Sunday, February 29, 2004
Yesterday was apparently meant to make me appreciate Wednesday and Thursday. I only managed to write 500 words (exactly 500, mind you) on "Rappaccini's Dragon." I think the last time a short story was this obstinate was...well, not so long ago as I'd like to think.
Yesterday evening, I did some minor adjustments and updates on Nebari.Net.
Today is a scheduled day-off, which I will spend gaming with friends. Tonight, of course, are the Academy Awards, which I've only missed once in the last fifteen years or so. As I've said in the blog before, I'm awful at predicting winners, so I prefer to list who I'd like to see win. My wishes are as follows:
Best Picture: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Animated Feature: Finding Nemo
Best Actor: Bill Murray, Lost in Translation (It would be too cool to see Bill Murray accepting an Oscar.)
Best Actress: Charlize Theron, Monster (This one's a no-brainer.)
Best Direction: Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Supporting Actor: Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai (A crime this film was not nominated for Best Picture, and that Cruise was not nominated for Best Actor.)
Best Supporting Actress: Yawn. Sorry, but this years choices leave me indifferent.
Best Cinematography: Russell Boyd, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Best Costume Design: Ngila Dickson, The Last Samurai (A hard choice, as Master and Commander and The Return of the King are also up.)
Best Film Editing: Lee Smith, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Best Foreign Language Film: The Barbarian Invasions
Best Make-up: Richard Taylor and Peter King, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Original Score: Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Song: Fran Walsh, Howard Shore, Annie Lennox, "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Visual Effects: Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook, Alex Funke, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Duh.)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Original Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds; Original Story by Andrew Stanton, Finding Nemo (This category is a bit of a joke this year.)
Best Picture: Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Producers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Most Slighted Films of the Year: Kill Bill: Volume One, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and The Last Samurai.
Now, let's see how indifferent the universe is to my wishes...
Saturday, February 28, 2004
Yesterday wasn't so bad. I did 1,135 words on "Rappaccini's Dragon" in about two hours. Which was a great relief after the way things went on Thursday and Wednesday. I needed an "easy" day, a day when I don't have to beg every syllable into being. This story has such insistent, inconvenient ambition. The "story" a the root of it all is strange, but simple enough, but I'm presenting it to the reader via the mind of someone who's already lived through it (hence, the first-person narration). I'm attempting to do this in such a way as to bestow upon the reader a similar fumbling-about-blinded-by-the-light experience to that which the fictional author, the narrator, is having. A day or so ago, it occurred to me that this story has been inspired by an R.E.M. song, "Belong". There's always a certain thrill, and a certain disquiet, at discovering an inspiration after the fact.
I need to wash my hair before I start writing, so I'll make this short today.
Last night, we watched Zeiramu and Gojira, Mosura, Kingu Gidora: Daikaiju Soukougek, because I was in the mood for big, weird Japanese monster movies. The latter, from 2001, may actually be my second favorite Godzilla movie after the original 1954 film. It's darker and has more menace to it than most Toho monster films. Afterwards, it was Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando, and I was sooooooo thinking I'd reached the end, because we made it through the MegaCorp factory and found Angela and the original protopet, but then frelling Mr. Fizzwidget turns out to be Captain Quark in disguise and we wind up with this giant fire-breathing protopet and....
Never mind. I'm going to wash my hair now.
Friday, February 27, 2004
Addendum: My editor just forwarded me Charles de Lint's very kind comments on Murder of Angels, which have lifted my spirits an inch or so. I quote:
"I love a book like this that happily blends genres, highlighting the best from each, but delivering them in new configurations. In Murder of Angels the darkness is poetic, the fantasy is gritty, the real world sections are rooted in deep and true emotions. Although a sequel, it requires no familiarity with the earlier book Silk, dropping you straight into a story that grabs you from the first page and never lets you go. Lyrical and earthy, Murder of Angels is that rare book that gets everything right."
How does the refrain go? I'm not awake, I'm not awake, I'm not awake this morning...
I wrote a measly 849 words on "Rappaccini's Dragon" yesterday, only 849 words in more than four and a half hours at the keyboard. And I'm not even sure any of it's particularly good. This story is sprawling on me. Lately, the last couple of years or so, my stories have taken on an expansiveness, an expansiveness that I tended to avoid until sometime in 2001 or so. I look back at the stories in Tales of Pain and Wonder and there's such sharp focus, such a unity of time and place. And now I look at story like "From Cabinet 34, Drawer 6," The Dry Salvages, and, now, "Rappaccini's Dragon," and they're all over the place. It's hard for me to say if this is a good thing or a bad thing, in terms of the quality of the stories. All I can say for sure is that it seems to make them much more difficult to write. Instead of taking place over a few hours or a day, or a few days, at most, these newer stories want to encompass many years, sometimes decades, and that means that the overall narrative structure has to be far stronger, to support so much time. I think that after "Rappaccini's Dragon," I'm going to endeavor to return to the old form, shorter stories with tighter focus (and no more frelling first person).
The wintery weather which has assailed the South kept Bush out of North Carolina. That's kind of neat, sort of like an act of God, almost, were one to believe in such things.
Me, I prefer to think of it as the work of vengeful, gay weather pixies.
I also (finally) got around to uploading Chapter Two of The Girl Who Sold the World, as well as Leh'agvoi's second Nar'eth pin-up, to Nebari.Net last night (which led to a total of 8.5 hours in front of the iBook yesterday). To find Chapter Two, click Chronicles, then follow the link at the bottom of Chapter One. To find the pin-up, follow the manga link at the bottom of the first page, scroll down to the link for the first pin-up, where you'll find a link to the second. I know it'd be more convenient if I simply posted links directly to the new material, but doing it this way appeals to my sense of the perverse.
Thursday, February 26, 2004
I slept hard last night, which I very rarely ever do. Spooky woke me towards dawn to show me the snow. We got less than an inch, but it was pretty coming down. Now it's just a melting crust.
Yesterday, I wrote 739 words on "Rappaccini's Dragon" in about four and a half hours, and finished part 3 of the story. The words came with great difficulty. That doesn't happen as often as it used to. Hopefully, it'll go a little easier today. What music did I write to yesterday? Radiohead. Elliot Smith. Thea Gilmore.
I fixed chili, with lots of lime and tequila and portabella mushrooms. I forgot to exercise. I watched Angel, and it was another particularly good episode, especially since Fred had become a favorite character. Ah, well. Now a sexy, kick-ass demon thing is inhabiting her corpse. It could have worked out worse. Mostly, I was too exhausted from writing to do much else.
We still haven't had time to get Silk and Threshold merch up in the Species of One shop, but there are lot's of other goodies.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Addendum: This day has been at me non-stop since about eleven this morning, and I'm afraid that I'm much too tired to get Chapter 2 of The Girl Who Sold the World up tonight. Tomorrow night, I promise. Meanwhile, my editor at Penguin sent me a mock-up of the cover for Murder of Angels, of which I am very fond. I like this new direction. See you tomorrow...
