greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yes. I am on a Kate Bush kick.

It's a beautiful autumn-summer day out there, sunny and blue skies, the temperature at 70F. Nice. Have to get Outside today. Getting out of the house is mandatory on a day like this. I'm doing a good job, actually, of not keeping myself cooped up.

At 4 a.m., not sleeping (despite the meds), I was on Rift talking with a friend in Alaska, and he said it was midnight and the sun hadn't set. In Providence, the sky was just beginning to lighten. It was a marvelously surreal moment, especially considering I was doped and half asleep (but only half). By the way, I want to actually calculate the distance across the part of Telara we can see, the size of the landmass north to south and east to west. I don't think many people have paused to think how small it must be. At first, I estimated it might be the size of Rhode Island (37 miles x 48 miles long, 1,214 sq. mi.), but I'm beginning to think it may only be half that size or less. Spooky's worked out a way to get a firm estimate, which we will do this evening (because we are pathetic nerds). A fantasy MMORPG will be truly fucking amazing when it can offer a continent the size of, oh, say Australia.

Where was I?

Yesterday was as tedious as I'd expected. I didn't actually make any progress with the galleys for Two Worlds and In Between (and I'm not going to explain why, because it's a tedious explanation that's all about editing PDFs and Adobe software and me being a psuedo-Luddite). But things did get done. Vince sent me the initial pencils for his "Figurehead" illustration. I did some more tweaking on the ms. for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and sent the Really and Truly Final Manuscript away to my editor. I spent about an hour on the immensely tedious and long guest questionnaire for Readercon 22. I read "Figurehead" and "Untitled 35" aloud to Kathryn, and we marked the pages red. I talked with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy about what ravens who might be nuns would....

Sorry. Lost my train of thought. Spooky and I were talking about Houdini.

Last night, we did Kindernacht with hot dogs and Tom McGrath's Megamind (2010), which was really a lot of fun, but not as good as Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's similar Despicable Me (also 2010). Of course, one is not supposed to talk about whether or not Kid Night movies are any good, so long as they're fun. We picked the DVD up at Acme Video, since it was an excuse to go Outside. Also, Acme Video gives away free atomic fireballs. After the movie, we did, of course, play Rift. Mostly it was rp for me, though there was also a major incursion upon White Fall and the Chancel of Labors by the minions of Crucia, and Selwyn and Miisya helped to repel the bad guys.

Yesterday, I read the title story of Johnathan Thomas' Tempting Providence (Hippocampus Press). To be sure, it's a weird tale, but it's also a poignant travelogue/walking tour devoted to a finer and simpler and far more interesting Providence than has survived to the present day. I also read "A new unintan horned brontothere from Wyoming and evolution of canine size and sexual dimorphism in the Brontotheriidae (Perissodactyla: Mammalia)" in JVP. Speaking of reading, kittens, tomorrow I'll be announcing the June selection for Aunt Beast's Book Club.

---

On this day in 2007, I wrote:

I have been worrying a lot lately about my writing. It started when I reread Silk and looked through Tales of Pain and Wonder for the first time in ages. Sure, I'm a much, much better writer now, but is what I'm writing inherently better than what I was writing then? More importantly, is it about something more than telling stories? Almost ten years after it's original publication, I see lots of flaws with Silk I couldn't see in 1996 or 1998, and parts of it make me groan, but it has something to say, something it says, and for that I will likely always love it. This is even more true of ToPaW. It's true of The Dreaming. But is the same true of Threshold? Low Red Moon? I think so. And I know it's true of Murder of Angels, but I'm not so sure about Daughter of Hounds, even though I also know it's my best-written novel to date. One may write well — one may write exquisitely, even — and have nothing at all to say. Writing "The Ape's Wife" last month, this all seemed suddenly very important to me again. I fear that in the rush to meet deadlines and write enough to keep all the bills paid, somewhere along the way, I may have forgotten that it is not enough to tell a good story, or even to create characters who ring true. These are necessary accomplishments, but they are surely not sufficient. Art requires more than mere craft, more even than talent. It requires meaning. Heading into The Dinosaurs of Mars and Joey Lafaye, these thoughts will be my Beatrice (so to speak). There's something I feel I might have drifted away from, and I want...no, I need to get back to it again.

So, four years later, I can say I found an antidote for this anxiety and these worries, which was writing The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, no matter how much the effort has exhausted me. Also, it should be noted that, in June 2007, I was still suffering from the trauma of having written that unmentionably shitty novelization for Robert Zemeckis' butchering of Beowulf (2007)*. That Mordorean death-march ordeal (fuck you, Roger Avery) left me unable to write long-form for the better part of a year, until I began The Red Tree in April 2008. By the way, I'm still waiting on The Dinosaurs of Mars to reveal itself to me, and have come to accept that Joey Lafaye will likely never happen. You may always think of Beowulf as the novelization that murdered Joey Lafaye. At least the Beowulf gig sort of paid well. And at least you didn't need 3-D glasses to read the book. Seamus Heaney, forgive me.

So...now, today.

* And as bad as my novelization was, the movie was at least a hundred times more awful.
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Bad Lortab hangover this morning. The world is slick and gooey, and my stomach wants to rebel. Spooky woke at 6:30 ayem to find the bathroom flooded and water pouring in through the ceiling. As she was trying to mop it up, one of the guys from downstairs knocked. His bathroom, which is directly below ours, was also flooding. This morning, we're really not sure where the water originated from. Not upstairs. And we have to hope there won't be more of it when Hanna actually gets here tonight or tomorrow. So far, we've had only the first outer rain bands. Naturally, I slept through all the drama.

Yesterday, despite the heat (86F inside), I wrote a more than sufficient 1,606 words on Chapter Five of The Red Tree. I have decided, if I can just do 1,500 words a day on the book most days between now at the beginning of November, all will be well. It can't be half as unpleasant as last year's Forced March of Beowulf, since this is a book that I actually want to write (and I will try not to think about the fact that it will sell only a small fraction of the copies that the Beowulf novelization sold, much less will it be translated into umpteen million languages like Beowulf).

This morning, I have not even had breakfast, my stomach is a stormy sea, and all I seem to desire is whiskey and a pack of Camel's.

I did not leave the house yesterday. I'll try to get out this evening. Tuna sandwiches for dinner last night. Then unspeakable frustration regarding terraforming in Howards End. All I want are tunnels. Is that too bloody much to ask? Tunnels. Vacuities in the earth. I hope people in the rp group are keeping up with the notecards, because I've been sending quite a lot of them out. I'm getting a lot of good character proposals. So, thank you for that.

Some decent rp in SL last night, when I could no longer endure the tedium of not-building, so thank you, Joah. Truly, my opinion of Second Life...no, wait. Let me rephrase this. Truly, my opinion of the people who infest Second Life, preventing it from realizing its potential, has dropped to an all-time low. I've been struggling with this great idiot beast since May '07, because I see how SL could be used. Of course, ultimately, the Lindens are at fault, because they surely encourage the multiverse's overpopulation by morons who only want a chat room with a visual interface. What does it matter to Linden Labs, so long as people come. Any people will do. It doesn't matter how they use the place, so long as they do use the place. I suspect that Howard's End will be my last attempt at making SL work. It either will, or it won't, and if it doesn't, I'll nuke the sim and go back to whatever my life was before I slipped into that thunderous mess. Yes, this ayem, I have only pure hatred for most of SL, but for the handful of determined artists and writers and actors who are trying so hard to make it something worth our while, I still have sympathy. Rest assured, Howards End will never be a self-congratulatory, wankfest social club for those without a First Life.

My left arm, the one that I used to break my fall into Lionshead Chasm, it quite sore and stiff this ayem.

