It's a beautiful autumn-summer day out there, sunny and blue skies, the temperature at 70F. Nice. Have to get Outside today. Getting out of the house is mandatory on a day like this. I'm doing a good job, actually, of not keeping myself cooped up.
At 4 a.m., not sleeping (despite the meds), I was on Rift talking with a friend in Alaska, and he said it was midnight and the sun hadn't set. In Providence, the sky was just beginning to lighten. It was a marvelously surreal moment, especially considering I was doped and half asleep (but only half). By the way, I want to actually calculate the distance across the part of Telara we can see, the size of the landmass north to south and east to west. I don't think many people have paused to think how small it must be. At first, I estimated it might be the size of Rhode Island (37 miles x 48 miles long, 1,214 sq. mi.), but I'm beginning to think it may only be half that size or less. Spooky's worked out a way to get a firm estimate, which we will do this evening (because we are pathetic nerds). A fantasy MMORPG will be truly fucking amazing when it can offer a continent the size of, oh, say Australia.
Where was I?
Yesterday was as tedious as I'd expected. I didn't actually make any progress with the galleys for Two Worlds and In Between (and I'm not going to explain why, because it's a tedious explanation that's all about editing PDFs and Adobe software and me being a psuedo-Luddite). But things did get done. Vince sent me the initial pencils for his "Figurehead" illustration. I did some more tweaking on the ms. for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, and sent the Really and Truly Final Manuscript away to my editor. I spent about an hour on the immensely tedious and long guest questionnaire for Readercon 22. I read "Figurehead" and "Untitled 35" aloud to Kathryn, and we marked the pages red. I talked with kylecassidy about what ravens who might be nuns would....
Sorry. Lost my train of thought. Spooky and I were talking about Houdini.
Last night, we did Kindernacht with hot dogs and Tom McGrath's Megamind (2010), which was really a lot of fun, but not as good as Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's similar Despicable Me (also 2010). Of course, one is not supposed to talk about whether or not Kid Night movies are any good, so long as they're fun. We picked the DVD up at Acme Video, since it was an excuse to go Outside. Also, Acme Video gives away free atomic fireballs. After the movie, we did, of course, play Rift. Mostly it was rp for me, though there was also a major incursion upon White Fall and the Chancel of Labors by the minions of Crucia, and Selwyn and Miisya helped to repel the bad guys.
Yesterday, I read the title story of Johnathan Thomas' Tempting Providence (Hippocampus Press). To be sure, it's a weird tale, but it's also a poignant travelogue/walking tour devoted to a finer and simpler and far more interesting Providence than has survived to the present day. I also read "A new unintan horned brontothere from Wyoming and evolution of canine size and sexual dimorphism in the Brontotheriidae (Perissodactyla: Mammalia)" in JVP. Speaking of reading, kittens, tomorrow I'll be announcing the June selection for Aunt Beast's Book Club.
On this day in 2007, I wrote:
I have been worrying a lot lately about my writing. It started when I reread Silk and looked through Tales of Pain and Wonder for the first time in ages. Sure, I'm a much, much better writer now, but is what I'm writing inherently better than what I was writing then? More importantly, is it about something more than telling stories? Almost ten years after it's original publication, I see lots of flaws with Silk I couldn't see in 1996 or 1998, and parts of it make me groan, but it has something to say, something it says, and for that I will likely always love it. This is even more true of ToPaW. It's true of The Dreaming. But is the same true of Threshold? Low Red Moon? I think so. And I know it's true of Murder of Angels, but I'm not so sure about Daughter of Hounds, even though I also know it's my best-written novel to date. One may write well — one may write exquisitely, even — and have nothing at all to say. Writing "The Ape's Wife" last month, this all seemed suddenly very important to me again. I fear that in the rush to meet deadlines and write enough to keep all the bills paid, somewhere along the way, I may have forgotten that it is not enough to tell a good story, or even to create characters who ring true. These are necessary accomplishments, but they are surely not sufficient. Art requires more than mere craft, more even than talent. It requires meaning. Heading into The Dinosaurs of Mars and Joey Lafaye, these thoughts will be my Beatrice (so to speak). There's something I feel I might have drifted away from, and I want...no, I need to get back to it again.
So, four years later, I can say I found an antidote for this anxiety and these worries, which was writing The Red Tree and The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, no matter how much the effort has exhausted me. Also, it should be noted that, in June 2007, I was still suffering from the trauma of having written that unmentionably shitty novelization for Robert Zemeckis' butchering of Beowulf (2007)*. That Mordorean death-march ordeal (fuck you, Roger Avery) left me unable to write long-form for the better part of a year, until I began The Red Tree in April 2008. By the way, I'm still waiting on The Dinosaurs of Mars to reveal itself to me, and have come to accept that Joey Lafaye will likely never happen. You may always think of Beowulf as the novelization that murdered Joey Lafaye. At least the Beowulf gig sort of paid well. And at least you didn't need 3-D glasses to read the book. Seamus Heaney, forgive me.
* And as bad as my novelization was, the movie was at least a hundred times more awful.