greygirlbeast: (Default)
Better late than never. Well, that's always been a dubious adage, but whatever.

I begin to see a trend. When I was writing The Red Tree I became, in some sense, Sarah Crowe. When I was writing The Drowning Girl, I became India Morgan Phelps. And now that I'm writing Blood Oranges, I find myself becoming Siobahn Quinn. No, this didn't used to happen.

Yesterday, as predicted, was spent pulling the Digest together, writing the prolegomenon etc. Finding the cover image, and the ending for the back page. What the fuck is wrong with LiveJournal that is doesn't fucking know how to fucking spell "prolegomenon"? Anyway, I also took care of some last minute details regarding Two Worlds and In Between, which goes to the printer any day now.

Red Bull and benzodiazepines. Two great tastes that go great together. Oh, look! LiveJournal can't spell "benzodiazepines," either. Ah, the brilliant internet.

Hot Outside, here in Providence. Well, hot for Providence.

Good RP in Rift last night. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus. You guys don't know what you're missing. If we're gonna let these computers ruin our lives, and change what it means to be human, we might as well have some fun with it, right?

---

Just back from a matinée of Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. And I loved it. Almost unconditionally. You know what I said about how we need B-movies? Well, it's true. But this film unexpectedly transcends a category I expected it to fall within. It's simply a good movie. Maybe not great cinema, but a good movie. And, right now, I'll settle for that. The cast is marvelous, top to bottom: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford (who actually does more than play Harrison Ford), Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, etc. Someone was mouthing off on IMDb about (Oh, it can spell "IMDb"!) this being the "worst idea for a film ever." It is nothing of the sort. Why assume alien invasions would always come in the present (or, perhaps, the future)? Anyway, as to the central premise, to quote Stephen Hawking:

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.

A point which is touched upon in the film. The Native American bit, I mean. Obviously, the subject of the film is an alien race seeking to exploit the Earth, and willing to commit genocide to do it. Wait. There has to be another word, one for wiping out an entire, particular species to get what you need. Sure, the end result is extinction, but there ought to be a word for the process. Ah. Extermination. That will do.

Anyway, yes. A very, very good, fun, and moving film, working both as a Western and an SF film. I recommend it unconditionally. Unless you're too jaded for the fundamental concept and go into the theatre needing to be convinced. Here we are now, entertain us. If that's your attitude, save the price of admission and stay home. But I give it a solid two thumbs up.

---

I think Frank the Goat is feeling better. Now if someone would just teach him how to spell.

Up to Here,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
Rainy and cold in Providence. Each spring, this actually-late-winter stage seems to last longer and longer. Like a sort of time dilation. I need it to fuck away elsewhere, but Nature does as Nature does. Except, of course, when we break it. Though, even then, it does as it does given a new set of rules, as it always would have done. Regardless, fuck you day of drizzle and clouds. If I don't go out today, I'll not have left the house, for more than three or four minutes on one occasion, in the past twelve days.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,755 words on "Random Notes Before a Fatal Crash," and found THE END. It is a very peculiar story. No surprise there. I'm tempted to spend two days adding footnotes, because they'd certainly fit right in. Then again, it's usually better to leave the reader to puzzle out whatever may not be clear (only too many readers hate to think; they just want "a good read" or "a quick read" or "an easy read"). It's a fine story and I'm pleased with it. Well, it's not so much a story, as journal entries from the final days of a man's life. And the word "random," it should come as no surprise that the use of that word here is a boondoggle. Anyway, when I was done with the story yesterday I realized a very important thing. The sort of very important thing I should have realized long ago. Gobsmacked by the obvious. I've spent at least three years mining my gradual and inexorable mental (and, to a lesser degree, physical) deterioration. And now it's time to stop writing novels like that. Imp and The Drowning Girl, that's the last time I do it. Probably forever. I've sold the most private confessions far too cheaply. Likely, I can't keep these elements out of my short stories, but it'll not find its way into my attempt to write YA. Blue Canary is going to be a creepy, whimsical, adventurous, fun sort of quasi-detective story. If anyone's insane, they'll be safe caricatures. I see people whine about how Kathe Koja gave up the ghost after Kink, how she "lost it" when she started writing YA, to which I can only say – fuck off. I've had enough of this. Howard Hughes is tired of telling the truth.

