347 / 691
Which is entirely more encouraging than the way it looked back on April 27th. At this point, the most difficult thing about editing this book involves questions of pacing. My editor felt very strongly that there are certain scenes that hold things back, scenes which don't advance the plot, etc., and that these scenes should be shortened or removed. For my part, plot is always at best secondary, and often it's only a tertiary concern. I write moments connected to other moments, and if a plot emerges from that, cool. But mostly I'm concerned with mood, atmosphere, characterization, theme. I know this is a problem that many readers have had with my work. I don't venerate plot or consider all other elements subservient to plot. It has always seemed to me one of the most artificial aspects of literature. Life and history seem to entirely lack plots. Sure, we impose plot upon the world around us, the same way we impose Linnaean taxonomy and geological timescales. All three are useful tools, so long as we do not begin to believe that Orders and Subfamilies actually and objectively exist in nature, or that the Cretaceous or Devonian periods ever existed as anything more than convenient ways to mark off vast stretches of deep time. Same with plot. I'm fine with it, just as long as it remains merely a convenient way to move a story from the first page to THE END. But, to me, the story is not so much the plot. More than anything, to me the story is the lives of the characters, their conversations, their thoughts, their dreams, and the worth of those conversations, thoughts, and dreams is never judged by whether or not they advance the plot. This makes me a bit of an outsider in the whole publishing thing. When I began editing DoH last week, I'd promised myself that I would be open to the possibility that certain scenes should be shortened or omitted in order to make the book move along a little faster. But here I am, halfway through, and I've yet to find a single place where I could justify such a cut for the sake of advancing the plot. To me, and no doubt to my detriment, it seems an entirely alien way of thinking and of writing.
I've given Subterranean Press the green light on an e-text of The Dry Salvages. I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being nervous about this, but I'm excited about it as well, so perhaps a balance will be struck. Also, HPL Laboratories of Pennsylvania has given me permission to include the Nyarlathotep EP, A self-contemplating shadow..., written as an accompaniment to the novella, as part of the free download, which we'll likely be doing. Details TBA.
I read a so-so article on Wicca and transsexualism on The Witches' Voice yesterday. While the article is certainly correct in insisting that transgendered persons must be allowed to function within ritual and magick as their self-identified genders and not relegated to the inappropriate roles dictated by their birth sex, I think the article ultimately misses the point by accepting the rigidly defined gender polarity common to most Wiccan groups. Goddess and God. Female and male. Hole and pole. This is one of the reasons I'm presently a solitary practitioner. For one, the divine has no gender, and for another, it's terribly presumptuous to assume the divine is anymore sexual than it is asexual. That, say, the reproductive habits of animals and plants matter more than those of bacteria and viruses. Moreover, science is teaching us that gender isn't black and white, but that it exists along a continuum, and, for my part, any accurate understanding of Gaia/Cosmos must reflect that continuum. The gender polarity of Wicca is archaic and needs to be replaced with a more modern understanding of gender, one which is far more inclusive and which respects not only female and male, but all those who fall in between, whether in body or mind or both, as well as those who fall entirely outside the female and male dichotomy. A nature religion may only truly be a nature religion if it rejects heterocentrism and any insistence that humanity (or any other species) rests at the center of the universe. Many Wiccans pay lip service to the interconnectedness of all things, but then exclude a great portion of the biomass of this planet from their model of the divine by continuing to insist upon the goddess/god polarity. And, so long as I have my heretic hat on, I'd prefer we didn't speak of "gender energy," as it seems an awfully fuzzy concept. In fact, Pagans rarely discuss "energy" with any sort of rigor or specificity, and so I rarely know what they mean. Anyway...
Happy Beltane, to those who wish to be wished a Happy Beltane. It's time to flog the platypus...
Postscript: A quick reminder. The "new" e-mail address is greygirlbeast(at)gmail(dot)com, as the old firstname.lastname@example.org account is set to expire soon, and I no longer check it.