs and Aurora Woolly Mammoth models were fair game. I did manage to keep almost of all my books from childhood. I think my mother's reverence for books kept them clear of the yard sales. I still haved all my Burroughs paperbacks, for instance (that's Edgar Rice, not William). And, of course, the plastic dinosaurs helped foster my love of paleontology, as well as my ability to tell stories. I didn't get to excavate my first real dinosaur until 1980 (I was still in high school), but I pretended excavations years and years before that, encouraged by books by men like Roy Chapman Andrews and Edwin Colbert. Never mind that all the rocks where I lived were Paleozoic, and never mind that even as a kid I knew that meant there'd be no dinosaurs in them, it didn't stop me from looking. And I did find lots of fossils in the process - trilobites, ferns, brachiopods, snails, crinoids - that sort of thing. Things disappointingly invertebrate and botanical. But it kept me going. Anyway, yes, plastic dinosaurs were very fine things indeed.
Someone should send a few to Pat Robertson. Maybe he'd discover more constructive fantasies than his current attempt to pray three "liberal" Supreme Court justices off the bench. I just love people, especially the sort of fundamentalist Christians who balk at the smallest hint of paganism, who reduce prayer to the most simplistic sort of magic. Say the right words and get what you asked for. And when those prayers are meant to affect the minds of other men and women, doesn't that create a rather sticky paradox with regards to free will?
I need to get to work. "The Dead and the Moonstruck" and then I have to get Low Red Moon extras together for Subterranean Press, and attend to some other smaller matters. Tomorrow, I'll get back to work on Chapter Six of Murder of Angels.
Saturday, July 19, 2003
The productive writing days are becoming the norm again, which is a good thing. Yesterday I wrote 1,214 words on "The Dead and the Moonstruck." I'll finish the story today. There's a certain satisfaction to conceiving and completing a short story in the space of only four days. Especially one that you know's going to a good home. Never mind that five hours of writing leaves me too drained to work on other things I'd like to be working on. It's better than the alternative.
This morning I was having breakfast and, for no particular reason that I can recall, began thinking about the kid who lives across the courtyard. A few days back, he was sitting on his porch playing with a bunch of plastic dinosaurs. I wasn't sure kids still played with toys that couldn't talk to them and give stock quotes. When I was a kid, there was no finer toy on earth than a plastic dinosaur, except maybe a very big pile of plastic dinosaurs. I must have gone through a few thousand by the time I was ten, mostly the ones produced by Marx (the toy company, not the communist or the comedians), based on Rudolph Zallinger's gorgeous mural, "The Age of Reptiles," at the Yale-Peabody Museum. They weren't fancy, nothing like the anatomically-correct, modeled-to-scale dinosaurs available these days from the Natural History Museum in London or the Carnegie or the Boston Museum of Science. Generally, each one was molded in a single primary color (blue ankylosaurs, yellow brontosaurs, red allosaurs, and so forth). Imagination was required to make them more realistic.
With a pile a plastic dinosaurs and a few plastic cavemen (also manufactured by Marx), I could reenact the high points of One Million Years B.C. (the '60s remake with Harryhausen sfx, not the original) or When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Throw in a few plastic cowboys and horses (I don't know who made those) and I had the cast of The Valley of Gwangi. A handful of plastic dinosaurs and I was ready to go back to the Cretaceous, or to Caprona, or Pellucidar, or some pastpresent place I created right there on the spot. I spun very elaborate stories around little more than plastic dinosaurs and the topography of my backyard. The fact that I preferred plastic dinosaurs (and books, oftentimes featuring dinosaurs) over football or baseball with the kids down the street prompted my parents' earliest concerns (later confirmed beyond their wildest fears), that I was "not right." Good for me. And the plastic dinosaurs. They didn't talk and weren't computerized or interactive (except, of course, in the sense that one was meant to interact with them), but they helped me learn to tell stories. And, because I could play with them alone, and usually did, they also helped to foster my budding anti-social, introvert behavior, without which I never would have become the recluse that I am today, capable of giving up entire weeks in the pursuit of THE END of a story.
A shame they couldn't teach me to spell, as well. Or use commas correctly. Then again, that's what proofreaders and copyeditors and spell-checking programmes and the Webster's Dictionary are for. Plastic dinosaurs have no business trying to teach you to spell.
