greygirlbeast: (hatter2)
I know it's gonna be a goddamn weird day when the first thing I read after crawling (moaning) from bed is an article in The Economist. But, really South Carolina people. Newt Gingrich? Newt fucking Gingrich? That crackpot from the radio? A paragon of Southern white conservative sleaze who's clearly proud of being a paragon of Southern white conservative sleaze. Is anyone actually believing this shit about "open" marriages that he's spouting? But, back to the aforementioned article, I have to quote this bit:

As nuts as it may seem to those of us who belong to smaller, more vulnerable segments of the population, conservatives feel backed into a corner by the broader culture, and they detect in Mr Gingrich's pharisaic diatribes the hopeful will to fight, the promise of punching their way back to uncontested supremacy. That Mr Gingrich is a cartoon of a corrupt demagogue doesn't seem much to matter. Not only do conservatives believe Mr Gingrich feels their pain, they believe he seeks their revenge.

I'm imagining redneck Tea-Partygoers googling pharisaic, because that's a damn fine cup of irony (sorry, Mr. Lynch).

---

Yesterday was pretty much a bust. I wrote a measly 491 words on "The Diamond Friendly," and I think I'm about to shelve it a second time. I could try to explain what's gone wrong, but it would probably amount to a treatise. Having lately read so much dull, flavorless sf, I'd really like to write a bit of sf that, at the very least, can be called neither flavorless nor dull. Thing is, so much of that bad sf I've been reading is bad not because, I suspect, the writers in question are necessarily bad writers. I know that some of them aren't. It's because good sf – especially that of the futuristic variety – requires the author to have a firm grasp of sociology, psychology, linguistics, pop culture, economics, history, politics, and never mind the fields of science and technology relevant to the story at hand (besides sociology and psychology, I mean). You have to know, or at least be able to lay your hands on, all these disparate sources of data if you are to imbue your story with the least jot of authenticity, and then you have to start juggling them, and keep it all in the air while you write (I suppose this is done with the toes, since the hands are occupied), snatching the information you need as you need it. Mixing and matching, splicing and melding.

And here I am, in a crush of deadlines, setting out to write what would be an approximately ten thousand word hardcore "biopunk" (can we please, please, please stop punking?) story, spoken by its interauthor in a quasi-fictional argot I'm devising from a hundred sources for use in the mid 2050s...and...yesterday, I realized I had to step back. I started the story last month, then set it aside. I am going to write this dark, dark story about what [livejournal.com profile] corucia has deftly termed "somajakking." But I don't think I can write it now. Maybe I'm wrong, and by the end of the day I'll have figured it out, how to do this and everything else and not break my brain. I just don't know. A writer knows her life has grown peculiar when she begins to feel guilty about taking the time and energy to, you know, write a short story.

---

I don't like to talk about my infirmities in the blog. I just don't. I think, mostly, because I dislike the inevitable commiseration. "I know just how you feel." That sort of thing. I understand how many human beings find comfort in commiseration, but I don't. Anyway, I'm drifting. Point is, I've had this fucking migraine for eight days, as of today, which beats my old record by three days...and I've been trying to persevere. But I'm starting to slip. The formulation of coherent – never mind artistic – thoughts while this railroad spike is being removed and reinserted into random parts of my skull...I think the appropriate word is maddening. There must be a word for people who can remain articulate while in excruciating fucking pain, but, if so, it escapes me. Or I never learned it. Anyway, please do not commiserate. Mostly, I just wanted this down for the record, so I can remember, some day hence, that I once had an eight-day (or longer) headache.

---

I was going to write about playing too much SW:toR. I was going to write about reading The Dragon Seekers, and how it pains me to revisit the life of Gideon Mantell – the man who, among many other amazing achievements, named the second dinosaur* ever described, Iguanodon (1825) – but died poverty ridden in 1852, as do many paleontologists today. Mantell also discovered and described Hylaeosaurus (1833), the third dinosaur to be described. Instead, I wrote about all that other stuff. And now I have to go try to write that which I am paid to write.

When Evening Calls So Hard,
Aunt Beast

* The term dinosaur was coined in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen.
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
A wild, wild wind* in Providence, the sky trying to blow down the world. The sun-buffeted clouds rushing by as if played fast forward. It makes me anxious, that much wind. That much wind battering the roofs.

In high school, I used to drive a particular English teacher to distraction by asking questions like, "If the plural of hoof is hooves, then why isn't rooves the plural of roof?" For a few months, she tried to pacify me with diachronic linguistics and etymology, but there came a point she'd had enough, and after that the only answer I ever got was "Because that's the way it is. If you're going to learn the English language, you must accept that a lot of it simply doesn't make sense. It's inconsistent. It's contradictory." Which felt like a victory.

These days, the meds do a pretty good job of keeping Monsieur Insomnia and the nightmares and dreamsickness at bay. But not this morning. It was five a.m. before I managed to get to sleep, and then...well...when I finally woke at a quarter past noon, to the roar of this wind, I wished I'd never fallen asleep.

Yesterday, I wrote the first four pages of Alabaster #4, the first eight manuscript pages, 1,480 words. Today I need to do at least another four pages. And there was a lot of other stuff. I should be posting additional upcoming appearances soon. It's beginning to look as if I'm going to spend more time in March and April out in the world schlepping my books than I am accustomed to doing. Pry me free of the house, and send me out into the snowless winter and the wind. See if I care.

Last night, after writing, I was so tired I had a half hour nap while Spooky made meatloaf, and then drifted about in a daze all night long. More asleep than awake. Though, in truth, I never felt awake yesterday, it just grew worse in the evening. I wasn't up to anything but lying in bed, so we watched seven episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Jeff Goldblum has shown up, and he's truly quite excellent. I'm not yet awake enough to be sure if the weariness is still with me, but the weather would have me think so.

Scoured,
Aunt Beast

* Presently (1:49 p.m.) 26mph gusting to 48mph.
greygirlbeast: (white2)
Choice comments to recent entries. First, regarding the accelerating acceleration of life at the dawn of the Twenty First Century [livejournal.com profile] lady_tigerfish writes:

You just can't Tweet Big Thoughts; they take more than 140 characters. I resent any format that demands my thoughts be small.

– and also –

Making the time--for anything--seems to be a thing of the past. Nearly everyone I know describes themselves as lazy, but as far as I can tell, "laziness" seems to translate to nothing more than "not spending every waking hour doing something." There's an almost Puritanical bent to the way we seem to need to be busy every hour of ever day, to the way stillness is demonized as sloth. Like if we stop moving for two seconds, the devil himself will descend to make use of our idleness. We certainly treat each other that way whenever one of our own dares to step outside the regimen and, say, turns off the cell phone for awhile. Funny, since (as other commenters have pointed out) this pace actually makes us less productive in the long run.