It's becoming increasingly difficult to use this blog to write about writing. Every entry wants to mount a tirade against George Bush's escalating circus of hate and persecution. His address yesterday, I don't think I've ever felt so strongly that the government, with which I have very often been at odds, has actually taken off its mask of civility and mounted a war against me, against who I am, against those I love, against the fact that I love those I love. It's as though the long nightmare of this Administration is building towards some absurdist fever pitch. I can only pray that history will remember that speech as what it was, and will file it in the same black box with George Wallace's resistance of desegregation and Adolf Hitler's attacks upon the Jews.
My little ghost stories seem of no importance whatsoever, in the face of such genuine evils.
But I did work on "Rappaccini's Dragon" yesterday. I read through the first three thousand words three times and made a lot of changes. Today, I'll get it moving again. Yesterday was a telephone sort of day, Shelly Bond at Vertigo Comics, and Ted Naifeh, and other people, and telephone days -- which are uncommon, as I generally leave the phone to either Spooky or Jennifer -- are never good for actual writing. Today I will endeavor not to go near the telephone. Last night, I finished Chapter 2 of The Girl Who Sold the World for Nebari.Net, which I will try to get up tonight. I think I might have actually had fan-fic writer's block, which is just way too stupid as I'm only writing this for me. If only I were easier to please. Which is to say, Chapter 2 was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I'll also be uploading Leh'agvoi's latest Nar'eth pin-up, and he says that the next installation of his manga should be along soon.
Oh. I'm been feeling as though the meteorological cataclyms in The Dry Salvages might have been going a little too far. Then I stumbled upon this article on Fortune.com yesterday and see that I probably haven't gone far enough. Even that asshole Rumsfeld is starting to worry about how high the water's gonna get and which way the wind's gonna blow when the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation finally goes belly up. And we all know what a calm head he has on his shoulders...
Tuesday, February 24, 2004
I woke up this morning with the old School House Rock song about the Preamble rattling through my skull. I don't know what absurdity of dream or nightmare lodged it there, but there it was: "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, secure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare—" and then I draw a great big blank.
But I figure the blank is probably for the best. Bush's America isn't leaving a lot of room for consitutional folderol.
And speaking of the boundless joys of writing and publishing, and the darkest comedy that attends both enterprises, if you've ever wondered why there are so few good fiction magazines, consider this open letter from Argosy publisher James A. Owen (posted here by permission):
We're Too Sexy
A brief explanation as to why one of the most highly praised, fastest-selling, lavishly produced publications Coppervale has ever released has found itself championed by independent booksellers, noted authors, national advertisers, and the media, while being embargoed-nay, virtually exiled-by the national bookselling chains, who have determined that the mechanical actions of removing a flysheet, scanning a barcode, and disposing of the two squarebound volumes and the slipcase comprises too arduous a range of motions to engage in, when the only benefit would be the possible sale of a thirteen dollar magazine that was fully returnable to begin with
It's the dichotomy that kills me.
Right now, this very moment, there are several thousand copies of Coppervale's high-end arts magazine International Studio, shipping to every chain bookstore and most of the independents in the country. It's a fifteen dollar magazine, and worth every penny.
Its companion publication, the new high-end fiction magazine Argosy, costs thirteen dollars, is worth every penny, and is outselling IS by a more than forty-to-one margin in subscriptions and direct orders from independent bookstores. The debut issue was supposed to have been in Barnes & Noble, and Borders, and Books-A-Million, but it's not, because, frankly, we're too sexy.
Fully half the print run was allotted to go to mainstream stores and newsstands, and a direct order for most of that quantity was hand delivered by the publisher a week before Christmas to a warehouse in Los Angeles where they have remained ever since.
The non-distribution has nothing much to do with Coppervale, personally, or else the current IS would not be shipping to the stores. Our distributor, Rider Circulation Services, has placed the blame squarely on the format: the wholesalers don't know what to do with it.
To be fair, this potential problem was addressed early on; the "two volume' concept," at least as applied to magazines as opposed to say, the Harry Potter gift set or Complete Far Side, eluded them completely. The slipcase was also a black monolith at which to hurl femurs-seen as a hindrance in
processing returns, and not a sales tool.
They argued that the barcode would be inconvenient, placed on the back of the slipcase (never mind that back placement of the barcode on books hasn't confounded too many salesclerks), so we flipped the slipcase opening so that the back was now the front.
Still the wholesalers protested, before finally proposing a solution of their own-that we print and shrinkwrap with the package an additional flysheet containing the barcode that could be removed and scanned to assess returns. We agreed, at considerable additional expense. It apparently didn't do the trick, since they can't seem to sell any.
The distributors are accustomed to turning in a print order prior to production; Argosy already existed (in a format approved by the distributor and wholesalers) because we wanted to debut it at the World Fantasy Convention. Otherwise, it's possible that the single most remarked-upon aspect of Argosy-the format-would have been rejected as unsalable prior to printing, and we wouldn't be having this problem.
I also believe we wouldn't have the groundswell of support we've developed precisely because of the lushness of the package.
Our distributors' solution-having to date not moved a single copy-is to delay the next issue to give them more room to sell the first one, which becomes outdated in a little under two weeks. Delay the next issue, which generates new subscribers every time I turn on the computer; which is generating thousands of dollars in sales for independent booksellers who are selling the first one; and which promises to surpass the first issue in terms of critical acclaim.
Delaying the next issue would also mean delaying ad billings from the advertisers still willing to stick it out-and at the moment, that's a big problem. Our advertising accounts, some of whom I have courted for up to five years, were sold on the basis that advertising in our magazines would bring both prestige and exposure; the first is swinging right along, but because of the embargo, it's the second one that's tanking.
Argosy has no circulation at all in what advertisers view as the primary market-the chains-and our distributor, in a clear indication of who they feel has the stronger strategy, has offered to "set aside" a quantity of the warehoused magazines so Coppervale can continue to fill direct orders.
You know what Argosy is. Let's tell everyone else.
Booksellers who place an order for Argosy in any quantity, and use the phrase, "We're Too Sexy" in the purchase order will receive our distributor's discount of 10% in addition to the normal wholesale discount.
New subscribers who use the phase "We're Too Sexy" in their order request will receive the first issue free of charge.
Current subscribers who go to the Argosy message boards at the Coppervale website and post the phrase "We're Too Sexy" along with their address (for verification) will have a free issue added to their subscriptions. Companies wishing to advertise in Argosy are asked to please send an email to email@example.com tell us we're too sexy, and name your rate.
And to whomever it was at Barnes & Noble who casually lit the match on the literary pop culture explosion that's about to hit him: brother, you asked for it!