Oh, I registered Nebari.net for another two years yesterday. However, that was mostly to stop the domain from being squatted. Nothing's been done with the site since August 2007, and later this month I'm going pull the plug. I'm tired of paying $20 a month to keep it up and running. I fully intended to do this a year ago, and just never got around to it.

And I think that's quite enough for now. Maybe if I stick a fork in my eye...
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Until yesterday, there had been a long lull in my "fits," these seizures that have so disrupted my life (and work). Indeed, we'd begun to think that, just maybe, they were being triggered by trichothecene mycotoxins in the "black mold" (Stachybotrys) growing in various parts of the old house in Atlanta. But late yesterday, there was a very severe seizure, the first since May 19th, I believe. To my knowledge, I was nowhere near any growths of Stachybotrys (the new place is extremely clean and mold free), so I guess we go back to the PNES diagnosis. I ought to go to a doctor here in Providence, but I still have my meds from my doctor in Birmingham, and I have neither the time nor the energy to waste on this foolishness just now.

All Sirenia Digest subscribers should, by this point, have a copy of #31 in their inboxes. If not, please let Spooky know. My thanks for the kind comments to yesterday's entry, regarding the two new stories. I wouldn't mind seeing more comments. (hint, hint)

Yesterday, I wrote 1,245 words on The Red Tree, beginning Chapter Two, which I am racing to finish by month's end. Just now, I'm aiming for a minimum of 1,200 words/day. Every day. At least, unlike the "Mordorian death march" that produced the Beowulf novelization last year, these are my own words, and my own story, and I am free to take it where it needs to go.

I know better than to say "never again." But, still, I am constantly saying "never again" and then eating my words. Yesterday, on the strength of my "signature review," I was offered a regular gig writing reviews for Publisher's Weekly, and I'm taking it, primarily because a) I need the money and b) the reviews will be published anonymously. And, hey, it might even be fun. Who knows?

Also yesterday, Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) was kind enough to go over A is for Alien a second time, this time in galley form, and many errors were caught. I think the ARCs have already been printed and gone out to reviewers.

Yesterday is only the second day since coming to Rhode Island that I managed not to leave the house even once all day long. It's not something I will make a habit of doing, or not doing, or whatever. It just happened. Spooky made egg salad sandwiches for dinner, and we played Unspeakable Words, which really is a sort of anti-Scrabble. It's silly, but a great deal of fun. She beat me two games out of three. I hung four pictures and a plaque. It's starting to look like people live here. Much later, I had about an hour and a half of good rp in Second Life. Life after the fall is proving disquieting, horrific, and somewhat exhilarating. Nareth (well, Labyrinth) had a wonderful showdown with a cocky, prying Catholic priest, and he made the mistake of treating her as though he were facing some demon or common vampire. He was actually left gibbering on the floor, and had to drag himself from the building. I let him go. Where's the sport in killing wounded animals? The Latin did him no good whatsoever. He should have tried Sumerian.

Looks rainy out. That would be nice....
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I am so very, very not awake this morning. I think I managed only about six hours sleep last night, and I was already sleep deprived. Sleep depraved. Whatever. It all adds up to the same damn thing.

Well, I figure the "SD = Sirenia Digest or Strange Drama?" poll of day before yesterday has probably garnered about all the votes it's going to, and I'm not sure I can draw any conclusions from the results. A couple of people checked more than one box, and I'm not sure that everyone who voted is actually a subscriber. Also, since there are only about sixty votes, the sampling is probably skewed by one factor or another. But we have 31 in favour of Strange Drama, 15 who say Sirenia Digest, and 15 indifferent (these numbers do not adjust for those who voted twice or for those who are not actually subscribers). Were I to take these numbers at face value, I'd say there's a pretty strong preference for the change, almost 2 to 1, which increases to 3:1 if I count the indifferent votes as default votes for change. However, since there is so much doubt, and since I was very surprised that so many people voted to keep the original title (go figure), I think that's what we'll do for now.

As unwriting days go, yesterday could have been much worse. I think just knowing I was so near the end of this mess made it easier to bear. I actually cut nothing much away, and added 748 words. It almost felt like writing. Almost. Though I declare today the end of the Mordorian Death March, as nearly all the necessary alterations have been made to that manuscript spawned by the Forced and New Consolidated marches of February and January, there are still a couple of nips and tucks that have not been made, because my time is their time, and there's still the CEM (copy-edited manuscript) to be dealt with farther along. But these things will likely constitute no more than a couple days work at some point in June. It's time to put this thing behind me and move along. In only a few more hours, the pelican will be cut from about my neck. And the first order of business is a short rest, just three or four days, before I get back to writing and projects that have languished for months.

As for the rest of yesterday, we had a walk in Candler Park, where Spooky ([livejournal.com profile] humglum) discovered a mummified cat skull with part of the right foreleg attached. My guess is a car hit the poor thing, then a dog ate most of it, after which our present drought led to the mummification. Even the ears and a few whiskers are preserved. Spooky claimed it for her own and, even as I type, is sterilizing the skull so she can begun removing the desiccated flesh. She's going to post photos later. So that was cool, though we were appalled to see that the frelling golf course was being watered despite severe drought conditions. Anyway, afterwards we went to the newly reopened and remodeled location of Fellini's Pizza on McLendon Avenue. While the food's still just as good, I very much miss the funkiness of the old place. Some of us like eating our pizza in what was once obviously a gas station. There's something atrociously sterile about the place now, a cafeteria/fast food feel that does nothing for my appetite, despite the fact the pizza hasn't changed. Ah, well. Whatever. There's still the Peachtree and Ponce locations. Back home, I wrote what is probably my last part of "The Lay of Inwë and Leóhtwen" (for now), so that [livejournal.com profile] setsuled could finish it up (for now). Which got me almost all the way to midnight, when we decided to watched Kenneth Branagh's 1989 adaptation of Henry V.

This has always been one of my favourite pieces of Shakespearean cimena, and there is, indeed, a lot here to admire, from a baby Christian Bale (Falstaff's boy) to Branagh's superb delivery of the St. Crispin's Day speech, to Emma Thompson's Katherine. But. I was surprised to find myself, towards the end of the film, annoyed at all the "god is on our side" nonsense. I think that I have simply reached a point where I can no longer abide nationalism or such arrogance and superstition, whether it's coming from Shakespeare's Henry or our own President Asshole. I shall take this as a positive thing, a sign of personal growth and move along. Of course, there are those who note that Shakespeare's actual intent might have been anti-war, as the thieves Pistol, Bardolph, and Nym seem to function primarily to undermine Henry's authority.

I think the moon will be 98% full tonight. A blue moon in May. Spooky and I should mark this moon in some fashion. Anyway, time to unmake the doughnuts (does this mean I get doughnut black holes?).
greygirlbeast: (mordor1)
As I see the Mordorian Death March more or less wrapping up tomorrow evening, then so too should the tag-team Tolkien fic between me and [livejournal.com profile] setsuled wrap up...at least for now. Truthfully, I've had more actual fun writing this piece than I've had writing anything since...I don't know. At least since I finished Daughter of Hounds, I think. I hope that some of you have, in turn, enjoyed it, and that you've been following [livejournal.com profile] setsuled's part as well as mine. At the very least, I hope I have not bored you. I have no doubt it has kept me sane through two weeks of unwriting. I have a feeling that we will both be returning to this story, Setsuled and I, in the future. For one thing, I've come to understand that the story of the shieldmaiden Sindeseldaonna's ill-fated journey into Mordor may only be the prologue of a much larger tale, that of the elf Inwë Isilrá and her quest to find and redeem her lost lover. Also, it should be obvious that this last part owes something of a debt (oddly enough) to the work of Mark Z. Danielewski, as well.

