greygirlbeast: (white)
So, yeah. Yesterday evening, after the blog entry, I was alerted to the fact that Two Worlds and In Between and I were being spoken of reverently in the pages of The New York Times. To whit:

There’s also no shortfall of ghosts, revenants and otherness in Ms. Kiernan’s Two Worlds and In Between. What’s most satisfying, though, in this retrospective — more than 200,000 words covering 1993 to 2004 — is watching Ms. Kiernan progress from competence and promise to become one of our essential writers of dark fiction...Ms. Kiernan is a cartographer of lost worlds..."

(byline, Dana Jennings)

Follow this link to read the full review.

Yeah, it brightened my mood a tiny bit. I think this is the first time I've ever been mentioned in The New York Times. Sure, the whole world can see my name and my prose every day just by going online. But today, from Manhattan to Tokyo, from Munich to Bombay, people will read my name and prose in print. And, especially in this day and age, that makes me smile. Sure, tomorrow, those same papers will be used to wrap fish and line bird cages. But today...damn. I want to buy copies, cut out the review, and make sure it's read by every one of those assholes who swore I'd "never amount to anything." Alas, many of them are mercifully dead now. As my life unfurls and winds down, I understand it's not enough to outlive your detractors. You also have to do something worthwhile during that whole outliving them thing. Anyway, yes, I am allowed to slip out from beneath the black cowl, feel some vague sense of accomplishment, and gloat for a few hours. I'll duck back into the shadows afterwards, don't worry. Truthfully, it didn't feel real until this morning. Spooky's gone out to find copies of the paper (page C4). Seeing it printed with ink on actual paper will make it feel much more real, I'm sure.

The morale of our story? Simple: If you manage not to die long enough, someone will notice. Maybe.

And if you're looking to bring me down today, over this or anything else, take a number. The line starts over there. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Oh, and having reviewed Apple's return policies, I'm fairly certain the iPad will be returned. I just don't need the thing as badly as I need many other things. And I do need what it could take away. I might change my mind. The jelly-bean shiny may carry the day. Nobody's perfect. We'll see. I'm encountering this phenomenon referred to as "buyer's remorse."

Great new episode of Fringe last night ("Subject 9").

Ah, Spooky's back. Must go see. But first this comment [livejournal.com profile] opalblack made to last night's entry:

Do you know there are actually people out there who envy us that tearing, bottomless darkness? Mostly nooage middle-class-white types who run around campfires waving dead things on sticks and calling it shamanism. I would like to slap them. For a lot of things, really.

Oh, I know those people...and antidotes.

Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind! I'll show you the life of the mind! — Charlie Meadows, Barton Fink

Surprised,
Aunt beast
greygirlbeast: (chi3)
A crazy, crazy morning. Too many emails and phone calls. But now I'm going to try to calm down and write a blog entry.

Yesterday, I didn't get a lot of work done. I only managed to copy edit two stories in The Five-Chambered Heart, "The Bed of Appetite" and "Untitled 31." The latter will have an actual title in the collection, though I don't yet know what it'll be. It's great to proofread the newer stuff I've written, because, mostly, I'm still in love with it, and I make virtually no changes to the text.

My thanks to "Moto" in San Francisco, whose sending me a first-edition hardcover of Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Remember when email was fast? When you wrote emails, and pretty much everyone responded to them quickly? And this was revolutionary? Lately, it's all iPhones and iPads. I know because it always says at the bottom from what sort of device the message was sent. Now, it seems people would rather speak by "texting." I'm sorry. I'm made the transition from "snail mail" to email in 1994. I'll not be doing it again (she says, knowing full well she will adapt, when it becomes an imperative).

A note to prospective and young writers: Be wary of editors a) offering 1¢/word who b) do not yet have a publisher for their anthology, c) want all sorts of electronic rights straight off, and d) despite the fact they have no publisher, already have a cover design and a marketing strategy involving selling the book as a PDF. Here, we have entered shady, sketchy territory.

Yesterday, as the heat inside mounted, we fled the house and (despite the questionable state of the car and the cost of gasoline) drove down to Moonstone Beach. Our first trip to the sea all summer! That's just...insane. As usual, Moonstone was pretty much free of tourons (you may know them as "tourists"), and we mostly had it to ourselves. I waded into the cold water up to my thighs, and it was wonderful. The sky was full of birds: cormorants (Phalacocorax spp.), both American and fish crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos and C. ossifragus, respectively), red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica), piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), grey catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), and all manner of gulls. We made tiny cairns from granite and slate cobbles, and found those others had made earlier in the day. We stayed until about 6:30 p.m., and headed over to Narragansett for dinner at Iggy's (as a marvelous fog rolled in). I think we were back home by 8:45. It was an evening out I much needed. On the way down, and the way back up, I read Book 1 of The Stuff of Legend (written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith, drawn by Charles Paul Wilson III). Brilliant comic.

I tried to play Rift for a bit, but got into some combination of a snit and a funk about the state of the guild and the game and players. My apologies to [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus for yammering my dissatisfaction at him for an hour. But really. On the one hand, I love the potential of MMORPGs. But on the other hand, I often loathe what they actually are. In the hands of most players, an MMORPG is like watching someone shoot marbles* with a particle accelerator. That is the degree of potential being squandered. Anyway, I gave up about 11:30 and wandered away. I'm not saying this is something wrong with Rift (though, in fact, I have a short list of things that are wrong with Rift), but with the whole gamer mentality. Note: I am not a gamer. I am a roleplayer. The game aspect to me is, at very best, secondary. And, please note, I am on what is supposedly an rp shard. Ergo....

Yeah. Blah, blah, blah. Later, kittens.

Kicking Against the Pricks,
Aunt Beast

Wait. There are photos from yesterday:

28 June 2011 )


*I have no idea if kids still shoot marbles. Me, it was one of my favorite things as a child. It was a very important playground sport when I was in elementary school (1970-1975). Much of one's reputation was at stake.
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
The subject line above sort of squiggled out of my brainmeats just now. It's something left unexpressed in my all night conversation with [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark, which ended only as the sun was rising. I do hate sunrise, which is odd, because I didn't used to hate sunrise. There was a time I loved the sight, and it meant nothing more than that the sun was rising. I think it's come to mean, instead, a failure to find the nocturnal sleep of Good Christian Folk. But yes, Geoffrey visited last night. We ate calzones and talked. Mostly, we talked. About books and writing and publishing, drugs and sex and movies, cults and magick and whether or not the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn would turn me away (that's not the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of course, not 1888 to 1908, but the New and Improved Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn). Towards the end, it all became a blur, but I assume he has returned safely to Framingham.

Gloomy out there. Gloomy and wet. Same as yesterday.

Yesterday.

I think the only work I actually accomplished was of the email variety. I think. Yeah, I'm pretty sure of that. My piercing appointment was at 5 p.m., and before then I went with Spooky, out into the drizzle, to the pharmacy (to get my new meds) and then the vet (to get Sméagol's meds). As for the piercing, that part went very, very well. If you're in the Providence area, and I strongly recommend RockStar Body Piercing. It's very probably the most positive experience I've ever had with piercing. My labret had closed, and had to be repierced, and both my ears were pierced again, because the lowermost holes weren't centered quite right for stretching. I've begun with six-gauge glass plugs, and within a year or so I should be up to the 5/8th of an inch plugs I'm aiming for (about the width of a nickel). It's nice having the labret back. It's my original 1995 labret, not the one I wore for a while later on, beginning on March 5, 2006. As soon as Jef was done with my lip, he asked, "How does it feel?" And I replied, "Nostalgic."

Afterwards, Spooky got some new shoes, and I tried on a pair of boots that I love, but can't possibly presently afford. Spooky says of her new shoes, "I like my new shoes. And they have hot pink on them. Which is a masculine color."

She's such a fucking butch.

The editor for whom I'm writing "Fake Plastic Trees" loves the Story Thus Far, so I have to get back to work on that immediately. I need to speak with my agent this evening, because I seem to have a plan. Which is sort of new for me.

Cold Spring is reluctantly giving way to Spring. Many of the trees are showing a spray of green, and flowers are opening. I heave a twice hourly sigh of relief.

This morning, I slept seven hours, and it was some of the best sleep I've had in weeks. Not perfect. There were the nightmares, and they were bad. But, still, better sleep.

This entry's sort of a muddle, kittens. Yesterday was actually a pretty decent day, as my days go. You'd think I could have made a better entry of it. Alas.