And [livejournal.com profile] mrs_ralph writes, of writing and this blog:

I don't think that's what people are looking for when they follow a writer. I can't speak too much for other people but I think I was looking for the deep, dark secret of how to. Turns out there is no deep, dark secret or if there is one it is 'nose to the grindstone, shoulder to wheel and get on with it already!' or as so many writers say 'just write.' The magic isn't something you can beg, borrow, bottle or steal, it is what happens when a person with a unique mindset and a way with words sits down, writes a story and then lets the rest of the world read it.

Thank you both.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,608 words on the piece that is still called "Blast the Human Flower," but which really needs a different title. I wrote 1,608 words, and found THE END sometime after sunset. It's the sort of story I think of as the biological equivalent of "nuts and bolts" SF, that manly technopron that puts me to sleep. A couple of years back, I was on a panel at Readercon that asked why Darwin has been less of an inspiration to science fiction than, say, Einstein. Or, put another way, why sf authors are usually more concerned with, say, astrophysics, engineering, and robotics than they are with zoology, botany, and geology. It was a good panel. Dune was offered up as an especially good example of science fiction in which biology is the cornerstone of the tale. The sort there needs to be many more of, stories at least as concerned with life and earth sciences as with technology. Oh, and there's the matter of anthropology/sociology/psychology, too – which also seem frequently ignored or frowned upon by the self-appointed gatekeepers of the genre. I could get into the whole Apollonian sf vs. Dionysian sf thing, so-called "hard science" vs. so-called "soft science," writers and readers who don't have the stomach for flesh and sex (sex being, after all, the driving force of evolution)...but I won't.

In the end, of course, it's all matter, viewed at different levels and in different states and configurations, perpetually recycled. So, there. Science fiction, like all literature, is the literature of matter. Distinctions dissolve, as well they ought.

---

Since late Friday afternoon, a migraine has been eating at me. I can't tell if the anger's still here, or if my awareness of it has been eclipsed by the headache. Sometimes, my mood swings and chains of angry days would portend a seizure. Now that the meds have those in check, for the most part, I begin to suspect the same anger and mood swings portend the headaches (there's a lot of interesting data drawing parallels between migraines and certain sorts of seizure disorders, and vice versa). Anyway, I think I like the anger better.

Today is an assembly day. I hope to have Sirenia Digest #73 out to subscribers before midnight. This month you get the new vignette I was just discussing, plus part one of "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea" (with a great Vince Locke illustration), and the second chapter of the original and eventually very reworked text of Silk.

Throbbing,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (white)
He couldn't make a sentence stand up and be noticed if he put Viagra in the ink.

---

This the the sort of entry people do not like to comment on.

As this journal enters what I expect to be it's final three months as an entity that will be updated daily, my chief regret is that I have always held so much back. And that I have to continue to do so, probably, even now. From the beginning, I wanted this to be a blog where I talked about what it's like for me to be a writer, and, as much as I have been able, I've done that. But there have been many, many times when my hands have been tied by the politics of the industry. That is, I could say something true, true and useful to anyone with thoughts of trying to become a published author. But, as with all other arenas of human endeavor, publishing is ruled by politics, and telling the truth can be detrimental and even suicidal.

All writers lie about writing, and they do it for various reasons. But one reason that writers lie about what it's like to be a writer is their fear of repercussions that could end their career. Same with speaking openly and honestly about the work of other authors. To be able to do this would be immensely useful to anyone with aspirations in entering this shadowy realm. All those naïve wouldbes. But I've never been in a position to do this, to take those risks, and for that I apologize. Looking back, it's among those most valuable insights I could have imparted. I'll have to settle for old, familiar warnings such as Hic sunt dracones or, perhaps more appropriately, Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.

---

As for my daily activities, writing and not writing and whatnot, the last couple of days that sort of thing has taken a backseat to getting the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl out there. Let me see what I can now recall.

On Wednesday, I wrote 1,018 words on a piece for Sirenia Digest #73 called "Blast the Human Flower." Yeah, a lazy bit of titling, but not an inappropriate bit of titling. It may or may not stay on the finished vignette. I can recall nothing else of significance, or that's especially interesting, about Wednesday. Oh, we finished Season Six of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. How's that?

On Thursday, I awoke to the news that Penguin (Roc/NAL) had made on offer on Blood Oranges, and I spent part of the day discussing that with my agent. Nothing more was written on "Blast the Human Flower." I fucked off and left the house, and Spooky and I ended up at the Trinity Brew Pub, where I indulged in hot wings and beer. I don't often drink alcohol anymore (my meds), but I had a pint of their very excellent Belgian saison, made with a new variety of New Zealand hops. When I do drink beer, I want good beer. Later, Varla – my Sith Assassin – made Level 20.

Yesterday, we went to an early (1 p.m. CaST) matinée of David Fincher's adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and it's very, very good. Truly. And Trent Reznor deserves another Oscar for the soundtrack. The cover of Bryan Ferry's Is Your Love Strong Enough by How to Destroy Angels in exquisite, and, for that matter, the opening title sequence alone is almost worth the price of admission. No writing again yesterday. I don't think I've been slacking off; just too much anger and depression. Okay. Bullshit, no matter how I feel, I've been slacking off, and it ends today. Last night, I didn't get to sleep until after five a.m., sitting up late reading stories by Michael Shea and a very good piece by Kim Newman, "Another Fish Story." I don't usually care for Newman, but I did like this one.

And that, in a nutshell, is the past three days. Oh, except I've been watching documentaries on the Mars Polar Lander, cosmic collisions, and "ancient astronauts" (I'm ashamed to admit that last one, but sometimes we learn a great deal about good science by watching the crackpots who have no clue when it comes to methodology, reproducible results, outlandish claims, anecdotal evidence, and critical thought). There are some photos from Thursday, below, behind the cut. Oh, I did want to mention that in the next day or two, we'll begin a series of auctions on eBay which will include souvenirs from the shoot back in October and also a copy of The Drowning Girl. I'll announce those as soon as they go up.

Okay. Gotta go write.

Hands Tied,
Aunt Beast

5 January 2012 )
greygirlbeast: (Chiana 6)
This is one of those rare mornings when I wake freezing, shivering, headachey, just shy of full-blown hypothermia, somehow having divested myself of all the blankets in the throes of this or that bad dream. And then I need two hours to get warm. Only, according to Spooky, I was actually being a bed hog, and if I'm cold it's my own damn fault.

Yesterday, I did an interview. An important interview. But I cannot yet say for whom or where it will appear. I will tell you as soon as I can. But it ate up more of the day than it should have. Also, I've gotten bloody sick of talking about myself. It's a little easier to talk about Imp or Sarah or Dancy, and almost as accurate since they're all overlapping aspects of me, anyway. To all prospective interviewers and would-be biographers of Me, I say to you, the only biography that's worth a good goddamn, the only truth-be-told, must first be filtered and fictionalized. You reduce the lives of women and men down to mere fact and history, and mostly you'll be left with the banal; if you're lucky, you'll get monotonous tragedy. Mythologize, though, and at least tragedy will seem noble, and even mundanity may be transformed and redeemed.

