Forward to December, 2003...
Comments: SFF Net newsgroup | Rumor Mill Topic | Night Shade Books Topic |
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!
Here, things are not so happy, despite the delicious veggie Un-Turkey dinner. Our dear little young cat or still kitten Semyon is missing. He has been gone since Monday. We are still hoping he will come back home. Since he has been neutered only about a month ago, and his hormones are still making him go chase after girl kitties, so... He may be locked in some neighbor's garage and they will hopefully return tomorrow. This is what I am telling myself. I am thinking to check out the local animal shelter after my one Friday panel at Loscon 30 tomorrow.
By the way, the following is my final convention program schedule:
- Friday, 11:30 AM - "Publication Alternatives E-Books, Print on Demand, etc." - Sunset A
R. Laurraine Tutihasi
- Saturday, 10:00 AM - "Vera Nazarian Autographing Session." - TBA
- Saturday, 1:00 PM - "Fantasy that Breaks the Mold." - Gala
Brad Linaweaver (M)
J. Neil Schulman
Finally, the stone fence was completed on Tuesday, and the whole thing looks gorgeous. And yesterday I had tree trimmers come out and trim the huge trees all over the back yard and the front of the house. The yard is now at long last all tidy and neat -- just in time for the Santa Ana winds to kick in and not having to worry about airborne debris and palm leaves and whistling draft holes.... :-)
Recently I was interviewed via a series of emails by Debbie Ledesma for the Fantasy Worlds column of Suite101.com, and today the extensive interview has gone up and is live. Some fun questions and answers -- in it I talk and rant about everything from my own beginnings to advice for writers, and the true function of fantasy literature, with a new take on subversive versus consolatory.... Lots of good stuff.
Meanwhile I am experiencing symptoms of a head cold, which basically means that the stress and the sleepless days of all the construction has finally caught up with me. Hope I am better by next week this time, for Loscon.
Now, some really fabulous congratulations going out to Elizabeth Bear on her three book deal with Bantam Spectra, to Zette Gifford on her chapbook sale to Yard Dog Press, to Mary Soon Lee on her sale to MOTA 4: Integrity, to Paula Fleming on her erotica sale to a Haworth Press anthology, and to anyone else whose recent sales news I might have missed! You folks totally rock!!! :-)
And a glorious congratulations to Stephen King on his well-deserved National Book Award! I am not particularly familiar with his books, but I completely admire and applaud his attitude!
The fence was supposed to be all done, but the back gate has to be done tomorrow, since it would be too unstable to hang on a brick wall held together by still soggy grout. So that means I have to get up at dawn yet again. Ok, not dawn, but 6:00 AM, but it might as well be dawn for all practical purposes. Heck, it was easier getting up at 3:45 AM every day to go to my night shift than this ... yucky morning stuff. I am getting too old for this body torture. But in consolation, the backyard looks great! Oh, the joys of creating a marvelous rose garden this spring! :-)
In other news, yesterday, nearly a year since I submitted it, a rejection came from Sword & Sorceress #21. I am not too bummed personally (story was a long shot) but I am upset for all my friends and fellow S&S regulars who did not get into the antho this year. On the other hand, bouncing congratulations to Jenn Reese and Jim C. Hines and Lee Martindale, who did! You go, folks!! :-)))
Now, to counterbalance the bummer aspect of yesterday's rejection for me, today I received the 3rd Quarter Royalties from Fictionwise, for a nice tidy surprise of $37.50. Thanks, to the good folks at Fictionwise.com, those small checks do add up. :-)
Finally, calling all fans of Janis Ian! She is having a huge website holiday sale and says "prices are amazing - $5.00 a CD, with groups of CD's bunched together at even lower prices. Absolutely everything on the site is rock bottom" and proceeds will go to The Pearl Foundation. So, take a look and grab those goodies, and support a great cause! :-)
Hectic sleepless Saturday.
Another chunk of construction is almost done in the back yard, the replacement of the remaining fence portion on the side of the river -- it was barely standing up, propped up with an old chicken coop or rabbit coop thing whatever, and a dead dry fruit tree carcass -- with a nice wall of pale mauve stone. Yeah yeah, I know, I have constructors crawling out of my ass here. *grin* No, wait, that didn't sound right.... Oh, never mind, it did. :-)
Anyway, the guys are taking Sunday off, and will be back here on Monday to finish this final portion of the fence completely. All that's left will be a rotten, old black wooden side wall in the front that is overgrown with vines, and bamboo shrubbery that's about eight feet deep and eight feet tall, and is pretty much a jungle where lord knows what might be hiding. All I know is that when I look inside there is green stuff growing thick, and some tree trunks are sticking out -- a tall cedar or pine tree and a willow-like tree of unknown tree species (unknown to me, since I don't know different trees very well, lovely articulate writer that I am). This mysterious thicket stands as a convenient barrier between my house and the bridge and traffic of the big street in the front. And I am gonna leave that section for now as is.
