greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
My thoughts are well and truly scattered this morning. No, excuse me. This afternoon, as it is now 12:58 p.m. CaST (though only 11:58 ayem EST, hence still morning). I don't feel like resorting to numbers and bullet points today, either, so bear with me, or don't bear with me.

Bear with me. One of those interesting turns of phrase that I have to wonder if many people ever pause to consider the older, more genuine meanings. Bear. With. Me.

We were planning to be at the VNV Nation show in Boston tonight, and the fabulous Chris Ewen even saw to it that we were on the guest list. Then, yesterday, fearing the possibility of contracting some illness from the crowd, and fearing my deadlines, we pulled out. And our two places on the guest list were raffled last night by Chris, while he DJed at Heroes (DJed as in disc jokey, not as in a pillar-like ancient Egyptian symbol representing stability, id est, djed). So, two happy people will be taking our places tonight, and congratulations to them, but doing good rarely serves as much in the way of consolation if you are me. And I am. Me, I mean.

And I can’t fall asleep without a little help.
It takes a while to settle down,
My shivered bones,
Until the panic‘s out.
~ The National, "Terrible Love"

Yesterday, I discovered that (as is so rarely actually ever the case) the third time was the charm with "Sexing the Weird," and I finished a new 1,525-word version of "Sexing the Weird," which will serve as the introduction to Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. And I like it. Also, this morning (it truly was still ayem CaST) I received Sonya's afterword, "But She Also Lies Broken and Transformed." So, aside from Kathryn and I making about a bazillion corrections to the main text, then getting that text back to Bill Schafer, the book is done. Still no firm release date or date when pre-orders will begin. Later. It's safe to say it will be later, in both cases.

And today, I begin the aforementioned short story about the two women who become cities, for Sirenia Digest #72. And that reminds me to, again, remind you that responses to "Question @ Hand #5" are due by midnight (CaST) on the 7th. Also a caveat: best to avoid humor. I suppose I should have been clear about this from the beginning, but I didn't actually see this as a humorous undertaking (though humor and horror are always loping about, unsightly, hand in hand, I know); I am in an earnest state of mind.

Il est un amour terrible et je suis à marcher avec araignées.
Il est un amour terrible et je suis à marcher avec araignées.
Il est un amour terrible et je suis à marcher dans la compagnie calme.
Et je pouvais ne tomber pas dormir sans un peu aidé;
Il prendre beaucoup à se calmer mon os de frissonnement
Tant que la panique est dehors.
~ The National, "Amour terrible"

Black-eyed peas and collards for dinner last night. I'm undeniably homesick for Georgia and Alabama. Which is the height of peculiarity, given how neither place was ever a home to me, despite the fact that I lived there almost all my life. My relationship with the South could probably serve as a case study in Das Unheimliche.

Later, we watched the next-to-latest episode of American Horror Story, and, gods – Zachary Quinto in latex. Later still, for want of physical, non-virtual company or any other "real-world" diversion, we played Rift. This morning, Spooky was telling me about the offensive comments coming in over level twenty-something to level thirty-something chat – and I didn't ask for specifics, but I assume it was the usual homophobic, racist, sexist ramblings. I keep everything but guild and RP chat off, so I always miss this shit in Rift. I got enough of it in WoW. But it's not ever encountered in actual gameplay – and last night was a good example – people are consistently polite and often helpful (unlike the situation in WoW). It leads me to suspect that an awful lot of people log in merely to "socialize," and likely they're fairly young, or actual kids, and talking hate shit is the false bravado of their generation, as it has been of all generations. Which, of course, makes it no less disheartening, and reminds me why I stay out of Meridian ("New Orgrimmar") as much as possible and always keep general chat switched off. Gaming is, for me (RP aside), a fundamentally solitary exercise, and forget the "massively multiplayer" part. I rarely game with anyone but Spooky. We duo. Anything to avoid the chimps on crack who cram into so much of gamespace.

Ah, and here's a thing I thought I'd post. Behind the cut. Twenty fantasy books that exerted an especial influence on me as an adolescent, in no particular order (behind the cut):

Twenty+ )

And yeah, I cheated and that is many more than twenty books, but I still feel as if many important things have been left out. Ah, well. For another time, yes. But if you have not read all these books at least once, shame on thee.

Nostalgic,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Illyria)
I hope it's obvious to everyone how much of an homage this video is to the Kate Bush videos of the 1980s...

greygirlbeast: (Default)


greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
Cloudy. Drizzly. 50˚F.

The light getting in beneath my office curtain has been drained of any quality to illuminate. It's still light, but a light that drenches and soaks in, rather than reflecting.

