greygirlbeast: (Aeryn and Pilot)
00. I'm not feeling very bow tie this afternoon. Comments would be nice.

01. Yesterday there was email, and Subterranean Press needed some stuff from me for The Yellow Book, which, you may recall, is the FREE hardcover chapbook that accompanies the limited edition (but not the trade) of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Little odds and ends, nothing major. And I was still waiting to hear from an editor, so I proposed to Spooky that we proceed with a long, long delayed office renovation. We spent about an hour moving a shelf and books and stuff, then spent two hours realizing that the table we wanted to put in my office would never fit (this involved Spooky calling her Mom in South County to remeasure Spooky's sister Steph's old table out in the barn). Nope. No dice. So, I have resigned myself to being stuck in an office even smaller than my last (Mansfield Avenue, Atlanta, GA), which was, at best, a third as large as my office before that (Kirkwood Lofts, Atlanta, GA). A few years from now, at this rate, they'll have me writing in a restroom stall. Ah, well. At least then I'll never have an excuse to stand up. Anyway, in the end (no pun intended), yesterday was mostly a sadly and exhausting wasted day. Though, I did leave the house for the first time in five or six days.

02. In list of weird books to give the weird people in your lives for the holidays (that would be Solstice and/or Cephalopodmas), Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, over at the Weird Fiction Review website (virtual sister of the Centipede Press print digest of the same name), in their listing Two Worlds and In Between, write:

Standing as one member of the Triad of Infernal Weird – the three who clearly have signed pacts with demons to keep the quality of their story forever elevated – that also includes Thomas Ligotti and Michael Cisco, Kiernan has emerged since the 1990s as a master of the weird tale.

Clearly, we haven't been keeping those meetings secret enough. Regardless, the VanderMeers strongly recommend the book ("This collection from Subterranean only confirms her brilliance."), along with several other very wonderfully weird titles (kittens, the word horror, when used to denote a literary genre, is so very not bow tie; parentheses are, though – trust me).

03. Today will be spent writing a very whimsical piece for Sirenia Digest #73, "The Lost Language of Littoral Mollusca and Crustacea." Think Victorian flower language (id est, floriography) and you're halfway there. I intend to enjoy writing this.

04. A point of etiquette (unless you happen to wish to seem a douchebag):

a) When a kerfuffle is made over a company publicly insulting transgender persons, and there is outrage, and said company wisely apologizes (though, note, I don't consider an apology an exoneration), and a somewhat prominent transgender author notes that at least this is evidence that change is coming, even if it's coming very, very slowly, do not

b) post in that authors' Facebook that, while you sympathize, you also find the insult funny, and then

c) when said author explains why it's not fucking funny do not

d) dig in your heels and go on about how some people take themselves too seriously, or

e) you will find yourself banned from that author's Facebook, Matthew Baker. Because admitting that you find a joke at the expense of transgender people funny, but also understanding it hurts them, but you still find it funny, makes you a hateful and transphobic (here's that word again) douchebag. I'll not dwell on the coincidences that you are also male, white, and cisgender. Also, definitely do NOT begin emailing the author afterwards to call them names, because then you'll have graduated from douchebag to troll.

05. Last night, after sandwiches from the Eastside Market deli, we watched Scott Crocker's documentary on the mistaken resurrection of the (almost certainly) extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), Ghost Bird, with music by the amazing Zoë Keating. Ghost Bird is an exquisite film, not only because it documents this episode in the history of humanity's thoughtless elimination of other species, but because it serves as a case study of how science works: the theory, the methodology, responsibility, the politics, publishing, personal conflicts, and the perils of wishful thinking. See it; for the moment it can be streamed from Netflix.

