So I did some writing yesterday, of a rather odd sort. I took two stories, "Mint in Your Throat" and "Ghosts", which are both about the same event, from two different POV's, and combined them. I did this for an assignment, but I think I may like the result -- I'm not sure yet. If you're on the readers' list, haven't read the new version, and are going to in the next day or two, please skip the next paragraph for now. Thank you.
The thing about these stories is that "Mint" is inherently a much more dramatic story than "Ghosts". It has a lot of dramatic action, and it had a very punchy ending. I wasn't sure how to combine them, since if I just told them forwards, alternating, I think "Ghosts" would have been completely overshadowed by "Mint". I ended up telling "Mint" backwards -- and I'm not sure that helps. I suspect it confuses the reader, and while some paragraphs do play well off each other now, I don't know that all of them do. And I'm not sure that it accomplishes the purpose of highlighting "Ghosts", allowing it to be more of a clear focus. I think it's worthwhile trying to combine the stories, because they both deal with the issue of consent, but from very different angles. The main focus of "Mint" is on a) trying to retain some control in a situation where control has been taken away from you, and also b) exploring what happens when your own body betrays you -- in some sense, when it participates in your coercion. It does a fair bit; I think it's one of my better stories. "Ghosts" is different, and I think doesn't do as much, but it does also try to explore consent, through another situation in which a male is coerced into sex. It's a subtler piece in some ways, because he does actually want to have sex throughout, wants it badly -- but at the same time, this is not how he would have chosen to have sex, and he is being coerced by her needs and force of desire, though he may not quite understand it herself. Part of what does interest me about this piece is gender-related; the question of how men can be coerced into sex, whether they can recognize the coercion, or if they're so culturally programmed into thinking they must want sex all the time that it doesn't ever become evident to them. I'm not sure all that came through in the original, though, and I'm particularly concerned about it being overwhelmed in this merged version. Perhaps what I need to do is really work on his part and try to bring all of that out more. Hmm...puzzling. I'll probably call up Jed and pester him about all this later -- he's excellent at helping me think out the problems in a story. Part of why he makes such a fabulous editor. :-)
So I worked on that for a while yesterday, and I reviewed the Starlight anthologies -- which, may I say again, are just excellent. And really unpredictable. I then drafted a set of questions to ask their editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden -- I'll be interviewing him for SH in March. I'm not entirely happy with the questions -- it's a little hard to know what to ask beyond: "So how did you find such great stories?" I've sent the list off to Jed and David for comments, and hopefully they'll come up with something more precise and useful than I did. If you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, please feel free to send them in!
I also finally started reading Dark Matter, which Jed got me for Christmas. So far, I'm very impressed! I'm about a quarter of the way through; I'm hoping to finish it today. If I can manage that, then around the end of the week I'd like to get back to work on that Asian sf/f book proposal, which is now about a month behind my original schedule. Sigh. I'm not certain how much work I'll get done this weekend, since Kirsten is coming to visit for her birthday, yeah! But I suspect some. She's very good at entertaining herself with books, and she's more of a stay-up-late person, so I can still work some solid hours in the early morning before she wakes. We'd hoped that Kev might be able to come out this weekend too, but the fares were painful. Either in three weeks or four, though, depending on his talk schedule. He's not exactly actively going on the job market, but there are some schools that may be interested in him for next fall, and if they ask him to come speak, he needs to be available to do that. Makes scheduling tricky.
So, finish Dark Matter today, possibly work on the merged story some more, reread theory more slowly, trying to understand it, and hopefully revise "Savariian" and get it into shape to send out. That may be overly ambitious a goal, but it's on the list, at any rate. I think that's probably enough to keep me busy, especially since I should also do laundry and clear my desk. (Doesn't clearing your desk sound like a simple, straightforward task? But it means dealing with everything on the desk, which means that it takes from 1-8 hours. :-)
Weekend? What's a weekend? :-)
Heh, don't let me fool ya. I like this stuff. I did take a little time last night to veg out over Disney's Hercules, which I hadn't seen before. All sorts of weirdnesses about that movie, including the convolutions they went through to make Hercules mortal, because of course they couldn't admit that Zeus screwed around with mortal chicks even though he had a goddess wife. And frankly, the music sucked. I really like gospel music, which is what they were trying to go for, but this stuff was often incomprehensible, and definitely not catchy. Very sad. The whole sports metaphor also did little for me. I did like that the heroine, Meg, was an actual adult, with actual adult relationship/personality-type issues. I thought she was pretty interesting and cool, for a Disney heroine. On the other hand, she seemed pitched for an older audience than the rest of the movie, which was pretty disconcerting. And making Hades out to be 'evil' irritated me. Weird all around, but the big battles with the Hydra and the Titans were pretty cool. I think we could have used way more of the Herculean tasks (like cleaning out the stables -- they really missed the comic boat not using that one) and way less of the constructed plot and bad songs. Ah well.
Theoretically, I was going to a party last night, but too tired, and starting to cough again. Didn't feel like walking even five blocks through the snow at 9 p.m. So today, tea, honey, and possibly some Nyquil tonight. I don't feel ill -- but I don't feel well either. Better safe than sorry.
9:30. Oof. Those stories in Dark Matter are intense enough that I feel like I need to take a break between each one. There is so much pain in some of them...it sometimes makes it seem hard to breathe. So I walked away for a moment, and I'll take this chance to tell y'all to send Todd a note, congratulating him on what I believe is his first print fiction publication -- "Expanding on an Idea" has just appeared in Best American Erotica 2001! Woohoo! And I *think* (though my memory is weak) that I get credit for convincing him to let us publish it in Clean Sheets, which is where Susie found it for BAE. Ah, the moments that warm an editor's heart. :-) I know Todd doesn't really think it's an impressive story, but it's fun and interesting, which is rarer in fiction that you might think. I could wish that Susie had chosen one of my more serious stories for BAE 1999 (she took "Fleeing Gods"), but better to be published than not, eh? Let's also note that Todd's story opens the collection -- very nice!
And while we're noting publications, Best Women's Erotica 2001 has just come out, with a light piece of mine, The Survey. I had fun writing this one; I imagine it set at the U of C (at about 53rd and Kenwood), with some dreadfully earnest virgin undergrad -- maybe a math geek? :-) I used to work for NORC, the National Opinion Research Center, and while I didn't actually work on a survey like this one, they did run some strange things out of there...
11:00 p.m. I was just reading Patrick's journal, and he spends a while today talking about how he's not sure if he's on the right track -- and wondering if everyone else wonders that sort of thing all the time too. And I don't, really. I mean, some choices feel very right (like grad school) and some feel very wrong (like my third year of temping), but there are a lot that are fairly random -- where I just went with what seemed like a good idea at the time. And not all of them work out well, but somehow it doesn't feel like I made the wrong choice, but more as if 'well, this is the way my life is going these days'. Hmm...that sounds awfully fatalistic, and I don't usually think of myself as fatalistic. Maybe cheerfully fatalistic though, if that description makes any sense at all.
Almost done with Dark Matter, did another revision of the merged story that I think I'm much happier with (after long conversation with Jed, of course), watched Howard's End, which was very good indeed. Sleepy. Going to read one more story and then go to bed.
Image NotebookTwo cream pillars on brushed gold stands. One coconut-vanilla cube on a low steel platform. One textured wine pillar on a waist-high wrought-iron stand. Two cream tapers in brass and steel twisted candlesticks. Two pear votives in gold ball holders. One tea light within a globe of red and white mosaic. Six tea lights in blue glass triangles, suspended by thin silver wire from a branching silver tree. Icicle Christmas lights.
And one glowing laptop screen.