Friday, April 30, 2004
I managed, somehow, to write another 1,001 words on "Faces in Revolving Souls" yesterday. But I'm still extremely dissatisfied with the whole thing. I think this is one of those times when I have such high expectations for a story, when I see it so clearly in my mind, that, in mere prose, I can't even begin to get close to what I think it ought to be. It's like trying to transcribe a movie from memory, and still wind up with something that will affect readers the same way that the film would have. It's that frustrating. I haven't yet read back over everything I wrote yesterday. I'm a little afraid to. I know I'm not going to be happy with that last paragraph. And I need to write new stuff, not spend the day re-writing what I wrote yesterday.
At least tonight is Kid Night. I haven't needed one so badly in months, I think.
It occurred to me last night that there's an obvious alternative to the annoying verbing of "friend" when talking about LiveJournal. Here we have this perfectly good word already present in the English language, perfect for the task — befriend. When you add someone to your list of LiveJournal friends, why not simply say that you are befriending them, which has exactly the same meaning as the entirely atrocious and unnecessary "friending." We do not need to create new words when old words exist that will do the job just as well. Anyway, thanks to everyone who befriended greygirlbeast yesterday. May I click and list myself into an early grave.
Last night, after dinner, Spooky and I made margaritas and worked on the holster for Nar'eth's pulse pistol. Much later in the evening, I read Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall" and Fredric Brown's "Arena." I'm definitely on an old-school science fiction kick right now, good stuff from the forties and fifties. Maybe, in another month or so, I'll have worked my way forward to the sixities. Or perhaps I'll go farther backwards.
I've been meaning to mention Sissy's monster-gathering project. He's attempting to round up scans of as many of my monster doodles as possible for a Monster Doodle Gallery. I've sent scads of these things out, but, as you can see, he currently has only a small precentage of them online. If you've been the recipient of a monster doodle and would like to help out, scan the md (72 dpi jpeg is fine) and e-mail it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think I'm a little bummed out by Poppy's trip to California. Oh, I'm glad she's on the road plugging the book and all, but it has me nostalgic for trips of yore. May 1996, for example, when Christa and I drove from LA to San Francisco and then on north to Eugene, OR for the World Horror Convention. On the way back to LA, we took a "short cut" and got horribly lost somewhere in the wilds of the Klamath Mountains. We spent the whole night winding through the mountains along a dirt road too narrow to turn around on. It took us eight whole frelling hours to go a measly 45 miles (!), because the road was so bad. At any moment, we expected to be devoured by a sasquatch. Those were the good old days...
Thursday, April 29, 2004
this bridge was written to make you feel smittener
with my sad picture of girl getting bitterer
can you extract me from my plastic fantasy
i didn't think so but im still convinceable
I rarely ever write about my own dreams in my online journal, much less anyone else's. But this morning Spooky woke from a nightmare, which she immediately related to me, and I just have to share. I have, of course, secured her permission beforehand. She dreamt that I'd had an abortion and I showed her the fetus, which I'd kept and dried. She said it was a shriveled greyish tadpole sort of a thing, with a tiny human skull covered by a membrane. There were spots along its tail. When I showed it to her, I confessed to having the abortion and started crying. She says I was very sad and distraught. Then she told me, "If you're going to play with boys, you should use protection." Make of all this what you will. I believe perhaps I should rethink my trip to Innsmouth this summer.
Yesterday, "Faces in Revolving Souls" stalled out on me utterly. I'd written a single paragraph, maybe 65 words, and whap!, there's the frelling wall. Instead of doing the smart thing and imbibing in some intoxicant or another to get me over the hurdle, I spent the afternoon wallowing in anger and despair. Better drunk than pathetic, that's something every author should have tattooed on her forehead so she sees it in the mirror at least once a day. I'm vain, so I'd see it about a hundred times a day. Today, I have to do better. The story has to move forward. Nothing else matters until it does. The editor has graciously granted me an extension and I have to write the story. I have to make it a good story, because I've never written a story I was ashamed to see printed. I won't start now. I can deal with the angst when I'm sixty or seventy. Now, I just have to write the story.
Last night, we watched Angel, and I think it was really one of the better episodes. A shame we're about to lose the last good dark fantasy on television. Then Spooky fell asleep, and I watched The Bridge on the River Kwai on TCM. I'd forgotten what an utterly brilliant film it is. And then, though it was about 2:30 a.m., I read Clifford D. Simak's "Huddling Place," which helped get the unpleasant aftertaste of the Merril and Blish stories I'd read the night before out of my head. Simak put the characters first, kept the tech and high concept in the background, and, most importantly, was capable of good prose.
Quite a few people seem to be choosing to read the blog at its LiveJournal Mirror, which is cool. It helps me justify all the silly clicking and listing I've engaged in since beginning the greygirlbeast account on the 16th. You should all "friend" me immediately. I always need more click-and-list cyber-enablers.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 752 words on the new story, which I am calling "Faces in Revolving Souls" until something better comes along. I am vexed by this piece. My best guess, I wasn't ready to write it; that is to say, it wasn't ready to be written. It feels forced, thin, disingenuous. The characters feel more like abstractions than actual people. At the moment, I have 1,338 words of the projected 5,000, and I'm hoping it finally comes together today or tomorrow. I'm hoping that something clicks and all the bits fall into place. I'm hoping I can ever love this one.
Last night, I read Judith Merril's "That Only a Mother" and James Blish's "Surface Tension." Both stories serve as reminders that sci-fi is all too often long on concept and devoid of good writing. The Blish piece was interesting, though, if only because it bears a superficial sort of similarity to The Dreaming #33, "Dream Below," and I know that I've never read it before.
The headache returned briefly yesterday, threatening to lock me up entirely. But I turned to the Green Fairy, and, by her grace, managed the aforementioned 752 words.
I want to get dressed in Victorian finery and spend the day at a museum. I don't want to be sitting here.
By the way, I am now accepting donations of laudanum and paragoric. Either. I'm not picky about such things.
I also managed to get the new Nar'eth pin-up posted to Nebari.Net last night. Thank you, Leh'agvoi (known to mere hoomans as "Setsuled").
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote only 578 words on the presently untitled new short story. Mostly, the headache was holding me back (that thing which is now blessedly gone). But only mostly. There's also this nagging sense that I'm overextending myself, and that I'm helpless to do otherwise.
I am that most pitiable of all creatures, "the working writer." Which is to say, if I don't write, constantly, every single goddamn day that I can force myself to do so, the bills do not get paid. I have encountered, in the past decade, a very large number of people who think this would be a breeze and who claim to envy me. They have to get up and go to work, or school, or whatever, and gladly imagine the carefree existence of the artist free to pursue her every whimsy, free to set her own schedule, free to bask in the satisfaction of her glorious accomplishments. What they know would fit into a thimble, with room left over for a large cactus.
Okay. That was a snarky paragraph. But I'm trying to say something very important.
