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Warm here in Providence, but not the unbearable heat of last week. I'm not yet certain whether or not I shall need the services of Dr. Muñoz today. Spooky's going to South County to see her sister and mother and her nephew Miles. I'm staying here, at this accursed desk.

And here's one of the sorts of things that make me want to go back to bed. This idiotic "review" of The Red Tree from Amazon:

[1 star] "Ignore the good reviews!," July 18, 2010 (By R. Esposito [Northern Virginia]):

This is one of those books that you keep reading in the hopes that it will get better but just ends up being a complete waste of time. It's not scary on any level. It's just extremely boring. The characters are not very likable, their actions make no sense, the writing is tedious and the dialog is stilted. The "did she go crazy" or "did the tree get her" plot left me only wishing she had come to her demise much sooner. And no that's not a spoiler since she's dead from the start of the book. I not only want my money back, I want the time wasted reading this book back.

Sure, it's obvious the reader is an ignoramus ("the characters...actions make no sense"). And sure, I'm not a "horror writer" and The Red Tree isn't a "horror" novel, and I didn't try to write a "scary" book. Or "likable" characters, for that matter. Is "the writing tedious and the dialog...stilted"? I'm not sure I can tell anymore. So, there you go.

I did have a very small (and likely useless) epiphany on Sunday, one I'm sure I've had before. A writer may study what potential readers like, and she or he may then pander, and struggle to be accessible, and have the common touch, and take workshops, and listen to the advice of those who say they know how to make it work. And still, the odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. Or, a writer may choose to write what she or he pleases, with no regard for that potential marketplace or accessibility or anything of the sort. And their odds of success in the literary marketplace are very, very poor. From a financial perspective, almost all writers fail. From a financial perspective, almost all books fail. That's a given. There are exact numbers, I just don't have them on hand. Two things may be deduced. One is that the odds of success are not improved (but neither are they hindered) by pandering. And another is that you might as well write what you feel moved to write, because you'll probably fail anyway.

---

The last few days are not quite a blur. I expect I'd be in a better mood if they were. There was no writing yesterday, because there was an afternoon doctor's appointment, and that throws everything into chaos. On Sunday, still ill from insomnia, I did manage to make less of a mess of what I'd written on Thursday and Friday, what I'd dithered over and picked at on Saturday. That is, the beginning of the Next New Novel. We read it over and over again. And I still don't like it. It's just more coherent now. I have no idea what's going to happen with it today.

And I have to look at the transcript of an interview I did while at Readercon.

---

Yesterday, before the doctor, in order to keep my mind occupied so I wouldn't back out of going, I had to do something that was not writing. So, there was no work yesterday. We went to a very early matinée of Christopher Nolan's Inception. This is, simply put, a brilliant film. I honestly have nothing but praise for it. I could heap adjectives and hyperbole, but I won't. It's just brilliant, and needs to be seen, probably multiple times. Yes, it owes a great debt to numerous predecessors, most notably Alex Proyas' Dark City (1998), but it succeeds in being something new, invested with its own power and vision. A great score from Hans Zimmer. This is one of those films I cannot recommend highly enough. And it must be seen on a big screen. And thank holy fuck it wasn't in 3-D.

Then, last night, we watched the Hughes Brothers' The Book of Eli (2009), which was a quite a bit better than I'd expected (all the Xtian nonsense aside). Of course, I went in with no expectations. The cast helped enormously, with people like Gary Oldman, Tom Waits, and a Malcom McDowell cameo picking up any slack there might have been. I'm not sorry I missed it in the theatres, but it's fun, and even a slight bit better than "just fun."

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Thanks.

Now I try to make some sense from this day.

Comments

( 25 comments — Have your say! )
readingthedark
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:10 pm (UTC)
I am holding The Ammonite Violin & Others in my hand. And petting it.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)

I am holding The Ammonite Violin & Others in my hand. And petting it.

I haven't seen it yet.
whiskeychick
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
How did you get it so quickly? I'm so jealous!
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)

How did you get it so quickly? I'm so jealous!

Same here.
unknownbinaries
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Sure, it's obvious the reader is an ignoramus...

*snerk* I love your unwillingness to coddle people.

And I found Book of Eli, separated from all the dogma, and really fun asskicking scenes, is a story of how people can either fuck things up or hone themselves into something better through a powerful idea.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)

And I found Book of Eli, separated from all the dogma, and really fun asskicking scenes, is a story of how people can either fuck things up or hone themselves into something better through a powerful idea.

Something like that, yeah.
lady_theadora
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
I just finished reading the Red Tree for the fourth time and I continue to enjoy it. Each reading brings new elements to my attention. I am recommending it to my book club for this very reason.

