greygirlbeast: (white)
First, here's a preview of Dark Horse Presents #9, which will include pages 1-8 of Alabaster #1. DHP #9 will be in stores on February 22nd. So, yes, Alabaster is coming! And Mike Mignola! Imagine that – me, in a comic with Hell Boy's dad!

---

Yesterday, there was no writing, no real writing. And yet there was a great deal of work. I finished the corrections to Alabaster #3 (with great and wondrous and much appreciated help from Spooky), then sent them away to my Dark Horse editor, the vivacious Rachel Edidin. And then I wrote the synopses and proposals for the two sequels to Blood OrangesFay Grimmer (you either get this joke or don't) and Puppy Love. I sent those to my agent, then called her and we talked about publishing options. She was very happy with the synopses. I'm looking at writing Fay Grimmer this summer, and then the third (and final) book in August 2013. Merrilee and I also talked a good bit about ebooks, audiobooks, and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Then I did some design work on the rest of the website revamp.

Afterwards, I had a hot bath, before calling Rachel (at Dark Horse, remember?), and we talked about all things Dancy Flammarion. Only minutes after that conversation, she emailed me Greg Ruth's colored cover for Alabaster #3, which is unbelievably beautiful. And that was, essentially, work yesterday (if I've forgotten anything, screw it). Today I mean to actually fucking write, beginning Alabaster #4.

My horns came! Now I only have to get my goatish (horizontal pupil) contact lenses. By the way, the horns were one of my Cephalopodmas gifts from Spooky. They are amazing, and as soon as I have the headpiece made, I'll post photos here.

Geoffrey arrived about 8:15 p.m. (CaST), and we had Palestinian takeout for diner. We spent the evening talking about books, our favorite and not favorite authors, good writing and bad, the panel proposals I need to send to Readercon (they were actually due at the end of December), Star Wars: The Old Republic, the hideous folly of 3D films, that which I have been reading and that which I feel like I ought to be reading, Aleister Crowley, the Ruination of Boulder, iPads, addiction, and the trap of genre fiction. I think he decamped for Framingham about 2 a.m. (CaST).

---

Speaking of Geoffrey and Readercon, I hope he doesn't mind, but I've got to post this mock-panel description he sent me yesterday for what I think would be the penultimate "horror" fiction panel. It is the truth, plain and simple:

WHY ARE WE STILL DOING THIS?

The antihorror panel. If you look around, any full-timer who’s here from over ten years ago has survived by giving up, writing five books a year, or shifting into thrillers, paranormal romance, or other greener pastures. Even the people in the audience who are currently writing “4 the luv” and think they’ll eventually earn their way onto this panel will regret attending this convention within five years. Horror’s dead for good and we’re the ones who killed it. If it weren’t for tenure, movie rights, and food stamps, the only people in this room would be locals and hobbyists. Yet, time and again, you ask people about this stuff and instead of shame you get stories of tormented childhoods rescued by monsters, women’s breasts, and copious amounts of blood. What’s wrong with us and how can we turn our lives around?

---

Okay, regarding my thing about the word awesome. I think there are lots of people misinterpreting what I'm trying to say, which is not, actually, that the word ought to be banned from the English language (though the situation is so frustrating I might have said that a few times), but, rather, that the absurd level of saturation that has been visited upon us by the use of the word needs to end. I'm not a "grammar Nazi," but, for fuck's sake, there are many, many other adjectives (veritable oodles), both proper and slang, wonderful and useful synonyms, that mean what "awesome" is being used (almost to the exclusion of all these words) to mean. And never mind the grotesque permutations ("Awesomesauce"? No. No. No.) the word awesome is presently suffering.

Generally I loathe the Urban Dictionary, but even it understands, defining awesome as "1. Something Americans use to describe everything."

I am not now and have never been anti-slang. Slang is good and helpful. But all good things in moderation, for fuck's sake. How about cool, neat, groovy, nifty, keen, et al. And if you think any of these are too antiquated, does no one realize that this present usage of awesome actually entered our lexicon from Valley Girl speak in the late 1970s and early 1980s (except for Portland, OR, where it never exited and will will). It then exited, and was only resurrected to flood our sentences a few years back. So, toss in some other slang. Pretty please. With a goddamn cherry on top. That would be so bow tie.