In the past twelve years, give or take a couple of months, I've produced six novels, more than sixty short stories, a novella, something like fifty scripts for DC/Vertigo, and the gods only know what all the little odds and ends would add up to. Then there's the blog; a very conservative estimate comes in at 239,743 words of blog since I started the thing on November 23, 2001 (for comparison, my longest novel, Murder of Angels, is a mere 120,625 words in length). I'll leave my private, hardcopy journals out of this. Yesterday, sitting here, trying to force the words from my mind, trying to squeeze them through the sieve of headache and exhaustion and boredom, I began thinking about the collected works of, say, Edgar Allan Poe (another "working author"). By this point, only twelve years into my writing career, I've written far more than Poe, possibly several times over. Same for Lovecraft. Same for Bram Stoker. Same for Shirley Jackson, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, William Blake, and James Joyce. A few more novels and I'll have caught up with Ray Bradbury. And, to me, that just seems wrong.
It is an extremely rare thing when an author can be astoundingly prolific without sacrificing quality, without losing her voice, without abandoning art entirely. Joyce Carol Oates has done it, and Peter Straub, and Ramsey Campbell. But it is rarer than most people imagine.
I have become an assembly line, a literary descendent of Henry Ford.
And, looking back, I know that I've yet to surrender my insistence on quality, on art, no matter the number of deadlines. I am proud of almost everything I've written. But, looking back, I'm also afraid that I can't keep this up for another twelve years. The thought of such a thing is absurd. Regardless, I may need to keep producing at this rate for another two or three decades, easy. That's almost enough to keep me from ever getting out of bed again, much less continuing the dance of my fingers across this keyboard. I may not cease to imagine, to plot, to find new characters, the weave new stories. Because my popularity is only moderate, I do not have the luxury of taking two or three years to write another novel, in order to insure that it's the best book it can be. I cannot turn down short story requests merely because I'm not interested in the theme of the anthology. I can't take a year off, just to collect my fucking addled thoughts. I cannot miss a step, or a deadline.
And sometimes, like yesterday, and today, the absurdity of it all — that I am become Sherezade and the number of nights before me cannot be numbered, but will most certainly be more than 1,001 — seems almost heavy enough to crush me flat.
Of course, I could get lucky. Perhaps Murder of Angels will top the New York Times Bestseller List, or Ridley Scott will buy Alabaster, or Daughter of Hounds will sell more copies than the last Harry Potter book, but, as they say, I'm not holding my breath.
Last night, I watched Vincente Minnelli's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
My thanks to Christopher Lee Simmons ("Sissy"), for the very wonderful Beyond the Waterworks fan site. You flatter me, and, round these parts, flattery is gold.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Addendum: Just a reminder, which I meant to include in my post this morning, that the Species of One LJ Community is up and running, under the Ever Watchful Eye of Spooky. I think a discussion of The Five of Cups is just getting started. You are all invited to join in.
Oh, and I would hope that the self-mockery inherent in my use of the Kerouac quote back on Friday was obvious. It's that thing called irony. Surely, there are few authors out there who've spent more time putting themselves on display than have I. If there's any longer a distinction between "the art and the artist," in my particular case, then I'll be damned if I can find it. I've become two or three of my most interesting characters. But, still, it was nice thought, what Jack said.
I think that sitting here this morning, immersing myself in The Routine, only serves to amplify the weirdness of the weekend.
That, and the frelling headache I woke up with.
I don't yet have a title for the story I am to begin today, but I feel moderately certain that I shall find one before I type the first sentence. It usually works out that way ("Riding the White Bull" was a recent and notable exception). It's another science-fiction story, another horrific science-fiction story, and it may be that's the direction my work is headed, in general. But I'm always looking for trends, whether they're there or not; my mind will create what it needs to see. Anyway, this story. Story #62, or #61, depending how you count. In some ways, it harks back to "Tears Seven Times Salt" (story #11, I think, begun in January 1995), in that it will focus on our mutable, immutable flesh, and my frustration with its limitations. Werewolves by any other name. Lycanthropes from test tubes. And so forth.
I came back to one of those pile-ups that only seem to occur when I leave home for more than 24-hours. Important e-mails to be answered. An essay by Neil that he wanted me to read over. A ms. ("Waycross") that I need to send to Rich Chizmar for Cemetery Dance. A very funny new Nar'eth pin-up by Leh'agvoi that I promise I'll get up on Nebari.Net this evening. Wedding photos from the now-hitched Bill Schafer (he of Subterranean Press). And, as I said, so forth.
And the waiting, unwritten story. The story which will be my alternate reality for the next few days. Any place must be better than here...
Sunday, April 25, 2004
We're finally home from Birmingham. We unpacked and went right back out for Thai, and now I think that I shall not leave the apartment again for a week. If I'm really frelling lucky, I can get the story for the subculture anthology done in the next five days and won't have to sprawl over the deadline. Most of the story is in my head — not the plot, but the mood, the characters, the themes; the plot will happen, because that's what plots do.
Late yesterday afternoon, Spooky and I drove out to Shelby County, way the hell out to a little place called Dunavant (truly the corner of "no" and "where"). My grandparents had a house out there when I was a kid and my sister and I spent a whole lot of our childhood in the woods around their land on the side of Sand Mountian. My grandmother finally sold that house in 1981, and I don't think I'd been out there even once in the last 23 years. So, as we neared the place where the house had been, I was amazed that everything was pretty much as I remembered it — the houses, the landscape, etc. That is, until we rounded the very last bend, and I saw that not only had the house my grandparents lived in been torn down and a new house put up in its place, but the woods we played in (and mapped, and made trails in, and walked in with our grandparents, and caught snakes in, and once saved from a forest fire) had been completely leveled, apparently to make room for a housing development. It looked as though a very small nuclear bomb had been detonated. When Poppy and I were writing "Night Story, 1973" for From Weird and Distant Shores, I drew on those woods on Sand Mountain (the story's set in North Carolina, but I've never lived there), on my childhood there, when imagining Lazarus Mountain.
Anyway, though we'd intended to visit the graveyard where my grandfather is buried, the sight of those abolished woods was so sad and dispiriting that I asked Spooky to turn around, and we returned to my mother's, instead. You can't go back, you can't go back, you can't ever go back. I spent much of the evening trying to figure out why anyone would want to build a subdivision anywhere that remote, at least forty-five minutes along narrow country roads from even a small town. But, ultimately, that's beside the point. People do what they do.
I'm so exhausted. I can only hope this entry is anything like coherent.
Tonight I think we're going to start catching up on The Sopranos (Season Three). Tomorrow, I'll be Caitlín the writer again, instead of Caitlín the rememberer. It's safer.
Saturday, April 24, 2004
Tonight, Spooky and I are pretending to be suburbanites. After Alabama Bound, we decided to stay with my mother another night, and she and my stepfather have gone to a Social Event, leaving us alone in this big, quite house. So, we cooked spaghetti and proceeded to make-believe we could ever actually inhabit such a place ourselves. My mother collects things. Like ceramic turkeys. There's a whole row of ceramic turkeys on the windowsill above the kitchen sink. You wouldn't think ceramic turkeys would be so intimidating.
Alabama Bound went well. I read a very short bit from Chapter Three of Low Red Moon, Narcissa as a child, killing dogs and whatnot. Though I'd tried hard to find one of the less disturbing passages in the novel, the expressions on many of the faces in the audience left me with the impression that it wasn't exactly the sort of thing they'd come expecting to hear. No one walked out, but there were some distinctly furrowed eyebrows. I signed some books. I met a few other local authors. And I finally met Franklin Harris, whom I've known since about 1998, but had never met face-to-face.
