greygirlbeast: (Default)
Not as much sunny Outside today as cloudy. And 46˚F.

Yesterday, two more interviews. Oh, and this. Which wasn't precisely an interview. But there was no work. No writing that wasn't answering questions. Four interviews (and this) in two days, and we're on the seventh day of a short month – longer by one day, thanks to leap year – and today I have to get back to work, and work means writing, not answering interview questions. Actually, my answering interview questions is probably now a legitimate part of my "job," but it's not writing. Today, I'm going to write. Or something like it. Tonight, after dinner, I'll deal with the next interview.

News from Subterranean Press is that Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart will be out sometime in May.

I have arrived at a curious, but, I believe, useful, new monetary standard to be employed by freelance authors. Forget the dollar. The basic unit of currency is the pizza. For example, someone pays me three-hundred dollars for a reprint, that's ~15P (based on an average large pizza price, with three toppings, of $20). Say your book deal drops twenty-thousand dollars into your lap (minus your agent's 15%); that's ~850P. This new standard will serve us far better. Sell nothing, ever, for less than at least 1P.

Since last summer I've been struggling to explain the relationship between Blood Oranges and its impending sequels (they do impend) and genuine ParaRom. No, do not use the label "Urban Fantasy." Once upon a time, Urban Fantasy had dignity. ParaRom stole the term (I don't know if it was the writers, editors, publishers, or an elaborate conspiracy of the lot). ParaRom, or PR. Anyway, the correct word I belatedly found yesterday is subvert. That is, Blood Oranges et al. is meant to subvert ParaRom. That's asking a lot of any poor book/s, but someone has to throw herself on the grenade.

Last night, Spooky and I played Rift for the first time since, near as I can tell from my notes, December 19th. That's, what, forty-nine days ago? The game remains beautiful, and it was good to be back. A good break from SW:toR. See, I didn't leave Rift because I was bored. I left because trying to run an RP guild – which meant writing more after I was done writing for the day, plus trying to get people to show up for RP – had sort of soured me on the whole thing. And then SW:toR arrived, all fresh and shiny and unsullied. Last night, I realized how much I'd missed Rift. BUT, because of the "free-to-play" Rift-Lite, our server has been overrun by idiots who cannot comprehend that it's an RP server, and there was a serious (and reasonable) fucking case of Gnerd Rage going down in general chat last night. I ignored it (I ignored everyone), and Indus (my Level 43 Eth warrior) and Dancy (Spooky's Level 43 Kelari cleric) quested and closed rifts in the Droughtlands and Shimmersand. What I didn't see was any evidence that there's been an exodus of players. There were high-level players everywhere. Many more than when I left, so the news of the game's recent troubles may have been...exaggerated. Anyway, for now, I think Spooky and I will be jumping back and forth between the two games – since we have no actual social life.

The no-sleep demons found me last night. Monsier Insomnia kept me awake until after five ayem (though I was in bed by 2:15 ayem). I didn't wake until after noon (or afternoon, if you prefer).

And one last thing. I'm missing the South fiercely. Part of it's this shitty Providence winter. Part of it is...well...complicated. I do not miss the people or the culture. I miss the land. And I'm sick of missing the South, because there is no dividing the people from the land. In the main (though not universally), the people are not worthy of even the smallest fraction of my longing. They showed me hatred, with rare bits of tolerance. By comparison, in New England I have found a mix of acceptance and people who simply know how to mind their own business. In the South, very few people know how to mind their own business. Indeed, throughout most of America, this is the case. Anyway, last night I got to thinking on the silly phrase "Southern hospitality" (which always baffled Spooky). It's not that "Southern hospitality" doesn't exist; it's that it's a highly conditional phenomenon. Conform, and we'll be relatively hospitable. Fail to conform, and we'll bedevil you. At last I left, and I am better off for it. But I cannot shake this longing for the land.

I've written far too much, says the platypus. I've written nothing at all. Gotta try to work.

Here, There, and the Other Place,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Chi and Aeryn)


My black out begins now. Props to Wikipedia et al. Glad tomorrow is a school day; help drive the message home. Unless Wikipedia is blocked...for boobs and sex and stuff.
greygirlbeast: (talks to wolves)
This morning, Spooky made a fantastic ham omelette (LJ can only spell the word as omelet, which figures), which I ate with pepperoncini (which LJ can't spell at all) and buttered toast, using the leftovers from Friday morning. As I ate, the thought occurred to me, reflecting on all the asshole shoppers and drivers that seem to have slithered out of the cracks the last week or five, I thought, and asked aloud, "If they're this bad at Xmas, what must they be like the rest of the year?" Or maybe it's just that Xmas makes people extra thoughtless, selfish, and whatnot. Maybe it's Consumer Jesus rebound. Regardless, Spooky makes a damned good omelette.

Yesterday? Very, very little with which to regale you lot, kittens. I didn't drink. How's that? I read stories by Sarah Monette and Paul McAuley. The only thing I really wanted to do was board the train last night and ride as far north as Boston or as far south as Manhattan. Just to see the lights, and the long stretches of mostly darkness, and to feel the wheels beneath me. That's what we didn't do, as it was impractical. I'll never understand all this time spent dodging the impractical. If life is an inflated inner tube, then practicality and caution are twin nails waiting to puncture the rubber and release all the air. Practicality and caution are twin nails, and they conspire to thwart the wild heart.