I am a writer, and my lot in life is to lie constantly, all the while never failing to tell the truth.

Today, I go back to work on "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea," and hopefully finish it. It will come in Sirenia Digest #73, with a great illustration by Vince Locke, plus Chapter Two of the original (scrapped) attempt to write Silk, plus (!, I hope) a new science-fiction story. I hope. Maybe.

Yesterday, I saw the colored pages for one of the Alabaster stories, colored by Rachelle Rosenberg, and wow.

An announcement. Every morning, or early afternoon, or mid afternoon, I spend anywhere from one to three hours on this journal. An hour and a half is about average, but let's say an hour, because round numbers are easier. That means I journalize seven hours a week, twenty-eight hours a month, three hundred and sixty-five hours a year (or about 15.2 days; and, in truth, a considerably larger sum). Think of all the stories or vignettes or work on novels I could get done in that time. And I've been doing this for more than eleven years, almost every single day! So, I'm thinking that after March, after the release of The Drowning Girl, I'm going to cease this every-goddamn-day blogging thing, this wearisome cataloging of the humdrum events of my humdrum life, and reserve the LJ for news of forthcoming books and of occasional interesting trips, saving untold hours that can be devoted to work, waking up, staring out the window, reading the day's news, et aliae. It's unlikely I'll change my mind.

It's looking now like the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl will go live until January 3rd, due to web-design issues. We have everything in place, it just has to be assembled. The new front page of my website, that is. The thirty-second trailer is edited and ready to post (thank you, Brian!).

Yesterday, well, not much else to tell. I read a pretty good story by David Barr Kirtley (whom, I admit, I'd never heard of before), and before bed I read Stuart Moore's graphic-novel story loosely based on Thomas Ligotti's "The Last Feast of Harlequin (2007), as illustrated by Colleen Doran (I worked with her on an issue of The Dreaming, but, offhand, I can't recall which one). I napped. I watched a PBS documentary on the AZORIAN Project and the 1974 attempt to raise the sunken Soviet submarine K-129. I played Star Wars: The Old Republic. And there was other stuff.

And now, I go forth to think on bivalves and cephalopods.

Warm Now,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (walter3)
1. Dreams give us another reality, realities that are, more often than not, terrible or horrific or surreal. But, always, those dream realities are brilliant. The are radiant, even if they radiate darkness and seethe with violence and fear. Then we awake, and we're back here again. Here, where the world is banal, and all is shit, and there is nothing. (A thought more perfectly realized in the instant of its conception, but, like a dream, it began fading as I tried to write it down.)

2. I have been sitting here contemplating measuring the speed of time as a physical constant. If not in this worldline, then in some other. Light's easy, that c we take for granted, a simple 299,792,458 m/second, but what if time moves? How does one state the speed of time without resorting to circular reasoning?

3. Yesterday, I did only one new page on Alabaster, Page Fifteen, because I realized that I'd set the plot on the wrong pivot (so to speak – pivot, fulcrum, whatever), and the first half #3 was the last chance I'd have to set it straight in the first series, and if I didn't set it right then the wrongness would echo down through many issues to come. Writing comics, plot is one of those things that are first and foremost. When I'm writing prose, I almost always let plot worry about itself. Usually, it accretes naturally out of characterization and mood and theme, those things I prefer to write. Actually writing plot is, I find, agonizing. Like picking buckshot out of your own flesh, then putting it back in another way round, but finding that configuration just as "wrong," and starting over and over and over. Life has characters and moods and maybe even themes run through it, but it has no plot. Which is why a plan is only a list of things that never happen. Like my proposals and synopses for unwritten stories. Anyway, I'll still hit my deadline on #3.

4. Apologies for not posting the "Question @ Hand" last night. Tonight, for sure. I'm dithering.

5. Played more of SW:toR last night (though only about a third as on Saturday), and, as promised, I was going to attempt to explain my thoughts on how it might be that video games make lousy movies, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (1980). But, [livejournal.com profile] slothman has saved me the trouble:

When you get 3000 years away from the main setting, you can ignore 95% of the issues of continuity with the stories from the films and the vast majority of Expanded Universe fiction. That frees up the creators to tell entirely new stories, using the familiar ingredients of lightsabers and the Force and a hundred sentient species. In my opinion, the best Star Wars work takes place at least 1000 years before the films (the Knights of the Old Republic games and comics), and the second best over 100 years after (the Star Wars: Legacy comics).

Which is essentially what I was going to say.

I'm going to play again tonight, then summarize my thoughts on the beta tommorow. But I am still loving it mightily, but also allowing myself to see the blemishes. The one that bothers me the most (she jumps the gun!) is that SW:toR takes us three-thousand years into the past, roughly three-thousand years before A New Hope, and...all the technology is essentially the same. The starships, the shuttles, the weaponry, the speeder bikes, the droids, and so on. Now, this would be akin to watching technology on earth having failed to evolve significantly since, say, the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt (roughly 1060-664 BC), or...well..pick another culture – China, Persia, the Mesoamericans, etc. – they all work in this analogy. Maybe, if I were a bigger Star Wars geek I'd know some bit of lore to explain the reason for this technological stagnation spanning millennia. As it is, I find the phenomenon baffling. Were the creators too lazy to fashion a genuine history for this galaxy long, long ago and far, far away? Do they fear fan backlash? It can't be that. Not after LucasArts unleashed Jar Jar fucking Binks on an unsuspecting world. Sure, later we get death stars and light sabers fall out of favour and whatnot, but nothing really changes in the course of three-thousand years.

6. I just got the news that Ken Russell has died. Truthfully, I hated almost all of his films, with the only notable exception of Whore (1991). But still...damn. As Russell said, "“Reality is a dirty word for me, I know it isn’t for most people, but I am not interested. There’s too much of it about.”

7. Part of last night was spent catching up on "television" (id est, streaming via Hulu). Very good episodes of both Fringe and American Horror Story. And I read chapters Five and Six of Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus rex before sleep, which didn't come until about four ayem. I was in bed at two, but my mind (despite a literal handful of pills) had other plans.

Here For Now,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Heavy Horses)
I better number this one. Well, after I mention an extraordinarily weird dream I had last night involving a secret society of women who were capable of accomplishing mind transference, and so, once a year, traded bodies. And I was being asked to join. But it wasn't this me, it was some other version of me. The the whole affair was far more sinister than it sounds.

1. On this day in 2001 I began keeping a "blog." I'd long kept a private, handwritten journal, and I found the whole idea of a public journal oxymoronic. You know, "public privacy." America had not yet completely decided that "transparency" in all things was such a hot idea. Well, I still haven't (in fact, I know just the opposite), but I digress. It's been ten years since Neil persuaded me to give this blogging thing a try. And...ten years later, here I am. Offhand, I can think of no other author besides Neil whose blogged longer, and he's been nowhere near as fanatical about it as I've been. I started at Blogger, then at LJ beginning in April 2004, then stopped updating to Blogger in 2006. I suspect I've made an entry for 90% of all the days since that first entry. So, wow. Sure, blogging isn't cool anymore, but who gives a shit about what the interwebs deem cool?

