Friday, December 31, 2004
The last day of 2004. Already.
Yesterday, because neither DeKalb nor Fulton counties possess a decent lending library between them, I finally broke down and purchased borrowing privilages from Emory University for the sum of $100. We spent most of the day at the library, ferreting out books on various subjects relevent to Daughter of Hounds. As for DoH, I've written nothing new. It's a stack of building blocks in my mind, and I have to find their general relationship one to the other before I may continue. Building blocks. Words. Geometric forms. A disordered phylogeny. I have a lot of analogies that presently describe this book. So, I'm trying not to stare at it too directly. If I work on these things tangential to the book, regarding the structure (that is, the format, not the plot) only from the corner of one eye, I think that it won't notice and will be deceived into showing itself to me in full. It's a gorgon, this one.
The warmer temperatures yesterday were much appreciated (mid-60s, I think), and we got Thai for dinner last night, which was also nice. Then we rented Garden State, which pleased me tremendously. Natalie Portman is a dream. A very good and powerful movie, indeed. And a great soundtrack, which I suspect would be good to write to. Afterwards, I read the first three chapters of Private Demons, Judy Oppenheimer's biography of Shirley Jackson. Thanks to everyone who wrote me about the inspiration for Hill House. The passage recalling Jackson's inspiration appears to have been quoted in Stephen King's Danse Macabre, and in other volumes, as well. So, I wasn't imagining the whole Manhattan thing. I'm not sure where Tarrt got her idea about the house at Bennington College. But, I may have been right about Hill House having more than a single source, as, in a lecture at Suffield, Jackson apparently also cited a photograph of a house in California as an inspiration. I'd quote the passage from Danse Macabre, about the Manhattan house, but my copy of the book is currently inaccessible.
I will quote this bit though, from Chapter One (p. 21) of Private Demons (quoted by Oppenheimer from an unpublished Jackson essay in the Library of Congress' Shirley Jackson Collection):
I will not tolerate having these other worlds called imaginary. In explanation of them I can only say: how do you know when you wake up in the morning that only eight or so hours have passed since the night before, that the intervening time has been spent in bed, that the affairs you take up so dully in the morning were not laid down centuries before, to wait until you got back to them from somewhere else. In the little minutes of absent-mindedness crossing the street you may without recollection have lived a life somewhere else, you may move back and forth from one of many lives to another, without perception at any time of all the others...To call such a thing imaginary is the reality of one man in one place at one time, and if anyone can be really content with that then perhaps in such a life there are no other places.
I've been trying to say just exactly that for ages now (see my earlier comments on consensual reality and dreams, etc.), but I'll never, ever have the simple, honest directness of Jackson. Anyway, I read the biography, and Spooky read from Magic, Witchcraft, and the Otherworld: An Antropology by Susan Greenwood (and maybe she wouldn't want me telling you what she's reading, but there you are). Finally, I noticed it was three a.m. and took an Ambien so that I'd go the hell to sleep. This morning, Spooky had an e-mail from her mother, and we learned that her father, who is, as it would happen, an anthropologist, is off to Alaska again. Alaska in January. Brrrrrr. I was never quite that intrepid in my fieldwork.
I've added two more of Leh'agvoi's (i.e., Setsuled) Nar'eth pin-ups to Nebari.net. Just click here. I'm especially pleased with pin-up #8, which introduces Nar'eth's one-third Sebacean sister, Tai'lah. She's important to the manga "winter special" we'll be doing later on (before winter ends, really), so it's good to get her out there in this world. Okay, gotta do some work or something now...
Thursday, December 30, 2004
There's not much good to be said about the writing yesterday. I had another go at making the second section of Chapter One work, to no avail. I retreated into my notes again, where I may have at least discovered the source of my difficulties, which relates to the structure not only of this particular chapter but the structure of the book as a whole. Anyone familiar with my novels (and if you're not, why are you reading this?) knows that I tend to begin with two or three chapters which establish the central characters, allowing these introductions to flow largely from the POVs of the characters themselves in an attempt to create an intimacy between them and the reader with as little narrative intrusion as possible. The chapters usually bear the name of the character in question. For example, in Threshold, Chapter One is "Chance," Chapter Two is "Dancy," Chapter Three is "Deacon," and Chapter Four is "Sadie." However, in Daughter of Hounds, I was considering a new approach, one where the reader would meet three characters in the first chapter Emmie, Deacon, and Sadie. Moreover, I've been attempting to forward the story a little more than I usually do while these initial introductions are occurring. This was working just fine with the first section, "Emmie," but moving on to "Deacon," everything has stalled out. And I'm considering redesigning the novel (though not the story). But if I do this, matter introduced in the prologue will not be treated again directly until Part 2, and the characters about whom Part 1 is concerned will largely vanish during Part Two, reappearing in Part Three, and one of the two central characters, though introduced at length in the prologue, will not appear in the novel proper until Part 2, which could easily be a couple hundred pages into the printed novel.
And this is why my novels tend to involve as few characters as possibe and unfold over as short a period of time as possible and in a relatively restricted geographical area. It's a modified form the Neoclassical insistence on the observance of the unities of time, place, and action, and its always made a lot of sense to me. In Murder of Angels, I stepped away from it and felt off balance most of the time I was writing that book. And though MoA was well-received, I've sought in Daughter of Hounds to reign things in a little, at least in terms of setting. But there are a lot of characters and a good deal of time involved. And these things, in part, are responsible for my present troubles.
After I finished with my notes yesterday, I read Shirley Jackson's very excellent "Pillar of Salt" and then Algernon Blackwood's, "The Empty House." Also, I encountered something odd in the introduction written by Donna Tartt (The Secret History) to the volume of Jackson I've been reading from. I have read, though offhand I can't recall where, that Shirley Jackson's inspiration for Hill House was a building in Manhattan which she'd only glimpsed and never investigated and which was long ago torn down. I'm pretty sure I read this in an interview with her. Anyway, Donna Tartt claims that, "Hill House still stands. I have visited it many times. It is owned by Bennigton College [Vermont], which uses it for student housing." Clearly, this conflicts with what I recall about Jackson's inspiration, though it's certainly possible the fictional Hill House had more than one inspiration. Regardless, now I have to figure this all out.
Yesterday, UPS brought me copies of the "Mercury" and "The Worm in My Mind's Eye" chapbooks, along with the Nyarlathotep CD that accompanies the limited edition of The Dry Salvages. The appearance of "Mercury" on my doorstep gives me some glint of hope that we may be close to seeing the long-delayed subpress edition of Low Red Moon (as the chapbook was published to accompany the limited of LRM). I'll keep you posted.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
I spent three hours yesterday on five hundred words, and I fear none of them are actually usuable. I finally gave up and spent some time making notes, trying to figure out why starting this section of the chapter is proving so hard. I have so many misgivings, a fear that I may actually have begun this section, and perhaps this entire chapter, in the wrong place. I thought that Daughter of Hounds would prove less difficult for me than was the absolute nightmare of writing Murder of Angels. It ought to be. Easier, I mean, if only because I know most of the broad strokes of the plot, which I always kept at arms length with MoA, needing the novel to happen as I wrote with as little forethought as possible. Perhaps I've only hit a small bump, an inevitable one in the switch from Emmie's POV to Deacon's.
After the notes, I read Shirley Jackson's "The Daemon Lover" and then Angela Carter's "Wolf-Alice." Jackson and Carter are two of the authors I count on the keep me grounded, and, when I get lost, to help me find my way back. I will never cease to be astounded at the beautiful simplicity of Jackson's prose, of her forthright, matter-of-fact approach to terrible things. Later, I watched the Science Channel A Brief History of Time and a special on the Cassini-Huygens probe (those photographs of Titan from earlier this month are astounding). Then I played about an hour's worth of Devil May Cry 2 before bed. It's really not bad for a two-year old Playstation 2 game, especially if you're in the mood for a simple, straight-up hack-and-slash, which I was. After Halo 2, I've had trouble finding something I want to play. But. I'm also trying to cut down on the television some.
It occurs to me that perhaps, having blessed the world the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing (of which there are nine), I should, in all fairness, also attempt to provide the Seven Virtues of Writing. But it's going to take some thinking, so I'll get back to you on this one.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
At best, I'm only half awake. Nothing much new was written on Chapter One yesterday. I read aloud to Kathryn all the chapter I've written thus far. It's good. Different, but good. I spent a couple more hours doing line edits and fixing the big geographical problem. So, I did work on the book yesterday, but it was mostly review and clean-up. Oh, and I spent an hour making notes for the next section, stuff about Deacon and how goddamn hard it's going to be (again) to write a sequel that stands completely alone. I've done it twice now, with both Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels. You'd think I'd know the tune by now.
Bill Schafer called last night. Hopefully, I'll have a shipping date on the forever-and-a-day delayed hardcover of Low Red Moon very, very soon.
The Washington Post has run a very good review of The Dry Salvages. This is my first Washington Post review.
It's still cold here, but warmer weather is almost upon us. Tomorrow, they say.
I have brought to my own attention that I have allowed far too many distractions to encroach upon The Writing. Distraction is, of course, one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Writing (of which there are actually nine, remember). It's time to tell Distraction to hit the frelling road. Too much internet, too much television, too much thinking about magick, too much of everything except writing, which is all that matters at the end of the day. So, I'm going to make an effort to make shorter entries, in the interest of stealing more time back from the Distraction demon. But, just so I'm sure you're all still feeling the love, I leave you with the following (with thanks to Spooky). Make of it what ere you will:
Monday, December 27, 2004
A 9.0 quake in Indonesia. That's the most powerful earthquake to have occurred on Earth in my lifetime. It is a horrendous thing, yes, and the loss of life is staggering, but I cannot but be amazed at the force of such a phenomenon. There was enough energy released during this quake to move the island of Sumatra 100 feet SW. Tsunamis crossed the breadth of the Indian Ocean and reached as far west as Somalia.
Yesterday, the weather here was slightly warmer and the clouds had blown away south. I discovered that The Aviator was playing at the Plaza, an old theatre entirely lacking in the loathsomeness of multiplexes. So, we went to a 2:30 showing. The film is gorgeous and wonderful. Some critics are calling it Scorsese's best since Good Fellas, though I, personally, thought Gangs of New York was at least as accomplished as Good Fellas. Cate Blanchett deserves an Oscar-nomination for her role as Katharine Hepburn. After ten minutes or so, the fact that she didn't look that much like Hepburn became utterly irrelevant, she nailed the part so perfectly. And I think DiCaprio can at last be forgiven his part in such messes as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. The cinematography is truly brilliant, and the aerial sequences are breathtaking. And the audience during the screening we attended was perfect. Not a single inappropriate giggle or comment was overheard. I can only imagine the nightmare this film could quickly become with a typical mall or suburban googleplex audience. Anyway, I urge you to see The Aviator. It might be the best of the year.
Today I must, must, must get back to work on Chapter One. Enough foolishness.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
It's over. Done.
I'm free of secularized Jesus holidays until Easter, and rarely is Easter anything but gaudy. Gods, imagine if we had to endure a barrage of Easter music the way we do with Xmas music. Blargh. A month or more of "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" and that awful frelling Easter bonnet song. But we don't. Small mercies.
