Aug. 8th, 2010 02:09 pm
greygirlbeast: (Default)
One of the side effects of one of my new meds (Prazosin) is that it can cause hypotension. And fainting. I've been feeling the former for weeks. This morning, I felt the latter. Violently. I woke about eight a.m., only four hours after going to bed (and taking my night meds). I lay in bed two or three minutes. I sat up and checked the clock. And then I stood up, rather quickly...which I know not to do. Only I was still probably half asleep. And I went down like a sack of bricks. Boom, straight to the floor. As I fell, my right ankle folded under me, and I landed on it. Hard. The pain instantly brought me back to consciousness. And I was absolutely certain I'd broken my foot. This was the sort of pain that makes you want to puke. The noise had Spooky awake in a flash, awake and panicked. I managed to tell her I'd fallen and thought I'd broken my foot.

She got me to lie down, and she took my sock off. I lay there on the floor like a goddamn fool while she held ice on my ankle. We waited for the swelling and discoloration to begin. I thought mostly about how I couldn't afford a trip to the ER. But my foot didn't swell. It's not broken. Eventually, I got back into bed and even managed to get back to sleep. I awoke feeling like I'd been in a car wreck. I have so many sore places I can't count them, and I'm having to hobble about with my cane, and I feel like an idiot. I swear, I have to put a big-ass sign beside my bed that says GET UP SLOWLY, FOOL.

I've had breakfast and Advil, and hopefully that will help.


My thanks to everyone (even those I disagreed with) for the many marvelous comments yesterday. I tried to reply to everyone, though I might have missed a few of the later ones. I wouldn't mind seeing a flood of comments like that every day. Of course, the truth is, I rarely provide something interesting to comment on. The act of writing is not a terribly exciting subject (though its end result is). Here are a few bits from yesterday I especially liked (so back to the matter of first-person narration and the interauthor).

I wrote, A first-person narrative occurs in a minimum of two time frames: the present (when the story is being written down) and the past (when the story occurred). And [livejournal.com profile] corucia replied:

And the interval of time between those two is also vitally important. If the events are being written as journal entries or the like at a very close remove from the primary action, then the interauthor might be unwilling to write down particularly upsetting events (perhaps only using a "something major happened today I don't think I can talk about" marker) but then bits of the event will creep into the narrative in later entries, possibly with a major unveiling and discussion later. On the other hand, if a significant amount of time has passed and the interauthor is writing down everything to make some sort of record, then she's going to be much more likely to do it in a linear fashion.

To which I can only say, yes, exactly. [livejournal.com profile] dragau wrote:

Another question that generally remains unanswered is why the interauthor is such a good writer in the first place.

This is a very, very important point that I've never seen addressed anywhere. In a first-person narration, the interauthor is usually the most important character. Not just a convenient storytelling device, but an actual fictional person. And, as the writer, I have to fully understand who that person is, their fears and desires, their strengths and weaknesses. To assume that all interauthors just happen to be good at expressing themselves in words— because I happen to be, and because I need the interauthor to tell a story —is to fall into a trap that, at least for me, can kill a piece.

Lately, I've been wondering, why are authors afraid to write interauthors who are much less skilled at writing than they themselves are, people who are much less articulate? That is, write a first-person narrative by someone who cannot write. Certainly, it would, in most cases, be far more authentic and realistic. Of course, there's the lazy fallback of having the interauthor be a writer (I might seem guilty of that in The Red Tree, and maybe I was, but it seems to me that Sarah had to be an author for me to tell the story I needed her to tell). But the message here is simple: The interauthor must speak as the interauthor would speak. If she or he is a cop or a stripper or a construction worker, odds are pretty good the narration will not read as if it were written by an author. And the challenge that a good writer must rise to, in these cases, is to write like X, whatever X signifies, instead of writing like a writer. This is lesson I'm still learning myself.

