greygirlbeast: (white2)
Choice comments to recent entries. First, regarding the accelerating acceleration of life at the dawn of the Twenty First Century [livejournal.com profile] lady_tigerfish writes:

You just can't Tweet Big Thoughts; they take more than 140 characters. I resent any format that demands my thoughts be small.

– and also –

Making the time--for anything--seems to be a thing of the past. Nearly everyone I know describes themselves as lazy, but as far as I can tell, "laziness" seems to translate to nothing more than "not spending every waking hour doing something." There's an almost Puritanical bent to the way we seem to need to be busy every hour of ever day, to the way stillness is demonized as sloth. Like if we stop moving for two seconds, the devil himself will descend to make use of our idleness. We certainly treat each other that way whenever one of our own dares to step outside the regimen and, say, turns off the cell phone for awhile. Funny, since (as other commenters have pointed out) this pace actually makes us less productive in the long run.

And [livejournal.com profile] mrs_ralph writes, of writing and this blog:

I don't think that's what people are looking for when they follow a writer. I can't speak too much for other people but I think I was looking for the deep, dark secret of how to. Turns out there is no deep, dark secret or if there is one it is 'nose to the grindstone, shoulder to wheel and get on with it already!' or as so many writers say 'just write.' The magic isn't something you can beg, borrow, bottle or steal, it is what happens when a person with a unique mindset and a way with words sits down, writes a story and then lets the rest of the world read it.

Thank you both.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,608 words on the piece that is still called "Blast the Human Flower," but which really needs a different title. I wrote 1,608 words, and found THE END sometime after sunset. It's the sort of story I think of as the biological equivalent of "nuts and bolts" SF, that manly technopron that puts me to sleep. A couple of years back, I was on a panel at Readercon that asked why Darwin has been less of an inspiration to science fiction than, say, Einstein. Or, put another way, why sf authors are usually more concerned with, say, astrophysics, engineering, and robotics than they are with zoology, botany, and geology. It was a good panel. Dune was offered up as an especially good example of science fiction in which biology is the cornerstone of the tale. The sort there needs to be many more of, stories at least as concerned with life and earth sciences as with technology. Oh, and there's the matter of anthropology/sociology/psychology, too – which also seem frequently ignored or frowned upon by the self-appointed gatekeepers of the genre. I could get into the whole Apollonian sf vs. Dionysian sf thing, so-called "hard science" vs. so-called "soft science," writers and readers who don't have the stomach for flesh and sex (sex being, after all, the driving force of evolution)...but I won't.

In the end, of course, it's all matter, viewed at different levels and in different states and configurations, perpetually recycled. So, there. Science fiction, like all literature, is the literature of matter. Distinctions dissolve, as well they ought.

---

Since late Friday afternoon, a migraine has been eating at me. I can't tell if the anger's still here, or if my awareness of it has been eclipsed by the headache. Sometimes, my mood swings and chains of angry days would portend a seizure. Now that the meds have those in check, for the most part, I begin to suspect the same anger and mood swings portend the headaches (there's a lot of interesting data drawing parallels between migraines and certain sorts of seizure disorders, and vice versa). Anyway, I think I like the anger better.

Today is an assembly day. I hope to have Sirenia Digest #73 out to subscribers before midnight. This month you get the new vignette I was just discussing, plus part one of "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea" (with a great Vince Locke illustration), and the second chapter of the original and eventually very reworked text of Silk.

Throbbing,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Quite cold in Providence today, and colder tonight. Presently 36˚ Fahrenheit, crawling towards a high of 39˚.

Assembly Day #72 went pretty much as expected: not as tedious as many, but still tedious enough to annoy a person who, like me, can't seem to abide even the smallest jot of tedium. Regardless, Sirenia Digest #72 went out last night, well before midnight, and all subscribers should have it by now. I'm especially interested in thoughts on "Another Tale of Two Cities."