No writing yesterday, which was to be expected. I should have written, but, instead, Spooky and I watched nine straight hours of porn, drank a whole bottle of absinthe, smoked opium, burned holy Wal-Mart in effigy, and spent no money whatsoever. That makes a nice story, doesn't it. Okay, so it's not strictly 100% true, but few things ever are. I don't mean true. I mean factual. But, still, it makes a nice story, even if we didn't actually burn holy Wal-Mart in effigy. Last year, we passed the day hiding in theatres. This year, I couldn't stand the thought of so many people.
I may try to write today, or at least I may try to fix the aforementioned geographic gaff from Friday, which shall require some rewriting.
I may go to Fernbank and sit with the dinosaurs.
I'm thinking that I may write the worst review of Daughter of Hounds imaginable. Remember that scene in Citizen Kane? The one wherein Orson Welles writes the review flaying Dorothy Comingore's atrocious opera? It has inspired me. Yes, I think I will do this, and I think I'll do it soon. I'll include it in an entry, then post it at Amazon, under my own name, as soon as possible. I'll be sure to mention that DoH is hard to read, and that I cann't follow the plot, and that almost all the characters are "unsympathetic," and that the prose is too artsy, and that I'm obviously pretentious, and that, this time, I even drag a child through the mess, and that I hate when people write present-tense, third-person narratives, and, of course, I will not forget to tell you that that you should, instead, read a book by Writer X if you want good dark fantasy. Maybe I'll even accuse myself of plagiarizing from Kate and Leopold, because, after all, part of DoH is set in New York City.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
The greatest of the evils of Xmas (and these evils are multitude) is it's exponentially expanding pervasiveness. It cannot be escaped. It is a soon-to-be perfected organ for the procreation of both Christianity and Capitalism. If I hated Xmas only a little less, I would simply be amazed at its obscene, bloated, syrupy effectiveness. You cannot hide. It will find you out, either by secular or religious means (or both). It offers something to everyone. Which is to say, nine hours and forty minutes from now it will be over until next October, and I can quit wasting all this energy trying to ignore it. Resistance is futile, just like the Borg always say, and I never met a Borg I didn't trust.
They said there'll be snow at Christmas
They said there'll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah, Noel, be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas you get you deserve.
I'm a little embarrassed at how long it took me to see the naivete in those lines. If America...if humanity...were presently having the Xmas it deserves, well...better not go there. Some of you might still have turkeys to deep fry and eggs to nog and such.
Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 1,653 words on Chapter One of Daughter of Hounds. Unfortunately, there's a small but significant error of geography gumming things up that I shall have to fix. But I'm done with Emmie and Saben for the time being and can now move on to Deacon. He's still back in Kingston, taking care of business. Last night, I told Spooky that I hope to have the first 50,000 words done by April 1st.
For Kid Night, we did the R-Rated cut of Supernova and the new-to-DVD Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. I have to wonder if I'm the only person who has ever paid twice to endure Supernova but I'll get back to that. We had hopes that the second Anaconda film might be decent enough, good dumb fun. I liked the first one quite a bit, and it worked well as an old-school Big Bug Film. The second, though, well it starts with these natives hunting a tiger, and I'm sitting there, being a smart-ass, thinking, this is so damn dumb. There are no tigers in South America. Why did they use a frelling tiger instead of a jaguar? Tigers are prettier, Spooky says, like that's gonna make it all better. However, I am soon informed that the aforementioned tiger was in Borneo, not South America. In fact, so are the anacondas of the title. So, they actually got the tiger right, it was the snakes they screwed up. Just like the rest of this awful film. I'm actually very easy-going about bad science in movies, as long as a) someone eventually makes even the most half-hearted attempt to justify the bad science and/or b) the movie is entertaining regardless. Anacondas failed on both accounts. At some point, one of the annoying characters was prattling on about having seen this or that on Animal Planet, and I was thinking, bullshit. If this jerk watched Animal Planet, he'd have, at some point, heard Jeff Corwin explain that the anaconda's range extends throughout South America, east of the Andes and mainly in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. Note: Borneo is somewhere else. Anyway, bad movie. Stay away. As for Supernova, I have a sick sort of fascination with this film, with how a relatively prestigious project went so horribly awry. This is the one that even Coppola couldn't save. I'd hoped that the R-Rated cut might help make sense of things, but, alas, that was not to be. There's more curiously pointless nudity, but that's about it. So, I watched all the deleted scenes about twenty-minutes worth and they did at least hint at the movie Supernova might have been. A couple of the deleted scenes would have gone a long way towards making the film a less incoherent thing, and the "alternate ending" (i.e., probably the one the test audiences didn't like) is much, much better, with a truly chilling visual to wind things up, instead of the sappy you're-gonna-have-a-baby nonsense we saw in theatres. About the only bit in either the theatrical cut or the DVD release that I find even remotely redeeming is Benjamin's relationship with the Nightingale's "trans soma" AI, Sweety. That, at least, was interesting. So, kind of a lousy Kid Night, so far as movies go.
I'm not sure what's up for today. It's too nasty to leave the house, so perhaps I'll start work on my soth'eerni shards. I now have all the raw materials and the glass-etching tools I that needed. Besides, I finished Halo 2 night before last, and it would be nice to do something with my hands besides type...
Friday, December 24, 2004
The cold has returned. Of course, I knew it would. It's December. Right now, it's 29F out there. But the meteorologists say that, beginning Wednesday, we'll have at least five consecutive days with highs in the sixities. Too bad I have so little faith in the weather guys. Anyway, I just have to hang in here for a few frigid days. At least it's not snowing, just grey and dreary.
But I wrote yesterday, and that's all that really matters. I did 1,040 words on Chapter One of Daughter of Hounds (bringing the word count thus for for the chapter to 5,037). I introduced a new character, Saben White. I'm not sure how Saben and I are going to get along, but she has the Seal of Solomon tattooed on the back of her left hand, which seems ominous. Also, in a flash, I understood the structure of both Chapter One and Chapter Two and how they will differ from the chapter structure typical of my other novels. It was a much needed intuitive leap.
I spent some time last night working out the complex patterns of correspondence for the Nebari soth'eerni, sort of like runes. Sort of, Each of the fourteen possible shard characters in a clutch has at least four, and sometimes five, points of correspondence: astronomical (not astrological), numeric and/or alphabetical, mythic, and attributional. The mythic correspondences are proving the trickiest to nail down. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. I'm not entirely sure I do, either.
We went to bed about 1:30 a.m., and I spent some time reading bits of The Dry Salvages (I don't often read my books after they're published). I like what I did here. I found one typo (a misplaced comma, despite our obsessive efforts to weed them all out of the ms.).
Okay. Gotta go write. Emmie Silvey's still on that dratted train. I need to try to get her to Manhattan today. Jennifer's gone to Birmingham to spend the weekend with her family, and Spooky and I get a little extra Kid Night tonight. I hope to be done writing today by 4 p.m., which means I'd better get crackin'.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Thanks to the Ambien, I've been recalling fewer of my weird dreams lately. But the amnesia is not perfect. This morning I dreamt that Neil was inexplcably refilming The Lord of the Rings and, even more inexplicably, had hired me as a storyboard artist, apparently not knowing that I can't draw for dren. As I tried to fulfill the duties of my employment, it quickly devolved into one of those ultra-anxious naked-in-front-of-the-classroom kind of dreams. But there was a neat part where we had Gandalf the White's staff and a mock-up of the entrance to the mines of Moria and were trying to figure out something about how the head of the staff would match with the Elven runes (which were drawn on the mock-up in white chalk). Right.
Yesterday afternoon, my editor called to tell me he had read and was pleased with the prologue for Daughter of Hounds, which was a huge relief. We talked about editing, about Ipswich and the location of Innsmouth Harbour, about how this book relates to my earlier ones, and so forth. Generally, I've written my books and then handed them over to my editor, who would then make some comments regarding desired rewrites, which I would then summarily ignore. But I think I'm going to have a better working relationship with my new editor (he became my new editor during the production of Murder of Angels), which is more reassuring than I'd have thought.
But I didn't write yesterday. The weather was still too warm. So, I get another week in Purgatory, I suppose. My sins multiply like horny sea urchins in an ocean devoid of starfish. But there were other things to which I needed to attend. And I finally made it to Fernbank. Apparently, Tuesday's busted water main had been fixed. By the time we reached the museum, though, it was 4:15 p.m., and closing time is 5 p.m. We spent only a little time in the atrium with the huge Argentinosaurus and the Giganotosaurus, and, instead, visited with the humble Stegosaurus. I was in a stegosaurusy sort of mood, I guess. Afterwards, we just wandered about the place a little. The floors of Fernbank are tiled with beautiful brown, yellow-brown, and grey polished slabs of Solhhofen Limestone, the Jurassic-aged rock formation wherein the remains of the dinobird Archaeopteryx have been found. Anyway, the tiles are filled with cross-sections of invertebrate fossils, and Spooky is especially fond of seeing what we can spot on any given day. Yesterday, we saw lots of Hibolites hastatus (the internal skeleton of a squid-like cephalopod called a belemnite), some beautiful ammonites, and many sponges (Tremadictyon sp.). The Solnhofen was deposited in a system of lagoons in what is now southern Germany.
For dinner, I made a pot of chili, using liberal amounts of tequila, lime, and fresh jalapeno. Most of the evening was spent on my notes on Nebari history and magick, with a little Halo 2 very late.
But I did think about Daughter of Hounds quite a lot. I talked about it a lot. I was still talking about it when Spooky was trying to go to sleep at 2 a.m. I know so much of the story now, so much I didn't know as recently as last week. Of course, knowing it is one thing, writing it all down is another. I'll get back to that today. When last we left Emmie, she was on a train bound for Manhattan...
There's really far too much to be done just now (that's the refrain). I owe Marvel a synopsis, which they won't be getting until after the...what's that word? Oh, yeah. The holidays. The dratted, frelling holidays. I need to get some stuff out to the Nyarlathotep guys for the website they've done for the CD which will accompany the lettered edition of The Dry Salvages. I still need to rework the end of "Bradbury Weather." There's the Nar'eth winter manga script thingy. And so forth. I should keep myself parked at this computer for the next five or six days. I won't, but I should.
This seems like a reasonable place to end this rambling entry, so...
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Yesterday was actually decent enough. Mostly, though, that's because I was bad and slacked off and didn't even try to write. Disgusted with the recent cold and seeing a chance to leave the house for the first time in five days and do so in fairly good weather, I took it. We went to an early matinee of Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which was in almost every way an absolute delight. Best of all, we saw it in a virtually deserted theatre. There is little about the film that failed to make me happy. The casting was wonderful (though I found Dustin Hoffman a little distracting), great script, amazing art direction and cinematography and SFX. Violet Baudelaire is my hero today, I think. Jim Carey gives his best performance, well, since The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Billy Connolly was a nice surprise as Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, and, just so you know, when I am rich as sin, I will live in the house of Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, snakes and all. And do not miss the closing credits, which are a joy in and of themselves. After the movie, we were going to visit the dinosaurs at Fernbank, but the museum was closed due to a broken water main. Instead, we went to Borders and watched grumpy, desperate-looking people stand in line to buy Xmas-gift books for people who probably didn't really want them in the first place. Generally, bookstores depress me, for a multitude of reasons, but I did okay yesterday. I think the vileness of Xmas and the glum effect bookstores usually have on me canceled each other out somehow. We had an early dinner at a Thai place, which we ended up getting free because the restaurant's computerized electrical system was freaking out. We finally ate by candlelight while a repairman tried to get the building back online. Personally, I found it no inconvenience whatsoever, and it meant we didn't have to listen to bad Asian pop music, but the manager insisted we shouldn't pay. So. Not a bad day, at all, even without the dinosaurs.
