greygirlbeast: (Walter1)
Well, fuck. It's almost 2 p.m. (CaST), and somehow the day is slipping past on filthy little cat feet – fuck you, Carl Sandburg, you sentimental twatwaffle. Okay. Definitely didn't mean to begin this entry that way. But, as Longbaugh reminds me, "I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen."

Yesterday, I wrote nothing. I sat here and thought about things I should have begun writing two days ago. Finding stories. I also made a flaccid attempt at cleaning my office. I decided that if snow is the dandruff of Ceiling Cat, dust is the dandruff of Basement Cat. I stacked up manuscript boxes that need to go to storage (various incarnations of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, typescripts and galleys). I shelved a couple of books, and then I gave up.

I read Jack McDevitt's "The Cassandra Project" (2010) and Vylar Kaftan's "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" (also 2010). Both had kernels of magnificence trapped deep inside. Both were far too short, felt like outlines, and were almost entirely devoid of voice. I'm not sure if it's true that "Science fiction is the literature of ideas" (not sure, either, who first said that, and if you can figure it out for me, you get a banana sticker), but I don't think they meant that all you need is an idea*. At least, I hope that's not what he or she meant. I look back to Philip K. Dick, William Gibson's early work, Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, Robert Silverburg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison...long, long list...and there is style. Voice. Good writing. Not this no-style style. From recent samplings, I fear that too much of contemporary science fiction has all the flavour of a stale communion wafer, and is just as flat. Sorry. Gratuitous (but true) Catholic reference. Where are our prose poets? Why doesn't the language used to convey the idea matter? It's not entirely true to say it's completely absent from contemporary sf. We have the brilliance of China Miéville, for example. But for fuck's sake, the short fiction I'm reading...communion wafers.**

I only just learned that Etta James has died.

I think my diet is killing me.

The snow is so bright out there, I had to shut the curtain in my office. It's getting better, though, as the wide carnivorous sky is being decently obscured by clouds. I didn't leave the house yesterday, but Spooky did, and she took photos, which you can see behind the cut (below), along with a photo from the day before of a typical Providence grey squirrel, all of which have become absurdly obese of late, in this oddly snow-free winter. Oh. By the way. Yesterday was National Squirrel Appreciation Day. I shit you not. Let’s hear it for Sciuridae.

Last night, we watched last week's episode of Fringe. A marvelously tangled web. And yeah, it's not great science fiction, but it doesn't claim to be, and, even so, it does have a flavour.

Fat Squirrel + 21 January 2012 )


I Taste the World,
Aunt Beast

* Possibly, it was Pamela Sargent. Or, possibly, she appropriated it from Isaac Asimov.
** Near as I can tell, this has always been the case with "hard" and "military" sf.

Accents

Apr. 30th, 2011 09:37 pm
greygirlbeast: (white)
Via [livejournal.com profile] readingthedark:

What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on Memegen.net

Southern. Love it or hate it, your accent says you're probably from somewhere south of the Ohio River.

If you're not from the South, you probably were overanalyzing the questions. Take the quiz again but don't think so hard next time.

Take this quiz now - it's easy!
We're going to start with "cot" and "caught." When you say those words do they sound the same or different?



greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
1. I slept almost eight hours. Sure, I had to take half a Seroquel (which would be 12.5 mg) to get to sleep, but then at least I did sleep. I hate how I've become dependent on sleep aids again. And pills like Seroquel that aren't actually sleep aids, but allow me to sleep. I'm still very tired, but at least I know my body rested.

2. Very cold today. Presently 17˚F, with the windchill at 6˚. The still white world. Which is to say the world that is both white and still.

3. Yesterday, I made that big push to find the bottom of Chapter 4 of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. I wrote 2,515 words, and I did indeed reach it. But by the time I did, I felt as if I'd kicked my own teeth out. The manuscript is presently 218 pages long, which amounts to 48,218 words. I got a bit angry yesterday, I will admit, that it took me two years to work this novel out in my head, and now I'm having to rush to get it written in only a few months. Clearly, I'm putting the cart before the horse (that would be sarcasm). When I was done writing yesterday, Spooky read all of 4 to me aloud. And it works. But it's not what people will expect.

It's not what many people expect from me, and, sadly, it's not something most people will expect from a novel. And the prose is very simple, direct, not quite (but almost) stripped down. Surely, I have long since demonstrated my ability to write lush, lyrical prose to any reasonable person's satisfaction. And now I'm trying to do something else.

4. Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, because this whole "shit costs money" thing isn't going away any time soon.

5. I very almost apologized, just now, for sounding so glum and pissy. Which is funny, and which should serve as evidence of changes wrought by the meds since April.

6. Last night, after so much work, I was too tired to sit up straight, so naturally we played WoW. The instruments of time displacement may destroy me yet. We descended into the Maelstrom, literally. And I gotta say, Deepholm is beautifully designed and, so far, I love the quests. It's quickly making up for the sad mess that was Vashj'ir.

7. Just this second, I came very near to sitting on Hubero's head and killing him. No, by accident. So, I'm going to take that as a sign it's time to wrap this up.

Yours in Simmering Disbelief,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (The Red Tree)
A freakish bit of weather yesterday. The temperature climbed to 91F or 92F (depending on the source) by early afternoon, and the heat lingered into the evening. I sweated while I worked, and we had trouble getting to sleep for the heat. Today, the high will only be in the low 70sF, and tomorrow the high 50sF. Such is weather in New England.

I received a truly wonderful bit of news last night regarding The Red Tree, but which I am not at liberty to share for another week or so.

Yesterday I wrote 1,009 words on Chapter 1 of The Wolf Who Cried Girl, and may have finally found my way in.

I'm loving Jónsi's Go. This is, so far, my favorite album of the year.

I have an Ursula K. Le Guin quote I posted to Facebook yesterday, and I'd like to include it here. As I've mentioned, I've been rereading her Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction (1979). This bit is from "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie":

Many readers , many critics, and most editors speak of style as if it were an ingredient of a book, like sugar in a cake, or something added onto a book, like the frosting on a cake. The style, of course, is the book. If you remove the cake, all you have left is the recipe. If you remove the style, all you have left is a synopsis of the plot.

I have been saying this for many years, of course, though never so eloquently.

Last night, I tried a bit of rp in Insilico, but I was really to hot and frazzled from writing to be of any use to anyone. So, Spooky and I watched Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes again, and I still adore it. Every frame is a delight.

Now, time to make the doughnuts. But here are the last photos from Sunday, of a building across the street (south) of the Prym Mill. All interior shots were taken through windows (the last two are my favorites):

4 April 2010, Pt. 4 )
greygirlbeast: (Eli2)
1. Yesterday, I did 1,014 words on the new vignette, which, it turns out, will be named "Apsinthion." Though I am tempted to name it "αψίνθιον," but fear the Greek letters would give [livejournal.com profile] thingunderthest fits when it came time to translate it all into the PDF for #51. Spooky read the first 2,000+ words back to me yesterday, and she likes it a lot. And I like it, so now all I have to do is find THE END today. I'm thinking Sirenia Digest #51 will go out to subscribers on Saturday, but Sunday at the latest.

2. Last night, I got the rough sketch for Vince's illustration for "The Eighth Veil," and it's looking awesome. I have to write him back this morning, to answer a question or two, but it's going to be perfect for the story.

3. Greer Gilman ([livejournal.com profile] nineweaving) brought this bit of anti-intellectual claptrap to my attention last night: "A reader's advice to writers - A word to the novelist on how to write better books," by someone named Laura Miller. Never mind the highly dubious conceit of the title, that readers are qualified to tell authors how to write (I say that's very like me advising a dance choreographer or a cameraman or a cellist). Once again, we are told that style is a no-no. Voice is bad. Just hand out story, please. To quote the passage that Greer has already quoted:

4. Remember that nobody agrees on what a beautiful prose style is and most readers either can't recognize "good writing" or don't value it that much. Believe me, I wish this were otherwise, and I do urge all readers to polish their prose and avoid clichés. However, I've seen as many books ruined by too much emphasis on style as by too little. As Leonard himself notes at the end of his list, most of his advice can be summed up as, 'if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.' Or, as playwright David Hare put it in his list, 'Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.' But whether you write lush or (please!) transparent prose, keep in mind that in most cases, style is largely a technical matter appreciated by specialists. You probably don't go to movies to see the lighting and photography, and most readers don't come to books in search of breathtaking sentences.

