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only human for a moment

The weather's turned cooler and wetter again. I think my emotions were jacked directly into the climate yesterday. Yesterday and today. Both. It'll be warm again next week. Everything's only a passing phase.

And as for yesterday, well, it was only more editing. Hours and hours and hours of editing. We did chapters Five-Eight. Halfway through Chapter Eight, I was losing perspective, getting angry at the tedium, at the recognition that certain things become arbitrary whether I want them to be or not. It was never this way in the "old days." Yes, I think once you've been publishing for eleven years and writing for fourteen, you are permitted to talk about the "old days." In the old days, when it was a feverish rush of words, when it was more words and the sound of words and the relationship of one word to the next and also to the word before it. When it was almost poetry and almost mathematics, when story and characterization were a given, were second nature and so I was free to think about nothing but the words. When it was all like that, say 1994-2002, say "Anamorphosis" to Low Red Moon, there were rules. I cannot now tell you what they were because I only ever knew them instinctively. They were there, though. Rewrites, revisions, editing, all that shit was minimal, as it only occurred when mistakes were made, and correcting a mistake was simply a matter of channeling the rules and changing something that was the way it shouldn't be into the way it ought to be. There was never an infinite number of choices or choices that are effectively infinite. Or arbitrary. There are few things worse than knowing that I'm only making sense to myself, which I suspect is what's happening right now. I said a lot of this to Spooky late last night, and she listened patiently, as she does. It's made all the more frustrating by the fact that I lack the language required to discuss such things in an orthodox fashion. I don't do workshops. I wasn't taught to write. It has always been an entirely, or almost entirely, organic process. Trying to explain how I wrote any given story or why would be like trying to explain the behaviour of my chromosomes, and I am not a geneticist. When the rules went away, well, that was organic, too.

And I do recognise that much of my best work has been done since the decline and fall of the rules, since story and character overtook and then moved on ahead of the words themselves. "La Peau Verte," for example. And "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." And "Mercury." And "Riding the White Bull" and "Bradbury Weather" and Daughter of Hounds. I never could have written those things before. Or, at the very least, they'd have come out as something entirely different than what they are. But yesterday, halfway through Chapter Eight, as some part of my mind tried to solve problems the old way, by looking for just the right word, and then realising that those rules were no longer applicable, that any number of words would suffice...it's disheartening. I miss the rules, but it's like missing childhood or a pulled tooth or a dead friend or 1977. And so I lose my patience with myself and the surliness sets in, and I have to stop before I begin throwing things and making decisions just to have it over and done with. I have to stop because I know that I'll regret it when I see Daughter of Hounds in print and I turn to page 354 and there I've used the wrong word and Spooky says you only have yourself to blame, because that's the day you said, oh, what the fuck. Just stick in a word. Any goddamn word will do.

This is what it's like to be a writer. If you're me. Those people who say, this is what it's like to be a writer and try to convince you it's some all-inclusive statement, useful and applicable to all cases, those people are idiots and you can either ignore them or listen to them, as is the case with all idiots.

Speaking of idiots, some idiot on Amazon.com claims I stole the conclusion of Low Red Moon from Roger Corman's 1970 adaptation of The Dunwich Horror, which mostly annoys me because I can hardly abide Sandra fucking Dee. Jessie Bell, that's the name of the "reviewer," and I suppose I should at least commend him for having the stones to use his own name. Assuming that is his own name. And we should never assume anything at all.

And yes, when someone accuses me of plagiarism, I have the right to call that person an idiot.

Don't worry. I'm running out of steam. We're almost at the end of this thing. I will remind you that if you wish to e-mail me, write me at greygirlbeast@gmail.com and not at lowredmail@mac.com. Too bad I don't have dunwichhorrorripoff@gmail.com. Oh, and, much to my surprise, Doom was a far, far better movie than it had any right to be. I think it did justice to the game. I thought it'd suck at least as much as the two Tomb Raider movies, but, yet again, I was wrong. (I might feel differently if I'd paid to see it at the theatre.) I think it helped that it wasn't stuffed full of pretty plastic people, as was the case with, oh, let's say The Cave. The fps sequence actually worked, and the monsters were appropriately monstery and even having to look at The Rock® didn't make me gag more than once or twice. Sure, it borrows a lot of its best bits from The Thing and Aliens, but at least it didn't rip off Roger Corman and have Mars besieged by Dagon-worshiping hippies and Sandra fucking Dee and stuff. Hmmm. Now I'm wondering how Sandra Dee would have worked as Narcissa Snow...

Postscript: We are now in Day 3 of the letter S auction.

Comments

( 2 comments — Have your say! )
sovay
Feb. 18th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
Now I'm wondering how Sandra Dee would have worked as Narcissa Snow...

Thank you very much; I think I've gone mentally blind now.

since the decline and fall of the rules, since story and character overtook and then moved on ahead of the words themselves. "La Peau Verte," for example. And "Houses Under the Sea" and "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles." And "Mercury." And "Riding the White Bull" and "Bradbury Weather" and Daughter of Hounds. I never could have written those things before. Or, at the very least, they'd have come out as something entirely different than what they are.

I've read only three of the pieces you name. I take it there were certain confinements that the old style of writing would have placed on them—an absolute differentiation between right and wrong rather than a gradation of more or less likely possible directions for the story to take? In some ways, it sounds as though your approach to writing has become more mimetic-realistic (if I can use those terms without the weight of literary theory) in that it mirrors the way events actually fall out in life: there's never a way one's life should have gone, only the way that it did. It will produce loose threads and uncertainties galore, but that's the way lives are. We only shape them into neat arcs when we look back.
tactileson
Feb. 18th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
I have no earthly idea of how difficult it is to write for an living. Speaking as someone who writes solely for himself when the mood strikes, I'm not sure I can offer any more solace than a virtual hug. I at least applaud you for having the balls to become a professional writer in the first place. You could always be me, paying the bills as a damned janitor with a handful of songs and written words to your name, hoping they will all add up to something, someday. Of course, it takes people like yourself, whose work inspires me to keep at all the other stuff. 'Eh, I'm rambling now. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...
( 2 comments — Have your say! )