And this is as good a time as any to thank Cory Doctorow for his essay in the May 2007 issue of Locus magazine, "In Praise of Fanfic." I am especially taken with his view of fanfic as "active reading." I quote:

Writers can't ask readers not to interpret their work. You can't enjoy a novel that you haven't interpreted – unless you model the author's characters in your head, you can't care about what they do and why they do it. And once readers model a character, it's only natural that readers will take pleasure in imagining what a character might do offstage, to noodle around with it. This isn't disrespect: it's active reading.

At any rate, here's what is probably my last bit of it for now (behind the cut); one more section by Setsuled will follow shortly:

Beneath the Plateau of Gorgoroth )
greygirlbeast: (white2)
There's not much good to be said for yesterday, unwriting wise. I did add about 300 words at some point, because three thumbs are apparently better than two. I am fairly certain that the Mordorian Death March at last and finally ends tomorrow. There will be aftershocks, to be sure, and I will deal with them as they arise, but I will be free to get some rest and then move on to the work that has been languishing — The Dinosaurs of Mars, the "Onion" screenplay, Joey Lafaye, etc. So, today as I snip and cut and disfigure I will at least be doing so full in the knowledge that the surgery is almost done.

Though it seems to be taking me forever to read, I'm very much enjoying the Jay Parini Steinbeck biography. I was especially pleased with this bit I read last night — What is the common touch that it is supposed to be so goddamned desirable? The common touch is usually an inept, stupid, clumsy, unintelligent touch. It is only the uncommon touch that amounts to a damn. (John Steinbeck, 1949) Over the years (and sometimes in this journal) I have lamented that I do not have the common touch and never shall; these three sentences make me feel a little better about it. Also, we finished Lemony Snicket's The Austere Academy, which I think is my second favourite of his so far, after The Reptile Room.

I am enormously flattered that [livejournal.com profile] docbrite has seen fit to name her new baby corn snake, in part, after Deacon Silvey. As for her long entry of this morning, I don't think she would want me commenting upon it. I will say only that there's a good reason I've spent many years trying to convince would-be fiction writers that there are hundreds of much easier ways to be miserable, that the life of a writer is neither romantic nor glamorous, and that garbage men and office temps have it better than most professional novelists. The publishing houses of NYC have always been a harsh mistress, but since the 1970s or so, they have become another sort of beast altogether, one that chews first, spits wherever it pleases, and asks questions latter. But this is turning into a commentary, which I already said it wouldn't do.

Oh, and Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor has ruled that the Harry Potter books will remain in Gwinnett County school libraries. Honestly, someone needs to adjust poor Laura Mallory's meds.

---

After taking my rest at the edge of the deep rift or fissure where Suregait forced me to pause in my blind retreat from [livejournal.com profile] setsuled and his orcs, when the sun was rising again, we rode east, hoping to discover the end of this mighty crack in the brittle skin of Gorgoroth or at least an unguarded goblin bridge across. But we searched that way to no avail, and shortly after noon turned and retraced our path westwards. By late afternoon we still had found no crossing, but I did locate a ledge, wide enough for a horse, leading down into the fissure. I thought perhaps we might have no choice but to make our crossing by entering the crack and hoping that a similar ledge could be located on the far side, the route by which we might manage our exit back to the surface. But this seems now to have been only my latest deadly error in judgment, for we are lost, and at least an entire night and day must have come and gone since entering the fissure.

After searching in vain for a corresponding, ascending path, I led Suregait along a narrow side branch or, were this a river and not but a dry crack in the world, I might say tributary, which seemed, for a time, to rise, bearing us up from those black depths. But too soon it proved a dead end, pinching out with at least two hundred feet still remaining before we might have regained the surface. By then the sun was well down, and it seems that neither the light of star nor moon can reach us here. I do not believe I have ever known or imagined such a profound absence of light. I am writing this by the stub of a candle from Suregait's saddle bag, where I also found my flint. When this wick is gone, there shall be no more light until the dawn.

I believe this rift must have been opened during the final eruption of Orodruin, when the One Ring was cast into the Forge of Sauron and unmade. It is a labyrinth, Inwë, and I have passed entrances to what I take to be ancient tunnels, leading yet deeper into the rotten flesh of Mordor. I paused at one and listened, thinking I heard the distant sound of running water. My thirst had grown so great that I almost followed that path wherever it might lead me, but Suregait blocked my way, though her thirst must also be terrible. I hear things in the darkness. I fear I am not alone in this dreadful pit. I was mad to take this road. I was mad to ever have come within twice a hundred leagues of Mordor or to have accepted this impossible quest. And if I was not mad then, I must be mad now. Mad with fear and with thirst. And with guilt and doubt, as well, for I can not conceive why Radagast would not have rejoined me, save his shame at my deserting the imprisoned Easterlings. I will stop writing here, Inwë. I must conserve what little remains of the candle. I may need it farther along. I will try to sleep now and hope to dream of the shining Vales of Anduin, of brave horesmen with green shields emblazoned with golden suns and flying green banners with fine white horses painted upon them.

---
greygirlbeast: (chi2)
As I drew out my scalpel yesterday, my red pen and yellow highlighter, and began to type and slice at the pliable red meat of paragraphs and sentences, I realized just how raw my nerves have become. I've tried to make light of it, here in the journal, but the truth is that it has worn me down, this unwriting. I need to be finished, and I need rest, and I need to be writing stories that are my stories. These are the three things that will make me better, these three in that order. I am amazed that I was anything like good company on Saturday. At dinner, I did admit to being "miserable," but I attributed it more to Atlanta and less to the unwriting, when, at the moment, it's actually about half and half. But, yes. My nerves are raw, frayed, shot. I'm jumping at my own shadow, as they say, when my own shadow is usually my One True Companion. And it is not yet over, and I have only so much say in when the end will come. I'm still aiming for Wednesday evening, but I also know there will be more after that. I might not be entirely free of this affair until July. But I have learned my lesson. And I should say that yesterady was not all unwriting, strictly speaking. I did write two new scenes, 603 words total, though it seemed a bit like adding extra noses or a couple of spare astragali.

Today, I will do what I can do, and break as little as I may.

We had a good walk yesterday evening, through Dellwood Park, and the park just west of Dellwood (the name of which presently escapes me). There were lightning bugs and bats and robins, and we saw a chipmunk. Most of the smoke had dissipated, but there was still an odd reddish halo about the waxing moon. Even with Ponce de Leon so near, the air is good and smells clean in amongst all those old trees.

---

Inwë, this is my dream. Or as little of it as I can bring myself to admit. This is my dream. I stand alone in some dark, deep place, some cavern or well or mine secreted far below this scorched land. I am myself, and yet I am become another, as well. Though I stand in the glow of unseen fires, rising up all about me is a muttering, impenetrable darkness. There are faces peering forth from that dark — fell creatures that once served the Necromancer, as Sauron was known long ago in Mirkwood. They have died, all of them, and in my dream I have called them back into being by black sorceries which, mercifully, I can not ever recall upon waking. They are beasts and goblin, Uruk and troll and Easterling, men of Haradwaith and Umbar, the creeping daughters of Delduthling, werewolves and worse things still, and they have come up from death and unimaginable gulfs to walk the world again, to do as I bid them. On my right hand I wear a beautiful ring, I know that it is one of the Nine. I stand on a dais, beside a throne carved from out the native rock, and on that throne sits the man from the banks of the Limlaith, though he wears a leather mask that me might appear more like an orc than a man. He speaks to the assembled host, telling them in many tongues to bow down before me, as there is again a priestess of Melkor in the world. And I feel such terrible joy.

