Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Let's cut to the chase here

You can find most anything if you look in the right place.


Sometimes you really CAN tell a book by its cover.

What a way to sell tickets.

Yahoo! News - Band Vows to Defy Assisted Suicide Law

Now, I'm more or less in favor of allowing the terminally ill to make their own decisions. I feel that we have allowed our fear of death to legitimatize the torture of many hundreds of thousands of people who, without extreme medical intervention, would have died naturally of their illness or injury and who now have no prospect for a self-determined, reasonably comfortable life. Not everyone has the same ideas about life-after-death and to be forcced to live by a particular set of ideas based on a particular body of belief is irrational and cruel.

But I'm not really sure that making a publicity stunt of a suicide is the best way to demonstrate these ideas. The ending of a life is a grave matter, not something to be done so crassly or publicly.

Once upon a time, criminal execution was performed as a matter of course for public edification. Bleacher seats were set up around the gallows, families brought children and picnic baskets, and everyone watched the deaths for "entertainment". There are reasons we don't do that anymore.

And certainly not accompanied by a group who would grind up live animals in a blender.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The Reading List

I made a New Years Resolution back in January to read a book a week this year. Well, I am a few weeks behind in my reading, but I've kept a list of my reading this year. I've included authors where I could remember them.

1) King Rat - China Mieville
2) Naked - David Sedaris
3) Beowulf - Seamus Heany
4) Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
5) Excessively Diverted (very bad Jane Austen Sequel)
6) Chocolate (I liked the movie better)
7) O Henrey Short Stories 2002
8) Emma - Jane Austen
9) The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
10) The Key (writing instruction book)
11) Narrative Design
12) How to Write a Damn Good Novel
13) A Lady of Quality - Georgette Heyer
14) The Chronoliths - Robert Wilson
15) Amrita - Banana Yoshimoto
16) Faster - The Acceleration of Just About Everything -- James Glieck
17) Arabella - Georgette Heyer
18) Plot - Ansen Dibell
19) Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov (best book I've read in a while)
20) The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fiztgerald
21) Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
22) Death Mask - James Butcher
23) Lost in a Good Book - Jasper Fforde
24) The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer
25) Devil's Cub - Georgette Heyer
26) Cottillion - Georgette Heyer
27) April Lady - Georgette Heyer
28) Bath Tangle - Georgette Heyer
29) Cousin Kate - Georgette Heyer
30) Reunion - Laura Antonio
31) Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde
32) Masqueraders - Georgette Heyer

Yeah, I've developed a taste for Regency Romance, but only by the woman who originated the genre. You wouldn't think it was so hard to read 52 books in a year. I mean, there was a time I'd finish off that many books within a span of weeks, and I'm completely serious. What's even more sad is the huge number of unread books I have on my shelves. I've more books to read than I think I have days to live, yet there are too many days when I don't pick up a book despite having nothing more worthwhile to do. The 'net eats up too many hours when I could be reading, or writing, or running the vaccuum. *sigh*. There's always some excuse.

He's so Macho

Yahoo! News - Saudi Weds Four in One Ceremony to Spite Ex-Wife

I guess that showed her. But what's he going to do when he's faced with 4 more divorces?

Everything old is new again

Yahoo! News - Bride, 12, Storms Out of Romania Wedding: "

Ok, a 12 year old girl is getting married? And she's going to get a spanking afterwards for her temper tantrum because she doesn't want to do it?

Does this strike anyone else as just slightly out of phase, or, damn it all, incredibly wrong? At 12, she has no clue how to be married. And her groom is all of 15 -- damn it, where are the brains of the adults supposedly in charge here? These a children, not Barbie dolls. I can see that, at first, it might have been exciting for her to have the fancy dress and all the attention, but she cannot possibly be expected to actually be this boy's wife! Maybe if they were both 16 I wouldn't feel quite so sick about it.

Yes, our history is full of such marriages, especially where royal succession, politics and/or money were concerned. Aren't we passed that now?

And in the back of my brain, where all the ideas of "tradition" bubble around, I wonder if someone will hang the bloody sheet out of the window to prove the marriage was consummated...

Crickets in the Audience

I'm a writer. Did you know?

I'm not a "successful" writer. No, no indeed. I haven't sold anything since I was 10. That was some time back.

Am I a good writer? Well, there's a lot of wiggle room in that word "good". I get a lot of accolades from classmates and my writer group. I usually get a handwritten note from editors when they reject my writing. Teachers encourage me. Does that mean I'm "good" or does it mean that I have my puppy-dog eyes down so well no one wants to say mean things to me? You have to admit, if I can transmit puppy-dog eyes via a cover letter to an editor, I've got it down to a magical ability.

