No writing yesterday, just a lot of writing about writing. We left the House, venturing Outside in the truly foul weather, all the way to the Athenaeum on Benefit Street (ca 1838), because, sometimes, being there helps jog something loose when my brain has seized up. I took the iBook and sat downstairs and stared at the three sentences I wrote on Friday. I know they have to go, that they are, in fact, preventing me from moving on. They must be destroyed, erased, cut and pasted into a morgue file— whatever —so that I can start over. But I could not summon the requisite courage yesterday. So, instead, I sat and made notes, and more notes, and still more notes, and pretended that was writing. At least the Athenaeum is a very pleasant place to be unable to write, unlike this office. Oh, and Spooky found a copy of The Red Tree under "new fiction," which pleased me tremendously, to have one of my books there in that grand old library where both Poe and Lovecraft studied. I took pictures, mostly upstairs (behind the cut):
The Red Tree at the Athenaeum.
I love the ink raven used for the self-guided tours.
View from the second floor, looking north.
View to the northwest, toward the Benefit Street entrance/exit of the Athenaeum.
The library is filled with these shadowy, cozy nooks.
Second floor, view to the west. Very narrow aisles.
The three useless sentences, on my ten-year-old iBook (still going strong).
Portrait of the Author as an Insomniac, or, The Unhappy Misanthrope, taken in the "basement" of the Athenaeum Yes, Spooky took this one photo.
The municipal courthouse, across the street from the Athenaeum, beneath stormy skies.
All Photographs Copyright © 2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Kathryn A. Pollnac
Nothing much to last night. We watched the new Caprica, a series that gets better every week. I bit my tongue, and it still hurts. We played WoW, mostly questing in Coldara and the Nexus. I spent some time editing the roleplay transcript from Friday night (which turns out to be twenty-pages long).
Every now and then, someone writes a review that changes, to one degree or another, the way I look at something I've written. These are the best reviews, the ones that make me sit up and say, "Oh, yes, that's what I was trying to say, only, I had no idea I was trying to say that. But I must have been, at least subconsciously, because there it is, plain as fucking day." I received an email containing one such review last night, of The Red Tree. It also described me as "...Algernon Blackwood’s great-granddaughter describing what happened in the forest behind Hill House...", which, of course, made me smile. I'll release the name of the reviewer, and may post a long excerpt from the review later, after I've spoken with its author. It was the second-best thing about yesterday, right after finding a copy of the novel at the Athenaeum.
Finally, before I sign off and deal with those three sentences, I have a question from the comments to yesterday entry. jacobluest writes, "Just finished Threshold...I've been working my way 'backwards' through your books...question here if you can answer it: did your concept of the ghouls themselves evolve, or have they remained consistent throughout these stories? I'm trying to figure out if the beings of wire and feather, spindle-legged and scarecrowed, are of the same ilk as Madam Terpsichore. Is Threshold's hitchhiker a Soldier, or a Bailiff? Or has the taxonomy evolved?"
To which I reply, no, the "stick dogs" of Threshold (and "Rats Live on No Evil Star") are not the same sort of beings as the ghouls of the later works. That they both have canine features is coincidence, or convergence, or evidence of some underlying phobia or philia I may have for dog-like things. As for the hitchhiker, again, no, he bears no connections to the Bailiff or the Children of the Cuckoo (such as Soldier, Scarborough Pentecost, or Starling Jane). The hitchhiker was an avatar of the thing below Red Mountain, which was also the thing Dancy fought in Shrove Wood.
And now, I try again....