Showtime has canceled Dead Like Me after Season Two. I saw that one coming. It was on television, and I actually loved it, so it had to go. It's a rule.
Yesterday, Poppy wrote:
Sometimes, like last night for instance, I think I must be insane to believe I can write a novel that features as a major character a 45-year-old, lower-class black man who has spent the last eight years in prison. Nothing in my background or writing experience has prepared me for this, and if I fuck it up, it'll be not just spectacularly bad but also actively offensive. Then (not too often yet, but occasionally) something clicks and I feel that I know the man, and it doesn't seem to matter that our lives could scarcely be more different.
Mostly, though, I think I may have given myself a hard row to hoe with this one.
And I thought, I wonder if she'd like to write the eight-year-old girl and let me write the 45-year old, lower-class black man? Six of one, half dozen of the other. But yes, that's how I've been feeling lately. Like I've picked a hard row to hoe. No one said, "Caitlνn, your next novel must have as one of its two central characters an eight-year-old girl who lives in Providence, Rhode Island." I did it to myself. I am a consumate masochist.
Day before yesterday, the epilogue came to me. At least, a very possible epilogue came to me, which is entirely ridiculous. I have something like 150,000 words of this novel to go before the frelling epilogue, but there it was anyway. I have a vast uncertainty between bookends. Of course, I might be wrong. That might not be the epilogue of Daughter of Hounds at all.
I continue to enjoy the new JVP, and yesterday I read "New material of Mesodactylus ornithosphyos, a primitive pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Colorado," by David K. Smith, R. Kent Sanders, and Kenneth L. Stadtman. Neat stuff.
This is just sort of meandering about, isn't it? Ah, well. Sometimes, it does that.
It has been brought to my attention that I may have have given some people the impression that The Dry Salvages is no longer available via retail, that you can't buy a copy because it's sold out at the publisher. Sorry. Not what I meant at all. When a publisher sells out a book upon publication, that only means there are no more copies to send out to the distributors, the people like Baker & Taylor and Ingram's who act as middlemen (think of them as the book Mafia) for places like Amazon.com and B&N and so forth. Which is to say that the book is, for the moment, still avialable, just not directly from Subterranean Press any longer, and when the retailers have sold out the copies they have, that's that. So, if you want one, better buy it now.
Anything else? Not really. I am sick to frelling, puking death of the popularity-contest end of writing, and that's been weighing heavily on my mind of late, but I don't feel like getting into it now. Today will be longer than yesterday. That is, the sun will set later. I'm over the hump, as it were. I might make it after all.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Yesterday, I wrote 226 words on Chapter One before giving up about 5 p.m.. Partly, it was the cold, pricking at me, distracting, working my nerves. Partly, it was the emotional fallout (I love phrases that owe their origin to nuclear weapons) from the stuff I wrote on Monday. The 226 words were pretty good, but I just couldn't summon anything more than that. I called Spooky into the office and asked her if I could please just stop for the day. She said yes, so I did. I shouldn't have. I'm so far behind, and there's so much to do this novel, Marvel, and on and on and on but I just didn't have the heart or the stomach for it. Maybe if Monday hadn't weighed so heavy, maybe I could have kept the cold at bay with a little absinthe or a pill or something. Will I write today? I should, but it's Solstice, and we may go to the botanical gardens instead, which seems appropriate for the day. I'm not sure yet. It's all a matter of how much control my guilt and fear of laziness can exert over me in the next hour or two.
If you want to read about the almost-disaster involving Spooky's signed and personalized copy of Edward Gorey's The Haunted Tea Cozy, click here. I still get queasy, just thinking about it. Oh, and she can tell you about the LSD Penguin, as well.
And if you want to be reassured that clueless assholes are still reading my novels and writing reviews of them for Amazon, click here (scroll down to "Two Whiney, Dysfunctional Lesbians Save The World .. Sort Of, December 20, 2004"). These days, I'm honestly at a loss for words at shit like this. I should promise to write only fantasy novels filled with Good and Virtuous (i.e., straight, sober and happy) characters and Evil and Nasty (i.e., you know thier bad because I tell you so right off) characters. Then the assholes might give me a break. A shame I can't find the hole in my conscience. Does anyone else get just a little whiff of homophobia off this guy?
The new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Vol. 24, No. 4; 10 Dec. '04) arrived yesterday. That was the one bright spot in the day, I think. There's a beautiful life restoration of the dolichosaur Pontosaurus lesinensis on the cover (and it's in colour on page 981). Dolichosaurs are marvelous little beasts from the Cretaceous Period, sleek aqautic lizards that fit somewhere into the evolution of mosasaurs and snakes from a common ancestor. I've read only one paper so far, "Provenance and anatomy of Genyodectes serus, a large-toothed ceratosaur (Dinosauria; Theropoda) from Patagonia" (by Oliver W. M. Rauhut).
I think that's all for now. I'm off to battle the ammoral lesbian snow badgers that would wrack my body with frostbite and have me fill my books with decisive, pleasant, lifeless people.
Monday, December 20, 2004
This is definitely the hugest waste of time I've taken part in since...well...the last time I watched television news.
Christ, it's only December 20th, one day before Solstice, and already winter is driving me to distraction. Already, it's dragging me down and down and down. Already, I can't imagine making it to the other side.
Yesterday, I did not do 4,000 words. I did not even do 1,500 words. I did do 1,222 on Chapter One of Daughter of Hounds, which is fine. That's better than average for me, better than the requisite 1,000 words. But it was the sort of writing that left me feeling empty and angry and sadistic, the sort of writing that makes me wonder why the hell I do it this way, why I write about these things. In theory, I have the freedom to take characters anywhere I choose, to subject them to an almost inifinte range of experience and emotion, and yet my choices if that's what they are are unfailingly grim. And then sometimes, like yesterday, I look at what I've done to someone fictional, what I've spent hours doing to them with exquisite, exacting care, and I just want to say, okay, enough's enough already, goddamn it. A writing day has not done me so much harm since I wrote the end of Low Red Moon. Why? Why in the name of all that is supposed to be holy (but clearly isn't) do I do this to myself? If my own demons aren't out by now, they're in there for good. Am I so deluded as to think that I'm doing it for anyone else? No, I'm not. So, I have no answer, except for the rather chilling possibility that perhaps this is all I have in me to write. It's all that can come out, for whatever reason. Today, I'd like to take Deacon and Emmie Silvey to a beach on a warm summer day. She could play in the surf and the sand. Sadie would be there, and for a while Deacon wouldn't think about Chance, and Sadie wouldn't think about that night in Birmingham, and Emmie could just be a child. If I were free, if there were choices here, that's what I'd do. And it wouldn't be an interlude before more darkness and despair. It would just be. It would be a thing whole unto itself.
I'm not kidding, and I'm not being hyperbolic sometimes I hate this thing I do more than I could ever say. Sometimes, it seems that I spend my days dragging people whose only crime is that I am their creator through the filth and pain and degredation of my own despicable imagination. Where is the good in this? Where is the resolution? Where is the sense of it? If I had even a scintilla of belief in a "higher" intelligence of any sort, days like yesterady (and, by extension, today) would, on the one hand, give me some degree of sympathy for the idiot dieties unable to craft a better universe, and, on the other hand, it makes me grateful I have no such beliefs, because the anger I would have for that "higher" whatever would be inexpressable. And I cannot imagine that there are actually people out there self-professed "horror" writers who are trying to ellicit these emotions in others, who are purposefully driving their characters on through all the futile, dead-end nightmares that might be devised. I would not do this. I swear I would not do this, if I could find other words in me.
I need another 1,000 words today. That's the price of getting to tomorrow, when I have to make another 1,000 words of the same.
Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost.
Is that what this is all about?
Agent Smith could almost be my god-form.
There's a nice little review of The Dry Salvages in today's San Francisco Chronicle. It's mostly synopsis, which always disappoints me because I'd like to imagine people get more from what I write than story and that reviewers are savvy enough to relay deeper meanings, but, still, it's a nice review.
I have to start writing now, if I want to finish before sunset. I try to finish before sunset, because it's disorienting to walk out of my office (where all the windows are blacked out) and see that night has come without me even noticing. I have to not allow the cold to distract me too much today. Lately, I've been reflecting on the significance, if any, of my having instinctually chosen an ice-bound planet as the Nebari homeworld (that wasn't anywhere in Farscape), and denizens thereof as my totemic alter-egos, and if, perhaps, I might find in that choice some relief from the distress that the winter brings me every year.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
I just learned that Voltaire will be doing a show in San Francisco with Zoe Keating. Neat. Cool. Drad. You should go, if you can. I don't recall the date. What do I look like? A daily planner? Use Google or something. Sheesh.
I did 1,377 words yesterday on Daughter of Hounds. And I was thinking that was pretty good (my daily record, I believe, is just over two thousand words in a single day), but then I read that Neil had done about 4,000 a day or so ago on Anansi Boys. But then I thought, sure, okay, but Neil does rewrites, and I virtually never do. The 1,377 words I wrote will be printed more or less as I wrote them the first time, so, maybe it all balances out. Well, I like to think so. Of course, I also like to think that I will one day be writing 4,000 words a day. Anyway, it's going well. I know what happens next, which is about all I can ever expect. More importantly, the whole book, the whole of the book, is unfolding in my head. It's an odd feeling, both euphoric and terrifying in the same instant.
My thanks to the kind reader who e-mailed to point out that I meant "one-eighty" yesterday, not "three-sixty," in my reference to the turn that Proyas' film makes from Asimov's book. I really don't mind people pointing out my dumb mistakes in fact, I'm honestly grateful when they do so long as they don't do it publically. I can't count the times now that someone has, presumably with the best of intentions, found an error in a blog entry or a published work and chosen to bring it to my attention in my old usenet group or the phorum or the comments section of the LJ. I know the internet frowns on manners, but I don't. And I sometimes get the impression that people feel they have to point these things out publically, else they won't get credit for spotting my frell-up, and we all know it's about getting credit, not about correcting the mistake. Of course, we do.
Why am I going on about that? I think I just need something to bitch about. Because it's Sunday, and it's cold as hell, and Xmas is looming over me like a rabid candy cane, and my hair's so full of static it's doing that thing Drew Barrymore's did in Firestarter just before she'd fry someone. I got my reasons.
Oh, and I don't get to see Zoe Keating play a show with Voltaire.
