Yesterday, I wrote 1,598 words on a new sf story for Sirenia Digest #16. The working title is "In View of Nothing," but I think I can do better than that. This is the story I mentioned in the prefacing remarks to Sirenia Digest #15, another go at the white room, the "Laugh Motel," the legless albino. "A Season of Broken Dolls" was a nice try, but it's like looking over my shoulder at the dreams and then only through some distorting filter. Somehow, in "A Season of Broken Dolls," I wrote about the dream without ever actually writing about the dream. Because I do not generally "write out" my dreams. They often have a great influence upon what I write, but I rarely literally write them out (see "Metamorphosis A" for a rare example). That's what I'm trying to do now. So, yesterday I sat and stared at the screen and the keyboard, sipping absinthe and looking for the first few words, which turned out to be:
My breasts ache.
Then it seemed to come with relative ease. But, hours later, when I'd finished the first eight pages and after Spooky read them back to me, none of it felt quite exactly right. Like a word lost on the tip of my tongue. And there is a nagging feeling that I should not be doing this, that this is a sort of exhibitionism that even I would do well to avoid. But I am doing it.
Not much else to be said for yesterday. I thought last night's episode of Battlestar Galactica was brilliant, the best in ages, maybe since the first season. We read more of Mitch Cullin's "A Slight Trick of the Mind" (chapters 13 and 14), and I read Chapter Four of Bones of Contention: Controversies in the Search for Human Origins ("The Taung Child: Acceptance"). Also, I read "Posture and stance of Triceratops: Evidence of digitgrade manus and cantilever vertebral column" (Garstka and Burnham, 1997). I didn't leave the house; I'd rather wait for the warmer weather to return than go back to bundling up for walks. I had a late, rambling conversation with Spooky about the general absence of — and need for — critical thought in Neopaganism and magick. I suspect I have begun making notes for two books that I will never write: The Skeptical Witch and The Rational Witch. And that was yesterday.
These comments yesterday by setsuled:
"I finished reading the new Sirenia Digest last night—I very much enjoyed it. The influence of Bowie's Outside on "A Season of Broken Dolls" is very visible. The voice, and the journal style, reminded me quite a bit of Nathan Adler's diary excerpts included with the album. Though I think your stitch freaks came off more credibly than Bowie's art-crimes—which is not to disparage the Bowie album, which is also my favourite these days.
"As stsisyphus mentioned in his commentary*, you do a good job of rendering the day to day reality of a world after some of the greater ravages of global warming. I was sort of reminded of the new Children of Men movie as both it and 'A Season of Broken Dolls' manage to unobtrusively convey a society wherein everyone's fully aware of the world's end approaching, but everyone still must go on about their business. These layers of credibility serve to heighten the eeriness of the number 17 idea, which is a sort of tugging, peripheral dream intruding frighteningly on reality, as though reality weren't frightening enough.
"I also enjoyed 'Skin Game.' I loved the backstory of the mother—it felt much like a fairy tale gone psycho. Like a morality tale with alien morals."
I have always felt that when writing a first-person narrative from some imagined future date, an author should speak of things as they would perhaps be spoken of by someone native to that time. For example, if I write a story set in 2007, I do not waste a lot of time explaining laptops and the world wide web and the Hubble telescope. While these things might seem extraordinary, unbelievable, or even incomprehensible to a reader from 1923 or 1940, it would be artificial and destroy the realism of the narrative to explain them for 2007 readers. So, if I am writing as a journalist writing in her private journal in 2027, then many things which might now seem fantastic may be mentioned only in passing or in the normal, matter-of-fact way she would speak of them. It does not matter if the reader does not fully understand the details of that 2027. For me, the integrity of the narrative as a fictional artefact is more important, and I also avoid those annoying infodumps so common to sf. More important still, I do not fetishize the future or technology, a mistake I think many sf writers make. Good sf is not about science and tech or future politics, it's about the characters.
* You may read that commentary here.