And, for now, that's all. Oh, comment, kittens.

Chugging Red Bull, Because She Needs Wings,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
I'm sitting here composing, in my head, a Tom Waits song that Tom Waits will never compose, much less record. But it's about not sending "wish you were here" postcards to nightmares.

Someone said something. I won't say who or where the comment was made. The "You're a horror writer" thing. No, I'm not. But. If you insist, maybe it's simply that my definition of "horror" and yours are so vastly different that we possess incommensurable worldviews and can't actually communicate on the subject in any mutually intelligible way (by the way, if you grew up without phonetics/phonics, you're screwed; then again, I guess that's why we have "l33t," "texting," and online dictionaries).

Why no, I'm not in a good mood. Not at all. Not after those dream worlds. And given the fact that there's no way for me to conclusively demonstrate to myself that they're any less objectively "real" than this waking world wherein I'm typing this LJ entry (never mind the world wherein you're reading it; I'll not open that can of worms). Still, this mood has to be bent far enough in that direction that I can get "Sexing the Weird" finished today. I have to be productive. No option, even if there's a hypothetical option.

Problem is, I have this thing I thought would take me two days to write, and today will be day four...I think. I spent yesterday navigating my way through the original and expurgated texts of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and then it was Machen's "The Great God Pan," and finally that got me to the central focus of Part One of the introduction, which is simply that Lovecraft wrote a LOT about fucking. I began with "The Dunwich Horror," a lamentably silly, sprawling tale that I sincerely wish were not thought of as one of HPL's best. But, nonetheless, it is a tale of interspecies and interdimensional sex, and therefore serves my purposes. Today, onward. The thesis statement is remarkably simple: sex (and especially "deviant" sex) has often been at the heart of weird fiction, all the way back to the Gothics. Though...I only go as far back Le Fanu, and if anyone wants to go farther back, well...the path is marked. And yeah, I see the repetitive nature of two of those sentences. Let's pretend I did it on purpose.

---

Today is the 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. The whole thing is explained here, for those who need an explanation. I'd like to think that no one does need an explanation. Transgender people live with the constant threat of physical and psychological violence, and even death, every single hour of our lives. No matter who you become, that threat, and the fear it engenders, never goes away. Even when you might actually be genuinely safe. Because too many times you haven't been, and you know what might happen if you're not careful and can't figure out how to cheat all the immutable pink and blue rules of a cisgendered world (and you can't). Me, I have about a hundred tales. Someday, maybe I'll tell one of the closest calls I ever had, which concerns three drunken Athens, GA frat boys bearing down on me as I gripped a can of pepper spray. Playing chicken with hate, as it were. No one can count the dead, but we can remember a few who must serve, in these grim mathematics, as the symbols for an unknown (and unknowable) number.

---

Last night a new episode of Fringe, "And Those We Leave Behind," and it was so good I cannot imagine how this series is still on the air. It just keeps going to stranger places. We all do this at our own risk, going weird places, if we expect anyone to follow. And storytellers tend to have to wish for followers. Elsewise, we're only talking to ourselves. Not that there's anything wrong with talking to ourselves. Me to myself. You to yourself. Unless you need to make a living telling stories (an awful, awful situation). Anyway, a fine episode, and I think they finally made me care about Peter Bishop, who has almost always felt like a great slab of nothing interesting. I just hope that the series either a) wraps things up this season or b) doesn't lose it's following and is permitted another season. Were it me, I'd have taken this season to end the story, especially considering how this season almost didn't happen.

The platypus shakes the word basket, and I reach inside, hoping this isn't one of those days the platypus is being cute and has slipped in a few razorblades just for shits and giggles.

Remembering,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
I'm keeping this short, because yesterday was a bad, bad, bad day for Spooky and me both, but more for Spooky. And no, I'm not talking about that endearing gent "Colonel Panic."