Anyway, tomorrow it's back to Atlanta and the Real World. In the Real World, there are far fewer ceramic turkeys, I don't own a two-car garage or a schnoodle, and there are more condiments in the fridge than anything else. See you then...
Friday, April 23, 2004
Just something short because I have to be out of here in about an hour and on my way to deepest, darkest Alabama (shudder). If you're going to be in Birmingham tomorrow (I pity you), drop by the Birmingham Public Library for the Alabama Bound book fair. I'll be reading from Low Red Moon sometime between one and two p.m., and signing afterwards. Just don't complain because I say "mean things" about Birmingham or I'll have to kick you.
A very good quote from Jack Kerouac, apropos of everything: A true writer should be an observer and not go around being observed. Observing—that's the duty and oath of a writer.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Addendum: Okay, I'll admit right up front that I'm stealing this from Poppy's journal, but it's one of those so-true-it-hurts-and-must-be-repeated-nigh-unto-eternity sorts of things, so...
Q: What's the difference between a large cheese pizza and a writer?
A: A large cheese pizza can feed a family of four.
Truer words never were spoken.
The survey reveals that seven out of ten biologists believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of living things, and that this loss of species will pose a major threat to human existence in the next century.
According to these scientists' estimates, this mass extinction is the fastest in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history. Unlike prior extinctions, this so-called "sixth extinction" is mainly the result of human activity and not natural phenomena.
Among the findings revealed by the survey, scientists identified the maintenance of biodiversity — the variety of plant and animal species and their habitats — as critical to human well-being; they rate biodiversity loss as a more serious environmental problem than the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, or pollution and contamination. The majority (70%) polled think that during the next thirty years as many as one-fifth of all species alive today will become extinct, and one third think that as many as half of all species on the Earth will die out in that time.
—American Museum of Natural History press release, 20 April 1998
And, in case you're wondering about the other five extinctions, they are as follows: the Ordovician-Silurian event (about 439 million years ago; extinction of 25% of marine families and 60% of marine genera); Late Devonian event (about 364 mya; extinction of 22% of marine families and 57% of marine genera); Permian-Triassic event (about 251 mya; extinction of 95% of all species, 53% of marine families, 84% of marine genera and an estimated 70% of terrestrial species); terminal Triassic event (199-214 mya; extinction of 22% of marine families, 52% of marine genera, impact on terrestrial organisms unclear); Cretaceous-Tertiary event (65 mya; 16% of marine families, 47% of marine genera; and 18% of land vertebrate families — this is the one that got the dinosaurs). Of course, as the AMNH press release pointed out, there's one way that the present event is very different from these earlier extinction events. They were brought about by asteroid impacts, the rising and lowering of sea levels, the drifting of continents, mass vulcanism, and so forth. Never before in the 3.5-billion-year history of our biosphere has a single species triggered a major extinction event.
On our present course, this may eventually stand as the ultimate achievement of Homo sapiens sapiens. We should take a bow. We are obviously planet killers. The question is, can we also be planet saviors? I'd say that seems unlikely.
Happy Earth Day.
Meanwhile, I spent most of yesterday preparing to write my next short story (and trying not to be anxious about the proposal for my next novel). Mostly, I spent the time reading articles on transhumanism, posthumanism, body modification, bioengineering, cloning, and so forth. I'll probably spend much of the weekend reading. I'd wanted to begin writing the story today, but I have to leave for Birmingham, either tonight or tomorrow, for the Alabama Bound book fair beginning Friday night, and I'd hate to get something started and then have to stop working on it for a couple of days. Better, instead, to begin on Sunday. It'll give me more time to research and ponder, anyway.
Last night we played War of the Monsters and I finally kicked Spooky's ass.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Yesterday, thanks in no small part to the intervention of the Green Fairy, I finished the 668-word proposal for Daughter of Hounds. And apparently I did it right, because the first thing my NYC agent said to me after reading it was "Wow." It has gone to my editor at Penguin, and now I will sit on pins and needles awaiting his response.
Waiting is one of the few things I hate more about writing than doing synopses.
Continuing yesterday's thoughts on synopses, and why they don't come easy for me, and why I fear them and tend to think that they're a bad idea in general. It occurred to me yesterday that my strongest objection to writing synopses for unwritten books, something I consider an even greater problem than the inherent reductionism, is that I don't want to know how a book ends before I write it. If I know the whole story at the outset, then what's the point of writing it? That would be like going to see a movie you've never seen before and having someone explain every frame of film to you beforehand. There would be no surprises, no suspense, no marveling at how the story unfolds before you. There would be nothing much but foreknowledge. In the case of writing, I think, for me, a detailed outline written before the writing of the novel would reduce the novel to little more than an exercise in "filling in the blanks." Chapter Three? Wait, let me check my outline. That's not how I write. I can't imagine writing that way. It seems to subvert the interplay of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious that I see as integral to the process of fiction.
I've been sleeping to Blade Runner. I awoke sometime in the night and Dekard had just shot Pris, and it hit me how much her death throes are echoed in the desperate, angry thrashings of Elle Driver after The Bride plucks out her left eye. Surely Tarantino did that on purpose.
Nothing much else to report about yesterday. Having finished the proposal and feeling as though I deserved a respite from this office, Spooky and I drove over to Candler Park and had sweet stuff at Cold Cream. She had a scoop of key lime in a cone, and I had a scoop of black walnut in a cup. Oh, and we worked on the pattern for the pulse pistol holster.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I've spent five days trying to do what I should have done in only one. The proposal still isn't finished. We're only talking about three or four frelling pages. And there's this headache that refuses to fade, yes, but I can only blame a small part of the difficulty on the pain. The truth is, as you all must know by now, I suck at synopses, and I especially suck at writing synopses of books that have yet to be written. Because they have yet to be written, they have yet to happen, so far as I'm concerned. A book happens as I write it (that's part of my thing with present tense). It is emphatically not a story that I know that I'm telling you. It is a story that is unfolding before me, sentence to sentence. And I don't care if you think that sounds like pretentious artsy-fartsy bullshit. I do not know what happens until I make it happen. I may go in knowing some likelihoods. For instance, in Low Red Moon, I knew that Narcissa was coming for Deacon's child, but that's as far as it went until the day my writing brought Narcissa to that old apartment building on the corner of 23rd Street North and 2nd Avenue North, and, even then, exactly what was going down changed from moment to moment, as characters acted and reacted and the wordline trapped inside my head played itself out.
I didn't know what was going to happen when Deacon and Scarborough went to the "spider girl house" on Red Mountain (originally, I'd though Starling Jane was going with Deacon). That business at the truck stop in Pennsylvania? I never saw it coming. And I had no idea what would happen once Narcissa got Chance back to Massachusetts. And so on and on and on and on. This means that most of what I put into the proposal for Penguin, before I actually wrote Low Red Moon, was a lie, and I knew it was a lie. It was, at best, if we want to pretty up our language, a placeholder, to make someone happy until the events in question could actually occur. And the synopsis I'm struggling with now will be no more than a very rough approximation of whatever is about to occur in Daughter of Hounds. Because I am incapable of prognostication.
