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The writing at last went well yesterday, the first truly good writing day I've had since January 31st. No forced march, though. Still, I did 1,355 words on a new SFish piece for Sirenia Digest. Something that presently has no title. Something I almost did not even begin writing, it seems so grim, and I don't wish to be grim right now. But I'm writing it anyway, because I think it "wants" to be written. The quotation marks there merely signify that I do not actually think one should speak of herhisits fiction in teleological terms. Anyway, Spooky read what I wrote yesterday and liked it a lot, which is good, as I was uncertain.

My agent has read the three-page fleshed out proposal for Joey LaFaye, and she loves it.

So far, it appears that Daughter of Hounds is selling better than all my previous novels have sold, excepting Silk. This is a Very Good Thing. It's not actually fair to compare sales of Silk and Daughter of Hounds, however, as the former was a $6.50 mmp and the latter is a $14 tpb. And Silk had loads more publicity, and I was loads sexier back then.

I have noted, with some amusement, that people are less likely to comment on these entries when I actually talk about how I write and how I feel about writing. Yesterday, for example. Now, if I talk about magick or dreams or movies or being accosted by homophobic winos, people talk, usually. Discussions of writing tends to clog the pores, block the bowels, back up the plumping...so to speak. But that's okay, 'cause it bores me to.

To wit, I have been watching the reactions of various readers to Daughter of Hounds, as expressed in blogs and elsewhere on the interweb, and a curious sort of pattern has emerged. Most everyone is saying very positive things about it, but there's a small number who feel that I've abandoned what's best about my fiction, that Daughter of Hounds is too concrete, the pacing is too fast, not enough atmosphere, that too much is resolved, that the sense of mystery has been lost, and so forth. These people tend to cite Threshold or Silk as my best novels, or they think my writing works better in short fiction (I agree with that latter sentiment, but that's primarily because I think almost everyone's writing works better in short stories; novels are grotesque, unwieldy things in all but the most capable hands.). However, there is also a small number who feel rather strongly that this is my best novel...for these very same reasons listed above by people who think it's my worst. I find that remarkable, and it also makes perfect sense, that Daughter of Hounds would create this sort of polarization. I could point to specific examples, but people would only feel picked on, so I shan't.

I was kind of amused by whoever referred to Emmie Silvey as a deus ex machina plot device, in her timely arrival beneath Woonsocket (I shall not say more, as I do not wish to spoil the story for those who've not yet read it). I would argue that in a novel where "larger forces" are clearly at work, concerns about deus ex machina solutions are irrelevant, especially when the convergence was set in motion very early in the novel. And, in any case, wouldn't Pearl be the actual deus ex machina? Or her father, the alchemist? But, anyway...

We had an excellent walk yesterday, the first excellent walk we've had since December, most likely. We headed west. There was some sort of film shoot blocking the south end of Seminole. Turns out the filming was being done on the roof of Junkman's Daughter. Probably a music video. We headed down Sinclair Ave., pausing to play with Daisy Dog and say "hi" to the Dinosaur of Sinclair Ave. Despite all the cold, there were still buds and blooms everywhere. The temps went as high as 64F before the afternoon was over. We walked all the way to the intersection of Sinclair and Carmel before turning back for home. I wish I'd taken the camera.

Back home, Spooky opened the windows to air the place out, and the warmth hung around long enough that my office window wasn't closed until 5:53 p.m. (CaST). It gives me hope for spring. Last night, after dinner, I played quite a bit of Final Fantasy XII, picking my way through Giruvegan, which is one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen in any video game. The House on Ash Tree Lane meets V'ger, or something like that. Later, I finished reading Christopher G. Janus and William Brashler's The Search for Peking Man (1975) and didn't get to sleep until just after 4 a.m. (again).

And this entry has gone on far too long. And there's still stuff I wanted to squeeze in. Maybe I'll do an addendum later today. But a quick thanks to Poppy (docbrite), and she knows why.

Comments

( 21 comments — Have your say! )
sovay
Feb. 8th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
And, in any case, wouldn't Pearl be the actual deus ex machina? Or her father, the alchemist?

