Winter is a time for ghost stories, so last week I started at ground zero for the Christmas ghost story (Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and The Haunted House). This week I’m going pro. In the wake of Sherlock Holmes’s massive success the world was so overrun by lady detectives, French detectives, Canadian lumberjack detectives, sexy gypsy detectives, priest detectives, and doctor detectives that there was a shortage of things to detect. Why not ghosts?
And thus was spawned the occult detective who detected ghost pigs, ghost monkeys, ghost ponies, ghost dogs, ghost cats and, for some strange reason, mummies. Lots and lots of mummies. Besides sporting ostentatiously grown-up names that sound like they were randomly generated by small boys wearing thick glasses (Dr. Silence, Mr. Perseus, Moris Klaw, Simon Iff, Xavier Wycherly) these occult detectives all had one thing in common: they were completely terrible at detecting.
We just happened across the reveal of the movie poster for The Fault In Our Stars over on Buzzfeed and while we don’t usually post about something as fleeting as a movie poster this one is just...AUUUUGH. OUR EMOTIONS.
For those who aren’t familiar with YA author and Nerdfighter John Green’s book, it tells the very respectful, honest story of two kids diagnosed with cancer who end up falling in Serious Teenage Love during their treatment. And the movie poster just nails that. Nails it so hard. And the tagline is icing on the cake.
You guys, when are we going to fall in love again?
Did you know that in addition to fighting Nazis, knowing everything about Lord of the Rings, and changing his own Dracula dialogue because he didn't like it, Christopher Lee has also released heavy metal music about the Holy Roman Emperor Charlmagne? (Note: Everything listed above is entirely true. We're not being cute because no one is allowed to be cute about Christopher Lee.)
Well, Saruman is back this year to wish us a very merry holiday with his new metal track, “Jingle Hell.” (Note: We are still entirely serious.)
[Also Frank Sinatra's “My Way” gets covered.]
- My poem "Hello Kitty, Hello Blood" is now live at Lakeside Circus. Read it and if you like it, "Like" it, vote for it, tweet it, share it.
- I sold another very uplifting poem, about a town drowning in rain and disease, but the ToC for that publication hasn't been announced yet. So, more details when it's official!
- My series "Writing Latin@ Characters Well" will be on holiday hiatus next week, possibly longer. Future topics I'm pondering: mental health issues among Latin@ communities; entertainment; social media usage; literary legacies; intra- versus inter-group conversations.
- Bogi Takács has compiled a list of diverse editors of speculative fiction and poetry. I find this list functions as an excellent reminder of who might be interested in my work when I'm sending out subs, who might be facilitating works with themes of interest to me when I need to refuel with good art, and who I might support on those rare days when I have extra bucks burning a hole in my paypal account.
- I could've sworn I had more to say, but then I got caught in a twitter war about violence in Juarez, Mexico, and the frustration wiped my mind.
- Oh yes, I will not be sending holiday cards this year, because my RSI is flaring up. Also, the end of the year always requires more spoons than I have. But if you're reading this, I wish you a wonderful holiday and a bright, beautiful new year.
Yesterday I wrote 1,648 words on "Oranges from Africa." And I'd be pleased with that, if I hadn't realized shortly afterwards that I'm not going about this the right way. Now I have to figure out how to take it apart and put it together again so that the problem is solved. And I need to finish it very soon, so I can get it to Vince Locke to illustrate as it will be the new story for Sirenia Digest #95, which I intend to send out on December 31st. Meanwhile, I need to finish a story for ellen_datlow, and Cherry Bomb is on hold until after the New Year (when I know whether I'll be writing a fourth Quinn novel), and The Dinosaurs of Mars languishes.
If I were the sort of person who could write ten or twelve hours a day, well, my whole career would have been different. But I'm not.
Yesterday I also signed the signatures for The Book of Silverberg (Subterranean Press), which includes my story "The Jetsam of Disremembered Mechanics," written way back in December 2009.
There was more cleaning and organizing in my office. Dust, dust, dust.
