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: (walter3)
The weather is warming up again here in Providence. It's sunny, though windy. We're supposed to reach 69F today, and low 70sF tomorrow.

Day before yesterday, I wrote 812 words on "Tempest Witch." I may or may not be changing the title to "The Sea Witch," after discovering that's the correct name of the Frazetta painting upon which the vignette is based (also, it was painted in 1966, though not published until 1967). Yesterday, I wrote nothing, as I had an appointment with my psychiatrist, and those always throw days into disarray. But any day I see my psychiatrist and she lets me come home afterward, I count as a good day. I did get a lot of reading done yesterday, all research for "The Maltese Unicorn."

The eBay auction for a copy of The Five of Cups ends in a couple of hours. Remember, it'll be a while before you see another from me. This novel has been out of print since 2003.

It feels as though I've been watching an awful lot of "television" lately. I used the qualifying quotation marks because we don't actually watch television, but use Spooky's laptop to stream from Hulu and Netflix, and we watch a lot of DVDs. On Tuesday night, we saw Dr. Who: The Waters of Mars. Wednesday night, there was the new episode of Glee, which was great, even if there was a cover of "Jessie's Girl" (ew, ick) and even if we did have to suffer through Kurt's rendition of "Little Pink Houses." Last night, there was the very, very excellent new episode of Fringe. We also watched Michael and Peter Spierig's Daybreakers (2009). Not a great film, but a good film. Nice eye candy, which is the very least I ask of a vampire film (and which few ever deliver). Indeed, it's the only good vampire film I've seen since 2008's Låt den rätte komma in (which was much superior to Daybreakers, but still). So, yes, lots of watching.

Also, last night, I did something I swore I'd never, ever do. I rolled a gnome on WoW. A female gnome warrior. I fucking hate gnomes. And, yet, I did it anyway. Spooky and I had been joking around with silly gnome names the night before. I couldn't resist creating a character named Gnomnclature. Spooky matched me by creating a male gnome warlock named Klausgnomi. Last night, I leveled Gnomnclature almost all the way to Level 9. Man, I remember when the first ten levels were not half so easy as they are now (and when you didn't get a mount until Level 40). I suppose Blizzard figures they'll be able to create more addicts...um...I mean players...if lazy-ass, easily discouraged, free-trial players are given a cushy ride at the start. I might actually level Gnomnclature as far as 20, so she can get a mount and join the Knights of Good.

The platypus says that's enough, and I argue at the risk of losing another finger.
greygirlbeast: (goat girl)
I'm in love with the two songs I've heard from Trent Reznor's new project, How to Destroy Angels. This is the second song/video:

Also, eBay auctions ending over the next couple of days. Note especially the copy of The Five of Cups, as these are now few and far between, as for as my personal stock is concerned.
greygirlbeast: (Kraken)
Yesterday I did 1,252 words on the new vignette which, as of this writing, is still named "Exuvium."

The weather here in Providence has been grey and chilly and on-and-off rainy for days now. Or so it seems. I can't recall the last time I saw the sun. Then again, I've not left the House since Tuesday. Which really isn't that long, not for me. But the sun would be nice, shining in my office window.

The sea would be nice.

Please consider observing "Black Friday" by bidding on the current eBay auctions, which include a copy of the lettered edition of my long-out-of-print first novel (though it was published after my second and third novels, just before my fourth). Also, check out the Cephalopodmas ornaments in Spooky's Etsy shop, Dreaming Squid Dollworks.

Last night, we had trouble deciding whether to watch Wes Anderson's The Darjeeleng Limited (2007) again, or, instead, watch Jim Jarmusch's The Limits of Control (2009). The Darjeeleng Limited won out, as we were both in need of a comfort film. Later in the night, we played WoW, our new undead characters, and met up inworld with [livejournal.com profile] scarletboi and [livejournal.com profile] memkhet.

No sun yet. It's not the sort of thing that comes when you call.
greygirlbeast: (white)
On this day in 1859, 150 years ago, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was first published (by British publishing house, John Murray). If any single book charted the course of my life, this is likely it. So, 150 years ago Darwin proposed a theory of evolution to explain the fact of evolution, and, of course, the theory is still evolving, which is the nature of science. And the creationists still don't get it. Maybe in another 150 years...well...let's not go there. My inner pessimist always wins. It's enough to marvel that so many years have passed, and we've made countless discoveries that would have dazzled, delighted, and humbled Mr. Darwin.

Also on this date, in 2001, a mere eight years ago, I began this blog. It was over at Blogger at the time. So, here I have eight years worth of online journal. When it began, I was living in Birmingham and just getting started on Low Red Moon. And I thought I knew how my life would go. I could never have imagined all the things that the coming eight years held in store.

So, there you go. Two anniversaries in one.