A few points though:

1) Yesterday I finished "Ex Libris," an endeavor that required of me the writing of an additional 1,424 words, bringing the story's total word count to 10,555. "Ex Libris" and "The Yellow Alphabet" will comprise The Yellow Book hardcover chapbook offered free with the limited edition of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (pre-orders coming soon, I think). As for "Ex Libris," I think it was one of those stories where the composition consisted of me trying to pound some offending part of myself to pulp against a granite boulder. Or between two bricks. Whatever. Maybe this story is my way of punishing myself for the ending of "Tidal Forces," or the "happy" ending I gave The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Would I call "Ex Libris" horror? Well, writing it certainly required that I draw a great deal of horror from myself and place it on the page, an amount of horror disproportionate to, say, terror, awe, and wonder. Call it what you want. I'm just glad to have it out of me. Sometimes, I dislike getting such an undimmed view of my psyche. Also, people can either deal with the fact that a large part of one paragraph is in binary code, or they can have a hissy fit. Either way works for me.

2) If you have received your copy of Two Worlds and In Between, please turn to page 300, and if there is some bizarre mutilation to that page please say so here. I have a copy with this defect, as does another person who purchased the book. I mean, a person who purchased the book. Since I didn't. Purchase it, I mean. Anyway, page 300. "The page was flayed. A thin narrow layer of paper was peeled down from the top removing the words, gradually gets wider and ends about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the page. The strip was rolled like a little pillbug." So, now. Look at page 300.

3) I wrote in my November 13th entry:

For Sirenia Digest #72, I want to do another "Question @ Hand" feature, as we haven't done one in quite a while, and I actually have fun with them. Yeah, fun. Imagine that. Anyway, I'm taking requests. That is, it would be great if people had suggestions, as I'm drawing a blank. So, you know, something along the lines of "What if you had me alone for twenty-four hours with nothing but a spork and a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and I was hogtied, and no one would ever know what you did, what would you do to me?" Only more imaginative. That sort of thing, in keeping with the flavor of the digest, which means none of that "I just want to read to you (or let you write) and make you a cup of tea" nonsense. Get your hands dirty. I do it every day.

I'm still taking suggestions. When I have the perfect one, I'll post it here, and all replies will be private and viewable to me and only me. The ones I like best will appear, anonymously, in the digest. This anonymity encourages, I hope, genuine depravity.

4) I spoke with Harlan yesterday afternoon. We played a labyrinthine game of tag until he finally got me on the phone. He isn't well, and last night he was appearing at a gathering honoring his work in television. And if, by the way, you've not read the work of Harlan Ellison, you are to remedy this at once. Deathbird Stories (1975) would be an ideal place to begin, or The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World (1969), I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1967), Shatterday (1980), or if you can get your hands on The Essential Ellison (1987)...look, just anywhere is a good place to start. But if you think yourself versed in science fiction and fantasy and are not intimately familiar with Harlan's work, you're wrong, and you need to fix that oversight. He is one of a tiny handful of writers without whom you'd not be reading me today. He's never been afraid to raise his voice, a voice filled with furious anger and terrible beauty, and for this I love him. I am determined to find myself in Los Angeles soon, to visit.

Furiously Terrible, By Proxy,
Aunt Beast

Postscript (2:23 p.m. CaST): Also, I want to move to Amherst, to be surrounded again by fossiliferous Mesozoic rocks; but I don't want to leave the sea.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Sunny today, Again, I should be in the sea. This is a thing that will not happen, though, because even if it weren't for the writing, I've got a doctor's appointment this evening. Actually, doctor's appointments can be fun, if you go about them the right way. I have found most doctors to be horrified and/or stupefied at the notion that everyone doesn't want every conceivable test for every conceivable symptom which might lead to any conceivable malady.

Doctor: "But you might have X?"

Me: "So what? If I do, I'd rather not know. It's not like I could ever afford the treatments, and, besides, I'm chronically suicidal."