Freshly Perforated,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
A rare alignment of cranial discomfort. Parallel lines of eye-bleeding hurt. I'm not sure Spooky and I have ever before had multi-day headaches at the same time. But we have now. And it sucks rancid weasel ass through a crazy straw, and it needs to fucking stop. My scalp feels like there's broken glass just beneath the skin.

This is a day on which there must be comments. I won't survive without them.

My thanks to Joah, who sent me a link to someone's list of "The Six Creepiest Abandoned Places." I'd argue the list isn't definitive, but it's still a pretty good list. I'm especially taken with Gunkanjima, Japan and Hellingly Asylum. The latter is genuinely exquisite. I would live there in a heartbeat:

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


That's interesting. Firstly, that while thinking of Hellingly Asylum the lyrics to a Catharine Wheel song occurred to me. Secondly, that they apply so aptly to last night's insomnia (which was Nigh Unto Monumental, no sleep until after six ayem) and also apply to my emotional reaction to the photographs (follow the link from the article) of that place. Rabbit hole. Subconscious association. Pink Freud. 5 and 1/2 minute hallways. It's all the same thing in here. Anyway, I loved this bit from the article (about another asylum, one in New Jersey):

Listen, because this is important advice: If you ever start a sanatorium, you need to tear that shit down once you’re done with it. Not repurpose it or leave it empty or something; that is just begging – literally begging – for a group of stupid teenagers to sneak inside of it to have illicit sex, where they will inevitably get murdered by the ghosts of madmen. It’s like a Roach Motel for horny morons. You may as well put an “Idiots Fuck Here” sign out front and start up a mortuary next door; you’d make a killing.

See, I don't get to genuinely laugh – that sort of laughter that makes you hurt yourself – that often. That paragraph made me laugh. Oh, in particular, I was soothed by this photo from Hellingly. I'm not bullshitting you. I'm not being sarcastic. That's just...soothing. I think I look like that inside. If you cracked me open, you'd find that room.

---

On this day in 1900, Aleister Crowley broke into and took over the Golden Dawn temple in London, providing the catalyst for the demise of the original Golden Dawn.

---

Yesterday, despite the black mood and the headache, I wrote 1,072 words on "Fake Plastic Trees" while Spooky drew ravens. The story seems to be coming together. After reading yesterday's pages, Spooky said, "This makes me feel so bad. Really, really bad. The complete wrongness of it, of that whole world." I'm taking this as a compliment, because I know she meant it as one.

Intention isn't everything, kittens, but it carries a lot of weight with me.

After working on the story, I wrote an actual Wikipedia entry on Hauffiosaurus, because when I linked to it yesterday there was just a sad-ass, one-sentence stub. That took about another hour.

We saw the latest episode of Fringe last night. Jesus fuck, this show is brilliant. It's gone from a dull first season, all monster-of-the-week nonsense, to sheer fucking wonky universe-warping brilliance. Last night's episode, "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide," has to receive an Emmy nomination. If the Emmy's mean anything (and we already know they don't). This is the first series since Farscape that truly isn't afraid of being as weird as it needs to be, but which isn't just being weird for weird's sake. Pushing Daisies tried to be this brilliant, but was murdered long before it achieved this level of supremely masterful weirdness.

Spooky's doing the tax thing today. Taxes, taxes, we all fall down.

Gods, I just realized I've been wearing the same T-shirt for four days. "Reynolds/Washburne 2008: You Can't Stop the Signal." Dirty fucking nerd. Take a bath and change your damn clothes.

Oh, hello. How long have you been standing there?

You know, for kids,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
My insomnia's been getting worse again, which drags everything else down the shitter, of course. My work habits. My mood. My ability to tell if Drug X is dealing with Symptom Y. My ability to remember if I've taken Drug X. My appearance. I do not sleep, it all goes to Hell in a little rowboat.

And I have a reading in six hours. Before the reading (six o'clock p.m. at the Brown University Book Store; at least I get to wear a mask), I need to wash my hair, let it dry (NO BLOW DRIERS), make edits for the two stories for Sirenia Digest #59, layout the issue (including cover), and...stuff. Lots of stuff. How this is going to happen, I don't know.

Yesterday, what? Oh, yeah. Yesterday, I wrote the prolegomenon for #59, which went a bit long. And I read over and made line edits to "And the Cloud That Took the Form" and "At the Reef."

I consume virtually no caffeine.

I think my body has spent a decade forgetting how to sleep.

My thanks to the reader who sent me Richard Kaczynski's Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley, so now I can be reading about six books all at once.

Really excellent rp in City of Heroes and Villains last night, and I wanted to say thank you to [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus, Mel, Enth'lye, and Blair. Yes, it would seem that ecsedi Báthory Erzsébet and La Bête du Gévaudan are one and the same, who now exists as an insane super villain with freezy powers, after being enslaved by Vlad Tepes who wanted to use her undead womb as a vessel to allow Nyarlathotep to be born into the world! Yeah, I know. Wacky. I'm waiting for the zombie unicorns to appear.

Here are four photos of Study #2 for Yellow. The painting will go up on eBay later this afternoon. The platypus is giving me the finger, so...later...

Study #2 for Yellow )
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
1. I thought, the last couple of days, I was getting to that "pulling myself back together" place, having had two halfway decent nights of of sleep without fucking Ambien. Not enough sleep, no, but no hypnotics, either. Then, this morning, at four-thirty I was still awake, so I took half a pill. At 5:45, still awake, I took another half. I got the sleep around six, but was only able to sleep until about noon (all times CaST). I really cannot take much more of this. I've written nothing all damn month. Oh, and the weather here in Providence is miserable again: cold and rainy and overcast.

2. I managed to work yesterday (largely because I was just coming out of the Ambien haze). I signed the signature sheets for the special edition of The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror: Two Decades of Dark Fiction. They'd already been signed by Clive Barker and Stephen King and Peter Straub, though still have to be signed by Harlan Ellison and Neil Gaiman. On days like this, when I can't imagine pressing even one more verb against another noun, when my desire to write has dropped away to something very near zero, I try to take solace in the fact that, thanks to my writing, I count four of those five authors as friends, and three as dear friends (I've never met Stephen King). Also, I read back through "Werewolf Smile," seeing as how the book that The Wolf Who Cried Girl is becoming will be built, in part, upon that short story. And I was enormously annoyed to discover I'd missed a metric shit ton of typos when I proofed it for Sirenia Digest #45 (August 2009). I'm considering including a corrected text of "Werewolf Smile" in the March issue of the digest. Anyway, I also answered email and tidied up my file cabinet, which has needed tidying up for the better part of a year. I made notes for two short stories or vignettes, both for Sirenia Digest #52. One may be an indirect sort of footnote to Lovecraft's "The Hound," and the other involves a sideshow and herpetological tattoos. We shall see. I desperately need to get a chapter of the novel written before starting in on the digest.

3. Last night, my blood-elf warlock, Shaharrazad, made Level 78. And it "only" took me 35 days, 21 hours, 7 minutes, and 43 seconds of gameplay (I actually rolled Shah in October '08). I will point out that Blizzard has done snazzy things with the Armory, adding character animation and whatnot. You may note that Shah has allowed her usually close-cropped hair to grow since heading out to Northrend.

4. For what it's worth, my beliefs are not beliefs I hold because I need to hold them. And I did not choose to hold them. I rejected that approach to belief decades ago. Indeed, I have often been frustrated that I cannot alter my beliefs based simply on what my mind needs. I've written about this in the past, especially as regards my approach to witchcraft and magick, and the fact that I remain an atheist, cosmicist, and pessimist*. My beliefs arise from personal observation of the world around me, from conclusions based upon those observations. I believe nothing simply because I somehow need to believe it. Desire or need alone cannot ever lead me to belief. Basing belief upon needs or desires is, to me, no more than wishful thinking.

5. Spooky's latest doll is now available via her Dreaming Squid Dollworks shop at Etsy. We call her Cassandra, for reasons that ought to be fairly obvious.

6. On Tuesday, we saw Tim Buron's Alice in Wonderland for the second time. If anything, it was more delightful than the first viewing (and we still will not debate its merits here).

* I would deny, though, that I am a nihilist, for a number of reasons.
greygirlbeast: (cleav2)
So, last Wednesday, I posed this question to my readers: If you had me alone, locked up in your house, for twenty-four hours and I had to do whatever you wanted me to, what would you have me/you/us do? And the answers have been interesting enough that I think a number of them will be featured (anonymously) in Sirenia Digest #50 (for which I am trying to think up fun and special things). Yesterday, Catherynne Valente ([livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna, from whom I appropriated the question), posted another such query, and I'm stealing that one, too. Same deal as before. The answers I like the best will appear in #50.