2. [Interlude] Jethro Tull season has begun!

3. Here I will slightly amend a bit from the entry I made on the 24th of November 2009: On this day in 1859, 152 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, 152 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 152 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.

4. I just looked at my friends list (where fewer and fewer entries appear), and Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) has written (regarding the subjectivity of time in a narrative):

And thus, maybe a kiss deserves an entire paragraph in one circumstance... and in another, a battle no more than a sentence. It all depends on the subjective way that time dilates and contracts around your viewpoint characters.

And this is well said, but it set me to thinking – as these things always do – that subjectivity renders these sorts of observations all but useless. On the surface, I agree with the sentiment expressed here. Things get messy, though, when the author pauses to realize exactly how incredibly subjective readers' reactions are to...well...everything. What is too little detail for Reader A is too much for Reader B is just right for Reader C, or almost just right for Reader D, or...almost too much for Reader E. And so forth. There really are no happy mediums here. We can only write our voices, and what seems to suit us, and see how it all falls out in the end. That is, in my case, how many readers will feel as I do regarding detail and how long I've lingered on any given subject or event in any given scene. And, then, of course, I ignore the consensus and continue on my way.

5. Oh! Good news re: Rift. Trion appears to have responded to the outrage of many of its players as concerns the "Fae Yule" foolishness. An enormous amount of the Xmas trees, wrapped presents, and crap vanished yesterday with the latest hotfix to patch 1.6. Now, I can mostly avoid it by simply avoiding low-level areas and Meridian (the Defiant capital city) in Freemarch. Trion, it appears you done at least half good, after all. Oh, and gods, I got a glimpse (I quickly averted my eyes) of one of the Xmas themed rifts, complete with fucking snowman. To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, "Sweet barking cheese." Pure cocksucking kitsch.

So, this evening, as the day winds down, this day on which we celebrate obesity and colonialism and the genocide of Native Americans, at the end of this day I can play Rift and pretty much be not be reminded of that which I wish to forget, namely the world's Xtian minority. By the way, last night Spooky and I played Indus (my Eth warrior) and Emris (her Kelari cleric) out in Stonefield. Emris is the only male character either of us plays (though, my main, Selwynn, a Kelari mage, is a strange sort of hermaphrodite). [livejournal.com profile] opalblack was with us (her Kelari rogue, Harlakai), but then suddenly vanished, and didn't reappear. Ah, but Spooky's talking to her now, so mystery solv'd.

By the way, as I wrote here (as a postscript) in 2008: Postscript: ...just in case anyone has forgotten since the last time i pointed this out, "Endeavor to be inoffensive to all who might have their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat" is not in my job description. In fact, I think it says something rather to the contrary.

6. Yesterday, I rehydrated, took it slow and steady, avoided caffeine, fought back the exhaustion, and wrote the first three pages of script for Alabaster #3. It's a good beginning. And Steve Lieber is hard at work on making my words into pictures. Cool stuff.

7. Back to the shuggoths! And later, William S. Burroughs.

Rolling along,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
I can imagine nothing more wicked than the oft repeated insistence (from readers, publishers, editors, etc.) that an author must always love her or his work, if the work is to have value, during its creation or afterwards.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Today, we drop the CEM off at the post office, and the deed is fucking done. The corrected CEM for The Drowning Girl has been photocopied (never return a corrected ms. without making a copy, because shit does get lost in the mail). Letters granting me permission to quote songs and stories are included, as well as a copy of Lewis Carroll's "The Lobster Quadrille." I'm thinking the ms. will probably be in NYC by Wednesday. Now, maybe I'll stop smoking again, but I sort of doubt it.

And today is a day off.

And tomorrow I have to get work on the pieces for Sirenia Digest #70. And why aren't you subscribed (I don't actually require an answer, please)? It's quick, easy, cheap, and we have a snazzy new website!

---

Last night, there was more Mad Men. We've almost finished Season Two, and I have very much fallen in love with this series. It's what television ought to be. There was also RP in Insilico, and Grendel lost the first digit of her left pinkie to yubitsume. But it was her fault. After all, she was out of contact with the oyabun for more than twenty-four hours, because she met a woman at the space port (I hate that. No one in this version of the twenty-fourth century would say "space port." At the port, let's say), and it had been a long time between fucks. And you know how that goes.

We also finished reading Stephen King's The Stand (the original, not fucked-up 1978 text), and I have many thoughts. I could make an essay of my thoughts, but I don't want to spend two hours droning on and on and fucking on about the whys and wherefores. Better I summarize. I didn't enjoy the book nearly as well as I did way back in high school and the eighties (I read it four times, I think). King simply isn't a good writer. He is a good storyteller, and he has a way with characters, but there's a lot more to writing than "Storytime with Uncle Stevie." And I think this has been the key to his success.

But I have deeper problems with the text. There's no denying it's sexist. Sure, we have Mother Abigail and the token queer, Dana, who gets sent off to die in Las Vegas (in one of the book's best scenes, by the way). Oh, and Nadine, who remains my favorite character. But that's pretty much it. Women are mostly there to be pregnant, and to fret, and to need men to protect them. And this seems a little much even for 1978. Maybe it would have seemed less out of place in a book written in 1948. And, trust me, I'm not a radfem. This is a very notable objective problem with the text. And, while I'm at it, Captain Trips seemed to have spared Caucasians over all other races. Well, there's Mother Abigail, who comes off as the "Magic Negro."

Another, for me, is that there's almost no getting around the fundamental Christianity of The Stand. It's steeped in it, with hardly room for any other interpretation, and we watch as a wicked god lays down his judgement, and war is waged against the forces of evil. Note: Tolkien did this in LotR without showing any evidence of religion whatsoever. And, like I said, this is a problem I have, the whole Christian fantasy thing, and likely it's not a problem for most people, especially, obviously Christians.

The whole thing after the epidemic just seems so...small. I recall it being epic, and it really isn't. It occurs on a much smaller stage than I remember. Of course, I'm forty-seven now, not, say sixteen, and I've read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which has changed the stakes of postapocalyptic books forever. There is no god. Or God. Or gods. No one's coming to save us when the big fuck up rains down. And it'll be worse than Stephen King dared to imagine in 1978. The human spirit will not triumph, because those left alive will be too busy fighting over whatever happens to be left. So, for me the book also fails in it's incredibly naïve anti-nihilistic approach.

But all of this is not to say that it isn't still enjoyable on some level. And there are still some great scenes (though I was shocked at how flat the climactic Las Vegas scene seemed). Spooky enjoyed it more than me, but then she'd never read it. For my part, I'm not revisiting any more King texts. I'll only be disappointed, and I'd rather remember them as I do, even knowing those memories are, by and large, false.

