Saturday, August 30, 2003
It's time to get dressed and go to Dragon*Con. I'm sitting here, trying to wake-up, listening to "Songs for the Prepubescent" on Album 88.5. It goes nicely with Count Chocula. I have a signing at 2:30 this afternoon, then the reading at 5:30. I might be awake by 5:30. But I'll be rewarded with The Crüxshadows later in the evening/earlier in the morning. Last night, in between figuring out what I need to take today and tweaking my costume for Sunday, Spooky and Jennifer and I watched Galaxy Quest, which is the perfect pre-Dragon*Con film.
Anyway, now I go forth to . . . there.
Friday, August 29, 2003
Weird, that it's Friday and I'm not at Dragon*Con. Because I asked for a light schedule, I have nothing until tomorrow. But it's still weird. Here, all is chaos and suchlike, getting ready to go tomorrow, and finishing costume stuff. Packing books. Deciding what to read. What to wear. Typical last minute foolishness.
Yesterday, I reworked the section I'd written on Wednesday, but that was about it. Today I have to e-mail an rtf. of "The Dead and the Moonstruck" to Candlewick Press. No time for actual writing again until Tuesday; then I begin the race to finish Murder of Angels by October 1st.
We had some beautifully stupendous storms late yesterday afternoon. No power for an hour, but it was worth it, and today the air is markedly cleaner.
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Over breakfast this morning, I was telling Spooky about the time when I was a kid in Jacksonville, Florida and my parents left me at a theatre and I sat through four showings of One Hundred and One Dalmations and ate jujubees and wondered if they were ever coming back. It's the sort of thing that if I were to bother mentioning it to her my mother would deny ever actually occurred. When I talk at breakfast, it's usually about stuff like this, so I try not to talk at breakfast.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,355 words on Chapter Eight of Murder of Angels. It was one of those cool scenes that I never know is about to happen beforehand (and if, this morning - still morning by one measly minute - my sentences become gradually less coherent, please forgive me; I slept too much, I think). Anyway, here's this witch with a .38 tucked under her sweater, walking down a street in a bad neighborhood in Birmingham, and a huge, fire-coloured wolf appears, blocking her path, and it begins talking to her. That sort of scene. I was rather pleased with it. Today I will polish it, but I doubt I'll write anything new, because I have a place to be at 4:15 p.m., in preparation for Dragon*Con. So, it's unlikely I'll write anything new until after the convention. I will go back to work on Tuesday.
The rest of yesterday was spent on costuming stuff, and then Spooky and I watched The Usual Suspects and then, about 2 a.m., we went to bed, ta-dah. Exciting stuff.
As for Mars, we had clouds, though we did get a pretty good view just before bed. A shimmering orange-white bead in a moonless sky.
You know, this post has all the ooomph of a wet loaf of bread, so I think I shall cut it short. My brain must be switching over to con mode already.
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
I should hope that, by now, most of you know that this evening Mars will be the closest it's been to Earth since 57,670 B.C., and that it will not pass this close again (a scant 34.65 million miles, or 55.76 km) for about 60,000 years. Mars is one of my passions, and tonight Spooky and Jennifer and I will drive out of Atlanta, until we are clear of the city lights, to get the best view possible. Mars rises at 9:56 p.m. (ET), in the southeast. Moonrise isn't until 11 p.m., so Mars will be the brightest object in the sky for more than an hour. Actually, as tonight is the New Moon, it may remain the brightest object until it sets (in the southwest). To put this whole 60,000-year-cycle thing in perspective, the last time Mars was this close to earth, Neanderthals coexisted with Cro-Magnon man in Europe. There were not yet humans in North America, and they were only just reaching China and Australia. Mastodons, mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, cave bears, and the rest of the Pleistocene megafauna had yet to fall to extinction. That's how long it's been since Mars was this close. And it is impossible to guess where humanity, and Earth, will be the next time it passes this near.
I wrote nothing on Chapter Eight yesterday, as Spooky and I ventured out in the heat and the smog running errands, mostly related to costuming at Dragon*Con. The air in Atlanta is a nightmare. I've spent almost all the summer shut away in this room and I honestly wasn't aware just how bad it is. Bad. A gray-brown haze everywhere. I shudder to think at the state of our air in another decade, if nothing drastic is done. Obviously, current pollution control measures are nowhere near adequate. Anyway, we ran our errands, breathing as little as possible, and got most everything done. Today, and hopefully tomorrow, I'll write. I should finish Chapter Eight sometime very soon after Dragon*Con.
I believe that I am beginning to care for this novel. That may seem strange, that I've written some 70K+ words on it and I'm only just now starting to feel for it. Threshold was like that for me, too. But I do fear for it at the hands of editors, reviewers, and readers. It's a whole different flavour for me.
Last night we watched Contact on DVD, which reminded me to plug SETI@home. I run it on my iBook and I urge everyone to look into the programme. It's a grand example of how everyone can take part in scientific research and, in the process, help to offset the enormous costs of pure research. And yes, SETI is a long shot, but can you think of a more worthwhile gamble, so little invested for such an astounding potential pay-off? Anyway, check it out. It's worth your time. I say so.
Finally, someone wrote to ask if I was really going to auction Neil's name badge from NeCon 2000. The answer is yes. I may even try to get it up tonight. Meanwhile, there's lots of other, um, cool stuff available in the "Save Us From August 8th" auction.
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
I have to be brief this morning, because I delayed yesterday's errands until today, because I didn't want to stop writing (that's a rare thing). I still don't want to take this break, but with Dragon*Con looming so near, I have no choice. Yesterday, I wrote 1,216 words on Chapter Eight of Murder of Angels.
I'd really wanted to make the screening of The Matrix Reloaded at the Fox last night, but I was so wiped out after the 7:30 wake-up thing and the hours of writing, and I made the major mistake of lying down about 5:30 p.m., on the bed, and woke an hour and a half later, too late to get dressed, have dinner, and make the movie.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in to thank me for yesterday's post on costuming and role-playing. I was surprised. That was one of those posts that I thought would mostly piss people off. Just shows to go you, I am often wrong. This is a subject I'll return to, when I have time. Meanwhile, there's a thread in my discussion forum on this topic (see "Living Fiction").
I have my schedule for Dragon*Con. It's not much, because I asked to be scheduled very lightly this year (my tenth consecutive Dragon*Con and, probably, my last). It is as follows:
Saturday, August 30th, 2:30 p.m. Signing Bonn (Marriott)
Saturday, August 30th, 5:30 p.m. Reading Williams (Hyatt)
Saturday, August 30th, 10 p.m. Panel ("Conflict and Suspense) Greenbriar (Hyatt)
Sunday, August 31st, 4 p.m. Signing Bonn (Marriott)
Monday, September 1st, 1 p.m. Panel ("Done to Death") Greenbriar (Hyatt)
There is a small chance I might do one or two more panels. If so I'll make the announcement here. And yes, I will have books to sell at the reading and signings, including copies of The Five of Cups and Waycross.