I forgot, a couple of days back, to mention that I'd been sent copies of Graham Joyce's The Silent Land (courtesy the publisher, Doubleday) and Carrie Ryman's The Forest of Hands and Teeth (courtesy Cassandra Brewtser). They have been added to the Mountain of That Which Must Be Read. Avalanche warnings have been posted.

Mabon 2010

Sep. 22nd, 2010 12:46 pm
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
Yesterday imploded. Or exploded. Doesn't really matter, because when the colloid of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases had cleared, well, there was little left of the day to salvage. Nothing was written. Which makes yesterday a Lost Day. With only eight days remaining until we leave for the HPLFF, there's no time for days like that.

I forgot to mention that, night before last, I heard a coyote very near the house. I heard it several times, an oddly eerie sound. I'm still trying to get used to the idea of urban coyotes.

Today is Mabon.

The brightest spot to yesterday, the most silver lining (there were few of either) was the arrival of my author's copies of Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas. It contains my story "As Red As Red," which I wrote in March and April of 2009. The anthology was released simultaneously in three formats: trade paperback, hardback, and a Kindle edition (though how anyone can read anything on a Kindle is beyond me*). This is a story I'm very happy with— sort of a footnote to The Red Tree —and I hope you'll pick up the collection, which includes a bevy of fine authors.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. They end today and tonight. Still no bid on The Wrong Things (2001), my collaborative collection with [livejournal.com profile] docbrite. These have become very rare, and I have only a handful of copies.

The rumours are true. The 2010 H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival is the last HPLFF, at least for the foreseeable future, as the director, Andrew Migliore, is retiring. You can't blame him; he's been doing this for fifteen years. Aaron Vanek has started a satellite festival in LA, so there will be that. So, yeah. Alas. The end is, indeed, nigh.

Last night, I watched the moon and Jupiter again.

To try to scrape something good from yesterday, late in the afternoon we drove to Warwick and got the new Swans CD, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, at Newbury Comics. This is the Swans minus Jarboe, but still. And we went to the market. And coming back home the sun was starting to set, and the clouds were on fire, and I wished I'd brought the camera.

The day ended when I took a Seroquel, that tiny reddish drab of numb, and fell asleep watching Avatar. It's becoming one of my comfort films, because it's beautiful, and it's heart is always in the right place— even when it stumbles —and in the end the humans lose and have to go back to their dying world. A bedtime story for panenatheists (I think I just made that word up).

---

The whole money thing is wearing me ragged again. Of course, at this point, I imagine it's wearing almost everyone ragged. The lifeboat is overcrowded, and we have the teabaggers wanting to punch a hole in the hull. Day before yesterday, I found this animated map— "The Decline: The Geography of a Recession" —based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (and other local unemployment statistics). It chronicles unemployment in the US from January 2007 (4.6%) to June 2010 (9.7%). It's sort of horrifying.

Anyway, yeah. I've reached the point where I'm considering asking my agent if she can get me another novelization deal. Frankly, I'd rather eat dog shit than go through that special hell again, but the money was good. Of course, there's no guarantee the money would be good again, and it would derail my actual, for-real, trying-not-to-suck writing.

Now, I need to make an end to this entry, then go find THE END to "John Four."

* Nothing personal, Kindle. I hate all "eReaders" and "ebooks" equally on principle.
greygirlbeast: (grey)
So, first my grateful thanks for the bazillion or so comments to yesterday's post. It's good to know that I'm not talking to an empty room, after all. And after seeing that I'd ranked #23 in the Top 50 in BlogRanks SciFi & Fantasy Novels Category, I feel a bit better about the time I spend on this journal (usually about an hour and a half a day). Your responses were interesting. One thing I'm always surprised to hear is the oft-repeated concern that someone feels hesheit will be intruding or perceived as "stalkerish" or "fanboy/girlish" for commenting. This is most emphatically not the case. I began this blog in 2001 at the urging of Neil Gaiman, as a means of promoting my work. And though I have allowed the blog to become more personal over the years, this remains its primary function. Promotion. This is not my private journal, or some place where my RL friends gather. This is, essentially, a forum that allows me to describe what being a writer is like (for me), someplace to vent, post news, and someplace to interact with my readers. It was built to have comments.

