June 20th, 2007


frustration and slow going

So, I just got news from thingunderthest that LJ is finally going to have another permanent-account sale, beginning on June 21st and lasting for a week. And I must admit, $150 sounds like a good deal for a lifetime account. Which is to say, if the folks who read this blog want to pass around the collection plate, I wouldn't be offended.

Here in the shadows and blinding shafts of light I call home, we are presently "between checks." It's a peculiar state of pseudo-poverty generated by a general slowness on the part of publishers when it comes to actually paying their writers (please note that subpress is exempt from this statement; I'm talking the big NYC houses). So, we reach these interminable stretches of time where oodles of money is due, and/or past due, and I have learned to live in a sort of perpetual "feast or famine" cycle. When there's money, there's money. When there isn't, well, there is the promise of money to string me along. It's kind of like life on the savannas of Africa, what with the very dry and the very wet.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I tried to get back to work on The Dinosaurs of Mars. I returned to the "editor's preface." I even added a little to it. But it still doesn't work for me. I continue to be dogged by self doubt and questions of language in the mid 22nd Century. Always am I plagued by self doubt, but here it is actually preventing me from proceeding with the story. I didn't have this problem with The Dry Salvages or "Bradbury Weather" or "Riding the White Bull," but all that was before the Locus review's comment about my "facile use of shorthand TV-series lingo." Honestly, I'm not even sure what that means. And right now, I don't care anymore. I just want to tell this story. I am not a linguist, and even the best linguist would be hard-pressed to forecast the evolution of the English language over the next 141 years. I should simply put that review out of my mind and write the story and stop obsessing over the voices in which it will be told. I know that's what I should do. It occurs to me that there are people out there who take science fiction far too seriously, in that they forget that it is fiction and that there is no looking glass through which we may catch glimpses of the shape of things to come. Well, other than the predictive abilities of science, but that's another matter. The yardstick by which we measure the success of fiction is story and character and syntax, not predictive success. There's a quote from William Gibson that I would bring up here:

When you write a science-fiction novel set in some sort of recognizable future, as soon as you finish it you have the dubious pleasure of watching it acquire a patina of quaint technological obsolescence. For instance, there are no cell phones in Neuromancer. I couldn't have foreseen them. It would have seemed corny, like Dick Tracy wrist radios.

And Mr. Gibson is a much, much brighter fellow than I am. Well, actually, I don't suppose I'm any sort of a fellow, but you know what I mean. Unless you don't.

Not much else to say about yesterday. Byron dropped by at 7 p.m., and we had a very enjoyable dinner at The Vortex. Thank you, Byron. Sometimes, I think he should just marry me and Spooky and be done with it. Make honest, respectable women of us. Anyway, later there was Second Life...speaking of the future. My flat in Babbage is pretty much decorated and furnished. Soon, I must turn my thoughts to a public exhibition, as one thing Babbage is lacking is a NeoVictorian-Era geological museum. Sir Arthur says Salazar will be around this week to fix the lift, and I think I'm getting new windows, as well. Maybe a shiny new jet pack or a steam-powered Victrola would lift my spirits.