Now, I got forth into the hot, vile, human-infested world to work my mischief . . . um, run my errands.
Monday, August 25, 2003
Yesterday, I did 1,262 words on Chapter Eight of Murder of Angels.
10 down, 4 to go. I'm actually quite impressed at how well I've stuck to this mandatory 1,071-words-a-day-for-fourteen-days-straight thing.
I awoke at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. and was unable to get back to sleep. Hell is most likely something like that. Lying very still, watching the day grow brighter through the slats of the blinds, listening to the ticking clock telling me how many seconds I'm losing, the sound of Spooky's breath as she sleeps oblivious of my wakefulness and of the dreams that made me that way, thoughts of the coming day and the day just past and days from the Pre-Adamite murk of my distant past. Finally I gave up and had two bowls of Count Chocula. It's one thing that actually tastes better than when I was a kid, Count Chocula. It used to leave a bitterish aftertaste, from whatever vile chocolate flavouring was being used. Now they're using Hershey's (says so right on the box, so I know it's true) and it tastes much, much better. And I love the chocolate milk it leaves in the bowl.
I've been getting some great e-mail at the new firstname.lastname@example.org addy. Thanks. It helps more than you will probably ever know. I'll print a couple tomorrow, perhaps.
Most of my friends are not writers. They do sensible, necessary, adult things, like sell computers or teach preschool or evaluate insurance claims. They are systems analysts and hair stylists, psychiatric counselors, college professors and so forth. There are a few musicians, but let's not go letting them muddle up the issue. I only have a handful of close writer friends. In general, writers bore the dren out of me. People in general are dull, but I find most authors about as dull as Cream of Wheat. That's why I finally began to shy away from the big fantasy/sf writer gatherings: World Fantasy, World Horror, WorldCon, etc. Of course, it may be that I'm the one that's dull as Cream of Wheat, and they're all extraordinarily fascinating individuals. But that's not the point I was going to make. Digression is one of my superpowers (and I'm not going to try to find an "authoritative reference" to tell me whether or not "superpowers" is one word or two). The point I was going to make was that I am a writer, a fantasy writer, and while most of my friends have "real world" jobs, I sit here, day after day, making stuff up. There's really no distinction between what I do now and the "pretend" play that most of us practiced as children.
But most of us stop. Not all of us, but most of us. Or, at least, we fool ourselves into thinking that we've stopped. There's a whole list of socially acceptable adult "play," most notably the Cult of Sports, wherein we (this is the royal We and excludes me) are permitted to play vicariously through a handful of first-hand players. But it's still the stuff of childhood. A huge number of us (and this us does include me) who play videogames, which I find more respectable than sports if only because the player at least has the decency not to employ a surrogate. There's theater and literature and, far, far more popularly, film, which are also all examples of vicarious "pretend" play. I am the writer and I am the one who actually plays. The rest of you watch after the fact, by reading reading my fiction, which is a poor record of the fantasies that I have allowed to unfold in my mind.
But there's a fine line. A grown woman might spend most of her every day "pretending" all manner of absurdities and writing them down for others, but this is, as I've said, an acceptible, socially-sanctioned act of adult play. Besides, I get paid a lot for it, and money is the universal test of social acceptability. Take actors, for example. They're paid to engage in what is essentially a controlled, practiced, and recorded form of conscious schizophrenia. That old joke about a sanitarium filled with Napoleon's, but no one laughed at Marlon Brando. That he was being paid, and that he was enacting the role of Napoleon for the benefit of adults bogged down in those sensible, necessary, adult things who were only permitted this vicarious form of pretending, divides Brando, and all other actors, from the lunatics. Little else does. Don't cite diagnostic distinctions to me. I find them worse than suspect.
Anyway, back to the fine line. Because there are socially unacceptable (or at least suspicious) forms of adult pretend, as well. An obvious example would be role-playing games, and espcially live-action role playing. Here, we're right back to sanitariums and multiple Napoleons. What does the average American make of D&D, or Vampire: The Masquerade, or any number of other such games? I can't count the number of times I've been in the company of authors who find only profound absurdity and humour in the thought of role-playing games, even though they do the same thing themselves, day in and day out. They perceive a fundamental (and, I fear, hypocritical) distinction where none exists. They would argue writing is art, or at least a trade for which one may be paid. Hence, socially acceptable.
And then there's costuming, which I began dabbling in last summer and soon found myself hooked. And now I have a whole assortment of friends and acquaintances who regard this "pretend" play with a good deal of suspicion, and, in a few extreme cases, outright contempt. Never mind that I spend my life pretending to be other people (and that is what I do when I write, else I would never begin to undestand a character). They find my fiction vicariously thrilling. They find my costuming vicariously embarrassing. They can grasp the campfire tale, but have "outgrown" dress-up. Except on Halloween, and then only if you don't take it all too seriously. That I have spent, literally, thousands of dollars on costuming, that I would spend four hours in a make-up chair, that I would endure the discomfort of the costume, and actually appear in public in character astounds and confuses them. Of course, were I Angelina Jolie and someone in Hollywood were paying a few mil for my trouble, it'd be a different story. Then socially suspect play would become socially acceptable play. Add a movie star's contract and we admire the lengths to which someone might go to in order to become another person or another sort of creature entirely.
I'm only going on about this because it's been going round and round in my head. Round and round and round. And because people do have a tendancy to say things that they think are being said in my best interest. But they do not, I think, stop to think of the tens of thousands of hours I've spent playing pretend since writing became my vocation back in 1992. They see that as a Different Thing, primarily because society has conditioned them to see such a difference. And, most of the time, I just find it sort of unfortunate and funny, this knee-jerk double standard. Sometimes, though, it actually annoys me. Sometimes it even pisses me off. I used to make fun of the Klingons and Stormtroopers, too, if only so others wouldn't look at me that way, and then I gave it a shot. And it's fun. A lot more fun than sitting in this room writing my stories. A better, more immediate game, you might say. And I see this has become a long, long entry, and i have to write, so I'll stop before I get into the potential psychological benefits of actual adult play vs. vicarious adult play.
Unless something I've just said has made you negatively reevaluate your fondness for my writing, please proceed now to the Great Egress and buy something.
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Before I forget (again), please note that there's a new e-mail address for all blog-related mail (any questions, answers, inquiries, intrigues, conspiracies, dirty little secrets, etc.): email@example.com . I am in the process of finally making the break with AOL, so the old Desvernine account will soon be history. Leaving AOL is proving to be a bit like kicking any drug: you know that it's bad for you, but it's so damn easy to just keep doing it.