And, to everyone's surprise, it's really very difficult for me to just sit here and make stuff up. That's not writing. I don't know what that is.
nonetheless, I have to make an end of it today, one way or another.
There's more important work languishing.
I'm very pleased with how the Species of One LJ community is coming along, and, beginning yesterday, this blog is being mirrored at the Low Red Annex, for those more comfortable with LJ.
It seems as though I had other things to say, but whatever they might have been, I can't remember. Oh, yeah, last night Spooky and I worked on a pattern for a pulse pistol holster, which I'm making for Nar'eth. And then she (Spooky, not Nar'eth) kicked my eema at War of the Monsters. See? Important stuff.
Monday, April 19, 2004
At the risk of being premature, or summoning icy gods, I think that I've survived another winter. As always, it comes as a surprise. I'm pretty sure I've said this in here before, but every year, towards the end of December, it seems very certain that I'll never see another spring. And the thought of dying in a cold time terrifies me.
Please excuse that uncharacteristic moment of candor.
Yesterday there was no writing, which means it was a day amazingly free of stress and frustration. Spooky and I saw Kill Bill, Vol. 2. I won't go on and on about it. Surely there are enough legitimate film reviewers to cover that. I'll just say it was perfect, in every way. As a whole, I think there's no doubt that Kill Bill is Tarantino's best since Pulp Fiction. Daryl Hannah almost stole the show, a smoldering, one-eyed predator. The battle between Elle and The Bride has to be the best girlfight ever filmed (and has taught me the folly of trying to use a katana in the confines of a house trailer). David Carradine was impressively threatful. And Uma is still amazing. And in case you were wondering why the black mamba (actually a common green snake) that Elle employs was green, here's a quote from kingsnake.com:
The name "black mamba" is somewhat confusing as this animal is not black at all. The common name is given to the snake because the mouth is inky black on the inside. Most mambas have a dark olive, olive green, greyish brown or metal grey colour. Some of them will show a light banding around their body. Slightly speckled mambas are also not uncommon. Juvenile black mambas are light grey or olive in colour but will darken when older.
My favorite cameo in Vol. 2 has to be the brief appearance by Sid Haig. But. Here I am going on and on when I said I wasn't going to. After the movie, we met Jennifer and Jim and The Other Jennifer for Thai food and sushi. It was an almost perfect day, marred only by a headache that began just before the film and has yet to abate. If only all my Sundays were so pleasant.
Today. Oh, I was trying not to think too much about today, hoping we might skip straight to Tuesday. But the proposal has to be finished. I have to talk to my NYC agent. I need to e-mail my LA agent to explain why there have been no new pages of Alabaster in the last two weeks. And I need to begin the next short story, which is being written for an anthology edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Nancy Holder. And there's unanswered e-mail. And there are always surprises. Always.
I have to go now. I believe there's a rusty railroad spike lodged firmly between my eyes.
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate, detest, loathe, despise, and abhor writing synopses? It doesn't seem to matter how much time Spooky and I spend talking through a story, as soon as I sit down to do the in-a-nutshell thing, my mind goes absolutely frelling blank. Yesterday was spent staring into that endless expanse of nothing where there ought to be words. This may arise from my recognition that everything, be it Moby Dick or Hell Comes to Frogtown, sounds lame when reduced to a synopsis. Reduction robs, distorts, obfuscates and bears no genuine relationship to the act of writing. So, naturally, the publishing industry can't live without it. And always I am fooled, by my own self, into believing that this time it will be easy. This time I pretty much know what happens (which is not as important to a novel as you might think), so how hard could it possibly be to sit down and write two pages of synopsis? No, no, no, no, no. I have nothing to show for yesterday, except frayed nerves and empty space.
And today we're going to see Kill Bill, Vol. 2, so Daughter of Hounds will just have to wait.
But I have to begin the next short story very soon, so it can't wait long.
One sentence paragraphs are never a good sign...
Saturday, April 17, 2004
it's there that no one will stare
at your jaws and your long fur
the claws in your fingers
it's the past when the passerbys laughed
at your strange way of speaking
your battery's leaking
What the hezmana did I come in here meaning to post? There was something, only a moment, but now it seems to have abandoned me. My neural net needs an ugrade in the worst way possible...
The new novel has a working title — Daughter of Hounds. It's much easier to think of it as something that will one day become a book if I can call it something other than "the next novel." I'm not entirely sure this title will stick. But it might. I spent a good deal of yesterday talking over the storyline with Spooky. I have most of the characters in my head, and perhaps the major conflicts, and the story up to about the middle of the novel (which is really all I need for the proposal). Of course, now I have to write it all down, because it's worth absolutely nothing in my head. I begin to suspect this will be a significantly longer novel than Low Red Moon.
You can all blame Spooky for this. I lay the blame for my newfound LiveJournal addiction squarely on her shoulders. Oh, sure, it all started innocently enough, with her Species of One community. It's all shits and giggles until someone gets hurt, or wastes two hours frelling around with the settings on LiveJournal when she's supposed to be working on a book proposal. Spooky came back from the market yesterday afternoon and found me hunched over the iBook, drooling, babbling incoherently about "Digital Multiplex (OSWD)" and "Punquin Elegant." She had to pry my bleeding fingers from the keyboard, and all night little alien mood icons danced before my eyes. I am doomed, surely (but there's a setting for Esperanto!).
Last night we watched Ginger Snaps II: Unleashed and, while it's not quite as marvelous as the original, it's quite good and not the disaster I'd feared. But I'm thinking the third film, Ginger Snaps III: The Beginning will be better (despite the stunningly unimaginative title). You can see the trailer here (thanks, Robyn). And we followed werewolves with Kill Bill, Vol. 1, which is every bit as brilliant as I remembered. We're going to try to see Vol. 2 tomorrow afternoon.
A new ranking of "healthiest" U.S. states (by Morgan Quitno Press) puts Georgia at 42. Diverse criteria include such things as teen birth rates and cancer death rates. But Georgia comes off better than most of the rest of the deep south — South Carolina (46), Alabama (47), Louisiana (48), and Mississippi (50) all fare worse. Tennessee comes in at 36 and North Carolina at 30. Meanwhile, New England states hog the top twenty: New Hampshire (1), Vermont (2), Massachusetts (8), Maine (9), Connecticut (10), and Rhode Island (18). So, this is one more bit of ammo in Spooky's ongoing campaign to get me out of the South and into the NE. One day, I shall be a polar bear, basking in the glow of the Aurora Borealis...
Friday, April 16, 2004
Addendum: Spooky just came back from the video place (with Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Ginger Snaps Unleashed — for Kid Night) and presented me with a big plastic yellow Easter egg thing filled with SpongeBob candy and stickers. This is why I love her.
First, from the Dept. of Corrections: When I screw something up, I do a righteous job of it. I'm referring to my Nowhere-AL rant from Tuesday (April 13), wherein I stated: "I have come, instead, to believe that in another decade or two America will view the men and women trying to deny equality to gays, lesbians, and transsexuals with the same revulsion as it now generally views the men and women who tried to end segregation." I can only hope that my meaning was clear from context. As soon as Jennifer discovered the error last night (and as soon as I stopped screaming about being such an idiot), I amended the entry to read: "I have come, instead, to believe that in another decade or two America will view the men and women trying to deny equality to gays, lesbians, and transsexuals with the same revulsion as it now generally views the men and women who tried to preserve segregation." Which is, more or less, exactly what I'd meant to say in the first frelling place.