A stapler from college. A coffee cup from the Yale Peabody Museum, filled with pens and pencils. Four rocks: Moonstone Beach (RI), Jamaica, Ireland, Oregon. A tin of Altoids. Etc. & etc.

Comments can't hurt.

Yesterday, I wrote almost six hundred words on "Fake Plastic Trees." I very much like this story, but it's bleak. And it's only going to get bleaker. Yesterday, I decided I wanted the editor to read the first half before I write the second half, so I emailed it away. And now I'm waiting for the verdict. Which leaves me wondering what to do in the interim, which might be only a few more hours, but might be another day or two. I suppose I'll turn my eyes towards Sirenia Digest #65. Still hoping to see a few more answers to the latest Question @ Hand, by the way, though the ones I've received, most are keepers. Some made me feel that electric sensation in my gut. One of the highs I chase, night and day.

Two or three people have objected that they can't answer it because it involves my being forced, and maybe I see their point, the point of their objection. But, this is fiction, and, also, I've given my explicit consent to be fictionally forced. So, the objection mystifies me just a little.

CARE package yesterday from SL, who sent me two of the Brown Bird cds I didn't have, Tautology and Such Unrest, which I just loaded onto my iPod. Also, Curt Stager's (a paleoclimatologist) Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth. I read Spooky the prologue last night. And the package also contained Nicky Raven's retelling of Dracula as a children's story, beautifully illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert. So, my gratitude.

Last night, in response to my Danielle Dax post, [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus posted the video clip from Jordan's A Company of Wolves (1984) for which I'd posted the screenplay excerpt. And here it is:

<


Thing is, as artists we are influenced by things. I've always been aboveboard about the degree to which Angela Carter has influenced my work. She sparks my mind. She sings to me. I sing back. But then, as artists, sometimes, we are influenced by things, and, sometimes, we write (or paint, or whatever), and the influence acts unconsciously upon us. To wit, I was entirely unaware that in writing a significant part of The Drowning Girl I was very much expressing my love of this scene from The Company of Wolves. Imp tells a story, "The Wolf Who Cried Girl," and it derives very much from this scene. But I was entirely unaware what I was doing until I read the screenplay yesterday, and then it smacked me in the face. I'm fascinated by the silent influences, especially when they're so fucking obvious. "These things happen."

"And then,
you shall open
this book, even if it is the book of nightmares." (Galway Kinnell)

---

Good session with my doctor yesterday. New drug today, and maybe things will improve again. Soon, I hope. By the way, as I say in the acknowledgments to The Drowning Girl, without my doctor the novel never would have been written. It almost wasn't written.

Today, I may actually pitch the ParaRom lesbian junkie wolfpire novel to my agent. I would write it after Blue Canary, the first YA book, while she's shopping Blue Canary.

This evening, I have an appointment at RockStar Piercing on Thayer Street, to begin the process of having my earlobes stretched, and to put my labret back in. I need the sort of pain I get from body mods. It centers me.

Last night, we watched Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds for the fourth time. It's is a genuinely brilliant film, and he's going to have to do a lot to ever top himself. We played Rift. I read "Enhydriodon dikikae, sp. nov. (Carnivora: Mammalia), a gigantic otter from the Pliocene of Dikika, Lower Awash, Ethiopia" in the latest JVP. You have to imagine a mostly terrestrial otter the size of a bear, which lived alongside Australopithecus.

And I should try to do some work, while I wait for a verdict on "Fake Plastic Trees."
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
We have sun again this morning, after many sunless days. It helps, though it would help more if warmth had come with the sun. The wind is gusting to 29mph, so it feels quite a bit cooler than it is. We are promised tomorrow will be better. The rivers are still cresting.

I have a "doctor's" appointment today at three p.m., which means we have to leave at 2:30 p.m., which, considering I didn't wake up until 11 a.m., rather screws any chance for a productive day. Of course, I had all of yesterday at my disposal and managed not to be very productive. Despite the "eureka" of Sunday, doubts remained. I sat and stared at the words that were not getting written. I reread Bruno Bettelheim's essay (1975) on "Little Red Riding Hood" (which doesn't hold nearly as much water with me as it once did). Spooky and I talked through various aspects of The Wolf Who Cried Girl. I discovered a perfect epigraph, which is about as close as I came to actually writing.

Here's the piece on The Red Tree I mentioned on the 14th, courtesy Rob Suggs (I'm pretty sure this is a different Rob Suggs than the guy who writes all those creepy Xtian books for children, by the way):

My mother used to tell us about wonderful books she saw when she was growing up in the thirties. They were mysteries whose final solution could only be seen by working a jigsaw puzzle that came with the book. I’ve never been attracted to the sterile neatness of straightforward mysteries, but I do like the idea of having lots of thinking and fitting to do after a book is complete. The Red Tree gives me that.