After the film, there was Rift (which is to say, my social life), and Indus reached Level 40 (only ten to go). Then I read a rather good story by Ramsay Campbell, "Getting It Wrong," who needs no one to tell him how the Plight of Family X can, and usually does, make for a truly dull story. By the way, one day soon, I'll explain why several books, including Danielewski's House of Leaves, Anne River Siddons' The House Next Door, my own The Red Tree, and a few others, emphatically do not fall into the dreaded subgenre trap of "Family X Move Into the Bad House and Have Their Normative Domestic Bliss Wrecked by an Inconvenient Intrusion from Outside." The answer is surprisingly simple, though extraordinarily complex.

And now, the words.

Simply Complex and Complexly Simple,
Aunt Beast

Postscript (3:34 p.m.): Word from my editor at Penguin that the final and corrected cover of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir is now up at Amazon.
greygirlbeast: (chi (intimate distance))
Yesterday, by some miracle (I don't actually believe in "miracles," sensu loaves and fishes, etc., so what I actually mean is by some statistically improbable, but not impossible, turn of events), I wrote a measly 869 words, and finished the preface for The Red Tree. The preface is written by the fictional editor who has come into the possession of Sarah Crowe's manuscript. The editor is strangely fond of footnotes, some of which are rather pedantic. Today, no writing, but, instead, Spooky and I will read back over what I've written of Chapter One to be sure it jibes with the preface. Already, I've caught one inconsistency. In Chapter One, the "red tree" grows on "the Old Jenks place," but in the preface, it grows on the "Battey Farm." I'll be going with the latter.

My thanks for the many comments and emails yesterday, though, of course, that's not why I said the things I said. I wasn't fishing for pep talks. And all the attention and well wishes in the world cannot change what I know to be true. I cannot go any easier on myself. Indeed, I am not going hard enough on myself. It's a goddamn hardscrabble life, pimping the playtpus, selling my dreams, growing corn on bare stone, making all these blasted words. It's not likely to ever get any easier. There is no retirement plan. There are only the words, from here until The End. One reason I am so reluctant to describe these times when it goes from bad to worse is simply because I have this inherent fear of being seen as weak, or whiny, or whatever. But I also loathe not telling the truth. Anyway, yes, thank you for the sentiments, because it's good to know someone cares, but nothing changes. Not unless the big space rock comes tomorrow, or Panthalassa rises up to stomp us all flat with tsunami paws.

I re-read Salman Rushdie's introduction to Angela Carter's Burning Your Boats yesterday, and he writes:
"...but the best of her, I think, is in her stories. Sometimes, at novel length, the distinctive Carter voice, those smoky, opium-eater's cadences interrupted by harsh or comic discords, that moonstone-and-rhinestone mix of opulence and flim-flam, can be exhausting. In her stories, she can dazzle and swoop, and quit while she's ahead."

And I think I know exactly what he means, for so often have I wished that I could make a living writing only short fiction. I do it ever so much better than novels, with their absurdly drawn-out plots and contrived twists and turns. I have never written a novel even half as good as my best short story, but, in the end, this is about the pay check. Of course, I should also note, to be fair, that Rushdie adores Carter's novels, and bemoans the werewolf novel she never wrote. It's just, as an author, I think the short story is the better form, and poetry better still. Distillation, as it were. Less usually is more.

What else to yesterday? I re-read "A new aigialosaur (Squamata; Anguimorpha) with soft tissue remains from the Upper Cretaceous of Nuevo León, Mexico" in the March 2008 JVP. We live in age of riches, when it comes to the discovery of basal mosasauroid lizards — Dallasurus, Hassiophis, Tethysaurus, Haasisaurus, Judeasaurus, et al., and now Vallecillosaurus. Anyway, I packed many boxes of books. My office is looking bare. Spooky has been craving Tom Baker, so we watched the four-part old-school Doctor Who, "The Hand of Fear" (1976). Mostly, Baker's Who is just too hokey for my tastes, and I find Sarah Jane unbearable. But I like that steampunky old TARDIS, and Eldrad was a pretty cool alien. Christopher Eccleston will always be my Doctor, and David Tenant's not so bad, either. After four eps of Doctor Who, I wandered into SL for a rather nice rp with Omega and Pontifex. I was in bed by 2:30 ayem, I think. Seven hours sleep. That was yesterday, pretty much. Oh, very fine thunderstorm last night, late. I sat here at my desk, the window open, trying to hear the thunder over the Xtians who were wailing and hooting (at 11:30 p.m.!) like they were trying to summon Great Cthulhu. Beautiful lightning. I feel asleep to the rain.

