December 24th, 2005


tearing myself a new one

So, way back on November 24th, 2001, when I began this journal, it was my intention to try and convey my day-to-day experience as a writer. What it's like for me. Though I've tried, I will admit I've not always been honest. I rarely ever write the highest of the highs, and I virtually never write the lowest of the lows. There are reasons for my dishonesty, which I've imagined, from time to time, might be legitimate reasons. For one, I have this unshakable conviction that there's something unseemly about baring your heart and soul and all those other oogy bits for all the world to see (I don't mean nudity; that's just fine). The other thing has been the knowledge that the world is full of assholes who would only roll their eyes and scoff and mock and want to know what the hell I've got to complain about, because, after all, I write books and they get published and I'm paid third-world wages for them and a few people even bother to read what I've written. The assholes scoff and sneer. How dare I complain about reviewers who can't comprehend what they read or publishers who won't pay what they owe or how much I hate writing most days, because (they remind me) the world is simply filled to overflowing with people who would give their pinkie toes and pet goldfish and old maiden aunts to be doing what I'm doing. Indeed, I will hazard to suggest that the internet is especially thick with this particular specie of asshole. In my more optimistic moments, I like to pretend that the internet was devised to draw all these assholes to one convenient place so that they might be easily rounded up and exterminated. Alas, this is certainly not the case. At any rate, what I've written here has been a watered-down half truth, the best that I can usually bring myself to commit to the ether.

The last few days, for example, my entries have told you virtually nothing about the war between myself and "Bainbridge," or the apparently bottomless pit of self-doubt I've been trying not to tumble into, or the more or less crushing sense of futility that comes whenever I foolishly allow myself to consider that I've written and published so much these last thirteen years and yet continue to work, for the most part, in obscurity — while any number of equally witless hacks thrive and wallow in the spotlight, no more or less deserving than am I. Oh, and the crap that Spooky has to put up with because my mood is constantly in the gutter. Hush. I hear the assholes taking notes. Kiernan is a whiner. Kiernan still hasn't learned to bend over and take it up the bum like a good little nixar. And they're right, of course. I shouldn't be writing this down for all the stinking world to see. Nor should I expect the world to care. And I don't. But, yesterday, struggling with this short story, it occurred to me that I wanted someone to know the state of mind that "Bainbridge" is being written in. Or, rather, I wanted them to know my perception of that state, even if they choose to interpret it as something else entirely.

No doubt, the assholes will be laughing themselves sick over this entry for long months to come. They will hold it aloft as indisputable evidence that, though they might be bitter, small-minded losers who've never done anything much with their lives but draw dubious conclusions about the accomplishments of others, at least that silly Caitlín Kiernan bitch is miserable. They will pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on being such keen judges of character. They will be pleased, these smart cookies, in that sour, thoughtless way that they are occasionally pleased.

Somewhere in here I have a point. Or maybe I don't.

I want "Bainbridge" to be good. I want it to be very, very good. I know that this is probably the last time I'll write about Dancy Flammarion, and I want to get it right. But I also know, better than any "reviewer" or self-appointed blogospheric crank, the limitations of my talent. And times like this that knowledge is a hammer than batters me half senseless as my fingers jab haltingly as the keyboard.

(Hint for the assholes: You do not have to tell me what I already know.)

For a week now, I've been trying to write this story. More than a week. On a good day, I've written a thousand words or so (yesterday, I managed only 926 words). On the bad days, which have come in equal measure, I've written little or nothing. I can feel the story in my head, can see a character or some particular scene, can hear some snatch of dialogue, but when I try to put it down, the words aren't there. And I sit here and stare at the screen and wish I were anywhere else doing anything else.

But I'm not. I'm here. And this is what I do. And this is how I feel about it. This is not how authors feel about being authors. This is how I feel about being an author, which is why I've bothered with this journal. And I have slowly come to understand that it's as valid as the thoughts of any writer. Writing about writing is exactly like writing itself. There are no rules. There's no right way. There's no code of conduct or established protocol. And there's no one around to catch you when you fall.

Today I have to write the next scene in this story, this story that means far more to me than it will ever mean to anyone else. Day after tomorrow, I have to come back to it and do the same. All next week, I have to get out of bed and sit down in this chair and write this story. When it's finally done, I'll write whatever has to be written next, and whatever comes next after that, and I will hate almost every moment of the process, even if I might somehow love the stories themselves. And then the stories will go out into the wide, wide world, which will generally either ignore them (if they are lucky) or beat them black and blue (if they are not). And I'll see the futility, again, and start over and write the next next thing, because my stories pay the bills, just barely, and heaven knows, at this point, I'm ill-suited to prostitute myself in any other way.

This morning, there's a woman walking on a beach someplace warm. I have to go now and lead her into the sea.
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