Yesterday, Spooky and I read through "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles," which she likes very, very much. It's an odd story, by turns extremely innocent (almost a children's story) and extremely horrific. It's interesting to look at these two stories together (and, I assume, a lot of you will eventually do that), as they were written one immediately after the other. "Houses Under the Sea" is almost entirely different, in tone and style. I'm glad that my two stories for Thrillers 2 aren't just variations on the same note. Anyway, I also worked on other material for Thrillers 2 yesterday, and dealt with a lot of backlogged e-mail, and the cover for The Dry Salvages, and so forth. Today, we move on to the proposal for the next novel (which I will hopefully soon have a title for so that I can stop calling it "the next novel").
When I was writing Silk, I truly didn't think I'd go on to write many more novels. I thought I'd do one or two and that would be that. I'd already done The Five of Cups, after all, and two novels seemed like a lot for any one person to produce in a lifetime. Yet, here I am preparing to begin my sixth novel, in only about twelve years. I never would have imagined such a thing, back in January '96, as I was putting the finishing touches on Silk. Standing here, at the place just before The Beginning of a novel, having already done it five times before, it's like preparing for a familiar and totally unknown nightmare. It's beginning to look as though a good portion of June will be spent in Providence, gathering background material for this book.
Last night, we forced ourselves to sit through a whole episode of Sci-Fi's Tripping the Rift. Well, actually, it's more like I forced Spooky to sit through a whole episode. But I had to know if it was as awful as I suspected. It's worse. If your appetite for moronic television has not been sated by the Sci-Fi Channel's recent offerings of Tremors: The Series, Mad, Mad House, and Scare Tactics, then I suppose you're the target audience for Tripping the Rift. It's sort of like the Anti-Futurama. Masquerading as a spoof of space operas, this badly-animated stream of not even remotely funny fart and titty jokes (drum roll, as I utter the proceeding words for the umpteenth time) marks a new low for the SFC. Too lowbrow for burlesque and too dumb for parody, Tripping the Rift is kind of like watching a fourteen year old boy play with his own dren while masturbating. I don't think I'm exaggerating. It made me long for the wit of the early episodes of Lexx, and made me thankful that we have Futurama in syndication.
Gotta go write now...
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Addendum: There's an unconfirmed report that Zoe Keating's pilfered bow was returned to her last night at Rasputina's Ashville, NC recital — by the Atlanta bow thief, no less. So, perhaps, all is now well.
Now, check out the Species of One LiveJournal Community.
First, an important message from Zoe Keating, via the Rasputina message boards:
Dear Atlanta Fans,
Last night after the show at The Earl, while I was backstage, someone climbed onstage and took my bow. Whoever it was, this message is for you:
I don't think you realize what you took from me. The bow you now have in your possession was given to me by my cello teacher when I was 10 years old. It's sentimental value is priceless. Maybe you thought I didn't need it but I have weeks of bow-shredding Rasputina shows ahead of me and I desperately need it. Unless you return it to me, I will be forced to spend a lot of money and time to look for an equivalent replacement. But really the bow is irreplaceable, and I'd just prefer to get it back. So....
...PLEASE, PLEASE mail it back to me. You don't need to explain. Just wrap it in bubble wrap, place it in a mailing tube or box and send it to:
P.O. Box 1420
Brooklyn, NY 11202
Also, since this bow is so valuable to me, I am willing to pay a reward for it's safe return. I will send $100, no questions asked, to the person who returns it safely to me. And Atlanta Fans, if you know who has my bow, please encourage them to send it back to me. If people steal our instruments and equipment it makes us unwilling to return to that city. Eventually it makes us unable to play live at all.
Yesterday, Spooky and I read through "Houses Under the Sea" (originally "Rappaccini's Dragon"). It was a relief to find that I like it more than when I finished it on March 5th. I never know. Sometimes, it goes the other way. Today we have to read over "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles," then I have to make the marked corrections to both and get these stories off to Wayne Edwards. Then it's on to the proposal for the next novel. I also have to look over a .pdf of The Dry Salvages, to answer some layout questions for Bill Schafer (Subterranean Press). With luck, I'll be ready to begin the next short story by Monday, at the latest.
My thanks to Annette Hrisko-Allen, who answered my question about the Osip Mandelshtam poem. Turns out, it was Annette, and not her husband, Chris, who e-mailed me to start with. Anyway, the poem is included in The Language of Wasps (Ohio State University Press), translated by James Greene. Now I shall endeavor to track it down.
I think that I'm going to try to find some time for Nebari.Net tonight. Llar'en has created a marvelous animation of the Nebari System that I need to get online, and it's past time to write Chapter Three of The Girl Who Sold the World.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The weather is vile. A late blast of winter, grey skies and strong winds, highs in the fifties, following some nice thunderstorms. A month ago, before the trees were green again, this would have sent my mood into a tailspin. But the green goes a long, long way. It doesn't look cold outside, and I haven't left the apartment since the nastiness began, so all's well. Besides, the good news is we'll be back in the seventies tomorrow.
Spooky and I didn't go to see Raspustina at The Earle last night. The weather was just too icky, she had a headache, and we were both tired and didn't feel up to dealing with the cigarette smoke. Oh, for smoke-free clubs.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,192 words and finished "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." Depending on whether or not you count The Dry Salvages as a short story, this makes either #60 or #61. Probably we ought to consider The Dry Salvages as my one true novella, since it is 30,000+-words long. Which means "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" is short story #60, which, I suppose, is momentous, in some sense. I'm fairly pleased with this story. I halfway suspect that it will be received as my most important piece since "Onion." Then again, what do I know? I was never that impressed with "Onion." It just never seemed right to me. Which is not to say I don't appreciate the attention it received. I do. Oh, just shut up, Caitlín!
So, now I have to proofread both the stories for Thrillers 2 and get them off to the editor. Then I'll probably deal with the proposal for the next novel (the one that comes after MoA), before writing my story for the subculture anthology. And with luck, I can squeeze both those things into what I have left of April, keeping in mind that I have to be out of town for a couple of days for the Alabama Bound book fair.
If you haven't already, check out the Species of One community at LiveJournal.
Hey, I think the sun's trying to come out...
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
She'll tell you when and where and how and why you'd hurt
A beautiful young lady
Yesterday, "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" lurched ahead by a meager 1,046 words. But I think the hardest bit's behind me, and it's just possible I'll finish this piece today. That would be a Good Thing. As of this morning, the story stands at 8,599 words, and it would be preferable to keep it under 10,000.
Changing the subject...