And I hope my copy of Ammonite Violin arrives today. Has Sub Press started shipping?
nykolus
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
i received a shipping confirmation e-mail just a bit ago, so i would take that as a yes!
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)

Has Sub Press started shipping?

Yep.
cimeara
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
A writer may study what potential readers like...

The writers I find most enjoyment in reading are the ones who gave me something I didn't originally think I'd like. Popular books, formula books, get good reviews from the people who want to eat at McDonald's all around the world, because "this was fun!" too often equals "this was exactly what I expected!"

That said, I do want to visit a McDonald's in India someday, but only to try a "McAloo Tikki".
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)

That said, I do want to visit a McDonald's in India someday, but only to try a "McAloo Tikki".

I'll settle for visiting India.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
The nature of unreliable narration being what it is, in the film, I had little doubt, but still.

Kathryn and I drew the same conclusions, as to the ending. Mostly based on a passport stamp.

Edited at 2010-07-20 09:46 pm (UTC)
whiskeychick
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
Just got word that my copy of Ammonite Violin was shipped today! Can't wait!
mojave_wolf
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
Your writing is sensuous demonic liquor with a swirl of mildly hallucinogenic with flowing, realistic dialogue *and* as suspenseful as anything I can think of, thank you very much.

There is no way to idiot-proof a book, or anything else, for that matter.

The dude probably was expecting "Tom Clancy does Halloween XX: Michael Myers Meets the Marines".
mojave_wolf
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
I need a paid account so I can edit things
The phrase "mildly hallucinogenic with flowing" probably does not make you more confident of my critical acumen.

::red-faced::

I couldn't decide 'tween whether it should be filled with smoke or particles, decided on swirling particles, and left out the particle part. ::reminds self to proofread before posting next time I call someone an idiot::
greygirlbeast
Jul. 20th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Your writing is sensuous demonic liquor with a swirl of mildly hallucinogenic *particles* with flowing, realistic dialogue *and* as suspenseful as anything I can think of, thank you very much.

Thank you. I can live with that.

There is no way to idiot-proof a book, or anything else, for that matter.

Not that I try.

Edited at 2010-07-20 09:49 pm (UTC)
amethyst_clan
Jul. 21st, 2010 12:55 am (UTC)
Oh, fuck that reviewer. He doesn't have the brains to appreciate your book. :P

I'm reading the fourth book of yours in a row. You're quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.
chris_walsh
Jul. 21st, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
So, thus, an attempt to make you smile
apocalypsos tweaks cliches:
Last night...I think my brain was a little fried, because I decided I should write an urban fantasy parody series where the first book would be called A Lousy Pun About Death, Or Possibly The Weather, and the second book would be called, A Verb In The Past Tense Which Sums Up The Plot, Sort Of, and the third book would be called The Lead Character And The Illustrious MacGuffin. And every cover would feature someone randomly standing with their bare back to the reader, displaying a prominent tattoo and holding a weapon in one hand, but instead of a hot white woman in her mid-twenties to mid-thirties, it'd be your grandmother or Santa or a bear walking on its hind legs or something.
chris_walsh
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:36 am (UTC)
And something else
Sarah Connor Chronicles show runner Josh Friedman writes about if his life were a TV procedural. With thoughts about television in general.
catconley
Jul. 21st, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: So, thus, an attempt to make you smile
You know you've done too much time on tumblr and Facebook when you go to click "Like" next to a livejournal comment that's made you snarf your iced tea. I'm pretending to click "like" next to your comment while trying to ignore the burning pain in my sinues caused by said snarfing. Well played :)
chris_walsh
Jul. 22nd, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
Re: So, thus, an attempt to make you smile
apocalypsos is good like that. (She gets metaquotes'ed a lot, I think.)

Edited at 2010-07-22 12:03 am (UTC)
sovay
Jul. 21st, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
This is one of those films I cannot recommend highly enough. And it must be seen on a big screen.

Am planning on it. And I am very glad to hear this; I loved The Prestige so much, I did not want Inception to be some kind of step backward.

It was surprisingly cool here today, so perhaps that's a good sign for Providence.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 21st, 2010 05:39 am (UTC)

Am planning on it. And I am very glad to hear this; I loved The Prestige so much, I did not want Inception to be some kind of step backward.

I think it's a step forward.

It was surprisingly cool here today, so perhaps that's a good sign for Providence.

Yes. Much better here.
hans_the_bold
Jul. 23rd, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
In addition to disagreeing with R. Esposito's review (because I did like The Red Tree, very much), I have to say I find it irritating when reviewers tell me to ignore other reviewers. It's perfectly all right to not like a book. It's perfectly all right to say why. But it's not all right to insult, whether by direct statement or implication, other people who have felt differently about a book.

And yeah, you should write what you feel moved to write.
( 25 comments — Have your say! )