November 25th, 2006


The Land Beyond Beyond

You will note that this entry is segregated into distinct portions, via the use of "---". This afternoon (morning, whatever it happens to be where you're reading this), I felt the need to hold certain things apart from certain other things.

To wit:


I did only 798 words yesterday, but they were 798 hard-won words. Each one came kicking and screaming and clawing, biting and pissing and cursing at the aether.

Near as we can tell, the distribution of Sirenia Digest 12 went off without a hitch. If you are a subscriber (as I hope you are), and you've not yet received issue 12, please write Spooky (crk_books(at)yahoo(dot)com), and she'll correct the problem ASAP. I am especially pleased with this issue. "The Lovesong of Lady Ratteanrufer" is, I think, one of the best pieces I've done for the digest, along with "Pony," "The Ammonite Violin," "Untitled 17," and "Untitled 20." And I think the thing with Spooky's "Whistlebox" photos worked quite well. Vince will be back next month, by the way.

Thanks to those who posted comments yesterday. They were appreciated. I'm hoping there will be some feedback today regarding Sirenia Digest 12.

If you haven't already, please take a moment to pre-order Daughter of Hounds. Note that is offering a deal whereby you may order DoH and Alabaster together for a mere and extraordinarily reasonable $27.70. Or, you may order DoH and the mmp of Threshold together for an even more frugal $18.19.

Yesterday, Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote: Refresh our (read: my) memory about the Jethro Tull thing. There's a connection tickling at the back of my head between you and Tull, but it' me... To which I reply, Jethro Tull is my winter music. I have a lot of trouble with winter, and even more trouble being bombarded by the hideous commercial shitstorm of Xmas. It brings me down, as the Dude might say. Jethro Tull takes the edge off. Jethro Tull redeems winter, and takes the edge off. I can't really explain it. Much of their music strikes me as undeniably wintry, and a good bit of it has even been devoted to that vilest of holidays, Xmas. And still, they rock my socks. So, at some point I declared Jethro Tull Season, which extends from the day after Thanksgiving all the way to March 1st. Generally, I only listen to Tull during those three months, so it gives me this thing about winter and the dread "holiday season" to which I can look forward. It has become my Solstice and Imbolc music. It gets me through.

Last night, after the writing and a dinner of leftovers (that were better the second night), I settled in for an evening of Ray Harryhausen films on TCM: The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Rapunzel (1951), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Mysterious Island (1961), and The Story of King Midas (1953). I'd never seen any of Harryhausen's fairy tale shorts, so Rapunzel and The Story of King Midas were a treat. And Mysterious Island is one of the overall best films Harryhausen was ever connected with. I'd have preferred something else to Jason and the Argonauts and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad — say One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1954). But still, it was a good way to pass a Friday night, given I was too tired to even think about reading, though it did keep me up until 3 a.m. (CaST) and led to my getting less than seven hrs. sleep last night.

I'm still pondering the specifics of the free, downloadable PDF collection I mentioned yesterday. I'm now considering making it the whole of Tales of Pain and Wonder, all 21 stories, plus the poem "Zelda Fitzgerald in Ballet Attire." I own all electronic rights to the book, so this might be the path I choose.

A big, big thank you to Paul Riddell (sclerotic_rings) for the package that arrived yesterday, and which included material that will be very useful during the writing of The Dinosaurs of Mars, especially two NASA volumes, Mars as Viewed by Mariner 9 and Viking Orbiter Views of Mars, neither of which I was able to locate at Emory. Also, thanks for the beautiful book on bonsai, which is something I've always been fascinated by but never really investigated. Here's a bit of trivia: the Japanese word nebari refers to the visible roots of a bonsai tree. Of course, it's only a coincidence of homonyms.


I had a long and disheartening talk with Poppy last night, most of which is strictly between the two of us. However, it reinforced in me the desire to communicate something here, which I do not think can be made clear enough. I know that a lot of people who read this are would-be working writers (that is, writers who rely entirely upon their writing income and have no other means of support, visible or otherwise), and I know that's why some of you read the journal. I do not offer a lot of advice to would-be working writers (and as to why I don't, that's another subject for another entry), but I will say this, this being that something which I don't feel I can ever say too often. No matter what you may have heard elsewhere or however you may have romanticized the life of working writers, know this: it is, with very, very few exceptions, a brutal, ugly, and unrelentingly difficult existence. It is a grind, no matter how much you may love to write or feel driven to tell stories. Personal demons aside, you will encounter at almost every turn no shortage of idiots and shitheels upon whom you must depend to get your work to readers. Occasionally, there will be a fortunate abberation: a wonderful, brilliant editor, or a copyeditor who doesn't try to express herhimitself vicariously by attempting to rewrite your work, or an agent who busts hisherits ass for you. You may even be so fortunate as to encounter a publisher who cares more about herhisits authors than the bottom line. Those things do happen. But don't ever fucking count on it. If you come to this life, and if you "make it" and can actually eek out some sort of living writing, you will likely learn these things for yourselves. Plenty of people will tell you I'm full of shit on this account. And you are certainly free to listen to whomever you please. But after fourteen years as a full-time writer, during which time I have had great successes and profound failures, seen modest fortune and considerable poverty and everything in-between, been appreciated and reviled, awarded and ignored, helped and hindered — one thing remains true. It's a tough row to hoe, as my Grandfather Ramey would have said. And you do yourself and all working authors a disservice if you dare believe otherwise. Which brings me back to a quote from last week, concerning the nature of passion:

Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It's not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.

This is not some bullshit line from someone who wishes to see herself as a "suffering artist." Far from it. I have zero potential as a martyr of any sort, artistic or otherwise. Indeed, I wish to see myself as an obscenely popular author. I wish immense wealth and complete comfort and a vast audience of adoring readers. I have never once desired to "suffer" for my art. But. Even less do I desire to watch the people I love suffer for theirs. But I do. And so do they. And so will you, almost certainly, if this is the life you choose.


One last thing, because it is, after all, Jethro Tull Season:

And as you cross the circle line, the ice-wall creaks behind ---
You're a rabbit on the run.
And the silver splinters fly in the corner of your eye ---
Shining in the setting sun.
Well, do you ever get the feeling that the story's
Too damn real and in the present tense?
Or that everybody's on the stage, and it seems like
You're the only person sitting in the audience?