Beyond pulling the digest together, which took several hours, there isn't much else to say about yesterday. Work, work, and work. And, in lieu of anything even remotely interesting to say about that work, here are some Reminding Links:

The Drowning Girl: A Memoir

Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart

Alabaster

Oh, and if you're into this sort of thing, here's my Amazon wishlist and here's Spooky's. What with Solstice and Cephalopodmas looming dark and gibbous on the horizon. You know, for kids. Distraction is always welcome.

---

Mon monsieur, mon amour, le Comte de Insomnie, made an unexpected return last night. Perhaps something went amiss with the laudanum, a bad batch from the apothicaire. A misplaced dash from a tincture of cocaïne, possibly. At any rate, last night, trying to get sleepy, and so I read Lisa Tuttle's recent short story, "The Man in the Ditch," because Tuttle has written some good stuff, and I liked the title. Sadly, the story is bland, only competent, and infected with an especial sort of bland, formulaic mundanity I'm seeing in a lot of "horror" these days, both written and in film. Couple moves into house, apartment, condo, old farm only to discover that the domicile is haunted by malevolent spirit of X (insert generic EVIL entity of your choice). Family X (which can be nuclear or otherwise, pure or tainted, possessed of children or not, but they are pretty much always heterosexual) soon meets terrible fate at the hands of X, or, more rarely, escapes after the fashion of The Amityville Horror (1977) or Spielberg's Poltergeist (1982); Ryan Murphy is turning this tired trope on its ear with his American Horror Story, by the way, by mocking the various incarnations of X and by making the ghosts sympathetic and the X Family the true monsters/invaders. Point is, these are the sorts of films that when Spooky and I are looking for something to stream from Netflix we automatically skip over, the sorts of books I avoid. Anyway, despite its intriguing title, "The Man in the Ditch" is exactly such a story.

Which leads me to wonder exactly what all these straight couples are afraid of. The intrusion of the Outside, the Unknown, via a supernatural agency? No, I think that's only a metaphor – the ghosts and demons and whatnot. They are merely tiresome phantoms trotted out for more mundane (there's that word again) threats: infidelity, an inability to conceive, sudden infant death syndrome, bankruptcy and foreclosure, children who indulge in drugs or engage in sex or who turn out to be queer or who run away from home, termites in the walls, AIDS and other STDs, bedbugs, and so forth. But instead of writing about those things, it's all dressed up in the metaphor of "horror." And it's dull as small-curd cottage cheese, and it makes me weary. I may miss a beat now and then, kittens, but I promise never to bore you with such painful domesticity. Lisa Tuttle, you can do better than this.

At any rate, the vacation does not begin until the 15th, so I must get to work.

Kicking Against the Pricks,
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: (Starbuck 3)
Before I begin rambling on and blithering on and what not, a wonderful thing (I'll repost this on Monday, because we seem to have fewer readers...or at least fewer comments on Saturdays). One of [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy's photographs from last weekend's shoot for "The Drowning Girl: Stills from a Film That Never Existed," based on The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. This one is...astounding (inspired by a scene in Chapter 8). You will note the two titular paintings by Michael Zulli. And I owe an unspeakable degree of "Thank You" to Nicola Astes for nailing Imp in this fictional (but true) moment :



Um...the rest of yesterday. Well, there was a great deal of work, and a benchmark was reached, though an infinity of benchmarks lie before me. But when you're working with No Such Agency, there's only so much that can be said, and I've said too much already. The truth is out there, and it's coming soon.

I have this stuck in my head, going round and round:

And it came to me then that every plan
Is a tiny prayer to Father Time.
— Death Cab for Cutie, "What Sarah Said"

Maybe by putting it here, and causing other people to read it, I'll let it go. For now.

Nothing else much to yesterday. Leftover meatloaf. Too much RIFT (in silent moments, the futility and vapidness of MMORPGs weighs heavily on me, the whole issue of time displacement, what I could be doing with my life instead).