Yesterday was mostly spent tweaking "Sanderlings." I also made notes for a new vignette, for Sirenia Digest #48, and that hardly ever happens. Oh, and my contributor's copy of Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown arrived a few days back, and I spent part of yesterday watching the extended interviews.

Last night, Spooky and I were trying to get Shaharrazad and Surra through Dire Maul, but there was some sort of cataclysmic server breakdown. I think at least a third of the WoW servers crashed all at the same time. So, we were forced to stop killing ogres and seek intellectual stimulation elsewhere. So, we watched Peter Askin's documentary, Trumbo (2007), which was very good and almost made me glad for the server crash. I spend far too much time on that damned silly game.

I will not be writing today, because I have a doctor's appointment.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. The copy of The Five of Cups that we're offering is the lettered edition, filled with extras. Also, Spooky has sold all of her non-winged Cthulhu ornaments (Cephalopodmas is just around the corner!), and only has the winged version remaining (the one I happen to prefer). Five of those remain. You can see them in her Dreaming Squid shop.

Now I'm going to finish my coffee.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
I swear to whichever goddess is presently in the mood to listen, if these weird dreams keep up, I'm going to have our water tested for LSD. This time, I was a high-school student somewhere in the Ozarks, only it was an Asian vampire film involving nanites, a very gory Asian vampire film that just happened to also be a musical (and I blame "Once More, With Feeling"). Most of the twists and turns are now forgotten, lost to me, but it was one of those dreams where you're simultaneously a character and someone watching what's happening, as though it's a movie. The whole thing played itself out twice, except the second time through I realized there were scenes I'd somehow missed the first time. It ended, finally, with the realization that the "vampires" (for want of a better word) could only be killed by running a long silver needle through their left temple and leaving it there. It sounds funny now, but it was truly, genuinely terrifying (and not just because of all the singing schoolgirls and choreography). One detail I recall very vividly, a sort of ad or pamphlet urging graduates to remain in the town after graduation. Drawn in a very 1950s style, it showed three deliriously happy people: a jock in his letterman sweater, a cheerleader, and a very bookish girl.

Meanwhile, because we are apparently in competition at the moment in the surreal dreams department, Spooky was having a dream about stealing absinthe from Harlan Ellison's locker. I asked her if the dream was set in a high school, and she said no, there was just this locker. Anthony Stewart Head was with her (she says he was not Giles), and he could open the combination lock on the safe by listening to the tumblers. There was someone else with them, a third, but she couldn't recall who he or she was. They took the pilfered bottle of absinthe to a cornfield, but the corn had only just begun to sprout, and so didn't make much of a hiding place.

So...now I am awake. I think. No one but Nick Cave and Blixa Bargeld are singing, and I take that as a good sign.

Yesterday, I did 1,214 words on "The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean," which I expect to finish today. Also, Tuesday, and again yesterday, I forgot to mention that on Monday I'd done all the requested line edits and a couple of minor rewrites on "As Red as Red," which will be appearing in Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas' forthcoming anthology, Haunted Legends.

Please do have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks. I should stress that my personal stock of both The Five of Cups and Tales from the Woeful Platypus (hardback trade editions) is getting very low, and I'll not be offering many more copies of these two books. Your bids will be much appreciated.

By the way, if you're going to make it to my "How I Wrote A is for Alien" solo presentation at ReaderCon 20, I think I'll be handing out sets of the four images by Vince Locke that did not actually appear in the published book. How's that for incentive? Frankly, I have no idea how I'm going to spend an hour talking about writing the anthology, especially given that it was written over a period of four years, as individual short stories, and not as a single volume. But, these things always seem to attend to themselves, so I expect I'll do fine, and great fun will be had by all. And, of course, Henry the Horse dances the waltz.

I'm going to go finish my coffee now. The platypus is giving me the hairy eyeball.

But wait..."Evidence Found for Ancient Mars Lake". A body of liquid water the size of Lake Champlain, which existed 3 billion years ago. Exquisite.
greygirlbeast: (starbuck2)
Yesterday...I wrote. I don't know how many words. Less than a thousand, and that took all day. The good news is that my editor for "As Red as Red" has kindly consented to extend my deadline by a few more days, so perhaps I will actually be able to finish this story. The bad news is that this means "As Red as Red" is going to start eating into time that needs to be spent working on Sirenia Digest #40, and my next day off lies somewhere in early April. I'm trying hard not to look at the big picture. I'm trying to get from one day to the next, and that's about all. Baby steps. No grand plans. No foresight. It just locks me up these days.

Our latest round of eBay auctions will be ending this evening. I'd be grateful if you'd have a look, and bid if you are so inclined and able. There are copies of two subpress chapbooks, The Little Damned Book of Days and Mercury, a copy of the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, and a PC (author's) copy of the numbered hardback edition of The Five of Cups. I don't have a lot of these left, and I can pretty much guarantee that this is a book that will never see print again. Please have a look, and thanks.