I don't know if I'm good. I don't know if I'm ok. I can't tell. I mean, I have the techniques and skills down fairly well. I have strong opinions about what is good and what is bad. I study the written word, both by reading and by analysis. That is at least half of it. I am always seeking to improve my craft.

But what about the talent part? I'm never sure. What is talent? I know it isn't dependable. I have favorite authors who have written favorite books, and who have also written books I either didn't finish, shook my head over when i finished them, or threw the book against a wall with great force before picking it up with icetongs and depositing it in the bag to go to the used bookstore. I can't come up with a single author who has any sort of track record and say that they struck gold each and every time. I usually know why, too, because I think about it.

So far, knowing that hasn't helped me sell a story. Sad, isn't it?

I wrestle with my doubts all the time. My writer ego is a fragile thing, thin and brittle like old vellum paper, dry and chipped around the edges. To protect it, I retreat from the fray. I stop writing. I stop reading. I try to stay away from words and thinking about words. I say to myself "I am not a writer."

Once upon a time, that would only slow down the rising voices in my head, the various loud cries of characters wanting to tell me their stories only muted. Now, it works much better. I can silence the voices I hear for weeks at a time. Now, in fact, it is an odd moment when I hear one speaking to me at all. Sadly enough, I know of no other method to contstruct a story.

Oh, there are other methods. You can buy books all about them. A story can be built like a Lego castle, words like bricks that snap together, words like little plastic windows and doors. I've tried that and never gotten far. A story can be planned and outlined like a term paper or a trip to the Grand Canyon, with every idea mapped and every side trip highlighted in yellow ink. I can't do that, either. If I know too much about the story, I lose interest.

I need a seed. A line, a word, a phrase spoken in a voice that isn't my own voice. That voice -- different from my own, but still somehow mine -- will plant that seed in my head and I will have to hunt for it, nurture it, make it grow. A seed gets planted and even years later, on a story I've surrendered, that seed will still be there, like a little stunted tree in the back yard. I can't cut it down or root it out. A more pernicious weed than a story seed there is not.

I gave up keeping an online journal because I thought that, perhaps, I could turn the energy toward my fiction writing. My journal was beginning to sound like one long whine. I was weary with myself, listening to myself, poking and prodding and lifting up the rugs to see what was inside me. I write, in essense, because I want to tell stories. The whole point of telling stories is for other people to hear them.

Ah, now there's a nasty nugget of truth. To tell a story requires more than a storyteller, but an audience. I have no real audience -- at least, I have an audience that is limited in its willingness or ability to nod, make the appropriate "hmm" sounds, ask questions or applaud. I can't see the eyes glittering back at me around the fire. i can't hear the shifting bodies settled in the dirt or the sharp intakes of breath when I turn my story to fear or surprise. I don't smell their sweat or their sweetness. The fault may be with me. I may not be able to sense them. Still, the effect is of no audience at all, and without an audience, one is not performing. One is only rehearsing.

Writing is a performance. I know. i've been a stage performer, a singer, working my audience, knowing the response to what I did was there. With that in my head, I can't pretend it's there when it isn't. No, it isn't the same thing when I'm writing online, but it isn't that different. Writing online is performance more akin to the stage than writing on paper for only slushpile readers and a potential editor to read. It is no easier, no less risky, but it is more capable of
getting an instant response.

I'm not doing too well with rejection of any kind. I can't manage defiance or indifference to rejection. Silence is a rejection of a most potent kind. It says "you aren't important enough for me to notice your existance." A rejection slip at least is acknowledgement, although a sour sort.

So, now, why am I doing this again? Why, why, why?

I can't tell you, for certain. I speculate, I suspect, but I don't know. I suppose, in essense, it comes down to being a writer. It may have to do with hope and the damn springing eternal thing. Perhaps I just can't resist, like it is an addiction. It's a damned thing, but...I'm a writer.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

The Freedom to Gross People Out

My last two months -- three months, really, everything started in July -- have been interesting. In the Chinese sense.

You see, in July I became pregant. I hadn't even had time to realise it, though, when I miscarried first one, then another, baby. August has been named the Month of Blood.

Now, after the upset and the recrimination and the sympathy and the decisions are all over, a person can deal with something like this one of three ways. She can become mopy and depressed. She can deny anything is wrong and be brittally cheerful. Or she can make tasteless jokes about it.

Guess which path I'm taking?

