Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

It's comment day, Mouseketeers‎! Um...I mean...kittens.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,558 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I'm doing my best to go over the 1,150 word minimum for each day – word banking – because I know I'm going to miss three days this month. Three days writing, I mean. One to an appointment with my doctor and a couple more for the Drowning Girl shoot in and around Boston with kylecassidy and crew. Right now, the word bank stands at 655 words.

Yesterday, my agent and I also mapped out my workload between now and January...and it's pretty daunting. I may post it tomorrow. Well, then again, maybe not. Regardless, it's a heavy load, even for me. What is this Outside of which you speak? Social life?

Gonna be pretty warm again today.


joshrupp emailed to ask (edited for space):

Anyway, I had a question, time and temperament permitting. Why is the term “horror writer” a stigma?...The people we call “horror writers” are telling scary stories, and the people who write about actual horror are called “dark fantasists” or some ambiguous bullshit like that. It’s such a good word ["horror"], and in that sense I’ve always thought of you as a horror writer. How to parse this as a question slightly eludes me, but: If you aren’t a horror writer, what are you? You’ve been talking about triggerpunk, and I’ve never known a trigger to evoke happy-bunnies-sparkly-rainbow-fuzzies. Is the term “horror writer” something you’d ever reclaim, because it’s getting frustrating not knowing how to group people who write about dark things.

Quick and dirty answer.

I'm not a horror writer because I say that I'm not, and this whole art thing is about, among other things, the right to self-determination. That said, "horror" is pretty much the kiss of death in the publishing industry these days. Try to get a good agent while calling yourself a horror writer, and see what I mean. The heyday of genre horror was the seventies and eighties, and by the early nineties it was dying a much-deserved death. Much deserved because it had, as a "genre," as a whole, whored itself raw.

That said, I don't set out to write stories that are intended to scare people. Honestly, never even once do I think I've done that. I write the stories I want to write. And yeah, they're dark. Sometimes, they're so dark you'd be better off calling them jet or ebony or whatever. But darkness does not always equate to the emotion "horror." It may equate to many other emotions (terror, despair, ennui, sorrow, regret, etc.), and often it is from those emotions that the darkness in my stories arises. I'm just spitting up words here, as I write this entry. It's not an essay, and I'm, at best, half awake. So cut me some slack on the rambling.

To define someone's fiction by recourse to a single emotion engages in a sort of literary reductionism that I find grating and, to be blunt, offensive. My writing has worn more labels than I could ever keep up with. Usually, I only find the labeling sort of odd. Usually, it doesn't annoy me. Or rather, it doesn't annoy me so long as it doesn't restrict me. Labels lead to expectation. I want a readership virtually free of expectation – beyond the expectation of well-written prose. I don't want people coming to one of my stories or novels and saying "Well, that didn't scare me." I'm not a thrill ride, and good fiction never sets out to evoke a single emotion. The triggerpunk thing, that was a joke, taking a jab at both the readers who whine about fiction being "triggery" and at those who insist literature must be put into neat boxes. It wasn't a serious proposal. It was satire. But triggerpunk (ugh) is a more accurate description of my writing.

And no, I have no interest in reclaiming horror. It was pretty much never mine (I belonged to the HWA for two years, realized what a nepotistic wankfest it was, and quit in '96), and I don't want it. I see others clinging to it for dear fucking life, and I have no idea why.

It is far more truthful to look at my writing, to look at each piece individually and at the totality of it, and – if you must label it – call it dark fantasy. That's not "ambiguous bullshit." With few exceptions, my fiction is fantasy (excepting some of the harder sf), and, with almost no exceptions, it's dark. But only sometimes is it horrific. Ergo, I refer to myself as a dark fantasist. It's accurate. There's no false advertising. No one out there – no reader, writer, or editor – should feel insulted because I don't call myself a horror writer and ask others not to use that term to describe me. I mean, really. What difference does it make, as long as I write stories worth reading? Fuck the labels.

But thank you for the question, joshrupp. I only sound cranky because I'm not awake, and I've been asked, and have felt compelled to answer, this question about five hundred times.

Also, it seems that Grendel's back, albeit rebooted and recast.

And now it's time for my Red Bull.

Aunt Beast


( 22 comments — Have your say! )
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
'I'm not a thrill ride'

Aug. 8th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)

You are so funny.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)

Never apologize for teh funneh.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Um. Oh. I read that as 'You are so funny' with, like, icicles dripping off the speech balloon.

In any event, your stuff is a dark ride, in the sense that John Larroquette meant it on his show. He had the sign hanging in his office. 'They should hang that sign right outside the birth canal,' he said in the first episode. Cool show.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)

John Larroquette

Weird. I haven't thought of him in years.
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
"I want a readership virtually free of expectation – beyond the expectation of well-written prose. I don't want people coming to one of my stories or novels and saying "Well, that didn't scare me." I'm not a thrill ride, and good fiction never sets out to evoke a single emotion."

So well said.
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)

Thank you kindly.
Aug. 8th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
What is this Outside of which you speak? Social life?

stick with quality of Outside and Social, you get better, and longer lasting fun.
Aug. 8th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)

Aug. 8th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
I enjoy your writing because it evokes many different emotional responses in me, and because it speaks to the darkness within that so few wish to address... The mind is a dark and horrific place in all of us, so why not embrace it? Besides, sometimes a little triggering is a good thing. Complacency is the enemy. Or at least, it's my enemy.
Aug. 8th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)

Besides, sometimes a little triggering is a good thing.

It's just that I prefer to keep an eye on my inner demons.
Aug. 8th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
... oh.

Well, that clears that up.

I didn't know you got that one a lot, but it's actually kind of cool being the 500th to ask that question. Thank you for making me a round number.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)

Well, that clears that up.

Good. And I truly do hope it doesn't feel like I was being snide or picking on you, because I didn't mean it that way.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
Nor did it sound such. I was flattered to get such a detailed reply.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)

Well, good. I always worry. Someone was offended recently.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
I always said 'sort of dark fiction'
It's not all darkness, and sometimes it's just a tone more than plot for me.
But as someone else said (and better than this), you have to have the darkness in order to appreciate the light happy things.
As for being triggery, well it's helped me because I know that whatever demons there are in the world, we all share some of them. And as a bonus, here is someone who has lived through them, wrote about them and in a way relived it all, and is pretty damn okay. It's a good reminder that I don't always have to fall apart when I feel like I am.
Just my little opinion.
Aug. 8th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
Re: I always said 'sort of dark fiction'

It was Wilde. To paraphrase, "I'm standing in the gutter, but my eyes are on the stars."
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
I always like Ellison's description of his own work as "speculative fiction." I guess it never really caught on though. I tend to think of your work in that vein - Ellison, Bradbury and you.
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)

I like the phrase "speculative fiction," too. But then again, all fiction is, in a sense, speculative.
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Stating the obvious, but you can make up any old crap genre by using the word 'punk' ('Awepunk', anyone?). Bleh. I hate all these shitty labels. They're just a way of making good fiction - whatever it is - easier to digest for the hard of thinking; pre-chewed and simplified.

I've not commented on this whole 'triggering' thing before, partly because I hadn't heard the term till you mentioned it. Plus, I've no idea what would constitute as a trigger for me.

And yeah, I prefer books that evoke more than one mood in me.
Aug. 8th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)

Stating the obvious, but you can make up any old crap genre by using the word 'punk' ('Awepunk', anyone?).

The first three times it happened – steampunk, cyberpunk, and splatterpunk – it was just silly. The recent explosion of -punks is fucking ridiculous.
( 22 comments — Have your say! )