And we began reading Shirley Jackson's The Sundial. Finally.

And now I go have a day off.
greygirlbeast: (CatvonD vamp)
My head is all fire and fucking molten nails this morning. I am the Good Ship Righteous Fucking Indignation. My threshold for douchebags will stand at zero for the foreseeable future. We're talking hellfire-and-brimstone Old Testament shit. Today, I am the nastiest pirate ship that ever plowed the Seven, and we're out for blood, and there will be rape and pillaging and cities will burn, just because.

Oh, I'm fine. And how are you?

I have the first line of a poem: Murder is underrated. Likely, that's all I'll ever write of it, but it's a good opening line.

I think I might have frightened my agent, finishing Blood Oranges so quickly. For my part, no, there will be no celebration. The speed was the result of desperation and necessity, and it was not an artful speed, and I would advise no one to follow in those footsteps. Most people who write multiple novels in a year...well, they write crap that looks like they write multiple novels in a year. They churn out. They produce. The paranormal romance, spawned by an unholy fusion of the death of "genre horror" and a dip in the romance market. But, I suppose, given that Blood Oranges is me giving ParaRom the "fuck you" finger, I suppose it's sickly appropriate I wrote the book as quickly as I did. "Oh, this is how you do it? With your hands tied behind your back, typing with your toes?"

There is no romance in Blood Oranges – which is funny, because my novels usually have romantic relationships, though they're adult ones. Not the schmaltzy, kiddy shit people like Patrica Briggs sell. Regardless, in Blood Oranges there are glimmers of kindness, but it always ends badly, and it ends badly with a sledgehammer. I think it's sort of like an episode of Angel directed by Quentin Tarantino, after he's been on an all night Jägermeister binge with Lars von Trier and David Lynch. Okay, no. It's not that good, but maybe you get the picture. There's Ian McShane in a very important role, and the soundtrack is a collaboration between Nick Cave, Tom Waits, and Einstürzende Neubauten. There's very little gore. It's sort of silly, and sometimes it's funny, if you can laugh at car wrecks.

But, no. No romance. But there is a vicious, merciless sort of concern.

I don't know. I'm just saying shit.

Oh, hey. And if you're a goddamn 'shipper, just fucking butch up and admit it, okay?

Me, I'm going to wander away and revel in the beautiful devastation Madame Irene has wrought upon the race of men.

Not Your Solace,
Aunt Beast

I once knew a girl
In the years of my youth,
With eyes like the summer,
All beauty and truth.
In the morning I fled,
Left a note and it read,
"Someday you will be loved."

I cannot pretend that I felt any regret,
Cause each broken heart will eventually mend,
As the blood runs red down the needle and thread.
"Someday you will be loved."

You'll be loved, you'll be loved,
Like you never have known.
The memories of me
Will seem more like bad dreams.
Just a series of blurs,
Like I never occurred.
"Someday you will be loved."

You may feel alone when you're falling asleep,
And everytime tears roll down your cheeks.
But I know your heart belongs to someone you've yet to meet.
"And Someday you will be loved"
–– Death Cab For Cutie

(I love this song.)
greygirlbeast: (white)
Thank you, those who helped [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and me reach – and exceed – the $1,200 goal of our Drowning Girl Kickstarter in less than 24 hours! We're going to add a couple more copies of the book at new price points (by request), and maybe something that's so cool I'm going to hold off mentioning even the possibility of it. You guys truly rock. As will the fruits of this undertaking. We can all point at the results and say, "We did this." This makes us mighty (to paraphrase Mal Reynolds).

Yesterday, I wrote an extremely respectable 1,800 words, getting Chapter Six of Blood Oranges off to a good start. I discovered how to write an action scene without belaboring the affair with blow-by-blow choreography. Which, for me, destroys novels. Also, I think there may only be nine chapters, not the originally projected ten.

Belatedly, I'm announcing this month's selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club. Last night, Spooky and I read the first two chapters of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and we're liking it a lot. Someone sent this copy to me, but I've forgotten who. Regardless, thank you (this is the audiobook cover, but you get the idea). Go forth, and be literate!



Spooky made a peach cobbler last night, with peaches from the farmer's market. So, I was a bad kid (again) and had a slice for breakfast.

I'm going to have to make it clear to editors, from here on (probably on a case-by-case basis), that I am simply too busy to write short fiction for anything less than 5-10¢/word, because I'm getting really tired of these 1¢/word offers. Last time I looked, pro rate was a measly 3¢ a word, and if you can't meet that, I'm not sure you should be publishing (a few good small press magazines excepted). By the way, the "pro rate" has stayed pretty constant for about a hundred years. Still want to be a writer?

Some good RP in Insilico the past two nights. Grendel is back from London. But, to my guildies in Rift, I have not forsaken thee, and should be back by Monday evening.

Cheap, But Not That Cheap,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (stab)
Even though LiveJournal is experiencing the latest round of massive DDOS attacks from Russian hackers, I have at least limited access to my LJ, so I'm going to attempt an entry. Because that's what I do every day before I start working. Even if no one will be able to read it. I'm thinking about to moving to Typepad. I'd move to Dreamwidth, instead, but it's owners are bona-fide scumbags.

I honestly thought this would be the entry wherein I said something like, "Oh, I'm sorry the entries have been so angry and grim the last few days. I'm better now. Let's get back on track."

No.

That's not happening today. The shit-storm continues.

Yesterday, though, I did write 1,465 words, and so began Chapter 5 of Blood Oranges. It was the first time I'd been able to bring myself to work on the book since June 19th.

There is a reason for this, a reason why I wrote the entire first half of a novel in one month (something I'd never even thought possible for me), and then locked up for a month and was unable to go back to it. There is an explanation. But like many explanations, it's divulged at a risk. At the risk of pissing off people who are better left unpissed off.

Which leaves me wondering, why does no one in this great clusterfuck of a publishing industry care if the author gets pissed? It leaves me wondering that, though the answer is obvious. The author, in the eyes of Industry, of Business, is a disposable cog. One makes too much noise, causes too much trouble, there are at least a thousand waiting to take her job. Gods, I'm sounding like a Marxist. But it's the fucking truth. You want to be a professional author? One whose sole source of income is her writing? Fine, just don't think it's ever going to "make you your own boss." I'm as answerable to The Boss as any poor cubicle schmuck. Yes, I can walk away anytime I choose. But so can anyone, no matter their line of work. It only requires the resolve to live in a cardboard box on a street corner.

I'm with Parker, in The Way of the Gun. I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen. Back in May, I had something I'd never had during my publishing career. I had a plan. A good plan. I allowed it to be reshuffled. And now...

No, it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's sort of a paper cut. But you know what happens if you get a few hundred paper cuts. See Forms of Torture in China, Pre-1905.

Maybe you'll be able to read this. Maybe you won't. Frank the Goat only knows.