Friday, July 18, 2003
Somehow I went to bed early (for me, at least - 1:30 AM) but slept until the shamefully delinquent hour of 11 AM. So, I'm about as far behind on the day I could have feared.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,052 words on "The Dead and the Moonstruck." That brings the total on the story to 2,360 words. I'll finish it today or, more likely, tomorrow. I like how this piece is turning out and I don't want to rush it. Very dark, but also whimsical and quite funny at times. I said it was a bit like a Harry Potter story on crack and both Jennifer and Spooky agreed with me. Spooky wants it to be a whole novel.
I still haven't returned the chapette proof to Camelot. That needs to be done today.
And the extra stuff for the Subterranean Press lettered of Low Red Moon. That's another reason I shouldn't have overslept.
The number of American soldiers killed in Iraq has now surpassed the number killed in the first Gulf War. The article I read made no mention of the far greater number of Iraqis who have died.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
I am not awake.
Yesterday, I began a new story, "The Dead and the Moonstruck," for the Candlewick anthology. I did 1,266 words, so it's off to a very good start and I should have it done by Saturday evening, at which point I can get back to Chapter Six of MOA (the book, not the extinct bird). This new story, which takes its title from Lovecraft by way of Chapter Five of Threshold is actually about one of the characters from Low Red Moon. You haven't met her yet.
The San Diego Comic Con starts today. I've never done San Diego. Anyway, hopefully the con will yield confirmation or denial of the rumours that Henson is readying to shoot a Farscape mini-series to finish the story left hanging at the end of "Bad Timing." Hopefully, it will yield confirmation.
One of my favorite quotes to come from the revelation that Bush, his Administration, the CIA, and mass media lied to us about WMDs in Iraq has got to be this gem from White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, regarding the claim Bush made that Hussein was buying uranium from Africa: ''That is not known. We don't know if it's true but nobody - but nobody - can say it was wrong. That is not known.'' I'm guessing Ari didn't do so well on the high school debate team.
I'm not sure if I'll continue to talk about the war in this journal. Yes, I did regret having silenced myself before, but, at the same time, this whole mess leaves me sick at heart and mind and soul. And I shudder to imagine the real lies, the ones that these lesser deceits are masking. But you don't need me to point fingers. Even Time magazine's getting into the game. The world turns, Americans discover we aren't getting a quick McWar after all, the economy still sucks, and opinions change like fashion. Oh, you mean our soldiers are going to die, too? Was that supposed to happen? You mean the Iraqis aren't grateful we invaded and threw their already beleaguered nation into a state of utter, murderous chaos? That the tide may be turning, and the fact that Bush and his buddies may drown in the backwash, is in no way comforting. We don't learn from history. Maybe we can't. Sure, it makes us more cynical and callused, but we don't learn. We keep making the same idiotic, selfish mistakes. We've seen all this before. I've seen all this before. Different names. Different dates. Different countries. But the story's just the same.
Like Mr. Rotten said, "This is what you want . . . This is what you get."
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Why was there no entry yesterday, you ask? There was no entry yesterday because, after I spent 45 minutes writing one, Explorer crashed, taking about 400 words of my text with it. I was entirely too angry and hadn't the heart to start it over again. Mostly, it was a polemic against the taking of "days off" by writers, with little bits of news thrown in, closing up with some ponderments about whether or not I want to waste anymore breath on George Bush and his fellow thugs. Anyway, that's why there was no entry yesterday.
Monday, that fabled day off, came to nothing much but the realization that I should have been writing. The high point was a trip to AFX Studios to see Andre, who's finishing up my pulse pistol.
And speaking of Farscape, according to a story at IGN, there might be reason to hope at long last, ten and a half months after the cancellation was announced. Here's a link directly to the story — IGN Filmforce. I'm going to remain cautiously hopeful until we hear something official from Henson. It would be wonderful if an announcement is made a San Diego Comic Con this weekend.
According to Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press, Waycross may be ready next week. My apologies again that this one has taken so long, and double apologies to all who preordered. The printer made some atrocious screw up and is to be blamed for the delay. Anyway, it will be along shortly, with all Ted Naifeh's gorgeous illustrations. Also, the proof of the very, very short chapbook which I wrote for Camelot Books, "Alabaster," arrived and I need to make my red marks on that and get it back in the mail.
Bill also reminded me that I need to get the lettered-edition extras for Low Red Moon out to him soon, underscoring my conclusions about writers and days off.
Yesterday I did 1,315 words on Chapter Six of Murder of Angels. And now, with the chapter half finished, I'm going to have to set it aside to write the story for the Candlewick Press anthology. I set it aside with great reluctance. I seem to have finally found my way into this novel. But the story will be a short one, fortunately, only about 4,000-5,000 words, so I shouldn't be detoured for more than a few days. I'll try to get a good start on the story today.