I hold out my hand, that the glory of the ring might be seen by all, and then I am only myself again, and I am remembering some bright day before I crossed the spikes of Ered Glamoth into Mordor. I can not say where I am, but there is green grass and sunlight through the leaves. The brown wizard, Aiwendil, is walking with me, and all about us are birds of every hue and shape and their songs fill the air.

"You will behold many awful sights," he says as we walk. "And you will listen with your eyes when you would do well to listen with your heart." This is my dream, Inwë. And in my dream, I watch Radagast enter a pool girded about by tall oaks, and he is bleeding, and his blood turns the water to pitch. I stand at the pool's edge, and he tells me that even when the worst has come to pass and there is only night, even then I shall not be entirely undone. "You were brought back from the wolves for a purpose," he says, before the bloodstained water pulls him down and Aiwendil has passed from my view and from Middle-earth. And again I stand at the left hand of the Kinslayer and wear the ring once worn by the Black Easterling, Khamûl of the Nazgul, and that assemblage of nightmares kneels before me. This is my dream, and now I have put it down on paper. The sun is almost risen.

---

Okay, [livejournal.com profile] setsuled. Tag. You're it. I have mutilation to attend to.
greygirlbeast: (mordor1)
A really shitty unwriting day, about which I shall say more tomorrow. Meanwhile, to help ease my nerves, I figured I'd add another bit to the Mordor fic, fictionalizing my frustrations. But this one is long and I'm stowing it behind a cut, for them what do not care for shieldmaidens and the like:

---

the plot thickens...or something )

---

Okay. Time for leftover birthday cake and Lemony Snicket...
greygirlbeast: (decemberists)
The smoke came back this morning, and we awoke to the stench of distant fires. Behind the cut is a photo of downtown Atlanta taken sometime this morning. My eyes burn, my nose is running, and I'm coughing. Clearly, we have to stop sleeping with the windows open until the fires at last burn themselves out, whenever that might be.

Waiting to Inhale )


As birthdays after -0 go, I think yesterday was probably pretty damn good. Certainly, it's the best birthday I've had since 2004. There was no unwriting yesterday. We met Jim and Jennifer (the Jennifer I've been calling "Hannah," because I did not wish her to be confused with a certain lying, incompetent, backstabbing psycho bitch who wears the same name) at Hollywood 24 for Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. We were lucky and got into the 4:45 digital screening. Spooky and I both loved it. I'm not going to go on about it, but I will say I was pleased that, unlike PotC: Dead Man's Chest, great swaths of this film did not seem to exist solely for the benefit of a videogame tie-in. Afterwards, the four of us headed to L5P to meet Byron for dinner at the Corner Tavern. The food's not as good as The Vortex, but there are far fewer people gumming up the joint. Then it was home for birthday cake (German chocolate, by request, with vanilla ice cream). So, yeah, a good birthday, and my thanks to the following folks who helped make -03 not so painful: Jada and Katharine, Jennifer Zawiki (yet another Jennifer!), Trompe Setsuled, Christine Ashton, David Kirkpatrick, Josh Muller, Chloe Yates, Rachel Keane, and everyone who offered hisherits condolences and well wishes. I know there are other people to be thanked, and as soon as I know who they are, I'll post a second thank-you list. You guys are, indeed, the draddest.

Late last night, we read more of Lemony Snicket's The Austere Academy.

I think the Mordorian Death March will officially conclude on the evening of Wednesday, May 30, and then I may have my life back and Spooky can go back to making dolls. As for the "Lay of Sindeseldaonna," this impromtu Tolkien fanfic that's been occurring between Setsuled and me, I may collect it all together, edit it and add footnotes, and plug it into an upcoming issue of Sirenia Digest, sort of an extra, supplement, freebie sort of a thing. What began as an extended metaphor has taken on a life of its own, begging for a backstory, and I have to say it's one of the things that's helped to get me through the last two+ insufferable weeks of compositional butchery. I have a feeling the Death March may be ending before we find the end of the story...unless I'm mistaken.

---

I am writing this from the scant cover afforded by a rocky gully, barely deep enough to conceal myself and Suregait. All night, we rode north across the desolate Plateau of Gorgoroth. Once, we came upon a group of orcs — a hunting party, unless I miss my guess. They gave chase, but they were all on foot and orc fiend has not yet been born that can run down a daughter of the Maeras. Suregait bore me safely away from them. We must be much nearer the caldera that was once called Mount Doom, Orodruin, Sauron's Forge, as the air is hazy and stinks of brimstone. The land here is oddly buckled, and in many places we must undertake long detours to avoid great rifts that seem to plunge hundreds of feet into the earth. We are too near the poisoned black heart of this land, Inwë, and if only my eyes could glimpse the Greenwood of Rhovanion for the briefest moment, this shadow should be lifted from off my soul.

Towards dawn, I heard the shriek of a hawk, and looking up, spotted what must certainly have been good Radagast soaring high above me. A moment later, I saw a great company of orcs to the southwest, and I was near enough to see that they were led by a man on horseback. Some of the orcs rode wargs. Unless I miss my guess, the man is [livejournal.com profile] setsuled, born of Rhohan and become a traitor now to his own people and all the freefolk of Middle-earth. But there was wind and much grey dust swirling in the air, and by great luck and Radagast's warning did we escape into the cover of this ravine undetected. But the man and his orcs made camp very nearby, so for now we are trapped here and waiting. If our luck holds and they move along during the day, I shall continue on my course towards the Vale. And if I should be discovered, I must trust that Suregait will bear me safely away. I will not be recaptured by the bastard, Inwë, even if I must turn my own blade against me. There is so much more I would write, but I am weary and need to rest. I shall trust Suregait to warn of the enemy's approach.

---

And I've updated Sindeseldaonna's map (behind the cut). Her progress since she was captured, up to yesterday's entry, is marked in green.

Map of Mordor )


I've learned from Chris Ewen (he of Future Bible Heroes) that 99th Mind is shooting a video to accompany, "Twelve Nights After," my contribution to the forthcoming Hidden Variable album. I have long been an admirer of 99th Mind, so I am very excited at the news. Also, I owe lots and lots of people on MySpace replies of one sort of another. Just as soon as the unwriting is done and I shake the volcanic dust of Mordor from my clothes....
greygirlbeast: (blindchi)
So, I slept after all. Maybe next year. I read from the Steinbeck biography until 4:45 a.m., at which point I decided I'd only be in a lousier mood than usual all day today if I didn't sleep. Here in Atlanta, the smoky skies are with us again, and I see that there's now smoke as far north as Tennessee and as far west as Mississippi. I'm trying not to think about the 400,000 acres already lost to the fire, or all the alligators and turtles and snakes and pitcher plants and anhingas and black bears that have been incinerated since that power pole fell in Waycross on April 16th and began this conflagration. I'm trying to think of the fire as a force for good, a source of regrowth, renewal, etc.. And I'm trying not to breathe, but you know how that goes.

I lied about not working yesterday. Well, maybe I cannot call it a lie since when I wrote I wasn't going to spend the day in acts of unwriting and mutilation I did mean it. However, during the bath my resolve faltered, and I ended up spending the afternoon with keyboard and scalpel and sutures. I only took a section of the Pectoralis major and the heart's right ventricle. And who needs that stuff anyway?

A good Kid Night though. Byron showed up about 7:30, and after dinner we watched Ryuhei Kitamura's Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), which was really just all sorts of awesome. Douglas Gordon, Captain of the Gôten (played by Don Frye) is my new man hero. Then we watched the episode of MST3K where the crew is forced to sit through Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), and the three of us laughed until we were ill and dizzy.