This is not a fiction. I have actually had this exchange. It was lovely. I'm pretty sure it's not a patient response taught at medical schools.

Or! If any cavity probing is involved, only agree to them if the doctor first agrees to say "Good puppy," at regular intervals.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,957 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. The book is moving quickly towards its conclusion. I'm pretty sure an old school bus filled with Swamp Yankee werewolves is involved. Some idiot is going to proclaim this a great "horror" novel. Or say something like, "Finally, Caitlín R. Kiernan has figured out how to write great horror." And me, I'll just sit back and laugh. The hardest part about this book is that most of what is perceived as "horror" became self-parody and comedy long ago, but very few people have figured it out. It's hard to parody a parody. So says the world's only triggerpunk, and she ought to know.

Spooky (on the other paw) went to her parents' place, to visit with her sister, Steph, and nephew, Miles, who are up from Brooklyn. Miles is three and a half, and he likes pirates. And he proclaims, "Brothers are sisters. Sisters are brothers." I wish they taught this shit in school. Anyway, Spooky took photos of a cute kid and a frog (behind the cut, below). I cry foul.

---.

This morning, Bruce Sterling tweeted, "Social media does not exist for you. You are the PRODUCT in social media. That's why it's free." Fucking brilliant. I'm going to have a stencil of that quote made and start tagging everything in site.

---

As for whatever else there was of yesterday...nothing that warrants recording, but I'll record it anyway. A little Rift (I'm trying to get the achievement for killing 250 centaurs in the Droughtlands; see, and you thought I was all like smart and shit). We read more of The Stand (1978 text, accept no substitute). There was some Second Life RP. Oh, furries are annoyingly little shit (just in case you didn't know). "It's not a fetish! It's a lifestyle! Do you think I chose to want to have sex in a fursuit!? I'm a Loony Toon trapped in a human body!" Milk and Cheese! Milk and Cheese!

Sorry. That wasn't nice, was it? I'm channeling Siobahn Quinn.

As for Ridley Scott directing and producing a Blade Runner sequel or prequel...I'm not sure how to react to that.

Hesitantly,
Aunt Beast

17 August 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rainy day here in Providence. It's nice.

Kyle and I have been hammering out specifics on the still photography/book trailer project for The Drowning Girl, and it's a stressful affair. Well, if you're me. I can make stress out of thin air. Anyway, the Kickstarter is going extraordinarily well (166%)...and...Michael Zulli has just come on board to do the actual painting, The Drowning Girl, which, in the novel, was painted in 1898 by an artist named Phillip George Saltonstall. Zulli has become our Saltonstall, which is beyond amazing.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,480 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges, and talking through with Kathryn what remains of the story, blocking it (a term I use instead of "plotting," as blocking is much looser), I begin to see that it's not a ten-chapter book, or a nine-chapter book. Probably, it's an eight-chapter book. Otherwise, this becomes gratuitous. And I'll not have that. Regardless, the word count will be somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 words.

Some news regarding Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (Subterranean Press, 2012). The limited edition will include an extra volume (probably trade paperback), containing The Yellow Alphabet and 10,000 words of new fiction (likely in the form of two new stories). And I'll be working with Lee Moyer again on the cover.

---

A thought last night. Actually, a storm of thoughts whirling into a vortex. But, I'll play nice and call it a thought. Singular and calm. And it was just this: In today's subgenre-obsessed market, Harlan Ellison would be tagged a "horror writer." No, really. Go back and read the bulk of his fiction. Usually, he's writing "horrific sf" (as a disparaging Locus reviewer said of The Dry Salvages, "This is what happens when a horror writer tries to write SF"). Ellison's greatest achievements are almost all, at their roots, horrific. They're not about the sailing off into the stars, or the future, or the possibilities of technology, and finding a better world for mankind. Look at, for example, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" (1967), or "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" (1968), or "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" (1973), or even "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967). Though hailed as one of the most important SF writers of the 20th Century (I'd simply say one of the most important writers, period, and dispense with your fucking qualifying adjectives), if time were scrambled and he emerged into today's literary marketplace, a new writer, Harlan would be pegged a "horror writer." Probably, he would never receive all those Nebulas and Hugos. Being labeled "a horror writer" would define him in the eyes of NYC editors, and this would absolutely have a great influence on what he could and could not sell and see published. And this would be a crime of the first fucking order.