That's all I can think of for now. So. I go and work.
Monday, July 14, 2003
Also of note, and I'll probably say more about this tomorrow, is the direction that war-related polls are taking on AOL. As many have noted, AOL's surveys often yield markedly conservative results. During the days immediately preceeding the start of the war, the surveys consistently produced results favoring Bush's proposed invasion of Iraq, and high ranks for the President's performance. But results from two different AOL polls today, and another back in June, show that there may have been a significant anti-Bush, anti-war shift on AOL. Like I said, more on this tomorrow. This entry is mostly a reminder to myself. But it is interesting to watch Dubya learn how fickle Americans can be.
At the moment, I'm struggling with whether or not this really will be a day off. On the one hand, I need such a beast. I need it very badly. On the other hand, Chapter Six is chugging along, and I'm horridly behind. It's already the frelling 14th of frelling July. The short story for Candlewick Press is due in about two weeks and I haven't even started it. I need to get back to the screenplay. See. I have lots of reason to work, and only one reason to take a day off (I'm tired). Sometimes, it's nice being my own "boss" (in the limited sense that this is true), but most of the time, like now, it's just a pain in the ass.
Yesterday I wrote 1,181 words on Chapter Six (that's 5,037 words, or about half the chapter, thus far). And having written, I was too wasted to write anything else that needed writing. This is a great weakness that I have as a writer. I have never really been able to write two or three things simultaneously. I know lots of other writers who do it just fine. I don't. It's one reason my time at Vertigo was such a nightmare and one reason I'll likely stay clear of comics in the future. Were this not a problem for me, I could be writing the novel in the afternoon and the screenplay at night. Or maybe alternating — novel/screenplay one day and novel/short story the next. That would be efficient. That would be convenient. That would make sense. Instead, after four or five hours of work on the novel, I'm too fried to write anything else of substance. So, yesterday, having written and needing to write more, I worked on Nebari.Net instead and spent a number of hours on Tomb Raider. The more I write, the more I feel as though there's some unspoken obligation I have to write during my every waking hour. Time spent not writing is dead time. Something like that. It's idiotic.
The new issue of Cemetery Dance magazine has the interview I gave them last spring. It's a year out of date, but you might want to check it out anyway.
About that catalogue of the Bush Administration's lies that led us to war with Iraq, here's a list of quotes, dating August 26, 2002 to May 30, 2003: Whiskey Bar. This list serves well to illustrate the confidence and stridence with which Bush and crew claimed the presence of WMDs in Iraq, as well as knowledge of the numbers and locations of such weapons. Many of these claims are very specific. Remember: specifity is often a sure sign someone's lying, and specifity from politicians and the military is always suspect. Thanks to Karin Kross for pointing me to this list. There are others out there, I'm sure. I haven't checked the headlines yet to see who has most recently admitted to having lied about what, because I was hoping to stay in a good mood, if this is to be a day off.
I will close with a question: What nation in the world possesses the greatest arsenal of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction, and is permitted to act out its will and aggressions upon the world stage with complete impunity?
You know the answer.
Sunday, July 13, 2003
These late night Tomb Raider binges are going to be the death of me. Four hours last night. I will become the poster girl for both carpal tunnel syndrome and bloodshot eyes, just you wait and see. But what can I do? Lara rocks my world.
What the hell was I just about to say? Sheesh. Um, okay, well, I wrote another 1,298 words for Chapter Six yesterday. And this novel just keeps gets stranger. As anyone unfortunate enough to be around during the writing of my novels can tell you, I always say that — It just keeps getting stranger. But this time it's really getting stranger. Of course, they'd tell you I always say that, as well. Regardless, whatever anyone expects of the novel that I write after Low Red Moon (which you, dear reader, have yet to read, of course), this is probably something entirely different. Likewise, whatever might be expected of a continuation of the story begun in Silk, I'm betting that Murder of Angels thwarts those expectations, as well. I don't set out to thwart expectations. It just always kind of seems to happen. Perhaps I am the antithesis of expectation. That would look really cool on a resumé, if ever I have need of a resumé, which I doubt I ever shall. Paleontologist. Novelist. Antithesis of Expectation. Forgive me. My brain is not awake. Oh, I also spent two hours redesigning Nebari.Net yesterday.
I have been told that tomorrow will be a day off, even though Chapter Six is in-progress and the screenplay has been neglected (the next meeting postponed a week, thank heavens). I'm not sure if the day off was Spooky's idea or my own, but there you go.
