greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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"Smiles on me, on thee, on all..."

Winter is here. The only truly warm place in the house is our bedroom, but I cannot bring myself to sit in bed all day, even if I'm sitting in bed doing the same work as I would be doing in my office. It's unsightly. Like winter. I should be somewhere a thousand miles south of here, somewhere there's still life, somewhere the cold hasn't robbed of green. The cold turns everything hard and ugly and dead. On the circle of the year, this is the long death between Spring (rebirth) and Autumn (dying). That has been my intuitive impression of the seasons for almost all my life — a wheel, with death at the top and the prime of life at the bottom. Life is a twin wheel, a twin of the seasons, with winter at the top of the wheel and summer at the bottom. The wheel turns, grinding us all away. In this house, the cold seeps like a liquid through every one of ten thousand cracks. The air is dry. There's a very faint smell of gas, which has, to me, always been the smell of despair. There's no warmth from the sun. The awful blue of the December sky is more threatening than any summer storm. It is there to remind me how little stands between me and the void of space, which isn't death, but only the perpetual absence of life.

That's a cheerful way to begin the day.

This time of year, I should sleep all day, because the nights, devoid of that cold sun and that awful sky, are easier. But I can't bring myself to break completely with my quasi-diurnal ways. My body's clock won't reset.

Set me aflame and cast me free.
Away, you wretched world of tethers.

I'm supposed to get back to Daughter of Hounds today. I am supposed to. The meeting with Marvel yesterday went very, very well. I will be making an announcement soon regarding my next comics project. So, I ought to be up. I ought to be glad. There's work to be done, which is why I am here. I am here to do this work. But today this work seems...I don't know that the word exists. In English. I don't mean "futile" or "pointless" or "foolish," though each of those words at least approaches the meaning I'm after. It seems hostile, almost. Hostile to me. Something to grind me away in its revolutions, like the aforementioned wheel. I don't want to write today. I don't want to think about writing. I want to forget that I am a writer and be something else, instead. Something that does not ever have to apologize if it suspects itself of being less than sincere, less than artful, less than passionate, less than honest, less than utterly devoted. A work that is the sort of work most people do. Free of conceits and artifice and the constant seeking of one sort of approval or another for every sour adjective or verb I cough up, spit out, vomit. See? I can use a thesaurus.

I found this the other day, in someone's blog somewhere:

I'm a third of the way into Silk, and I'm starting to wonder why reviewers think Caitlin Kiernan is so hard to read. I've read more complex styles, both in terms of plot and of language.

I've spent the last seven or eight years wondering the same thing. All the answers that have occurred to me are not pleasant ones, and they are not flattering to many of the people who read my books. The myth that has been perpetuated — that my writing is difficult to read, to comprehend, that my style is biazarre, and so forth — speaks to such a profound ignorance of 20th-Century English and American literature that I can only guess that the reviewers and readers who say these things suffer from an extraordinarily limited and impoverished frame of reference. I've done nothing new or innovative. I only paid attention and learned a few things from better authors who came before me. I refused to accept (though I was told) that readers of speculative, weird, and fantastic fiction are the basest sort, impervious to anything more than the barest of bare bones, angered by technique, frustrated at style which, to them, only seems to obscure the story (which, like candy, is best without a wrapper, even at the risk of staleness). I ignored all that and wrote my book. And, in the little banana republic of "horror," you would have thought I was James fucking Joyce. You would have thought it was William Faulkner or Gertrude Stein or William Burroughs or Kurt Vonnegut all over again. You would have thought — and, in fact, I did — that maybe these people don't read books. Because I am most emphatically not hard to read (I'm not easy to read, either, but that's another matter). Not if you read books. Yes, I have a voice. I was taught that all good writers do, each voice distinct in some way from every other. Yes, there's subtlety and a marked reluctance to engage in the cheat of exposition. But those things aren't mine. They're part of the common sense which guides artists.

It's not for everybody. Not if everybody is bound and determined to have only something else.

Days like this, it's not for me either.

Set me aflame and cast me free.
Away, you wretched world of tethers.

I'm about the write another book. This will be the seventh (not counting little things like The Dry Salvages and In the Garden of Poisonous Flowers). The seventh since 1992. And it will be read by a few thousand people. A handful of them will appreciate what I've done. Several handsful will wonder why I bothered and be annoyed and complain that I am "artsy" and "precious" and "pretentious," and, of course, "hard to read." It's happened enough times that I can see the pattern. But it's the only way I know to write. It's me. I can't cut it out. I can't transmorgrify it into something more platable to those who prefer oatmeal and school paste. Not because I'm bound by principle or lofty artistic ideals. But simply because I do not know how.

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