Instead, we nested. We hid. We watched Badder Santa, ate junk food, had Mexican Coke, and played a lot of SW:toR (and no, we haven't forsaken Rift, but I am mostly steering clear until the "Fae Yule" shit has passed). My Sith has yellow eyes now, which I suppose is meant to signify her descent into the Dark Side. Her eyes were the palest blue, almost white. She's a terribly vain woman, who once was a slave in the mines of Korriban. Unmentionable things were done to her there, and those crimes against her mind and body left her shattered, and seeing her eyes turn yellow only drove Varla that much farther into the shadows. But, on the other hand, Darth Zash gave her a shiny new Fury-Class starship...so, all's well that ends well.

Also, yesterday – here on Earth – I listened to lots of old music, mostly Athens-period stuff. I stewed and hated at Xmas, like the Grinch atop Mount Crumpit. But the rage has subsided to indifference today. An odd indifference. Today, I am not so much bitter as I am baffled at the shallowness of it all. This day doesn't even feel like that wicked holiday. It just feels like any other cold Sunday in Providence, which is a consolation, so maybe that's my Fury-Class starship.

Wishing For Summer,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
A band I knew when I lived in Athens (well, mostly Linda Hopper and Ruthie Morris) back in the nineties, in that other time and that other world. Coming home from the sea tonight, I remembered the song, and started wondering what happened to everyone. Of course, all I have to do is check Wikipedia. I sort of loathe the internet. The video was censored by MTV, because assholes don't want to hear the truth.



"Careful when you say goodbye..."
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: (wookie)
In my forty-seven years, I have been around for the breakup of innumerable rock groups. Hell, I can clearly remember when the Beatles called it splitsville – a complicated, litigatious affair, that began in 1970, but was dragged out in courts until 1975 (so, from the time I was six until the time I was eleven). But I don't think I've ever been so affected by the breakup of a band as I'm being affected by the breakup of R.E.M. I came to the band fairly late, in 1986. I was in school in Boulder, CO at the time, and my first R.E.M. album (the first I encountered) was Fables of the Reconstruction, after which I immediately sought out Life's Rich Pageant. Eventually, by the sheerest happenstance, I came to live in Athens, GA in 1994, and running into and speaking with members of the band was a fairly frequent event, if only because we hung out in a lot of the same places. "Buck Berry Mills Stipe" managed to speak of the South in a way that few others ever have, with an authenticity, power, and beauty to rival prose authors such as Faulkner, Williams, and O'Connor. I cannot stress too strongly the influence their words and music has had on my own writing. They said it true. And I think they've now done the right thing. After all, thirty-one years is a long time, and their's is an amicable parting of the ways, and for the right reasons. But I cannot help but feel a pang of loss. And, I should note, if you're in the mood to do some R.E.M. bashing, do it elsewhere, please.

Yesterday was spent adding about eleven thousand additional words to the "Back Pages" section of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. And then proofreading them. As Peter Straub said upon reading the manuscript, "I don't think I've ever seen a novel where it was so obvious the author didn't want to stop writing." He was, of course, right on the mark. This book is probably a quarter the length it ought to be, just as The Red Tree was about half as long as it should have been. And yes, publishers do give me word limits, both minimum and maximum. Plus, I have to factor in how long I can afford to spend working on any given book, as paychecks matter, as I was not blessed with, say, a trust fund.

Today, I add a little more. Then I try to take my hands off the thing, and I try to leave them off it, and look ahead.

Speaking of which, looking at my schedule again yesterday, I realized that there's no chance of me taking a "vacation" any time soon. Somehow, I thought there were three free days that don't exist. Probably, this is because I've spent so much time on the CEM for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. So, no Maine. So, no unplugging.

---

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] docbrite asked to see a transcript of me poking that Facebook idiot with my pointy stick. I didn't think Facebook logged such things, but I was wrong. You may find it behind the cut. I'm omitting the name of the idiot. Not because I'm nice. Because I'd rather not have some jack-off whining at me. Also, note how this guy began trying to get me to speak to him way back on July 14th (the spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc. is exactly as I received it):

For Billy )

Meanwhile...well, frankly I don't know. How is one expected to follow an act like that?

Radio Free,
Aunt Beast

* I have no friends named Linda. I don't think I've ever had a friend named Linda.

** It is, of course, common knowledge that the day of my birth is May 26th.
greygirlbeast: (sol)
Someone should really tell whatever moron/s started using "baby bump" that it sounds like a disease. Then again, we are referring to pregnancy.