About whom I want to know more . . .
activistgirl
Feb. 8th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
I second that!!!
greygirlbeast
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Someday, "The Daughter of the Four of Pentacles" will actually be published. It was written for Thrillers II (CD Publications) in March and April 2004 and should have been published long ago, well before Daughter of Hounds. I hear that ARCs of the anthology have been circulated, with a 2005 © date. We shall see. Soon, it will likely appear in the digest, if CD drags it's feet much longer. Their period of exclusivity might already have expired (heads to file cabinet to check contract).
greygirlbeast
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
Oops. I meant to say the ARCs had a 2006 ©. My bad. Anyway, Locus announced the book for December 2006:

click me

Disturbingly, I cann't find my contract. At least I was paid...
sovay
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
Disturbingly, I cann't find my contract. At least I was paid...

That's something?
sovay
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
It was written for Thrillers II (CD Publications) in March and April 2004 and should have been published long ago, well before Daughter of Hounds. I hear that ARCs of the anthology have been circulated, with a 2005 © date.

I have a story that disappeared into the woodwork like that. I finally gave it up for lost and published it in Singing Innocence and Experience.

Soon, it will likely appear in the digest, if CD drags it's feet much longer. Their period of exclusivity might already have expired (heads to file cabinet to check contract).

*awaits with curiosity*
activistgirl
Feb. 8th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Writing vs Winos
While I know plenty about homophobic winos, and I am always looking for creative ways to deal with them-I do not know much about writing so I don't feel like I ever have much of anything intelligent or funny to comment on when you write about it.
I enjoy reading it all-please don't count comments as a marker of a successful entry!
sleepycyan
Feb. 8th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Writing vs Winos
Agreed. I enjoy reading about writing, but most of the time, I don't feel qualified to comment on it. It doesn't mean that the entry wasn't well received. :)
sfmarty
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
I thought your piece on writing was wonderful and copied it for a friend of mine who is a published (many times) writer. I haven't heard back from her, but that is typical.

Once in a while tightropegal (doris eagan) has a piece about writing. She is so busy tho that the posts are rare.
opalexian
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think your writing about writing is all. I'm very interested in the habits of writers, it's just not one of those things others may have much to say about. I'm listening. : )
(Deleted comment)
smu
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. They're inspiring as well.
sleepycyan
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
I read The Sphinx's Kiss today, and it's gorgeous. I never quite know what to say about writing, but I want to say something so that you know how much I appreciate the work that you do. This is a piece that came alive vividly in my mind, and I'd love to see it on film. It's so erotic and beautiful and dark.
setsuled
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
Discussions of writing tends to clog the pores, block the bowels, back up the plumping...so to speak.

Maybe most people feel slightly intimidated discussing writing with Caitlín R. Kiernan?

Anyway, if I were you, I wouldn't take lack of comments as an indicator of lack of interest. If I did that, I'd have to assume most of my posts to my own blog are entirely boring. Er, maybe I won't dwell on that . . .

I have noticed people prefer to comment when they feel most like they have something distinguishing to say--when they can say something they think you might not know or have considered. I always enjoy your writings about writing, but I don't usually feel like I have anything to contribute.
cause_catyljan
Feb. 8th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
and I was loads sexier back then.


You're sexy now, it's just the publicity that's lacking...
greygirlbeast
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
You're sexy now, it's just the publicity that's lacking...

Nah, now I'm an old married dyke, and none of the grey is where it ought to be.

But I thank you, and you're kind, nonetheless.
cause_catyljan
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
and none of the grey is where it ought to be

not quite sure where its supposed to be, but best I drop it.

I assume you've seen this. Neil looks like Barry Gibb in the circa 1994 one
stsisyphus
Feb. 8th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
I have noted, with some amusement, that people are less likely to comment on these entries when I actually talk about how I write and how I feel about writing.

Well, I think some of us know that it's probably more kvetching than actual advice or oration. I don't usually comment on this because I believe that someone talking about how to write is like someone talking about how to have sex. You can talk all day about art, craft, mechanics, opinions, etc. But in the end, it doesn't really matter because the only rule that holds true is: Your Results May Vary.

Regardless, I wanted to bring up something you said the other day:

"But I'm not the sort of writer who ever enjoys talking about writing, so I don't make a habit of it."

But in truth, you sort of do make a habit of it. And I have to wonder whether this is its own forced march (or trail of tears, or how have you), whether you feel like you must write about writing to justify the continuation of this journal. It is, by mission statement, supposed to chronicle the writing of your novels (for which it is rather useful, particularly when considering any potential literary criticism or research necessary in order to discuss your works academically). Yet, this is certainly not an aspect of your day that you look forward to and as you have mentioned innumerable times before, you find discussion of writing theory and "practice"/"craft"/"art" as being tedious.

...wouldn't Pearl be the actual deus ex machina?