We watched the second episode of American Horror Story, which I'm on the fence about. There's an interesting trick that's trying to be turned here, straddling a fine line between utter camp and halfhearted sincerity. I'm still trying to decide if the show is very good, mediocre, or actually quite awful. Mostly, I think producers somewhere are hoping to capitalize on the impending release of Tim Burton's film version of Dark Shadows by whipping up this hodgepodge of the supernatural. I do like Tate (as played by Evan Peters), and there was a good scene last night, when Violet is talking to her new "friend," that former-mean-girl-turned-witness-to-true-evil. I think the Jessica Lange character is, unfortunately, very much over the top for my liking, and I hope we're not supposed to have sympathy for Ben Harmon (as played by Dylan McDermott), because he's a total douchebag. There's still potential here, but I'd like to see more focus and less reliance of wearisome horror movie tropes and those shots we all expect. Having said that, I realize that I may be missing the point. But I also realize that missing the point may mean getting the point, which may be a mark in my favor.

We watched more Mad Men, which is excellent, no fence straddling required. We read more of Wildwood, which is delightful in that way that the truly good books we read as children are delightful. It makes me wistful in a good way.

Oh, and I'm regretting having bought the iPad. It's fair astounding, sure, this device. And I need it for work, because the world is going All Digital. But I sort of hate it. And can't help thinking about the infinitude of better ways the money could have been spent, and how easy it would be to let this Thing devour more of my life.

And now I'm going to sit in a corner.

Reticent,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
No, I'm awake. I promise. I can even see. Almost. I have even managed to survive the severe upbraiding I have received from Spooky for having awakened her at dawn-thirty because I was awakened by Hubero at dawn-thirty. I don't know why I did it! He does crazy shit, okay?! Crazy-ass cat shit, and usually she knows how to scare him in to calming the hell down. Instead, no, I'm in trouble for waking her up – me, the victim.

But that's cool. No more saving her from sasquatches.

And here it is the First of Hallowe'en, which would be fine, if I hadn't lost the first third of summer to rain, and the second third to...a bunch of dumb shit.

Yesterday I wrote a mere 454 words on "Daughter Dear Desmodus." Then I realized, This isn't a vignette. Or even a "sudden" fiction, or a short short, or whatever the beatniks are saying these days. It's not a short story, and I think it's more than a novelette. Or even a novella. Gods fuck me sideways, I think it's the first few pages of a novel about a "bat girl" in a carnival sideshow and how she grows up to unwittingly become the center of a doomsday cult, and fall in love. You know, like Water for Elephants on LSD.* And that's when I typed, THE END, because if I stopped at the conclusion of the paragraph I was writing, the story would have a happy ending. Okay, not happy. But what Spooky pronounced "sweet." Look, I don't know if it's the pills they give me so I don't flop around on the floor and choke on my own spittle to die the ignominious death of Tchaikovsky, or if I'm just getting old...but I find myself, now and again, wanting to let a character with whom I have fallen in love off the hook just a little. IS THAT SO BAD? Anyway, this is the story Vince will be illustrating, instead of the other story.

Spooky's muttering about washing her hair.

Yesterday, the mail (which only works about half the time) brought me my comp copies of Paula Guran's Halloween (Prime Books), a volume with many fine authors (Ray Bradbury, Thomas Ligotti, Lovecraft, Peter Straub, me, and etcetera) that reprints my piece, "On the Reef" (I found two minor typos; my fault). Oddly, I appear only ever to have written two "Hallowe'en stories": "At the Reef" and "A Redress for Andromeda." More proof I'm not a "horror" writer. You know, people still get hung up on that shit, me refusing to be called a "horror" writer. They take it personally. Seriously. For my part, I look at writers I admire, who had a great influence on me growing up. Ray Bradbury (again), for example. Sure, he writes science fiction, and fantasy (sensu stricto and sensu lato), and scary stories, and non-fantastic lit. Italo Calvino? Ambrose Bierce? Or Harlan Ellison, for example. You could not find an author more impossible to categorize (okay, well maybe you could, but that's not the point). He writes...what he wants to write. Same with Shirley Jackson: ghost stories, insightful stories about insanity and the labyrinth of the American family, and she also wrote some very funny shit. And Lovecraft? You really think "The Colour Out of Space" and "At the Mountains of Madness" are "horror" stories? But...William Gibson's "Hinterlands," that's sceince fiction? Pffffft.

