January 18th, 2007

bear by san

i'm an executive transvestite.

My new favorite thing about reviews is the ones that come complete with a presumption of insight into my motives as a writer. I think maybe this is part of becoming an auctorial construct: people think they get you, when in fact what they get is the person they construct in their heads. (I understand this happens to, like, real famous people to an astounding degree; it's kind of a creepy feeling from the inside.)

Progress notes for 18 January 2007


New Words:  870
Total Words:  29023
Words for the Year: 30530
Pages: 142
Deadline: Sometime in June or July, I'm guessing
Reason for stopping: quota

Stimulants:  peach tea, leftover scallops
Exercise: 3.5 miles ski machine and walking yesterday, for a total of 8.5 miles. I am in the hills over Hobbiton!
Songs mutilated: I didn't practice Wednesday. I suck.
Mammalian assistance: n/a
Mail: no mail.

Today's words Word don't know:  errantry
Words I'm surprised Word do know: villainously
Darling du Jour: The most immediately obvious thing in the unmapped passage was... bats.
Mean Things: onion marmalade. (What? I *like* onion marmalade!); dead guy in her hed.
Tyop du Jour: n/a
Jury-rigging: I may get to the mad old hermit tomorrow. Every quest needs a mad old hermit.

There's always one more quirk in the character: Rien hates crying. Did I mention that before?
Other writing-related work: I'm doing the world's most confrontational email interview. It's kind of entertaining. Enlightening, even.
Books in progress: Phyllis Ann Karr, The Arthurian Companion; Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels including the fallen angels; J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring 
The Internet is full of Things: NUN LANDER!
The glamour!: girl scout cookies apparently contain something that converts into pure crankonium in my blood stream. Aren't I a little old to be developing a sensitivity to cheap chocolate?

froud magician

it's also in peas!

It's interesting, this stopping before I am completely at the end of everything I could possibly write in a given day. I think it may be good for me.

Okay, things to do today:

Print out invoices and contracts
Call Random House
Feed cat
Play guitar
Go for a walk
Go to archery

But right now, I'm going to go read in the tub, and see if I can get caught up in Fellowship to where I am on my walk. And see if I can get uncrankified, as well.

If they're going to raise my rent, I'm going to use their hot water. That's just the way it is.

Memo. No more cheap chocolate. (I ate some Girl Scout cookies last night and they sent me into mood swings. Yay, processed food.)
comics invisibles lord fanny

I do not need to defend my art to you.

Re: the fast writer/ slow writer debate

I suspect it all comes down to technology.

Two hundred years ago, the people who are so-called fast writers, these days, would have been slow writers.

(Okay, except for the Dickenses and Shakespeares and Dumases.)

And a significant fraction of the slow writers would have been bank tellers.

Praise the Lord and pass the Smith-Corona.*

*But everybody's welcome to their defense mechanisms and to constructing a narrative that helps them function and create--the artist's necessary lies. I mean, I could be out there telling people that if they can't write a decent book in six months they are lazy and not very smart, but I wouldn't do a thing like that. I mean, come on. Any asshole can write three pages a day, right?



So I'm not going to say that.

For one thing, it would be untrue.

For another, I don't believe it.

Please note that these things are not equivalent.

rengeek kit icarus

The Sacred Cow Does Not Grow In A Vacuum

So, since I'm walking to Mordor, I'm rereading Tolkien for the first time in fifteen years or so. And this means that I am rereading Tolkien for the first time as an adult (not counting twenty as adulthood for the moment), and as a writer of, shall we say, mature powers.

And here's the thing. These books are something of a sacred cow; much beloved, modern classics, growing more controversial as they age in some ways unfashionably. There are those who have unkind opinions of the leisurely omniscient voice, the structure, the politics, what they presume to be the politics, and so on.

But I am here to tell you, there's a reason these books are a phenomenon of the genre, in print in multiple editions and all over the world, widely (and poorly) imitated, and why they were such an awakening when they were published.

It's because they are fun to read, baby.

That distanced omniscient narrator is funny. Sharp, with a dry sly wit and a strong, rhythmic voice. I got 68 pages into the trade paperback with complete absorption, which--I gotta tell you--does not happen these days. I was sitting on netcurmudgeon's couch picking up the book and reading every time he walked away, and laughing.

Out loud.

A lot.

And calling into the kitchen to read him passages. Which also made him laugh.

They're good. They're not just worthy. They're good. They're entertaining and interesting and immersive. People don't read and reread them because secretly we're all monarchists who just want daddy to come spank and save us, or we're romantics seeking to abrogate the industrial revolution, or we're seeking escapist, consolatory literature (which I rather don't find them to be.) They read them to laugh and feel chilled and to be swept along by a master storyteller.

I suspect, with tilted head, that the reason these books have endured better-recognized and found a wider audience than other works of similar worthiness--Gormenghast, Lud-in-the-Mist--is just that. They're fun.

It's the same reason Shakespeare's stuck around better than Jonson. Jonson made you eat your spinach straight.

I've read my share of classics, modern and otherwise. And you know the great thing about them?

Most of them are really enjoyable books.* I can't stand Austen or Dickens, but they both have their partisans to this days, and I gotta tell you--Virginia Woolf? Awesome. Moby Dick? Beach reading. The Naked Lunch? Man, that shit is awesome.

The Fellowship of the Ring? Trust me. Six zillion hippie stoners did not wallow in that stuff because it was dull.

Something to consider, though, is that things that are only fun tend not to stick around either. They're fun, and then forgotten.

So be warned. Here in the genre trenches, in addition to being Meaningful, we will expect you to be Fun.

Like Tolkien.

And if you want me I'll be in the tub with my book.

*Except Sons & Lovers. That book has no excuse to exist except to torture undergrads.