Here it is: If I were a summonable monster, how would you summon me? (Include items to lure monster-me and method for said fell ritual.) Oh, and please describe this monstrous incarnation of me.

Same rules as last Wednesday's question: All comments are screened.* That means, no one but me can read them. That's an extra incentive for you to leave the inhibitions behind. Only I will read these. Then, if I want to use a comment for next month's Digest, I'll contact you and ask permission before doing so. Have fun.

* If you're reading this via Facebook, obviously I cannot screen your comments, unless you post them to LJ.

Beltane '09

May. 1st, 2009 12:15 pm
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
A happy and fine Beltane to all who wish to be wished a happy and fine Beltane. I was just looking at my entry from this day one year ago, and there's something from that entry that I'd like to repost:

For a long time, I could not allow myself to involve choice in matters of belief, as I held belief back for objective science and material concerns. I did not see how one could ever choose to believe. Partly, the epiphany simply required a different perspective on things I've been saying for years. The Cosmos (=tripartite goddess/horned god/divine adrogyne/etc.) may, in my veneration of it, assume any form. It contains all forms within it that can be realized or conceived. It hardly matters if I "worship" Brighid or Mórrígan or Aphrodite or Kali. They are all merely attempts of a conscious being to sum up an incomprehensible and nonconscious universe. They may, perhaps, each function like characters in a novel, avatars that grant access to the story of existence. It does not matter if they are not factual in their existence, as their existence is true, if they are true in our minds. If they contain within them useful truths, as is the way with all myths. It is not their objective existence which makes them useful avatars, but their subjective truth, what these deities mean to each of us. For me, this is the heart of Neopaganism. Designing ritual and godforms to function as conduits between conscious organisms and the remainder of the Cosmos, which is generally a nonconscious entity.

This is still pretty much where my head is, though I've added Panthalassa ("all seas") as my primary "deity." Which is to say, I may look to and venerate the Mórrígan, and Hecate, and Demeter, and Cernunnos (and a small host of others), but the concept of Panthalassa acts as a sort of godhead, freed of any connotations of gender or consciousness, morality or anthropomorphic form. Panthalassa is, by definition, a vast, impersonal, and almost inconceivable force. Anyway, yeah, I'm still getting better about belief as choice. And, by the way, this is what works for me, I'm not the least bit evangelical in my paganism, excepting where the beliefs of others attempts to infringe upon my day-to-day life or my ability to practice witchcraft as I've chosen to practice it.

---

Yesterday was just about as tedious as expected. The image behind the cut, multiplied by a whole bunch, will give you some idea:

Yesterday )


We read back over "At the Gate of Deeper Slumber" and "The Peril of Liberated Objects, or the Voyeur's Seduction" (formerly "Untitled 34"), and I made lots of line edits to both. I wrote the prolegomena for Sirenia Digest #41. I did the layout on the issue, and realized that we really need to do an article on Virgil Finlay. When the issue was all nailed together, I sent the files off to Gordon ([livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest) to be PDF'ed. And then we read through Chapter 3 of The Red Tree, which got us to page 138 of the page proofs. And that was yesterday.

By now, all subscribers should have the new issue of the digest. Just let us know if you didn't get it. I'm pleased to have included Sonya Taaffe's ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) poem, "The Coast Guard," in this issue, along with the two new stories.

And now..well, it's Beltane. I'll do no more work than I have to do.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
What is this obsession with writing it all down? Has some part of me begun to believe it isn't real, these experiences, unless I write them down? Or that they are not valid, or won't prove lasting, unless I commit them to this journal? It's been eating at me.

Yesterday, we left Providence about one p.m., and drove north, past Boston, to Salem. Along the road, only the willows seemed to be greening. There were red splotches of cranberry bogs. We spent part of the afternoon exploring witchcraft shops (an annoying number of which were closed). We found a couple that were not too touristy and not of the airy-fairy, fluffy-bunny variety, which was refreshing. Places that weren't terrified of the "left path." Some old guy on the street, wearing so many pentagrams I lost count, showed us we were holding the map of Salem upside down. We drove past the House of the Seven Gables and Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace, but it was already late, and we didn't stop. On the waterfront, we saw a huge sailing ship, Friendship of Salem. The city has a strange effect on me. Salem, I mean. On the one hand, there's all the tacky Disneyesque crap, the wax museums, the "haunted tours," and whatnot. And then there's the history of the trials (which has a lot less to do with witchcraft than with mass hysteria and general intolerance). And then there's the sense that, ironically, Salem draws genuine practitioners of various occult traditions. And the end result, in my head, is a weird clash, an almost dizzying sort of cognitive dissonance.

Late in the afternoon, we drove down to Marblehead. I wish I could see Marblehead as it was a hundred or a hundred and fifty years ago, before it was prettied up and gentrified. The tide was out, and just as the sun was setting, we found a marvelous rocky cove on Front Road. Later, back home, I learned that it's called Fort Seawall Cove. There was a seawall. The beach here reminded me of Ireland, in and around Dublin, which no other New England beach has ever really done. There was beach glass everywhere. Great clumps of bladder wrack, huge mounds of snail and mussel shells. Tilted beds of Precambrian granite. We stayed almost until dark, and left reluctantly. I think we made it home about 8:30 p.m.

Here are three photos from yesterday:

9 April 2009 )


---

And I should repost links to the latest round of eBay auctions and, also, to Emma the Beltane Bunneh.
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
My head is in about fifteen different places just now, so...if this entry lacks focus, if it wanders and meanders and perplexes, you've been warned.

Last night, Poppy ([livejournal.com profile] docbrite) wrote (and I do hope he will not mind me quoting this):

Rhetorical question: Is it possible for a reasonably intelligent person to go through four years of American high school and come out the other side ignorant of what "cheerleaders" symbolize to ugly girls, or girls who aren't ugly but are so weird that they get treated as if they're ugly, or "girls" who aren't really girls at all, but knowing that would have made the mouthbreathers in their school even more determined to kill them? What I mean is, once you've gone through high school as one of the losers, do terms like "cheerleader" and "jock" and "popular" ever lose their loadedness? Do they ever lose their ability to jump out from behind a quarter-century's worth of real life and bite you in the ass with teeth you assumed they'd lost years ago?

I have a bad habit of answering rhetorical questions. Anyway, I can only speak for myself. The putrid hell of high school is twenty-seven years behind me now, and I'm still haunted by this bullshit. I still have nightmares about the "jocks" and "pretty girls." Makes no sense whatsoever, and I know that. Especially given that I've had the opportunity to see that a great many of the "popular kids" who tormented me went on to have much less fulfilling lives than I've had. Doesn't seem to matter. I can gloat all I want about who got the last laugh, but that doesn't change the fact that the wounds hardly seem to have scabbed over. Sorry, Poppy. I know you weren't looking for a reply. This just seemed awfully close to something that's been going round and round in my head lately, that I've been meaning to write about here.

I've always loathed competition, of any sort. And yet, until a few years ago, I'd gotten pretty good at the Me against You, Me vs. Them game. At jumping through hoops to try and achieve some desired goal. Applications. Tests. And so forth. But, the last decade or so, my ability to compete for anything has simply evaporated. I find it entirely too distasteful, and I hate the way it makes me feel, and the way it causes me to behave. And a lot of it goes back to high school, where the compete-to-succeed mentality was pounded into me. These days, I go out of my way to avoid competitive situations. Which is a fairly difficult thing to do when you're a freelance fiction writer. In the end, there are only so many slots available in a given year for the publication of short stories and novels. The resources are finite. And, indeed, as the economy has floundered and new technologies promise new forms of entertainment and distraction, the resources have become increasingly limited. It will always be me against everyone else who's trying to get published and win readers. And I hate it.

I've reached the point where I don't even want to see myself nominated for awards anymore. I just want to be left alone, to write my stories in peace. They are the only stories I know how to write. And I'm tired of being told how much better my work might sell if I could write like [fill in the blank]. I write like me, and, near as I can tell, that's how it's supposed to work. Only, I am on the outside. Probably on the outermost rim of the outside. Just like high school. And people seem a lot less interested in seeing the world from an outsider's point of view than they do viewing it from the safe, familiar territory of their own perspectives. Yes, there are exceptions, and yes I do have a decent number of readers, but I also know that if I were capable of this competition trick, capable of viewing this as a contest wherein I follow the rules and listen to the self-appointed coaches and referees, I'd have a shot at the chintzy gold sparkle of that goddamn loving cup of True Popularity and Success.