And there was this bit by [livejournal.com profile] bbluemarble that I have to quote, simply because it's succinct and very much needs saying:

After reading this post and the prior comments I've come to the conclusion that there are (in effect) two types of first person narratives: First Person Found Artifact and First Person Really Just a Bastardization of Third Person Limited.

I think this happened because every writing book ever written tells amateur writers that first person is easier to write and it's a shortcut to reader empathy. These are lies. Writing first person as found artifact is really hard to do well.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Most young writers make this very mistake. They use first person, think it's easy, or because some idiot writing instructor told them they should, without ever having puzzled through the inherent difficulties of the voice. For what it's worth, I've had such a longstanding suspicion of first person that I pretty much avoided it until 2003, when I wrote "Riding the White Bull" and The Dry Salvages in first person, eleven years after I began writing for publication, and even then I made mistakes. Oh, I almost forgot. In my first novel, The Five of Cups (written in 1992, unpublished until 2003), there are long stretches essentially in first person, and they're rather dreadful. I simply had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, I realized and switched to third person in all subsequent novels, until The Red Tree, sixteen years later.

I'm going to paste in the rest of [livejournal.com profile] bbluemarble's response, because it's easier than paraphrasing:

Maybe that's why it's [First Person Found Artifact] all but disappeared in favor of first person bastardization of third. I can't say that I remember the first book I read that didn't explain why it was in first person (remember when that used to be a rule? Explain that this narrative is an artifact and what sort of artifact it is or the audience will be unable to suspend disbelief!) but I do vividly remember the most unrealistic pseudo-explanation for the narrative being in first person that I ever read. It was something along the lines of "I'm thinking stuff. Right now. These are my thoughts that I'm sending out to the world in the hopes that someone will hear them and maybe write them down." Adhering to that convention actually pulled me right out of the story with thoughts along the lines of "What?! She's a vampire that's psychic enough to compel some random person to write her dying-moments memoir but she can't psychic her friends to help her escape? What a stupid superpower." In that case, it would have been better for the story to just dispense with the whole first person construct and do it in third person limited (but I get the feeling that editors/publishers/the powers that be to working writers thought the average teen reader may have trouble empathizing with a sometimes psychotic vampire that goes on occasional killing sprees and feels no remorse so...I know, write it in first person! Instant empathy!).

Really want to be a good writer who doesn't rely on crutches? Want to solve the problems posed by a given narrative, instead of rushing to what appears to be a quick fix? Then listen to all this shit. And think about it.


Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, and also at the very cool new stuff in Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks & Sundries shop at Etsy (now including a hand-painted Ouija board!)

Okay. More than enough for now. I hurt, and I think I'm going to take a hot bath and lie down for a bit.
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.
greygirlbeast: (chi6)
As things wind down, I'm having to force my mind back to writing — to writing and the busyness of writing. This has hardly been a vacation. But then I never meant for it to be a vacation, precisely. I intended to spend at least half my time in Rhode Island writing and much of it finding things to write about. It just didn't work out that way. Too many distractions, too much incoming chaos, the absence of my usual surroundings...a lot of factors. I also didn't get nearly as much exercise as I'd hoped to get, and I somehow managed to frelling gain weight when I'd intended to lose a little. I blame the chowder. And the doughboys. And Penguin, because stress makes me eat. And I blame myself, for having no willpower whatsoever.

Our house-sitter called this morning to say that the page proofs/galleys for Daughter of Hounds had arrived in Atlanta. They are now waiting for me in my office. They have to be back in NYC by September 7th.

I also just sold the Czech foreign-language rights for "Riding the White Bull," which is pretty frelling drad.

It seemed I had a whole lot else to say when I started this entry, but my mind keeps wandering. My thoughts have drifted, like grinding tectonic plates. Ah, well. I suppose that's what the next entry's for.

Postscript: I also didn't get half as much reading done as I'd meant to do. But I did make it all the way through Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History of New England's Stone Walls by Robert M. Thorson (Walker & Co.; 2002), which really was very good, I thought. The book was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that I've had access to several very old stone walls here behind the cottage, convenient visual aids.
greygirlbeast: (grey)
I fear that this will be a day of the sort that not even Jethro Tull can help. That clear blue sky out there was the first bad omen. There have been several others since breakfast.