When I was a kid, growing up in East Nowhere, Alabama, I was surrounded by adults who lived in a world where racial prejudice was still permissible — indeed, it was expected. And I was told, repeatedly and often with great vehemence, that I would understand why we shouldn't play with black kids, and why blacks shouldn't go to the same schools as whites, and why they shouldn't hold public office, and why they shouldn't marry white women, and so on and on and on and on, just as soon as I Was Older. So. I got older. And, meanwhile, America, as a whole, moved on and left the bigots in East Nowhere behind. I moved on, as well, into a world that I never could have imagined as a child, and despite my advancing years, I never came to embrace the hatred I'd seen almost every day growing up. Sure, the South is still full of bigots, but they're an acknowledged embarassment now. And the reason that I'm telling you this is because I'm really telling me this. Lately, I suspect that a lot of people are promising their children that they'll come to understand why gays shouldn't be permitted to teach public school, or to be parents, or be permitted to marry, or hold public office, just as soon as They Get Older. But now I'm old enough to see certain patterns emerging and I think I know that this is as surely a lie as the lie I was told as a child — that adulthood would bestow upon me an understanding of the need for racial bigotry. I have come, instead, to believe that in another decade or two America will view the men and women trying to deny equality to gays, lesbians, and transsexuals with the same revulsion as it now generally views the men and women who tried to preserve segregation. This moment in history will pass, as all moments do, and the idiots crusading for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage and the "Christian family" will become distant, bad memories. There will still be hate, of course, and idiots. There will always be hate and idiots. But we're learning, slowly. Which means, I suppose, that I might have a scrap of hope after all.
Spooky's experiment with a Species of One CRK LiveJournal community seems to be a success. Check it out. I think they've just begun a discussion of Low Red Moon.
Monday, April 12, 2004
No words came yesterday. I sat and stared at the iBook's screen for nigh on two hours, my hands hovering above the keyboard, at the ready, but no words came. If I am a conduit, the pipes weren't flowing. And here it is the day after Easter and I still have to finish this story, write another, and get a novel proposal into my agent before the end of April.
That vacation I took in January seems a million years away.
This weekend, Spooky and I rented the first two episodes of Steven Spielberg's Taken. I didn't watch the mini-series when it aired on Sci-Fi. I just couldn't imagine what Spielberg could do with the mythology of ufology that hadn't been done better by The X-Files. And, I'll admit, the cult of abductees has been getting on my nerves of late. Anyway, the first episode of Taken was so stupendously dull that Spooky actually dozed off on several occassions. I stayed awake, but kept asking myself why I was bothering. We almost didn't bother with the second episode, "Jake and Jesse." But we had rented it, and there was nothing else much to do last night. But the second episode is a definite improvement on the first. At least the characters begin to be a little more engaging. Still, I'm not sure we're going to rent the rest of this. I just can't get over the sheer dullness. And with this behemoth topping the scales at twenty hours, the word "overkill" keeps coming to mind. Close Encounters of the Third Kind has its flaws, but at least it never threatened to put me to sleep. Taken seems incapable of summoning any genuine menace, though menace would seem to be at the heart of the thing. The scariest boogeyman it seems to offer is Joel Gretsch's ruthless conspirator, Maj. Owen Crawford. But he's a bland shadow of The X-Files's William B. Davis. Indeed, bland seems to be at the core of Taken. The direction, cinematography, acting — everything — is so absolutely bland, in the way that television drama, more often than not, usually is bland.
For those of you who are into LiveJournal, Spooky (thrynglum) has begun a CRK LiveJournal community, Species of One. I won't be posting there, but I will be reading it. I think this will be intended as more of a book/story discussion group than is my phorum at scaredhedgehog.net. You are all invited.
Well, most of you.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
I find it kind of funny,
I find it kind of sad,
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had...
Yesterday, two hours that I should have spent working on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" were spent, instead, on the tedious task of correcting the "corrections" to "The Drowned Geologist" made by some dolt at Del Rey. We found a total of 69 changes (to an 18-page story) that were made to my ms. prior to publication, without my consent or even the common courtesy of the news that the changes were being made. Hopefully, more people will read the trade paperback edition of Shadows Over Baker Street than read the pricier hardback, so more readers will encounter my story in the form I meant it to be read rather than that created by the aforementioned dolt. And I really, really want to use stronger language than "dolt," just so you know.
We did the proofreading out of doors, on a blanket in the front yard, which was nice for a change. I miss working outdoors. We came in when clouds and wind threatened rain (which they failed to deliver). I've had this laptop for more than two years and that's the very first time I've ever worked with it outside. Afterwards, I did some of the reading I had to do, but my mood had been so wrecked by finally learning just how extensive the changes to "The Drowned Geologist" were that I was in no mood to write anything. I read through what I did on Friday and tidied it some, but that's all I was up to. I don't do this shit so other people can rearrange the words to conform to the whimsy of MS Word's spellchecker and the fucking Chicago Manual of Style (see? stronger language).
I received the following bit of verse, by the Russian poet Osip Mandelshtam, from Chris Allen. It's been following me around for several days now:
What anguish—to search for a lost word,
To lift sick eyelids
And gather night grasses for an alien tribe.
I've yet to find the poem from which these lines come (Chris?), so I'm uncertain of their original context and intent, but they seem a fine enough commentary on the day-to-day process of writing as I experience it.
Some days I should avoid the blog. I think this is one of them. Ah, well. Too late now.
My request for a copy of the ARC for the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon netted me ten copies (from Subterranean Press), and I'm thinking we'll be putting them up on eBay. More on this later. I'm going to go hurt myself now.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
I did 1,170 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" yesterday. Though I wouldn't have thought it possible, the words were even more stubborn than on Thursday. A drop of blood per syllable, I believe. A grey hair for every sentence. But this story is coming along nicely, regardless. It's a very odd one. I shan't explain. You'll see, someday. I'm not sure how the writing will go today. There's research to be done before the next section can be written, so I may spend most of the day at the library and reading (Ambrose Bierce, I think), and such. It's frustrating to have to hit the brakes so near the end, but I'm tired of rushing things. Yesterday, I wrote to Peter Gabriel's Up, which I'll probably write to again today. It's a nice break from all the future pop I've been writing to lately.
Last night was Kid Night, of course, and we watched the particularly peculiar Q (1982) and Mario Bava's suprisingly stylish Terrore nello Spazio (1965; released to DVD as Planet of the Vampires). I think the Bava film has been overlooked as a significant influence on Ridley Scott's Alien. Not only is there a good deal of similarity between the two when it comes to tone, there are quite a few parallels in plot, as well. Like the Nostromo, the Argos responds to a mysterious acoustical beacon, lands on a ghostly planet (in many ways, Aura feels a lot like an anticipation of LV4-26), and discovers a derelict alien spacecraft complete with the fossilized skeletons of the giants that once piloted it. A nigh unstoppable, parasitic force proceeds to pick off the space travellers, one by one. The Argos' landing on Aura gave me shot-by-shot flashbacks to the Nostromo's descent. It: The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) has gotten so much attention as a direct influence on Alien (and rightly so), but I've never seen anyone point out the obvious debt that Alien owes to Terrore nello Spazio.
Okay, enough geekery. Though I will add that today is Haley Joel Osment's 16th birthday. That's just weird.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Addendum: It has just been brought to my attention that the links leading from the front page of my website to my discussion phorum have been broken for the last couple of weeks, since the phorum was moved from the now-defunct lunarcycles.net back to scaredhedgehog.net. I'll fix this just as soon as I have the time, which may be a few days yet, as it involves editing image maps in Photoshop and I'm honestly just not up to that right now.