James A. Owen
Publisher & Editorial Director
And now I direct you to the Argosy website. I shall go back to trying to get this frelling Preamble jingle out of my head. I think I've almost remembered the very last bit, something about making posterity safe for all the rich, normal white people and ordaining... ordaining something.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Yesterday was another loss. A day that I'd be considerably the better had it not happened at all.
Today the cem for MoA goes back into the mail and I try to get back to work on "Rappaccini's Dragon." The latter seems exceedingly unlikely after yesterday, never frelling mind the deadlines looming over me like hungry crows. I cannot write anything worth writing, worth reading, with my head filled with the sort of gunk that days like yesterday bestows upon the mind. When the authorial recruitment goons (I think some idiots call them "muses" or "inspiration," but they wear Nazi brownshirts) come around looking for fresh blood, they neglect to inform the wide-eyed wannabes that writing will not only make a shitstorm of your life, you will be expected to write through the shitstorm. The harder it gets to write, the harder you are expected to work at writing. Because, in the end, no one asked you to do this, not really, and no one much really cares if you walk away from it.
Stand up straight, girl. Cut the shit.
Suck it in.
If you are not writing, you are less than nothing.
If you are not writing, you are invisible. Null. Dead weight.
If you are not writing and making money, a substantial sum of money, from what you write, you are nothing.
So. Conclusion: Whatever it takes. Whatever, and note that there are no exceptions.
(Author's Note: This entry is the sort of personal effluvia that I swore to myself I would never allow into my blog, back when I began keeping this journal in November 2001. It is unsightly, public displays of private emotions. But. On the other hand, I understand that many of the people who read this damned thing do so because they want to know what it's like to be a writer. So, I'll chalk it up, this once, to duty, instead of a whimpering moment of weakness. Truth serves no one.)
Sunday, February 22, 2004
Good news and bad news. As San Francisco continues to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, other major cities around the country seem poised to follow suit. I believe this could begin a sort of avalanche, bringing down, by sheer force of numbers, discrimination against gays, lesbians and transsexuals seeking the benefits of a legal, state-sanctioned wedding.
But, on the other hand, Ralph Nader has announced his intention to run for the presidency. Again. Wasn't once enough for this particular nightmare? Can there be anyone out there who a) believes Nader has even the ghost of a chance and b) thinks that there's so little difference between the Republican and Democratic parties that we may as well have one or the other, if we can't have some ideal third-party candidate? (Franklin, I'm not addressing you.) Isn't it bad enough that Nader aided Bush's ascendency, now he has to come skulking around again to help grant the present administration another four years?
We are Americans. We are free to vote for whom we please. We are free to make all the idiotic choices we wish and the future be damned.
I am obviously angry and, therefore, it is best if I write no more this morning. I will most likely come in later and erase this.
Saturday, February 21, 2004
We finished the read-through yesterday, chapters Ten, Eleven, and the epilogue. Each time I read this novel I like it more. And it's easy to see the effects of my absinthe consumption during its composition. Murder of Angels is not only hallucinogenic, it's marked by a pronounced lack of inhibition. It goes where it needs to go, whether that's a hotel room in Atlanta, a coffeehouse in San Francisco, or a pirate ship in an alterante universe. I think I am proud of this book, which is vast improvement over how I felt about it while I was writing it and how I felt about it in December just after finishing it. But it is not an easy book. It is odd, and dark. Some people are telling me that it's darker even than Low Red Moon, though I'm not sure I buy that. The end of Low Red Moon devastated me. The end of Murder of Angels was more a sort of release. Just don't go into it expecting Silk II, because even though it is a sequel, it is an entirely different sort of novel and the characters have become entirely different people. I've already mentioned the degree to which the book came out autobiographical. Well, the disimimlarity between, say, the Daria Parker of Silk and the Daria Parker of Murder of Angels is one reflection of that mostly unconscious autobiography. In some ways, this is me now looking back at me then, etc. & etc.
Last night, I went over a few things with Jennifer (commas, hyphens, and more commas). Now, the ms. is sitting in its box, waiting to be returned to NYC. I think it won't go into the post until Monday, which means I'll beat my re-revised deadline by one day.
And much to the chagrin of the writer in me who wanted nothing else to do with novels for another year of two, two more novels have occurred to me...
Monday, I'll go back to work on "Rappaccini's Dragon."
Last night, Spooky and I watched the very excellent Wonderland, and then the entirely dopey action flick S.W.A.T.. After the real violence of Wonderland, it was actually nice to have S.W.A.T. to bring us back down. It's everything that a big dopey action film should be (and besides, Michelle Rodriguez is hot). After that, it was Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando until after 4 a.m. I think we need a good Mommy and Daddy to make up go to bed at a decent hour (and keep me away from the tequila).
I am about to attempt to complete Thomas Pynchon's monumental Mason & Dixon. I began the novel in, I think, 1997 and finally set it aside. I actually love this novel. It's brilliant. It may, indeed, be the most brilliant English-language novel since Finnegan's Wake, but it's a much more difficult read than Joyce. Anyway, I'm more than halfway through, with only 336 pages to go. I can do this. I shall keep you all posted on my progress.
I may escape to Athens today. If you see me, though, please have the kindness not to notice.
Friday, February 20, 2004
I'm playing Rasputina's "The New Zero" over and over on iTunes, trying ver, very hard to concentrate on the cellos instead of the way my stomach and bowels feel. Possible Lesson: perhaps I'm too old to drink tequila the way I used to drink tequila. There's not much else worth saying about yesterday. No progress was made on the Murder of Angels ms., but I did drink tequila. We also went over to Piedmont Park about 4 p.m. It was still fairly warm out, and sunny, but I was way too drunk to walk up and down hills, so we came how again. Today I will atone for yesterday's indiscretions.
Sometimes, days are lost, and there's nothing you can do to bring them back for a second try.
Did I mention dozing off to Fiddler on the Roof? No? Then it probably wasn't important.
Today we'll do chapters Ten and Eleven and the epilogue. No, really. This time we really will. No frelling about. I think I must have broken all nine of the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing yesterday. I also skipped my workout and forgot to eat dinner. Today I will endeavor not to behave as though I were twenty-two.
Though, I must say, at least it's a comfort to know that tequila hasn't lost its ability to slow time and muddy the jagged edges of perception. But I think I shall stick to absinthe, for a while.
Spooky's doing sketches of the next incarnation of Nar'eth. She (Spooky, not Nar'eth) came in here just a moment ago to show me that one of the sketches had come out look looking like the lovechild of Nar'eth and Gigi Edgley. Then she added a big bushy tail and I began imagining the misbegotten spawn of a Nebari and a Lombax. I suppose, at some point, Nar'eth might have wound up on Veldin in all her planet-hopping...
Most of the lightbulbs in the apartment have blown over the past two days. That happens sometimes. We have these mildly weird epidemics of blown lightbulbs. It means that someone an expedition to the frelling store must be mounted. If only some geek somewhere would genetically engineer a bioluminescent koi species. We could hang them in glorious fish-bowl chandeliers and they'd last for decades and decades, bathing us in their gentle yellow-green glow. But I suppose that's entirely too practical. Better we use these temperamental light bulbs, prone, as they are, to going nova.
