November 7th, 2012

house of leaves

"I know I'm not forgiven, but I hope that I'll be given some peace."

I may not be a hopeful person, not in general, but this afternoon I do feel relief. Great relief. A Mitt Romney presidency was simply too bizarre and horrific to even imagine. And if I must hope, here is a hope I believe is worth hoping for, that the Republican party has learned that, if they want the White House back, it's time to stop building campaign platforms based on hate and fear. I most emphatically do not believe the GOP has been taught any such lesson. But, near as I can tell, hope is a lot like faith. All wishful thinking and fluffy pink unicorns and stuff. Yeah, I suck at faith, too. Though, oddly, I'm pretty good with trust. Go figure. Wait. Where was I? Oh, yeah....

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The evening was spent at my desk, the iMac on my left – parked on CNN – and the Asus on my right, running The Secret World. I found that slicing my way through hordes of drooling zombie Mittens, tea partiers, homophobes, and Christian zealots helped me survive the evening. That and, well...other things. The wonders of biochemistry. I think I finally got to sleep about 4:45 ayem. Oh, and is Florida ever going to call this thing, one way or the other?


For me, all that I am about to say is important. To me.

No, Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me (Volume 1) didn't win the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection. However, two thoughts. Firstly, it was nominated, out of all the many collections that were published in 2011. If there is honor here, in awards, it is to be had in the nomination. However, secondly and to be honest, the older I get the more I feel it's not books that win awards, it's authors. And I don't exactly have one of those congenial award-winning personalities. If I did, I couldn't write these books that get those nominations....


Okay, so, here we are in November. And someone who is not so fond of profanity as am I might say that I'm in a "bit of a pickle." I absolutely fucking believed, based on the time required to write Blood Oranges (45 days), that I'd be able to hand in Fay Grimmer by the first week of September. But here we are at the beginning of November. The book isn't finished. It is, in fact, a wreck. Chapter Two...well, let's not talk about the second chapter, except to say it has to be rewritten a third time if the novel has any chance at all of being completed.

Chapters three, four, and five are more or less useable as is, though they'll have to be tweaked quite a bit once I have a functional Chapter Two (which, as time flows backwards and we abandon linearity) has been shaped by those latter chapters. And I have chapters six, seven, and, presumably, eight yet to write. In two or three weeks. All of that. No, see. It won't happen. I'm going to try my damnedest, but it won't be finished in two or three weeks. I have proven, with these books, that I am most emphatically not an assembly line. Except for the unfortunate need to meet deadlines and make money, this actually makes me quite happy. I can't turn the mass-production trick after all. My agent told me I couldn't. Spooky warned me I couldn't. They were right.

But Fay Grimmer has to be written, and it has to not suck (too hard). Puppy Love has to be written. And then I think Kathleen Tierney may suffer a horrible and fatal accident involving a freight train and a herd of stampeding musk oxen. I'm cool with that.

I just have to shut the fuck up, stop dithering, and write the damn book. THE END is its own reward.


But, here's the thing: I have spent this year at war with my own lack of self esteem. Never mind that I've written and published eight novels (not counting The Five of Cups or the Beowulf novelization) and over 200 short stories that have been collected in eleven collections (tenth coming in 2013). Sure, maybe none of this has made me rich or netted me a grand display of awards, but my fiction has brought me accolades and admiration from a considerable number of the fantasy and science fiction authors whom I've admired all my life, and the reviews have almost always glowed, and I have an intelligent readership, and I am respected by my peers. I've published papers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Journal of Paleontology, and the Bulletin of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature. I spent nine years at two universities, where I studied under some of the greatest paleontologists of the 20th Century. According to the Stanford-Binet, I have an IQ of 148. I'm a member of both Mensa and the Triple Nine Society. I've been a voting member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology since I was nominated to the organization as an undergrad in 1983. I was once a gopher for Stephen Jay Gould. I've seen more of the world than anyone else in my family before me. And so on, and on, and on.

I have a wonderful, talented, supportive partner, and we've been together for ten years (despite all my crazy shit).

And yet, and still, I have just about enough self-esteem to fill a thimble. And maybe I know why, and maybe I don't. Maybe I only know some of the "why," and maybe the "why" doesn't matter. Maybe it's environmental, and maybe it's a neurological chemical imbalance. What does matter is that this absence in me has always held me back, and this year it has been more a hinderance than ever. Well, maybe not ever. But it has been BAD.

I'm not asking for fucking pity or pats on the back. Fuck that shit. I'm just saying. It fucks me up, and I'm fighting through it, day by day. Swimming against the tide of my own self-loathing and idiotic insecurities. I have come to accept it is a war I will never win. I have to settle for winning battles. This year, it's been a hell of a battle, and I have not yet won.

Vulcans for Obama,
Aunt Beast