Yesterday, I wrote 1,413 words on "John Four," and found THE END. It's a strange story, maybe even strange for me. Maybe even grim for me, right down to the irony in the Biblical allusion of its title. I wrote yesterday's pages to the Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. It was the perfect soundtrack to the story. The last couple of hours of writing yesterday were pell-mell, a dizzy rush through black words. I almost felt as though my brain was tripping over itself. If this story has a moral, it must be that the end of the world is only merciful if it really is the end of the world, and not the beginning of another. Anyway, the vignette will be included in Sirenia Digest #58, along with reprints of most of my Lovecraft Mythos fiction. I felt I should do a Lovecraft issue, since I'll be heading off to the HPLFF next week, so that's what I'm doing.
I woke this morning from the most remarkable dreams, though sadly only random shreds remain. But the shreds are dazzling. I was living out a fourth book in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and somehow Saruman's industrial revolution had occurred after all. The landscape was at first Stalin's Russia, then New York City in the Great Depression. I only saw hobbits and humans. The elves would be gone, of course, but there should have been orcs and dwarves. There were refugees in boxcars in a barren snowy place. At one point, there was a frantic climb through the freezing waters of an enormous dam's spillway. There was a climactic showdown in what seemed to me a bank, and it was very Miller's Crossing somehow, only with swords instead of guns. And I woke from this dream wanting so badly to write a fantasy novel set against the backdrop of the first three decades of the 20th Century.
--- (These divisions, in my mind, make an entry less higgledy piggledy.)
Thanks for all the comments yesterday, mostly as regards ebooks and eReaders. Truth is, on the one hand, I don't care if people are using eReaders. If that's how you want to read, it's sure as hell not my business. I can't do it, because for me a book consists of two parts: 1) the experience of reading it (which includes tactile sensation) and 2) the physical object itself. These things are, for me, indivisible. I'm not looking for a "good read," because the process of reading a book cannot be reduced to mere action. But that's me. I think the only thing that scares me about all this is that I feel fairly certain that if the trend continues, we'll reach a point where what remains of New York publishing will ditch most hardcopy books, especially the midlist. It will be far cheaper to rely on ebooks, as they have so much less overhead (especially since the publishers aren't manufacturing the eReaders). The two greatest expenses in publishing would be eliminated: warehousing and distribution. Sure, there will still be hardbacks for best sellers, and also from specialty houses like Subterranean Press, but most authors won't have access to such luxuries. The midlist author will be consigned to ebooks. And if that happens, I'll stop writing. I'll just stop. Because half of my reward for having written is that tangible object, which to me is a work of art— the book —which can never be reduced to zeroes and ones.
Also, books don't usually break when you drop 'em.
I'm not going to get started on the horror that introducing social networking to the act of reading represents for me. No, I never belonged to book clubs, and I hated literature classes. For me, reading is inherently solitary.
Last night we saw Neil Jordan's Ondine (2009). I am a long-time admirer (that's probably putting it too mildly) of Jordan's films, and this one was everything I'd expect. Brilliant, beautiful, and sublime. Fairy tale and mythology are always there, even when they aren't. Fantasy (truth) is inseparable from reality (fact). It's probably the best film about a selkie ever made, regardless of whether or not there's actually a selkie in it. Yes, even better than The Secret of Roan Inish (1994). Filmed in Cork County, Ireland, the landscape is shades of green and grey and blue that are, at once, perfectly solid and yet too exquisite to have ever existed outside cinematography. Great performances from Colin Farrell (Syracuse), Alicja Bachleda (Ondine), and Alison Barry (Annie). Oh, and how can I not love a film about selkies in which Sigur Rós are integral to the plot! If you ask me, this is a must see.
(We also saw the new episode of Glee, which still rocks.)
I sat down yesterday and started reading through "As Red as Red" (in Haunted Legends; I don't know why I've started reading my stories in print; I never used to do this). I reached page 80, where the protagonist travels from Providence to Aquidneck Island and Newport. Only, this is what it says:
I made the commute from Providence to Newport, crossing the East Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island and then the West Passage to Aquidneck Island and Newport.
This is, of course, backwards. It's akin to being in Manhattan and saying you're going to travel east to New Jersey. It's that wrong. It should read, "I made the commute from Providence to Newport, crossing the West Passage of Narragansett Bay to Conanicut Island and then the East Passage to Aquidneck Island and Newport." But somehow I wrote it down backwards, and, somehow, despite all the times I read it during editing, the mistake was never corrected. I've made this "commute" more times now than I can recall, and this is just a dumb mistake, one that made it into print. Odds are most readers will never catch it, not unless they're familiar with Rhode Island geography. But I had to point it out, if only in the hopes that the embarrassment will make me more attentive in the future. It was a depressing thing to find.
Okay. That's it for now. How can it already be Thursday? Yeah, I know. Because yesterday was Wednesday....