To date, the most popular items in the Species of One shop are the women's and long-sleeved Low Red Moon T-shirts and the "Ugliest Cat in the World" mug. Join the revolution. It's cheap. (How's that for a slogan? Darren Stevens, eat your heart out!)
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Yesterday we made it through chapters Eight and Nine. We should be able to finish with the Murder of Angels manuscript today, and it'll go back into the mail tomorrow. I've never before spent so much time with a CEM.
And today, with sunny weather and something resembling warm temperatures, I'd really much rather be doing just about anything other than reading these pages.
I don't know why I keep watching Enterprise. I suppose it's the need for a TV sf fix and, at this point, it's pretty much a toss up between Enterprise and Stargate: SG-1. I've chosen the lesser of two evils, surely, but that's little solace. Sometimes, like last night, I wish that Enterprise would at least muster the energy to be bad. That's the thing. Unlike Stargate: SG-1, it's not truly bad, it's just absolutely and utterly dull. Towards the end of last night's episode, when Phlox and T'Pol realize that the region of distorted space is much larger than they'd guessed and they both start freaking out, it was almost joyous. At last, someone was emoting! There are, again, rumours that Enterprise may soon be facing cancellation. I think that would be merciful. On the other hand, last night's episode of Angel, a series which has already been cancelled, was an utter delight. Joss Whedon's shows are always a bit hit or miss with me. I enjoyed the last couple of seasons of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, but find the earlier seasons unwatchably silly. I loved Firefly. Generally, though I only started watching last season, I prefer Angel to Buffy, and the episode last night justified the entire series. "I'm going to tear you a new puppet hole, bitch." Nice.
According to a statement I received from Penguin a couple of days back, to date the trade paperback of Threshold has sold a modest 10,935 copies domestically and abroad. It may not seem like much to publishers looking for bestsellers, but it seems like an awful lot to me. Figuring in the percentage of those sales that were to public libraries, and the fact that people loan their private copies to friends, I suspect this means that something like twenty to thirty thousand people have read the book, and that just kind of freaks me out if I pause to think about it.
At the Species of One shop, our geeky little revolution continues. If sci-fi conventions and athletic shoes are worthy of t-shirts, so are novels.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
The Weather Channel is actually forcasting a high of 64F for tomorrow and Friday. I may actually be lured out into the world.
Yesterday, Spooky and I made it through chapters Six and Seven of Murder of Angels. I know that I'm probably hard on copyeditors and I'm pretty sure my ce at Penguin is convinced I'm a hell bitch at this point, put it seems that after my protestations over her sillier changes to Low Red Moon, she decided she'd be better off not even trying with MoA. We're catching lots and lots of simple grammatical problems, most involving commas, hyphens, and misspelling. I'm a frelling writer. I can't be expected to know how to spell. Anyway, catching all these legitimate, but uncaught, errors means we're having to take a lot more time with the ms. than I expected. I'm anxious to get it back in the post to New York, so I can go back to work on "Rappaccini's Dragon."
Isn't it odd for an author to sell T-shirts? I have been asked this question, because of the CafePress Species of One shop, and last night I gave it some serious thought. I have a fair number of friends who are musicians and a substantial portion of their income is derived from merchandise such as T-shirts. Most fans don't seem to think it odd that, although the bands are about making music and producing recordings, they sell lots and lots of T-shirts (and other things). But think about it. When's the last time you saw anyone wearing a t-shirt decorated with the image of a book cover or an author (excepting comic books)? Have you ever, even once? I can't even recall ever having seen Stephen King or Anne Rice T-shirts, and they sell more books than God. And yet we are surrounded by T-shirts emblazoned with logos and images of rock bands, sports teams, video games, television shows, comics, movies, and even magazines. So, what is it about novels that's somehow different? Americans treasure T-shirts as a means of establishing identity. The shirts you wear, the forms of entertainment you endorse by choosing to wear any given T-shirt, act as a signpost to others, advertising who you are, the sort of lifestyle you lead, how you look at the world. So, how, exactly, are the works of prose writers any different from these other forms of entertainment? I mean, "geek" isn't a dirty word anymore, right? So it can't be that we're worried that wearing shirts promoting our favorite authors is too geeky, can it? I don't think so. I think that we're just a little hidebound, that's all. We continue to see books as somehow stodgy and outside the flow of pop culture.
To wit, I propose a smallish revolution. No. It's is not the least bit odd for an author to sell T-shirts. It is, in fact, quite logical. That it isn't done all the time is merely an oversight that we can easily correct. Novels are just as cool as video games, movies, and rock bands, right? Right. Sure they are. They are forms of popular entertainment and are deserving of their fair share of the T-shirt market. And if you agree, and would like to get in on this modest revolution of mine, go to the Species of One shop and make a purchase (or two, or three). Do not be ashamed that you read. Read proud! Tell the world with a Low Red Moon T-shirt. Do it now, and, in a week or two, when it's all the rage, you can tell people, frell, you've been wearing those damn geeky book T-shirts since waaaaay back in the day.
I am wise.
Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Addendum: Subterranean Press is offering a free Five of Cups wallpaper download, featuring Rick Lieder's superb cover and a bunch of butterflies. Check it out.
Not awake, not awake, not awake...
Yesterday I had that burst of frenetic energy I often get after bad headaches, or after the cessation of any undesired pain (no, that is not an oxymoron). Spooky and I made it through Chapter Four before lunch. I exchanged several e-mails with Ellen Datlow, who's visiting London. I e-mailed Neil about contacting Brian Eno (Murder of Angels business). I e-mailed by editor at Penguin and asked for more time with the MoA CEM. In fact, I attended to a veritable ton (okay, well maybe only a few veritable pounds) of e-mail that I'd let back up the last couple of weeks. I updated Nebari.Net. I read for awhile and then I cooked a huge pot of beef stew with Guinness and portabella mushrooms for dinner. After dinner, I watched the Nerd Nation piece on Tomb Raider and then we read through Chapter Five, finishing with it somewhere around a quarter to midnight. Then we watched the first episode of Witch Hunter Robin before embarking on an hour and a half of Ratchet and Clank. I made myself go to bed at two.
Today, we have to do chapters Six and Seven. At this rate, I should be done with the ms. late on Thursday.
I realized last night how much travel I have coming up, and how many short stories I have to get written before said travel begins. There's the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in late March, and then the Alabama Bound bookfair (Birmingham) in late April. At the end of May, or the beginning of June, Spooky and I will be leaving for an "extended tour" to include Manhattan, Providence, and various parts of Massachusetts. For someone who often goes days without leaving her apartment, it's a dizzying prospect. I used to travel like this all the time, before I became such a homebody. Anyway, first I have to finish with MoA and all these short stories. I'd also like to get through the first draft of the screenplay that I'm doing instead of the Threshold screenplay and get that to my agent in LA before the big trip at the end of May.