You know, there are an awful lot of quotation marks in the last paragraph.

Today I work on pulling Sirenia Digest #70 together, so that I can send it to be PDF'd as soon as I have Vince's illustration, then Spooky can send it out to all the subscribers (and if you are not one of those, it's NEVER too late...unless you die first).

Some really fine RP in Insilico last night. Thank you, Joah. You've helped to complete the building of the perfect beast. And I read Algernon Blackwood's sublime "The Wendigo" for the umpteenth time, but every time it amazes me all the more.

Anyway...you know what? I consider myself a connoisseur of fetishes. There are few of them with which I am not acquainted. And there are still fewer that don't get me off. Wait...never mind. This isn't about non-Euclidian geometry and larger and smaller infinities, Georg Cantor and his cardinalities, integers vs. whole numbers. Not that math can't be a fetish. It can. But...what was I saying? Oh! Yes! Every now and then I watch the creation of a new fetish right before my very eyes and I know - with perfect clarity - it was created just for me. To whit, Christina Hendricks and her red accordion. I would show you the clip, but YouTube has disabled embedding by request. You'll have to settle for a link to Christina Hendricks playing her red accordion. And really, it's all I need. I could just...sit...and watch...her and...that red accordion...for hours. Without breathing.

Stopping Before Someone Gets Hurt,
Aunt Beast

*A novel I might be able to write by 2014.
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Thanks for yesterday's comments. Let's see if we can do that again. I like to see Frank the Goat all smiling and happy.

Sunny, and warm (high of 84˚F forecast) here in Providence, and I should go to the sea. Instead, I'll write.

So, after I propose a book as the month's selection, and after I discover it's a steaming pile of pink giraffe dung, then people step forward to tell me that it was a baffling choice. Better yet, that my choice of Ryan's book led them to doubt my sanity and the very fabric of time and space. Helpful lot, you are. Anyway, so I officially decry The Forest of Hands and Teeth as the waste of a wonderful title and a lot of paper, and move along. Yes, you heard me. I am breaking with my neurosis and not even finishing it. And there will be no other choice for the "book club" this month. Me, I'm reading The Stand (the original 1978 text) for the first time since the 1980s. And this be a lesson to you all. Even aliens fuck up sometimes.

Seriously, how does someone get to be an adult-type person and have such a dopey, sugary view of the world as Carrie Ryan? How is it that their ideas of human relationships remain so firmly rooted in the ninth grade?

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,349 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. Yes, I finished Chapter Six on Monday without having realized that I'd done so. I am approaching the book's climax. It's a very, very peculiar book. It's me taking a vacation. But, regardless, I can assure you that – whatever it might be – it's at least 1,000% better written than The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

---

I was very pleased to see this bit in John Clute's review (at Strange Horizons) of Ellen Datlow's Naked City:

And Caitlin R Kiernan's "The Colliers' Venus (1893)" (in a steampunk Denver here called Cherry Creek) is an engrossingly indirect narrative at the climax of which the eponymous figure—who is Gaia in bondage—turns to holy ash, which is coal dust that fills the lungs, which is to say she imprints us with our fate.

But the entire review should be read, as it speaks to the sad mess that has been made of the once respectable and promising label "urban fantasy." Seriously, if you value my fiction, or my opinion of fiction in general (the Carrie Ryan gaffe notwithstanding), you should read this whole review. But I will quote two passages:

"If it's the same story wherever it happens to be set," I wrote, "it isn't Urban Fantasy."

– and –

The best stories in both anthologies, being about our world, do not pretend to tell us that all will be well, that all things will be well if we listen, down to the last sweet-tooth detail, to the child inside. Paranormal romances told by sweeties no longer feed us joy or terror, not any more. They are yesterday's newspaper. If it is our fate to breathe dust, then let it be the dust of the world we live in.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Where have all our John Clute's gone?