As writing days go, yesterday was beyond amazing. I did 2,617 words in only about four hours. That's almost inconceivable. If I could so that every day, I'd be a much less grumpy author. Anyway, this buys me an extra day, which is probably a good thing, since I may have to take tomorrow off to see to various things that need seeing to before Dragon*Con at the end of the week. Or I may run my errands and then write in the evening.
Since Friday, Spooky and I have been keeping vigil over a female luna moth that appeared on the brick wall of our back porch. She hardly moved all day Friday and Friday night. Yesterday she moved from one side of the porch to the other and, unfortunately, to a lower position on the wall, within range of my cat, Sophie, who apparently did her harm last night, removing one of her lower wings. We'd talked about relocating the moth to a safer spot, but handling moths is always risky, and odds are we'd have done her more harm than good. Lunas, one of the largest and most beautiful of all lepidopterans, only live about a week after emerging from the cocoon, and females don't fly until after they mate. So I suppose she was sitting there awaiting a suitor. I should have moved her. I would not have done as much damage as the damned cat.
Last night we watched the somewhat disappointing Comic Book Villians. The plot seemed to have little idea where it was going, and the screenwriter seemed to have little idea what to do with his characters. It was sort of like watching someone jump from an airplane without a parachute. You know that she or he will hit the ground, and hit it hard, and not get up again. It's just a matter of watching the inevitable. Proceeding from a promising enough premise, Comic Book Villians tries to rely on stereotypes instead of actual characterization, and most of its grown-men-who-still-read-comics-and-live-in-their-mother's-basement humour fell rather flat. And it was a movie that sorely needed Steve Buscemi.
It is occurring to me that I need to spend less time watching movies and more time reading. Maybe. I don't know.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
Yesterday I began Chapter Eight, which is titled "The White Road," and wrote 1,103 words. I've done a pretty fair job of keeping to my minimum of 1,071 words a day, and exceeding it whenever possible. As it stands, 8 down, 6 to go. I'd have written more yesterday, but it was a headache day and those always slow me down (though I refuse to let them shut me down).
Last night, Spooky and I watched the 2002 TV remake of Carrie. Actually, given it was a novel first, better I should say the 2002 adaptation of Carrie. Anyway, we rented it for the superb Angela Bettis, who wowed us last weekend in May. All in all, the film was more or less what one would expect from a made-for-TV adaptation of a King novel. I was especially annoyed at the lack of profanity and the often bizarre ways that the director and screenwriter chose to make up for that lack. In the hog-killing scene, for example, Billy Nolan (forgettably portrayed by some wormy-looking guy named Jesse Cadotte) actually tells his uber-bitch/skank girlfriend to "Shut her pie hole." There were constant pauses, followed by strange repeats of the tag-ends of earlier scenes, marking the spots where commercials were meant to be inserted (this could have been edited out for the DVD). Worst of all, though, is the open ending, with Carrie escaping to Florida (?!?), which, I assume was the groundwork for some idiot's planned and never-(thankfully)-realized weekly series, aka UPN's unwatchable The Dead Zone and the Sci-Fi Channel's laughable Firestarter. But the film did have it's moments, to be sure, and for any fan of the novel and the 1976 Brian De Palma adaptation, it's worth the renting. Angela Bettis is a dream, giving a slightly different, but equally plausible interpretation of Carrie White. (Were she only a few years younger, I think Angela Bettis would be my pick for Dancy Flammarion.) I was glad to see the Fortean rain of stones included, and especially pleased with the film's climax, as we're actually shown the extent of Carrie's rampage, as she levels not only the high school gymnasium, but the entire town, as in King's novel. The CGI effects were handled well and never looked like CGI effects. So I give it a couple of stars.
I had in mind writing something today about passion, and how the writer cannot function as an artist in its absence, how passion is, above all else, necessary for this thing I do. Even though I may loathe the act itself, I must bring to it passion, or I'm only typing. Something like that. But then I went on and on about Carrie, so I'll have to save that for another time. Passion, like Obesession, is a Virtue.
I had a conversation with Bill Schafer yesterday evening and it has been decided that my next project for Subterranean Press, after their edition of Low Red Moon, will be a "short novel," which I will write in November, after I've finished Murder of Angels and before I begin the next novel. Details TBA.
And don't forget, please buy my dren. A copy of Wrong Things, signed my me and Poppy, has been added, and there's only one unbid-upon size L "Salammbô" t-shirt remaining. Also, in the next day or two we'll be adding a couple of unusual (or at least peculiar) items, including (with his blessings) Neil Gaiman's NeCon 2000 con badge, upon which he wrote his own little name. So, buy stuff. It's the patriotic thing to do.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Yesterday in her livejournal, Poppy wrote, "It's a terrible thing when we must bribe ourselves to write." I stared at that a moment, as if the meaning wouldn't quite sink in, and then I turned to Spooky and said, "How the hell else does one make oneself write?" And maybe that will serve to illustrate how different writers come to this enterprise from entirely different places. Personally, I still class writers who enjoy writing with unicorns, dragons, and gay Republicans.
I finished Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels yesterday. It took another 1,537 words to do it, but now it's done and today I will proceed to Chapter Eight. And, as it turns out, Chapter Seven is probably the longest single chapter I've ever written, weighing in at 12,717 words. This book has a marked penchant for expansion. It would be one of those silly 1,000+ page horse-chokers were I to allow such a travesty. Instead, I'm thinking it'll top out at around 100K words. Anyway, because I'd hardly left the house for two weeks straight (two weeks since last I bothered with make-up!), we met friends and had a very large dinner at Huey's last night to celebrate.
Sometime in the night, the web fairies (I do believe in web fairies; they're far less fantastic than gay Republicans) returned to me control of the domain caitlin-r-kiernan.com. It only took fourteen frelling days, two frelling weeks, and Jennifer is now in the process of turning it into a mirror site. And the lost and wilderness-wandering have begun trickling into the new phorum. So I suppose life is returning to "normal."
Now I must go brush my teeth and check on the cat and get to work. Don't forget the auction. Every time you buy a book, a Nebari gets its wings, er, I mean . . . oh, never mind. Go buy something. Oh, and by the way, the last three size L Salammbô shirts are in this auction. You want a large, it's now or truly never, ever, ever.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Yesterday I did 1,219 words on Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels, so I've pretty much made up for having only written about 225 words on Sunday. I can't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, the bright nimbus that usually attends THE END, but I can at least begin to believe it might exist.
