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I realized over breakfast (coffee and ramen with broccoli), that I've not left the House since we went to East Beach on Tuesday. I can surely count on one hand the number of days in August and the second half of July I've gone Outside. And if that's not precisely true. It sure as hell feels that way. I have no idea why I've gotten this bad again. The meds have my seizures under control. The depression is in check. The weather's mostly been cooler. I just forget to leave the House. Yet when I do, I'm usually glad I did. This whole thing confounds me.

Yesterday was spent getting through an enormous mountain of email, pertaining to everything from the "Best of" project to "The Maltese Unicorn" to Sirenia Digest #57. I may have finalized the table of contents for the "Best of" volume. If so, there are twenty-nine stories (well, twenty-eight and a poem), including a novella, The Dry Salvages. The word count comes in at ~220 thousand words. For an idea of how big a book that will be, The Ammonite Violin and Others is only about 80k words. Certainly, it's by far the longest book I've ever done.

One of the more difficult aspects of this, so far, beyond simply choosing the stories, has involved dating the older stories, those from the nineties. Back then, I wasn't so good at keeping records. When you've only written maybe a dozen short stories, it's easy to recall precisely when you wrote each one. But many, many years later, when you've done over two hundred short stories, those memories fade to the point of invisibility. Much of yesterday was spent trying to date "Tears Seven Times Salt" and "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun." I genuinely thought that the former had been written late in 1995, maybe in December of that year. But searching through old correspondence (at least I have that), I discovered, no, it was, in fact, written in the summer of 1994, late in June or very early in July. It was the first story I wrote after "To This Water (Johnstown, Pennsylvania 1889)," and the third story I wrote after moving from Birmingham to Athens. So, my memories were off by almost a year and a half. As for "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun," I'm still trying to date it. I thought it was written in 1995, but it's beginning to look as though it was actually written during the first half of 1996.

Oh, by the way, while I chose "Breakfast in the House of the Rising Sun (Murder Ballad No. 1)" over "Lafayette (Murder Ballad No. 2)," both "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" and "The Road of Pins" made the cut.

I have tried to select at least one story for every year between 1993 and 2007, but it's starting to look as if there won't be a 1995 story. Which, given the wretchedness of that year, might be just as well.

As for a title, I've been trying for days to think of one. I certainly am not going with nothing but The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan: Volume One. Then last night, Spooky and Bill Schafer both made the same suggestion, independently, which still has me a little freaked out. Both have suggested I call the book Two Worlds and In Between (a line from the Sisters of Mercy's "Lucretia My Reflection"). The book does happen to contain my zombie story "Two Worlds, and In Between." And maybe this should be the book's title, if only by dint of the peculiar coincidence of two people suggesting that same title on the same night. Also, the title is not inappropriate, having more than a single relevant interpretation relative to the book and my work in general. So, maybe, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Volume One.

I'll post the table of contents tomorrow.

---

We began two new auctions yesterday. Both are a bit special. The first is the auction of the first painting I have ever offered for sale, Study 1 for Yellow. The second is for a lettered copy of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (you can choose from M, R, or Z), which comes with a hand-made Beanie platypus (made by Spooky). Please have a look. Thanks.
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I awoke this morning to discover that almost all the soreness from yesterday's fall has, against expectations, vanished. It's especially surprising given I actually sat up and worked yesterday, after a hot bath and Advil. I spent most of the evening lying down with my foot up, but still. I'd expected many days of soreness, so...I'm very pleased this is not the case.

Several people yesterday said I should go to the doctor. One or two even stressed the need for an MRI. And all I can say is that I am a freelance author who doesn't make a great deal of money and who has no health insurance whatsoever. Given that (quickly checking online) I see the average cost of an MRI on an ankle is $1,500, it's entirely out of the question. Especially since the total cost of that doctor visit, and followup visits, would likely run around $2,500. Not a chance. If I am quite sure my life is at stake if I don't seek a doctor's assistance, only then will I do so. And even then I can't afford to do so. I'm already paying hundreds of dollars a month for medical care I can't afford, because I was finally left with no option. And I've looked into health insurance plans for the self employed, and everything I've seen isn't much better than nothing. Hell, given the absurd costs of medical care in the US, even good insurance isn't much better than nothing. In my life, the only preventative medicine is a good diet and exercise (and I don't get much of the latter).

But enough about my damned ankle.