And because I played Tomb Raider until 3 AM, and then slept an hour too late, and am now forty-five minutes behind schedule, I shall give Dubya a break today, even though he certainly hasn't earned it. I will admit my amusement at his oh-so-casual pardoning of CIA head honcho Tenet. Says Mr. Bush, he considers the matter closed. I'm sure he does. Whoops. Just a little mis(dis)information and I mispoke about Iraq buying uranium from Niger, but, hey, that was way the hell back last October and everyone makes mistakes, right? Anyway, there were all those other reasons to go to war. (wink, wink) No Iraq WMDs in evidence? You're not buying the RVs of Doom? No problem. We'll just retrofit history, put a new spin on this here thing, a little revision here, a retraction, a forgiveness. What's another 107,000 dead Iraqis, one way or another? Nixon was pardoned, after all. They shoot horses, don't they? And everyone lives happily ever after. You tell 'em, George.
Time to floss between my ears.
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Too much salt, not enough water. That's the story of my life. Or at least my physiology of late.
Yesterday I did a very respectable 1,465 words on Chapter Six of Murder of Angels. I hope to do as well today.
I discovered this morning that I've not had a "day off" since June 24th, Spooky's birthday, so I'm going to have to take one soon. Even writers deserve days off every now and again.
Last night, after sushi, we saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and enjoyed it a great deal. Stuart Townsend, as a deliciously wicked Dorian Gray, has entirely redeemed himself for having anything to do with that terrible adaptation of The Queen of the Damned. I loved Peta Wilson's Mina Harker and thought that Jason Flemyng's Jekyll and Hyde out-Hulked the gumby-on-steroids-and-flubber absurdity from this summer's The Incredible Hulk. I have a handful of nitpicky complaints. Here and there the CGI needed sprucing up, there was some lamentable inconsistency in the make-up/effects for the Invisible Man, and one or two groaner lines of dialogue ("Call me Ishmael."). But all in all, it far exceeded my expectations. Sean Connery, as someone has said already, played Sean Connery, which was fine. Great action, jaw-dropping eye candy, a clever film that ended far too quickly. I expect it will be overshadowed by Pirates of the Caribbean, which is a shame. We wore our steampunky best to the show last night and people kept asking us which line was for Pirates. It's all the same to them, I suppose. Alternate-timeline Victorian Englands and pretty pirate movies. Anyway, LEG joins the small group of comics-to-film adaptations that I have truly loved: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), Spiderman (2002), both X-Men movies (2000 and 2002) - okay, there have been more good superhero movies than I thought. And LEG is one of them.
If only the "real world" had such a delightful unnaturals to deal with our tyrants.
I think I shall begin a catalogue of the admitted lies and half-truths that the Bush Administration told to drag America gleefully into Iraq. It will keep us busy for some time to come, I think. We can start with CIA Director George J. Tenet's admission last night that it the agency knew that Bush's State of the Union accusation that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire uranium from African sources to build nuclear weapons was unsubstantiated "intelligence" (love that word) when the CIA gave the speech the green light. Of course, Bush just shrugs and points a finger and tells us that's what he was told to say. That's one. That's a good one. We'll have another tomorrow. And the day after that, perhaps. And I'll add this. A sexual indescretion was enough to impeach President Clinton. Isn't telling lies that lead to the unnecessary deaths of more than 100,000 people, thousands of them civilian (many of whom haven't died yet, but will), and lying to a nation so that it becomes a party to those killings, at least equal to Clinton's faux pas?
Ah, and an all too appropriate quote from Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia and, as Adolf Hitler's designated successor, the second man in the Third Reich — "Naturally, the common people don't want war. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Thanks to Aiden Mile for bringing that to my attention. Perhaps I shall e-mail it to the White House.
To the word mines . . .
Friday, July 11, 2003
I seem to have jumped another writing hurdle yesterday. I did the first 1,005 words of Chapter Six of Murder of Angels and Spooky and Jennifer were very pleased with them.
We had really marvelous thunderstorms yesterday evening. They calmed me.
My head is not in the blogger place. I keep drifting off, thinking of other things. And Sophie (who has lately earned the nickname "Burrito Joe") just strolled by my open office door and meowed a most disagreeable sort of meow. So, I think I must be going. See you in the morning.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
Yesterday was not a good writing day (or even a good day, period), though I did read back over the last twenty or so pages of Chapter Five and added 38 words at the very end. Today I will begin Chapter Six, thus beginning Part Two.