The weather here remains very cold, 31F at the moment, but the wind chill has it feeling like 20F. It's sunny, but, somehow, that only makes it worse. Most of my life, March has been the month when the world goes green again. I'm having to learn to think of it as the end of winter, not the beginning of spring.

Last night, we watched the last three episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I'm going to withhold any detailed commentary until sometime later, after I'm certain that everyone's had a chance to see the finale. I will say that I was very pleased with the conclusion. I still feel like the series was at least a season too long (season three, I'm thinking). But the ending pleased me. Sure, I have scientific quibbles, but this is space opera, not hard sf. If I fixated too much on the bad science, I'd never have been able to make it through the series premiere, much less all the way to the story's conclusion. The story being told and the characterization outweighed the bad science, which is what good space opera does. It's not about the nuts and bolts, or how well the writers can handle physics, astronomy, engineering, biology, and what have you. It's about telling a good story with the trappings of sf. I would say that's what Battlestar Galactica managed to do. I was especially pleased with the first hour of "Daybreak," which I suspect I'll watch again and again, but the second half also managed to hit a lot of good buttons. I was even pleased with the way the writers handled the "god" problem. A shame that the "SyFy" channel is apparently embarrassed by the likes of Battlestar Galactica. Or rather, embarrassed by the viewers it attracts.

Time to make the doughuts. So say we all.
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
You know your insomnia has wrought unspeakable ill upon your person, when your girlfriend forbids you to look in mirrors. I got to sleep sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 ayem, then woke at 8:45. After hardly sleeping the night before. And I was a lot more awake at 8:45 than I am right now.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,005 words on what I hope to fuck all is the beginning of "As Red as Red." I'm running out of month. And I still have Sirenia Digest #40 to get out, when this short story is finished.


My disdain for the Sci Fi Channel is no secret. After the cancellation of Farscape, I refused to watch for a year or two, then only went back for Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who (the latter is not actually a SciFi produced series, of course). The former SFC vice-president, Bonnie Hammer, went so far out of her way to alienate the channel's core market, and launched such insulting attacks on the people tuning in...well, I wasn't sure it could get much worse. Wrong. Which is to say, "Sci Fi Channel Aims to Shed Geeky Image With New Name." Yes, the SciFi Channel will now be the SyFy channel. And you know why? In the words of Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel:

When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it. It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.

So, there you have it, kiddos. Ys are quantitatively cooler than Is. I suppose this means that it's time to change my name to Caytlyn R. Kyernan, so I can be so much cooler and more cutting edge and txty and all that shit. Anyway, you should read this article. It'll make your brain cramp. I think David Howe actually makes me miss Bonnie Hammer.


Speaking of things that make your brain cramp, let's say you were to join a Second Life roleplay group with the following charter:

"We are seekers into the mystery, dedicated to the discovery, rediscovery, and preservation of ancient and occult knowledge. We serve no master or mistress but this one purpose. In all matters concerning the world beyond the AI, we maintain a stance of inviolable and absolute neutrality. We do not take sides. We do not offer aid or shelter. We do not interfere. We are one and many. We seek the Truth, and shall hold no creed nor take any action contrary to our mission."

Now, having joined, having read that charter for such an esoteric and clearly self-centered order, would you then dare feel somehow justified at expressing righteous indignation upon learning that the group doesn't take sides, or offer aid or shelter? That it doesn't help blind old ladies cross streets, or sell cookies to send kids with special needs to summer camp, or run a kennel for stray dogs, or give good homes to fucking orphans? Oh, and do keep in mind that the order's founder is a vampire hailing from the Tzmisce sect, and, in earlier times, she was known as Countess Báthory Erzsébet, and La bête du Gévaudan, and Jack the Ripper? Never mind that she might also have been responsible for the Tunguska explosion in 1908 (and yeah, those last two sentences are surely geektastic enough to send David Howe of the SyFy Channel running for cover, lest he be stricken with unhip, unsalable paroxysms of mortal fucking agony). I'm just asking, you know? Because my tolerance for stupid is scraping bottom this morning.

Is it just me, or are people far less ashamed of looking foolish than they once were? I think it's becoming a badge of honour.


Please have a look at the new ebay auctions. We have a copy of The Five of Cups up, and keep in mind, this is one of the last of these I have to sell. Thanks.

Tomorrow I am banning all Is from this blog. Because, you know, then I'll be, like, way cooler. And make more money. And stuff.