---

The heat is unrelenting. Yesterday, we were essentially confined to the middle parlour and bedroom, as the temperature in my office exceeded 90F. In the "cool part of the house" the temperature reached 86F. Somehow, in the haze of heat and being too addled to get work done, we stupidly managed not to flee for to a library or some other AC-protected place. We stayed here. All day. And around 7:30 p.m., my body temp went up to 100F, and I stopped sweating, and I started slurring, and...yeah. So, I spent the whole evening cooling my body down as best I could. The fever broke quickly. The meds that make me sensitive to heat were likely responsible. At least we head out to Readercon 22**** tomorrow and get three nights of AC. Also, if you are owed an eBay package, we apologize, but it won't go out until after the convention. Monday or Tuesday. It's just been too hot to pack books and get them to the p.o.

---

A terrible, strange dream just before I woke. I lived in a house at the end of a small lagoon or inlet. I was younger, maybe a teenager. There was a thin and frightening man outside our screened-in porch (side of the house, an old house) speaking Yiddish. I called to my mother, and when he spoke to her, he spoke English with a Russian accent. There were great trees, like pecans and oaks, all around the house. Later, we went somewhere, and when we returned home, and I saw that there were men in the water "walking" dolphins, the way one does with sharks or dolphins, trying to revive them. There was a sort of turn around, and as my mother used it to point the car towards the driveway, I saw more dolphins far up above the shoreline. They were tangled in a fence, though the fence was really fishing net, and the dolphins there were actually ichthyosaurs. Thick underbrush grew all around the netting. I wanted desperately to help. I got out of the car, and, looking back at the inlet, saw that the water had become violent, a great frothing, sloshing mass, churned by the trawling nets of gigantic factory-fishing ships that hardly even fit into the tiny body of water. The snap-on heads of yellow rubber ducks were washing up onto the shore. There was a child greedily gathering them. An orca had stranded itself, and I tried to help it, but was afraid, and never went very near. In the foaming white water, orcas and sharks and dolphins and ichthyosaurs all struggled to stay clear of the nets that were pulling up great mountains of fish. And this is all I can remember.

---

My thanks to everyone who left comments yesterday regarding "triggery." Some were quite good. I was especially amused by [livejournal.com profile] lady_theadora's:

I first saw these trigger warnings when Coilhouse began to use them all the time, as you've previously mentioned, and I think they're pretty damned redundant. I mean, really, you're on the fucking internet people. You're always one click away from porn, snuff, and/or Nigerian royalty. If you haven't figured that out yet, maybe it is time you learned.

Indeed. And the thing with Coilhouse posting those warnings, it was almost enough to make me stop reading the zine; Coilhouse posting "triggering" warnings is like the Sex Pistols apologizing for...well, anything. Absurd. Anyway, yes. I have a story, which I've never told publicly, and which might be too personal and TMI and all that, but I think I need to tell it, as partial explanation, and in response to [livejournal.com profile] lm. Unfortunately, there's not room here to post [livejournal.com profile] lm's entire comment (this is going to be long, as it is), but you can see her/his full comment appended to yesterday's entry. I'm also dropping paragraphs from the quote, to save space (and I apologize for that). There are slash marks where graphs end and begin. In part, [livejournal.com profile] lm writes:

...I have definitely been in a situation where it would have been incredibly helpful to be warned about potentially "triggery" things./Namely, when my mother hanged herself several years ago, I frequently found myself watching films with unexpected scenes of someone being hanged or committing suicide. This was something I was working very hard NOT to picture or think about, and as a result, I basically stopped watching new visual media for about a year - and because my primary social outlet was a film night, this turned me into a hermit, which also really wasn't great for me at the time./I did actually search online to see if there was an online database of non-friendly-to-suicide-survivor films, but there was none./I really didn't expect any handholding through this problem, and the only time I was genuinely annoyed was when people who knew my recent history recommended movies/shows to me that ended up containing said "triggery" material...but on the other hand, I wouldn't have complained one bit if the media had contained a disclaimer!

Okay. Now, that said, here's my story:

On Christmas Eve 1995, five months after the suicide of Elizabeth, the person whom I loved most in all the world, I was alone in the carriage house (where I was living) in Athens, Georgia. I'd spent the evening writing one of the last scenes in Silk. It was an especially graphic and disturbing scene, and I finally said fuck it, I can't do this, not that night, not alone. I drove to a nearby theatre (I was still able to drive back then), and bought a ticket to the first movie on the marquee, which was the vapid Jumangi. When it was over, I still didn't want to return to that empty house, and so I bought a ticket to see the midnight screening of Heat, with Al Pacino, which turned out to be a halfway decent movie. Anyway...

Near the end of Heat, Pacino's character's daughter, played by Natalie Portman, attempts suicide by slitting her wrists in a hotel bathtub. This is precisely the way that Elizabeth had committed suicide (the big difference was that the Natalie Portman character lived). The scene was graphic and well-played and emotionally sort of devastating. Maybe not to everyone, but to me. I watched it. I didn't look away. I cried through the rest of the film. When the movie ended, I went home and went to bed.

Now, was the film "triggery"? Well, yeah. Certainly, in that it put me right there at the moment of Elizabeth's suicide and elicited an intense reaction from me. But was that something I should have avoided? Should I have been furious or resentful (or whatever) that no one warned me? Should I have complained to the theatre management and demanded my money back? Should I have posted to Usenet, warning everyone? To all these questions, my response is an unqualified "no."