Perhaps I'll do 1,500 words today. Perhaps I'll only do a thousand. We shall see.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
I did a very satisfying 1,105 words on Chapter One of Daughter of Hounds yesterday. All it took was realizing that the book did not begin with Emmie on a school bus, but, rather, with Deacon and Emmie sitting together inside Kingston Station, waiting on the train that will take Emmie to Manhattan to visit Sadie. Once I realized that I was trying to start the book in the wrong place, the words came in a veritable flood. This chapter has a bit of a different voice than what I'm accustomed to seeing from myself. My work these last few years has seen a gradual shift away from the more baroque style that characterized, oh, say Silk and Tales of Pain and Wonder. But the language yesterday was even simpler, very straightfoward, and I think a lot of this is because of Emmie. Spooky likes it a great deal. We'll see how it goes. Regardless, I am relieved, and I now undedrstand where Chapter One is headed.
As we near frelling Xmas, my weekend dial-up connection gets increasingly lousy. All the Idiots charging shit on credit that they'll still be paying off next Xmas, for fear of not being part of the pack. Okay, maybe "idiot" is too strong a word. Then again, maybe it's not. It took me forever this morning just to read the new installment of The Adventures of Boschen and Nesuko. Screw you, Santa Claus, and the reindeer you rode in on.
A good enough Kid Night last night, though. We watached I, Robot, which I resisted seeing at the theatre, even though Alex Proyas has long been one of my favorite directors. Now I see that I had the right instinct. This was no more an Alex Proyas film than it was an adaptationn of Isaac Asimov's novel. The film does a complete three-sixty from the message of Asimov's I, Robot, declaring that we would be perfectly justified to fear the "rise of the machines." In truth, I, Robot, the movie, is a Will Smith action film, and that's really all it is. And that's not all bad. He's still sexy and charming as hell and occassionally funny and, less occassionally, effective in dramatic moments. The film's futuristic visuals are pretty and dazzling, but not nearly as effective as, say, the futuristic visuals of far better recent films, such as Minority Report and A.I.. As an adaptation of Asimov, the film fails utterly. As an Alex Proyas film, it baffles. As a another excuse for Will Smith to say, "Oh, hell no! it's pretty good. I laughed. Why this doesn't anger me the way SFC's adaptation of LeGuin's Earthsea books does, I'm not sure. Maybe it's because I can tell that Proyas at least tried, and since Asimov is no longer with us, I know he can't personally be offended at how someone could so entirely pervert what he was trying to say. Anyway, second feature was the utterly laughable Dracula 3000, featuring Coolio as a goofy pothead vampire. This movie is so incredibly awful it just suddenly stops. It doesn't end, it just stops. I'm not sure if they ran out of money or just figured they should stop before it got any stupider. Basically, Dracula in space. More I will not say. It's too dumb to repeat. But not so awful as some of our previous Kid-Night selections, such unwatchable fare as The Fangleys and Leeches. Had we been stoned, it might have been harmless dumb fun, instead of just dumb. After the movies, Spooky played a little Otogi 2, which is her thing right now, and then I played Halo 2, but made myself go to bed at 2:30 a.m. So, I'm a little more awake today.
It's weird that I've almost stopped going to the theatre. Partly, it's the way audiences have gotten. Partly, it's the absurdity of ticket prices. Partly, it's fear of communicable disease. And partly, it's the realization that I enjoy most films more on DVD at home. But I am being sorely tempted by a few at the moment: Blade: Trinity, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Aviator are all trying to lure me out into the aforementioned crowds of shopping idiots. In the old days, when I was seeing two or three movies a week, I'd have paid full-price for all three by now.
I neglected to mention that Thursday was Jennifer's birthday. I made a huge lasagna, and we had chocolate cake.
Ah, I see I just got kicked for the umpteenth frelling time this morning. Somewhere, a MasterCard was just declined.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Yesterday, I sat here and stared at the screen of my iBook until blood flowed from my eyes and my teeth had been ground away to dust. And for that I have about two hundred words, maybe a page, that I probably can't even use. Chapter One is going to be a breach birth. It's comin' out sideways, at best. Emmie Silvey is on a school bus, and it's January in Providence (it was late November in the prologue). She's thinking about things that might hide behind the winter sky, and about the house on Angell Street she shares with her father, and I have no frelling idea what happens next, and then next, and then next after that. Oh, I know what happens in Chapter Three, and Chapter Five, and so forth, but Chapter One, the necessary and indespensible beginning is a blank slate. I love the character, but getting deep enough inside her head is no mean feat. She's a very weird kid, but she's still a kid, an eight-year-old kid, and I've never done this before.
This is going to be a short, chaotic entry because a) I was up until frelling four a.m. playing Halo 2, and thus b) slept way the hell too late, and, also, c) I have to write at least one thousand words today, one thousand words that I can use.
I've grown annoyed by almost all the music in my iTunes library, and this morning I dug out the "Cait's Big '70s!" swap CD I made when we did the last CD swap on the phorum (or it was the swap before last). Right now, it's working for me. Later on, this might start buggin' me, and I'll have to switch to Tom Waits or Nick Cave or Belly or something.
Here's a cool little review of Murder of Angels by Bond, Gwenda Bond. We were once trapped together in the bowels of a volcano with a hundred Polynesian dancers and their thundering drums, so she knows of what she speaks. Thanks to Sonya Taaffe for bringing it to my attention last night.
Yesterday, I took time to listen to the new EP by The Endless, which they were kind enough to send me this week and which is very wonderful. You must visit this band's website and listen to their music and shower them with praise and cash. I say so.
Mike Bracken (with whom I used to correspond back in the Days Before Silk, and who went on to, among other things, fill the roll of Horror Geek on Comedy Central's Beat the Geeks) writes:
I've been following your journal, which I really dig, too. I found it interesting to read that you're playing Halo 2 don't ask why, but I never figured you for a video game fan for some reason. Aside from the film stuff, I write game reviews for a bunch of different places and I LOVED the segments in Halo 2 where you play as the Arbiter (which is at least partially because Keith David did the voice work I have a special place in my heart for John Carpenter's The Thing, and the character of Childs is one of my favorites). Most of the gamers I know bitch about having to play him instead of Master Chief, but personally, I found the Arbiter segments far more compelling than anything else in the game. I guess I say this to sort of make a point about your comments on your readers and your "difficult" style. We see this same reaction in all the mediums now, I think gaming, movies, books, music people are consumers who simply buy things because we're supposed to. Most of us don't have a whole lot of passion for anything, so when something comes along that isn't a generic version of the generic flavor of whatever E! tells us was hot last month, we freak out. I spend half my time explaining why people should see Mario Bava films instead of a Texas Chainsaw remake...
And speaking of John Carpenter's The Thing, which I worship as one of the finest horrific Weird sf films ever made...as though the Sci-Fi Channel hasn't already done enough damage, between cancelling Farscape, giving us Tremors: the Series and Scare Tactics and Mad, Mad House, and taking a big steaming dump on Ursula K. LeGuin, now I hear they're going to air a two-part mini-series remake of...wait for it...John Carpenter's The Thing. And you know it'll suck, because suckage is what the SFC is all about, and I can't think one one good goddamn reason to remake this film. Yes, kids, Bonnie Hammer is evil incarnate and dumbed down for mass consumption.
Frell. This is going on longer than expected... *sigh*
And thanks to Feedster, my newest addiction, I have this bit from the LJ of Ciri, from a very brief report on Fiddler's Green: Caitlin Kiernan I took for a crossdresser (still no final conclusion)... I have no idea why this amuses me so much, but it does. Of course, I am a crossdresser. Why, just yesterday, I wore velvet and latex at the same time, and if that's not crossing my dress, I don't know what would be. Anyway, I love Feedster. Ciri, though, might need to broaden those horizons.
Okay. I'm gonna stop now. There's an unwritten novel waiting to mock me.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
I didn't write yesterday. Nary a word. I just could not come anywhere close to making it happen. The air around me was too cold to spark. For this, I should be tied and beaten with a cane...wait, nevermind. Anyway, what I did do instead of write was to haul Spooky away to the museum. I'm sure if she were telling the story, she'd be hauling me, but the result is pretty much the same, either way. The museum was warm, and, save one Xmas tree near the entrance, blessedly free of holiday "cheer." We spent the afternoon with the dinosaurs in the great atrium. The glass seemed to magnify the sun into something warmer, something that might be mistaken for spring. I could sit on one of the terraces, back near the taxidermied bald eagles and river otter, looking down on the Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus and try to clear my head of its stifling clutter and junk. The museum was mostly empty, which was nice. No shrieking parades of school children. It was almost like a church.
Today, I'm armed against the cold, against the breath of the December daemon, with an old black velvet coat that Spooky found for me at Salvation Army many months ago. I'd forgotten about it until this morning. We found it lurking in a closet. The sleaves are a bit short, but it's warm and soft and comfortable, something heavy enough, substantial enough, to hold me down.
So...yeah. Chapter One. Daughter of Hounds. An eight-year-old girl named Emmie Silvey who has yellow eyes and a fondness for Doris Day and Peggy Lee. I think few things I've ever set out to write have been as daunting as the prospect of writing an entire chapter, and then a significant portion of a novel, about an eight year old. And it's all set in Providence and Massachusetts, so I don't even have the familiarity of my Southern locales for comfort. It's amazing, the things I do to myself.
No word yet from my agent and editor regarding the prologue.
Here's a link to a longer and very informative statement by Ursula LeGuin on the mess that Robert Halmi made of Earthsea.
Last night, UPS brought a box of The Dry Salvages to my door. I've already promised some of these to folks, but whatever's left over I'll be auctioning on eBay sometime after the frelling, stinkin' holidays are done.
Do I feel better than yesterday? I don't know. Truly, I don't know. But I have to write this book, regardless. Bemoaning the season and the weather and the shortcomings of so many readers isn't going to make it happen (nor will it change the things I'm bemoaning). So, today I am wearing my black velvet coat from the Salvation Army and trying to look ahead, mostly, to the place where the book is happening for me, the place where I'm making it happen. The last couple of days I have given my misery too much slack on the leash, and it's time to try and reign it in a little. Last night, Spooky and I locked ourselves away in the bedroom and talked for hours about magick and Nebari history and writing and the contemporary Cult of the Invalid. It was good, the way the museum had been good, and brought me that much more out of myself. Anyway, it's getting late, and I have to make an effort, which is the best that I can ever do.
But first, happy bithday to
, who gave me the Nebari sky.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Winter is here. The only truly warm place in the house is our bedroom, but I cannot bring myself to sit in bed all day, even if I'm sitting in bed doing the same work as I would be doing in my office. It's unsightly. Like winter. I should be somewhere a thousand miles south of here, somewhere there's still life, somewhere the cold hasn't robbed of green. The cold turns everything hard and ugly and dead. On the circle of the year, this is the long death between Spring (rebirth) and Autumn (dying). That has been my intuitive impression of the seasons for almost all my life a wheel, with death at the top and the prime of life at the bottom. Life is a twin wheel, a twin of the seasons, with winter at the top of the wheel and summer at the bottom. The wheel turns, grinding us all away. In this house, the cold seeps like a liquid through every one of ten thousand cracks. The air is dry. There's a very faint smell of gas, which has, to me, always been the smell of despair. There's no warmth from the sun. The awful blue of the December sky is more threatening than any summer storm. It is there to remind me how little stands between me and the void of space, which isn't death, but only the perpetual absence of life.
That's a cheerful way to begin the day.
This time of year, I should sleep all day, because the nights, devoid of that cold sun and that awful sky, are easier. But I can't bring myself to break completely with my quasi-diurnal ways. My body's clock won't reset.