Ah, and a screencap from SL, another one that may put some readers in mind of "Flotsam." These days, Nareth sleeps beneath that old tanker:

Nareth in the sea )
greygirlbeast: (cleav2)
I'd like to have summer back now, please. I'll be good, promise.

Well, I'll try to be good.

The writing went well yesterday. and I did 1,201 words on "The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer." This story is taking me strange and unexpected places. For example, yesterday, I spent several hours conversing with the God of all Rats and puzzling over how one goes about politely declining gifts offered by gods. The story is set in no particular American city at some unspecified time in the future when things are even worse than they are now (which is, I think, saying something). I'd hoped to finish the story yesterday, but what I thought would be a vignette decided it wants to be a short story. This has become a significant and ongoing problem with Sirenia Digest. The constant reader will recall that when I began this affair, I specified I would be writing vignettes, usually two or three thousand words in length. But mostly I've been writing short stories, because I have this fear of not letting fictions go where they wish to go (wild magic) and at whatever length they require. But there is so much writing that is not Sirenia Digest that has to be done. Try to tell an ambitious vignette that it can't grow up to be a short story. Just try. I dare you. It'll end in tears.

She's the kind of girl who gets her slings and arrows from the dumpster.
The kind who tells you she's bipolar just to make you trust her.
She's the kind of girl who leaves out condoms on the bedroom dresser,
Just to make you jealous of the men she fucked before you met her.


Sorry. I'm just sort of obsessed with that song right now. And those four lines in particular.

No walking yesterday. Only typing, writing, spewing story. There was a bath afterwards, and leftover chili. We watched Christiane Cegavske's Blood Tea and Red String, which was quite entirely delightful, filled as it was with treacherous white mice, a frog shaman, a spider who eats bluebirds, a coach drawn by a turtle, a stolen ragdoll, bat-eared rat crows, and, of course, blood tea and red string. Afterwards, I played about three more hours of Final Fantasy XII. Presently, I am trapped aboard an airship trying to rescue Ashe B'nargin Dalmasca.

I was in bed by two, but sleep was still an hour away, my head too filled with noise and words and light and nagging questions. The conversation turned to magick, as it so often does in the small hours of the night: my perception of magick as something wild and untameable, entirely unsuited to rigid ceremony and morality; the nuisance of New Age, fluffy-bunny nonsense; how Nazis, Neo-Nazis, and Odinists have tainted Norse mythology; the search for a witchcraft free of the elements of Judeo-Xtian mysticism that Gerald Gardner built into Wicca; my inability to distinguish magick from delusion/insanity; how the Greek pantheon is making more sense to me these days than it once did; how I will always be an atheist, no matter what; my need for a new athame (Look! More Judeo-Xtian freemasonry nonsense!); Joseph Campbell and my inability to follow my bliss; how so many pagans seem terrified of Nature and actually seek to avoid the ecstatic, the erotic, the wild, the amoral, the celebratory, opting instead for dry ritual, happy fairies, dolphins*, visualization, pretty crystals, and watered-down, westernized Buddhism; the fear many pagans have for their own and varied histories. The usual. My pet gripes. I need some time alone with the trees and the wind and the sky.

We're supposed to be moving my office tomorrow. Jim and Hannah and Byron have all promised to help. Hopefully, it will come off without a hitch. Hopefully. But it means I need to finish "The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer" this afternoon. Get to it, nixar!

* I adore dolphins, but really.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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