*blink blink*

Actually, I do go to movies to see lighting and photography, very much so. And costume design. And to admire well-written screenplays. So, it should come as no surprise that my favorite directors are not bland facilitators of unremarkable cinematography. They are people like Wes Anderson, Jane Campion, David Lynch, Tim Burton, the Coen Bros., Werner Herzog, Martin Scorcese, and so forth — directors whose vision of a story is as important as the story itself, who are visible on every frame of film. And the same is true of the books I most love. I need to hear the voice of the author, and it must be a compelling voice. People like Ms. Miller, well, I'll be kind and say I find them utterly fucking unfathomable. If you ever asked me for writing advice, and I ever refused to give it (because that's not something I make a habit of doing), I'll give you a little now: ignore this sort of nonsense. Good prose isn't transparent. It's not a clear window, but, rather, something more akin to stained glass. The trick is not to be "accessible" to as many people as possible, but to find your voice, whether or not anyone will ever listen.

5. After long a month in Insilico, a month of extremely heavy rp that has, among other good things, inspired a couple of nice short stories, I'm stepping back from Second Life a bit. Again. Mainly, I don't have the time to keep up with all four characters that setting out to rp one character somehow spawned. I will, for now, continue to play the part of Xiang 1.5, currently known as "Victoria," but that's really all that I can handle. I find myself fretting over those characters when I ought to be fretting over my fiction. No, the other fiction, the stuff that pays the bills. Last night, no SL for the first time in a couple of weeks. Instead, I played WoW with Spooky, and, unexpectedly, had quite a lot of fun. I think that was my first WoW in five or six weeks.

6. Last night, Spooky made meatloaf and we watched Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Howard Hawks's delightful Ball of Fire (1941), an old favorite.

7. And now, the third set of photos from Sunday's trip to Conanicut Island. These were taken after we left Beavertail and drove east, to West Cove at Fort Wetherill:

21 February 2010, Part 3 )
greygirlbeast: (chi6)
As it turned out, I did only one of those memes yesterday. Today, though, I'll do the National Poetry Month thing. Later today.

The proofreading went better than expected. Usually, when I'm in such a mood, that mood where the last thing I want to read is me, proofreading is pointless. I hate everything I see. I cannot pretend I ever have anything like objectivity as regards my own work, but in those moods there is a marked bias against anything I've written. I want to draw a red line through it all. However, I managed to slip out of it yesterday, somehow. We read through "For One Who Has Lost Herself," and it seems to work for me. Which was a relief. I changed very little from the "first draft." Just a few line edits. Then we got back to work on Alabaster. I knew I was only up for one story, so we read "The Well of Stars and Shadow," one of my favourites in the collection. I changed a few words here and there, a handful of commas. It was weird reading those two stories back to back. Two very different voices. My voice that sounds just a little like Shirley Jackson and then my voice that sounds just a little like Flannery O'Conner merged with Harper Lee. There might have been a time when I could pretend I wrote with one voice, but that time's is passed, for better or worse.

Oh, frell. Let's not go all retrospectical autoanalytical. Not just now.

Today, we're going to proof "Waycross" and "Alabaster" and maybe also "Les Fleurs Empoisonnèes". I'd really like to be done with these galleys by Tuesday, at the latest. And I have to talk with Vince about the illo. for "For One Who Has Lost Herself."

We had a good walk late yesterday. Out to Freedom Park. Everyone was off at the Dogwood Festival at Piedmont, so we had the park almost entirely to ourselves. The oaks are greening, and there was a breathtaking, beautiful bank of cumulus clouds, towering and white and blue and grey, moving in from the north or northeast. There was a sunlit window yesterday, between the morning's overcast gloom and second waves of storms in the evening. It was much appreciated. I only wish I'd had the camera to get some shots of those clouds.

Spooky went to the market. I wrote a new Wikipedia entry, for the Chinese basal ornithischian Hexinlusaurus multidens, and edited a number of others. I fixed dinner. We watched most of the extras on the two Star Trek DVDs we'd rented Friday. I didn't mention yesterday that this "director's version" of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the final cut that Robert Wise never got, because the shooting/release schedule for the film was so absurdly rushed. And it does smooth out a lot of the rough spots and makes more sense of the action without changing any of it. A lot of the sfx were reworked, all for the better, and nothing was done that couldn't have been done with 1978 technology. It's not the sort of hatchet revisionist job George Lucas did on the first three Star Wars films. The opening sequence on Vulcan is much improved.

So. That was yesterday. Back to the red pen now.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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