Cut,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
It's already 1:39 p.m., because I was unable to get to sleep until almost 5 ayem, and because I awoke to fresh sorts of chaos. But what difference does it make, when I'm almost an entire month behind schedule.

Schedule. An idea that is anathema to life.

My head is filled, this morning, with all the colors of anger, and I'm making a conscious effort to let out only as much of it as I wish to release. Otherwise, it will gush forth and drown the...I almost wrote "drown the page." But there is no page, is there? We are moving rapidly towards the Extinction of the Page. Maybe whatever has stolen the page from me – vagaries of history – deserves to be drowned in all the colors of anger. Schedule surely deserves to drown. Sink it all.

In theory, I'm trying again to begin Chapter Five of Blood Oranges this afternoon. But...you, know...the story of how this book's gone sour is far too bizarre to explain here. Maybe someday I'll explain it somewhere. But it's bizarre and long. All that matters now it that I finish the thing, and move on to the next thing.

It's only a string of things.

If I'm very, very, very lucky I'll write today. If there were any other way on earth that I could make as much money as I make now – which is only just barely (and truly not even) just enough to take care of Spooky and myself – I'd stop writing. No, I mean for good.

Hardly any of the anger leaked out at all.

Teeth Bared,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
No sleep yet. Well, about twenty minutes this afternoon. Currently, it's 82˚F inside, and frightfully muggy. I think I'm having New Orleans 1995 flashbacks.

Lying in bed, watching the dark that's already begun to fade, and reading about thylacines. Thinking about all the work that didn't get done in July and has to get done in August. Terrified at how fast summer is slipping past, and yet suffering summer. I've taken all my meds for the night (morning), but still no sleep and still this restless, tumbling mind.

I'm not even sure I'm sleep before dawn. We have, officially, 58 minutes before sunrise. But the sky will be bright in another ten or fifteen minutes. I've always been an alien, but here I am not even attuned to the sky.
greygirlbeast: (sol)
Because I really didn't want to title this Readercon 22 (III), and I've just awakened from a nap of cataclysmic proportions, despite having slept in the broiling car on the way back from Burlington to Providence. If title must be explained, that's why. I am home, with another Shirley Jackson Award stone to sit upon my shelf. But what matters is I am home.

Shirley Jackson understood the importance of coming home. Eleanor and Merricat, they knew how precious is home.

Still, it was good to see so many people I so rarely get to see, those other authors, those editors and publishers, those others who are dear to me and whom I so very rarely ever get to see. You know who you are. That said, I am no person for crowds. Likely as not, I could go many more months and never find myself in another crowd of human beings and be pleased. I am exhausted, and I need to be alone, just me and Spooky, and, occasionally, the visitation of a friend or two.

I was good this year, and bought only three books: two used hardbacks – Herbert's God Emperor of Dune and LeGuin's The Compass Rose: Short Stories – along with a copy of Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners. Even so, and even though we were frugal, the cost of the con (I kept a careful tally), came to $606.49. My thanks to Stephen Lubold and Cliff Miller, without whose generosity we couldn't have attended.

Though I did three panels this year, I'm fairly certain the first and the third (this afternoon) were precisely the same panel. Certainly, we said most of the same things this afternoon that were said on Friday.

Regardless, I am home, where there is no AC, and only two bearable rooms (and I am not writing this from either of them). I am facing a mountain of work that should have been done two weeks ago, and which must be done despite the heat. The weathermen say this coming week will be the hottest of the summer for us. But, even so, I'm glad to be home.

Here again,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (sol)
I listen to R.E.M. a lot, and it will always be the music of Athens, GA, though I actually first discovered their music in Boulder, CO many, many years before I moved to Athens.

Spooky says I'm homesick. I'm not sure she's correct. But maybe it's something akin to homesickness.

---

I find myself needing to be tactful, though, no matter how hard I may try, I am never the most tactful of beasts. I get a lot of requests from aspiring writers, requests for me to read their work and/or offer advice on how they can become better writers, find an agent, find a publisher, and so forth. I can't answer all of these requests personally. Not one at a time, I mean. So, I'm answering the most recent batch personally here. And it's a short answer. Or a short set of answers. Truthfully, I can't help you. It's been nineteen years since I began my first novel, and eighteen since I sold my first short story, and sixteen since my first fiction publication, fifteen since I finished Silk, and fourteen years since I sold my first novel. It's been sixteen years since I got my my first agent. Now, the point of all those 'teens is that during the intervening years, publishing has changed, and it's changed in ways I only just begin to understand. For example, I used to type query letters, mail them (in an envelope with a stamp and an SASE enclosed, from an actual post office), and wait weeks for a reply. Back then, books were either paper or recorded on cassette (a few books-on-CD recordings were popping up). I could give a lot more "for examples." But, what's even more important than the changes that have been wrought upon the publishing industry is the simple fact that I'm not a writing instructor, and only a critic in the roughest sense. Sure, you could show me a story, and I could tell you whether or not I liked it. But, for the most part, that's useless to you. My opinion on any given piece of fiction is mostly subjective (aside from correcting grammar and so forth). I might love it. I might think it's a load of shit. A lot of what I think is shit sells like hotcakes, and a lot of what I think is brilliant can't sell for shit. And that should tell you everything you need to know, right there. Finally, I simply don't have time to read your work, not if I'm going to get my own writing done and have some semblance of a life in between. So...I hope you'll accept these answers, and understand them.

---

I'm trying very hard to get myself back into the head-space that will allow me to finish Blood Oranges. But it's not going well. I tried to read Chapter Four aloud on Friday night, and I only made it a few pages in. The reasons are complex. My instinct is to shelve the manuscript and move on to the next project. But that would be ridiculous, if only because the novel is half finished. And it was coming so quickly before this wall.

We fall, or are knocked down, and we get up again. Or we stop calling ourselves writers.

---

Yesterday, Spooky and Sonya and I escaped the broiling confines of the house, and endured truly horrendous touron traffic to cross the Western Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island. Beavertail was dazzling. The sea off the west side of the point was such a dazzling blue gem it might have blinded me. Not my eyes, but other portions of my self in need of blinding. There's been far too much stress, lately. Stress I am ill equipped to cope with. There were more people at Beavertail than I'm used to seeing, but it was still easy to find a relatively secluded bit of phyllite jutting out into the bay on which to spread our blanket. About a hundred yards to the north, a flock of cormorants perched on the rocks. Occasionally one would streak away, skimming just over the surface of the sea. Or one would dive in and fish. There were gulls and robins and red-winged black birds. We fed a gull a cheese cracker. Just north of us was a rowdy lot of college kids, swimming and drinking beer and using watermelon rinds as hats. Spooky and I lay on the blanket. Sonya waded in. We weren't able to stay even nearly long enough, especially considering the the traffic there and back, and how hot sitting in the traffic was (the loaner car has no AC), but Sonya had a 6:27 p.m. train back to Boston. Amazingly, neither Kathryn nor I are sunburned (we did use sunscreen, but still).