This morning, an e-mail from Greg Kurczynski:
I've been re-reading Silk, and just having finished the scene where Spyder is prevented from committing suicide by Mary Ellen, I was struck by the similarities between that scene and the earlier chapter where Niki attempts to drown herself and encounters Jenny Dare.
I'm sure that Jenny is the ghost of Virginia Dare, or at the very least an hallucination brought about by Niki's subconcious knowledge of the history of the Lost Colony, and it made me curious. Is Mary Ellen also an apparition that is based in fact, just an old homeless woman of your own creation, or perhaps a combination of both?
Jenny Dare was one of those characters who seemed to come of her own accord. But yes, she was drawn from the legend of the first English child born in Virginia, Virginia Dare, in 1587 at the ill-fated Roanoke Colony. As for Mary Ellen, she all my own, as much as any character is all my own. Both characters serve much the same function, intervening at moments of crisis in the lives of Niki and Spyder. To quote Joseph Campbell, "For those who have refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass." (The Hero With A Thousand Faces, 1949). The scene with Jenny Dare has always been one of my favorite in Silk. Whether she is a ghost, or a subconcious manifestation of Niki's mind, or something else altogether, I've always wanted to leave up to the reader. I'm not even sure I know myself.
Months ago, I promised not to speak in this blog of the war in Iraq or President Bush. And I've kept my promise. I'd grown tired of the hate mail. So, I've sat here in silence, as we invaded and "won," and the media giants played the Administration's sock puppets, and the whole country went glassy eyed in a self-congratulatory, patriotic delirium. After all, maybe I was wrong. Maybe Bush and his Republican cronies were right about Hussein having great stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, maybe Iraq really was hiding primitive nuclear devices, and so on and so forth. But now, after 5,000-6,000 Iraqi citizens have died, after the deaths of more than 400 US soldiers and at least 100,000 Iraqi soldiers (how do we spell "lopsided"?), and the Bush Administration's failure to turn up anything remotely resembling the vast storehouses of mass destruction of which we were warned, I'm beginning to rethink that silence. Oh, and if you want to know how I came by those numbers, just e-mail and I'll tell you. On February 5th, Colin Powell told us that Iraq possessed "between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons . . . enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." So where are they? More importantly, why were they not deployed against Allied forces during the "war"? At this point, these aren't only fair questions, they're the sort of questions we should all be asking. Why has the Administration been unable to provide convincing evidence of the link between Osama bin Laden and Hussein? What about the apocalyptic figures Bush bandied about in a State of the Union address — 38,000 litres of botulinum toxin and 25,000 litres of anthrax? Where are they? To date, we have no WMDs. We have no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. We do have more than a hundred thousand dead people, a ravaged country, a bag of castor beans, and a few trucks that cannot conclusively be linked to the manufacture of bioweapons. More importantly, we are beginning to see admissions that the threat from Hussein was "hyped," that we were all lied to by the President, his Administration, and the Pentagon, to insure the war would be accepted by the American people.
I don't really feel like being quiet anymore, and I renounce my vow of silence.
So, there's this great film called Wag the Dog, starring Robert Di Niro and Dustin Hoffman. Oh, it's just a fantasy, nothing that could ever really happen, but, anyway . . .
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Another day, another day, another frelling day. I awoke hungover and punchy (it's a great thing, waking punchy), and lay in bed making plans for a Brundel Barbie, using the oven as a transport pod and including a stowaway My Little Pony. "Oh my god! How did that pink pony get into the transporter!" Some fool would call that art.
Finally, the LRM page proofs are on their way back to NYC. They left yesterday. Good riddance. Jennifer's finishing up with the proofs for the Subterranean Press edition.
And then there's Murder of Angels.
I think it's killing me. Don't think I'm joking. I went through this sort of pregnancy with Threshold. Except this is actually worse, which I never, ever thought I'd say. I never thought I'd have to say, "This book is more difficult to write than was Threshold." I thought even I had better sense than to get myself into that sort of situation again. Or at least start keeping cyanide capsules in my desk drawer. At more than fifty-five thousand words, I ought to have some sense of where this book is bound (ha ha ha ha), but I don't. "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit outta my ass!" It all eludes me. It yawns before me like a hungry black abyss that eats writers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And I have less than six months to finish the fucker. I considered, yesterday, typing THE END at the end of Chapter Five, breaking all the chapters up so that there would be fourteen short chapters, and sending it back in to my publisher. I thought, it might work, maybe. And I'd be doing my part to fight FEP and saving a few trees in the bargain. Oh, I wrote about 300 words on Chapter Six yesterday, but it was all garbage.