Seeing the scene, being forced unexpectedly to confront it, making it real for me in a way it had not been, was the true beginning to my road to learning how to live with a pain that I knew would never, ever go away. Oh, it would dull with age, and with other relationships (though it was almost a decade afterwards before I found myself in a meaningful relationship), but I will always, always be haunted by the event. And, by the way, I'm not a suicide "survivor," because I didn't attempt suicide. I'm a bystander. I'm someone who dealt with the consequences. Maybe that's just a matter of semantics, but I feel it's an important distinction.

In the years to come, I would spend a lot of time in therapy dealing with her suicide. I would spend almost all my writing time writing about it (and I still do); suicide is a primary theme in my fiction, especially the novels. And it was by these means, by persistently and directly confronting the greatest horror in a life that had had no shortage of horrors, that I reached a place where, usually, finally, I no longer wanted to follow her. Not by flinching or avoiding or staying away. By facing the truth head-on. And I'm not an especially strong person. At least, I don't see myself that way. I did what my therapists advised, and what felt right to me, and by happenstance, beginning with accidentally seeing that scene in Heat. Oh, it fucking hurt, yeah, sure. But it was also my path to recovery.

So, my point is simple. I do not - will not - accept that we recover from the tragedies of our lives by avoiding the fact of them. We do it by confronting the fact of them, and art - in all its forms - is one path by which we can do that. I don't see this as a "your mileage may vary" thing, either. You look into the abyss, and the abyss looks into you, and you keep looking and don't dare turn away. You tell the abyss, "You can't have me yet." (to murder and bend the words of Friedrich Nietzsche) You learn to understand and cope. But you don't flinch. You don't look for warning labels so you'll be protected from the truth. You develop calluses, scars, and this changes you forever, and it makes you stronger.

Oh, and my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kaz_mahoney for this quote from Akira Kurosawa: To be an artist means never to avert your eyes.

And this is long. And that's enough.

Not Ever Flinching,
Aunt Beast

Note: I have requested NOT to participate in an official signing at Readercon this year, so if you want stuff signed (and I'll sign as many books as you bring), I'll be signing after my reading and my How I Wrote Two Worlds and In Between solo talk. And, if you catch me in the hall, that's usually okay, too. Common sense dictates when it's not okay to ask me to sign (restroom, when I'm eating, when I'm having a conversation, when I'm rushing to get to or leave a panel, etc. - yes, all those scenarios have actually been played out).
greygirlbeast: (sol)
I listen to R.E.M. a lot, and it will always be the music of Athens, GA, though I actually first discovered their music in Boulder, CO many, many years before I moved to Athens.

Spooky says I'm homesick. I'm not sure she's correct. But maybe it's something akin to homesickness.

---

I find myself needing to be tactful, though, no matter how hard I may try, I am never the most tactful of beasts. I get a lot of requests from aspiring writers, requests for me to read their work and/or offer advice on how they can become better writers, find an agent, find a publisher, and so forth. I can't answer all of these requests personally. Not one at a time, I mean. So, I'm answering the most recent batch personally here. And it's a short answer. Or a short set of answers. Truthfully, I can't help you. It's been nineteen years since I began my first novel, and eighteen since I sold my first short story, and sixteen since my first fiction publication, fifteen since I finished Silk, and fourteen years since I sold my first novel. It's been sixteen years since I got my my first agent. Now, the point of all those 'teens is that during the intervening years, publishing has changed, and it's changed in ways I only just begin to understand. For example, I used to type query letters, mail them (in an envelope with a stamp and an SASE enclosed, from an actual post office), and wait weeks for a reply. Back then, books were either paper or recorded on cassette (a few books-on-CD recordings were popping up). I could give a lot more "for examples." But, what's even more important than the changes that have been wrought upon the publishing industry is the simple fact that I'm not a writing instructor, and only a critic in the roughest sense. Sure, you could show me a story, and I could tell you whether or not I liked it. But, for the most part, that's useless to you. My opinion on any given piece of fiction is mostly subjective (aside from correcting grammar and so forth). I might love it. I might think it's a load of shit. A lot of what I think is shit sells like hotcakes, and a lot of what I think is brilliant can't sell for shit. And that should tell you everything you need to know, right there. Finally, I simply don't have time to read your work, not if I'm going to get my own writing done and have some semblance of a life in between. So...I hope you'll accept these answers, and understand them.

---

I'm trying very hard to get myself back into the head-space that will allow me to finish Blood Oranges. But it's not going well. I tried to read Chapter Four aloud on Friday night, and I only made it a few pages in. The reasons are complex. My instinct is to shelve the manuscript and move on to the next project. But that would be ridiculous, if only because the novel is half finished. And it was coming so quickly before this wall.

We fall, or are knocked down, and we get up again. Or we stop calling ourselves writers.