---

I have parted from Radagast. While the wizard slept, I mounted Suregait and we rode swiftly along a steep mountain pass I was fortunate enough the espy, west of the Daemon Angren, and so there was no need to approach the watchers at Nargroth. There were no encounters with goblins or Uruks. We are now at the southern limits of Gorgoroth, and I have made camp. From the moon, I see it is almost midnight. I could ride no farther this night. Likely, Radagast watches me from somewhere on high, as a hawk, and he may yet summon the eagles and try to force me to forsake the quest. I can not say, Inwë. Perhaps I once again have made the wrong decision, but I knew he would not allow me to continue. Regardless, the mountains are at my back now, and the blasted plateau of ash stretches out before me. With Suregait, I have some hope of reaching my destination in only another four days or so, if we ride hard. I will sleep as little as I may. The sleep only brings dreams I do not wish to revisit, anyway.

But I know the man [livejournal.com profile] setsuled pursues me. I do not know how, nor where he might now be, but I know that...no, I will not write that down. I shall eat a bit of the lembas given me by Radagast, and I shall try to rest in the manner taught me by the elves, eyes wide open, for I am too near the crater of Orodruin to shut my eyes. It is said the mountain rent itself all asunder on the day when the ring was unmade, but in my dreams it remains a lake of fire seething below vaulted arches of stone. In my dreams, [livejournal.com profile] setsuled Kinslayer leads me down ancient stairs to those flames and reveals to me his dark plan for the world.

---

Okay. I need to find some food. And coffee. And then get dressed. I leave you with this Keith Olbermann clip, which better expresses my dismay and anger at the invertebrates'...er, congressional Democrats' decision re: the continued funding of President Asshole's war against Iraq than I could myself express.

greygirlbeast: (twilek1)
On this day thirty years ago, Star Wars opened in US theaters. I was twelve, which was probably the perfect age for Star Wars. I think what I find most amazing now is that is was made for a mere $11 million dollars, whereas the last of the six films was made for $113 million dollars. Also on this day, but forty years ago, [livejournal.com profile] docbrite was born. Normally, I would not reveal an age like that, but I know it's something Poppy's exceedingly happy about, reaching the the big four-oh. For my part, I'd gladly go back to 1994 and the gentle age of 29, thank you and please. Anyway, Happy frelling goddamn birthday, Poppy and Star Wars.*

I think eBay has finally managed to make of itself more of a hindrance than Spooky and I can tolerate. The final straw was this new business about requiring you to use their photo-uploading/hosting thingy, and charging 15¢ for every photo beyond the first one. Likely, we will hold one last auction sometime next week, the hand-corrected and "illuminated" copy of the Gauntlet hardback of Silk (which we've been meaning to auction since early March), and then part ways with eBay for good. I don't yet know what we'll be using instead. Spooky's taken with Etsy, but I'm not (and they don't seem to allow auctions, at any rate). Alas, eBay, we hardly knew ye.

Subscribers should have received Sirenia Digest #18 yesterday evening. Comments welcome.

I don't think I have the stomach for butchery today. Yesterday, I cut and hacked and spliced. Today, I may take a bath and wait for Byron, who's joining us for a Toho Kid Night. I do not often abuse the so-called "privilege" of being "my own boss," but today, I believe I shall make an exception. I'm tired of intentionally breaking things I worked so hard to build. It can wait until tomorrow or Sunday, this unwriting business. Spinning gold to straw. Well, no, not gold. Not even silver. I'm not quite that much of an egomaniac. But you get the picture.

---

I did not awaken until the sun was setting. Suregait was near, but there was no sign of Radagast. A dry wind was blowing through our rocky eyrie here at the southeastern end of the Mithrim Spur, and at first I did not recall the dreams that haunted my sleep. Would that they had never come back to me. I rose and started a small fire, and as I was brewing tea, Radagast returned, quickly shedding his hawk form and taking a seat across the fire from me. The news he brings is almost as dire as were my dreams. The man [livejournal.com profile] setsuled has gone to Seregost, and there are rumours among the grim folk of this land that he has sent word of my coming to the orc tribes encamped on Gorgoroth. Radagast believes that a bounty has been laid upon my head and that it would be suicide to try to reach the plateau. The orcs are hungry and easily bought. But there are darker tidings still. Radagast has been told by a raven that a call has gone out from Seregost to Khamûl, the Black Easterling, the last of the Nine, and that even now he stirs from out some secret pit. The elves of East Lórien believed such powers history, and that I would face only goblins and Uruks and such men as struggle to survive in these lands.

"The shadow has not entirely passed from our midst," Radagast said and frowned at the fire. "Perhaps it never shall."

He wants me to abandon the quest, Inwë. He says we can not proceed to Gorgoroth nor again try to make the pass below Seregost. All roads are watched now, and he does not imagine that I could ever reach those dread plains south of the Ash Mountains — not even with his aid. He wants to call Gwaihir, King of Birds, to bear me safely to the old capital at Osgiliath. He has volunteered to travel with Suregait, but I do not know. How do I turn back now? What the elves have done, might they now undo? This thing has been made a part of me, until I deliver it down into the Fen of Worms. If I turn back, another would only be forced to return in my stead, and the Black Easterling will surely begin to marshal an army, even if he has not guessed my purpose.

I have told Radagast my dreams, and they only made him more determined I should return to Gondor. But I do not know, Inwë. I do not know what course I must now take.

---

There was a Silk question from [livejournal.com profile] reverendcrofoot, who asks: I am re-reading Silk and I noticed something a character by the name Jen Dare I do believe. Is there anything else with this character? Is she a left over? Is there something up with her?

I never meant Jenny Dare for anything more than that one scene, a "ghost" to get Niki's attention. The character was, of course, inspired by Virginia Dare, the first child of English parents born in the Americas. She vanished with the rest of the "Lost Colony" at Roanoke. But really, I never meant to do more with her and never have.

* Han shot first.
greygirlbeast: (blood)
Yesterday was spent in mutilation. It's a more appropriate word than would be writing. If we were to extend that (generally absurd) novels/stories = children metaphor to this particular case, I should say that yesterday I took back an eye, an ear, several inches of small intestine, three toenails, and a left eyebrow. And really, who's ever going to miss those things? There is less blood than I might have expected. There is also less screaming, as books are quieter things than children, at least when it comes to the matter of mutilation. Given enough time, I begin to see that I could become a fine butcher, specializing, perhaps, in the extraction of characterization and the snipping of that nagging suspension of disbelief. I could sell cutlets and sausages and sweetbreads, and everyone might think them only excess verbs and adjectives. It all becomes so clear. Today, I merely have to systematically remove a few square feet of dense connective tissue, primarily fascia, mostly subserous fascia, and really, who needs that stuff?

Sirenia Digest #18 will go out today. I think it is one of the best issues yet. Yesterday, I started wondering if anyone would mind terribly if I changed the name of the digest to Strange Drama. Same initials, different words, that's all.

Meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] setsuled saw my Maeras and raised me a Maiar. I begin to fear that our little tit-for-tat impromptu might have woeful aspirations to fanfic epichood.