I no longer compete, not if I can possibly help it. This is what I have to offer, and I have to hope I can find enough people who want it that I can keep the bills paid. Because I don't compete. I don't fill out applications. I don't joust. I don't capture the flag. I'm not looking to be queen of the mountain. I do not lock horns. I sit at this keyboard, and, on good days, I write my stories, which are my stories. They are not designed for mass consumption, if only because they are not designed with any audience in mind, except, possibly me. I am the author of my own limitations, just as I am the author of my own triumphs.

---

The last two days are a blur. I feel like the writing of "As Red as Red" has become a losing battle (with myself). My deadline is tomorrow, and the story is probably three or four thousand words from an ending.

And here it is spring, and it feels not the least bit like spring. It's cold, and there are only a few buds on the trees. We did our Ostara ritual outside this year, in the woods, and I'd desperately hoped it would help shake me free of the morass that this awful winter has landed me in. No luck. It was cold, and the fire hardly seemed to help. I have learned that working skyclad in late March in Rhode Island is an entirely different thing from working skyclad in late March in Georgia. Can you say "perky nipples"? Never mind having to worry about deer ticks. I fear my magick is growing a little darker every year, only...I don't actually fear the drift. Maybe what scares me is that it doesn't scare me.

I have to go look for an ending to "As Red as Red," though I fear I'm still a bit puzzled by the middle. Herr Platypus is not happy with me this morning.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
So, because I live in a hole in the ground (not unlike a hobbit, I suppose), and have developed numerous news avoidance tactics, I entirely missed the fact that, way back in October, Sarah Palin tried to keep the Cook Inlet beluga whales from receiving Federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. Now that the elections are over, maybe Alaska should consider offsetting all that revenue they're going to lose, by not allowing the destruction of beluga habitat, by declaring this Spring to be Sarah Palin Hunting Season. Works for me. Turn her loose in the woods, naked, and arm a few hundred hunters with rubber bullets. The lottery winner gets a live round.

Yeah, I'm in that sort of mood.

But, I did sleep more than eight hours last night. And the only thing I can recall about the dreams is some weird shit about discovering that the Atlantic Ocean had drained, and that it was a very short walk from Rhode Island to France (I have no idea what happened to the Iberian Peninsula). That's the most sleep I've gotten at a stretch in at least two or three weeks.

Sirenia Digest #38 went out last night, and all our subscribers should have it by now. If not, please email Spooky at x(dot)squid(dot)soup(dot)x(at)gmail(dot)com. Damn, that's a lot of dots. Also, there's a special FREEBIE that I want all the subscribers to receive. It's the reason we had to drive to Pawtucket and rummage through boxes of old files, day before yesterday. But the PDF came out rather large, more than 12M. So, I haven't sent it out yet. If you do not want to get it, please let Spooky know ASAP (email address above). If you want it, you don't have to say anything. Also, because we always get files bouncing from AOL and Hotmail, we encourage subscribers to open gmail accounts. They're free, and Sirenia Digest will not bounce when sent to gmail (despite one of the best spam filters I've ever seen). Spooky and I each have about 50 invitations we can send to people, so if you want a free gmail account, just say so here (and include your email address), and we'll send you an invitation. It's perfect for receiving the 12M+ PDF, the surprise. And no, I can't tell you what it is, because then, obviously, it would cease to be a surprise. I will say it is also Poe-themed.

I'm very pleased with #38. It's likely one of the most cohesive issues we've done. Comments are welcome.

Tomorrow is Imbolc, but I think we're keeping it very low key this year. I hate doing that. Sabbat guilt? I have resolved (and you can call it a belated New Year's resolution, if you wish), to vastly improve my Tarot skills in 2009. It can even be my pathetic attempt at having a fall-back career. Because, you know, I can always move to Salem and read Tarot on the street corners, if I reach a point where the writing is no longer viable. Also, I think I'm about to go on an Aleister Crowley binge. For starters, I need exposure to someone who was even more disdainful than am I.

If you've not yet ordered a copy of A is for Alien, due out this month from Subterranean Press, February 1st is a very fine day to do so.

When the work was finally done yesterday, there was a marathon of WoW. I haven't played that much in ages. But Shaharrazad is finally exalted with Undercity, and has traded her felsteed for one of the skeletal horses that the Forsaken ride. I fear Shah's gone a bit native, after meeting the Banshee Queen. She sleeps in a coffin. She uses some sort of perfume that smells like a mixture of embalming fluid and rot. I suspect she's even begun "cannibalizing" her human kills (though, technically, since she's not human, it's not cannibalism). She's an undead wannabe, poor thing. If they just hadn't sent her away from Silvermoon City after she met with the orcs and secured a place for the Sin'dorei within the Hoarde. Oh, and she reached Level 58, which means I can finally reach Shattrath and be decalred a "Master Skinner" (or whatnot). Also, I have learned that WoW is 75% less annoying if you keep all chat channels switched off all the time.

Anyway...today will be spent cleaning the house, as Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) arrives from Boston tomorrow afternoon. The platypus frowns on housecleaning.
greygirlbeast: (starbuck2)
I need to thank a few people for recent gifts. First, Kim Turner who sent me a copy of Windsor McCay's Dream of the Rarebit Fiend (1904-1913). A huge and beautiful and wonderful volume, and I am extremely thankful. Also, Stephen Spector sent a CD with various Decemberists rarities. And then, this morning, the USPS brought me a package from Poppy ([livejournal.com profile] docbrite) containing a small box of absinthe-flavored chocolates from New Orleans' own Sucré. Watch it, people. You're going to spoil me.

Yesterday was a genuinely remarkable writing day, and I managed 1,820 words, and finished "The Thousand-and-Third Tale of Scheherazade." This is the first of my two "Poe tribute" stories for Sirenia Digest #38. Today, I will begin the second story.

My thanks to Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) for figuring out that Crowley's Hudson River "Aesopus Island" is now (and may have been then) "Esopus Island."

I ventured out into the world yesterday, into Outside, and hardly any of the snow has melted. We crossed the Providence River on our way to the market, and it remains partially frozen. Since the Epic Extraction (January 10th), I'd only really left the house once, for the drive to Moosup Valley (on January 16th). I realized yesterday that, over the course of some 16 days, I'd been Outside maybe five hours, total, which is bad even for me. I have resolved to do better. My world is out there, not in here.

Last night, we watched the newest episode of Battlestar Galactica, "A Disquiet Follows My Soul." It was, all in all, a solid episode, but I can't help but point out that, with the story drawing to a close, it's time to stop introducing more subplots and devote the available time to addressing those that are pre-existing. Afterwards, we watched Gil Kenan's City of Ember, an adaptation of Jeanne Duprau's novel (which I have not read). On the one hand, it's a beautiful film, to be sure, and Ember is a marvelously realized world. But, on the other, many of the cast members seemed to be set on autopilot (the older actors, mainly), and the plot holes were so numerous that even I couldn't ignore them. I do try, normally. Plot is not usually foremost on my mind. Other things interest me more, and, usually, if a writer or filmmaker has done a sufficient job tending to such matters as mood and characterization and worldbuilding, I'm willing to overlook a shoddy job of plot construction, that thing Margaret Atwood referred to as "a what and a what and a what." (Exact quote, from "Happy Endings", "That's about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what.") In the end, I wanted to like City of Ember much more than I actually could.

Sorry to keep harping on this, but, if you have not yet ordered a copy of A is for Alien, I hope that you will do so today. Just look at the cover. How can you possibly resist?



Spooky has decalred I cannot legally change my name to "La Bête Gris." I mean, I could, legally, but she forbids it. So, maybe it will be a nom de plum for certain of my writings to come.

And the platypus says the dodo says that's enough journalizing for one day, and I'm wondering, since when does the platypus do the dodo's bidding?
greygirlbeast: (Sweeny1)
I did 1,139 words on "The Thousand-and-Third Tale of Scheherazade" yesterday, which makes it a pretty decent writing day. I expect to finish the story this afternoon, or tomorrow at the very latest, at which time I will send it to Vince to be illustrated, for Sirenia Digest #38.

I got about eight hours of sleep last night, and feel a little better than I did this time yesterday. I tried to do it without the Ambien, and I got to sleep just fine, but awoke around 5:30 ayem to the sensation that my skin and muscles had been somehow wound too tightly about me, so I took the damn Ambien. Tonight, I'll try taking only a half dose.