In today's mail I got my subscription copy of the November 2003 issue of Locus, and yup, I finally made the People & Publishing column (page. 9) with the mention of my novelette sale to PS Publishing -- thanks, Tim! :-) Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, like I've "arrived" -- now that here I am on this particularly coveted spot in Locus, and I'm a fulltime writer as of this month.... ;-) Okay, so, we writers get our jollies in any way we can get 'em. So stop that cackling....
And talking about jollies and fulltime writer status -- congratulations and best of luck to Laura Anne Gilman who has resigned as Roc Books senior editor to pursue her own writing career! Must be something in the water.... :-)
Finally, last but not least, congratulations to Lisa Silverthorne for reaching 40K in her NaNoWriMo Novel Dare! You are pretty well ahead of schedule, Lisa!
I think I finally get it.
Get what, you say?
I finally understand what it is that I really dislike about this whole Interstitial or New Weird or whatever the heck is the genre blurring, expanding, or crossing way of describing the most pioneering and avant garde trends in today's speculative fiction.
New Weird implies that if the work is not complex, baroque, and plain bizarre "weird" then it is somehow not up to par.
Interstitital is supposed to include all the genre blurring works that fall between the cracks, but instead seems to imply a narrow field of "genre-skimming" work that is afraid to fully embrace any genre and thus flitters at the edges, stares at true genre from the outside windows and is ever unwilling to pound at the genre door.
Slipstream, the older cousin of these two, is still the same faint ghost that has never been defined properly, but implies urban fantasy, or mainstream with a hint of strange and sophisticated and an intrusion of a mythic element -- sort of like a slight drizzle of fantasy liqueur on a raspberry mainstream torte, or a real dryad in your back yard.
Notice how I underline the recurring word "imply" -- I make no attempt to pursue the "official" definitions, only the connotations of such.
There are of course more terms (Amorphous Blob, Stylemonkey, etc), but these are the ones most hotly bandied about right now.
None of these terms really work to describe the real cutting edge, because all of them are missing one very simple notion -- the only way to be truly unique and pioneering as a modern writer is to forget all comparisons to other labels -- to notions of genre and to literary styles throughout history, but instead to compare one's writing to the source of inspiration -- real life.
We are not fantasy or science fiction or romance or mystery or slipstream writers. Neither are we genre writers or mainstream or pulp or hack or trash or high-brow or serious literary writers.
What we are instead are interpreters of the human experience in this thing called life. And our tools are words.
Let's face it, this is the most fundamental, most basic level. From here you can only go up into obfuscating layers of confusing labels and terms attempting to describe what it is exactly that we do now and what we aim to do. Layers of binding and limiting illusion. As confusing and contradictory and hopeless as the legal code of most countries.
As writers, we are observers of trends, patterns, and emotional arcs. We are chroniclers of the important details, able to dip our nets into the great mental creative stream of verbal imagery relating to existence and bring up such combinations of images that evoke known reality in a particularly profound way -- not as alien experimental abstracts formed of broken shards that may sparkle in your imagination only for as long as you read and imagine them and dissipate immediately after like smoke and empty calories, due to their meaninglessness -- but as real graceful stories with a pure thematic and semantic arc that cuts bright and clean like a knife and yes, one that shows causality, and -- God forbid -- teaches moral lessons (here I choose to refer to morals not as curse words but simply as standards of considerate behavior).
As such creative verbal artists, we are able to point to a particular, exact gestalt of such imagery and experience as described by human words, and filter out the insignificant while managing to highlight the vital, underlying, core elements.
It is along such fundamental parameters that we need to describe ourselves.
Forget genre or non-genre, literary or low. Instead, let us embrace being true to human experience, versus adhering to whatever literary conventions abound.
Let us embrace a deeper immersion into the source of our own beings and others, and a true portrayal of such by means of fictional metaphor. The flavor of metaphor itself is irrelevant. That's all that genre really is, mere trappings of metaphor. Underneath, the power and the life juice runs true, and that is humanity.
So let those genre interstices and cracks get filled in with sand, let the surrealist weirdness go sour and mold over, let the slipstream fade in the rush of raw wind.
Instead, give in to the whole experience of being, and let yourself be a full writer.
Cut as deep as you dare into the flesh of your imagination to reach your personal cutting edge.
Hmm, seems like I've said something like this before, maybe in not so many words. Am I repeating myself? :-)
Discuss and Comment Here. . . .
No writing done at all since last week. But no guilt, since the time is being used for important things. :-)
Been extremely busy with getting household stuff done, now that I am financially able -- we now have a new fence between the neighbors and our house, and also the back of our alley. No more falling fence portions under high winds and potential escaped dogs. No more creepy strangers looking in from the alley. No more discomfort from seeing neighbors in their yard (and them seeing us...) And in the spring we can finally use that portion of the yard to start
Also, the replacement windows have been ordered and should be here and installed some time in the last week of November or first week of December. Another large portion of the fence near the river will be done by the middle of next week. And there is more work to be done for the house yet, most of it within the coming month. When all is done, the house will be well insulated from the winter cold and the noise of the big street, and the fence will reduce the strong gale winds that we seem to get every winter and that tend to blow particularly strong from the wide open space corridor made by the concrete LA River basin.