Oh...I have some more photos from our trip to the Common Burying Ground in Newport on Monday:

16 March 2009 )
greygirlbeast: (Blood elf)
Oddly enough, the three bands we listen to the most, by far, when playing WoW are the Psychedelic Furs, R.E.M., and Radiohead. To wit:


If you haven't already, please have a look at the current eBay auctions. And, for those who may not know, I will point out that my author's photo on the back of the dust jacket of The Five of Cups is from a nude photo shoot I did in 2003. That's called "extra incentive."
greygirlbeast: (Illyria)
Today, I am no less inclined than I was yesterday to gaze upon the process of editing one of my novels with anything but a mix of dread and annoyance. But the black funk of yesterday has lifted enough that I think I can at least write a civil blog entry.

Yesterday, I finished with the editorial letter from Anne (my editor at Penguin) for The Red Tree, the last few items on her list of questions. Only a few items, but they took the whole day to address. A little bit of new text was written, but I didn't bother adding it up. The word count, I mean. At this point, the only thing left to actually write is an author's note. But I do have all my own editorial notes (mostly line edits) remaining to go through, and also those that Spooky's dad made when he read the novel. But that's it. It has to be back in NYC on Monday, at the latest. And then I can move on to Sirenia Digest #39, and, after that, I think I get a week off. Oh, the last thing I did yesterday, work-wise, was print out a fresh "typescript" (I loathe the phrase "hard copy") of the book, because the original is so marked up in red it has become impossible to read many pages.

I am not a believer in the writing-workshop maxim "Do not be afraid of producing a bad first draft." I do everything I can to get it right the very first time. And, mostly, it works. I can only go through anything I've written so many times before it ceases to hold any interest for me, and I cannot work on something that does not interest me. If I were the sort of writer who did multiple drafts...well, I'd never have gotten beyond The Five of Cups, back in '92-'93. Speaking of which, we have a copy of The Five of Cups in the current eBay auctions, and we haven't offered a copy in quite some time. It's now selling for idiotic prices on Amazon. Ours is a little better. And I'll even personalize.

And I should mention the lottery to benefit the Shirley Jackson Awards again. I have donated a complete, signed set of the ROC mass-market paperback editions of my novels: Silk, Threshold, Low Red Moon, Murder of Angels, and Daughter of Hounds. A chance to win costs you only one dollar. The lottery ends February 23rd.

Ellen Datlow's forthcoming anthology Lovecraft Unbound, which includes my story "Houses Under the Sea," has sold to M Press, and will be released in October. It also includes short fiction by Joyce Carol Oates, Elizabeth Bear, Holly Phillips, William Browning Spencer, and many others.

I'll throw in a quick "review" of movies and television from the last two or three days. Well, movie, singular. We saw Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk. I liked it, though not as much as I liked Iron Man. But there just wasn't the opportunity for Edward Norton to deliver the sort of performance that Robert Downey, Jr. gave. I should add, I am not a fan of the Hulk, hated the '70s series (I was just a kid back then), never read the comic, and did not see Ang Lee's film. I think what I liked most about this adaptation was the way the filmmakers managed not only to make the Hulk seem like a solid thing existing beyond the confines of CGI, but the way they imbued the character with a personality, something more than "Hulk smash!" I just can't get used to Liv Tyler without the ears, though. Also, we saw the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, "No Exit," and I loved it. Dean Stockwell was really superb, in his tirade against Ellen. I have days like that. And sure, there's an infodump, Sam's memory getting jarred and all, but I thought it was handled as well as an infodump can be handled, made part of the story and then truncated. Also, we saw "The Good Wound," the new Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which was fine, not stellar, but okay. The highpoint was Garret Dillahunt's performance as John Henry, asking those pesky questions about an inefficient god. And, finally, we saw the premiere of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. While it was not nearly as bad as I'd feared it would be, I was not hooked. Awfully bland fare for Whedon, and I know the network dicked around with the original series quite a lot, so that's no surprise. If the show lasts a whole season, I'll be mildly amazed. When Whedon is at his best (Serenity, Firefly, the last three seasons of Buffy, the last couple of seasons of Angel, Dr Horrible, etc.), I am a great fan. This is not Whedon at his best. This is Whedon so watered down that he is almost unrecognizable. Far too much has been told upfront; we should have been given a mystery to puzzle over for at least a season or two.

Okay. Platypus and dodo say it's time to get back to line edits. I am only an extension of their will.
greygirlbeast: (white)
The snow should begin in another half hour or so. I'm sitting here, sipping coffee, staring out my window, waiting. There are small birds out there, flittering busily about. At least, their flittering presents the illusion of business. The illusion or the impression. I appears we may be snowed in all weekend.

I have my pain pills, and coffee, and the peppermint Altoids that make the cough better. So, there you go.

I think this is the most exquisite bit of song lyric, from the Editors' "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" (probably, I've already quoted it in an earlier entry):

Pull the blindfold down,
So your eyes can't see.
Now, run as fast as you can,
Through this field of trees.

Those lines, they might be the first words whispered to the first woman by a sadistic god trying to explain what it will be like to live. Or they might be the mercy of a serial killer. They might only be a fraternity game. No, this isn't headed anywhere in particular. This day isn't headed anywhere in particular. Except for the snow.