Yes, yes, dear reader, if you are of delicate sensibility, if descriptions of blood and gore told for laughs upsets you, then it would be best if you pointed your browser toward some other URL. For here, in great detail, I intend to indulge myself by telling all the stories that I feel can't be told to people sitting around a table eating breakfast, with strawberry jelly on their toast and ketchup on their eggs.

You have been warned.

The Blorp

First, I need to describe a particular noise. I call it "blorp". I'm reasonably sure that "blorp" has shown up in SOME comic somewhere, but I'm not stealing it. It's an actual sound. I've heard it a number of times now. It is exactly the noise a blob of congealed blood makes when it slides from a vagina and slaps the floor. The rest of the blood makes a more normal "drip pip" noise, not really upsetting at all. But that "blorp" will getcha.

I learned about this noise on the evening of August 1st, when I miscarried the baby I didn't even know I had. I was standing in the kitchen talking to my husband, who was talking to a friend of ours on webcam. I was, happily, off camera. Sudden blood on the kitchen floor has a very arresting effect on those who witness. I know it shocked the fuck out of me.

I like "blorp" because it not only encompasses the sound I heard, but gives some indications of the sensation I experienced as my body expelled this hemoglobulous mass. If you don't have a vagina, then it's going to be uncommonly difficult for you to actually imagine this sensation. If you do own one of these convenient orifices, I hope you never personally experience the "blorp". The only good thing I can think to say is that there were no partcular pains or contractions accompanying the "blorp". Those came much later.

In any case, "blorp" usually involves an alarming amount of gelled blood. I haven't figured out the actual mechanical process, but it seems that blood will pile up in the uturus and around the cervix until it begins to solidify, and then some motion or action will subject it to gravity and -- well, you have your "blorp". It is warm when it leaves the body but cools very rapidly once it hits your leg or any other surface. It doesn't slither, but it will jiggle. It is also quite sticky. Blorps come in a variety of sizes, too, from the "whazzat" minimalist blorp to the "ohmyfuckinggod" giant blorp.The solidity of the produced mass will vary, but as soon as it lands on something, it will begin to melt slightly, producing a stain and a mess. It's best to forstall being grossed out of your mind and barfing up everything you've ever eaten in this life and your last two previous incarnations. You have to clean that blorp up, fast. Hydrogen peroxide, the secret of all nurses, will help remove the stain from most fabrics. Using a mix of the dry "all color bleach", or the liquid version, is also good, as they contain hydrogen peroxide and other goodies for removing blood. You'll have plenty of time -- and reason -- to throw up later.

Second, you must know that your underwear is the first sacrifice. You cannot wear a big enough sanitary napkin to contain full fledged blorpage. You might consider adult diapers. Your clothes, towels, and bedlinens are also in the front lines and will be wounded. The toilet seat is also a goner. If the glazing on your toilet bowl is the least bit weak, well, that's gonna get it, too. In fact, there isn't much that you can come near that is NOT subject to blood sacrifice, as it were. Remember to put a thick, triple folded towl under your ass as you drive to the emergency room.

In fact, once you arrive at the emergency room, it's best just to give up all thoughts of preserving your underwear, your jeans, your shirt, your modesty or your dignity. You aren't going to have any of those for a while.

Oh, yes, go to the emergency room at the first sign of blorpage. This is important. If you try to reason to yourself that, well, your period IS two weeks late and this COULD just be your period starting up suddenly, like it did when you were 14 and hormones were assaulting your tender body, and, hehhehheh, it will be over in a couple of days and all will be fine -- YOU ARE IN MAJOR DENIAL AND YOU WILL REGRET IT LATER.

Why do I know this? Let us say that my denial mechanisms are fully functioning and not even a major blorpage can shake them. In fact, not even two major blorpages.

There are consequences to denial. One of the consequences is that the incredible, terrifying, tampon drowning, pad flooding blorpage will dim

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Ok, I'm succumbing to the temptation to talk once more to the world. It's been most of a year now since I unplugged from my old journal site.

I thought, maybe, if I stopped twittering online, I'd throw more energy into my regular writing -- you know, that stuff I do with the idea it will be published and someone will pay me money and heap me with praise for. No dice.

I also thought it would be nice to save the fees on the domains.

Last, I was tired of talking to, seemingly, myself. The echoing silence was hammering my ego to crumbs. My ego is a fragile cookie to begin with, so it doesn't take much. I desolve in milk, you know.

So now I'm giving it a try again, in a tiny little way, half serious, half thinking "Oh, this will last about a week", debating messing with the template, debating so many things. Blogger looks all new and shiny. I might even toss the money down to get rid of the nasty banner ads.

More Later.