October 13th, 2008

Ellen Ripley 2

"When the world is a monster..."

Well, the whole verse would be:

When the world is a monster,
Bad to swallow you whole,
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in,
Throw your troubles out the door.

But, somehow, having put that quote down, it looks far more positive than I feel, and, more importantly, it implies that I myself am anything but monstrous. And look, I haven't even started the entry, and already I'm digressing. It's a quality that Sarah Crowe —— the protagonist of The Red Tree —— and I share in common. We both digress, endlessly. And speaking of The Red Tree, yesterday I wrote 1,718 words —— a very respectable writing day —— and finished Chapter Seven. That means I have only one chapter to go to reach THE END. At this point, the ms. stands at 78,732 words. And I can see that the book was begun April 15th, but almost all of it has been written since July. And I can see THE END from here, and I only hope that I am doing this the way that I need to do it. There is no "right way" to write a book. There is only the way that the author needs it to be written, because the novel serves the author, even as the author serves the story, and failure is the act of failing to pull off that trick. I will begin Chapter Eight today, because, you know, no rest for the wicked.


Please have a look at the current round of eBay auctions, which began just yesterday. Thanks.


I'm still not in a position to say exactly what happened on Thursday that sent me into such a funk that I seriously, seriously considered shelving The Red Tree indefinitely. It might be, in the days that come, that I decide I overreacted, and it might be that I don't. Regardless, on Thursday I was too angry to even consider work, and it seemed like a good idea to get out of the house. We headed south and west, for Stonington in Connecticut. We did actually make it to Stonington Cemetery, but, I'd underestimated the effect of the blue-white sky bearing down on me, and how raw all that sun would leave my eyes. We did not linger, but boomeranged right around and headed home. It was a day wasted on an ugly road, beneath a merciless autumn sky. A few clouds might have saved the day.

On Friday, again there was no work on The Red Tree, as I was still laboring under the resolve that I would leave it uncompleted. Instead, we went to the movies. But I'll get back to the movies. There have been a lot of movies the past four days. We didn't make the mistake of another road trip. The grip of autumn is too absolute, and my agoraphobia-like dread of all that blue emptiness above me had done enough damage the day before. I learn my lesson, if only for a little while. On Saturday, after speaking with my agent, Merrilee, I went back to work on The Red Tree. Nothing had changed, except that indignation began to take on the characteristics of resignation. So, on Saturday, as I've already said, I wrote 1,412 words.


In all this mess, I neglected to wish sovay a happy birthday, though her birthday was on Thursday. So, here it is, belatedly. Also, my thanks to stsisyphus for the T-shirts. Spooky adores her steampunk DJ, and my cephalopods are very fitting.


Yes, there have been a lot of movies, helping to keep me from breaking things. Thursday night there was Matt Damon in The Bourne Monotony or whatever it is they called the third film. A murksome mess that proceeds with all the inspired pacing of a television commercial. Though, I will admit, the last half hour or so are almost engaging. And then, on Friday, we made a matinée of John Erick Dowdle's Quarantine, which we both liked quite a lot. Of course, this film's going to be judged as a zombie film, even though it isn't. It did get me to thinking how the "zombie film" has edged away from the collective human loathing of their own dead to a fear of contagion and the damage that unrestrained nature can do. Like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002), Quarantine is a film about a genetically engineered rabies-like plague, not the living dead. But, somehow, the two things have been run together in the minds of moviegoers. Maybe it's the shared element of cannibalism. Maybe what humans fear most of all is not death or the dead or even plague, but being eaten alive by their own. Or things that used to be their own. Anyway, Friday night we watched Tarsem Singh's The Cell (2000) again, because I wanted another look at it after seeing The Fall. It's truly a gorgeous film (and, if you're me, a damned sexy one), but the script is slipshod and Jennifer Lopez is a walking disaster, whispering her way from line to line as though that will disguise the fact that she simply cannot act. Then on Saturday night, we got stoned and watched Julie Taymor's Across the Universe again, and it's still amazing. Finally, last night, we watched Fred M. Wilcox's Forbidden Planet (1956), because it's one of those films that soothes the monsters of my id.


I didn't really get much reading done. Mainly, from the September 2008 Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, "New information on Stokesosaurus, a tyrannosauroid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from North America and the United Kingdom." It's clear now that this lineage of theropods reaches back at least to the Late Jurassic, and that the smaller, more gracile predecessors of Tyrannosaurus lived alongside such classically Jurassic theropods as Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.


Finally, there has been a good deal of World of Warcraft, which has proven itself a great "pressure valve," as the consequences of slaughtering virtual beings are far less worrisome that doing the same thing in the here and now. Mithwen, the night-elf warrior, is now at Lvl 28, and running missions out of Menethil in the Wetlands. She was rather shocked to learn that humans are so tiny, and the Sin'dorei even smaller. Honestly, I cannot fathom why anyone plays a human. But I digress (again). Shaharrazad, the blood-elf warlock, has made Lvl 21, and has been enjoying the company of her minions. She's mostly keeping to the Ghostlands and Undercity for the time being. There'a third character now, and you can blame Spooky for that —— a Draenei, a Lvl 10 huntress named Voimakas. That's Finnish for "strong" or "powerful," "fierce" or "intense," in keeping with our impression that Draenei words look Finnish, and Finnish has always seemed a very alien language to me. Frankly, I think the Draenei are possibly the best designed and executed part of the game I've seen. And the interjection of such an explicitly sf element into the faux-Tolkien stew is much appreciated. So far, Voimakas has made it only as far as the Bloodmyst Isle.

Okay. That's more than enough for now. Time to make the doughnuts.