September 28th, 2004


expectation and effect (E&E)

Yesterday, I did 1,074 words on "Bradbury Weather" while it rained and rained and rained. 1,074 words. And that should have felt good, should have been a day's work granting me the smallest degree of satisfaction (the best I ever get). But. It was a climactic scene around which the entire story had accreted. To my mind, the success of the story turns on this one scene, which is to say it is pivotal. Which is to say, I want what's in my head to be there on the paper. I want the reader to experience exactly what I "see" with my mind's eye. Not some approximation. Exactly. Only, I know this isn't remotely possible, because, regarding audience, literature is one of the most profoundly subjective arts. Tell someone that the brown dog ate a biscuit, and no two people will see the same shade of brown or the same breed of dog or even the same sort of biscuit. The artist is a tyrant (see John Gardner), but she is a tyrant who must content herself with the fact that the stringing together of nouns and verbs and adjectives isn't an exact science. So, it's the end of the day yesterday, five o'clock or so, and I've been writing for six hours. I haven't stopped to eat lunch or check my e-mail or stretch my legs. I've hardly stopped to take a piss. And I have these 1,074 words. And I know the writing's good, and Spooky agrees that the writing's good, but my reaction, though I am so exhausted I lie down on the sofa and almost immediately go to sleep, is that this isn't necessarily about good. It's about converting a complex mental image into mere, inexact words. Imagine you have a photograph of a beach and six crayons (black, white, green, blue, yellow, orange), and you're obsessed with communicating to someone exactly what that beach looks like, but you may only do so with those six damned crayons. No. Wait. You don't even get a blue crayon. You only get five crayons. And that's how I felt yesterday.

I haven't read back over the pages this morning. I might have done better than I think, but I fear much of today will be spent rewriting yesterday's work. And because I'm only about 1,000 words from THE END, this is even more frustrating.

There is a central perversity in this story, an obscenity, that only ocassionally manifests in my work. It's the heart of this pivotal scene. The complete and utter violation of the flesh, the transmutation of flesh, loss of self, and so forth. There is an undeniable eroticism. Well, at least there is for me. I'm guessing lots of people didn't find anything erotic about "Persephone" or "Tears Seven Times Salt" or "Andromeda Among the Stones" or "A Redress for Andromeda," but I did. Yet, I need that perversity not to overwhelm the story. It can't stand out. It must fit seemlessly with everything else. You may want. to look away, but if you do, I've failed. At least, I've failed you.

And that's where it stands.

After a two-year lag, I finally renewed my subscription to Wired again. I let it lapse because I was finding the magazine less and less readable, as it worked to cater to the business of the internet, shedding its edge and becoming a sort of Fortune for geeks. But, the dot bubble having burst, Wired seems to have improved. So I'm giving it another try. However, it would figure that the cover story of the first issue I get in two years is about fucking creationism's new strategies for dismantling science education. We will be fighting a losing fight with these idiots for at least another century or three, at which point I suspect they will mysteriously fall silent, and I try not to allow myself to notice that they exist. I didn't need Wired reminding me.

Seventy-four people have voted in the "Which Is My Best Novel" poll. I'd really like to see one hundred votes; we only need twenty-six more. So, if you haven't yet voted, click here and scroll down to "9/24/04 12:51 pm." It doesn't matter if you haven't read them all. Of the one's you have read, which is your favorite?

I haven't said much about Morrowind lately. Truth is, I think I'm parting ways with this game. I've accumulated 300+ game days (and I don't even want to know how many RW hours that might be), reached seventeenth level, and become all but invulnerable. I can kill a frost atronach easy as swatting a fly. I have piles of gold and cool weapons and assorted loot (I suspect consumerism is the dominant subtext of this game). I've walked from one end of Vvardenfell to the other fifty times over. I've been given control of the Blades, am a single assassination away from controlling the Guild of Fighters in Vivec, and have quite a lot of people believing that I'm the fulfillment of the Nerevarine prophecies. And yet I am bored, bored, bored, bored to frelling death of this game. I'm bored with the tedium, the crappy stick-figure animation, the limited and often lame dialogue spouted by the NPCs, the fact that fighting involves no skill, only time and button pushing. No one can say I didn't give it a fair try. I am not entertained, and I am not challenged. So I'm moving along to something I actually want to play. I suspect that videogame RPGs might reach what I want from them in another decade or so. I'll be waiting. Meanwhile, I'd rather be having fun.

And on that note, kiddos, it's time to hurt myself again.
  • Current Music
    The Magnetic Fields, "Strange Powers"