---

Yesterday, Spooky and Sonya and I escaped the broiling confines of the house, and endured truly horrendous touron traffic to cross the Western Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island. Beavertail was dazzling. The sea off the west side of the point was such a dazzling blue gem it might have blinded me. Not my eyes, but other portions of my self in need of blinding. There's been far too much stress, lately. Stress I am ill equipped to cope with. There were more people at Beavertail than I'm used to seeing, but it was still easy to find a relatively secluded bit of phyllite jutting out into the bay on which to spread our blanket. About a hundred yards to the north, a flock of cormorants perched on the rocks. Occasionally one would streak away, skimming just over the surface of the sea. Or one would dive in and fish. There were gulls and robins and red-winged black birds. We fed a gull a cheese cracker. Just north of us was a rowdy lot of college kids, swimming and drinking beer and using watermelon rinds as hats. Spooky and I lay on the blanket. Sonya waded in. We weren't able to stay even nearly long enough, especially considering the the traffic there and back, and how hot sitting in the traffic was (the loaner car has no AC), but Sonya had a 6:27 p.m. train back to Boston. Amazingly, neither Kathryn nor I are sunburned (we did use sunscreen, but still).

Back home, Spooky and I had tuna for dinner. We watched more of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and our Faeblight Rift toons reached level 18. It was a quiet evening, and we mostly managed not to sweat.

I think I'm going to spend the next couple of days sweating and writing something for Sirenia Digst #68.

There are photos from yesterday, but Earthlink is all whack-a-doodle, so I'll have to try to post them tomorrow.

No Sea, So Less Calm Than Yesterday,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Of course, the bottom of page 451 wasn't truly THE END. I sat down yesterday to contemplate the possibility of an epilogue to The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. On the one hand, the last few sentences were pitch perfect. On the other hand, it didn't feel like the place where Imp would stop. So, I stared at the screen and pondered a way to add, without taking away. And I wound up writing an additional 1,991 words, under the heading "Back Pages." These pages are a little more like a series of footnotes or journal entries than they are like any conventional sort of epilogue, but they do shed light on a few of the novel's murkier places. The ms. now stands at 103,493 words. And now, I think, I genuinely have reached THE END.

And here, in this place called the end, I think I'm happy. I think I've walked the tightrope. Last night, [livejournal.com profile] sovay read the book. She's the first person besides Spooky to have done so. She pronounced it "beautiful," "magnificent," and, importantly, nothing like The Red Tree.

Also, I exchanged emails with my editor, to whom I will send the book next week. We're looking into including one or two sketches in the book, which would be very cool.

I also wrote a letter to R.E.M.'s management, to obtain permission to reprint two lines from "Follow the River." An actual letter on actual paper, that will go into an actual envelope, and have an actual stamp placed on it, then an actual postmark, and be delivered to the actual post office in Athens where I used to have my p.o. box. Still waiting to hear back from Radiohead's management regarding permission to reprint two lines from "There, There (The Bony King of Nowhere)."

Spooky proofed "Houses Under the Sea" for Two Worlds and In Between

I coughed.

After dinner, she helped me with making the final selections of which pieces of art will be included in the bonus section of the limited edition of Two Worlds and In Between. I have artists to email today, though I still have a few decisions left to make.

It was a goddamn busy day. Which is how things are going to be around here for at least another week and a half. Or for the rest of March. I don't fucking know any longer. But I do have fantasies of taking two or three days off, sometime in March. I really haven't had any time off in many months.

Also, if you're reading this and I've promised to send you a copy of the ms. of The Drowning Girl, those will go out the fist half of next week, once I've had time to polish the prose just a bit.

---

Last night, I ventured back into WoW for the first time in days. You know that quest that I deemed one of the worst three in Azeroth, the one in Shadowmoon Valley called "I was a lot of things..."? Well, last night, in a fit of pique, I went back in determined to best it. I did, and it unlocked the rest of the quests I needed for the "Shadow of the Betrayer" achievement. Now, all that stands between me and Loremaster are nine quests in the infamously difficult to conclude Nagrand region of Outland, which is littered with broken quests and suchlike.

Also, played Rift for a couple of hours or three, and made it about halfway through Level 19. And then we read more of Catching Fire. We're halfway to the end.

Time to make the doughnuts.
greygirlbeast: (white)
No less snow than yesterday, not that I can tell.

I've been sitting here doing some mildly grim math. I'm also trying to decide if "mildly grim" is anything like being "a little pregnant." Anyway, looking back over the month of January, I see that the last time I had a successful day off was on Tuesday, January 4th. I tried to have another the 17th, a Monday, but I hardly got out of doors before the anxiety kicked in, and that day earned an L. So, I have essentially been without a day off since the 4th, the day we saw True Grit. Over those twenty-four days, I've written a total of 26,929 words on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. And those aren't rough-draft pages. There will be a polish before it goes to my editor, but those are pretty much final-draft pages. That's an average of 1,122 words a day. However, I didn't actually write on every single one of those days: there was the failed day off, plus three days when I had non-writing writing work to attend to. That means 26,929 words written over nineteen days, and an average of 1,417 words per day. Take into account that about halfway through this my meds stopped working and I had to have the levels adjusted...and it's no damned wonder I feel like ass. Still, I've got to finish Chapter 5 and get Sirenia Digest #62 out before I can have a couple of days off, so I likely have at least three or four more days of this ahead of me.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,518 words on Chapter 5. It wasn't at all the scene I'd meant to write, but a scene I hadn't even suspected existed. This sort of thing is one reason I can't do meaningful synopses before I write a book: the story unfolds as I write it. Also, after yesterday, I've decided there will be a note at the beginning or the end of the novel that says something to the effect of This is the most personal novel I've ever written. That doesn't mean I expect you to like it. That only means it's the closest I've ever come to telling the truth. A small and unobtrusive note.