Set me aflame and cast me free.
Away, you wretched world of tethers.
I'm supposed to get back to Daughter of Hounds today. I am supposed to. The meeting with Marvel yesterday went very, very well. I will be making an announcement soon regarding my next comics project. So, I ought to be up. I ought to be glad. There's work to be done, which is why I am here. I am here to do this work. But today this work seems...I don't know that the word exists. In English. I don't mean "futile" or "pointless" or "foolish," though each of those words at least approaches the meaning I'm after. It seems hostile, almost. Hostile to me. Something to grind me away in its revolutions, like the aforementioned wheel. I don't want to write today. I don't want to think about writing. I want to forget that I am a writer and be something else, instead. Something that does not ever have to apologize if it suspects itself of being less than sincere, less than artful, less than passionate, less than honest, less than utterly devoted. A work that is the sort of work most people do. Free of conceits and artifice and the constant seeking of one sort of approval or another for every sour adjective or verb I cough up, spit out, vomit. See? I can use a thesaurus.
I found this the other day, in someone's blog somewhere:
I'm a third of the way into Silk, and I'm starting to wonder why reviewers think Caitlin Kiernan is so hard to read. I've read more complex styles, both in terms of plot and of language.
I've spent the last seven or eight years wondering the same thing. All the answers that have occurred to me are not pleasant ones, and they are not flattering to many of the people who read my books. The myth that has been perpetuated that my writing is difficult to read, to comprehend, that my style is biazarre, and so forth speaks to such a profound ignorance of 20th-Century English and American literature that I can only guess that the reviewers and readers who say these things suffer from an extraordinarily limited and impoverished frame of reference. I've done nothing new or innovative. I only paid attention and learned a few things from better authors who came before me. I refused to accept (though I was told) that readers of speculative, weird, and fantastic fiction are the basest sort, impervious to anything more than the barest of bare bones, angered by technique, frustrated at style which, to them, only seems to obscure the story (which, like candy, is best without a wrapper, even at the risk of staleness). I ignored all that and wrote my book. And, in the little banana republic of "horror," you would have thought I was James fucking Joyce. You would have thought it was William Faulkner or Gertrude Stein or William Burroughs or Kurt Vonnegut all over again. You would have thought and, in fact, I did that maybe these people don't read books. Because I am most emphatically not hard to read (I'm not easy to read, either, but that's another matter). Not if you read books. Yes, I have a voice. I was taught that all good writers do, each voice distinct in some way from every other. Yes, there's subtlety and a marked reluctance to engage in the cheat of exposition. But those things aren't mine. They're part of the common sense which guides artists.
It's not for everybody. Not if everybody is bound and determined to have only something else.
Days like this, it's not for me either.
Set me aflame and cast me free.
Away, you wretched world of tethers.
I'm about the write another book. This will be the seventh (not counting little things like The Dry Salvages and In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers). The seventh since 1992. And it will be read by a few thousand people. A handful of them will appreciate what I've done. Several handsful will wonder why I bothered and be annoyed and complain that I am "artsy" and "precious" and "pretentious," and, of course, "hard to read." It's happened enough times that I can see the pattern. But it's the only way I know to write. It's me. I can't cut it out. I can't transmorgrify it into something more platable to those who prefer oatmeal and school paste. Not because I'm bound by principle or lofty artistic ideals. But simply because I do not know how.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Last night, because spectacles attract me especially hideous spectacles Spooky and I watched the first hour and seventeen minutes of Sci-Fi's Earthsea abomination. It was about as bad as I'd expected it to be. Sci-Fi tends to screw most things up in exactly the same way. All their adaptations look pretty much the same. Flat. Dull. Overlit. Made-for-TV. They're good at making epic things feel cramped. So, I wasn't surprised. The direction was hamfisted. The script, which bore little resemblance to anything Ursula K. LeGuin has ever written, was dim-witted and trite. Most of the female characters looked like their make-up had been done by Maybelline. Lots of pointless CGI, because I suspect the filmmakers were under the impression that it would distract from the overall awfullness. Danny Glover looked like he wanted to club someone to death with that damned staff he was dragging around. Rarely has an actor appeared so painfully uncomfortable on camera. Anyway, it's better if you read what the author herself has to say about this fiasco (scroll down just below the photo). This is probably the most we can fairly expect from the Sci-Fi Channel these days. Farscape was a fluke (and they cancelled it, perhaps the most critically-acclaimed sf series ever on TV, in favour of bringing back Battlestar Galactica). Actually, though it's easy to make with the snide remarks, I genuinely felt bad for LeGuin, watching the mess they'd made of her work. I live in fear of this sort of thing, and it hurts me, physically hurts me, when I see it happen to someone else, especially someone brilliant and deserving of respect. We got so lucky with the Lord of the Rings adaptations. Sadly, there aren't enough Peter Jacksons to go around nor enough money to do things right. And if things can't be done right, they shouldn't be done at all. Someone needs to force-feed that fact to the lying, cheapskate, lowest-common-denominator mongering crap merchants at the Sci-Fi Channel.
But there were some good things to yesterday. The morning was consumed with e-mail, but Spooky and I went to lunch at Sweet Lime. I had unagi and salmon nigiri and some really good, seaweedy miso soup. It wasn't too cold out, warmer than today. So, those were good things. We read more of Phil Hine's Prime Chaos, and that was good as well. We made spaghetti for supper, and spaghetti is almost always good. We had a long, if somewhat disturbing conversation about magick while Bell, Book, and Candle was playing on TCM (that was a little surreal). The Philadelphia Story came on next, and it's one of my very favorite films ever, but I wound up playing Halo 2 until three a.m,, instead. But, it was nice. Oh, and I ate Cheetos, which aren't good for me and stain my fingers orange, but, still, that's something else that was good.
Tomorrow, all will be relatively clear for me to return, at long last, to Daughter of Hounds. I'm e-mailing the prologue to my lit agent and my editor today. Now's the time for them to make suggestions. There's no guarrantee, of course, that I'd heed suggestions, but I'm slightly more likely to heed them now than halfway through the novel, when things are set in stone. Right now, the story matrix is very unconsolidated. Everything's loose. Open. Now's the time that big changes could occur. Every word I write, every step towards THE END, solidifies the story and eliminates countless possible alternate paths it might have taken. In truth, I'm having a day when I truly deplore this writing business, stem to stern. And yet, simultaneously, I do feel a genuine desire to return to work on DoH. All is dam'd contradiction.
I'm stuck in the middle of one of those periods when I know I haven't enough time left to me to accomplish everything I want to do. It's one of the most terrible feelings I know. Just the short-term is enough to drive me frelling nuts if I think on it too much. In the next few months, for example, there's Daughter of Hounds, editing To Charles Fort, With Love (a rather substantial undertaking) and writing an additional 20,000 words for the collection, reworking the end of "Bradbury Weather" because I've grown uncomfortable with it, all the many books I need and want to read, a second trip I should make to Rhode Island to do more research, all the work I want to do on Nebari.net (including the development of a magical system based on Nebari mythology)...and there's more than that, but that's enough you should see what I'm saying. There isn't enough of me, and I squander so much time.
I've been thinking about new costumes, too. I may have finally hit upon a functional new outfit design for Nar'eth, which would expose less front and lots more back. And I was also telling Spooky that I want to do a costume based on the abominable snowman cyborg in Rasputina's "The New Zero."
Okay. Now I'm just prattling again, so it's time to get to work...
Monday, December 13, 2004
I have to confess some small degree of guilty amusement over this whole thing with the Madame Tussauds' controversial nativity scene. I just found out that (like no one saw this coming) some indignant Christian fellow was so outraged that he attacked the scene, damaging the statues of David Beckham and Posh Spice. Once upon a time, I might have complained that Madame Tussauds was, at the very least, demonstrating poor judgement and a bit of insensitivity. Screw that. The last thing Christians deserve these days is consideration of their feelings. The nativity scene sounds tacky as hell to me (though I think setting Bush and Blair up as "wise men" is pretty frelling funny), but if Christians take it as a slight, it's a slight many of them have coming. The people of England have spoken (the celebrities for the scene were chosen by a straw poll). Posh Spice and the Virgin Mary are interchangeable. The Christians can deal. Or they can show themselves for what they are and deface private property and go the fuck to jail. The martyrdom will do them good, no doubt.
Spooky's presently packing up all the latest eBay orders. I was drawing the last six monsters until about two a.m. this morning. Thank you all. There's still a copy of Murder of Angels and Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold up. You can even have them in time for Xmas, if you're into that sort of thing. Just click here. Note that the copy of MoA has a bid, so it's not eligible for the "Buy it Now" deal (free Nyarlathotep CD and monster doodle), but Trilobite is eligible.
I'm very anxious to get back to Daughter of Hounds. Wednesday is close. Last night, the first few lines of Chapter One came to me. I caught myself walking down the hall, saying them aloud.
Yesterday, I made good on my promise to go for a long walk with Spooky. We did about a mile, which is saying something, considering how very little exercise I've been getting. It's a wonder I didn't have a frelling heart attack or something. We watched dogs walking their people, stepped in a muddy spot, made fun of hideous Xmas decorations, read sidewalk graffitti, admired admirable old houses, and Spooky kicked an enormous mushroom. Back home, we read a good bit of Phil Hine's Prime Chaos. I'm discovering that I'm getting along with this book much more than I did with Condensed Chaos. I'm not sure if it's a better written book, being less broadly "how to" and more concerned with the details of choas magick, or if I've just become less hostile to magick in general over the last two or three months. I suspect it's a little of both. Something he said, I forget exactly what, made me realize that Farscape did something very interesting with the characters of Zhaan and Noranti, something that I hadn't noticed before. Zhaan is definitely a non-chaos witch, trying, rather unsuccessfully, to adhere to the very strict Delvian path. Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan's a little Wicca, a lot Tibeten Buddhism. Utu-Noranti Pralatong, on the other hand, is a syncretist. She has no single established faith or magickal system, but, literally, makes it up as she goes along. Everything that works is fair game. Her herbalism and magick are an amalgamation resulting from her travels throughout the galaxy, not limited by any particular path. I think she's essentially a chaos magickian. I suppose this should have occured to be before, but it didn't. It's just sort of neat. Anyway, after reading, we had pizza at Fellini's.
I've been getting into the latest Tom Waits cd, Real Gone. It feels more like early Waits to me, and there are no keyboards, which is interesting. Spooky picked it up last week, after trading in a bunch of our duplicates for credit. She also got Nick Cave's Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Wovenhand's Consider the Birds, but I've not had time for them yet.