Stop thinking inside the genre paradigm, people. By doing so, you destroy art and opportunity. It's fiction, all of it. It's all literature. We need no other words to accurately define it. We need no reductionist baloney.

---

I don't feel right any longer saying, "Last night I watched television," when, in fact, I streamed video files across the internet from Netflix or Hulu. Anyway, last night Spooky and I gave AMC's Mad Men a try, beginning with the first two episodes. And were very impressed. Then we finished Season One of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and began Season Two. At some point I'll maybe be able to summarize my thoughts on all this L&O stuff. After hundreds more episodes. I also read "New unadorned hardrosaurine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of North America" (very cool beast, is Acristavus gagslarsoni) in JVP. And we read more of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I read more of Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History. We're trying to get our bedtimes back to something sane. Maybe 2:30 ayem, instead of 5 ayem. Last night, I was asleep by four, I think. Baby steps.

Giving Genre the Massachusetts State Bird,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
It's comment day, Mouseketeers‎! Um...I mean...kittens.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,558 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I'm doing my best to go over the 1,150 word minimum for each day – word banking – because I know I'm going to miss three days this month. Three days writing, I mean. One to an appointment with my doctor and a couple more for the Drowning Girl shoot in and around Boston with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and crew. Right now, the word bank stands at 655 words.

Yesterday, my agent and I also mapped out my workload between now and January...and it's pretty daunting. I may post it tomorrow. Well, then again, maybe not. Regardless, it's a heavy load, even for me. What is this Outside of which you speak? Social life?

Gonna be pretty warm again today.

---

[livejournal.com profile] joshrupp emailed to ask (edited for space):


Anyway, I had a question, time and temperament permitting. Why is the term “horror writer” a stigma?...The people we call “horror writers” are telling scary stories, and the people who write about actual horror are called “dark fantasists” or some ambiguous bullshit like that. It’s such a good word ["horror"], and in that sense I’ve always thought of you as a horror writer. How to parse this as a question slightly eludes me, but: If you aren’t a horror writer, what are you? You’ve been talking about triggerpunk, and I’ve never known a trigger to evoke happy-bunnies-sparkly-rainbow-fuzzies. Is the term “horror writer” something you’d ever reclaim, because it’s getting frustrating not knowing how to group people who write about dark things.

Quick and dirty answer.

I'm not a horror writer because I say that I'm not, and this whole art thing is about, among other things, the right to self-determination. That said, "horror" is pretty much the kiss of death in the publishing industry these days. Try to get a good agent while calling yourself a horror writer, and see what I mean. The heyday of genre horror was the seventies and eighties, and by the early nineties it was dying a much-deserved death. Much deserved because it had, as a "genre," as a whole, whored itself raw.

That said, I don't set out to write stories that are intended to scare people. Honestly, never even once do I think I've done that. I write the stories I want to write. And yeah, they're dark. Sometimes, they're so dark you'd be better off calling them jet or ebony or whatever. But darkness does not always equate to the emotion "horror." It may equate to many other emotions (terror, despair, ennui, sorrow, regret, etc.), and often it is from those emotions that the darkness in my stories arises. I'm just spitting up words here, as I write this entry. It's not an essay, and I'm, at best, half awake. So cut me some slack on the rambling.

To define someone's fiction by recourse to a single emotion engages in a sort of literary reductionism that I find grating and, to be blunt, offensive. My writing has worn more labels than I could ever keep up with. Usually, I only find the labeling sort of odd. Usually, it doesn't annoy me. Or rather, it doesn't annoy me so long as it doesn't restrict me. Labels lead to expectation. I want a readership virtually free of expectation – beyond the expectation of well-written prose. I don't want people coming to one of my stories or novels and saying "Well, that didn't scare me." I'm not a thrill ride, and good fiction never sets out to evoke a single emotion. The triggerpunk thing, that was a joke, taking a jab at both the readers who whine about fiction being "triggery" and at those who insist literature must be put into neat boxes. It wasn't a serious proposal. It was satire. But triggerpunk (ugh) is a more accurate description of my writing.

