February 25th, 2010

Eli2

"If there really was a God here, he'd have raised a hand by now."

1. Yesterday, I did 1,014 words on the new vignette, which, it turns out, will be named "Apsinthion." Though I am tempted to name it "αψίνθιον," but fear the Greek letters would give thingunderthest fits when it came time to translate it all into the PDF for #51. Spooky read the first 2,000+ words back to me yesterday, and she likes it a lot. And I like it, so now all I have to do is find THE END today. I'm thinking Sirenia Digest #51 will go out to subscribers on Saturday, but Sunday at the latest.

2. Last night, I got the rough sketch for Vince's illustration for "The Eighth Veil," and it's looking awesome. I have to write him back this morning, to answer a question or two, but it's going to be perfect for the story.

3. Greer Gilman (nineweaving) brought this bit of anti-intellectual claptrap to my attention last night: "A reader's advice to writers - A word to the novelist on how to write better books," by someone named Laura Miller. Never mind the highly dubious conceit of the title, that readers are qualified to tell authors how to write (I say that's very like me advising a dance choreographer or a cameraman or a cellist). Once again, we are told that style is a no-no. Voice is bad. Just hand out story, please. To quote the passage that Greer has already quoted:

4. Remember that nobody agrees on what a beautiful prose style is and most readers either can't recognize "good writing" or don't value it that much. Believe me, I wish this were otherwise, and I do urge all readers to polish their prose and avoid clichés. However, I've seen as many books ruined by too much emphasis on style as by too little. As Leonard himself notes at the end of his list, most of his advice can be summed up as, 'if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.' Or, as playwright David Hare put it in his list, 'Style is the art of getting yourself out of the way, not putting yourself in it.' But whether you write lush or (please!) transparent prose, keep in mind that in most cases, style is largely a technical matter appreciated by specialists. You probably don't go to movies to see the lighting and photography, and most readers don't come to books in search of breathtaking sentences.

*blink blink*

Actually, I do go to movies to see lighting and photography, very much so. And costume design. And to admire well-written screenplays. So, it should come as no surprise that my favorite directors are not bland facilitators of unremarkable cinematography. They are people like Wes Anderson, Jane Campion, David Lynch, Tim Burton, the Coen Bros., Werner Herzog, Martin Scorcese, and so forth — directors whose vision of a story is as important as the story itself, who are visible on every frame of film. And the same is true of the books I most love. I need to hear the voice of the author, and it must be a compelling voice. People like Ms. Miller, well, I'll be kind and say I find them utterly fucking unfathomable. If you ever asked me for writing advice, and I ever refused to give it (because that's not something I make a habit of doing), I'll give you a little now: ignore this sort of nonsense. Good prose isn't transparent. It's not a clear window, but, rather, something more akin to stained glass. The trick is not to be "accessible" to as many people as possible, but to find your voice, whether or not anyone will ever listen.

5. After long a month in Insilico, a month of extremely heavy rp that has, among other good things, inspired a couple of nice short stories, I'm stepping back from Second Life a bit. Again. Mainly, I don't have the time to keep up with all four characters that setting out to rp one character somehow spawned. I will, for now, continue to play the part of Xiang 1.5, currently known as "Victoria," but that's really all that I can handle. I find myself fretting over those characters when I ought to be fretting over my fiction. No, the other fiction, the stuff that pays the bills. Last night, no SL for the first time in a couple of weeks. Instead, I played WoW with Spooky, and, unexpectedly, had quite a lot of fun. I think that was my first WoW in five or six weeks.

6. Last night, Spooky made meatloaf and we watched Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in Howard Hawks's delightful Ball of Fire (1941), an old favorite.

7. And now, the third set of photos from Sunday's trip to Conanicut Island. These were taken after we left Beavertail and drove east, to West Cove at Fort Wetherill:

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Tuojiangosaurus

Meet Abydosaurus and Bistahieversor

Here 2010 is hardly two-months old, and already a number of new dinosaur taxa have been described. The most exciting among these may be a new tyrannosarid, Bistahieversor sealeyi, from the Late Cretaceous of New Mexico, and a new brachiosaurid, Abydosaurus mcintoshi, from relatively older Late Cretaceous beds in Utah. Bistahieversor, known from both adult and subadult specimens from the Kirtland Formation, would have measured some thirty feet in life. The gigantic Abydosaurus, discovered in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation, is known from four skulls and others remains (this is highly unusual, as sauropod skulls are generally among the rarest of dinosaur remains).

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