---

I have been delivered. For three days and two nights, Suregait bore me eastwards, along the rocky southern rim of the Mithrim Spur, carrying me ever farther from the eyes that might yet watch from the towers of Seregost. Radagast, in the form of a hawk, went always out before us, scouting the land for orcs and other perils. Oh, Inwë, I am filled with such relief — and to be writing in my book again! — that I can hardly force myself to recount these events. I slept on horseback beneath the waxing moon, naked but for a cape and ill-fitting boots stolen off my captor, knowing all was not lost and that I might still fulfill the destiny that brought me to Mordor and thereby keep my covenant with those who would see the last shreds of Sauron's shadow washed from the world. Tonight, I sit before a fine crackling fire and have eaten hot soup cooked for me by good Radagast. It is hard, now, to believe what I have so recently survived, and harder still to imagine how much horror lies ahead. By this route, we shall have to skirt the ruins of the Nazgul fortress of Daemon Angren, and then pass between the old watchtowers of Nargoth and Morigost. Radagast Aiwendil says that Daemon Angren, from whence was launched the Mumakil assault upon Minas Tirith during the war and from whence one of the Nine ruled the southern lands, was thrown down in the same cataclysm that broke Barad-dûr and that we have naught to fear from those ruins. But he says also that Uruks still keep watch from Nargoth and Morigost, though they are leaderless and live as brigands robbing and murdering many of those who attempt the passage from Núrn to the plateau of Gorgoroth. But this is the road we will take, regardless. We cannot now take the western route, for fear [livejournal.com profile] setsuled may be marshalling some force to hunt for me.

I cannot say why I did not kill the bastard when I had the chance. I held his own blade at his throat and could so easily have taken his head. I know not what stayed my hand, Inwë. Was it pity? Did I see him only as a fallen man of Rohan, a former countryman, there at the last? It sickens me to imagine I felt anything but hatred for the traitor. But Radagast says I should not chide myself for any show of mercy, however disastrous it may prove farther along. So he may be mad, after all.

I am alive, Inwë, alive and with Suregait at my side again, and in the company of the last of the Maiar to walk Middle-earth. Whatever dark days lie ahead, I cannot keep my heart from singing as I write this. At this moment I might believe almost anything, even the dim chance of once more seeing my beloved and the fair woods of East Lórien. Radagast says that I should rest myself another day or so and recover from my trials, that we have not been followed from the ford at Caranduin. So, I will heed his advice before continuing east and turning north into Gorgoroth.

I will sleep now, sleep on a blanket on the ground with the moon in the sky and the stars spread out above me, and I know, Inwë, that it is not so very much to think that possibly you are looking skyward at this very moment and seeing those same stars hanging in the night.

---

Oh, and I have a map, behind the cut, for them what might not be so familiar with Mordorian geography. However and alas, many of the landmarks mentioned are not shown, and Sindaseldeonna's progress (the blue line) is only marked from Minas Tirith as far as her capture by the vile [livejournal.com profile] setsuled (boo hiss).

map of Mordor )


Over the last few weeks, ideas for two stories have begun to take shape in my head. One will likely go to Clarkesworld Magazine, as I've owed them one for ages, and the other might turn out to be the Salammbô Desvernine story that should have appeared in Tales of Pain and Wonder, but didn't. It's good to have stories I want to write making themselves known to me, when work has been so difficult this winter and spring.

An after-dark walk last night, after a dinner of Spooky's delicious pasta salad. Then we dusted off the VCR and watched the original Highlander (1986), which I used to watch at least once a month, but which Spooky had never seen. Despite a script that often makes no sense at all and the various historical absurdities, and regardless of Christopher Lambert's peculiar attempt at a Scotts accent and the fact that Sean Connery is not the least bit convincing as an Egyptian, I do love this film. As I said to Spooky last night, it has a certain ludicrous grace. Later, we finished Lemony Snicket's The Miserable Mill. Oh, and I never did mention how disappointed I was by the season finale of Heroes...

Whoops. The platypus says I'm abusing my blogging privileges, and sheheit is threatening venomous spurs, so I best wrap this up. Back to the abattoir....
greygirlbeast: (redeye)
I swear to fuck, if I had even half the energy and time right now, I would at once begin a campaign to ban leaf blowers from the city of Atlanta. There are now plenty of precedents for the banning of gasoline-powered leaf blowers: Los Angeles and Palo Alto, CA; Aspen, CO.; Vancouver; the whole state of Hawaii; and many cities are moving to enact such bans. All the gorram noise (90 decibels, when the danger level is 85), the unregulated engines vomiting forth unregulated emissions, the dust and other particulate matter added to Atlanta's already foul air...it's just insane. What's so hard about using a rake? I've used them all my life. They're quiet, pose minimal threat to wildlife and soil, give you a little exercise, and don't pollute. Whatever the sensible, least harmful thing is, people will eventually do the exact opposite. In droves.

Anyway...a correction to yesterday's entry. I said that I would try to have Sirenia Digest #19 out by this weekend, when I should have said #18. Howard Hughes is a stressed out, overworked nixar haunted by the wail of leaf blowers, and sometimes she makes dumb mistakes. At any rate, I just got the final art for "Outside the Gates of Eden" from Vince Locke, so I hope to lay the new issue out this evening, and if that's the case, Spooky will mail it tonight or tomorrow. #18, not #19.

---

These are only thoughts. Thoughts have no weight, and will rise away from me though my body be shackled. Would I were not but thought. These are only my thoughts, and [livejournal.com profile] setsuled does not yet glimpse them. He drives me on, while the crows war above us and their blood falls like rain from clouds of black feathers. There is some new discord at work in Mordor, and I can see in this man's eyes that it confuses and worries him. I can also see that my silence compounds his unease. He has the book given me by Dernhelm...that morning seems a hundred years hence. But its pages do not avail him. He is blind to what is written there. For that merciful craft, I thank you, fair Inwë, you and the wisdom of your people. He has whipped me, and if I am not yet broken in body, I surely can not be far from it. We have now gained the lowest slopes of the Mithrim Spur, and he means to take me north and west, across the headwaters of the Caranduin to the road and the passage through the mountains and then on to the garrison of Seregost. These are only thoughts, and they rise. My body may be breaking, but my mind is still my own and is still strong. The rocks here are steep and black and slice my feet. He laughs at the sight of my blood upon the stones as he laughed at my blood upon his lash. Dawn is not far off, and I cannot say if we will stop and sleep through the heat of the day. When last I slept, Inwë, I dreamt of the splendour of the Mearas, and of Suregait, the mount who bore me first to Gondor, then on to the borders of Mordor. In my dreams, the great horses, those descendants of Felaróf, danced around me, safeguarding me from a terrible writhing blackness pressing in all about. From this host, Suregait spoke to me, saying that even though she was grateful that I did not force her to cross the Ered Glamoth, she is coming now.

"I am coming fast," spoke Suregait. "Already, I can smell the sea in my nostrils." And I know these are but fantasies, but if they were true...If I had a horse...but it seems the height of folly to wish such things. I am alone in this wasteland with a madman who means to deliver me unto the pits of Seregost and whatever dark powers still dwell therein, if he does not first murder me. [livejournal.com profile] setsuled Kinslayer seethes with anger. He seethes as this land must have seethed under the iron fist of Sauron. These are only thoughts, and they rise and cannot be touched by whip nor blade nor fist. He cannot read the pages of the book, and he does not guess at the monstrous relic the elves found buried in the ruins of Amon Lanc, that wicked shard which survived even the white power of Nenya and the repeated assaults of Galadriel upon the walls and spires and the vilest recesses of Dol Guldur. These are only thoughts, and he does not guess. But another might, if it is truth that the Black Easterling lives. If my dream was but a dream, then I cannot risk ever reaching Seregost as his prisoner. Better I die at his hand, if it comes to that. But...when I close my eyes I see Suregait racing across the plains. If not for the pain, Inwë, I would not even hope it might be so. The pain and the chill together cloud my mind. I must have taken fever. The sun will be up soon, and he seeks some secret ford across the Caranduin. The waters form a vicious cataract here, and my drowning would be swift and easy....