Does anyone know the name of the island on the Hudson River where Aleister Crowley sequestered himself in 1918? I see the name given as Aesopus Island, but, so far, I've been unable to find that name on a map, and I'm beginning to suspect it's a name he created.

Last night, we saw Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich's Repo! The Genetic Opera. Wow. Spooky and I were both extremely pleased, and we'll be picking up a copy of the DVD and soundtrack as soon as we are able. Rock opera meets Grand Guignol, with no punches pulled. It was the sort of film that made me smile right at the start, and by the end my face ached from smiling. Some wickedly sexy eye candy, this movie, and the music manages just the right balance of jaunty comic irreverence, melodrama, and tragedy. Many of the vocal performances are mediocre, but this actually seems to serve the characterization rather well. The best voices in Repo! belong to Anthony Stewart Head and Sarah Brightman, and this, of course, comes as no surprise. Vocally, they more than manage to carry the film all on their own. Anyway, yes, I absolutely love this film. It's the sort of dark gem that I am always amazed managed to find its way to the screen. Even Paris Hilton isn't very annoying, in part because she's playing the perfect grotesque caricature of herself. Terrance Zdunich (screenwrirer) is superb as Graverobber. You even get a dash of Joan Jett, and Spooky and I were very pleased to see Melora Creager listed among the musicians.

Spooky has lowered the prices of Orville and Jasper, on her Etsy page. You might want to have a look.

If you've not yet ordered A is for Alien, I urge you to please do so today. Thanks.
greygirlbeast: (Blood elf 2)
A cold, clear day here in Providence. The trees are quickly shedding their fall colors. Winter will be coming on, soon. Back in Atlanta, we'd be freezing, and I'd be bitching about the cryosphere in my office. Here in Rhode Island, ironically, we're quite toasty. And, before I forget, happy birthday to Neil, who turns -08 today, and also to Spooky's sister, Steph, in faraway Brooklyn.

I've begun a second LiveJournal account, as of yesterday. It's purpose is to serve as a more stable and accessible archive for the entries from my old Blogger journal, which was begun in November 2001, just before I started writing Low Red Moon (and which I'd originally intended to end when the book was done). As such, it bears the rather unimaginative title [livejournal.com profile] crk_blog_vault. Each day, I'll be reposting one to three entries from the old Blogger account, with the original date and time for the entries included as the subject line. Hence, the first entry is "November 24, 2001 (12:40 a.m.)." Anyway, have a look if you're interested. "Low Red Moon Journal" has been orphaned since December 2006, but mostly I'm interested in mirroring those hundreds of entries that were made before I began this LJ in April 2004. I've shut off the comments feature for the new journal, and I'm still fiddling about with the look of the thing.

Yesterday, I did 1,453 words on "The Colliers' Venus (1893)," previously titled "The Automatic Mastodon (1893)." The automatic mastodon still makes a cameo appearance in the story, but I realized yesterday it's not the centerpiece. So, a very good writing day.

And a lot of work besides the new short story. After the writing, while Spooky made a quick trip to the market to get dinner, I went through the ARC for A is for Alien, for the very last time before it goes to press, and found only four problems. I'll send the corrections to Bill at Subterranean Press as soon as I finish this entry. After dinner, Spooky and I began reading through The Red Tree, and managed all of the Preface and Chapter One. Lots of corrections. I think we finished with that just after 10 p.m. Oh, and this weekend Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) and Spooky dad, Richard, both read the ms. And they both loved it, and are helping with the proofreading. Hearing it aloud last night, I remembered again just how much this one means to me. Oh, and I think I'll repost the cover, for anyone who might have missed it on Saturday:

The Red Tree )


Also, we received the images for the artist interview for Sirenia Digest #36, the interview originally scheduled for #35. My thanks to both Heather Eve and Geoffrey ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark). So, yes, a very busy day yesterday (but it made up for Saturday, which was a bit of a washout). And I fear that it's going to be this busy all the way to December.

I played a couple hours' worth of WoW last night. Back to Shaharrazad, my blood-elf warlock, after three nights playing Mithwen, my night-elf fighter. I fear Shah is much closer to my heart, but I've probably said that already. Spooky ("Suraa") and I did some questing in Hillsbrad and the Alterac Mountains north of Tallin Mills, then slaughtered trolls in the Arathi Highlands, just because. And after WoW, we watched an episode of Firefly (the marvelous "Objects in Space") because I was exhausted and needed "comfort food" before bed.

I'm doing some concerted magickal work for the first time since October, mostly protective spells and wards and such. Getting a little Enochian. Crowley meets Wicca meets the Greek pantheon. Something like that. Nothing I want to go into detail about, just making the walls a little stronger, you might say. Anyway, now the platypus and the coffee are waiting for me. The day lies ahead.
greygirlbeast: (Western Interior Seaway)
Erm....yeah, so....I'm not even pretending to be awake. I got to bed sometime after five ayem. Do I have a good excuse, I mean besides the tooth ache. No. Except that I discovered that Vampire: The Masquerade is loads more fun when played in Second Life than with pencil and paper on a tabletop. A new Nareth splinter came into being —— this time a wealthy, young Vietnamese woman dying of an incurable disease. She'd been an assassin, and had learned much of the art of torture, before the illness. She used the last of her fortune to find the Sabbat. Accompanied by her bodyguards (thanks Pontifex and Misi), she entered the city, and contact was made, thanks to a nervous little man, some sort of private investigator. Much time was spent sitting in the painfully over-lit lobby of the Lincoln Hotel, vomiting onto the powder-blue carpet between her feet because the morphine she'd just injected was making her sick. She speaks in French about half the time. She told the bodyguards that their final checks were in their rooms and dismissed them, then sat and waited for the Ravnos woman she been promised would find her. Every moment the dying assassin waited was agony. But the vampire came, finally, the woman named Mara, and the assassin was led to the back room of a seedy little nightclub, where she was questioned, then allowed her first taste, and promised the embrace. She was given a slip of paper with an address, and ordered not to return to her hotel room. Then her typist went the hell to bed.

That's why I'm not awake. What noisy cats are we.

After the minute brouhaha which led to my entry on Saturday, I just keep thinks (as Ceiling Cat would say), "But aren't authors supposed to be critics?" No, not book reviewers. Critics. Isn't that one of the things authors are supposed to do, comment on the work of other authors? Hell, if anything, I think I've been neglectful of that duty. Aren't we supposed to try to keep one another honest by saying what we think about the State of Literature, including the State of Genre Literature? To quote the ever quotable Dorothy Parker, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." (quoted in The Algonquin Wits [1968] edited. by Robert E. Drennan). Is that not a duty that we have, as authors, not merely to make shows of empty, token support but when something's shit, to say so? And so when I see these followers of a hack like the wildly successful and admittedly deceased Robert Jordan, when I talk to people who can quote his The Wheel of Time chapter and verse, but who have never even read Tolkien, is it not my responsibility to get pissed off, and to say so? I think it is. Though, I should add, before hurling one of Jordan's books anywhere with great force, the reader should acquire a trebuchet, lest a shoulder be dislocated in the process.

Spooky did the Day in the Life (didl) thing a couple of days back. You can see the fruits of her labour, and quite a bit of Providence and Casa de Kiernan y Pollnac here.

Yesterday, in preparation for writing my introduction on Arthur Machen today, I read "The White People" (1904) again, my second favourite story by him. And re-read much of Wesley D. Sweetser's 1958 thesis on Machen (published in 1964), along with various other bits of criticism. I suppose that far fewer people these days read Machen than read Robert Jordan, or even Tolkien, but its their loss. "The White People" is sublime. And it has such an exquisite opening line —— "'Sorcery and sanctity,' said Ambrose, 'these are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life.'"

I was saddened this morning to learn of the death of illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008). When I was a teenager, it was her wonderful map of Middle Earth that adorned my bedroom wall. When I first found Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and Smith of Wootton Major, she was the artist whose work accompanied the text.

Spooky has relisted several items on eBay, so please have a look. Also, if I fail to shill both A is for Alien and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, the platypus will be showing me those venomous spurs.

More coffee....

Midsummer

Jun. 21st, 2008 10:00 am
greygirlbeast: (Late Cambrian)
Monsieur Insomnia has a talent for finding me at the most inopportune times. I've been sleeping marvelously since coming to Rhode Island (21 days ago now!), until night before last...and last night. I'm no longer 20 or 30, and, alas, I cannot function very well on 6 hours sleep. Which is about what I got last night. Oh, and a very peculiar set of dreams, which I shall not here recall.

