2006 in Ruminations and Asides


Firstly, Farrago’s Wainscot is open for your reading pleasure. The Winter Issue is up and includes a number of fabulous things, including the first part of “The Oneiromantic Mosiac of Harry Potemkin”, the hypertext serial novel that I’ll be providing for you in 2007. Twelve parts, of which this is the first, and I can safely say that it is only going to get stranger from here. Take a gander during some free time this week and let me know what you think. I’m not nearly as far ahead of the rest of you as I should be, and I am curious to hear initial reactions. Starting in February, the story is going to get a lot less linear and the ability to get lost within the threads is going increase. (Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see everyone’s thoughts when December rolls around and whole web is there to distract you.)

[Aside #1: I have read Danielewski’s House of Leaves by the way. Just finished it a few weeks ago. Yes, there are structural parallels, but I believe I’m going further down the rabbit hole than he did. We’ll see.]

[Aside #2: In an world of infinite time, I would convince a few others to come play with me and we would build an entirely faux forum to support the search for Blackleaf 23 (yeah, sorry, you’ll understand next month). Because, I hope, there will be readers like me who will get sucked into searching for clues (like, say, reading every single of one Johnny Truant’s mother’s letters to him just to get those two bits of history that inform Johnny’s damage) and fucking with everyone’s head by inventing lots of conversations about hallucinogens and entheogenic experimentation would be a hoot.]

[Aside #3: Click on the fish. Really. Not all links are going to be obvious, and not every link will be the same from month to month. It’s a mercurial landscape.]

Okay, 2006. coalescent asked me more than once (thank you Niall, by the way, for following up) to submit some thoughts about 2006 from a Strange Horizons standpoint and, while a number of kids did, I passed up the opportunity. 2006, for me, was a year of some pretty solid personal strides, but as an insightful observer of the fantastic in ’06, I don’t really have much to offer. ianmcdonald‘s River of Gods was revelatory, impacting me in many ways that are only partially due to do with Ian’s text (which, by the way, is not to detract from what a fucking amazing book it is), and more to do with internal realizations about how I’ve been Reading over these last few years.

[Aside #4: Statistically speaking, nearly every author whom I’ve been a steady fan of over the last five to ten years (read I’ll read every new book they put out) has been dropped from my radar. I mean, like, “don’t even fucking care that they’re still putting words on the page” sort of dropped. Because they’re all phoning it in, and it took books like River of Gods, House of Leaves, Hal’s Vellum, and Vandermeer’s Shriek to remind me that Reading isn’t about the physical exercise of turning 300-odd pages for a few days. And because I realized that my writing is directly reflexive of what I am reading. Ergo . . .]

[Aside #5: I did go so far as to try to put together five (or so) “texts” that I thought made 2006 memorable. Three, I have to admit, I haven’t read completely yet. One was written several years ago and I only now got to, and the last was a spoken word CD that came out in 2005. So, yeah, reviewing 2006 is best summed up as “I tried to get caught up.”]

From a writing standpoint, most of the business done over the year was of the invisible sort–the networking and name-building–as well as constructing the foundation that goes along with that (a body of material that can cash the checks my mouth has been writing in public). While one attempt at DIY writing imploded (and, frankly, I’m not surprised: the administrative structure of the project, while attempting to be completely democratic, had a built in self-destruct mechanism that tripped fairly early), other avenues yielded surprising results (including a fiction sale to Strange Horizons).

[Aside #6: SOULS, by the way, is still in a box on someone’s desk in NY. I’m a little disappointed that we’ve not seen a more expedient result from some of our efforts to get that book read but, really, this is why I have other projects: so I don’t completely eat my face off with frustration about that book sitting around unread in a box.]

I don’t think I’m going to bother with a word count for last year. SOULS went through a page-one rewrite and 98% of it is new words, and if I bother to figure out how many music reviews I wrote last year (and corresponding word counts), it’s only going to be depress me slightly (because, as you can imagine, while those words kept me in new music, they were words in the service of promoting the work of other’s). I allowed myself to get scared off by the weight of research for THE PROMISE OF PIRATES which I need to get over this year so I can write that book. The Harry Potemkin project, while stretching me in many ways, isn’t a truly linear narrative (lots of shorthand, if you will), and I need to write a book that is representative of me NOW instead of me last year or me last decade. While SOULS c. 2006 is a hugely different beast than, say, SOULS c. 1997 when Writer’s House was flogging it to NY, it is still a book that has been part of me for a long time, and I’m ready for something new to obsess over. Know what I mean?

2006 is the year I realized I am a beast with finite hours, and that I need to be a little more cognizant of the long-term plan and not get so hung up on the short-term. I didn’t even come close to hitting the 1000 words a day mark for the year, but still managed to make some pretty solid progress on the 10-year plan. While chunking out that million words of crap is still a matter of mathematical necessity, it shouldn’t be Mark’s First Law of Writing. I’m also coming to terms with the fact that, with a finite amount of time, there are some things that I’m not going to be able to do. Review every record that shows up in my mailbox, for example, or blog (natter, make typing motions in public, call it what you will) as regularly as I would like (read the marketing hat says I should be). In the end, I want to be writing and, if you don’t see me for a few days or weeks, it is probably because that is exactly what I am doing. And that is for the best.

So, ’06. I am done with you. ’07. I am ready. Bring it.