September 23rd, 2004


the wind of my soul

They've changed the format on the "Update Journal" page at LJ. That's what humans do. They change things, as though familiarity holds no comfort, or as though comfort frightened them. And humans are far more comfortable changing things of little consequence, like the update page at LJ than things of great consequence, things that need changing, like their hearts and minds and the presidency.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,097 words on "Bradbury Weather," despite an astounding array of distractions and interruptions. Today, I am shutting out the world with somewhat more force than I did yesterday. At the moment, the story stands at 9,105 words, and if I'm right about this story going to about 15,000 words, that means I should be done with it, at long, long last sometime on Tuesday. There are only a couple of other things which I have to attend to today, like the first few questions for the Bookslut interview and a few e-mails (Sa'jathan, I'm getting back to you this evening, I promise).

I don't write this journal for myself, which sort of makes it something other than an actual journal when you get down to it. I write it for you to read, and that means I usually put the same effort into it that I put into my books and stories. Keeping this in mind, I found myself regretting how entries become history so fast. There's some good stuff in the comments (talking to LJ folks here) over the past few days, but I figure most of you read these entries once and move on, which is reasonable. But I thought I'd dig out a couple of comments from the last couple of days that you might not have seen otherwise:

On the subject of the less-than-perfect astrophysics in The Dry Salvages ARCs (which, by the way, has been entirely corrected for publication), pinkteaset3 wrote:

I have a book of sci-fi stories from Victorian times through to present day. One of my favourites was written when the theory of the "big bang" was first being popularised. The science of the story is not accurate according to what we know (or think we know) today, but the emotional impact of the concept, and the storytelling itself, hit me where it counts.

Your comments about factual "errors" [in
The Dry Salvages] in relation to art are wonderful. Making art is (among many things) a way to try to solve a problem that the artist is continually being addressed with, finding a means to an end when there is no end [italics mine--CRK]. It is in my experience deeply psychological and unexplainable. Stories are art that you get to live in, which is why I feel it is the greatest thing anyone could possibly be good at.

I can understand why you would be pissed off about not noticing the error before it was sent to reviewers, however, the book still put me on the floor.

I think that the best science-fiction authors recognize that the science must be peripheral to the heart of a story, which must remain characterization, mood, tone, theme, etc. The story comes first, the science comes later. Otherwise, if you really are writing stories about science, obsolescence will be swift and unforgiving. Science is, by its very nature, a transient thing. Fact and theory are not eternal truths, but only temporary necessary fictions in pursuit of truth, which may be unobtainable. Scientists understand this, but I think a lot of science-fiction writers don't. Then again, a lot of them do: Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, Dan Simmons, William Gibson -- these are authors who do understand, I think, that science fiction is about science's effect upon mankind, rather than being fiction about science per se. But still, I also believe a science-fiction writer has an obligation to get the science as "right" as she can at the point in time she's writing a story. Hence my distress over the problems in the ARC of The Dry Salvages.

And regarding Murder of Angels, hernewshoes writes:

One thing I think you as a writer don't get enough credit for is how many genuinely funny moments in the book there are. It was kinda awful, but while they're in the drowned underwater kingdom I'm shrieking at Scarborough moaning, "I hate fucking boats...."

...I freely admit I'm a sucker for characters with inappropriate senses of humor -- you got another shriek when poor Niki says "What about 12 and 13 together?" and he says 25, "unhelpfully." It's the "unhelpfully" that gets me. On the trip through oblivion and screaming chaos and old night, you need a smartmouth.

Thank you. I never really plan on the humour, or work at it, it just seems to come, usually at seemingly inappropriate moments. It's like gravy. On the trip through oblivion and screaming chaos and old night, you need a smartmouth. Nice. I think that would look good on my tombstone.

Anyway, I encourage everyone reading this on LJ to regularly read back over the entries from previous days and their comments. Some of the best stuff is in there, I think.

Here's an oddity. I know that sales ranking system is totally frelled, but Murder of Angels has sat at 9,502 since late on Saturday. This seems a) impossible and b) at odds with their explanations of how the ranking system works. But whatever. 9,502 ain't so bad, though MoA has charted much, much higher on Amazon since its release. Frankly, I think one of the webmonkeys at Amazon needs to slip their ranking system a laxative.

Thanks to everyone who's taken part in the get-Spooky-to-Fiddler's Green eBay auction in its first 24 hours. Today, we're going to try to get a couple of unusual items up, including a slipcased hardback of Silk (long ago sold out at Gauntlet Press). Meanwhile, we have plenty of Murder of Angels, The Five of Cups, In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers and suchlike. We have sold out of Threshold, though, as of yesterday.

In closing, I've been thinking about what a peculiar position working authors (and other artists who depend upon their art for their income) find themselves in with respect to any incentive to become better authors. It's not like I'll get a raise or a promotion if Daughter of Hounds is a better novel than was Murder of Angels. I know this from experience (that bitch). Low Red Moon was vastly better, in my opinion, than Threshold, which, in turn, was vastly better than Silk. Why? Because I feel the need to continually best myself, regardless of the fact that there has been no financial reward for doing so. How many non-artists would labour under such conditions. Scientists often do, but they're almost artists, even if they don't like to admit it. What if I walked into an office somewhere and told a secretary (or whatever they're called these days) or a data entry whatever-their-called that they should work harder, should work longer hours, should become better typists or accountants or managers or what have you because, goddamn it, it's just the right thing to do. Manage for management's sake. Type for the sake of typing, if you mean it, if you're sincere. Do you think they would laugh at me, or would they simply spring forth from the prisons of their cubicles to fall upon me like ravenous zombies?
  • Current Music
    Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), "The Wind"


Addendum: It's been brought to my attention that my post from early today is not showing up on people's freinds lists. I have no idea why. You may go to it directly by following this link:


Sorry for the confusion. I'm sure it's because these changes to the "update journal" page have me confused.
  • Current Music
    VNV Nation, "After Fire"