Since I began practicing Wicca in 2005, something has felt wrong during mine and Spooky's rituals. We'd have the words. All the material components. Our hearts were in it, our minds focused. And yet, still, something felt wrong. And now I know, for sure, what. Wicca cannot be practiced in a crowded back room that is generally used for dollmaking. It must be practised beneath an open sky. This is to say, the Midsummer ritual last night was exquisite, one of the most remarkable hours of my life. And I know now that my suspicion that the missing element in our rituals was environmental was spot on*.

We left Providence about 4 pm, because we needed to swing by the Kingston Free Library to drop off 5 more boxes of books. We'd already donated 2, so that's a total of 7 we've given for their forthcoming book sale (by the way, no idea why I'm typing numbers as numerals instead of words today...they're just coming out that way). Maybe 200 books, all told. I should have parted with 3 times that number, but, you know, baby steps. After the library, we drove up to Spooky's parent's farm in Saunderstown, because her father has finally returned from his latest anthropological sojourn to some exotic clime or another (I forget just where, somewhere in South America). We must have gotten there about 5 or 5:30, and it was so much cooler in South County than in Providence, with the wonderful breeze. They showed us their new pitcher plant (sorry, don't recall the species), and we talked by the koi pond her mother, Carol, is working on. They're about to install a biofilter, to help keep the water a little cleaner. I think the pond has about 50 koi at this point. Her mother trades the babies for fish food. We played with Spider, talked about birds, and my bad eyes, black bear sightings in South County, and summer, and graduate students, and back doors. A taillight on Spooky's car was fixed by cannibalizing the old blue van. It was a good visit.

About 6:30 or so, we headed east to Beavertail, across the Jamestown Bridge to Conanicut Island, and then south to Beavertail. The sun was beginning to set, and the wetlands and thickets of beach roses and other assorted flora were teeming with wildlife. Deer, rabbits, egrets, robins everywhere, all manner of sea birds. We circled back behind the lighthouse, to a more secluded place we found in 2004 (about 1,200 feet northeast of the lighthouse). I'd packed about half our altar for the trip, trying to keep in mind the wind and that the ritual should not be overly complicated or ruined by things one cannot do while clinging to a rocky sea cliff in a strong wind. It was actually cold when we got out of the car, and I put on my sweater, my arm socks, and my cloak, and followed Spooky down the steep erosional ravine leading to the rocks (carefully skirting the ubiquitous poison ivy). There were very few people nearby, mostly fishermen, and the people who were there kindly left us alone. We must have gotten started about 7 pm, and the tide was coming in**, consuming the shore in great foaming mouthfuls. Spooky spotted crabs in a high tide pool. There were bits of dried seaweed scattered about. There were a few gulls, and cormorants just offshore (Phalacrocorax spp.). Spooky said, "They look like little Nessies." There were seabirds I did not recognize. The sky had gone a wonderful assortment of blues, greys, and pinks. To the south, the lighthouse flashed at its regular intervals. I cast the circle, started a small fire in our cauldron, and we set to work. Well, work's the wrong word, I think. It was too delightful to call work. Recall my definition of magick as the "willful invocation of awe." It was that. I adapted Starhawk's Litha ceremony, substituting some of my own phrasing, and tailoring it for only 2 people, instead of a full coven. A handful of salt to the North, a feather to the East, a garlic clove to the south, two fern fronds to the West. The wind and the sea were wild, and this was the wild magick I've been seeking for three years.

About halfway through, we paused to eat the bread we'd brought along and have some of the wine. We were joined by a young gull, who seemed hardly the least bit afraid of people. He landed inside our circle, and Spooky fed him. A Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), the largest species in the North Atlantic, with wingspans up to 65". This fellow was no more than three winters old. As the breakers crashed over the craggy black and grey rocks (Jamestown Formation, Middle Cambrian age) and rushed noisily into deep places between the rocks, the lone gull added a note of humour to the whole affair. Soon, though, a second, larger gull arrived and swooped over us a couple of times, then sat a short distance away, seeming to caw angrily at our visitor. The two finally left together, and we continued. I finished the ritual and opened the circle. It was getting dark by then, and we had to pick our way carefully along the cliffs back to the ravine. Within sight of the path leading back up the to car, we stopped, stealing a little more time with the sea. Spooky arranged stones in her impromptu mandalas, and I stood on a high promontory jutting out over the rough waters of Narragansett Bay. I closed my eyes and spread my arms, just listening — the birds, the wind, the sea, a bell buoy, a distant foghorn. There was a moment that seemed to stretch on forever. As Einstein said, "People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."*** I know there was time in that moment, but I also felt, with perfect clarity, its relativity to my perceptions of it. Beneath my feet, the metamorphosed sandstones and shales were still being laid deposited in trilobite-haunted seas, still being heated in the orogenies that formed Avalonia, crosscut with plutonic intrusions during the Ordovician and Devonian. Offshore, it might have been 500 AD, or 1649, or sometime in the 19th Century. I was unstuck. It was a million years from now, and storms and the tides had washed away those cliffs entirely. I opened my eyes to a distinct sense of vertigo, as I seemed to snap back into the matrix of the moment, and there was the sense that something I'd called up in the circle had trailed after us, lingering there with me on the cliff. But. It tattered and came apart in the salty wind, and I saw the designs Spooky had made on the rocks. She said we'd best be going before it got any darker, and I admitted, reluctantly, she was right. I didn't want to leave the sea and head back to the city. I wanted to sink back into that mental space I'd found, unfixed in time, that place where all the thousand petty concerns of my day-to-day life, all the noise that adds up to Me, was shown to be so perfectly insignificant before the business of this vasty universe.

I should cut this off now. [livejournal.com profile] sovay will be arriving on the 1:45 train from Boston, and I should really try to straighten up the mostly unpacked house just a little more. There are a few photographs from yesterday evening (behind the cut):

Midsummer 2008 )


* No, this wasn't my first outdoor ritual — there was the skyclad one a couple of years back, for example, but it had been a while.
** High tide at Beavertail at 9:46 last night.
*** From a letter (March 1955) printed in the posthumously published Science and the Search for God Disturbing the Universe (1979).
greygirlbeast: (Early Permian)
The world was deprived of no great entertainments that I posted no entry yesterday. It all goes back to the book I agreed to review for Publisher's Weekly. And the fact that I never do today what I can put off until next month. So, Wednesday was reading, reading, reading — and then I finally wrote the review yesterday. After this, I send it to my editor at PW. But. I was not meant to be a book reviewer. I don't know who would want to be. We'd all be better off without book reviews. And the pay, even when it's good, is for shit. So, yeah, likely I shall not do that again. I have no business mouthing off — in print — about an author many, many years my senior who has written and published far more than have I, and has awards out the wazoo, and so forth. And getting paid for it. But, you know. I'll try anything once...or twice, if it leaves a nice scar.

Congratulations to the winners of the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions. They ended while I was looking the other way.

Er...yesterday. Well, besides finishing the novel I had to review, I moved the CD shelf, all the hundreds and hundreds of CDs (and no one should own hundreds and maybe thousands of CDs) from the "middle parlour" to the kitchen. More unpacking. After 5 pm, Spooky and I went to the little farmer's market at the Dexter Training Ground, to pick up our weekly bag of produce (it's a local farmer's support thingy), and this week we got apple butter, a mescaline salad mix, three tomatoes, apple mint, a cucumber, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. And then we went to Whole Foods, and East Side Market. Providence is at its most stunning in the late afternoon sunlight of summer. I'm going to have to walk out onto the Point Street Bridge soon, late in the day, and take some photos. Many boxes were broken down and carried to the street yesterday, as this morning the recycling truck came. No, they're not yet all unpacked, the boxes from Atlanta, but we're at least 90% of the way there. This is coming out all higgledy-piggledy, my recollections of yesterday, but who cares, eh? Late, late, I did some ritual work and also some writing in my Book of Shadows for this evening's seaside Solstice ceremony. Spooky and I took a very short walk about 2:45 ayem (I stayed up too late), and the moon was full (well, one night past) and beautiful hanging over all these old Victorian rooftops. Spooky trimmed my hair, which badly needed it after the ravages of the move. The postman brought the June 2008 Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, and it looks to be a great one, lots of dinosaurs and non-archosaurian herps. Oh, and I got a package from Writer's House (the lit agency that handles me), with half the advance for the German-language editions of Low Red Moon and Threshold, and that was a welcome sight (Amazon.com has gone back to making it a pain in the eema to find the new mmp of the former, by the way). For dinner, Spooky made bow-tie pasta with an arugula pesto and spicy Italian sausages. I read more of Fraser's book on the Triassic (I wish I were being paid to review that). And, give or take, that was yesterday.