Of course; but there might be some argument that since Pearl is well established by the time she makes her descent from "the machine", she doesn't exactly break fourth wall as unrealistically (that is, the reality of the novel, not our reality) as the traditional deus ex machina. But as I said in my own review, if you're not willing to accept/assent to the unveiled intervention of supernatural/otherworldly forces - then readers really won't be able to concentrate on the focal story. Or, they're not seeing the play's theme for all the set dressing.

I'm wondering if the novels are more stringently criticized because the readers know that novels take so much more time & effort to write. The readers, accordingly, may expect them to be even more accomplished and "successful" (to your internal vision) because of the time and effort placed into them. However, none of us can actually know what your internal vision might be for a novel. So, when a reader criticizes that "the sense of mystery has been lost", one assumes that this was a priority to begin with.

The other bit I'd like to mention is that many readers write about the books they read with a little too much finality. "...The sense of mystery has been lost"? Maybe set aside for the moment, but it's a little soon to doomsay about Ms. Kiernan's career in fantastic fiction.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:08 pm (UTC)
Well, I think some of us know that it's probably more kvetching than actual advice or oration. I don't usually comment on this because I believe that someone talking about how to write is like someone talking about how to have sex. You can talk all day about art, craft, mechanics, opinions, etc. But in the end, it doesn't really matter because the only rule that holds true is: Your Results May Vary.

Thank you, perceptive gentle reader.

But in truth, you sort of do make a habit of it. And I have to wonder whether this is its own forced march (or trail of tears, or how have you), whether you feel like you must write about writing to justify the continuation of this journal.

I do.

Of course; but there might be some argument that since Pearl is well established by the time she makes her descent from "the machine", she doesn't exactly break fourth wall as unrealistically (that is, the reality of the novel, not our reality) as the traditional deus ex machina. But as I said in my own review, if you're not willing to accept/assent to the unveiled intervention of supernatural/otherworldly forces - then readers really won't be able to concentrate on the focal story. Or, they're not seeing the play's theme for all the set dressing.

I'm sure this would all make sense, were I not presently mired in an entirely different story. Sorry.



octoberland
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
Daughter of Hounds
I haven't finished it yet but so far I have to say that I actually find it to be one of your best novels yet precisely for the reason of it being more concrete. I commented to my boyfriend last weekend that I was pleased to see you advancing as a writer over the years to which he replied that you well ought to be otherwise you wouldn't be a very good writer! I picked up Daughter of Hounds at Arisia from a bookseller who had previously never carried your work and I'm assuming the only reason he has it now is because of it being published by ROC. Anyway, I'm loving it. It's nice to be back with these characters because they have been some of my favorites though for some reason I keep picturing Emmie as a blonde even though I know she's not. It's also fun for me to be reading about places I grew up around.

Hope all is well with you. I'll be traveling to the NY ComiCon at the end of the month and hopefully I'll squeeze in a visit to the dinosaurs!
kiaduran
Feb. 9th, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
I turned the final page of Daughter of Hounds last night and wept. It is a magical and unnerving book. Your language is beautiful, vivid and haunting; I simply cannot stop thinking about Soldier and what she found and what she gave up. This is a world I will treasure. Thank you.

jtglover
Feb. 9th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
But Optimus Prime Never Wore Hot, Gothedy Dresses
And Silk had loads more publicity, and I was loads sexier back then.

Sexy is as sexy does, and it sure as hell is a lot more than a pretty publicity photo. How could your writing style be what it is and you not be sexy? I mean, really! :)

I have noted, with some amusement, that people are less likely to comment on these entries when I actually talk about how I write and how I feel about writing.

It's not very rewarding when people don't comment at length, I'm sure, but that doesn't mean we aren't interested! It's just hard to know what to say in response that doesn't sound vapid. You wrote intelligently about commerce & art, for Pete's sake. Likewise, you're one of the few blogging writers (whom I read) who aren't afraid to talk about writing as art. What kind of response would you want from readers about this? I mean, given that most of us aren't published writers, going through the same types of struggles?

...that Daughter of Hounds is too concrete, the pacing is too fast, not enough atmosphere, that too much is resolved, that the sense of mystery has been lost

Didn't some people say that about Low Red Moon? I distinctly remember reading a review somewhere that billed it as a straightforward, fast-paced chase novel. Given the substantial amount of alternate reality/alternate timeline stuff in DoH, I'm a little surprised that anyone could consider the novel to have too much resolution.
( 21 comments — Have your say! )