Back home, Spooky and I had tuna for dinner. We watched more of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and our Faeblight Rift toons reached level 18. It was a quiet evening, and we mostly managed not to sweat.

I think I'm going to spend the next couple of days sweating and writing something for Sirenia Digst #68.

There are photos from yesterday, but Earthlink is all whack-a-doodle, so I'll have to try to post them tomorrow.

No Sea, So Less Calm Than Yesterday,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay. I admit it. It feels like summer here in Providence. Which is weird, because it's currently only 77˚ Fahrenheit.

I've been free of Second Life for almost three months. And what always happens when I finally pull myself free of that quagmire is happening again. Someone I know from Second Life starts talking about Second Life. When this happens, he or she does not have to say, "Oh, please come back." Not at all. He or she need merely make me think about SL, and the addiction starts sparking. My brain cells begin to crave, and I have to start fighting back or else succumb. I'm usually assured that it's better now. Better than this most recent time I quit "for good." Which is like saying, hey, leprosy's better now. You should try it again!

Spooky says if we had a front porch we could lounge around on it like a couple of hobos. Spooky has an obsession with hobos.

Yesterday...um. Still waiting to hear from my agent on Blood Oranges. But I did print out all there currently is of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, which is, incidentally, 318 pages, or 97,365 words, or 438,668 characters (no spaces), or 536,036 characters (with spaces), or 1,451 paragraphs, or 7,069 lines of text. My drooling idiot of an HP printer required a cartridge and a half of black ink to do the job. So, yes. I did that. And I proofed the first story, "The Wolf Who Cried Girl." I also looked at a few marvelous photographs [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy took on Sunday (in the cold of June) of Sara Murphy, Our Eva Canning. Mostly underwater. But that's all a secret, and I can't show you. You'll thank me, later. They always do. I sweated some. I fantasized about places I wasn't.

Last night, we finished reading William Burroughs' Junky, including the "lost" 28th chapter of the manuscript. Yeah, well. It happens. Junkies lose stuff. Which is different than hobos, who can't even be bothered to remember they have stuff.

I should go. Please pre-order Two Worlds and In Between, if you've not already. And leave some stale bread out for the hobos. And, it just occurred to me how much time some writers spend trying to convince themselves The World Really Loves Them Always And Forever (And Is Their BFF And Will Never Forget Them), when in fact, mostly, the world couldn't give a horse's fanny about any of us.

Ta,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
Overcast and chilly again here in Providence. 56F, and we might see 68F.

Spooky's birthday is June 24th, and anyone out there who wants to send her a pleasantry is directed to her Amazon wishlist. I would be grateful for any little kindness sent her way. Also, don't forget the Big Damn eBay Auction, now in progress. Note that the auction for the Black Ships Ate the Sky study ends this evening.

Normally, I do not plot a novel. Not in any conventional sense. I might think a little ahead. But I don't usually sit down and map it out. I prefer to allow a novel to unfold in what I think of as a more organic process. Though it may sound precious, I think of this as allowing the novel (or short story) to unfold "on its own." I don't mean that literally, of course, as the only will a story may possess is the will of the author. It's a game I play with myself, all about cause and effect, all about putting any given character in situation after situation and discovering how he or she will react. Anyway...yesterday was rather the opposite, as the nature of Blood Oranges demands that I work out an awful lot of the storyline in advance. It's working with many conventions of film noir (including so-called "Neo-noir") and Hitchcockian tropes such as "McGuffins" and the "wrong man." All the while, of course, deconstructing – or simply tearing apart and restoring – the mess that has been made of urban fantasy due to its having been co-opted by "romantic urban fantasy," "paranormal romance," PR, or whatever you want to call that printed offal. So, as was the case with "The Maltese Unicorn" this time last year, I'm having to do a lot more plotting than normal.

I spent about an hour and a half yesterday talking through everything to Spooky, setting forth whys and hows and elaborate switchbacks and feats of legerdemain...because, in part, these are things I needed to know before writing a riddle asked by a bridge troll. Oh, here's the riddle, by the way. Thought it might be fun to see if anyone can solve it. The riddle is a response to the question, "Is there any way to control lycanthropy?"

A child of woman newly forged,
The pump what drives the rosies.
Round about, round about,
So Bloody Breast flies home again.
Soldiers come in single file,
Aphrodite’s child tills loam.


Good luck. At any rate, in part the problems were solved. Enough that I could proceed. I wrote 1,043 words on Chapter Three yesterday. I've got to get that daily word count up higher again.

[livejournal.com profile] readingthedark arrived about 6:30 p.m. or so. He brought me a truly marvelous belated birthday gift, a copy of House of Leaves (full-color, remastered edition), personalized to me by Danielewski. We talked a bit, then got calzones for dinner, then talked much more...including a good deal more Blood Oranges plotting, solving a problem I'd been unable to solve earlier in the day. So many crosses and double crosses, hidden agendas, unseen perils, and misdirection. That is, among the novels character's, not between me and potential readers. Later, I wanted him to see Malcolm Venville's 44-Inch Chest (2009), so we watched. He left about 3:15 ayem, I think. I'd already taken my evening meds, and was a little loopy by that time. I know that I'd begun to making bold and sweeping declarations, like "There are no literary conventions!"

And that was yesterday. Oh, except I read "Selenemys lusitanica, gen. et sp. nov., a new pleurosternid turtle (Testudines; Paracryptodira) from the Upper Jurassic of Portugal" in JVP.

Many odd and unwelcome dreams last night, this morning. Most of them I've let slip away, glad to see them go. Only the substance of one remains. By broad daylight, I enter a rather unremarkable building. It looks rather like an Eisenhower-Era bank or federal building. But once inside, I am greeted by a cool darkness through which prowls all manner of jungle beasts – specifically, I recall tigers and pythons – stalking before a painted rainforest backdrop. I turn to the left and follow a grassy ramp up to the second floor of the building, where I'm greeted with a long counter, along which bank tellers are spaced at regular intervals. I speak to one, and she takes out an enormous ledger (no computers are in evidence). She's trying to record my name with a fountain pen, but keeps having to start over because she's having trouble hearing me. Because I'm hardly speaking above a whisper. And then, finally, someone – a manager, I don't know – comes over and explains to her who I am. She records my name, and I'm given a small brass key. And there was more afterwards, but it's been forgotten.

Okay. Time to make the doughnuts.

From the Forests of the Night,
Aunt Beast

Almost forget. Here are three somewhat random photos taken back on the 6th, while I was making line edits to Two Worlds and In Between. Hubero was helping (we may eventually auction the ARC in the photos, by the way):

6 June 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (death&themaiden)
It's Rhode Island. A week ago, we had highs in the 60sF. Today, the high will be in the 80s. Tomorrow, the 90s. A few days, back down in the 60s. It's Rhode Island.