Yesterday I worked on the table of contents for the "Best of" project. I'd ended up with a total word count of 237,712 words, were I to include everything I want to include. Obviously, this won't do, as my word limit is 200k. I did, however, email Bill Schafer to ask if I could go over, and if so, by how much. His reply, I can go to 205k, but if I go over that...well a visit from a teddy bear with a plastic machete was involved. So, I have to go back to work and shave off 32,712 words worth of fiction from my "wish list." Which might only be three stories. I just have to work it out. A good part of yesterday was spent deciding which of the Dancy stories to include. I read "Waycross" and "Les Fleurs Empoisonnées" and "Highway 97" and "Alabaster." I decided that the "Best of" volume will include three of these, "Alabaster" being the one that won't appear. "Bainbridge" and "The Well of Stars and Shadow" were never in the running.

Today, I have to, among other things, decide whether "The Road of Pins" or "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" gets a place in the life boat. They're too thematically similar for both to make the cut. This is a strange sort of undertaking.

All the comments the past couple of days on first-person narrative and the interauthor have been welcome, and many have set me to thinking in new directions, or helped to clarify old and well-worn dilemmas. Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] dragau wrote. I just realized that no one has used the word "biography" or its variations these last two days. Is its absence significant, something we overlooked, or is the word not relevant? And it's a very good point, as that's what we're really trying to get at here (or at least I am), with all this talk about the interauthor. Whenever a fiction writer is writing in first person they are, by default, writing a fictional autobiography.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions and at the goodies in Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks & Sundries Etsy shop. The latter now includes a hand-painted Ouija board!

Also, I've finished my first painting in many years. I was, in part, inspired by the paintings of Constance Hopkins in The Red Tree. And I think I've decided I'll be putting it up on eBay tomorrow or this evening. Also also, Spooky's made a new beanie platypus that we'll be auctioning with a copy of the lettered edition of Tales from the Woeful Platypus. We did this a couple of times back in 2007. I think we only offered four Beanie platypi, so....these are rare.

Okay. Here are painting and platypus photos. The mothmen say it's time to work:

Evil and a platypus )
greygirlbeast: (platypus2)
Almost all day yesterday was spent trying to get the (still unnamed) iMac just the way I need it to be. I say almost all yesterday, because Google Earth has become an enormous distraction/source of procrastination. Today, I still have files to move off Hindrance, because I'm having to shuttle them on a temperamental one-gig thumb drive, not having the proper FireWire cable to simply transfer everything directly. Also, I haven't yet registered the new machine with AppleCare. Stuff like that. Eventually, I will be writing again. The grinding monotony of daily word counts shall return.

And hopefully, when I am ready to start writing again, I will have at last figured out the beginning of The Dinosaurs of Mars. The narrative structure and voice of the story are proving damned elusive. I begin to fear I may have too much story for a mere 35K-word novella, but I'm not ditching any element just yet. I only have to find my way in.

I am getting lots of reading done, though most of it is related to The Dinosaurs of Mars. Reports of the MER Mission, Spirit and Opportunity, Victoria Crater, Martian geology, terran taphonomy, all sorts of nutty UFO/ancient astronaut/Iapetus is an spacecraft-type stuff, film history, etc. Oh, and Steven Bach's Final Cut: Dreams and Disaster in the Making of Heaven's Gate (1985; also relevant to The Dinosaurs of Mars), which I believe [livejournal.com profile] robyn_ma first suggested I should read. I am enjoying it quite a lot. Also, though unrelated to the book, Spooky and I finished Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning last night and will now proceed to The Reptile Room.

Still working on the marked-up hb of Silk, too, and that will be on eBay before very much longer. Also, I have half the lettered editions of Tales from the Woeful Platypus (L-Z), and we're planning to auction them with somewhat adorable little hand-sewn paisley platypus beanbags that I'm going to make (given I obviously have oodles and oodles of free time in which to sew platypuses). All this is Coming Soon.

Last night, Jim and "Hannah" dropped by, and we walked to L5P for dinner at The Vortex. We had not seen them since Halloween night, so that was a treat. Ah, the tattered vestiges of my social life. I'd been planning to hook up with them later via Aundair and D&D Online, but it turns out there's no Mac version of the game, and I refuse to buy and load either Windows XP or Vista onto a perfectly good Mac. I will just have to make do with Final Fantasy XII for the time being. There are already enough geeky time sucks in my life, anyway.

I think that's it for now. Huzzah.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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