And how was your day?
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Tuesday morning and the Roc proofs for Low Red Moon are still spread out across the floor of my office. This is the proofreading that refuses to end. But as soon as I get all the pages back into order, Spooky will take it to the p.o. and the damned thing will be gone. Then there's only the first half of the Subterranean Press edition to proof (we did the second half as we were doing the Roc edition; unfortunately, it arrived too late to sync them up perfectly), but I think Jennifer's going to do that, so I can get on with Murder of Angels. Rogue called this morning from Denmark. I was asleep. It was 3 p.m. in Kopenhagen, but only 9 a.m. here in Atlanta. The world turns and we miss each other. As it stands, I'm asking Roc to give me more time to work everything out with the epigraph. If all else fails, the Roc edition will use the two lines permitted by "fair use,'" and only the Subterranean Press edition will include the complete epigraphs.
I have to assemble about 50 pp. of "extra" material for the lettered edition of Low Red Moon. This is the sort of stuff that made up Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold. I expect I'll mostly use excerpts from the blog, with some of the notes I made in November and December 2001, before beginning the novel. I wanted to do an essay, "Finding Innsmouth," but I won't be ready to write that until later this summer, which will be too late for this book. So I'll write it anyway and maybe it'll wind up as an afterword for To Charles Fort, With Love.
With luck, lots of energy drinks (liquid crack), no sleep, and my reliable fear of failure, I may survive July.
Today, I mean to begin Chapter Six. I meant to begin it two days ago.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Addendum, or Part II, or whatthefrellever. If you didn't read the first part of today's entry (below), do not be a nitwit and read this part first. If you do, I will hate you and hoardes of biting flies will visit you in your sleep.
I took a bath. I ate a granola bar and some milk. I passed out on the sofa. I feel a tiny bit better. And I realized that I'd neglected to say that, in the midst of all this proofreading, we've been trying to reach Rogue, he of The Crüxshadows, because two quotes from "Tears" appear as epigraphs in Low Red Moon and I'm a doofus and neglected to obtain Permission In Writing before the band left on its latest European tour. Last night we called Germany. Today we called Kopenhagen. I have become intimate with his cell phone's voice mail, but still no Rogue. Anyway, this has added yet another flavour of frantic to the mix. And Rogue, if you're reading this, I know you're tired, but please call me anyway. I'm pathetic.
I see the Faith and The Muse album is out. There will be a new Crüxshadows album soon, and the VNV Nation CD/DVD. See, I can talk about things besides proofreading.
The last two days have been an utter editing hell. This is my brain on proofreading. It sizzles, just like eggs in a skillet, just like in those damned, cheesy anti-drug commercials. Yesterday, Kathryn and Jennifer and I finished with chapters Thirteen and Fourteen and the epilogue of Low Red Moon. But then I had two pages of notes to deal with — changes that had to be made, searches for excessively-used words, continuity stuff, that sort of thing. So we were at it until after 10 p.m., when the two Red Bulls I'd had to keep me going finally shut me down. I crawled off to soak my brain in four hours of Tomb Raider.
This morning, Kathryn and I were at it again, checking all my corrections, compiling a list of all the pages with changes for the production editor, cross-referencing the Roc proofs and the Subterranean Press proofs and the CEM. I had to write a long letter to my editor at Penguin, explaining this and that, and a new biography for this edition ("Caitlin R. Kiernan has quit writing to become a freelance psychic investigator. Fuck off, all of you."). Now the thing still has to be photocopied, so I can retain a copy of the first pass to check against the second pass. That means it probably won't go into the post until tomorrow, which means it will be a day or so late getting back to Penguin. Jennifer called this afternoon to let them know. The three of us have worked on this thing for ten days, and I still wasn't able to mail it today. And, I absoltutely frelling guarantee you that it's still full of minor errors. Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.
I'm going to take a bath.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Yesterday (the word that most often seems to preface these entries), Spooky and I proofread chapters Eleven
and Twelve of Low Red Moon. And I may have discovered a plot hole big enough to fling a large drannet through. Jennifer says I'm wrong and it's not actually there, and she's often right about these sorts of things. I hope she's right, because if she isn't, I'm going to have to spend tomorrow rewriting a couple of scenes and the book will be late getting back to NYC, which would, of course, be the end of the world. Anyway, the matter will be settled shortly. I also worked on Nebari.Net for a couple of hours late yesterday evening. I completed the day with three hours and forty-five minutes of Tomb Raider.
Today, we have to finish the proofreading on the Roc edition. I expect it to be an all-day sort of thing.