This is a pep talk to myself.
Sales at the Species of One shop are starting to pick up. I hope to get a few Silk- and Threshold-related items up in the next couple of days.
Oh, and a thank you to Bill Baker for his concern that my headaches might be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning. I promise, Bill, they aren't. Too many girlie hormones, that's all. Also thanks to Rick Keeney, for his cogent thoughts on diversity and freedom. It's always nice to be reminded that I'm not puzzling alone.
Lastly, Subterranean Press is now taking preorders for The Dry Salvages. The early bird and all that, you know.
Monday, February 16, 2004
Addendum: Reading through Murder of Angels this afternoon, I'm struck by how autobiographical this novel is. Almost embarrassingly so. I'm not sure to what degree I did this consciously, but there it is, in Niki Ky and Daria Parker, each of them standing for one half of me. It's like, this is the novel that's about what's happened to me since Silk was published. At least, that's one of the things that it seems to be about, the difficulties of success & etc. I'm sure I'll write an unnecessarily lengthy essay about this for the Subterranean Press hardback, so I'll say no more now, except that reading back through the ms. is unnerving.
It's a better book than I thought.
And don't forget your "Ugliest Cat in the World" merch. These are things you can't live without, like caffeine and PlayStation.
This morning, someone e-mailed to ask me why it was such a big deal that San Francisco is issuing wedding permits to same-sex couples, why gay and lesbian couples can't be content to be queer without government sanction of their unions. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to respond to such a question. I've been trying to steer clear of politics, for the most part, if only because I'm not a political commentator. But the truth is that issues of equality for gays, lesbians and transgendered persons is at least a subtext to much of my writing. So answering this question here seems appropriate.
I spent most of my childhood in a small semi-rural town in Alabama. We moved to this town in 1972 and when I began third grade there (having begun school elsewhere) the elementary school had only recently been desegregated. I grew up with the tension that followed. I listened to racist relatives who persisted in the belief that, because of segregation, white girls would be raped by black boys and riots would ensue and all sorts of bullshit of the sort. The fabric of American society would be destroyed if African-Americans were treated as human beings. For me, and I should think for a lot of other people my age, segregation isn't something from the history books. It's something we witnessed first hand, especially if we grew up in the South. I saw black children harassed, by adults and other children, for being black.
At the moment, marriage in America is, at best, segregated, reserving the institution of marriage for heterosexuals and forbidding that right to gay Americans. Offers of "civil unions" are pretty much the same as the "separate but equal" policies that faced blacks half a century ago. We were supposed to have learned then that equality cannot exist in the face of separation. Obviously, a lot of us didn't. And that's what the fuss in San Francisco and Massachusetts is about. Whether or not I personally care that the US government sanctions my same-sex relationship, denying me the benefits that legal marriage bestows upon het marriages is not only unconstitutional, it's the same sort of bigotry those black children faced in Alabama back in the early 1970s. And the people who are playing the religion card in an effort to justify their bigotry should remember that the same card was played in defense of racism only a few decades ago (in some circles, it's still being played). Ultimately, of course, how your religion shapes your views on homosexuality is irrelevant, as anti-gay laws based on the teachings of any religion violate separation of church and state.
In the end, though, it's a lot simpler than history and politics and religion. Tens of millions of Americans are no longer willing to accept the status of second-class citizen in order to accommodate the fears and prejudices of a vocal minority. And that's why it's such a big deal that San Francisco is issuing wedding permits to same-sex couples, why gay and lesbian couples can't, and should not, be content to be queer without government sanction of our unions.
Yesterday, the headache ruled my every breath. We began work on Chapter Two of Murder of Angels, but after about half an hour, I went back to bed. Later in the afternoon, I was feeling well enough to force myself to finish the chapter. After dinner, the pain and nausea had backed off enough that we were able to get through Chapter Three, finishing up just before 11 p.m.. Today the pain is gone and we'll do Four and Five. I rarely get headaches and for that I am extremely grateful. Pain that makes me unable to think is unacceptable.
Sunday, February 15, 2004
I woke up with a headache. I just had to ask Spooky if "headache" was one word. It's that sort of headache. So far, the Tylenol and Dasani aren't helping. And I have to read Murder of Angels today. I also need to wash my hair, but that seems unlikely.
Thanks to Robyn for the following link. I think this turn of events has actually infected me with a tiny sliver of hope. I know, of course, that paranoid, hate-mongering idiots have already begun the attempt to nullify the weddings, and that they may well succeed, but that hardly lessens the impact of this event.
Having finished Ratchet and Clank, Spooky and I played Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando until almost 4 a.m this morning. Jennifer finished writing her dissertation last night. I think those are the only two remarkable things about the last twenty-four hours.
Have you bought your "Ugliest Cat in the World" thong yet? Well, why the frell not? I gotta put Sophie's dumb ass through college, you know...
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Trust me on this, kiddies -- just because a recipe appears in print on a Velveeta box doesn't mean it's a good idea. Velveeta, salsa, and the microwave, and then we stuck tater tots on chopsticks and pretended it was fondue. In all fairness, though, the tater tots were my idea. Truly, it was vile.
Also, last night, we watched Party Monster, which was very good, if only for the experience of watching the perpetually dreadful Macaulay Culkin play a drugged-out drag queen. After Richie Rich, I never thought we'd see him again, ever.
I tried to work on Murder of Angels yesterday, and again today, but to no particular avail. I growled at the manuscript and it growled back at me. It's the most hostile book I've ever had to write. The pregnancy was bad enough, and now I have this surly toddler to cope with. Tomorrow, well, tomorrow I'm going to sit it down and we're going to have a talk.
Check out the Species of One shop. Not only do we have Low Red Moon T-shirts, we now have "The Ugliest Cat in the World" as a coffee cup and a thong. I dren you not.
Lastly, kudos to the city of San Francisco for the bold sneak-attack from the west while most of the anti-gay hate-mongers are busy bending arms in Massachusetts.
Friday, February 13, 2004
Yesterday, Spooky and Jennifer and I went over all of Murder of Angels through page 73, which includes Chapter One. It took us about three hours. And while I made quite a few line edits, and fixed one minor continuity problem, I think it made me wonder if this undertaking isn't something just short of a waste of time. I'm fooling myself, thinking I might actually rewrite anything. I don't rewrite. Sometimes I feel like that's an authorial deficiency on my part. Most, or all, of my friends who are authors rewrite, often willingly. There must surely be something wrong with me that I don't. I sit down. I write the novel. I start at the beginning and I write until I reach the end. Once I've reached the end, changes to the first draft are likely to be, I'd guesstimate, less than 5%, and maybe less than that. This has been true with Silk, Threshold, Low Red Moon, most of my short fiction, and now, it seems, it shall be true of Murder of Angels (there was a lot of reworking with The Five of Cups, but that's a special case, and if you want to know how and why you should buy the book, please).