Oh, I've made another "word cloud," this time from three paragraphs near the middle of Chapter One of The Red Tree. Also, this one uses two hundred words, whereas the last one used only one hundred and fifty (just click to see the larger version):



Today, well...there's some work, though there likely won't be much. We're getting ready for Solstice tonight and for [livejournal.com profile] sovay's arrival tomorrow afternoon. Monday, though, I make one more trip over to Moosup Valley, and on Tuesday I nail myself inside this office and don't come out until The Red Tree is written (fortunately, there's an entrance to the bathroom from my office). I have lost far too much time, and have far too little time until the book is due. And I know it will refuse to be rushed, even if I had the will to rush it, which I don't.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] nullmode wrote: Having been involved with wicca some years ago and being disappointed by the fro fro nature of what I found there I gave up on it. However, reading your blog and the comments of some of your readers I find myself inspired by the fact that there are intelligent people out there practicing in a meaningful way. So, although I know that discussion indicates that there are not many great books out there, do you have any recommendations? I'd like to re-explore a bit and I was wondering what you've read and liked.

And I replied: I have found very, very few.

First, and foremost, I would recommend Ronald Hutton's
Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford; 1999). Also, something of a classic and slightly dated (but maybe good for that reason), Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today (Penguin Compass; 1979, 1986). Those are, by far, the two best that I have found. Starhawk's The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (HarperSanFrancisco; 1999), in its 20th-anniversary incarnation, is not so bad as many who disparage "fluffy-bunny" Paganism make out. Sure, Starhawk is still full of it as regards buying into Murray's ideas about there having once existed a universal goddess religion and a race of Pictish dwarves and all that, and she can go a bit twee at times, but she has a poet's ear. Too many Wiccan books read like bad goth poetry. Starhawk also gets points from me for at least trying to embrace science and rationalism, for her ecological emphasis, and for generally seeming to regard magick as a matter more of psychology than of manipulation of cause and effect and matter.

Anyway...those are the three I'd recommend at this point. Hutton is the best. Adler shows us what Paganism in America was like before the Coming of the Fluffy Bunnies and the subsequent loss of diversity, before wishful thinking overtook common sense.


Okay. Gotta go. Merry Litha, to thems what observes it. Miles to go before I sleep, and all that rot.

Salem

Jun. 18th, 2008 09:38 am
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
This is my quote for the day, from Victor Anderson — White magic is poetry, black magic is anything that actually works.

Cyd Charisse has died. She was 86, which seems oddly impossible.

Yesterday, though it was no doubt terribly irresponsible of me, what with having this mountain of work, and being not quite unpacked, etc., I had to get out of the house. The day before, Monday, was the first day since we arrived in Rhode Island that I'd not gone outside, and I will not return to those old habits. At least not until the goddamn snow starts. Anyway, about one pm, we took I-95 out of the city, past Boston, and north to Salem and Marblehead. It wasn't a long visit (I was thinking of you, [livejournal.com profile] kambriel), and mostly I was trying to find a new and very particular athame, and the witchcraft shop in Tiverton (RI) wasn't open.

The lion's share of what I saw of both Salem and Marblehead was beautiful. Had I known how gorgeous the area is when we were looking for a place, I might have settled there, north of Boston, instead of in Providence. Anyway, though I had been repeatedly warned, I was unprepared for the experience of Salem. On the one hand, as I said, beautiful place. And we walked up Liberty Street from Derby to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial Park, which wasn't founded (by the way) until 1990. It sits at one edge of "The Burying Point," where graves date back to 1637. The sense of time here still plays havoc with my mind. Which is odd, given how comfortable I am with Deep Time, with geological time. In the South, history only goes back so far — that is, the history of the Europeans who came to this continent long after the coming of the Asians who became the Native Americans. It's unusual to see gravestones or buildings dating back past the middle part of the 19th Century.

So, yeah, all that time. And coming unexpectedly upon the Memorial, I was taken off guard. By it, and by my emotional reaction to it. A small park whose stone walls are lined with stone benches, each one engraved with the name and date and means of execution of one of the many who perished in the Salem hysteria between 1692 and 1693. Some 150 were arrested, and twenty-nine were convicted of "the capital felony of witchcraft." Of those (according to Wikipedia), "Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were hanged. One man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison." The man who was crushed to death, Giles Corey, he has a bench, as do Rebecca Nurse and Susannah Martin. I was familiar with the latter two names, as the former figures in Arthur Miller's The Crucible and the latter was written of by John Greenleaf Whittier (and is the subject of a folk song I've always loved). Coming upon familiar names, it was somehow even more disquieting.

We walked in the old graveyard a bit. There was a fantastically twisted old oak (a Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor, I believe). I found two silk roses, blown off some plot or another — one red, one white — and carried them back to Susannah Martin's bench, where I left them.

We walked from Liberty, past the Peabody Essex Museum (founded 1799 as the East India Marine Society), to the array of shops along Essex Street (closed to motor traffic). Here's where the weirdness began. Salem's relationship to the witch trials is somewhat schizoid (and I say this as an outsider who has visited once). Visit the Memorial, and there's a distinct sense of solemnity regarding those murdered men and women. Stroll along Essex Street, among the tourists, and one encounters a different attitude, that the trials are to be treated as a bit of grotesque hilarity, a cultural oddity good for a few chills and laughs. Trolley-shaped buses (open air) drive loads of tourists to and fro, and people gawk and point while tour guides relate horror stories. I lost count of the cheesy museums devoted to witchcraft, with their leering, snaggle-toothed crones, their waxwork terrors to give upstanding Xtian folks a good-natured fright. The mountains of kitsch and tschotkes being sold, the T-shirts with witty slogans, and so forth.

And maybe I'll seem humourless, and maybe I'll seem to suffer from my own brand of hysteria, but...even given that most of the people accused of witchcraft in Salem Village probably were Xtains and certainly not witches, and that it would still be more than 260 years before Gerald Gardner invented modern Wicca...how does this differ, in its fundamental nature, from an amusement park at Dachau or Buchenwald? This is how it struck me. I don't know that it could have struck me any other way. And I'm not one of those Wiccans who's offended by Halloween and the Wicked Witch of the West and Harry Potter (I rather love all three, in fact). I am not humourless. But those leering faces, the carnival atmosphere, the exploitation, it got to me. And Spooky says it wasn't even a bad tourist day.

Anyway, we found the shop we'd come to find — The Broom Closet on Central Street. They didn't have the athame I was looking for, though we did get a couple of books and a new chalice. One of the books, Sea Magic by Sandra Kynes (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008), impressed me simply because it's author uses footnotes and cites her sources, and good scholarship is all too rare in Pagan publishing. In fact, it's mostly nonexistent. I also picked up a copy of The Witches Almanac. The day was hot, and my feet hurt, and we headed back to Providence about four pm or so.

There's not much else to yesterday. Last night, leftover chili for dinner, and more unpacking. But we're almost done. I learned that [livejournal.com profile] sovay will likely be visiting us this weekend, which is cool. I baked an apple pie (it's good to have a kitchen again, one that doesn't make you want to scream). I worked on the review I'm writing for Publisher's Weekly. We went to bed rather early, just a little after one ayem. As for Monday, it was all spent putting together Sirenia Digest #31, which I hope to send out to subscribers on June 26th. Oh, there are photos from yesterday (behind the cut). But wait! Only a couple of days remain on the "cephaloflap" and "doodleflap" auctions. You snooze, you loose. You loose big cardboard monster doodles from my Great Northward Transmigration, in this instance. Anyway, photos from yesterday:

June 17, 2008 )
greygirlbeast: (white)
It would seem no mass sacrifice of anti-Obama meteorologists will be required, after all. Huzzah! We awoke to cooler air this morning, the thermostat presently at a far more acceptable 82F, and we're looking at cooler weather all week long. At last, maybe we can get started on serious unpacking.

Yesterday, I did 709 words on "The Melusine (1898)," which normally wouldn't impress me, except the writing was done in a 93F sauna. Well, in all fairness, we had the portable coolerator rolled into my office, but still. My brains were a tad heat-addled. It's a miracle there was no micro-thunderstorm spawned in the collision of the air from my office with that in the adjacent kitchen. Oh, I have a name for the coolerator droid — Dr. Muñoz, after the afflicted, ice-craving professor from HPL's "Cool Air." Right now, Dr. Muñoz is cooling the front rooms enough for Spooky to work in there today. My office window is open, and the breeze is marvelous.

