To start with, thanks to a recurrent medical condition (minor, but extremely painful) which I've suffered from, on and off and on and off, since my early twenties, I was awake most of the night. At most, I slept two hours, and that was fitful. A great preface for The Day (cue music from a disaster movie), if you ask me. With luck, I'll have a little nap this afternoon.
Yesterday. Ugh. Well, I did write 1,081 words and finished "Alabaster" (total, 6,355 words). Spooky and Jennifer were both quite pleased with it, but I'm afraid I think it needs more work. Frell this writing from anything remotely resembling a first draft business. Sure, I had a pretty good idea how it was going to turn out in the end, but I felt like I was just filling in blanks the whole time, stretching, expanding on what was already there. I shall not do that ever again, if I can help it. It's not the way this nixar was meant to write. Spooky and I will read over the story today, and I'll make alterations on Thursday.
And no more Roy Orbison for a while, I think.
But there were Genuinely Annoying things about yesterday, beginning with a call from my editor at Penguin. The production manager/copyeditor balked at my request for 580 comma corrections to the galleys of Murder of Angels, all of which she should have caught to start with. That's what the frell she's paid for. So, I'm informed that she'll make 70 of the changes, because that's all "the budget" will allow, and the rest will cost me $1 each. That means, if I want all the comma mistakes (that, remember, it was her place to catch) corrected in the Roc edition of the novel, it'll cost me $510. Which is patently absurd. I wish someone would pay me $1 for every goddamn character I typed. Were that the case, I'd have gotten an advance of $541,760 on MoA, instead of the significantly smaller advance that I did get. So, my editor (who is absolutely not to blame for this, and who has been extremely apologetic about the whole affair) FedExed the galleys back to Atlanta yesterday (we're waiting for them to arrive now). And I have to look at all the changes I made and decide which 70 of the 580 comma mistakes (which the pm/ce should have caught way back in the winter when she first read the ms.) are the worst. Which is a ridiculous task, as they are all equally bad. But, I promise, I shall now include the production manager's name in the acknowledgements, not because I am vindictive (though I am), but because I strongly believe in giving credit where credit is frelling due, and she deserves full credit for this fiasco. And, of course, probably no one in the world but me will ever really care about this, but every time I look at the book I'll see those uncorrected errors. Still want to be a writer?
I should point out that this problem has arisen, in part, because, beginning with Low Red Moon, I've started using more conventional, less Faulkner-influenced grammar. Last book, I had a fight with this same pm/ce over all sorts of grammatical issues and my reaction to her attempts to rewrite my prose. So, this book, she decides, apparently, to make no effort at correcting actual grammatical errors, since I might decide to ignore some of her marks. This, kiddos, is what comes of listening to your detractors. Not that they are the sole reason for the stylistic shifts in my writing, but they did play a factor (most people have noticed the relevance of Sadie Jasper's comment in the first chapter of LRM).
And then there was this other thing, with that other thing (as Tony Soprano might say). It's really not a big whoop compared to the above comma-related fuckery, but as long as I'm typing, what the frell. Poppy recently wrote in her LiveJournal:
I decided to make the editorial change to "The Devil of Delery Street." It was only a matter of adding a couple of sentences, and while I'm not sure the story needed it, I don't think it hurt anything. Here's hoping it won't jump out at me when I reread the story in ten years, as many of the changes made to Lost Souls at editoral behest do now. Not that I sit around reading Lost Souls if I can help it, but when I had to proof the novel for Gauntlet's tenth-anniversary edition, I was able to pick out a great many bits where my editor had asked me to explain things further. All seemed far too "explainy" to me, and largely unnecessary, though overall I liked working with Jeanne Cavelos. There always seemed to be an underlying belief, not just with her but throughout the genre, that horror readers couldn't understand anything unless it was laboriously spelled out for them. Of course, given some of the responses Caitlin received to the quite clear but non-explainy ending of Silk ("at the end of the story, I was left thinking 'Huh?'" -- an Amazon reader), maybe this isn't so far off the mark. Still, I don't think proponents of the genre do themselves any favors by catering to the lowest common denominator.
She actually said something about this to me when she was here on the 12th, about her growing leariness about adding "explainy" bits at the request of editors. Well, as she knows, I've always resisted a) any impulse of my own to overtly explain anything to the reader and b) any attempt by editors to have me do the same. Silk ends the way Silk ends, and I think what's meant to be clear is very clear, and what's meant to be unclear is exactly that. Same for everything else I've ever published. What's the point of conjuring up all that mystery and sense of the unknown, only to dispell it with a lot of gratuitous explanation? I might as well shoot myself in the foot. And this really does have something to do with yesterday, really. I'm getting there. My aversion to expository passages is fairly well-known among the editors whom I work with, and it's been a long time since any of them asked me to clarify anything. We're talking years. But yesterday I got an e-mail from an editor (whom I admire, I should add), regarding a story which I recently wrote for her and her co-editor, asking for clarification at the end of the story, as they felt it was unclear exactly what was happening. I read the e-mail a couple of times, then read it to Spooky, then read over the ending of the story, then waited several hours, and finally e-mailed the editor back and told her no, I didn't want to change the end, as I felt everything that was meant to be clear was clear. Fortunately, she was understanding. I really try hard not to be difficult to work with, and I value the opinion of editors who value my work enough to publish it. But I don't always agree with them.
I suppose I could stop now, and write another entry later.
Happy birthday to Poppy. Did you ever think we'd live so frelling long? And a belated happy birthday to Mellá, known to mere hoomans as "Robin." I'm a doofus for having forgotten (and for very many other reasons).
I was thinking, yesterday, of making a list of women over -0 who I think are very cool and not the least bit elderly (not that there's anything wrong with being elderly, but...). But there was no time for anything but work yesterday. But here's a few, quickly. To start with, there's Isabella Rossellini, who's 52, and Siouxsie Sioux, who will be 47 this Thursday. Kate Bush is 45, almost 46. Annie Lennox is 49 (born on Xmas day). Sigourney Weaver is 54. Daryl Hannah is 43, and Virginia Hey will be 45 in June. Grace Jones is 56, and Iman is 53. Suddenly, I feel much better.
There's probably something horribly sexist/ageist about this, but right now, I just don't give a dren.
Anyway, there's not much else to note about yesterday. I went to the post office. I had pizza at Fellini's in Candler Park. I started cleaning the bedroom. I watched Pitch Black for the hundreth-and-something time, in preparation for The Chronicles of Riddick. I lay awake all night. What more could anyone ask for?
If you're in the mood to spend some dough, check out my current eBay auctions, which include copies of Low Red Moon, In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers (signed by me and Dame Darcy), and a rarity — a copy of Aberrations #27, which includes my first published short story, "Persephone," with its original ending.
Now, I'm gonna go bite someone...