Yesterday was a strangely communicative day for me. I exchanged e-mail with Poppy and Neil, talked to Laura Anne Gilman (my editor at Penguin), and then Rogue called last night about nine o'clock and we talked for a bit. Any phone call with me that lasts longer than two or three minutes can be considered a marathon. It was good to hear from Rogue. The Crüxshadows are back from Europe and enjoying a short break in the tour before Dragon*Con. Anyway, it was just a little odd actually talking with so many people in one day. It's a rare day when I actually open the stoppered, sea-weary bottles that wash ashore here in Madagascar. Or New Zealand. Or wherever it is I've been stranded.
The Great Seven-Day Auction has begun in earnest. Click here to a) contribute to the cause, the cause being recovery from The Event of August 8th, The Great Crash, the day the lights went out at caitlin-r-kiernan.com, whatever the frell you want to call it, and b) get cool dren in exchange. It's mostly chapbooks, the harder to find stuff, including the out-of-print-on-publication Waycross. Check it out. Ignore that stuff about cat crutches. The cat can wait.
Last night we did a little more work on the website. All that's left to do, to get it back to where it was before August 8th, is getting up the two most recent photo pages, and I felt that was pretty low priority. I worked until midnight, then watched Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor in Across the Pacific.
This novel and I, we may yet make our peace. I think it's beginning to trust me a little more, and I'm starting to understand where it wants to go.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Oh. A postcriptum type thing. I've been meaning to make this annoucement for weeks and keep forgetting. I've asked Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press if we could please delay my next collection, To Charles Fort, With Love, by as much as year. There's a reason. When I sell a story to an editor for an anthology, he or she gets a "period of exclusivity," during with no one else may print the story. At least two stories that I desperately want included in To Charles Fort, With Love have only recently sold and won't be available for reprint for a year or so. So. There you go. And Bill was agreeable, as was Rick Kirk, who will still be aboard on interior illustrations (Ryan Obermeyer will provide the cover). And in the meantime, you'll get other goodies from me by way of Subterranean Press, including the long-promised sf novellas.
During a panel at a recent convention, I was asked if I thought the internet had played a significant role in my success as an author, perhaps more of a role than for some other authors. Indeed, it was suggested that I had a "cult" following online. I replied that yes, I suspected I'd benefited enormously from the web. Now, however, in the thirteen days since Gothic.Net lost server access and my website, blogger, and forum went down with it, I've seen just how difficult it can be to maintain the web presence that I've come to take for granted. Daily hits on the blogger are down by something like 150 hits a day compared to daily totals from before the site went down, and traffic on the new forum is a small fraction of the traffic immediately before The Event (insert dramatic music by James Horner here). And it seems to be very difficult to effectively spread the word that there's a new URL for the website (Google still lists caitlin-r-kiernan.com, though we have submitted the new URL) and blogger, and a new forum. Hardly anyone reads Usenet anymore (and who the hezmana can blame them), so it's of very limited use. So, I'm figuring we'll be several more weeks, at least, recovering from August 8th. And all I can say to that is sigh and frell and phooey.
Also, you may have noticed that the promised eBay auction didn't begin last night. Again, blame August 8th. We discovered that pretty much all the eBay images, which were stored in the same files as my website, weren't backed up and everything has to be scanned anew. We may or may not have time for that before Dragon*Con. Also, at the request of Subterranean Press, I won't be selling copies of The Five of Cups on eBay for the foreseeable future. If you'd like a copy and haven't pre-ordered from Bill or from Amazon, or from some other source, you should order now. This volume will sell out, like From Weird and Distant Shores and Waycross before it. Those last two we will be offerring on eBay, as soon as we can offer anything on eBay again. This disaster has taught me, the hard way, not to put all my e-eggs in one e-basket. So, now we have the main website at one server, the forum on another, the blogger backed up at Blogspot, and everything backed up on two computers, and soon we'll have the old URL as a mirror on yet another server. Never again will the failure of a single site take out everything that way.
Thanks to the wonders of wormwood and biochemistry, yesterday was an exemplary writing day. I wrote 1,597 words on Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels. If I can do as well today, I'll finish the chapter, though I expect I'll finish it tomorrow. Then I'll proceed immediately to Chapter Eight (do not pass GO, do not collect $200). This book and I might have come to an agreement, a truce between creator and that which she is creating. I'm beginning to see ways to make it work as a whole, though I know that, no matter what, this one's going to throw the critics for a loop. It's a shame that critics and readers expect anything more from authors than good writing. Ah, well. That's why human beings are endowed with the capacity for Disappointment. Who am I to argue with the nonconscious wisdom a million years of hominid evolution?
All that matters is that I finish this book, so I can write the next book, and so on. The rest is Distraction, as we know about Distraction, don't we?
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Yesterday was the polar opposite of Sunday. I wrote 1,058 words on Chapter Seven, and they were some of the best words I've written on this novel. As Spooky said, "Some writers just aren't meant to be sober." Which is to say that I have absinthe and Klonopin to thank for a very good writing day. And I will face the "blank page" the same way again today. When the frelling book is finally finished, I can dry out, clean up, blah, blah, blah. The book is god and it's not a god to face clean. I've been making that mistake for weeks and weeks, allowing a concern for my liver and sanity to take precedent over the God Novel. Nothing may take precendent over the novel, because without the novel I am nothing.
Yesterday I described Murder of Angels to Spooky as David Lynch meets Lewis Carroll, as written by Caitlin Kiernan. Mullholland Drive meets Alice in Wonderland. I know the "blank-meets-blank" similes are annoying as hell (this is what comes of involving oneself with Hollywood), but it's fairly accurate, I'm afraid.
Most of the evening was spent tweaking the new website. We fixed broken links on the "news" page back to last August. I'll get to the others later on. Gradually, the whole site will be getting the sort of facelift that the front page has received. And, supposedly, control of the old domain, caitlin-r-kiernan.com, will be returned to me sometime today, furthering this drawn out Reconstruction.
Also, thanks the Chris Simmons (Thank you, Sissy!), we have a brand new discussion forum. I've just logged in and, so far, there's only Chris' test post. It's at http://www.scaredhedgehog.net/crk. Please reset your bookmarks accordingly and, whether or not you were a regular in the old forum, you'll be welcome in the new one. We'll put up a link from the image map on the front page of the website later today (after The Writing). So, recap: the new website's at Pain and Wonder, the blogger's at Low Red Moon Journal, and the new forum's at www.scaredhedgehog.net/crk. Don't be a stranger.
And to help offset the expenses of all these recoveries from the Great Crash of August 8th, there will be a special seven-day ebay auction beginning this evening, which will include copies of The Five of Cups and Waycross. You'll be able to find the goodies right here. Please be kind and buy my dren and may the ancient, glacial gods of Nebari Prime will smile on you and not visit frostbite upon your nether regions.
