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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

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.