And then I'll begin Chapter Six of MOA tomorrow, and Wednesday I may take a day off. It will be my first in a couple of weeks, I think.
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Yesterday, I read back through the end of Chapter Five of Murder of Angels and made a few corrections. Once we're done with all this godforsaken proofreading, I have to read through the whole chapter before moving along to Chapter Six and Part II of the novel. Actually, I won't be able to wait that long. I'll have to do it before the proofing is done.
Spooky and Jennifer and I proofread chapters Nine and Ten of Low Red Moon. It's such a good book. I'm not in the habit of praising my own work. I rarely find it praiseworthy, but LRM is an exception. This time I think I got it right and, after the three before it, that knowledge feels pretty good. I can only hope that Murder of Angels turns out half so good.
Also, we registered lowredmoon.com for a promotional site devoted strictly to this novel. Don't go there now; there's only a "coming soon" notice. It'll have some cool extras later on. I finished up July 4th with the AMC (damn their pan-and-scan, commercial-showing hides) Planet of the Apes marathon, which seemed somehow strangely appropriate to the day.
I dropped by Amazon.com this morning and it was very cool seeing Silk, Threshold, and Low Red Moon lined up together. These three books. My life, 1992-2002.
And this e-mail from my pal-in-all-things-geeky, the perspicuous Mr. Jim Shimkus:
Your historical knowledge is sorely lacking. Everyone knows that July 4th is the day Lee surrendered to William the Conqueror at Waterloo. Jesus was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and Tammany Hall.
Jim, you are so right. I am a doofus. An historically illiterate doofus.
Friday, July 04, 2003
I only slept five hours and I'm very punchy. For example, I amost began this entry, "It's July 4th, the day Jesus discovered America." That's how punchy I am.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,212 words on Chapter Five and reached the end of the frelling thing. The chapters in MOA are running somewhat longer than the chapters in Low Red Moon, which I can only hope is not a sign that the book as a whole will also run longer. I fear the Fantasy Expansion Principle (FEP). The FEP explains the inability of authors of high fantasy not to take 800 pp. to tell a story that only requires 200. And while MOA isn't exactly high fantasy (I've glibbly described it as Alice in Wonderland meets Lovecraft meets The Stand), so far there has been a bridge troll, and a talking bird, and somewhere there's a pretty awful dragon lurking about. To date, there's no satisfactory explanation for FEP. Someone should allocate a few million to look into it. We might be spared the next Robert Jordan novel.
Also, Spooky and Jenny and I proofread chapters Seven and Eight of Low Red Moon. We're trying to work through the Subterranean Press proof at the same time now, trying to make the two match up as much as I want them to, and checking them against the CEM, and it's a bit of a nightmare. At one point, I told Spooky that she looked like an old lady with too many bingo cards. We didn't finish with Chapter Eight until sometime after midnight. The whole thing has to be back in NYC on July 9th, which means I need to get it in the mail on Monday, which means we have only this weekend to finish with the Roc edition. Which means that while all of you are watching fireworks and eating bar-b-que, I'll most likely be proofreading this manuscript.
I said something yesterday about commas and hyphens, didn't I? Never mind. What's the point. But there are times I wish English weren't such a mongerl language, and that the dickheads that do such things had never began trying to standardize it. All I ask for is either a) a grammatical system that is internally consistent or b) for people to leave me the frell alone about frelling commas and hyphens. I may soon revert to the rule of thumb regarding commas that I was taught as a child: Whenever you'd take a breath, insert a comma. At least it's consistent and there are no exceptions.
Okay. That's all. Go shoot off some illegal fireworks to commemorate the day in 1492 when Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, and Jesus bought America from the Indians for three dollars.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
This is mine and Spooky's first anniversary. It feels weird, in a very good way.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,072 words on Chapter Five of Murder of Angels, but did not reach the chapter's end. Hopefully, that'll happen this afternoon. Also, Spooky and I proofed Chapter Seven of Low Red Moon.
I'm realizing that there will probably be some considrerable and unintentional variation between the Subterranean Press edition and the Roc edition, since I've not been able to proof them simultaneously, as I'd hoped, and apprently I'm too disorganized to have devised a scheme to insure perfect continuity between the texts. Well, the continuity would never have been perfect, as there will be some intentional differences between the two editions. For example, the Subterranean Press edition does not cower before the gods of TM, and "realtor" and "laundromat" both appear lowercased (replaced, respectively, with "real estate agent" and "laundry" in the Roc edition) and frelling "ping-pong" is not capitalized. I think I actually avoided using the word "dumpster" anywhere in Low Red Moon, because I knew I'd be foreced to capitalize it or find a suitable, non-trademarked synonym (none exists).