All the expected tedium of yesterday was delivered, with a free side of frustapation. That's a Popeye word, frustapation, and I love it. We proofed "Fish Bride" (three minor corrections), I dealt with contracts, and an author's note and bio I should have sent away to an editor days ago, and then we got around to working on the galleys for Two Worlds and In Between.

Oh, and the discovery that a check we've been counting on arriving this month might not arrive until next month. Yes, to paraphrase Nick Mamatas ([livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid), the one thing we may count on as a professional freelance author, the check will always be late. More on this in a moment.

Anyway, we finally headed off to my doctor's appointment...in Cranston...only to discover that it had been moved to next Monday. And no one had called to tell me. I like my doctor. I truly do. I was very lucky to find her. But there I lost a couple of hours I could have spent editing the collection. So, we headed back to Providence, and we took the DVDs back to Acme Video (free Atomic Fireball, which at least helped with the cigarette craving I was having), and then returned home. And had leftovers. And I did a little more work, just beginning to compile the table of contents for the next short-story collection, Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (publication date TBA). And I read an article in the January JVP, "A new helmeted frog (Anura: Calyptocephallidae) from an Eocene subtropical lake in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina." And we played Rift, and both Selwyn and Miisya reached Level 45.

I have a couple of Rift screencaps, which I've left at their original size, because shrinking them does them an injustice. Does the beauty of the game an injustice.




An impromptu gathering of Kelari mages in the halls of Lantern Hook (left to right: Enth'lye [foreground], Selwyn, Celinn, and Artemisia). Kelari women have a very strict protocol as regards sitting, by the way.



Selwyn and Celinn astride their vaiyuu in the snowy wilds of Iron Pine, the gates of Stillmoor looming in the near distance (Selwyn front).




So...yes. Wanna be a freelance writer? Wanna say #fuckplanB and throw caution to the winds? Then prepare for the fact that the check will always be late. Now, almost usually, you will be paid. Eventually. When someone gets around to it. When payroll can be bothered, etc. But there's no relationship between when you'll need the money for, say, clothing, rent, or an upcoming convention, and when it will actually arrive. No, no one cares. This is simply how it is. It's how its always been. Anyway, because the check will always be late, and because I have a commitment to attend Readercon 22 July 14-17th (if only because I'm nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award, and have agreed to take part in various bits of programming), we're beginning a BIG Damn eBay Sale (it's still small just now). There's the need for new clothes (I last bought clothing in September) and, of course, moolah to cover all the con expenses (which are not inconsiderable). We'll make the money, or I'll cancel. Honestly, I'm so tired of all this, I only just barely care which.

It's not as if we live an extravagant lifestyle. Our monthly "entertainment" expenses might come to $30-$50 dollars, max. I hardly ever even leave home. We virtually never eat out, or buy books or CDs or DVDs, or, heavens forbid, travel. Mostly, there's rent and medical bills. We're going to see a movie today*, at a matinée, and I am wracked with fucking guilt. Anyway, I'm emphatically not whining. I'm just saying, soberly, 19 years into this "career," saying to you out there who would be writers, steel yourselves for this. And do not think that any measure of critical success protects you from poverty. Not ever. Nor should you be so deluded as to believe celebrity equals financial stability (and fuck wealth). No, this is how it is, almost always, very few exceptions. Anyway, yeah...eBay. Please bid if you are able during the next few weeks. Cool, rare, and one of a kind items will be offered. We have set a goal of making $1,000.

Tomorrow, I go back to work on Blood Oranges. I have three chapters to write this month.

Now, make the doughnuts.

Living the Life,
Aunt Beast

* The expense will be offset by a couple of days of egg salad.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Passed out last night as soon as Spooky stopped reading, which must have been about 3:15, or maybe 3:30. So, lots of sleep, and I'm sort of disoriented. We tried a new schedule last night, Rift then movie, instead of the other way round, with reading remaining as the thing that's done just before sleep. I doubt that had anything to do with me crashing like that. I'm just exhausted. But the new arrangement did seem to get us into bed earlier, and I was more awake while we played. Selwyn and Miisya are both Level 41 now.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,720 words on Blood Oranges. Also, [livejournal.com profile] sovay read Chapter One and approved.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about how this book began (as a joke in the blog) and what it is now. And about comedy. And parody. And such. See, I maintain that it's very hard to do comedy at length. Usually, comedy (in the funny hah-hah, not the Greek dramatic sense) can only be maintained for a short time, after which it simply ceases to be...funny. Example: Back in the late '70s and early '80s, during the Golden Age of Saturday Night Live, I never missed an episode. But, they often had this problem where a skit was fucking hilarious for, say, ten minutes, but it went on for twenty. As though they'd begun a really good joke, but had no idea where the punchline lay. So, that's one reason I fear comedy. Timing is everything. And – if you ask me – comedy should pretty much never be used for "relief," as it often is. Here's an example, from Alien: Resurrection. Number 8 has just torched the lab where deformed Number 7 lay in unimaginable agony. Big, horrific, emotional scene. Then:

Johner (Ron Perlman) looks in at the burning lab.

JOHNER

What's the big deal? Fucking waste of ammo.

CHRISTIE (Gary Dourdan)

Let's go.

JOHNER

Must be a chick thing.


Now, this is exactly what you never do with comedy – or almost never. There aren't hard and fast guidelines, because this is art, not craft. But you do not use it to sabotage a scene this way, to pull the reader/audience back from the precipice of...oh, I don't know...feeling something genuine that might make them uncomfortable? Joss Whedon (whom I generally adore) can be especially bad about this. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) is a study in using the funny to trip yourself up as a storyteller. Comedy has a place, but it's place isn't everywhere all the time, and it's place isn't as an upper in the middle of a downer. Levity should not always be injected. Dilution is not mandatory. Tension may be allowed to build (and often should be), until it is all but unendurable. In a very dark film, comedy should only be injected in very rare, case-by-case situations. As it is, the relationship between horror and comedy is so intimate that they both become, at times, almost indistinguishable – without intentionally shoving one into the other.

All this is relevant because, like "The Maltese Unicorn," Blood Oranges began life as one thing, a one-line joke, and it's sort of becoming another thing. I don't precisely know the word for that something. A lot of it's funny, but I never force it to be funny, and at times it's very grim. It constantly takes jabs at the genre, but is very much working inside that same genre. It's not a spoof, a satire, or a parody (even if that was the original idea). It's more like what Tarantino is doing with, say, Kill Bill. Which gets complicated when you try to explain it, but looks easy as hell on the screen.

Can you imagine a 100-k word one-liner?

I'll come back to this.

Anyway....

Saw Brad Anderson's Transsiberian (2008) last night. A very taut thriller. Which, by the way, didn't constantly pause to shoot itself in the foot with comedic relief. I think it's the best thing I've seen Ben Kingsley do, the best performance I've seen him deliver, since Sexy Beast (2000).

Sunny and essentially warmish today.

Now, I should go. We're having dinner tonight with S. T. Joshi. And there are words in my way.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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