What I wrote yesterday made Kathryn cry, and I always take that as the highest compliment.

---

Last night, we watched Anton Corbijn's The American (2010; based on Martin Booth's novel, A Very Private Man). This is definitely one of the best films of 2010. It's the sort of quiet, brooding thriller that was common to the seventies, but which we rarely see these days. The cinematography and score are astounding. Clooney is at his very best. The film creates smothering paranoia, in part from its use of space, of perfectly composed wide-angle shots, vistas, landscapes. Corbijn is fast becoming one of my favorite living filmmakers. See this film, and also Control (2007), if you've not already.

Later, there were a couple of hours of WoW. We've finally shaken off the long nightmare of Uldum. I still can't believe that something like two thirds of the non-dungeon quests in that beautiful region were wasted on a bad Raiders of the Lost Ark spoof. It's almost unforgivable. Anyway, we moved along to the setup for the Twilight Highlands, which, at least for now, promises to take itself a lot more seriously than the mess in Uldum. Also, Greely the Goblin is one of my favorite WoW characters ever, and there better be an action figure. I never thought I'd have a goblin crush.

Spooky read me The Lorax before I fell asleep.

As I said on Facebook, I spent a good bit of yesterday in a detestably melancholic, nostalgic mood, mostly missing 1994 and Athens, Georgia...people, places. Lots of things I can't go back and visit, because they aren't there anymore.

And now, the platypus says no more dilly-dallying.
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
Bye bye long day,
I need to sleep so much.
You shine on me.
Too much is not enough.

On the sheets and pillow case,
In my bed for heaven's sake,
The devil's dancing until late in my head there.
But I could sleep with you there.
I could sleep with you there.

Always.
Always.

Bye bye long day.
I need to sleep so much,
Nineteen hours straight.
Too much is not enough...
— Catherine Wheel

I wrote a great deal of Silk to that album, which always surprises people, because they imagine that me as some goth-punk cliché. Like I wrote the damn thing holed up in a dark room listening to nothing but Bauhaus and Joy Division.

I did. Listen to Bauhaus and Joy Division when I was writing it, I mean. But I also listened to Catherine Wheel. The girl who used to cut my hair was dating the vocalist, though she lived in Georgia and he in London.

I'm awake and babbling. I start to think I will never sleep normally ever again. I'm annoyed because I meant to be reading Shirley Jackson's The Sundial, but discovered I am, instead, reading Shirley Jackson's The Bird's Nest. Which is a fine novel, just not what I meant to be reading.

I was telling Spooky, earlier, about living in Athens, and getting to know Michael Stipe. Because we bought our comics in the same comics shop, and drank at the same bar. How he gave me permission to quote a line of R.E.M. lyrics in an issue of The Dreaming: "It's a Man Ray kind of sky." But then the record label started making trouble, and we didn't have time to get it sorted out. So, I changed the line to "It's a memory kind of sky."

I am exhausted. My eyes are on fire. And I can't sleep. And one of the worst things about insomnia is that everyone has advice. They're well meaning, I know. Well intentioned. But I do so tire of the advice. It's hard to convince people you've heard it all, tried it all. Even when you say, "It's one reason I'm seeing a psychiatrist, and I have meds, and whatnot." They still talk about warm milk and hot baths. I do not want advice. I want sleep.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
We were acquainted briefly. I was first introduced to Vic by Michael Stipe at (I think) the Manhattan in Athens, Georgia in (I think) 1996. I was drinking a lot in those days, and details are hazy. But Vic was just one of those good things about Athens I took for granted. He was amazing, and beautiful, and brave.



greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
It seems impossible that this can be the Summer Solstice already. We've hardly had a whiff of summer in Providence. Hardly a whiff. And I'm so weighted down with the Tired and with deadlines that we've not had time to plan a ritual for this evening. Last year, we had such a wonderful Solstice on the rocks just north of Beavertail. I was hoping for a repeat this year. Anyway, one of the advantages of venerating all the nonconscious aspects of the Cosmos is knowing how indifferent the universe is to our little observances, and how it will take no notice whatsoever should we miss one, here or there. Panthalassa will not frown. Ur will not look askance. But I'll miss the ceremony, as it so helps my mind and my sense of the passing of time, ticking off these points along the wheel of the year. I do wish a fine Solstice to those who observe the day.

Anyway...