I'm trying to find the first vignette for Sirenia Digest #37. I've been trying to think about cats, but keep coming back to vampires. I think it's the tongues. I have always thought that vampires would have rough tongues (and I wrote them that way in The Five of Cups). It just makes sense. Werewolves do not have rough tongues.

We went out for groceries yesterday afternoon, and I was amazed to see that, here in Providence, the first mention of snow does not lead to markets bereft of bread and milk.* And the cold Outside rendered everything so amazingly still. Even the cars on the road, though moving, seemed perfectly still. The river seemed still. I watched a woman sitting on a corner; she was smoking a cigarette, and even the smoke she exhaled seemed still. Few things are as ominous as this sort of pervasive stillness. But, it was peaceful, too. Ominous peace, I suppose. The sunlight was like spilled orange juice.

Last night, we read the first two chapters of The Historian, which I'm quite pleased with, so far.

Nice and much appreciated emails yesterday from a reader in New Hampshire and another in Roskilde, Denmark. The email from Roskilde came from Lars Ahn Pedersen, who knew the name of the woman who took the photographs for the Locus interview. Apparently, she's Amelia Beamer, which I should have remembered on my own. Oh, the New Hampshire email was from "Michael B in frozen Manchester." Everywhere, it's still.

I should wrap this up. Please do have a look at the current ebay auctions. Spooky has added Letter V of Frog Toes and Tentacles. The book comes in a handmade (by Spooky) crushed velvet "cozy," lined with red silk. Only a few of these cozies exist...maybe six...and we've not offered them since 2006, I think. We will likely offer only one or two in this round of auctions, and then there will be no more for a long time. Have a look. Bid if you are so disposed. Thanks.

Oh, and there's this peculiar jot of frippery:

Haiku2 for greygirlbeast
of the forsaken
it's good to me it's
very odd that i've
Created by Grahame

* Spooky just informed me the situation would have been different had we gone to Stop & Shop. So, never mind.
greygirlbeast: (Sweeny1)
So, yeah, I think my unwillingness to become too deeply mired in human politics has reached the point that I have become functionally apolitical. For example, my first thought upon hearing that McCain had chosen Palin as his running mate was, "What the fuck is Michael Palin doing hanging out with war-mongering Republican assholes like McCain?" So, learning the Palin in question was actually a homophobic, anti-choice former beauty queen from Alaska, and not a former member of Monty Python, came as a huge relief.

Er...anyway. Yesterday. Yesterday was not a writing day. It was, instead, a reading day. Looking at the beginning of Chapter Five, and being rather uncertain What Happens Next, I needed to think. And I tend to think best when reading or when watching movies. So, I reread (Is that actually a word? LJ seems to think so.) chapters 20 and 22 of Danielewski's House of Leaves (2000), section 6 of Chapter 4 of Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (1959), and Angela Carter's "The Tiger's Bride" (1979). Old favourites that I know so well reading them does not require too much of my attention, but which still manage to hit all the right buttons. And I found the idea I needed to begin Chapter 5 of The Red Tree today.

By the way, looking back over The Haunting of Hill House yesterday, I became angry all over again at the insistence of so many publishers, and the expectation by many readers, that novels must be great long things. The Haunting of Hill House is about 240 pages long, quite a bit shorter than, say, Daughter of Hounds (which is 431 pages long, in the tpb edition). Now, I do agree that a novel should be as long as a novel needs to be, but included within that maxim is the corollary that a novel should never be longer than it needs to be. Many novels today, especially bestsellers, are absurdly long (or at least the font size is increased to give that impression), and this follows largely from books being thought of as only another product marketed to consumers looking for their "best value." Longer books are better than shorter books, since a long hardback and a short hardback (or paperback) tend to cost about the same. Novels have been "supersized," as it were. Regardless, I suspect The Red Tree will be no more than 80,000 words at the most (Daughter of Hounds was, by comparison, 133,000+ words in length, but then, it needed to be). Books are not to be judged by page count any more than they are to be judged by their covers. And, as long as I'm titling at windmills and speaking of excessively thick books, if Laurell K. Hamilton is the idiot stepdaughter of Anne Rice, then Stephenie Meyer is, at best, Hamilton's parthenogenic hysterical pregnancy (and I think we've taken this metaphor as far as it can possibly go). Truly, it amazes me, some of the shit people send zipping to the top of the bestseller lists. Truly, crap floats.*

Oh, and I also read "A ceratosaurid [Dinosauria; Theropoda] from the Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous of Uruguay" in JVP, but it really had no bearing on the novel.