Okay. I think I've probably prattled on more than long enough. I will add that Poppy need not worry that I might be annoyed at the pokes she took at a rather clueless fan of Silk yesterday. The way to show your appreciation of my work is not to endevour to use it as a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon the works of my close friends. And if the fan in question thinks that Silk is still in anyway typical of my work, she needs to read a little more. I remain very fond of Silk. Very, very fond of it. But...oh, whatever. Writing's an awful enough curse without having to worry about people trying to flatter you and managing to make asses of themselves, instead. Sheesh. I need a beer.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Living safely ITP ("inside the Perimeter") of Atlanta, it's damn easy to forget what a backwards-ass place most of Georgia is. But, thankfully, I have Creative Loafing to remind me with a cover story on the moronic highjinks of our local creationists. The "evolution is just a theory" crowd. The six-day cosmogenesis crowd. The gleebs who've never read Darwin or Wallace or Huxley, Simpson or Mayr, Leakey or Johanson, Gould or Eldridge. The ones who think that fossils were put there by "God" to fool the unwary. Those people. These days, I'm so far removed from the idiot press of humanity, I hardly give those people a second thought. Until they show up on the cover of...oh...say Creative Loafing. I ripped the cover off and discarded it. I am striving to remove these people from my reality. I allowed them to muck up quite a bit of my teens and twenties. I fought them when I was teaching at UAB, when I was working as a paleontologist at the Red Mountain Museum, along with all the hundreds of others who fought them across the country. Apparently, we all fought them in courtrooms and classrooms so that, fifteen or twenty years later, everything would be exactly the same or worse. Well, I will fight them no more. They can believe their hokey fairy tales if that's what suits them. They can dumb-down science in public schools. It's not my problem. I just don't wish to be reminded that they exist in that other world. But I do keep waiting for someone in the state senate to declare that Atlanta proper should be exiled from Georgia for heresy and its yankeefied, queer, multicultural, evolving, high-falutin' ways. Maybe some nice Northern city would give us sanctuary.
Today, more preparation for my meeting with Marvel on Tuesday. I expect it to go well. I return to work on Daughter of Hounds on Wednesday, and I shall not be disturbed until Chapter One is finished.
Also, later this afternoon, I may go for a walk with Spooky. I certainly need the exercise. The weather's clear, but very cold. This is what wool is for.
Seems I spoke too soon about not being allowed to play an alien in Halo 2. Last night, I was permitted to do so, and the game immediately became much more interesting. And not just because I have this thing about humans. The alien part of the game is richer. The music's even better (and the music was good to start with). The graphic design is more exciting. It's just plain cooler. The hunt by Covenant for the heretic feels like something more than a Gulf War or Vietnam f-p shooter retooled for sci-fi. Of course, I know that sooner or later, I'll have to go back to defending what's left of Earth. But at least I have some hope that maybe, just maybe, the game will offer a resolution that's more interesting and forward-thinking than "Woo hoo! Kill all the aliens!" Oh, and I realised last night one thing that bugs me so much about f-p shooters there's pretty much no peripheral vision, which adds to the contrived feel of it all.
Of course, I still have no idea why seven species of aliens seven advanced cultures have banded together to kick Earth's measely backwater butt. I know it's not oil, because by 2525 there sure as hezmana won't be a drop of accessible oil left anywhere on this planet. So, not knowing the full Halo backstory, where I assume all this is explained, I'm baffled at the motivations of the Covenant. Of course, a lot of Iraqis are probably wondering the same thing about America and its "Alliance."
(Caitlνn! Politics, remember? Please.)
Oh, yeah. Sorry. But they aren't getting a sample of my DNA, even if it means I can't have a passport or driver's license or Social Security benefits. I don't drive anyway, 'cause I've only got this one eye here...you know?
(Just shut up and type.)
I haven't mentioned how two and a half hours yesterday were spent in a nightmare of dial-up internet holocaust. Well, it was. Two and half hours trying to do things that I should have been able to accomplish in only twenty or thirty minutes. Best as I can tell, the phone lines were being baraged with holiday well-wishes to grandma and frelling 4-digit L. L. Bean and Old Navy orders. I struggled with AOL, .mac, Blogger, and Yahoo, but I suspect the fault lies not with those programmes so much as with the phone lines. But what do I know, eh. I'm just waiting...waiting...waiting for my DSL to return on January 6th.
Spooky and I are going to search for pumpkins from which to make jack'o-lanterns to set out on the front porch the week before Xmas. We need at least two good pumpkins. I think one should have a bloody, severed Santa arm protruding from its mouth.
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Late yesterday, UPS brought me two copies of The Dry Salvages. In my opinion, it is an exceptionally beautiful volume (with the exception of the inexplicably white endpapers, which were meant to be another colour). And it should be noted that I am not biased regarding the beauty of books which I have written. For example, Meisha Merlin's edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder was an abomination which I'm still trying to forget. No, The Dry Salvages is truly, genuinely a beautiful book. And I have a lot of people to thank for that. Ryan Obermeyer's cover is exquisite, surely one of the finest pieces of art to ever grace the dustjacket of one of my books. My thanks to him for his talent and patience (and you can see more of his work in the subpress ed of Low Red Moon and To Charles Fort, With Love). Gail Cross did a very nice job with the overall jacket layout. I owe a huge debt of thanks to Julie Dion, who helped me out with all the French, and to Larne Pekowsky, who fixed my broken math and was an astrophysics wiz, and to Derek C. F. Pegritz for lending me his futuristic mind. Spooky endured twenty or thirty readings of the ms., it seems, which is why there are few typos and grammatical errors, and she also took the very wonderful photo on the back, which may be my favourite author's photo ever. Jennifer proofread, as well. But the biggest thanks probably goes to Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press for letting me do this book and for letting me do it exactly the way I wanted it done (including a mind-numbing number of revisions to the text). Also, it's nice knowing that it's sold out. I can just enjoy it without having to worry about how it will sell. Okay. Enough burbling for one day.
Yesterday, after some generalised angst and frustration, Spooky and I read through the first 61 pages (a little more than 12,000 words) of Daughter of Hounds. We did this right after Halloween, but that was a month ago, and I needed to hear it all again. She loves it. And I quite like it myself. It is the best prologue I have ever written, which is to say that it's the best beginning to a book I have ever written. The rest of it stretches out before me. Monday, I'm sending this much of the ms. to Merrilee (my book agent) and John (my editor) to see what they think. I'll probably send it to one other reader as well. I've described it to Merrilee as Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Pulp Fiction, but yesterday the comparison didn't seem nearly so apt and clever as when I first made it. But it is a strange, new sort of novel for me.
For Kindernacht, we rented Species III and Frankenfish, and swapped Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal for Halo 2. The only really kind thing I can say about Species III is that is just barely managed to be better than Species II (and the only good thing I can say about Species II is that it somehow managed to be worse than Species). However, Frankenfish, a tale of genetically altered giant snakeheads loose in a Louisiana bayou, was a fairly charming and surprisingly gory film. Frankenfish plays, just a little, against horror-movie stereotypes. The protagonist is a black medical examiner played by a Denzel Washington wanna-be, backed up by a hot half-Asian lesbian with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. They're sort of like an alternate universe Mulder and Scully. Most of the characters are just there to be eaten, of course, and to be eaten horribly, but they are an unusually memorable lot. The Cajun characters aren't played as inbred retards and even the inevitable Voodoo lady is handled better than usual. The monster effects are stunning (unlike the rubber suits in Species III). If you like big dumb monster movies, you should definitely seek out Frankenfish. As for Halo 2, not having played Halo and having a general disdain for first-person shooters, I found it quite engaging. The graphics are gorgeous and it's very playable, but jeez louise, I could do without the idiotic, one-dimensional roughnecks who pass, sort of, for characters in this game. There's not an ounce of charm or charisma in the lot, and I can't even begin to pretend to care what happens to these macho assholes. It urks me that I'm not given the option of playing an alien or a woman. I suppose I can excuse the game's inherent xenophobia I mean, if I'm willing to accept its premise that a federation of alien races are trying to destroy mankind (I don't know the backstory from the first game, so I'm not sure what's up). The black sergeant is lifted directly from Al Matthews' cigar-chewing performance in Aliens, and are we really supposed to believe that in the 26th Century people are still quoting frelling Emeril Lagasse? The only interesting character so far is the holographic computer chick, who may have a name, but I haven't heard it yet. There's been far too little of her. Anyway, trigger-happy cardboard characters aside, I'm kind of having fun with Halo 2. And I'm sure it fulfills the warrior fantasies of all those guys (and gals) who weren't lucky enough to be shipped off to Iraq by Dominar Bush to kill aliens...um, I mean Muslims. All in all, a most excellent Kid Night.
What else? There's a lot of second-hand news I'm trying not to think about, like Georgia creationists and the Department of Homeland Security Seizing Control of drivers licenses and birth certificates from the states and requiring DNA samples for ID of all US citizens. When is someone gonna tell Bush that the Hitler schtick is growing old. Oh, wait. Never.
Here in America, it's considered bad form to compare people to Hitler, even when they're acting like Nazis. Less we want to be called shrill and silly and alarmists, we have to stand by and wait patiently until they actually start opening the concentration camps and firin' up the ovens. Oh, wait again. Does Guantanamo Bay count?
(Caitlνn? Do you not remember that promise you made to yourself about not discussing politics in the blog? You do, don't you?)
Er...well, I'm also sort of bummed that VNV Nation isn't going to be playing Atlanta. The closest they're coming to me will be Tampa, would be doable, just, were I not presently so busy and short of cash. Poor, poor me. There are starving children in Nigeria who can't even afford VNV Nation cds for their black-market Discmen (Discmans?). I'm a pig. Oink.
Today, I have to get back to that thing for Marvel, because I have a meeting with one of the editors there on Tuesday, and I need to be a lot more prepared for it than I presently am. I want to just start Chapter One of Daughter of Hounds while the prologue is still fresh in my head. But, alas...
Addendum: I've just uploaded a short Farscape transcript to Nebari.net, an extended version of Scene 19 from "A Constellation of Doubt." It's a really extraordinary scene (with some genuinely fine acting from Gigi Edgley), and it's a shame that the full version was cut and relegated to the DVD. Anyway, consider this a comment from me on the horror of Xmas and American consumerism (there will be more such comments as we move nearer Ground Zero), as well as other things. As a little background for those unfamiliar with the episode, it's a news exposι composed of video footage shot by John Crichton's nephew, Bobby, during the brief time that the crew of Moya were on Earth, intended by the fictional producers to demonstrate that the presence of the aliens is a threat to humanity. But it ends up revealing far more about humans than about Nebari, Hynerians, Luxans, Sebaceans, Kalish, etc.
Scene 19 (extended)
Oh, and Bill Schafer tells me that, at some point, we actually had a conversation wherein I approved the white endpapers in the trade edition of The Dry Salvages. The limited edition will have coloured endpapers. I don't remember this conversation, but I trust that it did, in fact, occur. These days, I do good to remember my own phone number.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Addendum: I thought I'd get nothing written today. But then, after a late lunch, the words started coming. And for this I am grateful. Chapter Three of The Girl Who Sold the World is now up on Nebari.net, after what? a year or so.
Of course, it's been so frelling long since chapters One and Two went up, you may want to start at the beginning:
And background information of Nar'eth and her family may be found on the manga page:
I'm absolutely flummoxed at how difficult it is to write this particular story. Never mind that it's "just" fan-fic, and it's really mostly just for me, it's proven a lot more difficult than my other work. Largely, I've realized, this is because I have no recourse to a lot of homocentric language and imagery. The eight-year-old Nar'eth's frame of reference is entirely alien, and though it encompasses several races and languages, none of them are human. So, for example, it would make no sense to refer to a sky as "china blue" or to say someone was "stubborn as a mule." An awful lot of the English language is, indeed, useless to me in this endeavor. Of course, if I were to do it the right way, this story would be written in Nebari, using the Nebari alphabet. But I'm not quite ready for that yet. I think I want to try a few poems in Nebari before I attempt prose. But, perhaps this story can be translated later. Yep, I'm dead serious.