I'll be posting my 2003 Dragon*Con schedule as soon as the scheduling folks get it straightened out.
And now I need to go answer e-mail, make the "morning's" phone calls, floss my tongue, and so and and suchlike. See you in the forum.
Monday, August 18, 2003
How the hell can it be the 18th? That's ridiculous. The acceleration is accelerating again.
Yesterday I wrote a paltry 283 words on Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels. The words simply would not do as I wished. In theory, if I write extra today and tomorrow I can make up for yesterday's loss and stay on schedule. In theory.
No. I have nothing else to say here today.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Yesterday I wrote 1,110 words on Chapter Seven. Two down, twelve to go.
And every word is a struggle. I'm taking five or six hours to write what I should be writing in two. No one should have to spend more than two hours a day writing. It's inhumane. There has not been such a degree of animosity between myself and a story since Threshold. I keep thinking, Well, at least I'm past that, so now it'll get easier - and it keeps not getting any easier.
We're trying to get the phorum back up today, and the three missing pages on the website. We might. And we're still trying to regain control of the original domain, caitlin-r-kiernan.com.
My entries for the last few days have been lengthy, so you'll forgive me that this one is short.
Saturday, August 16, 2003
Sometimes I become too fascinated with the fecundity of particular "run-out" metaphors. For instance, that business yesterday about isolation and island faunas. It was bouncing around in my head all evening. How much farther I might have extended it, to issues of the gradual loss of defences, and the inversion of size (on islands, smaller species often become very large and larger species often becomes dwarfs). All of that mirrored in my own life, and following from my own isolation. The smallest problems drive me to distraction, while the larger ones have shrunk to insignificance. I won't even get started about defences. But this is probably heading into one or two of those more personal places which I steadfastly continue to maintain are inappropriate for public journals, so I'll let it go now.
Instead, there's my publically mistaking the New Orleans Saints for a basketball team, when they are, in fact, a football team, as Poppy pointed out in her journal yesterday. But I have to admit that I've always approached the subject of sports with this sort of confusion. For the life of me, I can't see the point to any of it. Anyway, I'm glad to announce that Poppy's wesbite is back up.
As for my site and its Reconstruction, I hope we have a new forum,somewhere, by this evening. I'll make an announcement here as soon as we do.
Yesterday I wrote 1,181 words on Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels, so that's one down and thirteen to go.
Last night Spooky and I watched May, a genuinely wonderful and disturbing film. If you haven't seen it, see it soon. Angela Bettis is a gem. We also watched the annoyingly silly House of a Thousand Corpses, which could have been edited down to only twelve minutes and still retained whatever sliver of merit it might have harboured.
Friday, August 15, 2003
Today I have to write. I mean really frelling write. I have to do a minimum of 1,071 wds. a day from now through August 28 just to make up for the time I lost to the website disaster and to have chapters Seven and Eight finished before Dragon*Con.
This morning, I looked at still photos of the blacked-out New York City skyline at sunset. Surreal. Terrible and beautiful at the same time. I spent the evening hoping that everyone I know in Manhattan would be safe until (and beyond) sunrise.
I've started reading Poppy's livejournal. I don't generally read blogs and livejournals and such. They just don't interest me. I write this one as a means of a) keeping myself in line, b) venting, and c) spreading news about my work, but no, I don't really read anyone else's very often. Anyway, as I've said, I started reading Poppy's and it's an odd and interesting thing, reading the details of a friend's life that way. And it has served to again underscore the intensity of my isolation from the "real world." For example, I had no idea Poppy was such a basketball fan. It kind of perplexed me. I'm sure she feels the same way about my endless Farscapery.
I think I've lived so long in this isolation, self-imposed, that I've become the equivalent of a Madagascar or a New Zealand, a Galapagos Islands or a Tasmania. The world goes on about its business, which naturally involves a great deal of change, and I go on about mine, which involves somewhat less change, and we diverge, the world and I. Where you are it might be the Holocene. Where I am, it's still the Early Cretaceous, and I've forgotten all about those other continents that have long since drifted out of sight, beyond the horizon. In a world chockful of elephants and pronghorn antelope and (shudder) hoo-mans, I'm just a tuatara or a playtpus. Something small and antiquated, typing in the shadows, creating my stories from bits of my past and the limits of my present island. I watch the news, of course - outlandish stuff, really - but I'm not sure I believe any of it.
I'm thinking I should look for a land bridge, less the genetic pool grows too small (or this metaphor too extended), but, on the other hand, island sanctuaries never fare very well when they make contact with the "real world." Their rarified enviroments often collapse in the deluge of exotic vermin. There are no rats here.
Christa used to say (and maybe she still does), "Nothing in, nothing out," and perhaps that's one reason why Murder of Angels is proving such a chore.
"You need to get out more often, Kiernan."
Shhhhhh. Now, let's not get carried away . . .
Thursday, August 14, 2003
Another day gone, but at least the "new" website is now online, at www.caitlinrkiernan.com. Please revise your bookmarks accordingly and spread the word to anyone you know who may have a link to the old site (www.caitlin-r-kiernan.com). I'll be leaving a copy of the blogger here at Blogspot, but after this morning all new entries will show up only in the journal section of the new site. Again, reset your bookmarks accordingly. The new site still needs a little work. You'll note that the Low Red Moon preview isn't back online yet, and the two most recent photo pages are missing. But that's the worst of it. Fortunately, almost all the files were backed up on mine and Jennifer's computers, or the site would still be in limbo.
As for the discussion forum, maybe something by this weekend. A few folks are showing up in alt.books.cait-r-kiernan, and I'll check in there from time to time until we have a troll-proof forum up and running again.
Yesterday evening, about 6:45, UPS brought me a copy of The Five of Cups, fresh from the printers. It is unspeakably strange to finally see this thing as a printed book, some eleven years after I began writing it (122.5 months, to be more precise). It's a little hard to take in, even after the books that have come before it, because this is where it started. And Subterranean Press is to be commended on doing a marvelous job with it. I can say with certainty that The Five of Cups is the best looking book yet to wear my name. Rick Lieder's cover is gorgeous, and I think everyone will get a kick out of the photo on the back of the dust jacket (thank you, Spooky). Gail Cross designed the dust jacket, and it's beautiful. So, nothing much in the way of complaints on this one (and how often is it I can't find something to complain about?), and, if you haven't already, I urge you to go forthwith to Subterranean Press and order a copy before they're all gone.
Now, this e-mail from yesterday:
I confess I am entering this conversation at a late point in the game. But what the fuck. I've played catch-up my entire life, and I am good at it.