It may all be an artefact of the way I write. I don't really write drafts. I finish each sentence, make sure it's perfect, then move on to the next sentence. Nothing is tentative. I polish as I write. I try very, very hard to get it absolutely right to first time, which, in my mind, leaves little room for change.
Sure, I could rewrite so that different things happen than the things that happened in the first draft, I could fashion endless alternate versions, but where's the point in that?
So, I'm uncertain whether we'll continue with the reading or not. Most likely we will, as there are obviously still things that I, my first readers, and the copyeditor have missed, little things like misspelling, absent or unnecessary commas, and the aforementioned minor continuity flaw, and I do want this book to be perfect. As perfect as it can be. But, for better or worse, I don't see revision happening. And I feel as though my time would be better spent writing something I have not yet written.
Jennifer will probably finish the first draft of her dissertation today, which will, obviously, be a momentous occurrence. The influence of the Gothic upon the work of T. S. Eliot. She's been working on this for more years than I care to recall. The push to finish is why there's been so little mention of her in the blog of late.
Someday I'm going to sit down and write a chapbook detailing which dictates of English grammar annoy me the most. On second thought, that might be far too lengthy for a mere chapbook. Yesterday, it was the proper use of "any more" and "anymore." Disregarding those who believe that the word "anymore" doesn't exist (I follow the OED in my belief that it does; it's something my copyeditor and I actually agree on), we're left with the problem of distinguishing the one from the other. Consider this sentence from Murder of Angels: "I'm not going to talk anymore." Or, on the other hand, should it be, "I'm not going to talk any more"? Some (Jennifer included) would say that in the first instance, "anymore" stands as an adverb, indicating "any longer." In the second case, "any more" would stand as an adjective and a noun relating to the quantity of words. Now, I would argue, and this seems obvious, that in many examples, including this one, there's no essential difference in meaning between "any more" and "anymore," as the production of additional words would, by necessity, entail a greater length time, and speaking for a longer time would produce additional words. Hence, in this and similar cases, choosing either "any more" or "anymore" becomes arbitrary and can be determined only by the author's intent, which, as regards which form is used, is here irrelevant, because the same meaning is gained with either "anymore" or "any more." So, it seems, at least in many instances, "any more" and "anymore" are synonyms and interchangeable, though in other cases, they certainly aren't. But the fact that they can function as synonyms in a wide and unrelated set of statements seems to undermine an actual "rule" of grammar which would maintain that there is a useful difference between the two. The paradox defeats the possibility of true Law.
And sometimes I think I'd be better off if I could stop expecting grammar to be logical, and stop trying to think of it as a scientific system. It is neither.
As promised, more items are being added to the Species of One shop. Check out the "Ugliest Cat in the World" mug and the Low Red Moon goodies. For the time being, we're offering all Low Red Moon, Silk and Threshold T-shirts at only one dollar above cost (the one dollar is to cover our CafePress fees). More to come!
Thursday, February 12, 2004
I left the apartment for the first time in at least five or six days (and very probably longer; I'm having trouble remembering) yesterday. I stepped outside and realized that it had been days and days. Spooky and I went to Fernbank to see the Jane Goodall chimp exhibit, which was disappointingly targeted at a very young audience. It's good for the kids, of course, but I was hoping for a little serious primatological diversion.
Nothing was written yesterday. In fact, I have decided to shelve the new story, "Rappaccini's Dragon" (My thanks to Mellá, née Robin Hartlaw, for the title!) for a week or so. It needs to percolate and I need to get back to the Murder of Angels CEM. All the uncopyediting is done, and I came close to just sticking it back in the box and returning it to Penguin. But it's a difficult book, and I think I'd regret not going over it all one more time. There's every reason to believe that I'll spend the extra week on it and change virtually nothing, but I'll feel better knowing I gave it another read.
Remember the Species of One shop at CafePress? We've sort of let that fall by the wayside the last few months, but will be revamping it over the next couple of weeks. One of the new items will be coffee mugs and t-shirts feature one of the latest of the monster doodles, "The World's Ugliest Cat." There will also be a few new Silk, Threshold, and Low Red Moon items going up. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see added, e-mail Spooky at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll consider it.
I want to go back to bed and read something I didn't write...
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Yesterday was not the good sort of writing day. It was, instead, the sort of writing day when it took forever before the words would start to come, and then they came only in fits and starts, and, when it was all said and done, I had nothing but profound doubts about what I'd accomplished. It was the sort of writing day that tests to the limits my self-discipline as an artist. In more than five hours, I managed only 773 words. The cold didn't help. My office had actually become so cold it was painful to be in here. Spooky went out and found me a space heater (a cute little thing that looks like a Star Wars droid), which at least dealt with that problem. I was able to take off the two pairs of socks, the leg warmers, and the gloves. But, even though a significant distraction had been removed, the writing didn't really get any easier.
This new story is my third attempt at a first-person narrative. The first was "Riding the White Bull" (Argosy #1) and the second was the novella "The Dry Salvages" (coming from Subterranean Press), both from last year. Despite my longstanding disdain for first person, I wanted to attempt to crack it, find ways of defusing its inherent weaknesses. So these attempts have been experiments. But I'm starting to see the sort of first-person related sloppiness creeping into my own work that I've been complaining about in the works of others for years. Some of the problems are easy to address (leaving me to wonder why other writers don't), such as the problem of narrative origin: determining exactly whom the narrator is addressing and why, and establishing how the text came to exist as an artifact that might be read by others. Origin seems an easy enough hurdle to overcome. But others are much more difficult. The worst part is the limitation placed upon language, or, most specifically, upon style. Essentially, a first-person text is a monologue, the voice of a single individual character, the intensely subjective view of the protagonist, and seems less amenable to the author's voice. The author's voice, if it is to be an honest first-person narrative, must take a back seat to the voice of this single character. In the process, much is sacrificed, it seems, and little is gained. By contrast, in third person, I'm free to explore equally intense subjective povs from all the characters, if I so choose, while still maintaining a more informative ominiscient narration and a much greater freedom of voice. And yet, there's an obvious ease to first person, reinforcing my belief that it's popular because it's easier to write. I think this ease certainly accounts for its popularity with younger writers (though, as a younger writer, it was never popular with me). Anyway, I think that after this story I may abandon the experiment and return to third person. Only 2.3 stories and already first person is beginning to feel like the crutch I've always said it was.
This is not to say that first-person narratives can't excel. They certainly can, despite the fact that they almost never do. Examples of excellent first-person narratives are easy enough to list. But I think they require a writer of unusual talent to do well. And I consider myself only a writer of usual talent.
After the writing, Spooky and I made a chicken stew (more of a "stoup," really). I watched a biography of Gene Hackman, then a documentary on Venus (the planet, not the goddess). After that, I read for a couple of hours. Finally, I finished the first Ratchet and Clank game. And that was yesterday.