But today I'm leaving the house. The snow is slowly beginning to melt, and I'll go out and see this dirty old town under a skim of white. It fell much of yesterday afternoon and evening, the snow, but the flakes were fine and wet and amounted to far less than we'd expected. Warmer weather is forecast, so it shouldn't be with us very long.
Last night we watched Herbert Ross' marvelous Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969). It is hard to believe O'Toole lost the best actor Oscar for that role to John Wayne.
This Sound Is Not Asleep,
- Current Location:Chalcoporos Rupes
- Current Mood:spread thin
- Current Music:Arcade Fire, "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations"
Which disguises the fact that I reached 7k yesterday and hated it. My main problem has been my failure to be able to "see" my bookshelf in my head. I used to have effortless recall but I think it was related to teaching and I don't do much now. But then I was at Big Green Books yesterday and Tim recommended Who Next...? A Guide to Children's Authors and it was perfect in that all it does is name an author and then list six more you might like. It's sort of a book title thesaurus and I recommend it if you have kids to buy for. It tells you almost nothing about the books other than genre* but that's fine because I have read 90% of them, I just couldn't recall the names.
So suddenly, writing that was effortful, is just flowing along. I couldn't be happier. Especially as today was a meeting day and I hadn't expected to write at all.
*Neil Gaiman crops up all over the place which I think is testimony to the diversity of his outputs/.
“Self-loathing is in the writer’s blood.” What? No. http://t.co/3W9SwUeEsG
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 17, 2013
I’m a writer and I really don’t have self-loathing in my blood, or in my liver or indeed in any other organ or part of my body (including the brain, which I suspect is ultimately the relevant organ under discussion here). As a result I am more than vaguely annoyed by the declaration above, which comes from a Salon article about “Literary Self Loathing.”
This is not to say that on more than one occasion I have not had doubts or concerns about my writing — the thing that writers do when they’re in the middle of writing a book and they think to themselves okay, honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing and that’s going to be obvious to anyone who reads this thing is something that happens to me, oh, a lot. I have concerns about whether my reach exceeds my grasp, whether what I’m writing compares well to what I’ve written before, and what the response to the work will be. I think this is both normal and probably healthy — the ability to criticize one’s own work is often key to having work that doesn’t entirely suck.
But none of that is about self-loathing. Self-criticism is “what I am writing right now isn’t good, and I need to find a way to make it better.” Self-loathing is “what I am writing right now isn’t good, I suck, I have always sucked and I have neither the talent nor the ability to write this, I should never have tried and why did I ever think I was any good at writing at all.” Even more simply put, it’s the difference between “this writing sucks” and “I suck.” Personally speaking I think one of these is helpful; the other one really is not. It’s also not helpful to confuse the two.
Are there writers who are self loathing? Absolutely, because there are people who are self-loathing, and writers are a subset of people. There are also doctors who are self-loathing, plumbers who are self-loathing, farmers who are self-loathing and so on. There are also writers who are not self-loathing. There are excellent writers who grapple with self-loathing; there are excellent writers who don’t (there are mediocre and terrible writers in each category as well, of course). Trying to typify all writers as self-loathing is as useful as typifying all writers as anything, save the base, practical definition of “someone who writes.”
Speaking personally, I am not a self-loathing writer primarily because I am not a self-loathing sort of person in general. I have my tics and neuroses, and as noted above I have a healthy regard for my fallibility as a writer, in terms of quality of output (I try not to inflict the bad stuff on the rest of the world). But fundamentally I am okay with myself, and I am fortunate that the construction of my brain doesn’t neurochemically incline me toward depression and/or self-loathing.
Also, and this is important, while writing is a very big part of who I am, it is not absolutely central to my idea of myself — which is to say, when I have a stretch of poor or indifferent writing, I don’t see it as an existential plebiscite on who I am as a human being. It just means I’m writing poorly at the moment. Hopefully I will snap out of it.