That said, I don't argue online. So I do ask that readers show some degree of discretion in their comments. Don't troll. Don't pick fights. Please don't make what are obviously inflammatory statements. Don't rag on my friends and acquaintances. Otherwise, comment away, please. One thing that's especially helpful is getting feedback on Sirenia Digest. Unlike my novels, and short-story collections, and unlike my short fiction that appears in anthologies, all of which is reviewed, I don't get much feedback on the digest, unless it appears here or arrives via email. Thanks.

---

Yesterday, the dithering came full circle. After a long conversation with Spooky, I decided to continue with "The Alchemist's Daughter," despite my reservations. It just feels wrong not to finish it at this point, even if I really shouldn't have undertaken such an ambitious story for this month's issue. Also, I hope to have time to get a second piece written for #43, "The Mermaid of the Concrete Sea." We shall see, as I also have an anthology deadline this month, and various other things to get done, and here we are, already one third of the way through June. Anyway, yesterday, I wrote 1,055 words on "The Alchemist's Daughter."

I have given my agent House of Beasts as a working title for the next novel after The Red Tree, though I don't actually plan to get to the proposal until September.

Things seem to be rapidly coming together for The Red Tree book trailer, by the way. Yesterday (thanks to Sonya, Bob, and Anita) we found our Constance Hopkins, the only character who will appear in the clip. Details TBA. This is such a different project for me, and I'm excited about it. Though it began as a promotional effort, I'm starting to look as it as a creation in its own right. This very, very, very small film we are going to make. This visual impression of the novel. Ah, and I posted another clip from the test footage we shot at Beavertail last Sunday (June 7) to YouTube. I think I'm going to use YouTub, and maybe Vimeo, to post "making-of" snippets as we proceed towards the finished product (which I hope to have completed by mid July). Anyway, here's clip 2 (the wind screws with the mike for the first 27 seconds or so, but then the sound clears up):



---

A quick reminder about the current eBay auctions. Several new items up today. Also, Spooky's taking part in the "yart sale" (yard + art = yart) over at Etsy, so you might want to drop in on her Dreaming Squid Dollworks shop. Thanks!

---

A reader at MySpace, "Oddly Enough," has written, "I notice Howard Hughes wiggles his way into your blog titles quite a bit, why is that? Some interest you have, or some relevant point I am missing?"

Howard Hughes is one of my quasi-alter-egos. A sort of avatar. Another neurotic recluse with whom I identify on many levels. Sadly, I'm not also a billionaire, and if I were, I'd certainly never loan $205,000 to the brother of a Republican presidential candidate. However, I do save nail clippings, and bottle caps, and movie ticket stubs, and it would be very like me to build a plane that's too large to actually fly. Also, I would have gladly dated Katharine Hepburn. So, you see where I'm going with this. Or not.

The platypus and the dodo say wrap it up. Thank you for your order. Drive around please.
greygirlbeast: (blood)
I have an email this morning from director Frank Woodward, maker of Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. Frank writes. "Just wanted you to know that Lovecraft won Best Documentary Film at Comic-Con. Your section on Deep Time continues to mesmerize. People consistently mention it to me after they see the film." So, that's cool. Very cool. May it win many more awards.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,015 words on "Derma Sutra (1891)," for Sirenia Digest #32. This piece is genuinely "weird erotica." No. Ditch the silly, pc "erotica" tag. This is "weird pornography." If Lovecraft had ever decided to write porno, well, I think, honestly, it would have looked a lot like "Derma Sutra (1891)." Even though there's not a single tentacle or a squamous batrachian fish-person in sight.

I haven't been wanting to write here about my dratted health. The last month I've been struggling with pain from that upper left molar I cracked in the grand mal seizure back in October. My dentist in Birmingham was skeptical of her chances of saving it. And now I'm thinking that she didn't. She sent me off to Providence with a penicillin script and another for Lortab, should the tooth go hot before I find a dentist. I have not yet found a dentist. And I've only taken one of the Lortab, as ibuprofen is controlling the pain, mostly, even though it does a number on my stomach (and me and pain meds have an ugly history I do not want to see replayed). So, if I have seemed out of step or extra curmudgeonly or whatever, it's mostly the pain and worry about the pain and the uncertainty and so forth. The pain wakes me in the mornings. It's become that very first thing of the day, this sensation like someone's socked me in the jaw right proper. But I absolutely can't stop work on The Red Tree and the digest to have a tooth pulled or root canaled or whatever. I cannot risk being sidetracked, not at this point (yes, this is part of the "romantic" life of a freelance writer).