I just wanted to say that I hope bullshit articles like the one I just read at the 9th Art website don't weigh too heavily on you. I don't know who Roxanne Grant is but (heave) she obviously has even less of an idea than I do about how the creative process works in the comic book world. What a little cunt.
Keep writing, woman. I am your newest (and tallest) fan.
Ah, yes. Roxanne Grant and 9th Art. "How Caitlin R. Kiernan Killed The Dreaming," or something to that effect. When it originally appeared, back in 2001, the article repeatedly misquoted Neil to make it seem as though I'd written The Dreaming as I had in defiance of his wishes. That is, of course, twaddle, as Neil personally approved every script and I always rewrote the things he asked me to. He was as baffled by Ms. Grant's assertions as I was. When I pointed this out to 9th Art, they at least had the decency to remove the fallacious passages of her article. I think Grant herself sent some sort of half-assed apology. Anyway, yes, no one else knows else knows who Roxanne Grant is, either, which I think is the real source of her unhappiness, and that's ancient frelling history, besides, but new readers - especially new tall readers - are always a good thing!
And speaking of Neil, I got word from someone in the offices of my NYC agent yesterday that, during a Manhattan signing for Wolves in the Walls last Friday, someone asked him (via a blue note card) to tell me to cheer up. Fortunately, Neil has been wise enough to do no such foolish thing. I mean, what exactly the frell is there to cheer up about?
I have to finish Chapter Seven and write Chapter Eight on Murder of Angels between now and August 28th. Ten days to do 15,000-20,000 wds. Does anyone out there want to be me for the remainder of the month?
No, you don't. Put your hand down.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
I was so wound up last night that I had to take something to get to sleep (not unsual) and now, of course, I need to be wound up again and awake and because I've sworn off caffeine, gaurana, taurine, etc. I can't simply take the antidote to last night's sedative and awake up and if you're actually waiting impatiently for this sentence to end you're probably in worse shape than I am. But sleep I did, which was good, because I needed it. I'm thinking about putting some of the excess skin beneath my eyes on the black market; I'm sure there are people in need of grafts who could use a few feet of it. Spooky even read me McElligot's Pool last night, my favorite go-the-hell-to-sleep-Caitlin story (which is why it appears in both Threshold and Low Red Moon).
Yesterday is a blur of html and ftp and Photoshop and ImageReady and so on and and so forth. Today will be likewise. Right now, the website looks like Swiss cheese. I worked on it all day and much of the night, and Jennifer put in a good two or three hours on it last night, as well. Spooky helped me with a new image map for the front page (as long as I'm having to piece it all back together, I may as well add something new). If I work on it all day and night today, we should be functional and online again by tomorrow morning. The problem of setting up a new discussion forum still hasn't been solved, but I'm optimistic that it will be solved today. Unfortunately, all the posts to the old forum will most likely be lost. And, obviously, I'm having enough trouble with Murder of Angels and certainly didn't need this dren to gum up the works even more.
Almost anyone will tell you that the very last thing I am is lazy. I have the work ethic of a frelling Puritan farmer - but - there's nothing, absolutely nothing that I loathe, detest, and resent more than having to do a job over, especially because of some else's incompetence. Which is the situation I find myself in at the moment. None of this is necessary. None of it. And I won't get into the gory specifics, because that would be neither appropriate nor politic, but I am extremely pissed that I've been forced to sacrifice time to rebuild the website, time that should be spent on Murder of Angels, because someone can't be bothered to act like an adult.
Of course, were I not such a damned control freak, I might have given this to someone else to do for me, and the time would not have been lost, would not be lost, but I am a control freak, so there you go. I am the Supreme Duchess of Micromanagement. I'd micromanage the movements of every dust mite on my skin, if only they'd listen.
UPS is supposed to bring me copies of The Five of Cups today. And here's an example of my propensity for micromanagement. All of my books from Subterranean Press have had matte finish dust jackets, because I hate those glossy things that get stuck on a lot of books (see the unfortunate covers of the Gauntlet editions of Silk and Tales of Pain and Wonder, for examples). And Bill Scahfer has been very obliging. But the cover of TFoC is almost entirely black and there was concern that the ink would not take well on matte stock and I was going to have to settle for glossy on this book. He called last night to say that the printer was able to do matte after all, because he knew it would cheer me up. That's the sort of thing I mean. I doubt many of my readers ever give half a thought to the paper stock used for the cover, but it's stuff like this that keeps me awake at night. Well, that and fears of alien invasion and global warming and unchecked human population growth. I'm anal, not shallow.
Spooky just came in to tell me her eyes are "all gooey," and I don't even want to know what the heck she meant.
And before I go back to uploading and fixing broken links and suchlike (sucklike), just let me say that I thought the season (and possibly series) finale of The Osbournes was ingenious. Brilliant. And just exactly what a planet mindlessly obsessed with "reality tv" desverved. It's nice to see someone benefiting from this idiotic mania turn around and thumb his nose at us all. And this morning people are scratching their noggins and asking nervously, "So, if that episode was a fake, was it all a fake? Or was it all real and they just want us to think it's a fake? Or . . ." Nice move, Ozzy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Sorry for the quiet. All has been chaos and idiocy and there hasn't been much to say. Mostly, I've been busy trying to get my website, phorum, and blogger back online after they went down on Friday. We're coming up on the 96-hour mark, since the site went down. A thank you to those who wrote to ask what the frell was going on and to offer suggestions for possible solutions. And to Neil and Poppy, who are probably the reason you were able to find the blog in this temporary port.
With luck, the website will be back sometime tomorrow or Thursday. The phorum will take a little longer to get up and running again. I don't think I'm even going to try to explain how or why this happened, or why it's proving such a pain in the eema to get everything up again. Suffice to say that I had to find a new server and am now having trouble redirecting the URL. I have the new server and will return with caitlinrkiernan.com, which I registered last night. So now all the hundreds of files have to be transferred, etc., etc., and I expect I'll spend most of today on ftp and such. The site will look the same, have all the same content, just a slightly different URL. Later on, caitlin-r-kiernan.com will function as a mirror/forwarding site to the new addy. Anyone who wants to spread the word, your help would be very appreciated. Eventually, the link for the journal will be caitlinrkiernan.com/journal.html, though I may leave a copy up at Blogspot as well, against any future disasters of this magnitude.
Poppy's site, which also went down in Friday's misfortune, will also be back up again very soon.