Finally, with regard to writing, my ability to do so and its relation to me as a worthwhile human being, the fact that I’ve been writing professionally for coming on to a quarter of a century now assures me that this is in fact something I can do pretty well. At this point in time any feelings of impostor syndrome (the neurotic underling of self-loathing) would pretty much be a luxury. All that time also reinforces to me the idea that writing is a learned skill and a trade — which is again separate from who I am as a person.
I think people who are writers and who are also the sort of self-loathe can possibly use that self-loathing as a tool in some way, but personally I suspect if you’re genuinely deep in the throes of self-loathing, as a writer or whomever, your first stop should be a doctor, to see if that’s something that’s treatable. It might be easier to deal with the writing that sucks if you’re not thinking that therefore, you suck.
In case you missed it on Twitter and Facebook, I just finished my first felting project! I used stash wool, but some of the yarn wasn’t 100% wool so not everything felted. Oops! However, I still kind of adore this patchwork Wizard’s hat:
Specifics: I used Anne Carroll Glimour’s “The Enchanting and Magical Witch Hat” pattern, on size US 11 needles with worsted weight yarn. I knit the adult non-slouchy hat, but added an extra row after each decrease.
I just turned in proofs for TIN SWIFT, book #2 of the Age of Steam series. What’s that, you say? You thought TIN SWIFT came out a couple years ago? You are correct, it did! However, my awesome publisher is releasing it in paperback format (smaller, cheaper!) and I had a chance to fix a couple typos. Yay! You should see TIN SWIFT in paperback format this June, which means you will be able to get both DEAD IRON (book #1) and TIN SWIFT (book #2) in paperback.
Next up on my writing plate is to go through proofs for STONE COLD. These are due back on the New Year, which means STONE COLD will be out in stores on April 1st 2014.
Proofs, by the way, are the last chance I get to see the book and to catch typos, extra spaces, and etc.. At this stage I’m not allowed to revise or rewrite anything. It’s just a last pass where I (and a second proofreader) attempt to comb out those rascally extra periods and typos.
1. My newsletter will be going out this weekend! This first newsletter has an exclusive excerpt from STONE COLD, a free Shame and Terric short story, a knitting thing, a new book announcement, and other fun stuff. Subscription button is on the side bar of my web page.
2. I am hand making some gifts this holiday season. I’d love to show you what I’m working on, but can’t share the projects until after I give them since I know a couple of my gift-receivers read this. (I see you hiding over there behind that fake mustache).
3. I also hope to squeeze in some relaxing holiday reading before the new year but haven’t decided what to read yet. Decisions, decisions. Anyone else snuggling up with a good book? What are you reading that you’re loving on?
Mirrored from Devon Monk.
Oh Disneyland. How I dreamed of you. As a child, I used to wake up wondering if I was going to Disneyland today. Most of the time, the answer was most definitely no. Yet morning after morning, I still awoke hopeful – and every so often, my dreams would come true. We’d get in the car, drive south on the I-5, and spend the day at the Happiest Place on Earth. Thirty years later, I still often think of my life as a series of long waits between trips to Disneyland. And I’m not alone in my nostalgia.
I just discovered Ron Perlman is on Twitter (he’s perlmutations, since the resounding response from my Twitter feed was WHAT WHERE?!) and this has somehow immediately blown out of control into an 2014 International Re-Watch Beauty and the Beast-fest, so, y’know, if you’ve been meaning to do that, we’ll be doing that next year. An episode a week, probably, starting early (but probably not instantly) in the new year, with live tweeting. :)
Along with re-reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels and clearning out my TBR pile. That should pretty well take care of any time for media consumption that I’ve got. :)
So the GGK thing: my plan is to start in January with the Fionavar Tapestry and work my way through the dozen books one a month in publication order, with a discussion post at…let’s see.
Maybe the around first day of the following month, so anybody who wants to read along has the whole month to get it read? So THE SUMMER TREE’s discussion would come in early February, and the last discussion for RIVER OF STARS, would actually be in Jan 2015. Or should I just post whenever I finish reading a book? :)
(x-posted from The Essential Kit)