Last night, we went to see Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Afterwards, I read Roger Ebert's review and discovered that this is one of those rare instances when he and I are in almost complete agreement on a fantasy/sf film. To read Ebert's review, click here. He gives it two and a half stars. I'd have probably given it two, at best. Yes, I was disappointed. And be warned, SPOILERS!!!! follow.
Despite the inevitable problems that arise whenever a story decides to play with ideas about time travel, I'm quite fond of the first two Terminator films, and the second is something of a minor favorite for me. Sadly, the third installment falls far short of the expectations set by its predecessors. The first half hour or so is almost unwatchably bad and I thought I'd come out hating this film. But it picks up a little once the first car chase begins, a chase that essentially continues for the remainder of the movie. Whereas the first two films recognized the paradoxes they posed and tried to address them, this one seems determined to make as little sense as possible. It doesn't even attempt to explain how Skynet survived destruction after the events of the second film, or how the Air Force has developed the technology that will lead to Judgment Day. Claire Danes is completely unbearable (no surprise there) as John Connor's wife-to-be and Linda Hamilton's presence was sorely missed. In a role fit for Stargate SG-1, David Andrews gives a perfectly wooden performance as the military bigwig who unwittingly hands the world over to the machines. The film is riddled with self-referential nonsense (such as the brief appearance of Sarah Connor's tormentor, Dr. Peter Silberman, played by Earl Boen) and slapstick humor (it has moments straight out of a Warner Bros. cartoon). Arnold Schwarzenegger does his part, but the script forces him to waste much of his time repeating or lampooning lines from the first two films ("I'm Back."). And one is left wondering exactly how the T-X is an improvement over the T-1000. The relatively fragile robotic endoskeleton beneath its mnemonic, polyalloy skin seems a severve handicap.
When the actions starts, the film at least becomes watchable, and, at times, enjoyable and quiet funny. Think It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World meets Terminator 2, and you're halfway there. But I came expecting apocalyptic sf epic, not screwball comedy. I've often bitched about how an audience's expectation can weigh unfairly on a film or novel, but, in this case, I think the film takes the burden on itself and deserves whatever hernias and slipped disks ensue. There are a few good things about the film. Nick Stahl does a decent job as the twenty-something John Connor. Kristanna Loken's T-X has presence (and a kickass red leather ensemble), even if she lacks the suave creepiness of Robert Patrick's unstoppable T-1000. There's a neat bit with the magnetic field generated by a particle accelerator. And, for what it's worth, the ending took me by surprise and was, I think, the right ending. If Terminator 3 had been a good film, the ending would have served it well. Yet, even here, it somehow sabotages itself, managing to turn the horror of global nuclear war into little more than an "ooh" and "ahh" CGI light show, and I was reminded of how Dr. Strangelove made much better use of black-and-white stock footage, to the same end.
Sadly, I think my advice on this one is, "Wait for the DVD." T2 didn't have to be followed by a great sf film, but it at least desverved to be followed by a good one.
Tomorrow: Why commas and hyphens drive me apedren.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
Yesterday, I wrote 1,120 words on Chapter Five. They came stubbornly. My head spun with the effort. The chapter now stands at 7,983 words. The chapter might find it's conclusion today, as originally planned, or it might stray into tomorrow. The manuscript for Murder of Angels now stands at 52,743 words, probably about 45-50% of the book. I can only hope that as I enter the second half of the novel things get a little easier than they have been throughout the first half.
Also, Spooky and I proofed Chapter Six of Low Red Moon. We are expecting the next round of page proofs for the Subterranean Press edition of LRM tomorrow.
And it rained and it rained and it rained.
I'm finding that I have little to say in the blog, these last few days, and today, most likely because I've been saying so frelling much in the novel.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
In Atlanta, we have rain. Lots of rain. Rain to spare. Cats and dogs. Rain as in Chapter IX of Winnie-The-Pooh.
Yesterday, I wound up reworking most of what I'd written on Sunday, as I wasn't satisfied with the way it read, adding another 200 or so words but making no real progress into the story. I want to have Chapter Five of MOA finished by tomorrow night, so I have to hustle. I have a feeling it'll most likely drag on into Thursday. Then Spooky and I proof-read Chapter Five of Low Red Moon. The fun never stops.
Last night, we went to The Fox for Gangs of New York, which was even more amazing on a truly big screen.