There has been no real progress with Chapter Seven, thanks to all the aforementioned dren (sorry, I just feel like peppering this entry with all the Farscape jargon I can muster), and the fact that this is the most stuck book I've ever tried to write, besting even Threshold in the difficulties of its birth. I did about 250 words on Saturday, but there's been nothing since. Spooky and I made ourselves even more ghoulish than usual on Saturday night and went to Secret Room at The Chamber, but there were far too many icky tourists and rednecks and other assorted fekkiks, and though The Chamber usually has drad DJs, the music was atypically lame. I have better things to do than be gawked at by Joe White Trash and his skanks. The Chamber needs a) a dress code and b) a discriminating doorman to keep out at the worst of the creeps. But you don't care, because odds are you don't live in Atlanta and don't frequent The Chamber and I'll shut up about it now. I'm in a venting mood.
Yesterday the bound galleys for Low Red Moon arrived from Roc. I was suprised that the book will be significantly thicker than Threshold, though I shouldn't have been. The ms. was much longer. Also, Bill Schafer says the printer is done with The Five of Cups, and I may actually have copies by tomorrow afternoon. That will be weird beyond reckoning. And the editors at Candlewick Press were happy with "The Dead and the Moonstruck," which was a huge relief, as this is the first time I've written a story for a younger audience. Finally, I managed to finish editing the "extra" material for the lettered state of the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon, which consists of notes and blogger excerpts.
Hopefully, by tomorrow I can force myself back to Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels. My doubts surrounding this book are so profound it's making progress almost impossible. Does this suck? Will anyone "get it"? Should I have risked a sequel at this stage of my career? Will this book flop so profoundly that I'll never been allowed to write another? Is it too strange? and so on and so forth, world without end, ahmet, ahmet. But mostly, Does this book suck? That's the biggy. Or is it "biggie"? Some copyeditor would know, I suppose. I'm fighting the urge to stop and begin again, rewrite the whole damn thing from the start. Of course, there's no time for such drastic measures. I have a December deadline and a drenload of other work waiting for me. I simply have to press forward and hope I survive the passage.
I'll keep you posted about the website. As I said, it ought to be up again by tomorrow. Until the forum is restored, feel free to move the conversation back to (urk!) Usenet; alt.books.cait-r-kiernan is still out there, floating derelict in the backwaters of the net. There will probably be trolls, of course. With luck, I'll have a snazzy new discussion forum by this weekend.
Friday, August 08, 2003
I'm writing this at 1:34 p.m., though I don't know when I'll be able to post it. My website is down, as is Poppy's, and Gothic.Net, all of which share a common server. I'm going to try to reach Darren McKeeman and hopefully all will be up again soon.
There's not much to say today, anyway. I'm running late and I need to get back to Chapter Seven. I wrote 1,002 words yesterday, with the headache. I still have the headache today. I'm hoping to finish Chapter Seven by Tuesday (I have to go to Birmingham on Monday), and to begin Chapter Eight on Thursday.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Despite a raging headache which should have put me in bed, yesterday I wrote 1,267 words on Chapter Seven and finally escaped the scene I've been mired in since Saturday. By the way, it occurs to me that Saturday was also the last time I actually left the apartment. I've become reclusive again. Spooky will have to force me out into the world tomorrow night, whether I like it or not. But at least I seem to be caffeine-free, said freedom being the probable source of my headache (which hasn't yet ended), and I'm afraid this paragraph is making some sort of loop-de-loop about itself.
Last night I watched Robert Mitchum in Thunder Road, read John Ciardi's The King Who Saved Himself From Being Saved to Spooky, and then read Lovecraft's The Hound to myself. Though I derive particular joy from "The Hound," it's one of those stories wherein The Gentleman from Providence was at his worst with adjectives, simply, tiresomely stating mood and atmosphere and dreadfulness instead of revealing it through more subtle prosinations. I just made that word up: prosination. As opposed to poetifications. One must keep these things straight. "The Hound" is one of those Lovecraft stories I keep wanting to edit.
The ms. for Murder of Angels now stands at 312 pp., and I'm still determined to end it with Chapter Ten (and an epilogue). It's an issue of restraint. But I don't want people, especially reviewers for Publisher's Weekly, remarking that it feels rushed. So, it's a fine line I'm walking here. As it is, they will complain endlessly about its being a sequel to a book they couldn't be bothered to read and complain louder still about the unconventional narrative structure. Jack Morgan (The Biology of Horror) has described my narratives as "cubist." If that's so, then I think Murder of Angels may be a tesseract. It's a narrative that seems determined never to go where anyone, including me, might expect it to go. Sort of like the first paragraph of this entry. It obeys its own internal compass. In the end, of course, this is what stories do. They lead us where they need us to go, not where we might expect or prefer for them to go. The more they do this, the less artificial they are, though they will always be entirely artificial. No, that's not a contradiction. It's a bit like how the set of whole numbers and the set of natural numbers are both infinite sets, but one of the sets is a larger infinity than the other. One may never write fiction which is free of artifice, as fiction is, by definition, artifical, as is all of art, but one may write fiction which is somewhat less artifical, without ever getting any closer to "reality." But reality is the last thing I'm worried about. Reality is for theologians, philosophers, and physicists. It is for all those arrogant and/or ignorant enough to think they may have grasped it. Now, now, Caitlin dear. You know perfectly well that you have nothing against theologians, philosophers, or physicists, not in general, at least, so don't let's get carried away.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
I have a feeling that I'll spend at least part of today rewriting everything that I wrote yesterday. Reworking. Tweaking. Fine-tuning. Trying to change tin into gold. This is what I do. Nothing is ever good enough. Well, almost nothing. Every now and then, very rarely, I finish something and step back and I'm impressed, and very surprised that I'm impressed, because no one (well, no one who matters) has ever been as hard on my writing as I am every single day, every paragraph, every sentence, every word. Most recently, "The Dead and the Moonstruck" surprised me this way. Parts of Low Red Moon did, and the totality of its effect, which is surely greater than its parts. "The Road of Pins." Waycross. "Andromeda Among the Stones." Parts of "Riding the White Bull." It happens, just not as often as I wish it happened. Not half so often.
Perfection is, along with Obsession, another of The Writer's Virtues, which are the antithesis of The Nine Deadly Sins of Writing. Indeed, Obsession is often the route to Perfection. No one achieves Perfection, or almost no one (in "modern" dark fantasy, Angela Carter has, and Kathe Koja, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Ligotti, Neil Gaiman, and a handful of others), but it has to be the goal, regardless.
Actually, Neil (who has achieved Perfection on more than one occassion) once berated me for striving for it with such Determination (another Virtue). I think Neil worries because I don't have Fun writing, and he's a dear for doing so, but, you see, he's already achieved Perfection and I haven't. As near as I can tell, Fun is neither a Sin nor a Virtue. It's a Fortunate By-Product, at best, and, as far as writing is concerned, not one with which I am well acquainted.
But I know Obsession.
Obsession is one of my dark gods.