Many readers, of course, want to do anything but think—before, during and after their reading. All should be neatly wrapped up, as with the multiple weddings at the end of an early Dickens. But I’ve always loved Aickman. The best ghost novel ever written, for my money, is
The Haunting of Hill House; I see The Red Tree as a Hill House for these times (realizing, of course, that there are many other inspirational texts; they’re obvious throughout, and even cataloged in the afterword). This is Algernon Blackwood’s great-granddaughter describing what happened in the forest behind Hill House, perhaps.

At the end, we know that Eleanor has had more than a homecoming; she doesn’t simply belong at Hill House, but it is who she is. The yawning corridors are the compartments of her psyche. Or, as a shade told Jack in
The Shining, “You have always been the caretaker.” So it is with Sarah Crowe, a name so reminiscent of A Little Princess of Frances Hodgson Burnett; what irony there. (The Red Tree is more like a twisted Secret Garden, which also contains Freudian landscaping).

Sarah, like Jack and Eleanor, has come home forever, without knowing it. Her identity merges with the little house in the big woods, and isn’t that what really happens when we’re deeply depressed? We dig into some dark hovel, hating it even as we find sanctuary there. The Wight house is the architecture of clinical depression. There is the main floor, where Sarah lives out her conscious, day to day existence, sitting at a kitchen table, gazing out at a strangely frightening world that should be a beautiful one, and not working. In the elevated place above her, we find the artist. The artist is a younger, more physically beautiful spirit who comes down occasionally to converse with the conscious Sarah; to love, to quarrel, to walk together. The artist’s version of a ghost story (in a book of many kinds) is notably neat, uplifting, symmetrical to the point of ringing false. Constance tells it in the 1901 “Steps” tale. We’re never certain whether to believe it; real terror, as Sarah knows on the main floor, is never so tidy.

And then, at the bottom of it all, is of course the cellar. It is the place where Sarah is least comfortable. The artist is youth and beauty and hope, but at the foundation is something much the opposite: shocking age, rank decay, and despair. Abandon hope all ye who enter here: to explore is to become lost. It is truly this event which begins the ending for the doomed heroine of the novel. As we come to the final chapters, the puzzle pieces begin to assemble themselves, and Sarah faces truths she cannot live with. To leave the house would be an irrelevant action, because what is inside her cannot be thrown off like an old skin; and the artist has made its last showing and vanished. The attic is not only a place of dust again, but Sarah believes it to have been one all along.

The readers, of course, know better. They have been tipped off from the very beginning that it is Constance who is a real, living person and Sarah who now belongs to the ages. Here is the sadness: our suspicion that Sarah is a far better artist than she knows, and has allowed herself to be consumed by her own depression.

Much more, of course, can be said about The Red Tree, particularly in its traditional elements of terror and the supernatural. Like all fine books, there are multiple layers here. I hope many more volumes along these lines will follow.


This is, by the way, the very first reader, to my knowledge to hit upon the origin of the protagonist's name, that I borrowed it (albeit in a slightly altered form) from Frances Hodgson Burnett.

---

If you've not already, you should have a look at Spooky's most recent doll, which you may see at her Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

As for last night...a bath, and I washed my hair. I did a couple of short scenes in Insilico. Played a little WoW. When I finally crawled off to bed, Spooky read me Robert McCloskey's Burt Dow, Deep-Water Man (1963). As we were trying to go to sleep, we played a sadistic game that consisted of lodging the theme songs of television sitcoms in one another's heads.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
1. I'm sort of sorry we're not able to see the Winter Olympics, having chosen to forgo cable and all back when we moved in here. I haven't really missed television, and I generally despise sports, but I enjoy the Olympics, especially the winter games. I suppose, for me, it's closer to what I consider genuine athleticism than the macho parade of mainstream team sports.

2. Yesterday, we made it through the galley pages for "Sanderlings" and the typescript of "Untitled 35" (which I may retitle "The Voyeur of Utter Destruction [as Beauty]"). I'm very fond of both pieces, though they are very, very different sorts of things. In "Sanderlings," I'm sort of leaning in my Shirley Jackson direction (had she ever written Lovecrfatian sf), while in the latter I'm leaning more towards my William Gibson/William Burroughs/Philip K. Dick influences. Yet, both stories treat the pollution of the human body, as an extension of environmental pollution. They're almost the same story, told in radically different ways. It's hard to believe I wrote them only a couple of months apart. They sound like they were written years apart. "Sanderlings" is all soft-spoken, lonely despair, and "Untitled 35" is a clamorous, clanging cacophony of violence. I will say that I think "Sanderlings" is my best short story in quite some time, and I hope it gets some recognition.

