May 11th, 2008

chi (intimate distance)

Dressing coffins for the souls I've left behind.

Yesterday, by some miracle (I don't actually believe in "miracles," sensu loaves and fishes, etc., so what I actually mean is by some statistically improbable, but not impossible, turn of events), I wrote a measly 869 words, and finished the preface for The Red Tree. The preface is written by the fictional editor who has come into the possession of Sarah Crowe's manuscript. The editor is strangely fond of footnotes, some of which are rather pedantic. Today, no writing, but, instead, Spooky and I will read back over what I've written of Chapter One to be sure it jibes with the preface. Already, I've caught one inconsistency. In Chapter One, the "red tree" grows on "the Old Jenks place," but in the preface, it grows on the "Battey Farm." I'll be going with the latter.

My thanks for the many comments and emails yesterday, though, of course, that's not why I said the things I said. I wasn't fishing for pep talks. And all the attention and well wishes in the world cannot change what I know to be true. I cannot go any easier on myself. Indeed, I am not going hard enough on myself. It's a goddamn hardscrabble life, pimping the playtpus, selling my dreams, growing corn on bare stone, making all these blasted words. It's not likely to ever get any easier. There is no retirement plan. There are only the words, from here until The End. One reason I am so reluctant to describe these times when it goes from bad to worse is simply because I have this inherent fear of being seen as weak, or whiny, or whatever. But I also loathe not telling the truth. Anyway, yes, thank you for the sentiments, because it's good to know someone cares, but nothing changes. Not unless the big space rock comes tomorrow, or Panthalassa rises up to stomp us all flat with tsunami paws.

I re-read Salman Rushdie's introduction to Angela Carter's Burning Your Boats yesterday, and he writes:
"...but the best of her, I think, is in her stories. Sometimes, at novel length, the distinctive Carter voice, those smoky, opium-eater's cadences interrupted by harsh or comic discords, that moonstone-and-rhinestone mix of opulence and flim-flam, can be exhausting. In her stories, she can dazzle and swoop, and quit while she's ahead."

And I think I know exactly what he means, for so often have I wished that I could make a living writing only short fiction. I do it ever so much better than novels, with their absurdly drawn-out plots and contrived twists and turns. I have never written a novel even half as good as my best short story, but, in the end, this is about the pay check. Of course, I should also note, to be fair, that Rushdie adores Carter's novels, and bemoans the werewolf novel she never wrote. It's just, as an author, I think the short story is the better form, and poetry better still. Distillation, as it were. Less usually is more.

What else to yesterday? I re-read "A new aigialosaur (Squamata; Anguimorpha) with soft tissue remains from the Upper Cretaceous of Nuevo León, Mexico" in the March 2008 JVP. We live in age of riches, when it comes to the discovery of basal mosasauroid lizards — Dallasurus, Hassiophis, Tethysaurus, Haasisaurus, Judeasaurus, et al., and now Vallecillosaurus. Anyway, I packed many boxes of books. My office is looking bare. Spooky has been craving Tom Baker, so we watched the four-part old-school Doctor Who, "The Hand of Fear" (1976). Mostly, Baker's Who is just too hokey for my tastes, and I find Sarah Jane unbearable. But I like that steampunky old TARDIS, and Eldrad was a pretty cool alien. Christopher Eccleston will always be my Doctor, and David Tenant's not so bad, either. After four eps of Doctor Who, I wandered into SL for a rather nice rp with Omega and Pontifex. I was in bed by 2:30 ayem, I think. Seven hours sleep. That was yesterday, pretty much. Oh, very fine thunderstorm last night, late. I sat here at my desk, the window open, trying to hear the thunder over the Xtians who were wailing and hooting (at 11:30 p.m.!) like they were trying to summon Great Cthulhu. Beautiful lightning. I feel asleep to the rain.

Ah, and a screencap from SL, another one that may put some readers in mind of "Flotsam." These days, Nareth sleeps beneath that old tanker:

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