I don't think there's really much to be said about yesterday, as I didn't write. I'm beginning to think that I need to phase out "days off" altogether. Only very rarely does anything good come of them. Usually, they just leave me feeling like a bum because I could have used that time for work. Yesterday, we had a late, small lunch at La Fonda on Ponce, then stopped by Borders before the library. But I decided to get my 2006 Tolkien calendar from Amazon and save a few bucks. I did pick up the latest issue of New Witch, mostly for the Faith and the Muse interview. I am ever in awe of Monica. Oh, and if anyone local's interested, there are copies of both Murder of Angels and Low Red Moon at the Borders on Ponce. So, anyway, then it was off to Emory, and I tried to find a copy of Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today, but it was shelved over in the theology library, and I didn't feel like making the hike. So, instead, I grabbed Gerhard Maier's African Dinosaurs Unearthed: The Tendaguru Expeditions, which I might have time to read this month. Then I went to the Matheson Reading Room and tried to catch up on my neglected pen and paper journal while Spooky read a paper on dandyism in Fashion Theory (Siouxsie Sioux and Marlene Dietrich were named as examples of female dandies). After the library, we returned Shadow of the Colossus to Blockbuster and swapped it for Gun, then went to the market. While Spooky fixed dinner (chili), I goofed about online. Later, Poppy called and we talked until my cell phone's battery went kaput, mostly about what a shitty year 2005 has been for both of us. Then I tried Gun, but found it very disappointing. I think I'd have found it disappointing even if it wasn't coming on the heels of SotC. The graphics are average, at best. The characters feel like action figures with too few points of articulation. The animation as regards riding horses is especially shabby (and this was something that was handled superbly in SotC). And the game play is clunky and tedious. Sure, there are all these cool actors doing the voices, which I think explains where the designers spent most of their budget — it surely wasn't on the graphics and animation. Anyway, big, big disappointment, and I'll likely move on to something else. There was more insomnia last night. I was up until sometime after four, reading Lord Dunsany — "Why the Milkman Shudders When He Perceives the Dawn," "A Tale of the Equator," and "The Exiles' Club."

Anyway, that was yesterday. At least the clouds and drizzle mercifully hid the blue sky and made the cold seem not quite so cold.

Today, I have to get back to Secret Project B, which means the whole week will likely be consumed by rewriting a pitch that has already been rewritten a dozen times. It's the sort of work that makes me want to put my head through a wall.

The "intelligent design" idiots are on my mind this morning, for one reason or another, but I'm going to do the right thing and resist the urge to waste keystrokes on them. But I have to complain about something. So I'll complain about the inane review of "Riding the White Bull" (in a story-by-story review of The Year's Best Science Fiction #22) at SFSignal. I quote:

...the narrative kept jumping back and forth between multiple points in the story line, usually without warning. The result was to take what could have been a first-rate, hardboiled sf detective story and turn it into a hodgepodge of unorganized passages.

For my part, as the author, I know that "Riding the White Bull" is a good story (and I do not say this about everything I write). And, for what it's worth, the story has received heaps of praise and was chosen for Year's Best. But it still pisses me off when I see people who obviously cannot master anything beyond the simplest narratives being allowed to review books right out in public where anyone can stumble across this crap. There's nothing the least bit unusual or difficult about the narrative of "Riding the White Bull." This reviewer is clearly the sort of person Warner Bros. had in mind when it forced Ridley Scott to add that hokey, gawdawful, "explain it so even the morons can understand" voice-over to the original cut of Blade Runner. I most emphatically don't write for those people. It's a shame I can't also arrange it so that they can't read and comment on what I write. They certainly are not welcome at the party.


Okay. I have to go wait for a phone call. I think a few of the auctions are ending today, so please have a look. Thanks.


greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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