Spooky's added a PC copy of the leather-bound edition of Frog Toes and Tentacles to the new round of eBay auctions, along with another copy of Alabaster Please have a look, and bid, should you be so disposed. Thanks. And I'll remind you that subpress is now taking preorders on A is for Alien.

After the writing yesterday, we escaped the house and headed for Moonstone Beach. I was hoping that the storms on Sunday would have cast up some interesting things. And, in fact, when we reached Moonstone, we discovered wonderful lag deposits of pebbles, which are not normally present there, not in such great numbers. So, as the sun set and Asian families fished for blue crabs in Trustom Pond (using chicken legs on string), we crawled about on the sand and stone, looking for bits of beach glass. Spooky found the best pieces. My eyes are just too lousy these days. We picked up a bag full of plastic garbage. At some point, I just lay down on the wet pebbles and sand, just lay there listening to the surf and the birds. And it occurred to me, This is what I have, and this is why I do the writing, and put up with the pain. This is why I'm hanging on, because I can lie on the beach, with the sea lapping at my feet, and know that this one thing, at least, is real. It's not much, but, then again, it's everything, the seashore, that liminal space where earth and ocean meet. It's what I desire, and what I have earned. Ah, and I found a very nice carapace of a spider crab (Libinia emarginata) and brought it home with me. We left as it was getting dark, and the Asian families were still snagging crabs with chicken legs.

Set me aflame and cast me free.
Away, you wretched world of tethers...


After dinner at Iggy's in Narragansett, we stopped by Spooky parents' on the way back, to get cucumbers and yellow crooked-neck squash and eggs and just visit. The sky is so marvelous over their farm, the stars so brilliant. Heading back into town last night, I think my mind was still lying on the beach. Entering Providence, I had some weird flashback to Southland Tales, and it seemed to me —— and the sensation lingers this afternoon —— Here is the Future, as much as there is ever a "future," and it is bizarre and deadly, ugly and wondrous, and I have no place here. It's an unsettling sort of realization, and yet I can't find any fault with it. I think it was about 10:30 pm when we finally got home again.

Oh, there was a question from a reader, who asks, "I was reading some of your old posts today and it reminded me you sometimes referred to your 'favorite Thai place' in Atlanta. Could you share the name with me or in the blog?" And yes, now that I am here in Providence and no longer have to worry about dinner being interrupted by a well-meaning fan, I can (it actually happened at that restaurant a couple of times, which is why I never named it). Thai Bowl in Decatur, though the old, now-deceased location off Highland was better. Thai Bowl is one of the few things I miss about Atlanta.

And one last thing in this long entry. Yes, to create an avatar in Second Life that looks good, that moves well, etc., you will have to go beyond the default freebie av. And roleplay is far better with good avs and decent animation overrides and so forth. But, here's the thing —— compared to the charges incurred by popular MMORPGs, (which SL is not, not an MMORPG, I mean), such as WoW and The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, creation of a good av is really incredibly cheap. For $10 (US; and that's a nice pile of Lindens), or $20 (if you want to get really fancy), you can create a wonderful, unique character, and it's not like there are monthly charges on free accounts, or like the rp sims charge you to play there. Just saying....

Below are four photos from yesterday evening:

Moonstone Beach, July 28, 2008 )
greygirlbeast: (vlad and mina)
Of all the silly, stupid things, I believe that I am suffering from "vacation guilt." I think it's because I have actually been enjoying myself for most of the past six days. Never mind how much I've written since last August, or that I haven't had a week off in nine months, the guilt comes anyway. But. Today is the last of the vacation. I have to email editors and agents and publishers and producers and let them know I shall be getting back to work tomorrow. My thanks to Spooky ([livejournal.com profile] humglum) for convincing me I was deserving of two days more than originally planned. I think I'm ready now to begin The Dinosaurs of Mars and the next new piece for Sirenia Digest and to return to the "Onion" screenplay, and then in July I will begin Joey LaFaye. It is good to feel rested for the first time in almost a year, and it is good to know the work that lies ahead of me.

