There was very little to yesterday, except the continued reading and correcting and editing and rewriting of Silk. Many commas and hyphens were added, a few compounderations were hewn asunder. Some atrocious phrasing was made less so. In the end, we did three chapters, though I'd hoped to do four, and this morning the Zokutou page thingy looks like this:
225 / 354
Going over the novel again after all these years, I remain perplexed that so many readers found the characters so loathsome. Sure, Robin and Byron are a bit much, too goth for their own good or anybody elses, but all in all, I still find the people inhabiting Silk as sympathetic as I ever did, and I do not waste my time trying to write characters with whom I cannot sympathize. I would not know how to do that. But I've heard it from so many people. This person, for example, in an Amazon.com "review":
If you are really into super-confusing, creepy books with self-pitying, annoying, wear-it-on-their sleeve outcast characters-- this might be just the tale for you.
Or this "review":
I had a hard time sympathizing with these pathetic, soullessly conformist waifs.
Or this one:
What bothers me is that I find the characters so enormously unappealing. They're all self-absorbed 20somethings proudly and defiantly wrapped up in their own pain and dysfunction. I couldn't find any sympathy in me, much less empathy, for any of them, not even Spyder, who was horribly abused as a child. Every time Daria lost her temper over her junky boyfriend I wanted to slap her. Every time Spyder evaded the questions of those who wanted to love and help her with vague mumblings I wanted to strangle her. These are people who enjoy wallowing in their pain.
Even now, a decade after the book was first published, fourteen years after I started writing it, these reactions simply mystify me. Much of Silk is awfully close to autobiography, and I was writing about a time and places and people I had known and been. And though I am now someone very, very different, I still do not understand these reactions, this hostility. For me, Silk is a novel about people doing the best they can do, given their unfortunate situations and histories. Yes, many of them are broken and insane and self-destructive, and they usually do not behave like or have the priorities of sensible, down-to-earth, workin' class folks or property-flipping yuppies. But, for the most part, they are true. And that is my first and most important job as a writer, to write true people. Maybe what rubbed these people the wrong way was that I didn't turn Silk into some sort of tiresome morality tale or a cautionary screed: Be careful, or you'll end up like these losers. Anyway...
I did find one extremely annoying error in the book yesterday, one that has made it into print three times now. I refer to the black widows Spyder's keeping as "Latrodectus geomstricus," thereby managing to make both a taxonomic and a spelling blunder. There is no such beast as Latrodectus geomstricus. Latrodectus geometricus, on the other hand, is the brown widow. But. The Southern black widow, which would have been the species in Spyder's care, is Latrodectus mactans. I am at a loss to explain how I made this error in the first place, much less how it was carried on through three editions. People pick on my characters when they ought to pick on my taxonomy.
Like I said, not much else to yesterday. I was up until 1:30 a.m. writing Wikipedia articles, one on Judeasaurus and one on the squamate clade Varanoidea, because that's just the sort of self-absorbed, dysfunctional, pathetic dork I am.