As for last night, for dinner Spooky got pizza from Pizza Pie'er on Wickenden, because we had a Howards End build-team meeting at 7 pm. And afterwards, I had my first real rp in days, but, sadly, it was at Toxian City, where I'd sworn I'd never, ever go again. I really will be glad when the HE rp is up and running, and I can discover, once and for all, if I am capable of fixing all the things that are wrong with SL roleplay. Maybe I can't, but at least I can try. And if I can't, I can step away from the whole sorry mess knowing that I gave it my best.

A comment and question from a reader:

I liked The Five of Cups. You don't have any intention of re-releasing any other books (Murder of Angels, Threshold or The Dry Salvages) in hardback by any chance? or know where it might be possible to procure a copy of said magnificent books?

You have to forgive my disdain for The Five of Cups. I was 28 when I wrote it back in '92, and that was a long time and a lot of words ago, and neither the novel nor I have, in my estimation, aged well. All novelists are allowed to feel discomfort at their early efforts. It comes with the job. As for the other books, there has never been a hardback of Murder of Angels and probably never will be. There's not yet been a hb of Threshold, but there has been some talk of subpress doing a tenth-anniversary edition in 2011. And while The Dry Salvages is probably out of print for good, there will be a revised version released next year as a free ebook (to coincide with the release of A is for Alien).

* It occurs to me that i have to write a response to myself tomorrow, since the scatalogical generalization "crap floats" is obviously flawed.
greygirlbeast: (chi 5)
One of the weirdest things (sensu Lovecraft et al.) about the move from Atlanta to Providence is trying to get used to the much earlier sunrise, brought about not so much by being nearer the eastern border of the Eastern Time Zone (presently EDT), but being at such a higher latitude. For example, tomorrow morning, in Atlanta the sun will "rise" (a misnomer and an optical illusion, of course) at 6:26 a.m. and set at 8:49 p.m. Yet here in Rhode Island, in Providence, the sun will rise at 5:10 a.m. and set at 8:22 p.m. The sunset differential is not so severe —— only twenty-seven minutes —— but the sunrise differential is far greater, a full hour and sixteen minutes. I first noted this in 2006, but it caught me off guard early this morning, when, at 3:45 a.m. Spooky said I should get to bed soon or the sun would be up. Weird. I think I went to bed about 4 a.m., and was asleep almost at once.

Yesterday, finally, I had something resembling a "normal" writing day. I thank the cooler weather, more than anything. I don't believe the thermostat went much higher than about 83F (and I had Dr. Muñoz in the office for a brief spell, so it was quite a bit cooler in here). I wrote 1,165 words on "The Melusine" for Sirenia Digest #31. That's a very decent, if not spectacular, writing day. Word count-wise. Of course, word count is only one way of measuring how successful any given writing day is, and it may be, truthfully, the least important. What matters is that I like what I wrote yesterday, that it was written well, and that I shall not have to do any significant revision on it.

And this brings us back around to the story I linked to yesterday about writers, even us mid-list types, being pushed to churn out a novel a year and the possible effect of this industry demand on quality. By the way, if you're trying to break into this market, if you think you want to be a working author (i.e., an author whose sole income is herhisits income derived from fiction sales, which means largely novel sales), you really, really ought to read this article. Anyway, yesterday [livejournal.com profile] jtglover commented:

I read that article and enjoyed it. I found it via a link that indicated that there had been some grousing in some writerly corners of the blogosphere about the article. I'm sure that there are people, even now, complaining about the audacity of any writer to demand the time to try to create art instead of just cranking out the closest-to-good story possible in the super-tight timeframes that All Real, Professional Writers deal with constantly. I get that there are regular timeframes involved when dealing with publishers and contracts and such, but it seems to me that little is more corrosive to a writer than to be told always to hurry, because nobody gets it right anyway, and who's foolish enough to try to "write well" anyway?

To which I replied, Nice. I may address this tomorrow. To which Mr. Glover replied:

I don't want to come across as a sycophant, but that would mean a lot to me. Right now I'm struggling through the first draft of what I hope will be my first completed novel, and I'm regularly torn about how quickly to write. Slowly (4-800 words/day) means I can get inside the characters' heads more easily, but I'm afraid of losing momentum. Quickly (800-1600 words/day) means I finish sooner and can "fix it" in the second draft, but the characters rarely come to life when I'm moving at that pace.