And no, I have no interest in reclaiming horror. It was pretty much never mine (I belonged to the HWA for two years, realized what a nepotistic wankfest it was, and quit in '96), and I don't want it. I see others clinging to it for dear fucking life, and I have no idea why.

It is far more truthful to look at my writing, to look at each piece individually and at the totality of it, and – if you must label it – call it dark fantasy. That's not "ambiguous bullshit." With few exceptions, my fiction is fantasy (excepting some of the harder sf), and, with almost no exceptions, it's dark. But only sometimes is it horrific. Ergo, I refer to myself as a dark fantasist. It's accurate. There's no false advertising. No one out there – no reader, writer, or editor – should feel insulted because I don't call myself a horror writer and ask others not to use that term to describe me. I mean, really. What difference does it make, as long as I write stories worth reading? Fuck the labels.

But thank you for the question, [livejournal.com profile] joshrupp. I only sound cranky because I'm not awake, and I've been asked, and have felt compelled to answer, this question about five hundred times.

Also, it seems that Grendel's back, albeit rebooted and recast.

And now it's time for my Red Bull.

Unboxed,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Cloudy today. Maybe rain. Rain might be nice, if it doesn't stick around too long.

The last few years, I've dealt fairly well with the third of August. This year it hit me – on the second – like a sack of boulders. I don't really know why. There has been a great deal more stress than usual, and maybe that was all it took.

No writing yesterday. Nothing yesterday worth mentioning.

So far, no new novel for the book club this month. Truthfully, I never finished reading last month's book – Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Not sure why. Perhaps, it was because July was such a shitstorm, and it was easier to do more mindless things than read. But I also have to admit I began losing interest in the book about a third of the way in, and it got set aside, and has lain on my vanity for a week or two, untouched. Maybe I'll give it an extension, and maybe I'll pitch a new book for August. We shall see.

Here's a new piece of art by Molly Crabapple, "Kill the Word Beast," which I hope she won't mind me reposting here. It says about everything regarding writing that I feel these days. I wake up, and the monster's waiting, and we fight, and, if I'm lucky, it ends in a standstill. Oh, to see that fucker bleed out.

Kill the Word Beast )


Today, I need to write the text for the Kickstarter Project I'm beginning with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy. To cover the modest expenses for shooting the book trailer for The Drowning Girl. The project's been approved. We just need to get it up. And, by the way, and speaking of Kickstarter, those of you awaiting "The Tale of the Ravens," Spooky's finishing up the last couple of illustrations, and then I'll write the words, and then the printing begins. We'd probably be done by now, if July hadn't been such a nightmare. Anyway, I'll post the link to the CRK/KC Kickstarter page as soon as it's live. By the way, we're not trying to raise anywhere in the neighborhood of the money needed for "The Tale of the Ravens."

I can think of nothing else especially important to type.

Made it through a few more papers in the May JVP: "Cranial anatomy of Thalassiodracon hawkinsii (Reptilia, Plesiosauria) from the Early Jurassic of Somerset, United Kingdom"; "A new species of the snake Madtsoia from the Upper Cretaceous of India and it's paleobiogeographic implications"; "The skull of Hagiangella goujeti Janvier, 2005, a high-crested acanthothoracid (Vertebrata, Placodermi) from the Devonian of North Vietnam"; and "Latest Pacific Basin record of a bony-toothed bird (Aves, Pelagornithidae) from the Pliocene Purisima Formation of California, U.S.A."

Oh, and yesterday, in my statement expressing disdain for what I termed MMORPG culture, I neglected to add that the motherfuckers in question are also homophobic, racist, and sexist. Which is sort of like describing a zebra and neglecting to mention it has four legs, hooves, and stripes.