If I could write one perfect story, it might redeem all the life I have squandered sitting in this chair, at this desk, striking these damned keys. I'll settle for a perfect short story (almost no one has ever acheived Perfection at novel length; I could count those books on the toes of my left foot).
Anyway. You already know what I did yesterday. Murder of Angels moves forward by small degrees. I was spolied by the speed of the last novel. I thought maybe all subsequent books would come as readily, with only a minimum of stall-outs and brick walls and empty days. I can be such an idiot. Whatever. Was there anything else to yesterday? Not really. Spooky and I watched "Bringing Home the Beacon" and I marveled anew that the Sci-Fi Channel could have cancelled something as briliant and uncommon as Farscape and longed for the end of the story. It will come, because the Hensons have faith in the series and, more importantly, because Good and Important Stories are not allowed to go unfinished forever, no matter how many corporate liver flukes have to be bested to reach conclusion.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
I'm coming off a couple of truly miserably barren writing days. Saturday I managed only about 200 words. Sunday, maybe a single sentence that I didn't throw away. Yesterday, I wrote one frelling paragraph (92 words), which I entirely rewrote today. Hours and hours of staring at the screen and nothing much happening, mired in a scene that refused to move forward no matter how hard I pushed. It didn't help that I'm trying to seriously cut back on caffeine and a couple of other stimulants. The last twenty-four hours have been a little slow-mo. Molasses time. Right now, I have all the spunk of a constipated slug.
Today was better. Today I wrote 714 words on Chapter Seven of Murder of Angels in four hours and may have come to the end of the offending scene. With luck.
Blah, blah, blah.
Last night, Spooky and I watched a couple of eps of Farscape ("Out of Their Minds" and "Scratch N' Sniff"), because I needed something to soothe my brain, and then we indulged in a few hours of Tomb Raider. Finally, I went to bed and read the first half of Lovecraft's "The Strange High House in the Mist," which I think is, in some ways, one of his best and most under-appreciated stories. In it, Lovecraft's prose poetry achieves a crispness that usually eluded him. It's one of the few pieces of weird fiction that I find a joy to read simply for the beauty of the language. This passage, for example: "And later, in still summer rains on the steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams, that men shall not live without rumour of old, strange secrets, and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night." Exquisite.
Monday, August 04, 2003
I think I am a method writer, if Stanislavski can be said to have any relevance to composition. It's the same principle, I think. If I cannot feel, to some degree, what a character is feeling, I cannot convincingly write that character. I cannot know the mind of the character. There is a sense in which I find it necessary to become a character, to gain access to their actions and reactions, their emotions and thoughts, and then I can begin to fathom a way to communicate what I imagine they are experiencing. It's rarely, if ever, perfect, of course, but the deeper I can immerse myself in the characterization, the more immediate and realistic he or she seems to be.
And I am trying to deal with a character in a very dark place, what seems, to her at least, to be the absolute end of her strength. And that's where I have to be, to see, to feel, to write. Having to go to bed at night knowing she's waiting for me in the morning, waiting for me to squeeze into her skin and soul and try to look out through her eyes. Knowing that the coming day cannot possibly be good because I have to struggle to know terrible pain and loss, to know it as my own because anything less is merely hearsay.
Sometimes it's like trying to smother myself.
Which is to say, it's been a difficult weekend and will likely be a difficult next few days. And if I am the god of my characters, then I am a wicked god, indeed. Job got off easy. I could whisper in their dreams, I know your pain, but if they are wise they'll know I'm a liar and I only imagine that I know their pain. I am trying, though, to follow them down to the places where I lead them.
There wasn't much of note from the weekend. Except a wonderful film called Spun, directed by Jonas Akerland, sort of Tarantino meets John Waters. Spooky and I saw it Saturday night, then watched it again last night with Jennifer. Mickey Rourke is amazing. Oh, there's Spooky's new pet, a gigantic wolf spider that lives in a hole behind our toilet. Saturday night, she began feeding it things. I suppose she was worried it was going hungry. We are such thoughtful little ghouls.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Things that make me want to go to bed and stay there. Under the bed wouldn't be so bad. Spooky could slide food in to me once a day. I might have a chamber pot (though the acrobatics and contortionisms necessary for its use would probably be beyond me). I would never have to come out and write again. I could be a happy lizard under a mattress rock.
In the last eighteen hours or so, I've discovered that not one, but two of the important elements from the last two chapters of Murder of Angels appear prominently in other works of fiction. The first, the Fortean refrain "These things happen," I finally realized I'd unconsciously lifted from the film Magnolia. The second is a striking similarity with China Miéville's Perdido Street Station. The latter is far more upsetting and disruptive to the novel as it now stands. It's one of those annoying coincidences that is the inevitable result of so many people writing so much at the same time. I've honestly never read Perdido Street Station. I've never even read a review of it. In fact, the only thing I've read by Miéville is his short story, "Details" (which, while we're on the subject of similarity, reminded me strongly of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's classic "The Yellow Wallpaper"). But now that these points of sameness have been brought to my attention, they're not something that I can ignore. I'll probably keep the line from Magnolia, with a mention of the film in the author's note before the prologue, that the film obviously had a strong impact on me. As for the similarity to the Miéville book, I'm not sure how I'll deal with that. I've dispatched Spooky to the public library to find a copy so that we can see just how profound the similarity might be. I may be more specific when I've actually seen the book and read the relevant portions for myself.
And, regardless, I might not change a word. Does this coincidence invalidate what I've written? That seems absurd. Is Juana Romani's "Salome" less valid than Gustav Klimt's "Salome"? This is not a question of quality. One of those paintings may well be better, in whatever sense one work of art may ever be said to be better than another, but a question regarding the validity of the act that created each piece. And were I to go looking, I suspect that I might find that the similarity in question can be found in many fantasy novels and stories predating Perdido Street Station, not to mention the mythological traditions of various cultures that, I'm sure, were the primary conscious inspiration for both Miéville and me.
This endless, futile quest for uniqueness makes me ill.
Under the fucking bed.
Anyway, I accomplished nothing of note yesterday. I reworked the opening scene of Chapter Seven and then spent a couple of hours staring stupidly at the screen and the keys and the wall behind my desk.
Today I need to get on with Chapter Seven. Oh. Bill Schafer tells me that The Five of Cups should ship on August 9th.
Friday, August 01, 2003
And here it is August.
Yesterday I wrote 1,001 words on Chapter Seven. It was a relief to move into a new chapter.
And I managed to keep Tomb Raider to threes hours and twenty-two minutes last night. I am a paragon of restraint.
I need a long night of dancing, intoxication and sex, though not necessarily in that order.
Otherwise, things are looking up.
There was something Oscar Wilde said, and I was going to repeat it, but I think I'll save it for another time.