Thursday, November 23, 2000
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Wow, a hop from Halloween right to Thanksgiving. Ouch! Bit of a journal gap, there. For one thing, my home computer blew up, so I have to write this on my work computer. :-( Plus we had some wonderful guests, and... well, you don't want to hear my excuses. On Tuesday, Trey correctly chided "the masculine Web Rats" for hibernating. That would be me. (I am too masculine! I even play rugby!)
So, let's see... I stayed up all night (practically) the night before last writing my crit of Hilary's cool Chinese fable (hmm, is that the right genre? Maybe there should be a genre called "thimble and sorcery"? Not that there were any thimbles in the story, but it feels like the right name for a genre). That was fun, and the Muse clearly smiles upon such things, as last night I found myself scribbling 10 pages of a rather phantasmagorical new story, called (for now) "The Trouble With Danny". It's set in 2315 and plays with some of the medium-far-future ideas I've been picking at for a year or so -- it's roughly in the same universe and around the same time as "Corporate Anthropology", but on Earth -- but it takes a somewhat darker, wilder and more kaleidoscopic tone. I've been trying to play the future-Earth thing straight, so that the reader understands the changes between now and then and plunking down an adventure or mystery plot with normal, accessible characters in it. It hasn't been working for me. I wanted to take a line somewhere between the pessimism of cyberpunk and the optimism of Greg Egan's (um, let's call it) cyberpositivism, but without thinking about it I was adhering to an Eganian (which is to say, really, Asimovian) tone. And the tone gives you the take: a story with a straight-ahead Asimovian voice, no matter how dystopic the setting it describes, somehow still affirms the worldview that logic, good judgment, careful experimentation and decisive action can ultimately solve all our problems.
So the tone of "The Trouble With Danny" is different -- reading over this first bit I've got, it sounds like nothing so much as Samuel R. Delany's Triton. Which is just fine with me. Hey, after I linked that to Amazon, I realized that the real title of Triton is "Trouble on Triton", which is funny, because my title was meant as a homage to Hitchcock.
I read "The King Who Ran Away" again and decided that what I have so far is crap. It's a funny phenomenon, how when you're writing something you're entranced by it, and you have no idea if a week later it'll seem marvelous or lousy. Part of the problem with TKWRA is that it's hard to vividly show how something is stiflingly boring, without being stiflingly boring. It can be done, but I didn't manage. I think that one dies on the vine, unless some new take occurs to me.
Creativity has a rhythm. I generally find it easier to start stories than to finish or revise them, but sometimes I feel like I don't have any ideas and I wonder if I'll ever be able to start a story again. That's not the problem now: I'm boiling over with beginnings of stories. I'm in a creative ferment. I have, I think, 32 story ideas in my notebook, and when I start writing I generally don't use any of them, but make something else up. This is exciting, but also worries me -- I feel like I should bring something to completion. I'm afraid the Amra story and "The Trouble With Danny" are going to dry up on me if I don't drive them home. Stories are wounds in the firm skin of your defenses against the chaos of reality, and if they scab over it's hard to get them open again: you can tug, but the skin is likely to tear open in some different, unconnected place instead. I also want to revise "Corporate Anthropology" while the ideas and the critiques are still fresh.
I got my rejection of "Corporate Anthropology" -- the old version, before I sent it to the RMCrit critique group -- from Asimov's today. I intentionally sent it to Asimov's first for once, skipping F&SF, partly because it's (for once) a strictly sf story and I figured I should use the opportunity. But now I'm sort of glad GVG hasn't rejected it yet, and I'm not going to send it out again until I do the revision incorporating the RMCrit'ers comments.