Maybe it's time to change the title of this journal to Unapologetically, She Pulls Triggers. Except, it should be, more correctly, squeezes, instead of pulls, for gun nuts stuck on that distinction. And that makes me wonder...I've always hated the idea of a "horror" genre so much, and always rejected the term "horror writer" when people speak of me, maybe "trigger fiction" would work. Ooooooh! I know! Triggerpunk! Then it sounds just as dumb as all the other -punks, and no one can accuse me of being an elitist by distancing myself from any other genre (well, at least not over this).

Unmentionable,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
Warm here in Providence, but not the unbearable heat of last week. I'm not yet certain whether or not I shall need the services of Dr. Muñoz today. Spooky's going to South County to see her sister and mother and her nephew Miles. I'm staying here, at this accursed desk.

And here's one of the sorts of things that make me want to go back to bed. This idiotic "review" of The Red Tree from Amazon:

[1 star] "Ignore the good reviews!," July 18, 2010 (By R. Esposito [Northern Virginia]):

This is one of those books that you keep reading in the hopes that it will get better but just ends up being a complete waste of time. It's not scary on any level. It's just extremely boring. The characters are not very likable, their actions make no sense, the writing is tedious and the dialog is stilted. The "did she go crazy" or "did the tree get her" plot left me only wishing she had come to her demise much sooner. And no that's not a spoiler since she's dead from the start of the book. I not only want my money back, I want the time wasted reading this book back.

Sure, it's obvious the reader is an ignoramus ("the characters...actions make no sense"). And sure, I'm not a "horror writer" and The Red Tree isn't a "horror" novel, and I didn't try to write a "scary" book. Or "likable" characters, for that matter. Is "the writing tedious and the dialog...stilted"? I'm not sure I can tell anymore. So, there you go.

I did have a very small (and likely useless) epiphany on Sunday, one I'm sure I've had before. A writer may study what potential readers like, and she or he may then pander, and struggle to be accessible, and have the common touch, and take workshops, and listen to the advice of those who say they know how to make it work. And still, the odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. Or, a writer may choose to write what she or he pleases, with no regard for that potential marketplace or accessibility or anything of the sort. And their odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. From a financial perspective, almost all writers fail. From a financial perspective, almost all books fail. That's a given. There are exact numbers, I just don't have them on hand. Two things may be deduced. One is that the odds of success are not improved (but neither are they hindered) by pandering. And another is that you might as well write what you feel moved to write, because you'll probably fail anyway.

---

The last few days are not quite a blur. I expect I'd be in a better mood if they were. There was no writing yesterday, because there was an afternoon doctor's appointment, and that throws everything into chaos. On Sunday, still ill from insomnia, I did manage to make less of a mess of what I'd written on Thursday and Friday, what I'd dithered over and picked at on Saturday. That is, the beginning of the Next New Novel. We read it over and over again. And I still don't like it. It's just more coherent now. I have no idea what's going to happen with it today.

And I have to look at the transcript of an interview I did while at Readercon.

---

Yesterday, before the doctor, in order to keep my mind occupied so I wouldn't back out of going, I had to do something that was not writing. So, there was no work yesterday. We went to a very early matinée of Christopher Nolan's Inception. This is, simply put, a brilliant film. I honestly have nothing but praise for it. I could heap adjectives and hyperbole, but I won't. It's just brilliant, and needs to be seen, probably multiple times. Yes, it owes a great debt to numerous predecessors, most notably Alex Proyas' Dark City (1998), but it succeeds in being something new, invested with its own power and vision. A great score from Hans Zimmer. This is one of those films I cannot recommend highly enough. And it must be seen on a big screen. And thank holy fuck it wasn't in 3-D.

Then, last night, we watched the Hughes Brothers' The Book of Eli (2009), which was a quite a bit better than I'd expected (all the Xtian nonsense aside). Of course, I went in with no expectations. The cast helped enormously, with people like Gary Oldman, Tom Waits, and a Malcom McDowell cameo picking up any slack there might have been. I'm not sorry I missed it in the theatres, but it's fun, and even a slight bit better than "just fun."