---

Not much else to be said for yesterday. A decent walk, though the air was still smoky and filled with soot and we should have stayed indoors. After dinner, we did some ritual work. In the chaos of the last few weeks, we have neglected magick, at a time when the peace and clarity it brings would benefit us most. Later, we read more from The Miserable Mill, which we will likely finish tonight.

The sky is blue again this morning. The wind has carried the smoke away. And today the worst of the revision work begins. This is not writing. I'm not sure what this is.

Talibus laboribus lupos defendimus.
greygirlbeast: (bluenareth)
We awoke this morning to hazy air and the smell of smoke. I figured there'd been a house fire somewhere nearby, but it turns out all the smoke is coming from the gigantic wildfire that's been burning in the Okefenokee since April 16th. So far, more than 600 square miles of wilderness have burned, and much of the smoke has risen into the upper atmosphere. This morning, a high-pressure center brought a lot of that smoke back down on top of north Georgia. Visibility at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was down to 1.5 miles. I love waking to the stink of apocalypse.

Someone asked why the Death March has to be Mordorian, instead of something pleasant, like Mirkwoodian or Eriadorian. The reason is simple. I generally don't rewrite, and yet I presently find myself forced into rewrites. I don't know why, but since I was a child, I have had zero patience with repetitive tasks. I am not exaggerating when I say that I find them physically painful. Among other things, this led to me devising a writing process whereby I do not proceed to the next sentence until I've made the present sentence as perfect as possible (or nearly so). I don't think I'm "too good" for rewriting, it's just that I cannot stand doing it. It makes me twitch. And worse. But I am presently working in a situation to which I am not accustomed, and I knew from the outset (a year ago now) that rewriting would be involved. It's just that I'd hoped I would deal with it better than I am. It does not help that, in this case, all the changes that are being demanded are genuinely arbitrary. It's not a matter of making it better, but merely making it different. And few things gall me so as having to redo a job that I know was done correctly the first time. Ergo, a Mordorian Death March. And yesterday it did become a march again, ending the frustrating Death Meander of the last few days. Spooky and I spent most of the day and part of the night on hundreds of line edits. Just piddly, little stuff. The big, scary, pointless stuff is yet to come. Also, the MDM has been extended from the 23rd, and may not conclude until sometime after the 29th. My editor at HarperCollins and I are doing everything possible to prevent it from spilling over into June.

---

These are only thoughts, and they fade as morning mist. These are only thoughts, but I send them high, that some kinder wind than that which blows across this scabrous land might carry them east to you, Inwë. When he captured me and stripped me, the man [livejournal.com profile] setsuled took the small book that I have been writing in, the book given me by Dernhelm the morning I departed from the fields of Dunharrow for Minas Tirith. These are only thoughts, borne aloft by the grace of the teachings of Lórien. He says that he is taking me to Seregost and seems to believe that was my intended destination. So, I may at least find some solace in the knowledge that he has not discovered nor guessed my true quest. There might yet be hope, perhaps, though it presently seems a balm too precious to dare allow myself. My hands are bound with coarse rope, and he leads me naked beneath the afternoon sun. He is always talking, either to himself or to me or unto others he imagines travel with us. I have heard it told that the man is insane, and now I do believe it so. Should I have fought him, Inwë, knowing it would have probably meant my death? The sun is a devil in the white sky. These are only thoughts, but may they rise as high as the moon, for what weight have thoughts? There is no breeze. The air does not stir. If I could but reach the river, which still shimmers on my right. Its waters move faster, as we begin to leave the plains and enter these foothills. I am a strong swimmer, and if I could reach the water...Inwë, gladly would I drown before allowing him to take me a second time. Again and again, he asks me my "true name," the name my mother gave me, and it is reassuring that he knows it not. He knows me only as the elves have named me, Sindaseldeonna, though their tongue falls from his lips like stone. I would fall like a stone, Inwë, and lie still now. He has the look of a man of the villges along the Limlaith, so it may be the rumours are true and he is...or was once...a man of Rohan. He mutters in many languages, Inwë, like the yammering Crebain who fill these skies. If I had a good horse. If I had any horse at all, I would ride away west to the lands where the sun is born. I do not know if the guardians still watch over me. I am not yet dead, and he has not guessed what was found in the ruins of Dol Guldur. He calls me beast and hound's daughter. These are only thoughts, the thoughts of a captive woman, and I free them to rise far above this blasted, sun-scarred plain.

---

This morning, I have the pencils for Vince's illustration for "Outside the Gates of Eden," and he says the final art will be along shortly. So I'm hoping to have Sirenia Digest #18 out to subscribers by Friday.

With the birthday bearing down on me, the weekend's looking busy. And this is the last time I shall post the wishlist. Always am I grateful for books and other distractions.

Last night, Spooky and I had a nice walk after dinner. I miss walking at night, which I hardly ever do these days, and when I leave the South, the summer nights are one thing I will dearly miss. There was too much light pollution to see much of the sky, just the waxing sliver of moon and Venus and airplanes. We'd spent the whole day editing, and after our walk, got back to it, working until about 12:30 a.m., when we rewarded ourselves with more Lemony Snicket.

Ah, and there's exciting news from Mars.
greygirlbeast: (kong2)
Ah, where do I begin! Treachery and worse, and but for chance and fortune and the overheard mutterings of the pirate crew on whose ship I had become a passenger, hoping thereby to reach the mouth of the Caranduin...my words are a tumult. Even now, I shudder at how near this mission was brought to ruin. Yesterday I chanced to notice a very large crow perched in the rigging, a foul thing watching me with contempt. And shortly thereafter, I was was working on this blasted manuscript in what passed for the fo'castle of that leaking tub, writing by what light one can wring from tallow, when I heard the Captain and his First talking above decks. Whispering between themselves, thinking I would not hear. I was a fool to believe I would so easily evade [livejournal.com profile] setsuled, and more than a fool to trust the scum that ply the waters of this black sea. I had been recognized in Thaurband and word was passed from ship to ship by crow heralds. I listened in horror as the Captain plotted murder and mangled the Sindarin tongue, stuttering and stumbling over the name bestowed upon me a year ago by the elves who yet remain in East Lórien. I set the ship ablaze, trusting we were near enough to shore that I might survive the swim, and made my escape in the confusion and pandemonium that followed. Now, believing myself only a short ways east of the marches where the Caranduin empties into the Núrnen, I will turn north. I know now that I am discovered, though I have yet some dim hope that my purpose remains a mystery to [livejournal.com profile] setsuled. By now, I should have passed the peak of Morigost and reached the Gorgoroth. Instead, I am countless leagues west of that course, half lost or more in these desolate lands...

Or, to put it another way, the Mordorian Death March has become a sort of Mordorian Death Meander, as I wait for word from Los Angeles and New York about exactly what must be done and why and how and by when. Since I have no time to waste in waiting, I resolved yesterday, after speaking with my editor at HarperCollins, that while I wait I will attend to other projects. Yesterday, I read through "The Ape's Wife" again and made what I hope will be the final revisions to the manuscript. I really do love this story. And I am determined to get it right. Anyway, today I will try to get a head start on Sirenia Digest #19 (June) and begin a new vignette. Once again, The Dinosaurs of Mars has been derailed — or at least delayed — and at this point I can't imagine I'll be able to begin Joey LaFaye before July.

A good walk yesterday. Last night, we watched Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke (1967). This has long been a favourite of mine, but Spooky had never seen it. When I am old and finally sit down to compile my list of the 500 best American films, Cool Hand Luke will be somewhere on that list. At midnight, we caught an old Nova episode about the creation of the Channeled Scablands by the catastrophic failure of the ice dam that held back Glacial Lake Missoula 15,000 years ago. And then I read another chapter of the Steinbeck bio. And that was yesterday — pirates, tattling crows, burning boats, and all.