Speaking of [livejournal.com profile] humglum, she was just regaling me with some bizarre nightmare about being trapped in a high school during a zombie attack. Fortunately, though, Tim Gunn was there with her. So, at least it was a stylish apocalypse. All the zombies were students returning to a familiar place, and Spooky and Tim Gunn and whoever else figured out that if the zombies thought you were gay or lesbian or any other sort of "freak," they wouldn't come near you for fear of freak cooties. Since Spooky's such a dyke, this worked to her advantage. And Tim Gunn, well, that's obvious enough. Still, she sharpened a mop handle into a zombie prod.

Getting back to the subject of writing, and my recent misgivings, [livejournal.com profile] salmagundislove commented yesterday:

At best I'll say that I've always felt those earlier works invoked genuine awe and wonder in me as a reader (amongst other things). That they laid me open to something that transcended the stories themselves. Jimmy DeSade's grief was near palpable in "Glass Coffin", as was Narcissa's terrible desperation at the start of Low Red Moon. She tracked blood through every page of that novel which (and I hate sounding like a gushing fanboy) was something I'd never encountered in literature before. I'd never seen that potential so fully realised.

I'm under no illusions that you are not doing the finest writing of your career. It's demonstrated each month when
Sirenia falls into my in-box. I'm not like those infuriating Poppy Z fans who believe she should have pulled down the blinds after Exquisite Corpse.*

This may be my point, such as it is. The sense of meaning in your work may feel illusive because you're branching out in so many new and exciting ways. Again,
Sirenia is the best example of this. It may not seem as obvious to you because of all the demands your life as writer may be making on you, but it's still there. It's continually taking on new forms, and I'll wager the "Onion" screenplay will be further evidence of that...

Okay, setting my concerns about Daughter of Hounds aside for a moment (and I do, truly, consider it my best written novel to date), I think you have managed to tell me what seems to be bothering you personally. Here's the thing. I began writing as a sort of therapy. To say that I was not a happy person would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. I was a bottomless well of anger and sorrow, and for the first eleven years or so of my writing career (let's say The Five of Cups through Low Red Moon, 1992-2002) almost everything I wrote was me working through that anger and sorrow, which had accumulated throughout my childhood, my teens, and the first half of my twenties. But finally, as I was finishing with Low Red Moon in the summer of '02, I realized that I was getting better. I would go to the story place, the place where I let my emotions run wild, and there was less and less misery to draw upon. And I also realized this meant that my writing would have to change, because I certainly wasn't going to try to fake it. All those characters — Narcissa Snow, Deacon Silvey, Gin Percel, Chance Matthews, Spyder Baxter, Daria Parker, Jimmy DeSade and Salmagundi Desvernine, Jenny Haniver, Keith Barry, Echo, Lucien (as I wrote him), Dancy Flammarion, Crispin and Lark, Sadie Jasper, etc. & etc. — all of them were me. I assume this is obvious to an attentive reader. They were, in fact, avatars, and I think this is why those emotions came through so loud and clear. But when Low Red Moon was finished, I knew something different had to happened. I had to build a bridge. What I actually did was end up writing a whole book about building bridges — Murder of Angels. And that book was me laying the ghosts to rest, as best I could. And when I talk about this sense that I might have lost my way, more than anything, I'm speaking of the last couple of years. Anyway, this paragraph is very long, and I can only hope it helps make sense of your feelings about the Old Stuff vs. the New. It helps me, just to write it out. There was also a very good email from [livejournal.com profile] jtglover on this subject, which I will try to get around to tomorrow.

I decided I'm not up to posting all those O.O.T.S.S.O.E.R.A.A.A.P. merit badges right now. Maybe tomorrow. Oh, there was a wonderful thundershower yesterday. I did want to say that. I hope the drought is at an end and soon the park will be green again. Now, I'm off to attend to emails. Then it's back to my Second Life. I swear to the gods, this is the Best Toy Ever, and yet it is more than a toy. Do come and have a look. Sign up. It's free (and if you do sign up, please say that Nareth Nishi referred you). Late last night, early this a.m., I found myself in a wonderful tick-tock city in the company of a certain Doctor and a young woman best known for her work as a mechanic on a Firefly-class starship named Serenity. It's a goddamn box of wonders. And I will be dancing at the Dark Goddess (in Dorje) this evening from 6-8 SL time (PST; 9-11 EST). Okay. See ya, kiddos.

