Friday, April 5, 2002

Okay, this journal seems to be sliding into being a quarterly...

I have been spending way too much time on the Rumor Mill lately, time that a good Web Rat would have spent journaling! Many are the impromptu essays I have deposited there, the flamewars I have sometimes fanned, sometimes mediated; on race and writing, on measuring online circulation, on the worth of nonpaying e-zines, and so forth.... a lovely online writing community, but also a big time sink.

Speaking of which, the Rumor Mill has opened forums for its subscribers, so I've decided to use the Benjamin Rosenbaum forum as the guestbook/feedback zone/etc.for this site. Leave a message!

Various writing news:

Zvlotsk and New(n) Pernch of the "Other Cities" are up. Zvlotsk is one of my favorites of the series. I crack me up.

"The Orange" is scheduled for the Spring/Summer 2002 issue of Quarterly West.

"Droplet" is scheduled for the July 2002 issue of F&SF.

Weird Tales rejected "The White City", saying it was a good outline for a story which needed to be fleshed out. I therefore cut it down by another 100 words, making it into flash fiction, and sold it to Vestal Review. I think this is a good example of how to receive a critique. Too often I try to slavishly follow the letter of a critique, rather than attending to the issues that sparked the critique and allowing other, unexpected solutions to show up.

It is now up in the April issue of Vestal Review.

Strange Horizons was deemed SFWA pro, so I should be an active member of SFWA whenever they process my application.

"Embracing-the-New" bounced from Playboy and is back on my revision stack. I fear I've over-revised both that and "Red Leather Tassels" and I'm going to go back and compare them to the original, raw first drafts. A couple of years ago -- when I was struggling with "The Ant King", for instance -- somebody would suggest a major revision and I'd be deer-in-headlights frozen, terrified to touch the story for fear of it collapsing. Now I'm almost too facile with revision -- you want it, you got it -- a kind of literary short-order cookery. But I think often the effect of solving lots of small problems, answering many questions and clearing up many small confusions, making everything neat and tidy and complete, is that it sucks the energy out of the story. All the little fixes thwart the raw momentum that the oiriginal had.

Ellen rejected "On the Cliff by the River" saying she liked it, but it wasn't for her, and I should probably try it on Strange Horizons or Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet -- too weird for the majors, in other words. As I am a stubborn fellow, and Gordon's so quick to respond, I sent it to F&SF anyway, but alas, she was right. So I'll probably follow her advice next.Or possibly try The Third Alternative. 

With Charlie Finlay's excellent help, I have added an easing-in frame tale and some more action to "The Book of Jashar", and de-Biblified the language to the point that it hopefully feels like reading the Bible without reminding people why they don't read the Bible. It's out to SCIFI.COM.

Ramin and I did a final outline for Crimp, and I wrote a couple of chapters before my friend Ethan came to visit; since then I've been bogged down with one thing and another. I fear that the outline itself is generating some resistance in me -- as Octavia Butler warned, having an outline feels like being done with the book. But I think once I sit down and get my hands dirty with the book, it will come alive again. The problem is just finding long uninterrupted blocks of time - revising is much easier to do in snatches.

If you're in NYC, LA, or Chicago, go see Ramin (a.k.a. David Ackert)'s movie Maryam! It's great. More info here

Writing buddies of mine are splashing onto covers everywhere: Hilary's story is on a Realms of Fantasy cover (I haven't seen it yet, but their covers run to chainmail bikinis.... funny, there were no chainmail bikinis in that story as I recall it...), and Charlie's story is on the cover of the April F&SF (I just got the March F&SF... dagblasted transatlantic mail.)

My relatively-new-uncle Drew is very sick. He has liver cancer on top of having just lost his kidneys (and gotten a new one from my heroic aunt Judy). He seems to be doing a little better after many dramatic and frightening interventions, but he's far from out of the woods. If you happen to have room left over in your prayers, please squeeze them in.

I've been meaning to post something here on politics, ever since the period where Hilary and Karina other WebRats were talking about the war. You remember -- that war America is currently waging. The oddest thing about the war for me at the moment is that it doesn't feel like we're at war. Of course, I live in Switzerland, and Switzerland isn't at war. But I also spend a lot of time emailing and bulletinboarding and talking on the phone to people in America, and it doesn't come up much. The horrific fighting in Israel seems much more present to me. Has everyone in America settled down and forgotten about the war? Is it on the back burner, a political thing people feel they should think about more but don't really, like trade policy with China?

I am somewhat loath to go into politics here (we're all having such a nice time, aren't we), so I will ensconce my rant on a different page. Feel free to skip down to the Aviva pictures.

Aviva pictures:

Bumming around town:  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8  

Eating: 1   2   3   4   5   6   7  

hippo,   goat

We went to Lyon with Ethan. Oddly we have no pictures of Ethan in Lyon. Probably because we are all too obsessed with Aviva:   1   2   3   4

And we went to Brobdingnag as well. And to the Nikki de Sant Phalle exhibition. And to my   rugby   game

Aviva used to be fascinated and excited by No. She'd lean forward to chomp down on the grit-covered swings in the park across from our house and you'd be like, "No!" and she'd turn back to you with eyes of gleeful amazement that said -- No! I know what that means! That means I'm not allowed to do that! Is that cool or what!? -- and then lean forward towards the swings, mouth open, just so she could hear No again.

(Well, actually, it's usually not No, it's "Nei!", the Swiss German version).

Those days are past. Aviva knows what No means and she Doesn't Like It. No is a Violation of her Civil Rights. If she hears No she lunges for the swings (or whatever) all the quicker, and snatching her away will bring cries of appalled rage. Distraction and coaxing work better to temporarily distract her, but not for long. She has her own mind now, and a will of iron, my girl.

Some of her Daddy's names for her, the indignity of which Aviva gracefully endures:

D.J. Vivalicious
the Wiggle
Esther claims that Aviva calls herself "WaWa". She says Aviva says it to indicate possession, pointing at something and saying, "WaWa!", and also to talk to herself in the mirror. Esther always distinguishes new words the Vivatron says well before I do. It's hard, because what Aviva actually says to the mirror is more like "Washtoabla Abelo ma'a'awaghrrr na''a'w-bl-bl-bl-bl WaWa zhrgauumawaaaaaa!" (If anyone knows what this means, please email me.)

Other current suspected words the Veevster says:

MaMa (Mommy)
MamMa (banana)
DaDa (Daddy)
Na (No)
Na na na na (Really no)
Na na na na (I know you're about to tell me "No", but stuff it)
Abe (downwards)
Ba (ball)
Ba (bear)
BaBeh (Baby)
Abelo (we don't know what this means, but she says it a lot)
AhhOh (Hello)
Nh! Nh! (I want something)

She understands most questions -- particularly about her preferences -- and nods or shakes her head very confidently, precisely, and seriously to them.