Sirenia Digest now has an arts correspondent — Mr. Geoffrey H. Goodwin ([livejournal.com profile] readingthedark) — and now we will feature, each month, a new article/interview with a different visual artist (painters, sculptors, filmmakers, photographers, make-up artists, etc.). I am very excited about this new addition to the Digest. Speaking of which, the June '08 issue (#31) will include two new pieces by me ("Unter den Augen des Mondes" and "The Melusine (1898)" — caged werewolves and steampunk sideshows, respectively), Geoffrey's article (subject to be announced), and a new illustration by Vince Locke, for "The Melusine (1898)." Which means this is a very, very good time to subsribe. Just click here. Easy as pie. Expect #31 on or near June 25th.

It was so hot that yesterday I got very little unpacking done. Mostly, I sorted though books that were up for discard. I so hate getting rid of books, but this office is so small, and, truthfully, well...it all comes down to an old paperback of Jane Eyre. Not a nice hardback. A paperback. Now, this is 2008 and Jane Eyre is online. Any time I need it, I can go to the full text online. So, it went into the box of books we're donating to the Kingston Free Library for their upcoming book sale (donations accepted through June 21st). So far, I have three big boxes of well-loved books for them.

Quickly, some interesting writing/publishing related links: First, this, on the problem of preserving quality when driven by publishers to produce a novel a year. I love Patricia Cornwell's comment, "It's no problem, as long as you don't have a life." Myself, I still haven't figured out how to do a novel a year and am loathe to try. Also, the American manga craze may be a bust, if the recent actions of Tokyo Pop are any indication. And, finally, a new interview with William Gibson, "William Gibson Talks to io9 About Canada, Draft Dodging, and Godzilla" (thanks, Cliff).

To escape the heat yesterday, about 6:30 pm, we headed south again, this time to Moonstone Beach, at the southeastern corner of Trustom Pond (with Cards Pond just a little farther east). It's an utterly beautiful spot, just below the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge. The beach itself, named for the "moonstones" (a plagioclase feldspar) commonly found washed up on on the sand, is a protected nesting area for the Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus). We weren't there for serious birding, though I couldn't help but notice a number of Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus). We walked about on the cool sand as the sun set, picking up a few moonstones, a fish vertebra, a shell or two. Finally, I lay down and stared up at the waxing moon, trying to clear my mind of everything but the sounds of the sea, thinking only of Panthalassa. And the thoughts that came, again and again, were that I was hearing the world (Ur) breathing, there in the advance and retreat of the waves. And that I know so little, and have come to this whole affair much too late in life — witchcraft, I mean. That last part is surely true, but I have to not allow it to lead me to despair. Humility, but not despair. I do what I can do. Anyway, it was a beautiful evening. Perfect. We got our feet wet in the icy waters of Block Island Sound. Near dark, as we were heading back to the car, I spotted a Fowler's toad (Bufo fowleri), and soon we'd spotted five or six of them, all adults. A little farther down the road, we heard the call of a Northern green frog (Rana clamitans melanota) from the salt marshes. We sat in the car a few minutes, just listening to the frogs and birds. There are photos behind the cut, by the way.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at Iggys, then drove through Wickford on the way back to Providence. Back home, we watched Anthony Hopkins' rather Lynchian Slipstream (2007), with Hopkins, Christian Slater, John Turturro, Lana Antonova, and many, many others. A rather fine film, and the only way I can hope to try to describe it is to ask you to imagine Lost Highway crossed with Dark City crossed with The Sixth Sense. And then there was bed, and sweat, but that's okay, because we awoke to this cooler weather.

Moonstone Beach )


And before I forget (again), Spooky's birthday is coming up fast (24th of June), and here's the button thingy for her Amazon wish list, should anyone be so inclined.

My Amazon.com Wish List
greygirlbeast: (chi (intimate distance))
One of the marvelous things about having two consecutive days off is, on that second day I can blog about anything I want, and it doesn't have to have anything to do with writing, unless I decide that it will. For example, the fact that Spooky made toasted slices of raisin-cinnamon bread with cream cheese for breakfast. It's as relevant in this moment as anything else.

I can, for example, take another moment to mention Panthalassa, which is the name I have chosen to signify the sea "goddess" whom I shall use to encompass all sea goddesses and all non-anthropomorphic features of the sea. In paleogeography, Panthalassa ("all seas") is the name given the world-wide ocean that surrounded the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea. In the NeoWiccan/Neopagan system I'm working on, Panthalassa will function as one of my primary godforms, and will never be given any single physical form. I arbitrarily refer to Panthalassa as "she," and even as "goddess," but, in truth, Panthalassa is by definition without gender (though she contains all genders and all forms of reproduction), as she is without any single form. I would be equally justified in giving her the form of a trilobite, a stone lying on a beach, a water molecule, a kelp forest, a seal, a great white shark, a sailing ship, a hurricane, or a mermaid's purse. She is equally all these things. Within her is contained all true and useful myths of sea deities and beings: the Oceanids, Poseidon, Amphitrite, Oceanus, Tethys, Triton, Proteus, Rán, Ægir, the nine daughters of Ægir, Pontus, Nereus, Doris, the numerous Nereids, Varuna, Manawydan, Manannán mac Lir, Arnapkapfaaluk, Idliragijenget, Nix, Susanoo, Bangpūtys, Tangaroa, Yemaja, Neptune, Phorcys, Ceto, et al. Panthalassa, though not factual, is true, in that she is the avatar for my reverence of the sea, the focal point of my devotion and meditation. From space, the world is blue, and blue is the colour of Panthalassa, but so is black and all shades of brown and grey and green and the white of sea foam and clouds and water spouts. She is as colourless as she is colourful. It's an idea I've been working on for some time, and it seems to satisfy my needs for a central, infinitely faceted godform tied to something which evokes awe in me (magick being the willful evocation of awe). All life on Earth comes from Panthalassa, and all rain, snow, all rivers and swamps and marshes and deltas, the act of sedimentation, salt, plate tectonics, and so on, all these things are merely expressions of Panthalassa. Panthalassa is indifferent, non-conscious, unfathomable, and endlessly seductive. The choice of name was made largely for personal aesthetic and symbolic reasons; Mother Hydra would work just as well. So far, it's only an idea, an appealing, functional idea filled with contradiction, but it's a start.

As for yesterday, a good day off. Spooky and I drove up to Roswell, to the Phoenix and the Dragon, the witchcraft shop we've used for years now, because we knew we'd likely not have another chance before the move to Providence (not counting today, we have about 26 days until the move). Spooky got me a new hematite ring to replace the last one I broke, and a pretty little Pierre Shale ammonite, Jeltzkytes nodosus I think. Oh, and a night light for the bathroom in the new apartment, translucent porcelain with the moon and a mermaid. The traffic up Peachtree and back down Piedmont was awful, but the day was cloudy and not too warm. I packed four boxes. My tooth hurt less than the day before. I read Chapter 8 of The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey ("Ghost Busters," mostly about the Duke University primate origins conference in the early '90s). After dinner, we watched two more episodes from Season One of Millennium (1-17 and 1-18, "Walkabout" and "Lamentation"). Later, there was a bit of Second Life, and when we went to bed about 1:30 ayem, I read McElligot's Pool to Spooky, which is unusual, because she usually reads it to me. I got a remarkable 8 hrs. sleep. That was yesterday, pretty much.

Oh, two screencaps from SL last night, courtesy [livejournal.com profile] omegamorningsta. The first one should put Sirenia Digest subscribers in mind of "Flotsam." Behind the cut:

Omega and Nareth )


And speaking of Sirenia Digest #29, my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] scarletboi for the exchange yesterday on "Regarding Attrition and Severance." One of my greatest fears about letting people read the piece was that it would be misinterpreted as mere "torture porn," that they would miss the Cosmicism that is critical to understanding the story's intent. He wrote, "I'm glad you chose to share it. It was graphic and horrific (in the original meaning) and brutal. But it was also beautifully written and deeply involving. To be honest, I probably shouldn't have read it until my current work is finished, because I have a feeling it's going to affect the mood of it...I understand the worry. The narration is indifferent enough to be almost clinical, academic. If it took more glee in the proceedings it might edge toward the torture-porn of Saw or Hostel. But I think it came across more elegantly than that, and I hope other readers pick up on the cues as well." Too which I can only add — me, too.

Whoops. I went and fucking wrote about writing. Ah, well. Blame the neglectful platypus for not yet having brought me coffee.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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