Yesterday, I did 1,307 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." It was the sort of writing day that I most despise, when I have to struggle for every other word and, in the end, I'm left with something which seems, at best, a vague approximation of what I had in mind. I'll do a little revision this afternoon to try to remedy that, before moving along to the new stuff I'll write today, but I know it's mostly futile. Sometimes, words just cannot convey the pictures in my head. Pictures could, but words are hopelessly insufficient. By the by, both "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" will appear in the Cemetery Dance Publications anthology, Thrillers 2, edited by Wayne Edwards (Palace Corbie). I'll post the preorder information and release date as soon as I have them.
Also, I received word this morning from John Pelan that Del Rey's trade-paperback edition of Shadows Over Baker Street will actually be printing the story I wrote, instead of the "corrected" version of it created by some upstart anonym at Del Rey. Of course, this means I have to go over page proofs for "The Drowned Geologist" and make all the corrections myself, but at least the second edition of the anthology will present the story as I meant it to be read. I assume that the other authors in this book will likewise be given the opportunity to return their stories to the versions they intended to be published.
According to the Cemetery Dance Publications website, CD will be releasing John Skipp's Mondo Zombie sometime in 2004. This is the book that was originally to have been published by Bantam as Book of the Dead 4, and it's bizarre and sordid history is almost as old as my entire writing career. John Skipp contacted me late in '93 about writing a story for it, and that March I wrote "Two Worlds, and In Between." But then Book of the Dead 4 was bounced from one publisher to another and, in 1997, I finally gave Stephen Jones permission to publish "Two Worlds, and In Between" in the first anthology from UK's Pumpkin Books, Dark of the Night. Subsequently, the story was also included in my second collection, From Weird and Distant Shores. Now, after more than a decade, it seems there will be closure and the story will appear in the book it was originally written for.
Wow. A whole entry about writing stuff. How often does that happen?
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Yesterday I wrote 1,225 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." The piece currently stands at 5,054 words and it's hard to imagine it coming in at less than 10-11K. Which means I'm going to have to e-mail the editor and see if I can go over the word limit just a little bit.
I'm not like them
But I can pretend
Today, of course, is the tenth anniversary of the discovery of Kurt Cobain's body, the day that we actually learned of his suicide. It's a weighty day for me. I wrote about it in my preface to the Gauntlet Press edition of Silk:
When I began Silk, we were already nearing the end of punk's second wave, and bands like Nirvana, The Breeders, Hole, and Sonic Youth had just captured the attention of mainstream magazines like Time and Newsweek (which is to say they were very quickly approaching the dustbunny Purgatory of the momentarily unhip). Jane's Addiction had split up and Lollapalooza was all the rage; "alternative" had long since become a four-letter word among the avant garde. Then, in April '94, after I'd written maybe the first three or four chapters of the book, Kurt Cobain killed himself, and I sat for hours watching the reports on MTV, knowing that this was my generation's John Lennon, that Buddy Holly's plane had just gone down all over again, and whatever the musical landscape had been the day before, it could never be the same again. The backlash was immediate, confused, and unforgiving.
A few weeks after Cobain's suicide, I saw a wall outside a cafe in Athens, Georgia, where someone had spray painted "Kurt Cobain is God," and someone else had used a fat-tipped black Magic Marker to draw a circle and a slash around the declaration. That said it all. And if any single moment informed my efforts to understand the book I was trying to write, it was that first, unreal announcement of the death of Kurt Cobain.
That was written in January 1999, and I don't think there's much I can add. It was one of those days when doors open and close. We either step through them, or we stay behind.
Last night, Spooky and I watched both Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations, which was really more than anyone should sit through, back to back. I grew up in the South and it isn't difficult for me to understand how this happened. I know firsthand the ignorance and hatred that saturates the Wal-Mart culture of most of the American landscape. I am only appalled that the convictions of Jessie Misskelley, Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin have been allowed to stand for ten years. We are not all simpering idiots, and this fiasco has long since been placed out in the open, where all the world can see. But the sentences following from the bigoted, backwoods justice of the original trial have yet to be reversed, and that, to me, is the astounding part of this thing. Anyway, I wanted to remind you once again that "Night Story, 1973," which I wrote with Poppy for From Weird and Distant Shores, will be reprinted in Arsenal Pulp Press' The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three. I also urge you to visit to wm3.com to learn how you can help.
And now I have to go write. Oh, I almost forgot. The sixth and latest chapter of Leh'agvoi's Nar'eth manga, "Foreplay," in now up at Nebari.Net.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Spooky is no end of consternated by the Southern turn of phrase, "do what?" (or, if you want to get fancy, "do what now?"). For some reason, this amuses me mightily. I've actually started using "do what?" just to annoy her. And I realized that no one in my novels or short fiction has ever said "Do what?" Which is a real shame, since it's certainly the sort of thing Deacon would say.
No news to report on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." Except that I spent a little time on Monday revising what I'd written on Friday. The Other Me has been running rampant, sulking, howling, swinging from chandeliers, declaring her blazing hatred for all humanity. The Dutiful Me got fed up with the spectacle and stomped off in a huff. It's all about the bitterness, this recent ascension of The Other Me. I'll either get over it, or I won't. Today, I have to try to make it through at least a thousand words, before this thing spins completely out of control. I have to write two short stories this month. There's not time for slackery.
Brian Henson has a sort of thank-you message up at Farscape.com. Little victories, right? You bet your frelling mivonks.
This morning, I want to be like Doc in Steinbeck's Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. I want to live in the abandoned remains of a once prosperous fishing village and make my living catching sea creatures for biological supply companies. On ambitious days, I might dream of writing monographs. But mostly I'd drink beer and talk to beach bums and the women of ill repute over at the Bear Flag. Of course, these days, Cannery Row is a prefab attraction for tourists, complete with one of those abominable Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. affairs, but I can dream...
Monday, April 05, 2004
Addendum: Thanks to everyone who's sent me an e-mail today telling me that the Sci-Fi Channel has picked up Farscape: Peacekeeper War. For details, please see the announcement at SFC.
Also, I don't know whether or not I've mentioned this previously, but "Night Story, 1973," the story that Poppy and I wrote collaboratively for From Weird and Distant Shores, will be reprinted in The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three, which will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press this October. Other authors who contributed to the book include Brian Hodge, Peter Straub, Elizabeth Massie, and Clive Barker (who has contributed illustrations, not prose).
Finally, I'm searching for a copy of the Subterranean Press ARC of Low Red Moon for my own library. Not the Roc ARC, but the Subterranean Press ARC. If you're a reviewer who got a copy and could stand to part with it, perhaps in exchange for Something Cool, please e-mail me at email@example.com. Thanks!
I'm so ugly
That's okay 'cause so are you
We've broken our mirrors
And here it is, ten years later. Today, I suppose, every paper in the world will run something on the tenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death. Everyone who's anyone will mourn publically and fashionably (or not, if that is perceived as the most fashionable choice). Cobain's death was the first of two suicides that would send me stumbling through the nineties. The second, on August 3rd, 1995, would be infinitely more personal, but the two will always be connected in my head. Silk was, in part, a response to Kurt Cobain's death. Threshold was, almost entirely, a response to the second suicide.
I'm standing too close to lines I don't cross in public. So I shall take a step back.