No writing yesterday. Not on four measly hours of sleep. Instead, we drove up to Boston. Ostensibly, to look for the tree that will be the Red Tree in the book trailer for The Red Tree. But, in fact, we mostly just wandered up and down Newbury Street and across Boston Commons and the Public Gardens. It was all rather splendid, a part of Boston I'd not seen. A place I wish I could live, where the past does not seem so entirely past. There are still vestiges of civilization showing through the grime of modernity, there on Newbury Street. You just have to peer past the people and the trendy shops and the trendier cafés. We overheard someone talking about rent on Newbury, $2600 (!!!) a month for an apartment. Only the rich can afford those particular vestiges. I shall have to be content with my rooms in this 1875 house here on Federal Hill. Yesterday, the weather was curious. The sky threatened thunder storms all day, but there wasn't even a drop of rain. Muggy, but no rain. An old man on the sidewalk played "All Along the Watch Tower" on an electric guitar, and it was wonderfully eerie. On the Commons, we watched squirrels and birds, and found a "dawn redwood" (Metasequoia) growing among the willows. In that city of overpriced everything, I was pleased to see that the boat rides (the swan boats that first began running in 1877), were only $2.75. We didn't go, though. Maybe next trip up. After Newbury Street, Spooky drove up to Cambridge and Harvard Square, and I saw the little cemetery that's mentioned in "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)," but we were too tired to stop.

Truthfully, my goddamn rotten feet made the whole day rather miserable, despite the wonderful sights. I'm reaching the point where the walking stick isn't sufficient, and may soon be resorting to a wheelchair for such things as wandering around Boston for hours at a time (almost three miles). I miss the days when I could walk and walk and walk, with hardly an ache at all. I miss dancing even more. I don't think I've really danced since November 2004. Between my feet and the seizures, I feel I've aged twenty years in the last five. There is no romance in invalidism, and I do not welcome this weakness. Anyway, we made it back home by about 8 p.m. We watched a couple of episodes of The X-Files and Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday (1940).

There are photos from yesterday (behind the cut):

20 June 2009 )


---

Cliff Miller writes, "There was a fire at the Georgia Theatre in Athens, causing heavy damage. I wondered if you had any memories of that place from your days in Athens that you might wish to share on the LJ?"

I heard about the fire at the Georgia Theater a couple of days back, and it saddened me enormously. I spent a lot of time at the Georgia Theater between 1994 and 1997. It's here I heard Concrete Blonde play, and met Johnette Napolitano (the same weekend I met [livejournal.com profile] docbrite). Death's Little Sister once played there, opening for someone (though I can't recall for whom). I'm glad to hear they plan to rebuild, but, of course, it'll never be the same.

---

I've begun tweeting the micropreview of The Red Tree over at greygirlbeast. The plan was to post a sentence a day, until the book is released on August 4th. Of course, I immediately realized that 140 characters won't accommodate many of those sentences. Today, for instance, I was only able to post the first three quarters or so of the first sentence. So, this is going to be a strange affair, indeed.

Please, if you haven't already, have a look at the current eBay auctions, all proceeds earmarked to help offset the cost of my attending ReaderCon 20 in July.

And, with that, the platypus says its time to get my skinny ass to the word mines....
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday, we took the road trip I'd originally planned for Saturday, the "field work" for Chapter Two of Joey Lafaye. We left the house about 12:30 p.m. (though I'd hoped to leave sooner) and drove east on I-20 as far as Exit 160, which is really not too far from the Georgia/South Carolina state line. We went a short ways south, into a little place called Norwood in Taliaferro County, then followed Highway 278 northwest, crossed beneath I-20, to Crawfordsville. Just west of Crawfordsville, at the intersection of Lexington Road NW and Broad Street NW, we turned north onto Highway 22, crossing the Csx Transporation railroad. From there we followed 22 on to Lyneville, Carter's Grove, and Philomath. Despite the desolation of this portion of the Georgia Piedmont, which I have never cared for — all low scrubby pine and red-orange clay — there are sights along this road. Past Philomath, we exited 22 onto 78 and went to Lexington, an almost picturesque little place that seems mostly to be comprised of antique stores. Then there was Crawford, before we finally we finally reached Athens.

In Athens, we parked downtown and had coffee, then spent some time walking about Washington, Clayton and Lumpkin, revisiting the few of my old haunts that have survived, being appalled that a Starbuck's has replaced Blue Sky Coffee, and so forth. We crossed Broad and walked about the UGA quad a bit. There were squirrels everywhere, and bright yellow scatters of fallen ginkgo leaves and green islands of magnolias. We went down Washington to the 40-Watt Club and Pain and Wonder Tattoo, the scene of much of my misspent youth. Well, maybe not misspent, but definitely spent. The cold made my ears ache, and as the sun began to set, we headed back to the car. We drove over to Meigs Street, not far from where I lived from April 1994 until August 1997, because I wanted to find the spot where Addison Lynch's house will be in the novel. And then we headed home, taking 316 back to I-85 and Atlanta.

A total of 254 miles on the odometer. We were back home about 8 p.m.

