greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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turning on a dime, one thin dime

I carry a virtual map of the history of life in my head, phylogenies and taxonomies and biostratigraphic correlations. Even though, strictly speaking, I no longer consider myself a palaeontologist, the knowledge remains, and I try to stay up to date on things. So it's cool when I find something I don't know, not a new idea but one I missed somehow. For example, only yesterday did I learn that an hypothesized sister-group relationship exists between bats and primates. That is, bats and primates evolved from a common ancestor and are more closely related to one another than either group is to any other group of mammals. It's not too surprising that this one slipped past me. Mammals have never been my thing. But still, I love the idea of the bat/primate link (collectively, bats, primates and the most recent common ancestor of both are referred to as archontans). Humans might have had wings, if things had gone just a little bit differently. By the way, as long as I have my geek on, the earliest known bat is Icaronycteris index from the Eocene of Wyoming (about 50 million ybp), while the earliest known primate-like mammal, Purgatorius ceratops, comes from the latest Mesozoic rocks of Montana (about 65 million ybp), deposited just before the extinction of the dinosaurs. We don't yet know where or when the bat/primate divergence occurred.

I keep forgetting to mention a package I received last week from Lisa at Projekt Records, which included the new black tape for a blue girl CD and the latest Projekt sampler (new stuff by Voltaire, Android Lust, Mira, and others). I love getting cool, free stuff, and it reminded me how long it's been since I've spoken with Lisa, not since the birth of Sasha, her son.

Sometimes, it seems that I'm losing track of everyone.

Last night, just before bed, I started thinking about how amazing it is that the Coen Bros. have gotten away with not repeating themselves (Miller's Crossing was on some station or of my all-time fave films). That's no mean trick, in any art. And then I started thinking about how I've felt a certain amount of pressure to write another novel very much like Threshold and how some readers have been disappointed that Low Red Moon and Murder of Angels were so different from Threshold. And, really, I think this all began when I was standing outside earlier last night, staring down an alleyway at the shadows and the stingy shafts of lights getting through tree limbs and thinking what a fine setting it would make for a scene in a book or story, maybe someone being chased along that alley. And then I thought, But that's so much like the scene in Cat People when Jane Rudolph is walking alone past Central Park, pursued by something cat-like. Besides, you did that scene in Low Red Moon, remember? When Sadie has to cross the park with Narcissa following her? Disappointed, I admired the dark alleyway for its own merits, not as a potential story setting. And so, later, I moved quickly from my thought about the Coen Bros. to the thing about Threshold, and that led me to consider the books I'll probably never write because, not only do I fear repeating myself, I so fear repeating other writers.

I suspect, for example, that I'll never write a Haunted House Novel. What could I do that hasn't been done better by so many before me? Could I possibly best The Haunting of Hill House, The House Next Door, The Shining, or House of Leaves? Not likely. I've played a little with the haunted house archetype, through the sick, old house on Cullom Street in Silk, Low Red Moon, and Murder of Angels, and in some of my short fiction, too (most prominently in the Dandridge House stories and in "The Long Hall on the Top Floor"). And the old house where Narcissa and her grandfather lived on the Massachusetts shore. But I've never really sat down to write a proper haunted house novel, sensu stricto. I would have to either find something truly novel to say, or I'd have to find some truly novel way of saying something someone else has said previously. Just writing another story about a haunted house? Why bother? Which brings me back around to Threshold and the Coen Bros. I don't want to start repeating myself, writing the same novel again and again in order to capitalize on the success of an earlier book. Hell, I was worried I came too close to repeating Threshold in The Dry Salvages.

I'd rather continue to write novels that surprise me. Daughter of Hounds has already surprised me.

It's better that way. Someday, I might even write something as good as Miller's Crossing, if I can avoid doing Raising Arizona for the third or fourth time.

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