All I can do, of course, is write about this problem from the perspective afforded by my personal experience. I think of myself as a slow writer, though, often, I seem wildly productive. When I was writing for DC/Vertigo, for example, expected to produce a script a month, I sometimes would write three a month. Back then, my daily word count, on novels and short fiction was about 500 words/day. These days, it's up to about twice that, about 1,100 words on average, and my all-time record is something like 2,800 words in a single day. Anyway, yes, all in all, though I write a lot (because I do little else), I write rather slowly, and it is very, very hard, if not impossible, to do this book-a-year nonsense. Partly, this is because I do not write in drafts. I write a single draft, to which I make line edits. That's almost always been the case. What I write the first time around is usually what shows up on the printed page —— usually. First and second and third drafts are fine for people who need to write that way, but it's not the way I taught myself to write. I work on a sentence until it's as close to perfect as I can get it. Same for any given paragraph, and then I move along to the next. Does this slow me down? I don't know, because, after all, it seems to me loads of time is wasted in rewrites by authors who have learned to write in multiple drafts. Below is a list of my novels, to date, and how long I took to write each one:

The Five of Cups (nine months, '92-'93)
Silk (twenty-eight months, '93-'96)
Threshold (twenty-two months, '98-'00)
Low Red Moon (eight months, '01-02)
Murder of Angels (A complicated one, as I started it in '01, then shelved it, and went back to work on the ms. in '03, finishing it that year; offhand, I do not know how long it actually took me to write, but it required about three years to complete the finished ms.)
Daughter of Hounds (about fifteen months, '04-'06)
Beowulf (all told, about three months, '06-07, though the forced rewrites — the "Mordorian Death March" — went on for another three or four months afterwards; and yes, it was a better book before those rewrites)

Now, here you see a great degree of variation, from Silk, at twenty-eight months, to the Beowulf novelization, at maybe three months (I would disqualify the latter, as I was working from a shooting script for the movie and also had numerous earlier drafts of the script and the source material to guide me). Also, my novels usually start out slow, the writing of them, and then I end up doing the bulk of a ms. in the last four or five months, as the pieces fall into place. Point being, for me, the time varies wildly. And I would say, it's all about the time I need to write the book the way it needs to be written. Trying to force a writer to write faster is, in my opinion, idiotic, and it will almost always result in a compromise in quality. I write novels, and whether you think they are good novels or bad novels or mediocre novels, they are novels, not product. This is not manufacturing. There is no assembly line. There is what my mind can do, given the strictures of my health (both mental and physical) and other non-writing concerns and interferences. That's all I can do. If that's not good enough, I'm screwed. So far, it's worked out, though I know my editor would be happier if I could produce more regularly. I know my agent worries about this. I know, in a sense, it has held me back from gaining a wider audience. But it's the best I can do, which is all that can ever be fairly asked of any artist. So, when all is said and done, my advice is take the time you need. Artistically, getting it right is more important than getting it published, even if it means you'll never be published.

However, those of us who have —— I would say unwisely —— chosen fiction writing as a career must to some degree cater to the needs (or perceived needs) of our publishers and readers, and the deadlines they set for us. It is, I would say, a necessary evil, that schedule that comes along with contracts and an audience and money and promotion and actual, printed books. In an ideal world, readers (who i will never, ever call "consumers"), would understand that any given book requires X amount of time to be written, X being an indeterminable variable. So would publishers. And they would be patient and give us the time that is required. This, you do not need me to tell you, is hardly an ideal world. And a working writer must accept these deadlines, on some level, or get out of the game. Unless you're Thomas Pynchon. It's not an issue of whether the publishers are right or wrong. If you are lucky enough to have a publisher (and it is, mostly, luck, luck and perseverance), and if that's where some large percentage of the money that pays your bills comes from, then you accept this and live with it as best you can. I cannot produce a book a year, but I do try. After all, if I could write simply 500 words a day (my old standard), I could write a 100,000-word novel in only 200 days, easy as pie. Much less than a year. Of course, it's not really about the time it takes to put the words down on paper, but the time it takes to find the words in your mind, and there's the wicked, wicked catch.

Not much to say for yesterday, beyond the writing. The cool air was greatly appreciated. I went with Spooky to the market. Pasta salad for dinner. A great deal of unpacking, finally. Just after midnight, I allowed myself to go on Second Life, and I spent most of that time in the library in Toxia, in my usual place on the sofa. That was yesterday. And I need to wrap this up, but I wanted to mention that late today or sometime tonight or maybe tomorrow, I'll be starting our Queerest Auction Ever (QAE; but not, sadly, in the homosexual sense of the word "queer"), which will be two flaps (auctioned seperately) from cardboard boxes used in the move. Bored, I drew on each before we left Atlanta. Monster doodles. Seems a shame to throw them out, especially given how much more the move cost than we'd expected. I'll keep you posted, natch. Also, I want to repost the link to Spooky's Amazon wish list. Her birthday is June 24th this year. And every other year, I suppose...

My Amazon.com Wish List
greygirlbeast: (cullom)
So, yesterday we made it all the way through Chapter Four ("Yer Funeral") of Silk. It was a little annoying to discover that the photostat I'd been sent was missing several pages near the beginning, but it's nothing that isn't easily remedied. Anyway, as of the end of the day yesterday, this is how the Zokutou page meter looks:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
93 / 354

Having not read this novel in at least a decade, I am pleased to say that I still like it. I was afraid that I would not, that who I am now and how I write now and how I view the world now would have deviated to such a great degree from the me who wrote Silk that our worldviews — this me and that former me — would have become incommensurable. But this isn't the case. The book holds up well, and I'm proud I did such a good job with what was only my second novel. I am making quite a lot of minor changes, more than I'd thought I would, primarily smoothing out the grammar a little, standardizing commas, hyphens, semicolons, & etc. I'm dividing the more visually jarring "compounderations" with hyphens or simply making of them two words. Anyway, yes, it's going well.

