September 19th, 2004


a monkey and a roast-beef sandwich

I spent, wait, let's see...yes, I spent about seven and a half hours at the iBook yesterday and managed to write not even one goddamn word on "Bradbury Weather." Not one word. I updated (adding Chapter IX of the Nar'eth manga and new costume photos), edited and uploaded Dragon*Con photos for the blog (which I really wish I'd saved for today or tomorrow), and lots of other stuff that has no direct bearing on my writing. But I was at the computer all that time. I was right here where I'm supposed to be, even though it was warm and beautiful outside, the last of summer fading in the aftermath of Ivan, and it was cold and icky, already, in my office. My feet hurt from the cold, but I can't bring myself to admit the cryosphere is kicking in already. I can't bring myself to put on warm socks in September. That's just too frelling depressing.

Today, I shall sit down with Spooky, and we will read everything I've written so far on "Bradbury Weather," and, hopefully, that will kick my brain into gear again, and tomorrow I'll be writing on it once more. It's easy for the doomed to be gallant. Screw you, chaos. You will have none of me. You will flow over me like water over glass. I know all Nine of the Seven Deady Sins of Writing, and I know how to do this thing, this wordsmithing, storytelling thing, even if I know damned little else. I know, too, that the storm around me is beyond my power to control, but the storm within me, a sympathetic twister spawned by those external winds, is something I can control. It might take great will and resolve and strength and drugs, but I can hold that storm at my mercy.

My last therapist would have called that self-talk. My high-school history teacher, the one who was really a football coach, would have called it a pep talk. It doesn't matter what I call it. It only matters that I listen.

Last night, after the seven and a half hours at Hinderance, Spooky and I went to our favourite Thai restaurant and had three very delicious dishes, then rented Twelve Monkeys on DVD. Neither of us had seen it since the original theatrical release back in 1995, and I was very pleased that it was even better than I remembered.

I am always an Angry Person. But lately I have been remarkably angry, even for me. I think Harlan did it to me. I think when he kissed me at Dragon*Con, he slipped me a nanobot programmed to maximize righteous indignation at the rampant stupidity of mankind. It's becoming almost unbearable. I've been angry for two weeks. For example, just this morning I found myself livid at how Storm Constantine, one of the best fantasists living today, has been so little appreciated. Her stories of the Wraeththu, the Eloim, the Grigori, the Artemesians, these are far better than that purile crap Mercedes Lackey churns out, but Storm has not enjoyed Lackey's success. Storm's a smarter writer than Anne McCaffrey, but McCaffrey's endless stream of dragon novels gets all the praise. It pisses me off. Then there's this mammoth Susanna Clarke novel, the supposed second-coming of Thomas Pynchon, and, no, I haven't tried to read it yet myself, but Harlan (there he is again) declared at Dragon*Con, in so many words, that the Emperor --in this case, the Empress -- has no clothes. The hype and promotion lavished on this novel would "feed" most of us for ten years, would feed our egos, our books' needs, but here it's all spent upon one book, for whatever reason. It's not a question of whether or not Susanna Clarke deserves it, but simply the fact that if some of us didn't get so much, all of us might have a little more. I should shut up. This is going to get me into trouble. But it pisses me off, that publishers treat most of their authors like shit, and our books are thrown to the indifferent masses without so much as a good-luck kiss, while a handful, who are, largely, no better or worse writers, are given book tours and red carpets and so on and so forth. And it's not suprising that those books are the ones that are more likely to succeed. It's Wonderland logic. You only have to stand on your head and think backwards to see the sense of it.

Disclaimer: The preceeding was not an attack on Susanna Clarke or her work, which I've not read and am therefore not fit to judge. Wait. I did read "Stopp't Clock Yard" way back in 1996 and quite liked it. So, please, do not go telling people how Caitlín Kiernan was saying nasty things about Susanna Clarke, because she wasn't, and the words are right here to prove it. The preceeding was an expression of my anger towards a) the publishing industry and b) the elitist tendencies of some genre critics and literary critics who occassionally stoop to decide some book or another has "transcended the genre" (this has been said of my own work, and it pisses me off) and c) readers who often behave like sheep, if only they can find a willing shepherd.

Read a Storm Constantine novel. Read Thomas Ligotti. Read Jeffrey E. Barlough. Read Ramsey Campbell. Stop thinking so much about what everyone else is reading, what the Village Voice has decided to applaud, and look for the authors who work just as hard, or harder, than the "brightest stars." And if you are not guilty of literary sheepism, please ignore everything I have just written. It was not aimed at you, obviously. I'm tempted to begin a Most Overlooked Book Club, as a token antidote to the hit factory that is contemporary American publishing.

I am angry, and I blame Harlan. I think that I shall call him and tell him so.
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