Yesterday was a frustrating, tangled mass of distraction and inconvenience, which, in the end, conspired to make work almost impossible. I did about five hundred words on The Girl Who Sold the World. This, of course, was only an exericise to get me back into the novel, but even it seems just out of my grasp. I'm not sure what I'll try today go back to TGWStW, read the prologue of Daughter of Hounds, or look at other projects that need looking at. I have enough work right now for two writers and all the energy of a garden slug. All the motivation of a brick. All the passion of a blown light bulb.
I should see finished copies of the trade edition of The Dry Salvages tomorrow, and those of you who ordered should be getting them soon. I've put an unusual amount of effort into this little book, from the story itself to concept of the cover art to the layout of the dust jacket. I've had a hand in every part of its creation, it seems. I hope it shows. No, I hope it shows for the better. This from Bill Schafer (subpress) last night, "...we have more orders than we'll have copies of The Dry Salvages, so anyone who wants one should order NOW. I'm sure Amazon and various distributors ordered more than they need, initially, but I suspect TDS will be scarce on the ground in a couple of months." So, do like the man says, if you want a copy of this book. I'll have a very few copies for eBay, but only a very few, because many of my personal copies have already been promised to other people.
Spooky and I have decided to put the current eBay auction on pause. The combined effects of me being so busy and our having to wrestle with dial-up has made the whole matter of processing orders and relisting books far, far more time consuming than normal. So, the stuff that's up now might be all that gets listed until after Xmas. We currently have about fifteen orders from the past week that we have to get out. I spent an hour and a half night last night drawing monsters, so orders should start going into the mail in the next couple of days. Upshot if you want to buy something from me before Xmas, you better do so now. If we get these orders out by, say, Monday, we might relist some things. We'll see.
I feel as though I'm writing in circles this morning.
It's raining again.
Anyway, I have the day to contend with. More later.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Lo and behold (she said), I actually managed to escape my own paralysing gravity yesterday and leave the house. Despite the rain, Spooky and I spent part of the afternoon wandering around Little Five Points. We might have picked a better destination. In wet weather, Little Five Points has all the charm of a cigarette butt floating in a Dixie cup of warm beer. But there were bright spots, such as peeping into the pizza place that used to be a Fellini's, the place I set a scene near the end of The Five of Cups, and finding it pretty much the same as it was back in 1992. And there's Sweet Lime, a great sushi joint (where once there was a decent Cajun restaurant, many years ago) that features $1 nigiri all damn day long on Mondays and from 5:30-7:30 p.m. the rest of the week. Back home, there was an incident with a very fat, psychotic squirrel that had chewed its way through the thick plastic on one of the garbage cans (plastic cans? That hardly seems right...) and, just as I passed by it, heading up the back stairs, the beast emerged head and shoulders, popping up like the newborn alien bursting free of Kane's chest, scaring the frikkin' bejeesus out of me. I never knew a squirrell could look so frelling demented. After giving me the hairy eyeball (literally), it immediately scampered to the degree that a squirrel that obsese can be said to scamper up a nearby tree. Local Author Dies of Heart Attack Following Encounter With Crazed, Garbage-Eating Squirrel.
Thereafter, I almost OD'd on caffeine and various trendy hipster stimulants, but at least managed to conquer dial-up and get Chapter Ten of the Nar'eth manga online. There's an awful lot of cute in this one. Also, Leh'agvoi (alias Trompι Setsuled) and I will be collaborating on a Nar'eth "holiday special." I will write, and he will draw, and you will, no doubt, be amazed at the strangeness that will result. No details yet, but I'm fairly confident that there will be lots and lots of snow involved.
After dinner, Spooky and I watched Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes, which we'd missed in the theatres. Utterly delightful. We followed that with the last volume of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Season Three.
Many thanks to Blu for the stack of CDs. New music is much appreciated. And thanks, also, to Taylor Elwood for a copy of his book, Pop Culture Magick (published by Storm Constantine's Immanion Press, which seems to be suiting me much more, so far, than the Phil Hine stuff. More on this in a later entry.
Today, I'm planning to write the long-overdue Chapter Three of The Girl Who Sold the World, in the hope that a couple of hours of fan-fic will snap me back into the Story Place, and tomorrow I can get back to work on Daughter of Hounds.
This morning, I swept fallen leaves off the our front porch. It's very nice having a front porch again. I've not had a front porch since 1997 when Jennifer and I left Athens. It's a sunny, bright morning here in Atlanta, a welcome change after the grey days. The air's a little nippy, but the last of the autumn colour helps take the edge off. I've discovered that it's not the colours of autumn that disturb me, but that terrible, perfect blue hue the sky takes on, that and the diminished quality of sunlight.
Please take a moment to look in on the eBay auctions. The Five of Cups for a scant $20 (plus P&H), an offer that won't last too much longer. "Buy It Now" for a free CD and monster doodle. Don't make me have to take the cat to the plasma donation place again. . .
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Yesterday, the feared uselessness asserted itself almost full force. I did manage to get most of the boxes out of my office, but that was about it. Today, Spooky and I may flee out into The World, though the weather is drear (grey, foggy, rainy, cold). I've hardly left the new place since the move. I get like this. I will make a happy fossil. Perhaps I need the botanical gardens, a brief game of I'm not really here and it's not really December again. Or maybe we could just go to a bar. Or the library. Most likely, I won't go anywhere, because it's easier to sit here.
Repeat after me (come on, you know this one), A writer who does not write is nothing.
I've written nothing of consequence since finishing the prologue to Daughter of Hounds just before Halloween. Granted, I've had some pretty good excuses Fiddler's Green in Minneapolis and then the three-week grind of moving from Kirkwood to here. But all that's past, and now I should write. And no excuse is presently good enough. Dying men and women have made better attempts to write than I've made the last week or so. The time to resume writing is long past. I'm not a lazy person. On more than one occasion, other authors with whom I am aquainted have called me a "workaholic" (I hate that word, as it assumes one can work too much, which is, prima facia, a damned silly idea). I'm not lazy. But, I am sometimes afflicted by this malaise, this self-perpetuating stillness. Winter is probably the worst. I look outside at the ugliness of Atlanta in December and can't imagine why I should write.
Except (repeat after me), A writer who does not write is nothing.
One may as well be a fisherman who doesn't fish, a stripper who doesn't strip, or a begger who doesn't beg.
Writers write. The rest all that stuff that gets lumped together as "life" is gravy. The rest is what we get because we were good and wrote like we were supposed to do.
And no, blogs don't count. Not at all. Not even a little bit.
(Of course, I will accept the corollary that there are some writers who ought not to write, i.e., who ought to be something other than writers. I will not name any of them. That would be crass. Sadly, few of them know who they are.)
Okay. Enough of that.
The current eBay auctions have been going well, and I very much appreciate that, as the costs of moving were not insubstantial. There would be more stuff up right now, but doing eBay via dial-up, what with all the "improvements" that have been made there the last few years, is, as stardustgirl recently commented, not unlike emptying a bathtub with a thimble. Anyway, as I've said, use "Buy It Now" and get a free copy of Nyarlathotep: The Crawling Chaos' Threshold-inspired CD, Our Thoughts Make Spirals in Their World, along with a monster doodle by me (one doodle per customer, until I'm sick of drawing them).
Oh, word from subpress is that the trade hardback edition of The Dry Salvages will be shipping beginning December 8th; the limited edition will ship as soon as the accompanying chapbook and CD are ready. There's still no word on exactly when the hardback of Low Red Moon will ship. For the hundreth time, I apologize to those of you who have been waiting so long for this book. It should be along later this month. At this point, the book's more than a year and a half late, I think.
Anyway, I'm gonna go do something. It'll probably be something instead of writing. Which is appropriate, as I feel about as solid as nothing on this drizzly afternoon.
Monday, December 06, 2004
Yesterday was actually quite productive. I got the cover done for "The Worm in My Mind's Eye" (thank you, Arvin), even though it entailed relearning a whole bunch of Adobe PageMaker that I'd forgotten, and I proofed the chapbook (with help from Spooky and Jennifer). I didn't exile the cardboard boxes, not all of them, but it still felt like a triumph. It made me hopeful that I was on the edge of a Useful Period. But, alas, I've spent most of today moping about feeling stunningly useless. I think the next thing we have to do is read aloud through the prologue of Daughter of Hounds, and I just wasn't up to that today. It's foggy and grey here, and my mind keeps wandering off to other places. I fear a post-move doldrum, which I must resist with every fiber of my being.
And I'm touchy, probably because not being able to get back to writing is aggravating me so much. This morning over breakfast, for example, I became quite unreasonaly annoyed at a Camel cigarettes ad in the new Creative Loafing. It touts some tarted-up floosy in a ridiculous green dress with white fur trim balanced on the toe of one ice skate, her right hand toying with the loose laces of her right skate, while the left hand holds aloft a smoldering Camel. She grins laciviously at us from beneath the brim of a furry white hat (matches the trim on the dress) than even Huggy Bear (the pimp, not the grrrl band wouldn't be caught dead wearing. No point analysing all the manipulative, subtle and not so subtle psychosexual cues that the marketing folks over at R. J. Reynolds are employing in this ad (which, by the way, is for the stomach-churning "limited time only" Winter MochaMint and Warm Winter Toffee flavoured cigarettes). Never mind that. What really annoyed me, aside from the awful dress and the silly hat and the precious little snowflake tattoo on the chick's right shoulder, was the slogan tucked into the lower right-hand corner of the ad: Pleasure to Burn. If you have read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (or even King's Firestater), the line should be familiar to you. And I can't say if Reynolds discovered it via coincidence or if they borrowed it straight from the book. Either way, I feel like they're using Bradbury to sell cigarettes to women who want to be slutty, poorly-dressed ice skaters, and that just sort of messes with my head.
Okay. Never mind.
To Charles Fort, With Love will include an original, brand-new 20,000-word novella. Which is cool and should serve as added incentive for you to preorder this book as soon as subpress begins taking preorders (this is another one that will probably sell out prior to publication). Only thing is, now I have to write a 20,000-word novella...
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Yesterday was just short of a total waste. The worst of it was an aborted picture hanging in the living room that almost turned into my knocking a hole in an unexpectedly flimsy wall. Clinging onto the ladder by my bare toes, listening to plaster falling behind the wall, I got a sickly, defeated feeling in my belly and called it a day (and please, no diy advice; it's just gonna piss me off). Spooky and I went for a short walk in the new neighborhood. Twilight was just coming on. I noticed a patch of newer cement where someone named Jessie had written his or her name sometime back in 2002. The last of the bright leaves are clinging to the trees here, and I can feel real winter coming on. Solstice is close, so at least the days will begin getting longer again. That's something. My decision to remain on Daylight Savings Time has helped, but we're reaching the point where the days feel truncated, even with that extra hour. I was talking about the walk, wasn't I? Yeah. Well, we walked one way, then we walked back the other. Ta-da!