Neil forwarded me an e-mail from Lemony Snicket. I will quote from it:
The Academy of Art University here in San Francisco - the biggest art school in the country - recently expelled a student for writing a violent short story, and then fired his instructor for teaching a story by David Foster Wallace the administration also found offensive. As this story broke in the press (SFGate.com) the school has responded by announcing stringent policies regarding the content of students' artwork (writing, visual art, film, video game design, etc.), what can be taught in the classroom, and who is allowed to speak on campus. This was brought home to me when an instructor at the college invited me to speak to his class (along with the fired teacher and a representative of the First Amendment Project) and I was physically barred from entering the building.
Obviously this is creepy and idiotic, and the First Amendment Project is (as usual) doing a bang-up job bringing these issues to the public...On Wednesday, an instructor is inviting a horde of artists to speak on free expression, and we'll be presenting a list to the Academy saying "We support free expression and oppose the misguided policies you have recently adopted regarding what can and cannot be expressed at your institution." If you live in the Bay Area, and would like to come down, that'd be great...
Please read the article at SFGate.com (link above). It is, indeed, an idiotic situation, and it's difficult not to see it as setting a dangerous precedent.
Sunday, April 04, 2004
I actually slept later than Spooky this morning. That never happens. I'm guessing it's an artefact of springing forward.
I didn't write yesterday (someone get the thumbscrews). Spooky and I went to a matinee of Hellboy and were extremely pleased with what we saw. It's not only a good comic-book adaptation, it's just a good movie, the way that Raiders of the Lost Ark and the first "episode" of Star Wars. I've always loved Ron Perlman, and I love him even more now. And, I'll add, Hellboy made me glad that Guillermo del Toro is the director that ended up doing Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. (Way back in 2002, del Toro was, by the way, one of the director's who seriously considered doing Threshold. I think enough time has passed that I can let that be known.)
Anyway, I'm not writing today, either (someone get the red-hot pliers). I'm going to be gaming at a friend's house. All I have to worry about today are the emotional issues of a half-drow/half-blue dragon named Verra. Tomorrow, though, it's back to "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." This is going to be a frustrating week. Spooky's sister will be in town, and I have an appointment in Birmingham on Thursday, so it's going to be a little hectic around here.
Saturday, April 03, 2004
Reason #862 that I am a bitter geek: Sci-Fi drops Farscape, in part because the network claims that space-travel oriented series filled with aliens and futuristic hardware can't attract a larger viewership (which, of course, is all that matters), then they scarf up the painfully mediocre Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda (which, one should note, the late Gene Roddenberry really had nothing to do with), a space-travel oriented series filled with aliens and futuristic hardware.
I guess brilliant mainstream programming like Tremors: The Series and Mad, Mad House weren't the quick fixes Bonnie Hammer had hoped they'd be.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,210 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." I'd hoped, originally that this would be a shorter story than the last few that I've written, but already it's demonstrated that I may as well want in one hand and spit in the other (I'm not exactly sure what that means, but my grandfather used to say it all the time). I figure if it comes in under 10K words, I'll be lucky. Presently, it stands at 3,827 words and feels like it's just getting started. I don't know if this is a lack of artistic discipline or just evidence that I'm writing very different sorts of stories than I was writing in the mid-nineties. Maybe it's a little of both. Oh, and I have officially bowed out of writing the Lovecraft essay for Studies in Modern Horror. Unfortunately, with two short stories and a novel proposal due in April, and the Alabaster screenplay, there just wasn't time.
Last night, Spooky and I indulged wholeheartedly in our Friday night tradition, Kid Night. Kid Night includes eating kid food, which is generally high in starch, yellow and/or brown, and quickly prepared — fishsticks, mac and cheese, and frozen French fries are all examples of kid food. We are also permitted to eat the sugary stuff we try to avoid during the week, and we watch horror and sci-fi films. Last night's Kid Night double feature was Gojira vs Mekagojira (1993) and The Lost Continent (1968). The latter, a bizarre William Hope Hodgson meets The Love Boat sort of a thing, came to mind because of a scene I wrote yesterday. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid; 1972, I think. Not the best Hammer film ever made, by a long shot, but there are some nicely creepy shots of the Sargasso Sea, a few lines of utterly hilarious dialogue, and Big Silly Monsters. Kid Night needs little else (except the aforementioned starchy food).
Friday, April 02, 2004
Well, I'm not sure what went wrong. Perhaps the blood lining the little black box was not as virginal as I'd thought (hey, the boy told me he was a virgin), but it would seem the containment system has failed. I'm up to my fetlocks in ooey-gooey clots of bitterness. And the tussle between The Dutiful Me and The Other Me can't be far behind. Perhaps it will hold off until Monday or Tuesday. It helps that I'm actually working and not in that nebulous, puttersome place between projects.
Frell, it's early. I woke up just after eight, and woke Spooky, and I thought she was going to take my head off. She's a dangerous beast if there hasn't been enough sleep. Me, I'm just sort of sleepy. Nothing I can't cure with the proper dose of stimulants. For breakfast, we had a very peppery stew of asparagus, shitake, oyster mushrooms, zucchini, yellow bell pepper, and beef (and a slew of spices) with udon, and I think that helped to kick-start my brain. I am now fully half-awake.
Yesterday, I wrote a respectable 1,538 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." I hope to do as well today, though I have an appointment at 4:30 that might cost me a few hundred words. I'm very pleased with the places this story is going. It's turned out to be another yellow-house story (other yellow-house stories include "So Runs the World Away," "In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers," Low Red Moon, and "The Dead and the Moonstruck"). I think it's going to be one of those stories that blurs the distinction between science and magic, which is a good thing.
Also, I received a copy of the Spring 2004 issue (Vol. 23, No. 1) of The Irish Literary Supplement yesterday, which includes Jack Morgan's article, "Bard of the Wasted and Lost" (pp. 24-25), which is partly a discussion of Low Red Moon, but also looks at some of my short fiction, including "The Last Child of Lir" (from Tales of Pain and Wonder) and "The King of Birds" (from From Weird and Distant Shores). Jack Morgan is the author of The Biology of Horror, and also contributed the preface to the Subterranean Press edition of Low Red Moon. It's kind of cool, seeing my work considered between articles on the evolution of modern Irish poetry and the complexities of contemporary Irish politics.
It's been a long, long time since I plugged the Species of One Shop, but last night Spooky devised a devious Easter special. Between now and midnight on April 13, you can get the "Ugliest Cat in the World" bunny. How the hezmana can you resist? Sick to frelling death of Easter-egg trees and inflatable Peter Cottontails? Had it up to your eema with milk chocolate lagomorphs and frilly pastel bonnets? Fight the cute!©®™ with your very own rude bunny! Sadly, they neither explode nor emit noxious, toxic fumes. Cafe Press is sooooo behind the times.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
Yesterday, to my surprise, I wrote 1,033 words on "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." So, the story has started rolling towards THE END. There were other bits of work yesterday, not so momentous. I e-mailed the final final draft of The Dry Salvages to Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press, and Ryan Obermeyer sent me what is probably the final version of his painting for the cover. So, that project is wrapping up nicely.
And here it's is the first of April. How the frell did that happen? I haven't even gotten around to writing the third installment of The Girl Who Sold the World for Nebari.Net.
I've been sitting here for the past half hour, daydreaming under the pretense that I was trying to think of something more subtstantial to put into this blog entry. But, you know what? Substance is overrated.