However, my first dancing gig has been a lesson in Second Life economics. When you "work" for a club that keeps throwing themed events at you, so you have to keep buying new outfits, but the club isn't pulling people in so you're not getting the tips you need to buy the clothes they only want you to take off anyway...it doesn't take a mathematician to see this can only go on so long. Yesterday, I spent $750 Lindens on work, but only made $120 in tips (the most I've made in tips in a single day is about $1500). So, last night after the 9-11 p.m. shift (that's 6-8 SLT), I took a new job dancing in a club where things should go better. I hated to do it, because the proprietor of the place I've been working has been very kind to me and always I am a bear of loyalty. But I was going broke working there. And here's the thing. I actually agonized over the decision, though this might say more about my tenuous grip on "reality" than the immersiveness of SL. Anyway, I'll post details about the new place later today, for all the other Second Lifers reading this. Thanks to the folks who came out last night. I know I saw robyn_ma and her gal Owl, and the marvelous kiaduran, but I think there were others. Apologies if Nareth Nishi did not say hello. I was occupied with that frelling pole.
Here, though, there is writing to be done and the busyness of writing. Worlds that I can only explore if I make them happen. Worlds that you can only explore if I make them happen. Getting back on the horse, as they are wont to say.
Today we're going to begin our first eBay auction in just about forever. The hand-corrected copy of the Gauntlet hardback of Silk, which I meant to auction way back in March. It is filled with hundreds of corrections in my own hand, plus various scribbles, drawings, annotations, etc., and comes signed by both me and Poppy Z. Cover, end-paper, and signature sheet art by Clive Barker. Anyway, once Spooky gets the auction up and running, I shall post a link.
But, yeah. Writing. Behind the cut is most of a very long email I was sent by jtglover regarding that subject I raised a few days back, how my writing has changed and how it continues to do so (and how I sometimes find myself disturbed by this necessary part of the process):
Several months on from having read Daughter of Hounds, I can say that I think DoH does not have the bleeding, raw intensity of some of your work. It is not badly written, nor is it a badly constructed story...but I never became invested in the same way as I have with many other stories you've written -- and not just your early/gothnoir fiction, as your recent Subterranean Press Magazine story demonstrates, and likewise Tales from the Woeful Platypus. Perhaps it would be slightly more accurate to say that DoH has a different feel to it, the tang of a told thing — the work of a storyteller, which is definitely not the normal mode for a 20th/21st century novelist.
Silk, Threshold, and Low Red Moon strike me as very realist novels, in the sense that you are (as I understand it) trying to capture the experience of various creatures and present it absolutely, unflinchingly accurately. MoA seems to me to bridge the styles of those earlier novels and DoH, and for that reason I think I admire it most among your stories, even if it's not my favorite for sheer pleasure of reading. In it you told a variety of stories, yet none of them felt like tales, per se. — it felt like a wonderful blend of subjective experience with a really great set of interwoven stories.
It's great that you do new things and refuse to stagnate. The Decameron is no less an accomplishment than Hamlet, nor A Tale of Two Cities less than The Old Man and the Sea. Simply different types of story. Just because we aren't glooming along pout by pout with the prince of Denmark doesn't mean we can't be moved, enlightened, entertained etc., by the whole Benefit Street crew.
I would suppose it's easy to lose faith in DoH when it looks so different from other things you've written. Also, I think it's a symptom of broader storytelling that it's easier to look at a given part of it and ask yourself "what's the point of that?" The presence of the night gaunt and demon early in the book threw me for a loop, as I didn't expect them, or understand their relevance, but after a few minutes' irritation I started reading with a more generous spirit, and it made all the difference in the world. Not every story has to be a stripped to the bone and taut with tightly controlled meaning.
These are good and articulate thoughts, John. I wish I were not so bleary, because then I could offer a good and thoughtful response. I will just say this for now. One thing I have resisted, as an author, is (as they say in publishing) being "branded." There are authors upon whom you may rely to always deliver the sort of story you expect from them, presented the way you expect them to present stories, in voices that have become familiar. And this is what I will never be, I suspect. Just as I must continue to find the meaning and purpose in the stories I am to write (if I am to write them), I must also continue to push myself. I cannot ever become comfortable, because that's when art ceases to be art and becomes something else. Back to what I said yesterday about having written through so much anger and sorrow in Tales of Pain and Wonder and in the early novels (The Five of Cups through Low Red Moon, and The Dreaming) — I do not manufacture emotions, but project them from within myself. This is the only way I know to make them genuine. And if they are other than genuine, well, I'm better off being a virtual stripper in a virtual strip club, showing my virtual Nebari boobs for virtual tips. But you are correct in these observations. Murder of Angels was a bridge. I know I made a conscious effort to move away from what I had been doing, and I began looking to other sorts of fantasy and sf as my canvas and my paints. Some stories will feel rawer than others. I'm a stranger here myself.
Finally, my thanks to blu_muse for playing the part of my robotic sidekick in Babbage late last night (late, late, late) — the game's afoot! But now, alas, the platypus says I must start breathing again.
Postscript (2:40 p.m.) — Spooky has begun the Silk auction. I'll post more photos of the book tomorrow, here in the journal, as I'm not about to pay eBay 15¢ per photo. The photo that's up is of the title page. Also, blu_muse has posted a delightful photo-montage of our joint adventure in Babbage last night, which you may see here (it's useful to have a robotic sidekick with a built-in camera). As you can see, my Second-Life self is being played here by Nicole Kidman.
2nd Postscript (8:56 p.m.) — I am now dancing at Club insureXtion in Moolbora. Tonight, I'll be coming on at 11 p.m. (EST; 8 p.m. SLT/PST). Hope to see some of you there. The music is metal/industrial/goth.