* Good, because those people are what is known in polite company as morons.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday went well, so far as the writing is concerned. To my great surprise (and relief) it only took me 364 words to reach THE END of "For One Who Has Lost Herself." The "final" word count is 5,860 words. Now I'm stepping away from the piece for a couple of days. I need some perspective before I read through the whole thing, start to finish. I've gone ahead and sent the uncorrected version to Vince so we can start talking about the illustration. I also did a great deal of revision on the pages I wrote on Wednesday. Note, this story isn't erotic, and "pas-en-arrière" is only very subtly so. The pieces just came out that way, and I wasn't about to force sex upon them if they didn't want it. Wouldn't that be a sort of literary rape? Anyway, what I was going to say is that if you've been fence sitting about subscribing to the journal because you were afraid the sex stuff might not be your cuppa, here's a chance for you to try Sirenia Digest relatively sex free.

I've grown to love Klaus Nomi's music, but it inevitably makes me sad, in the way that joyous things can sometimes make me sad if I know too much about the life of the artist who created them. Bittersweet, I guess. I'm listening to Nomi on the iPod as I type this and thinking perhaps I'll switch to the Dresden Dolls.

I did a little more thinking on the avatar thing yesterday. It occurred to me I'd left out a few major ones. Keith Barry, for instance, who, I believe, was a sort of proto-Deacon. Also Jimmy DeSade, and he's an important one. He and Salmagundi may in fact form two halves of a greater compound avatar. Jimmy was my fury at things that have been stolen from me, my guilt at not having done more to prevent those losses, my determination to make the whole world pay (for whatever). There's also Echo from The Dreaming. Echo's obvious. Anyway, yeah, I'm still working all this out.

Spooky just came back from the p.o. with a nice little package from [livejournal.com profile] girfan, which included a really beautiful set of British postcards adorned with images of Ice-Age mammals (Smilodon, a woolly rhino, woolly mammoth, cave bear, and Irish elk). They're much too cool to ever actually use.

The mailman brought new books yesterday. That's always a good thing. Kathe Koja's The Blue Mirror, Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen, and Ronald Hutton's Triumph of the Moon.

After downloading Typewriter 2.10, I was seized with the need to find an image of the old Royal I used as a kid. Here's the best one I've found so far:


Royal Model KMM (circa 1938, I think)


I'm giving myself a day-off after five straight writing days. I want to be outside, and I've got to spend the weekend finishing with the Alabaster galleys. We're supposed to reach 82F today, with rain tonight. Hopefully, I really will leave the house and not wind up spending the whole day working on Wikipedia or playing videogames or some other such indoor silliness. Oh, I've noted Poppy's poetry meme, which I think I shall do at some point today or tonight or tomorrow.
greygirlbeast: (chi2)
Yesterday was both an extraordinarily good writing day and a very confounding writing day. I did 1,674 words on "To One Who Has Lost Herself," bringing the current total word count for the story to 5,348. Once or twice I came so near to THE END that I could almost see it, but then the story would reveal some new wrinkle, some new bit of dialogue, and I'd realise that my sighting of THE END was only a mirage. In that way, it was a very frustrating day. Finally, about 5 p.m., too bleary to trust myself with so many nouns and verbs and adjectives, I called it a day, admitting defeat, admitting I'd not be finding the last sentence until today. This story (and, at this point, it isn't a vignette, but an actual short story) will go where it will. I can only follow. When it's ready, it'll make an ending for itself. I just hope it's ready today. As it is, the piece will go to at least 6,000 words. And I suppose I should say, in case I haven't said it already, my, what a different sort of story this is for me. I'm not sure just how to quantify these changes in my writing. A softening of voice, perhaps. An opening up. Not a "lightening up," but the prose is clearly less dense.

Oh, and even though all those hours of writing left me cross-eyed and foggy, I still managed to write a Wikipedia entry for the Argentinian ceratosaurian Genyodectes serus. Go figure.