---

So, as I was saying, casting about for something reliable to read last night, we settled on the original text of The Stand (1978). The 1990 revision/extension/updating, in my opinion, was mostly nonsensical and all but ruined the novel.* I'd actually wanted to read Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), but couldn't find my copy anywhere (and fear it was lost on a move [dash] book purge). So, yes. The Stand. I was afraid we'd start, and this book I'd loved so much during my teens and early twenties that I read it pretty much once a year would have lost everything that made it dear to me. Kathryn and I re-read King's 'Salem's Lot back in 2004, and, frankly, I found it embarrassing. That is, I was embarrassed I'd ever admired that novel. Anyway...

Last night I was very pleasantly surprised to find that The Stand is still, to me, an enthralling, well-written book. Which means King's writing improved considerably between 'Salem's Lot and The Stand, between about 1973 and 1977 (approximate composition dates, not publication dates). I entirely stopped reading him after '89 and '90's supremely disappointing The Dark Half and the reworked edition of The Stand. For me, the high point had been Pet Sematary (1983), and I knew the party was ending when I read the atrociously bloated and silly It (1986). I've drifted off the point. So far, after the first five chapters and the first fifty pages, The Stand is what I remember it being. I'm just glad that I have a copy of the original text, and not the later, longer, and lesser edition.

And I should go. There's an impatient platypus.

An Old-School Urban Fantasy,
Aunt Beast

* Much like what Clute says about urban fantasy stories being about the places they're set in, and ceasing to be those stories if moved to a new place...a good novel is about its time, no matter how "timeless" the basic elements may be, and cannot simply be bumped ahead in time to make more money for publishers and authors. Just look at the mess that has been made of Lovecraft on film, because no one understands these are now period stories. Now, from here, The Stand is a story about the world thirty-one years ago (it's set in 1980).
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)
0. Comment. Please comment. I need the distraction.

0.1 I'm not replying to Facebook comments, unless they appear here on LJ. Sorry. I hate Facebook.

1. No, I'm not a "horror writer." I'm not sure who does and doesn't want to wear that label, and I don't care. We each make these decisions for ourselves, and that's how it ought to be. I don't much mind labels (as I've said before), if they are accurate labels. But calling me a "horror writer" ignores an enormous amount of my writing, and, worse, has the unfortunate effect of my being overlooked by fantasy and sf readers and editors who aren't into horror. I write dark and urban fantasy (the real stuff, not that PR crap), science fiction, weird fiction, erotica, and what the hell ever. Lots of times, it's horrifying. This does not make me a "horror writer" sensu stricto.

2. Okay, look. Either we, as a society, stop sexualizing the kids, or we, as a society, stop being paranoid and screaming kiddie porn at every innocent bathtub photo and every faint whiff of underage (and I include here reasonable teenage) sexuality. because, it's one way or the other. Not fucking both. I am speaking, specifically of Abercrombie & Fitch's "padded bikini 'push-up'" bra for very young girls. And, by the way, as I was writing this, Abercrombie & Fitch yanked the page selling the bra in question.

3. Yesterday, I wrote 1,489 words on "Some Random Notes Before a Fatal Crash." I might find the conclusion today. I need to, because I've got to pull Sirenia Digest #64 together. On Saturday, I'll be in Boston with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy figuring out the author's photo for Two Worlds and In Between.

4. Very good news regarding The Drowning Girl. I've officially secured (mostly through the efforts of [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) permission from Radiohead to reprint lines from "There, There (The Bony King of Nowhere)" in the novel, lines that are crucial to the book. Penguin legal has approved the whole thing, so its a go. I'm still working with R.E.M.'s management, to gain permission to quote "Find the River," and it looks like that's also going to work out.

5. My thanks to Steven Lubold, Cassandra Brewster, and Sonoye Murphy for the recent and highly appreciated care packages. You guys absolutely fucking rock.

Contemplating Hurt,
Aunt Beast

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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