One thing that struck me in particular yesterday was this passage:

And when she was thirteen she'd run away the first time, had been picked up by Florida state troopers, hitchhiking a few miles from the Alabama state line. Had finally spent a little time in juvie, and no one had really bothered to argue when she turned sixteen and dropped out of school. No one had come after her when she'd bought the bus ticket back to Birmingham with her own money. She'd walked from the Greyhound depot downtown, dragging an old duffel bag behind her. Military canvas crammed full of her ratty jeans and T-shirts and comic books like some gigantic olive-drab sausage. (p. 57, Roc mmp)

I have remarked more than once of the sometimes intentional, sometimes unintentional recurrence of "the white woman" in my stories and novels, beginning with Virginia Percel in The Five of Cups on up the legless albino in "the white dreams" and "In View of Nothing." However, this parallel with Spyder's return to Alabama and Dancy's exit from Florida in Threshold, and then "again" in Alabaster, was, I can honestly say, entirely accidental. It gave me pause, seeing it yesterday. Was Spyder a dress rehearsal for Dancy? Is Dancy merely Spyder Baxter seen from some other perspective? Then, when you reconsider "Bainbridge" in light of this passage, "Bainbridge" being the story where the events of Silk, Alabaster, Threshold, and Murder of Angels are finally brought into direct contact, all sorts of wormholes and literary Möbius strips and new resonances emerge. Most of the interconnectedness in my stories is intentional, but this parallel certainly was not, which probably makes it all the more meaningful.

I have held off on making this announcement until I had my schedule, but yes, I will be appearing at the Birmingham Public Library's Alabama Bound lit festival in April. Specifically, at 12:30 p.m., Saturday April 14th. It will be a very short sort of a thing, hardly even a real reading (as that's the way Alabama Bound works), but I will be answering questions afterwards and signing for a bit (I think a local Barnes and Noble will be providing copies of Daughter of Hounds and Threshold for sale). This is my first public appearance since November 2004, and I currently have no others planned.

Last night, Spooky and I watched the three-hour Galápagos special on the National Geographic Channel. Beautiful.

Okay. Back to the word mines...
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Spooky says this is a day off. I haven't yet written the O on my engagement calendar, though. In fact, we already did some work that had to be done (sending the corrections on "Zero Summer" to subpress). But I am not writing. For the first day in twenty days, I am not writing.

Yesterday, though, I wrote 1,558 words. Which brings my total since January 1st to 32,229. Which is likely a personal record.

Tomorrow, I have to work on Sirenia Digest, getting #14 ready to go out on Wednesday. Though I have not seen the final version, I am extremely happy with Vince's illustration for this issue. Gorgeous. Perfect for "The Sphinx's Kiss," as you shall see. Unless you are not a subscriber. In which case you will miss out and be sad.

I should not do journal entries on days off, as HTML definitely feels like work.

Anything else about yesterday? We read a great deal more of Ironweed, all the way past 2 a.m. we were still reading. [livejournal.com profile] docbrite called last night, and we talked for almost an hour, which is the most social contact I've had with anyone but Spooky since New Year's Day, when Byron came for dinner. I washed my hair. We set out to take a walk, but only made it as far as the southern edge of Freedom Park before the cold convinced me that exercise can wait until warmer weather. I put more Concrete Blonde on the iPod (Walking in London and Concrete Blonde). That was yesterday.

Okay. Now for something that is actually important. Today (Sunday) and tomorrow (Monday), Subterranean Press is running a benefit book sale to help defray costs of medical treatment for Sam Jones, a preschooler who has been diagnosed with cancer of the brain stem. Here's how it works:

"The special we’re running is very simple. To make it an appealing offer to you, every in-print title is 25% off if bought January 21 or 22.

For our part, we’ll be donating 25% of the retail price of each sale book bought on Sunday or Monday (Jan 21-22) to Sam’s family to help with their expenses while he’s in treatment, and will guarantee a donation of at least $2000."

So, if you still haven't picked up a copy of Tales from the Woeful Platypus, The Five of Cups, or "Mercury" (all my other subpress books seem to be sold out), today would be a very good day to do so. There are so many talented folks publishing with subpress these days, there's bound to be Something by Someone you'd like.

Let's wrap this up. Because it is manifestly not time to make the doughnuts. I've locked the platypus in hisherits carrier until tomorrow morning.


greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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