My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] stardustgirl for hearing my poor antique heart's longing for the sound of clacking keys and pointing me towards Typewriter 2.10. Now the iBook has a voice not too dissimilar from the ancient Royal I grew up on (which had been my mother's before me). I loved that typewriter, despite the tangling ribbons and the jamming keys and the keys that sometimes punched straight through the paper. Sadly, the Royal fell prey to some part of my tumultuous twenties. I last saw it about 1987, I think. At any rate, I can now clack clack clack to my heart's content.

And speaking of changing prose, last night I was talking to Spooky about the ways that Daughter of Hounds is different from the novels and short stories that have come before. There is an undeniable difference, but I've been a little at a loss to explain to myself or anyone else the nature of that difference. Last night, I finally hit upon it. It's about avatars, sensu "An embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype," et also sensu "A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity." And, perhaps, as well, "The distillation of some aspect of myself." In all my novels, up to DoH, certain characters have functioned as my avatars. I'm not sure I was even aware of this on a conscious level until Peter Straub wrote his afterword to Tales of Pain and Wonder and declared Salmagundi Desvernine to be my avatar. And it's true. She was. But only for a particular part of myself, not the whole. Salmagundi was my longing, my nostalgia, my despair at the meaning and civilization which mankind cast aside in its race through the 20th Century.

I've had many other avatars. Deacon Silvey was my avatar, too. He has been that viciously self-destructive part of me which always means well, always intends to do the right thing, and yet which usually succumbs to the weaknesses and shortcomings of my personality. He's the hopeless fuck-up side of me. Spyder Baxter was the incarnation of my unsane mind and my unceasing fear of abandonment. Chance Matthews, she was the part of me which cannot escape a blind adherence to mechanistic rationalism, even when faced with its occassional shortcomings, and the part of me that would have remained a paleontologist even though the world decided to push in some other direction. Chance was also my regret and my mourning. Narcissa Snow was the alien in me, the outsider and inhuman which is neither this nor that nor the other, but which is ever seeking to take a side, which is to say that she is the avatar of my monstrosity. Even Gin Percel, way back there in The Five of Cups, she functioned as an avatar as well. She was my seemingly bottomless anger at and despite for the world around me and the circumstances of my life. Later, Dancy Flammarion became a more refined version of that same avatar. Niki Ky was the most vulnerable and strongest bits of me, and Daria Parker was all my stubbornness and perseverance and passion and the razor sharp corners of my self which will never soften. And, finally, Sadie Jasper has been, three times now, an evolving avatar who first appeared as the younger, headstrong, sulking goth bitch I was during those years in Athens, and then she was the resigned writer, writing for herself and herself alone, and the part of me that knows better than to lie down and die, even when the wolf has me by the throat, and then, finally, in Daughter of Hounds, she became...well, you'll see. I shall not spoil it.

In each case, the avatar has served as my route into and through the book, and they have also made of each book deeply personal artefacts. Now, I look at Daughter of Hounds and see that the only personal avatars I seem to have placed there are Sadie and Deacon, the old standbys, but only in supporting roles. They are never allowed to take center-stage. That space is reserved for Emmie Silvey and for Soldier and for the Daughter of the Four of Pentacles. Even Odd Willie Lothrop and Saben White and Esmeribetheda are more central to the novel than are Deacon and Sadie. And last night as I was talking through this with Spooky, I understood, at last, that DoH is the first time that I've taken a backseat to the story. And that this isn't a Bad Thing. It's merely my inevitable evolution as an artist. Finally, my psyche was strong enough to relax and tell a story, instead of putting myself through another round of public psychoanalysis via my fiction. Deacon and Sadie are there, and just a faint hint of Chance, and they are still my avatars, but they're watching from the wings, unable to directly act upon the course of the play. And this is my epiphany. And I feel somehow freer for having had it. Make of it what you will.

So...with that out the way, I should mention that echidnas and hedgehogs everywhere agree that Thursday, April 6th, 2006, is a stellar day to subscribe to Sirenia Digest. The way things are going, Issue #5 will feature close to or in excess of 10,000 words of new fiction. Do not deny the wisdom of spiny mammals. Subscribe today!

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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