Thursday, September 23, 2010

Open the trunk, or not?

I think Aliette de Bodard best describes my last few writing days in this interview by Josh Vogt, with the following few sentences:

"I have a trunk, and it is full of stories that will probably never see the light of day. A lot of them are pretty much broken, to the point where they'd require a complete rewrite if they were to work."

A simple way of saying maybe your earlier stuff is better left alone. I can't count how many times I've pulled out some of those first few shorts - not even the first and second, which can't find a shape no matter how many rewrites, but the third and fourth - the fourth with which I worked on today, and the third I sent off to magical Gio in hopes that she could find an answer. The fifth was lucky enough to find a home, although I cringe when I look at it now - that's the way it works, I suppose. But the last two days have been spent trying to make the old new again, and I'm wondering if it's worth it. Add the third novel to that same quandary, too.

Somewhere down the line, something's got to work, eventually. I understand, too, for the most part, what works now. Yet I can't always get my own stuff there, especially the old.

I'm over halfway through Les Grossman's The Magicians, and it's official: I'm skimming, now. I really hoped it wouldn't come to this, but I cannot handle the impersonal style - the way of storytelling that distances me from Quenton, the main character. Get me into the mc's head, and I will follow you anywhere - no matter the genre. And it's not hard; I'm an easy hook. But if you can't - and Grossman didn't, from the beginning, instead, driving me batty with Rowling references, although to his credit, his characters were actual teenagers (meaning drugs, booze, sex, etc.) and one terrific monster that showed up 1/4 of the way through and hasn't again) - then I'm going to resort to skimming.

It's disappointing, really. I haven't read a novel I thoroughly enjoyed since Kiernan's The Red Tree, which was back on our Solvang trip. A month ago. Far too long. And since I brought up Kiernan, I cannot speak highly enough of her Sirenia Digests. Brilliant, and so gorgeous, with delicious, spellbinding moments that seem so hard to come by these days, for some reason. $10 a month, but I'd pay triple that - the quality is 3x F&SF and even Asimov's, in my opinion, and only comparable to WEIRD Magazine (and occasionally Realms of Fantasy), which doesn't come out often enough for me. Kiernan's Ammonite Violin is in the mail to me now, as well as a new Tanith Lee anthology (!!!!); I'm extraordinarily excited for both.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Back when I was putting up chapters of Stone Lake on OWW, I had reader after reader bring up Ilse's motivations, or rather, lack thereof. I knew it, too, but thought I'd fixed it. Not even close. At this point, the structure is so terribly off that it's embarrassing. It's still a great story, with great characters, but a fellow Fragment is pulling it apart and showing me how Ilse and Conn and Stone come across, which is entirely different than my original intentions. No wonder it didn't work. Hindsight, like always.

Which is why you've got to get people (who have some sort of positive influence on your writing) to read your shit for you, or its not going to sell. That's what I'm reminded of in the Lightspeed slush every day.

As if that weren't enough, European Gio and I are changing around Rotullo's life, in our first story together that we wrote last year - almost exactly a year ago. We've come to the conclusion that even with 10k words, it's possible to have too much going on, too many personal goals that must be followed through, and no matter how good of a job you might do on having those goals met, the number of experiences must be proportional, as well as the actual word length, the climax, and a bazillion other things. So, we're going to back to the original roots of the story, and keeping in mind our original submission site. We'll see how it works.


John and I have been working our way through Nip/Tuck from the beginning. I only started watching the end of Season 2 with Malia, so I'd missed quite a bit - turns out there was some actual quality writing there, aside from the unbelievable amount of trashy drama that fills in the more narrow of plot points. It's a reality show on speed. Everything happens these men. Anyway, Netflix was doing updates last night, so we found the movie Jumper on the television, which was one of the most baffling watches. Baffling, because I don't understand how it even got made.

I had no problem with his jumping, with his robbing banks, etc. But to pass off the Paladin/Jumper war as something ancient, predestined, etc, was just silly - you can't throw that in and expect us to believe it. The problem is that I don't know how they could fix it. It could be done, well, although I'm not sure how or why.

That wasn't really what bothered me - it was everything else. (Except for Hayden Christenson's acting - he was rather decent. He made hardly any any sullen faces, nor did he moan and groan about his fate and the unfair Jedi. It was refreshing.) Rachel Bilson's acting, on the other hand, was static and ridiculous (which surprised me, because she was the most adorable thing ever on The O.C.). I'm the first one to suspend believe, but really, who drinks a beer while they're on their shift at Houlihan's? That's what I thought. Although that speaks to the director more than her, but she did her part, with the sappy hellos, instead of the 'I thought you were dead' necessities.

There are plenty of other things. No girl is going to go out with a guy who says he's her friend from junior high, it's 8 years later, and he's supposed to be dead. Next, she's not going to just up and fly with him to Rome. And then, they're not going to just go have sex in the hotel room.

Maybe the real question is why we kept watching it. But honestly, it was such a great idea that I was surprised it was done so poorly. The romance was just chucked into the story - that's when it all started going downhill - and the 'my mother is a Paladin' was even more tossed in.

Tonight, I think we'll just stick to playing more Halo: Reach.