3. Yesterday afternoon, Spooky drove over to the East Side, and I asked her to get more photos of the Bridge Street Bridge demolition. Andy Warhol and his soup cans are gone now. There are photos behind the cut:

12 February 2010 )


4. So, as promised, I now have a transcript of one of my Insilico roleplays online. You may see it here. It's a very odd one, not the usual Insilico fare, but that's what you get when you trap an AI in a microcomputer inside a briefcase (in this case, Xiang 2.0a). So, here you go, "In Which Molly Longshadow Spawns a 'God.'" Also, the backstory for the Xiangs is up*. Of course, as these things go, I bother to put up all that backstory, and immediately things change. Last night, the Internal Affairs Director of Gemini Corporation decided X2.0b was too great a liability (i.e., she was incapable of reconciling her directives with the inherent contradictions of the Gem loyalty imprinting, looped, and went a bit bahooties; can't have a robot trying to enforce the letter of the law when you're not really trying to enforce the law, just trade one set of corruptions for another, more profitable, set). So...the X2.0b AI was shunted and boxed, and its body was...disposed of in a manner Gemini Corp. saw fitting. However...because plots must thicken...it is being replaced with a cyborg cloned from bits of Nareth Nishi's DNA (no, no connection to the old New Babbage Nareth) and an elaborate mnemonic imprinting and conditioning. A brain-in-a-bot cyborg built better suited to black ops (kept on a very short leash), the same serial killer that led to the creation of X1.0. Of course, Nareth 2.0 thinks it's the original Nareth, with it's brain in a robotic body. Round and round the mulberry bush....

* Note that it took me more than an hour to write this transcript, which is why I won't be doing much of this.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Yesterday, I wrote 509 words, and so began my long walk across Joey Lafaye in search of THE END. It might not sound like much, a measly 509 words on "The Locksmith of Elfland's Daughter," but it feels like ten times that number. Because now the book is begun. That initial wall of dread has been displaced. I have some idea what I will be writing today. And that makes all the difference.

My thanks to Dr. David Kirkpatrick for sending me the following Lucius Shepard quote yesterday (taken from Postscripts #7):

I love the fume and bubble of words, sucked up through the waterpipe of the brain and gusted forth as a smoke of poetry or prose. The doing of it, I mean. The indulging in the addiction, the acting out of the art. I am content producing words for money, even when the work goes badly, as in many cases it does, and the product is malformed, not as I imagined, as in many cases it is. I never set about doing it for reasons less than love, though often that love is spent before the work is done, made diffuse by having to produce a result too quickly, by growing weary of theme or character, or from the sheer effort involved in trying to attain what often seems unattainable; i.e. a good story.

It's one of those paragraphs I wish that I had written.

Also, this comment to yesterday's entry, from [livejournal.com profile] pwtucker:

Kudos on the Dunsany reference! That's an excellent title to kick things off with, and remember, even Joyce would sometimes take a whole day to come up with the perfect five words. You're in good company.

I have no idea how widely Lord Dunsany is read in this day and age. My guess would be not nearly widely enough. Too many times I've had people say something like, "It's so cool how Lovecraft has influenced your writing." And I have replied, "As have Lord Dunsany and Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen and Ambrose Bierce and M.R. James and William Hope Hodgson." And I get looks like I've started speaking some obscure dialect of an obscure and ancient language. And, in some ways, yeah, Joey Lafaye is harking back to Dunsany and Blackwood and others, perhaps by way of Bradbury and a few other more recent literary influences.

Oh, returning to the matter of Scott's The Lay of the Last Minstrel, I neglected to mention yesterday that it is misquoted in Fairies. The passage in question should read:

A moment then the volume spread,
And one short spell therein he read.
It has much glamour, might,
Could make a ladye seem a knight;
The cobwebs on a dungeon wall
Seem tapestry in lordly hall;
A nutshell seem a gilded barge,
A sheeling seem a palace large,
And youth seem age, and age seem youth —
All was delusion, nought was truth.


Yesterday was mostly a good day. We had a fine walk down Sinclair and talked with Daisy Dog. In Second Life, Spooky and I (as Artemesia Paine and the Professor, respectively) attended the New Babbage Guy Fawkes festivities, where an effigy was set aflame on a raft in the canal between the Imperial Theatre and Junie Ginsburg's shop. There were fireworks. It was a fine evening. But now I must drink my coffee and get back to....well...you know.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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