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Now I try to make some sense from this day.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Sunny today, though not precisely warm. I opened my office window for about five minutes, then shut it again. But it'll be warmer tomorrow, and the tree outside my office window has tiny green shoots.

Nothing was written yesterday. Most of the day was spent trying to find a vignette. Still not sure whether or not I did. Also, I tried to work on the interview for Clarkesworld. You'll recall (or you won't) that back in the autumn I declared a moratorium on interviews, after having done a dozen or so relating to the release of The Red Tree. I thought that perhaps I was ready to begin giving interviews again. I may have been wrong. I answered the first question yesterday, and began the second...and suddenly it all sounded like bullshit, everything I'd said. The more I write, the older I get, the less interest I have in writing about how and why I write. The stories should speak for themselves. I do intend to finish this interview, but it will likely be my last for some time to come.

I slept almost eight hours again last night. I assume it's one of the new meds.

And I have this question, via email from Ron St. Pierre: "I know you do not write horror, but your stories give me a chill at times. I was re-reading my draft, and it gave me a chill. Is that how you know a story is working, when it really scares yourself?"

No. I can only think of a two or three times that I've written stories that frightened me. "Rats Live on No Evil Star," that one did. Perhaps also "La Peau Verte." But it's a very, very rare thing, when that happens. Which is hardly surprising, as I'm not trying to write stories that "scare" people (which is one of several reasons I say I'm not a "horror" writer). And even if a story were to frighten me, given the inherent subjectivity of fear, scaring myself would be no guarantee than anyone else would have the same reaction. Sometimes, when I am writing, there is a sort of frission, a certain intensity. When I feel that, I usually suspect that "a story is working." Well, for me, at least. There is never, ever any way to know that a story that works just fine for me will work for anyone else. No matter how desperately a writer may strive for mass appeal, or even appeal beyond him- or herself, the enterprise is too personal, too introverted, too subjective to ever know such a thing a priori. If others like it, you have on your hands a fortunate accident and nothing more. And there I was more articulate than my attempts to answer interview questions yesterday.

---

Last night, we watched the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man. Wow. An amazing, unnerving film. At least, we found it so. I expect many people watched the film and were simply baffled. I loved the prologue, it's encounter with a dybbuk on a snowy night. The remainder of the film builds towards a peculiar crescendo that interweaves the utterly inexplicable nature of the universe (or, if you prefer, "God"), Jewish American culture in the late 1960s/early 1970s, the story of Job, a sort of anti-nostalgia, the inscrutability of mankind, and an almost Fortean spite for anything like comprehension. The final shot...which I won't reveal...gave me chills. And the film is also quite funny, though, in the end, the laughs seem to add up to a very, very cruel joke. Very highly recommended.

And now, the day.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
How wonderful to wake this morning and discover that most of the U.S. has adopted Caitlín Standard Time.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,289 words and finished the story that I'm presently calling "In View of Nothing" (total word count: 8,243). It's as close as I can ever imagine coming to a literal transcription of the "white-room dreams." However, there is a bit more "story" here than in the dreams themselves, my conscious mind futilely trying to tie disparate bits together or fill in blank spaces on the map. But it's much, much closer than "A Season of Broken Dolls." I'm unsure how I feel about having done it, having written the dream out this way. Certainly, it's one of the most personal stories I've ever written. There is a lingering sense that I have failed to capture the bleak atmosphere of the dreams. Anyway, it will be there in Sirenia Digest #16.

Today, I need to begin the second, shorter piece for #16, and my deadline for the Locus article is the 15th. I have no idea what the Locus article will be. The issue is horror-themed, and as I do not consider myself a genre "horror" writer, well, I'm not sure what I will say. Perhaps I'll write about the importance of maintaining mystery and a sense of the inexplicable at a story's conclusion, as opposed to tidy endings and resolutions. At least, that's how it works from my perspective.

Today is my mother's 63rd birthday, which is just all sorts of weird.

I would rather do almost anything than write today.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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