I certainly need to write today, but I may get dressed and go to a museum, instead. I don't know if I can make the words come today, no matter how much I strain. My head is too full of dead ends. I need some sort of intellectual stimulation absent from the act of composition.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
I did 1,196 words on the new short story yesterday. Also, the first-pass page proofs for "The Dead and the Moonstruck" (Gothic!, Candlewick Press) arrived and Spooky and I read through the story. I'm very excited about this book.
That was yesterday.
This morning I seem a little off balance. Perhaps I didn't sleep well.
I think that the next time someone asks me what advice I'd give to aspiring writers, I'll say, "Get enough exercise."
Monday, February 09, 2004
One morning, they'll find me slumped over in front of the television, a PlayStation control gripped tightly in my cold, dead hands. I played Ratchet and Clank (the first one) until 3:23 a.m., trying to finish it. Spooky's gotten addicted to Beyond Good and Evil. She's talking about buying Tenchu. I'm telling you, this will be our undoing.
Spooky and I have been working on a new outfit for Nar'eth. I did some sketches and she's looking at adaptable patterns. Something that will be more elegant and show a bit more skin (which means more airbrushing). I've done the costume four times now and I think it's time to retire the original incarnation. We'll keep the leg shields, boots, and epaulets, but that's about it. I may even take the time to do a new wig (about twenty hours work, right there). Nar'eth 2.0 should be ready for Dragon*Con '04.
Today, I'll get back to work on the new short story. It's set in Monterey and Moss Landing, a Lovecraftiness, deep-sea canyons, a suicidal, apocalyptic cult, a mysterious video shot two miles beneath the Pacific. The usual. After drawing monsters all day yesterday, and signing a bunch of books this morning (about half of the purchases from this latest auction), it'll be nice to just sit and write.
The cold, the cold, the cold. Down here, spring should be beginning to show by the end of February. So, I keep telling myself that's it's only a matter of a couple of weeks. But I know that's not true. This is one of those winters that's going to hang around until at least April. Damn you, groundhog!
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Addendum 4: The monsters are done. I cannot be held responsible for the one-fanged tadpole of the damned. I can't feel my right arm anymore.
Addendum 3: Monster #32. Only nine left. Which is a frelling good thing. I just drew an invisible monster.
Addedum 2: I just finished monster #20, appropriately titled "The Ugliest Cat in the World." I showed it to Spooky and she said, "Damn, that's nasty," and then told me I still had twenty-one monsters left to draw.
Just so you know, if you didn't get a monster, I'm not doing this thing again until at least May. So, you're out of luck until then (Spooky's on the phone with Bill Schafer, and I think they're meaning me to know what they're talking about, but they're out of luck as well.)
Addendum 1: Just finished monster #10, "An Ode To Unknown Appendages," and now I have only about thirty monsters left to draw. About three more hours. My favorite so far is "The Pot-Bellied Groundsloth from Yuggoth." And it occurs to me that I shall be righteously pissed if, fifty years from now, it's these little monsters that I'm remembered for, instead of my writing.
Today I have to sit down and draw all the monsters for this latest round of auctions. Thanks to everyone who used "Buy It Now" and thanks for being patient while we get the orders ready to go out. The first bunch should go into the post on Monday. Yesterday, I wrote about a thousand words on the new short story. It's off to a good start, and I wish I had time to work on it today. I'll get back to it tomorrow.
This morning I received an e-mail with the subject line, "man arressted [sic] for fondlling [sic] a squirell [sic]." I'm not sure if the bad spelling was an attempt to fool spam filters set to block certain words (would anyone really block "squirrel"?), or if the author was really that atrocious a speller. Maybe it's someone with an acute double-consonant fetish. I didn't read it, because I never read spam, but it haunts me still.
Thanks to Philip Kalmes for the link to the Quiznos site. I'd already seen the Spong Monkeys' Quiznos ad on television, but there's always room for more Spong.
Is it bad form to post fan mail in a blog? Do other people do it? Do I give a frell what other people do? I got a couple this morning that made me feel just a tiny bit better about Low Red Moon, and I think I want to post them. What I said about the way LRM has failed to excite the critics the way that Threshold did, and how that baffled me because I know it's the better book, I swear I wasn't fishing for kind words. Which is not to say that they aren't appreciated. The first e-mail is from Philip Kalmes, who I've thanked once already:
I'd been meaning to write this for some time, but I don't ever write fan letters and couldn't get comfortable with the idea.
That out of the way I'd like to say that Low Red Moon is one of the most effective and satisfying novels I've ever read. There's a quality of scene and atmosphere in it that's rare, and beyond that, it not only draws from but enriches your other work in a way that's hard to describe.
Threshold was the first of your books that I read and to watch Dancy Flammarion's history unfold since has been glorious. Low Red Moon was more so because it met the need to hear what happened after. There is a sense of inevitability, a rightness, in the way that these characters' lives progress and end that makes their stories feel very true. As though everything that comes to pass emerges necessarily from the intersection of their natures and their circumstances. It gives each story a kind of completeness, but when the characters or settings return it's as though that same completeness unfolds intact onto a larger scale. It's something other than the usual simple adding-on that makes a sequel, more like individual cells combining toward a more complex organism. Each story makes each other story greater, and Low Red Moon does this more than any other yet.
So thanks much for Low Red Moon. Looking forward to Murder of Angels.
And from Stephen (who did not include his surname):
I don't know if writers like e-mails like this, but i thought I should say something. I loved LRM. I thought it was great. There were parts that made me laugh and parts that made me cry. I was amazed at how concerned I became over Deke and his drinking after having just "met" him a few short days before when I'd read Threshold. So I don't know who didn't like the book, but I thought it was your best one yet. Just thought I'd let you know.
Thank you both, and thanks to everyone else who's written since the novel was released in November to relay his or her appreciation for LRM. In a sane world, your opinions as readers would mean far more to me than the approval or disapproval (or in the case of LRM, the general absence of either) of critics. Sadly, this isn't a sane world.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
I have Tom Waits' "Innocent When You Dream" stuck in my head.
And we just learned that The Dresden Dolls will be playing at the Echo Lounge in Atlanta on March 27th. Which would be extremely cool, but we have to be in Ft. Lauderdale at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) that weekend. Grrrrrr. We may make the drive to Chapel Hill, to see them the Tuesday night after the conference. Grrrrr, again.
Thanks to Amber Morris, Carlo Cordova, Serena Valentino, and everyone else who's written me lately, with encouraging words of one sort of another. I have been remiss in replying to e-mails, because I suck.