It is impossible to visit Athens and not come away with a heavy sort of melancholy. Even with all the changes, it seems so much the same, and so much happened to me there. It's one of the few places that has ever felt like home to me. Oh, yeah, here are five photos, a not-quite random glimpse at the day (behind the cut):

on the road )


When the world is a monster,
Bad to swallow you whole,
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in.
Throw your trolls out the door.
If you're needing inspiration,
Philomath is where I go by dawn.
Lawyer Jeff he knows the lowdown.
He's mighty bad to visit home.
I've been there, I know the way.
(Can't get there from here)


(R.E.M., "Can't Get There From Here")

Last night, some genuinely wonderful rp in Second Life. But not much else to report. Oh, I did get a check for $40.01 for royalties on "Escape Artist" from The Sandman: Book of Dreams. This is another of the three or four of my 100+ short-story sales that occasionally brings in a royalty check. That story was written in the summer of 1994, not long after I'd moved to Athens.

I'm not well today, in any sense, and I've somehow managed to be up since 11 ayem without having yet eaten anything, which isn't helping, I'm sure.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie1)
Yesterday, we drove to Athens to visit an old friend I'd not seen in many years. Lately, it occurred to me how very odd it is that I've lived in Atlanta more more than five years and not once made the hour+ drive east and north to Athens. Yesterday, I found out why. Too many memories there, of one sort or another. A memory minefield, and I absolutely do not need those. As many good memories as bad, but that doesn't make much difference. Ghosts everywhere I look. Francis Phelan coming home to Albany. Every street corner and vacant lot was haunted with significance. But the visit with David was good. These days, he's an NPR dj and writes a very popular political blog as "TRex" over at Fire Dog Lake. That means we had to think about things to talk about that were not politics. He has not yet abandoned hope for this system, and I fear that I have, so political discussions are dicey.

But he played a couple of Tori Amos albums for me. I admit I tuned out after To Venus and Back (1999), so Scarlet's Walk and American Doll Posse were new to me. I was pleased to find that I liked most of what I heard. Oh, and he also introduced us to Télépopmusic, with whom Spooky and I are now smitten. We left Athens at sunset.

Athens hasn't changed a great deal since I moved away in August '97, though a number of my most beloved institutions are deceased (Blue Sky coffee, the original Jittery Joe's location, etc.). But the route to and fro has changed quite a lot. We drove in on 316 and back to Atlanta on 78, and both are now squalid monuments to sprawl and corporate saturation. And crazy Jesus billboards. The crazy Jesus billboards are something else new, and reason enough to stay inside the Perimeter of Atlanta (though I already had lots of good reasons). I should have made a list of all the billboards. I can only recall a few: COMING SOON! JESUS; Stop Hilary Now!; some crazy creationist shit; and so on. And on. And on. Howard Hughes will stay here in her overpriced, godsforsaken, queer-friendly ghetto, thank you and please

We made it home in time for a late dinner (11 p.m.), and then more Planet Earth ("Seasonal Forests" and "Caves"). And then my nightly share of insomnia.

Regarding my Earth Day post, I received these comments:

[livejournal.com profile] melodican wrote:

I will continue to think of myself as an earthling first, a human second, and all other categorizations a distant third. And for what it's worth, I will continue flying James Cadle's flag and trying to live by Fred Rogers' words: "Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel, a facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not."

One problem, of course, is that most humans do pretend they are not and so will not acknowledge that kinship, even among their closest relations — other primates. Or if they do acknowledge a kinship, they see themselves as somehow favoured above all the other inhabitants of the planet, not as fellow travelers but "stewards" or "masters."

This comment from [livejournal.com profile] corucia was especially appreciated, though I suspect he's just trying to cheer me up:

Our intelligence has given us the power to ignore the usual boundaries set on other species, boundaries that act to limit the expansion of a species. However, our intelligence hasn't done a single thing to negate the drive to expand that is inherent in all species. It's buried too deep for most people to even comprehend that it is there, let alone do anything constructive about it. Unfortunately for the human species, we didn't eliminate all of the boundaries, merely sidestepped the more common ones. Our drive to expand eventually will cause us to come up against a boundary that we can't think our way around, and our expansion will stop. In all likelihood, that will mean that our population levels will implode, as our current numbers are only supported by expansion, and not by maintenance, as you point out. If model organism population studies actually do provide a reasonable overview of likely outcomes, we could be looking at a drop of more than two to three orders of magnitude, leaving Earth with a human population of five to fifty million, or less. I would expect the technologically based groups to be the most affected. Once again, if model organism studies can be used as an indicator, the rapidity of the descent could be measured in years, not decades. It depends on how far out over the abyss we are when we finally hit the triggering event.

Sorry to be all somber and gloomy, but today is Earth Day, and not Human Day. The good news is that Earth, and life in general, will not have too much problem picking up and continuing, after the humans have effectively killed themselves off.


Also, my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jtglover for the link to this article, which boldly, sensibly states why yesterday should be the last Earth Day. I do not agree with its authors' optimism, but they're dead-on about the corporate co-opting of Earth Day and the irrelevance of individual gestures in the face of environmental collapse. If you're the sort who looks at the two choices now before humanity — a) radical, immediate change or b) business as usual, leading to unspeakable misery and possibly human extinction — and chooses "a," then you should read the article.

---

Today needs to be spent polishing the "Yellow House" story for Sirenia Digest #17. There's so much else waiting to be done.

This would be a fine day for comments...

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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