Oh, and another thing -- I am happy. :-)
On a different subject, here is something for those of us writers living in Los Angeles -- an update to the city business tax for writers from the WGA.
The mortgage refinance equity money was finally in my bank account when I checked it at 2:59 PM, Tuesday, November 4, 2003.
As of today, I am officially a fulltime writer.
I cannot believe I just said that. :-)
The refinance equity money has paid off all my debts, paid for the eleven new windows for the house, and will pay for the broken fence (I already called the other contractor for that and will start discussing estimates tomorrow). Plus, there will be enough money left over for me to pay my mortgage for 2 years. Together with my Wildside part-time work and the monthly rent from my parents, I can pay all the rest of the bills.
Anything else I make by writing, will go toward the future!
Which means that now, I am officially free of the day job search for two years of financial security -- something that I have never had in my entire life.
When the money showed up in my bank this afternoon, I printed out the account balance from the screen, so that I will remember what it looked like.
I might frame that paper and hang it in front of my monitor.
For some people it may not be all that much, really.
But for me -- for my whole family -- it is HUGE. Amazing. Never imagined.
It means freedom and peace of mind.
I have never had peace of mind in my entire life, not even as a kid back in Russia where we were rock-bottom poor, and not in the West, as a refugee, when I had to do translating and filling out immigration and government forms and other horrible grownup stuff on behalf of my parents.
Fear in the back of the mind has been with me all my sentient waking hours.
In many ways I cannot really believe it yet that the fear can now be gone....
I don't know what it feels like not to be afraid whether or not there will be money to pay the bills EVERY DAMN MOMENT, DAY, WEEK, MONTH of
my life -- even when I was still in school, and even later when I had a fulltime decent and high-paying tech job (the fear of layoffs was everpresent during all my days in the corporate sector, not to mention there had always been debts).
We came to America with nothing and I clawed my way for decades to get this house. I've worked fulltime and double time, and wrote in every spare moment, with no vacation, and no weekend off -- most of you writers know how that goes.... But my situation had no benefit of at least a modicum of spousal support or support from family and relatives. Instead, it was the other way around. No one to help....
Over all this time, I managed to write and sell two novels, and over 30 works of short fiction.
And now this wonderful beloved house -- bless it forever! -- has made it possible for me to do with my life what I have always wanted to do.
I never had hopes of marrying and getting financial support that way. And since my true career ambition was always secretly in the writing-artistic-creative world, I could never aspire to a more prestigious high tech career than tech support or middle management. Been there, done it, topped out, then got laid off.
Which means that, had things not been different, I would have been stuck in a rut for many more years, while my health rapidly deteriorated.
To tell the truth, I was already on the end of my rope earlier this year, healthwise. Night shift and 9 to 5 just killed me, and the high stress of tech support grated at me.
When I got laid off the first time in February of 2002, declared bancruptcy, and went first unemployed, then was rehired part-time, little did I know that I was on my way to this. From fulltime day job to part-time night shift to this.
I am so glad all things turned out the way they had.
Now, the world is before me -- not that I am saying that now everything will be easy and clear, no, I am not that much of a fool -- but now at least I have the freedom to try to make it as a writer.
I can devote all my energies on a regular basis, and stress-free, to the act of writing, of producing fiction.
Yes, it will be difficult and just as insane, but at least I will have only myself to blame.
A long, tough struggle is still ahead.
No one knows if I will make it, nor for how long.
But at least now I have the means to find out if I am cut out to be a fulltime writer!
Wish me luck, persistence, and a clear steadfast vision, my friends! I will need all of it. :-)
And I salute all of you (Greg, Mike) who have also embarked upon the wonderful perilous waters of fulltime writing, and wish that those of you who want to sail this way also, may do so!
Well, it's November and I am still waiting on the refinance. It it supposed to end today (in which case I will post an update and a long momentous diatribe), but I will believe it when it actually happens. Hah!
Over the weekend got my Loscon program, and I am on two panels. Will post it when everything is finalized.
Also, on Wednesday got a program participant invitation to ConKopelli, Westercon 57 in Arizona in 2004, and am still thinking on this. It sort of all depends on the money situation. Therefore, it all depends on the refinance.
Hey, remember the October Novel Dare? Another hah! It stalled and crashed due to my poor little mind imploding from the pressure and stress of the refinance. However, as soon as the refinance hell ends, it will be continued, as if nothing happened, as the November Novel Dare. Don't believe me? Just watch. :-)
Just exchanged e-mail with my longtime friend Murray Todd Williams whom I haven't seen since college, and hopefully we'll get together sometime this month. Murray is an amazing multitalent -- an actor, a Mac geek and guru, a writer, a statistician, and he totally rocks. :-) Go check out his blog.
Meanwhile the air continues to be nasty from the smoke, but at least it is cold. Cold is good. We like cold. We not know concept of cold very well here, but cold be good. Cold means brain work, not melt.
But enough blather for now, more soon...