I hate being certain that a movie's going to be a complete and total turd and discovering otherwise. I think it was reasonable to expect Jeepers Creepers 2 to stink at least as badly as the first film. But we rented it last night, in the mood to heckle something that was too dumb to actually watch, and were suprised to find that it's actually a fun and watchable film with some nicely creepy touches here and there. If only the filmmakers could have broken with the teens-in-peril formula, and made their monster just a little less Freddyesque, they might have wound up with a good monster movie. The opening sequence, in the cornfield, is genuinely chilling, and could stand alone as a short film, I think.
Yesterday, I began a new short story, or I tried to begin a new short story. Most of the day was spent researching, when I wanted to actually be writing. This one's for Steve Jones' forthcoming Mammoth Book of Terror. Hopefully, I'll make some real progress on it today. And I have to start drawing all those monsters. That pretty much covers today.
Friday, February 06, 2004
The pain of experience makes us wise. For example, the experience of having eaten half a cold, day-old pineapple jerk chicken burrito at 11:30 p.m. last night and inciting a proper stomach ache. It's the sort of thing you only have to do once (even if it's also the sort of thing you should have had enough sense never to have done at all).
Yesterday, I finally took a very deep breath and stepped away from my two-year involvement in the effort to see Threshold made into film. The most recent development, you may recall, began about a year ago when my film agent at UTA was approached by a prominent screenwriter who offered to act as my mentor on the project and then act as producer to try to attract the necessary studio attention to actually get the film made. It was a very good opportunity for which I am grateful, but, after all these months I finally forced myself to face the fact that I'm just not the person to adapt Threshold to the screen. I thought that I was. I thought surely if anyone was, it was me. I outlined. I did story breakdowns. I cut scenes and characters, combined scenes and characters, created new scenes better suited to film. But it just wasn't happening and I'd begun to feel as if I was stringing said screenwriter along. It was time for me to move on. I've told my film agent that, instead, I will write an original screenplay, not an adaptation from a very complex novel, and then we'll take it from there. I very much want to be involved in film. I've always seen my writing as a consolation prize, something I do because I'd never have the opportunity to work in film. But now I do have that opportunity and I intend to do this thing, one way or another.
Finding the courage to step away from the Threshold screenplay, I think it's the most difficult thing I've had to do in a long time. It'll be a longer time before I know if I've done the right thing. I remain passionate, perhaps to a fault, about seeing Threshold made, and perhaps I'll come back to it after I've done other screenplays, and perhaps someone else will do a screenplay.
So, today I have a righteous case of shell shock.
But as long as I'm down here, and speaking of experience, now I know how it feels to have finally written a novel that I truly believed in unreservedly, said novel being Low Red Moon, and to watch so many of the people who loved the novels about which I had so many doubts all but ignore it. I'm not sure what that teaches me. Nothing I couldn't have lived without. I don't mean to sound bitter. In the end, it simply leaves me baffled.
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
I wrote quite a lot yesterday. It came bubbling out of me suddenly and I wrote for about five hours straight. I'm getting this chapbook together for Subterranean Press, for The Dry Salvages. I did about 2,300 words yesterday (!), so I should be able to finish the whole thing off today. Many other things need doing immediately, so I'm glad yesterday went well.
I think PlayStation 2 is ruining my life. I may soon need a support group, a rehab programme. I'm entirely out of control.
Yesterday I read more of Magic Terror.
I didn't leave the apartment.
I asked my editor at Penguin for extra time with the Murder of Angels CEM, so I could read through it again, and he gave me until the 18th. Not bad. More than I'd expected.
Which pretty much sums up yetserday.
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
I'm asleep. I'm sitting here, typing in my sleep.
Yesterday, I began reading Peter Straub's short-story collection, Magic Terror. I also sat staring at my iBook, but the words never came.
Perhaps they will today.
If I can wake up.
Sometimes, especially when I'm not really awake, the process of sitting and staring at the screen, trying to figure out What Comes Next, is derailed by a slide into some trivial annoyance. Something that's really no big deal, but there it is, gnawing at me. I suspect this is a sort of defence mechanism. Anyway, just then, trying to figure out what else this entry should include, I got annoyed all over again at my copyeditor's insistence that the possessive of nouns ending with "s" include an apostrophe "s," instead of simply an apostrophe. An actual example from Murder of Angels: "stewardess's" instead of "stewardess'". Also, "John Everett Millais's," instead of simply "John Everett Millais'". It's ugly and redundant and I won't have it.
Today I have to do something for a chapbook that will accompany The Dry Salvages. I'm not sure yet what the something will be. At least it isn't raining today.
Monday, February 02, 2004
My feet are very cold.
Sorry, but that's the first thing that came into my mind.
Today, I can tell, will be the sort of day spent wrestling with the need to begin a short story, full in the knowledge that it isn't going to happen, not yet. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe day after tomorrow. But it needs to start today. Now. I have a stack of commitments. The days will race by.
I'll probably flee the apartment soon. Nothing weakens my reclusivity like the need to write. There are a million plausibe distractions out there.
I'm finished with the CEM of Murder of Angels, but I really need to read through the whole ms., start to finish, as a novel, not as something in need of proofreading. I need to be sure I've got it right. As right as it will get. But it's almost 600 pp. and I have only about 8 days. I'll do what I can do.
I feel less sick than I did yesterday.
And I have a lot of monsters to draw...
Sunday, February 01, 2004
I'm not sure I'm sick enough to say I'm truly sick, but I feel like ass.
Last night, we watched the last three episodes of Firefly (and all the extras on the final disc) which I will say again is quite wonderful and undoubtedly the best thing that Joss Whedon's done to date. There are a few elements I'd have changed, mostly the clunker, show-stopping jokes, usually delivered by the not particularly funny Wash (Alan Tudyk), who's really just Xander in an Hawaiian shirt. Otherwise, Firefly is brilliant television and it was truly saddening to watch "Objects in Space" and know that it was the "last" episode, that the network killed the series when it was just getting started. As nature abhors a vacuum, so I abhor unfinished stories. I also abhor neglected art, and it's ridiculous that turkeys like Enterprise and Stargate: SG1 can go on (and on, and on) while a gem like Firefly languishes. But a feature film is now in production, as many of you are probably aware, so this story won't remain unfinished forever. I strongly recommend this boxed set; check it out.
I unpacked Pandora yesterday, my Mac Color Classic that got bumped about in the last move and is having monitor issues. She's now sitting here on my desk, and I didn't realize how much I missed the sound of her. This is the machine I wrote on for almost ten years. On Monday, I'm finding a repair person to make her 100% again.
The offer of monster doodles for "buy it now" purchases officially ended at midnight (EST). Now I ask the patience of all those who took part. I'll need a few days to get the monsters drawn (we're talkin' a lot of monsters, here) and Spooky will need a few days to get the packages ready for the post. As soon as they're ready to go, I'll let you know. The auctions will be winding down over the next week or so, and then I think we're going to take a break from eBay for a bit.
Last night I bit my tongue, which should teach me not to eat when I'm asleep. I bit it very far in the back. There was a distinct crunch. This afternoon I'm talking like I've just had my tongue pierced.