Onward...

Postscript (1:09 p.m.) — I have just learned of the death of Lloyd Alexander. Another light is gone from the world.
greygirlbeast: (redeye)
The kingdoms of Experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what's real and what is not
It doesn't matter inside the Gates of Eden

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die
And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden


(Bob Dylan, "Gates of Eden")

---

Day Six of the Mordorian Death March. And I suspect my fears that I am being pursued by this [livejournal.com profile] setsuled fiend are not unjustified. Yesterday, my eyes weary from a lack of sleep and my mind filled with the terror of revision and deadlines and with the names of ancient gods and kings, I reached the banks of the Gurthrant, a full day behind schedule. But instead of continuing north to the Thaur Road, I turned west again, approaching the shadow-haunted ruin of Thaurband. I believe scouts may be waiting for me on the road, and hope that by this detour I might lose my pursuers. By early afternoon, I stood just outside what remains of the guard posts outer walls. Since the War and Sauron's defeat, it has become little more than an orc brothel and sty. But there are still ships of men making port here from as far away as Lilithlad. A strange and unsettling sight, watching the grim traffic between men and goblins that goes on in this place, and I almost lost my nerve. But finally, presenting myself as a merchant from Near Harad, I found a captain willing to take me across the Núrnen as far as Caran, from whence I shall then follow the course of the Caranduin northwards, making for the Mitrhram Spur below dread Seregost. But I have been told that there are yet Uruks roaming these fell regions, and I have little hope now that I will ever escape this accursed land to see once more the eyes of my fair Inwë Isilrá. This was always a fool's errand, and but for the need of gold I would have forsaken it weeks ago. With this man [livejournal.com profile] setsuled on my heels, what little hope I might have haboured fades quickly.

Or to speak more plainly, yesterday I spent about seven hours on the Anglo-Saxon-Norse-Icelandic-Old English glossary. Three before the movie, then four more after dinner. I finished at 12:45 a.m., and am pleased to say I have a good draft. It only needs a little revision. 2,245 words, for those who like it put that way. Today will likely be wasted in a waiting game, waiting for phone calls and the outcome of phone calls. Stranded on the listing deck of this rotten ship, as it were. I wonder if this black and stinking sea has been forsaken by even Ulmo of the Vala?

I am told I can buy a horse at Caran. We shall see.

---

I see people posting notorious quotes from the poisoned pen of the late Mr. Falwell. Here's my contribution, something he said about the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

Also, my thanks to [livejournal.com profile] asanityassassin for pointing out this Volatire quote: To the living, one owes respect. To the dead, one owes only truth. Though, for my part, I would say one owes only truth to the living and the dead. One owes only truth, or one owes nothing at all.

Meanwhile, a California-Sized Area of Ice Melts in Antarctica.

Of course, Mr. Falwell had this to say about global warming: The whole global warming thing is created to destroy America's free enterprise system and our economic stability.

— and —

I believe that global warming is a myth. And so, therefore, I have no conscience problems at all and I'm going to buy a Suburban next time.

I wonder exactly how they will ever manage the influx of people wishing to piddle and/or dance on this man's grave?
greygirlbeast: (bluenareth)
So, yesterday I'm slogging through Núrn, just editing and cursing and minding my own bloody business on the fourth day of this goddamn Mordorian Death March thing, when suddenly I'm set upon by a pack of goblin assholes, and who should I find holding their reins? Hmm? A certain nefarious [livejournal.com profile] setsuled, that's who. And I'd thought he was still busy down there in Khand. What's more, after relieving me of my paltry few provisions and weapons, he hands me over to the gorramn orcs for "entertainment"! But what can one expect from anyone who keeps company with Easterlings and goblinfolk? Fortunately, I had secreted upon my person an extremely sharp flake of obsidian I'd picked up in the foothills of the Ered Glamoth a few days back. When the first goblin came for me, I opened its throat from ear to ear, then gutted the pair who rushed to its defence. In the commotion that ensued, I was able to slip away, only a little worse for the experience. I think my pride was wounded more than anything. I should have anticipated such an ambush, but hoped not to encounter this sort of trouble until I'd reached the northern shores of the inland sea, at least. Wrong. I did manage the wrest from one of the goblin bastards a decent short sword, better than the dagger this [livejournal.com profile] setsuled rogue took from me. So...now I have lost precious time, am likely being stalked, and must make all haste to reach the Gurthrant, which I would have gained before sunset yesterday, if not for the savage attack.

On a brighter note, I found a title for "Untitled 27," which is now "Outside the Gates of Eden." Also, the sf anthology that printed the Czech translation of "Riding the White Bull," Trochu divné kusy 2, has been awarded "best anthology of the year" by the Czech Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. I should have gone with Czechoslovakia for my death march, clearly.

Yesterday was frustrating enough without the orc attack, thank you very much. I've reached a point where I can edit no more until my editor returns from vacation tomorrow and talks to people at Paramount and certain problems are resolved. Which means that today will be spent on the 100-word Norse/Anglo-Saxon lexicon. Oh, and thanks to Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) for coming to the rescue with Latin translations yesterday. If only she'd been around to help me fight off those gobllins. Have you ever seen an orc penis? Well, it's not something one can soon forget, I'll tell you that for nothing.

A long walk with Spooky yesterday to the market to get stuff for dinner, and that was nice, as this part of Atlanta is a fair bit kinder on the eyes and the feet than the plains of Núrn. Later, we watched Heroes, and I wished the whole season had been as good as last night's episode. George Takei frelling rules. And I fear I may have a crush on Sylar. I think it's those eyebrows. And the fact that he looks a great deal like Burt (on Sesame Street). David called about 10:30 to say he was back from Connecticut. Later, we read more of The Children of Húrin, chapters XI and XII ("The Fall of Nargothrond" and "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin"), and then I stayed up too late reading another chapter of the Steinbeck biography.

---

My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] extatika for this link, an article at RichardDawkins.net by Dan Gardner about the "backlash" against all us mouthy-ass uppity atheists. This quote:

In the past, I've tried to avoid talking about religion in such sharp terms. It's not that I fear giving offence (which would be something of a limitation in my line of work). Rather, I know, as all humans do, that it's scary knowing you're going to die. And if belief in angels on high eases the existential fears of some, I won't begrudge them. Whatever gets you through the night, as a long-haired prophet once said.

But a series of books doing quite well on bestseller lists — by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and, soon, Christopher Hitchens — argues it's time to be a lot less deferential to faith, and I have to say I find it hard to disagree. After all, we live in a time when blowing children to bits is an increasingly popular form of worship, the most powerful man on earth thinks he's got a hotline to God, and much of the electorate who gave that man his power would never consider replacing him with someone who does not believe the son of a carpenter who died 2,000 years ago sits in heaven advising presidents, fixing football games, and waiting for the day he will return to the Earth to brutally murder all unbelievers and erect a worldwide dictatorship.

Private, quiet faith is one thing. But when the guy holding the launch codes believes the end of the world could come any day and that's a good thing, those who believe lives are limited to one per customer have a problem.


Anyway, now I must away to explain about Odin and Loki and scops and thanes and the World Serpent and what have you. And I must keep my eyes peeled for my pursuers, if they have not given up the chase. I hope to have reached the Thaur Road by sunset...

Postscript (2:08 p.m.): Speaking of fundamentalist assholes, I just heard the news that Jerry Falwell is dead. This should be a day of rejoicing.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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