What Is Missing

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I’ve got a desk full of half-started books. Now that the novel is out the door, I’ve been trying to get to some of the reading that has been stacking up and am finding myself starting and not finishing a number of things. It’s not that they’re bad books — they’ve all been hand-picked and been waiting patiently for me to get to them — it’s just that they aren’t what I need. This one is taking too much time building atmosphere and character history; this one is savagely non-linear and very meta-textual; this one is archly fond of its own grotesquery, which usually appeals to me; this one promises widescreen action but wants to spend 8000 pages getting all the pieces positioned. These books just aren’t flicking that nipple in my head. Shit isn’t blowing up.

There are, by the way, two definitions of that phrase: (1) as it sounds, and (2) wherein the writer manages to bake my brain with some aspect of their plotting / word fu / story-telling / world building and so on. So, it’s not all sparks and explosions. Well, not on the outside.

Anyway, I realize some of this may stem from the wool-gathering that I’m doing on SOULS TWO and beyond. Not that I’m actually starting the second book of an unsold series, but I have been thinking about future plans because I’m going to get asked and I want to be prepared. Thinking means story building and I build stories as if they were movie trailers. Because I realize that I’ve got about two minutes to get ME excited about writing this book. They’re collections of half-written scenes, lines of dialogue, character sketches and headshots, bits of action, music, sounds, colors — the random bits that, thrown together, give you a bare skeleton of a story. But it is enough to get an idea of (1) what the book is going to be about, (2) how I’m going to talk it up, (3) what research I’m going to have to do and (4) it’s a nugget that I want to know more about. In short, they’re widescreen teasers of big things to come.

The problem is that none of my current reading is meeting the standards I’ve got in my head. I want something to distract me from the nascent collection of pieces that are starting to form. I want something that will make me miss my train stop because I’ve got only ONE MORE PAGE to the end of a chapter. I want something that is going to make me try to be a better writer because the bar has just been raised. And I’m just not getting it.

What I really want is The Promise mashed into the second Pirates of the Caribbean film. I’m going to have to download both of these trailers, string ’em together and run ’em back to back for a couple of hours to get it out of my system, aren’t I? Or, I’m just going to have to write that book.

“Summon the Kraken!” is my new favorite phrase. I’m going to teach it to Solomon.

When They Get All Grown Up

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I think you all know what this means.

Yep, SOULS OF THE LIVING and I are saying good-bye. One last drink together before the bruiser gets put in a box and shipped off to the fabulous land of New York City where he will land on some editor’s desk, crap all over their blotter and whine loudly for attention (some books just don’t arrive quietly, too full of piss and noise). I won’t see him again for six months to a year (or so I’m telling myself, just so that I don’t get all weird and fussy about separation anxiety). So long, old pal, constant friend…

Now get the fuck out. I want a new buddy now. And your bastard offspring, filled with all the threads you left unfinished? He can stay outside — with the cat — for a few days. Daddy needs a break.

Daddy’s going to have a drink.

Daddy is going to go with Mommy to the hospital on Friday and they’re going to have themselves a baby girl, but that’s Friday. You all will have to wait for pictures of Widget until next week.

Twitching, From The Creative Itch

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I’ve got a bad case of the creative twitch today. Ideas about mysterious chapbooks that are codexes with distorted keys and maligned histories are still rolling around in my head (and, frankly, the only reason they’re still just ideas is that my photoshop-fu is really bad, a state which, for a change, is actually preserving my sanity today). The newest issue of McSweeney’s doesn’t help. The damn thing comes in a cigar box and every loose piece of paper is another bit of creative kerfluffle.

Kevin Dart’s art isn’t helping either. Every new picture he puts up makes me want to write pulp. The sort of pulp that takes a weekend to write and a long bus ride to read, but which entertains reader and writer because it is unapologetic about being, well, go look at the art. Go. Now.

Oh, yeah, and there’s my bit about Ian McDonald’s River of Gods that has been posted at Strange Horizons. Apparently all that bitching and moaning I did last week about being bound up about writing the review was just, well, B & M. I must have found the right valve in my head after all.

I’m somewhere near page 320 on the read-thru/gloss edit on SOULS. Close to the 2/3s mark. I might actually get the edit done before Widget arrives, though it is going to be close. We’re at T minus 12 days around the house. With allowances for hot weather and seismic mole activity, of course.

Still, creatively twitching over here. Want to make artifacts to bury in the world and let people find them and wonder about their genesis. Want to make serials that run until sundown and that make people stay up late, working through the underlying conspiracies and clues. Twitch, twitch.

Talking about the Work of Others

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Finally turned in my review of Ian McDonald’s River of Gods to Strange Horizons. Loved the book, froze terribly when I actually had to write about it. Spent most of the weekend dodging the page and, after getting words down, spent the rest of the weekend avoiding what had been written. [sigh] It gets better, as I remember. I used to get like this when I had to do profiles and interviews for Earpollution. None of them ever totally sucked, but that didn’t stop me from going all squirrelly when I had to actually put them together. Funny how practice works, isn’t it?

I printed out the book during the last few days and am going to lose myself in it this week. I’m going to try to read it through without getting caught up in the line-by-line and that effort will probably last until, oh, page 20 or so. I do need to give it a high overview to visualize the six or eight bits that I need to tweak without getting all caught up in the minutia. So, after the once-over comes the comb-through, all of which means LJ posting will probably consist of random mutterings about aspects of the book that no one will really follow but me. In advance, I’d like to say: sorry about that.

Meanwhile, the novel-imposed exile from Igloo has been broken and, over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten a little silly over a few records. Shulman’s Random Thoughts (from Israel-based world trance label, Aleph-Zero); Gjöll’s Way Through Zero (another interesting release from Ant-Zen, always dodging the pigeon-holing); Saul Stokes’ Vast (on SF-based ambient lable, Foundry); Phonºnoir’s Putting Holes in October Skies, a rather engaging bit of emo-glitch; Tor Lundvall’s Empty City (which Lundvall himself was nice enough to say that I captured his intent on the record very well); and Loess’ Wind and Water (another surprising release from n5md, not quite what I expected at all). There, what I’ve been listening to over the last month. Well, when I’ve not been engaging in chaos magick with Mourning Sun.