I never did mention that Spooky and I saw Incident at Loch Ness the other day. I think that was Thursday, but it might have been Wednesday (Spooky sez Wednesday). Anyway, it was an entirely delightful film that reminded me I need to pay more attention to Werner Herzog.
Today, there has to be work. I have to proofread "The Worm in My Mind's Eye," and lay out the cover for same. Many thanks to Arvin Clay for coming up with the snazzy ANSA logo. I'm almost disappointed that The Dry Salvages will be sold out on publication. I would like it to get a wider readership. You will, howeverm be able to puchase copies of the accompanying Nyarlathotep CD (which I think is being called A Self-Contemplating Shadow after a line from Blake which is integral to the story and also appeared as an epigraph to Murder of Angels) seperately, both from me via eBay and from the band. I'll post more info that that effect later. Anyway,the proof and then layout the cover and, also, I've sworn to banish all cardboard boxes from my office by day's end. We'll see about that last part.
Speaking of eBay, we've added copies of Trilobite: The Writing of Threshold to our current auctions. Note that our stock of these is getting low, so we won't be offering them very much longer.
There are people round here putting these huge, ugly inflatable Santas and snowmen and dren in their yards. It's utterly grotesque. These great, swollen, glowing effigies, like literal totems erected to the gluttonous consumer frenzy that American Xmas has become. I think it's time to buy a BB-gun.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
It's a very chilly Saturday here in Atlanta. I'm trying hard not to allow my emotions to be so effected by the ups and downs of temperature, and I made it through autumn this year. But the beginning of the truly cold weather last week has me off balance and annoyed at myself.
I need to be writing. I need to be deep into Daughter of Hounds by now. But the move has upset everything. Hopefully, I can get back into the novel next week. There are all these other writing-related things, all these other projects, standing in the way. It is not so simple as sitting down and returning to the story I set aside just before Halloween. I wish it were. I need a clear head. I need focus. I need an end to the clutter and boxes and interruptions and expectations of others. I need a space that is only me and that story, and then it can begin again. I require the world to stay out of my way.
At this point, I may write some fan-fic, just so I can say that I'm writing something. I haven't written on the Nar'eth story at Nebari.net in almost a year now, maybe more than a year, I've been so distracted by other things. So maybe I'll do another chapter of it, just to flex my mind. Speaking of Nebari.net, Leh'agvoi has sent me the new manga pages, which I'll try to get up this weekend. And check out the next chapter of his other comic, The Adventures of Boschen and Nesuko, which just went up.
Nothing much good that can be said about yesterday. I didn't write. I talked to people who needed me to talk to them, with whom I needed to talk, etc. I hung some pictures, unpacked some boxes. For Kid Night, we watched Spiderman 2, but I have to admit that I was disappointed. I enjoyed the first one more. The second film was beautiful and the SFX were better than those in the first, but the story seemed flabby and the pacing was all over the place. Too many subplots for such a simple story. Afterwards, I played Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal until something like two a.m.
At least the eBay auctions are going well, despite the limitations of dial-up. Remember, The Five of Cups for only $20 ($25 with "Buy it Now," in which case you also get a free Nyarlathotep CD and a monster doodle limit one doodle per person).
I've been helping Arvin Clay (of Nyarlathotep: The Crawling Chaos) design a logo for ANSA, the space agency in The Dry Salvages (which is now entirely sold out, by the way). The logo is looking drad and will appear on the cover of "The Worm in My Mind's Eye," a chapbook accompanying the limited edition of The Dry Salvages. I still have to lay out the whole cover and get it to Bill Schafer, and I should have had this done a week ago. Anyway, Arvin and Derek and the brain of HPL have done some marvelous, creepy stuff for the CD that will accompany the book, as well as designing a website and additional content that will be accessible from the disc.
Well, I can think of nothing else to say this morning. See you tomorrow...
Friday, December 03, 2004
Addendum: So, this morning I stated, in my comments on Gerald Allen's bigotry, that Alabama has an average IQ of 90. I drew this information from a diagram that was very widely circulated on the internet and even appeared in The Economist shortly after the election, a diagram which purported to show a correlation between higher IQs and states that went Democrat (and vice verse). I was at once informed by Franklin Harris that the diagram had been shown to be a hoax, and that The Economist had duly printed a retraction. This is true, and it should be a lesson to me to do more than trust a claim that something is based on data from the "National Centre for Education Statistics" and the "Census Bureau." Discarding the hoaxed datum, I can not claim to know the average IQ of Alabama. I do not, however, retract my opinion, based on all the years I've lived in Alabama, that it is an extremely inhospitable and intolerant place. But, then, one could say the same of most of America, so maybe I have no point after all.
Sorry about there being no entry yesterday. It was that sort of a day. I spent the better part of it reading comic books. Sometimes, it still weirds me out that a legitimate part of my work is reading comic books. Anyway, there was also another Hollywood nibble yesterday. I've quickly gotten sort of oh-yeah-whatever about the movie thing. Someday it will happen. Or it won't. We'll see. I don't break out the champagne anymore when a producer or studio calls my film agent.
Most of you probably know by now about the anti-gay legislation that has been proposed by Rep. Gerald Allen of (deep breath) the Great State of Alabama (exhale). Allen wants a ban imposed that would forbid all Alabama public libraries, schools, and state universities from using books which "foster" homosexulaity; that is, all literature, film, plays, science textbooks, etc. which present gays and lesbians in something other than a negative light. According to the Birmingham News, "Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed." Okay. Don't think this one has any chance in heck of becoming law? You should remember, the average IQ in Alabama is only 90 (I'm not making that up), and a lot of people there are still pissed about that whole forced-integration thing (I'm not making that up, either). I, for one, would not be the least bit surprised were such a law to become reality. Having grown up in Alabama, having grown up queer in Alabama, and having, inexplicably, spent the better part of my life there, it seems all too possible to me. Even with a handicap like that double-digit IQ buisness dragging them down, there are a few things which most Alabamians do very well: hate, football, barbeque, football, deer hunting, football, and hate. In that order.
Of course, taking punches at Alabama is sort of like kicking a dead dog. The dog is beyond caring, and all that comes of it is you get your shoes dirty.
(pause for effect)
Dial-up frelling sucks. And I'm stuck with it until January 6th when the DSL fairy comes back. Everything I do online seems to be taking me at least three times as long as usual.
Silk, it has been given an unexpected, two-month reprieve from the jaws of remaindering. I learned day before yesterday that Penguin won't be pulling the plug until February 1, 2005. Small victories.
As promised, we're beginning a new round of eBay auctions (hampered, of course, by dial-up). We're starting off with copies of The Five of Cups beginning at only $20. Use "Buy It Now" and get a free Nyarlathotep CD, Their Thoughst Make Spirals In Our World, and a monster doodle by yours truly. This time, though, monster doodles will be limited strictly, one per person. I don't have time to do more.
Is that all for today? I think so. Except that I did want to point out that my last entry, the one about Giordano Bruno and extraterrestrial life and no one human being special, about Homo sapiens not being anything special, that was most emphatically not intended as a nihilistic statement. I hate being taken for a nihilist. My claim is not that life is meaningless, but that the greater meaning lies in the whole rather than with the individual parts of this cosmos. Because a thing is transient, that doesn't mean it is without meaning. I'm saying look at the big picture, the bigger the better, and maybe the human race can at least delay the gravity of its own inevitable demise.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
So, I've made it almost all the way through the first twenty-four hours of December without cramming an animatronic reindeer fashioned from plastic holly and strings of electric lights up anyone's ass, and I think I deserve a medal for that. I've been trying not to get snarky about Xmas, at least not until Xmas actually gets here, but people have been shoving it at me since a few days before Halloween. I can't hold out for frelling ever.
There's not much to say about today, I was too exhausted last night to get to "Tears Seven Times Salt," so we did that this morning. I wrote that story all the way back in 1995, and this morning was this first time I'd read it in many years. It used to be my favourite of all my stories (now, I think my favourite is probably "La Peau Verte"). Anyway, I sat there, reading this story aloud to Spooky, reading me as I wrote nine long years ago, and I was amazed at how much my style, my voice, my technique has evolved. A lot. I still like that earlier voice, but it is very distinct from what I'm doing now, I think. I'm very pleased that this particular story was chosen for Cemetery Dance's The Century's Best Horror, to represent 1996. Also, reading it today, I realised that Esme Chattox, the Fish Auger in Murder of Angels, is somehow actually Jenny Haniver, which was cool.
Mostly, though, I've been quietly seething about the fate of Giordano Bruno, a 16th-Century philosopher who was burned at the stake for proposing that the universe was filled with life, that, indeed, most or all of the stars in the night sky harboured planets populated by living things. In short, that man and Earth and our little yellow star are really nothing terribly special, just one more grain of sand in a sparkling cosmic sea. Mostly, that's what I've been thinking about. Giordano Bruno burning alive for heresy. And, last night, I scribbled in the day planner that I keep on my desk, "You are not special..."
Sometimes, it seems to me that so many of the ills of humanity could be dispensed with if only, finally, it could be pounded through the collective thick, myopic skull of Homo sapiens that it's just another species, one out of the many tens of billions that have evolved here on Earth in the last three point whatever billion years. Just one. Sure, you've done some neat shit, but so have whales and beavers and fire ants. We learned to walk, and talk, and turn redwoods into toothpicks, and kill each other by splitting atoms, and one day, one day soon by geological standards, we shall become extinct, which is what happens to all species. No god will intercede on our behalf. The average life span of a species on Earth is somewhere between one and five million years, whether we're talking trilobites, dinosaurs, or homonids (and I'd think that having recently developed the ability to wipe out most of our species in a single day means we're nearing the latter days of our run). A million years from now, which is a very short span in the life of a planet, there will likely be only a few, scant fossilized remains of humanity.
One species, one planet, on a limited, one-time-only engagement, and in our galaxy alone there are something like four-hundred billion other suns, most of which have planets of their own, and, as Giordano Bruno pointed out, quiet a few of those almost certainly must sport biospheres. Life is not some freak occurance, but simply an inevitable chemical reaction, given the right conditions and enough time. In our galaxy alone, billions of civilizations have risen and crumbled and left behind no trace. Consider, then, that the universe may contain as many as 50,000 billion billion stars, and here's humanity, arrogantly struggling to keep itself at the dead center of things, killing people to salvage tattered illusions of specialness, of immortality, of god-ordained superiority. Here you are, killing each other just for colouring outside the narrow lines drawn by frightened, cowering men, men whose bodies evolution might have been brought down from the boughs of dark Paleocene forests, but whose minds are still huddled in terror of anything larger and grander than themselves. Here you are, in an almost unfathomably vast and indifferent universe. Here you are alone, a flicker in the night, and the most you can do, the least you can do, the one triumph against the void is to live with compassion and dignity and courage and some attempt at understanding.
The rest is shit. All your wars and hatreds, all your prejudices and conceits and horrors. All the beliefs for which you are willing to murder or die. All of it, a whisper in the night.
I don't like myself when I get like this.
But I can't stop thinking about all the Giordano Brunos who have died and are dying and will yet die for the preservation of one ignorance or another, all the Giordano Brunos on this planet and all those billions of billions of other planets.
Okay. That's enough. I'm shutting this brain off for a while...