Tuesday, July 17, 2007

thinking hurts my brain

I've muttered occasionally about letting my OWW membership lapse, partly because I know I'm not keeping my end up with critiquing (though I have about 180 points* in reserve, and could probably post the rest of Willow Knot's chapters without having to do another review.) Partly because I haven't felt that I'm getting that much out of the workshop lately.
*footnote: it costs 4 points to post a chapter or short story, and points are earned by reviewing other people's work, 1 or 2 points per review.
Today I went to the website thinking I'd take down "Climbing Boys", because it had probably got all the reviews it was likely to get. And found that Eric Lowe had revised and expanded his already rather-good review, and Rahul Kanakia had posted a new review with very cogent points and useful suggestions.
So I'll have to re-revise the story, because they're both right (though maybe not on the points where they disagree, where I am right. Obviously.) and I need to
a) clarify that the terrace ghosts are inside Ned and not local hauntings, or trim them.
b) establish Stanley as an effective labour organiser, so the ending is more conclusive.
c) make Ned's bewildered suffering clearer.
d) either trim or expand the story, possibly both. More setting, less explanation.

Bugger it. I thought I was done. I'd already taken Eric's suggestion to try it as non-sf, and the sf dressing stripped out way too easily, except for the central idea, which I still believe is sfnal. But seems to work just as well in an alt-hist setting.
And double-bugger, I'd pretty much made up my mind to let my OWW membership lapse in October, but first there was David Cummings' brilliant review of "Chimps on a Blimp", then two incisive reviews of this latest one. So I should probably reconsider.
Darn you, Eric and David, darn you to heck. Rahul too. And I still owe you reviews.

Additionally, I'm feeling restless about a title for the Boxer Rebellion story. Usually the title just shows up, partway through the story or even beforehand, and I'm happy with it. "Chimps" was first titled "Milk Run", because I couldn't summon up the nerve to really call it "Chimps on a Blimp" as more than a working title, until Zolah pushed me. The Elfland story started out as "The King of Elfland's Daughter-in-Law", before I knew all of Janet's backstory. "Bride of the Vampire" had that name from the get-go, despite the workshop reviewer who wanted me to rewrite a satirical vampire-civil-rights story to have no reference to vampires in popular fiction and culture (oh, and to insert a diatribe against religious fundamentalists).
I like to think of myself as being not bad with titles. But this one hasn't come yet, and for some reason I'm impatient. Maybe I need a nice quote from the I Ching or something like that? Maybe I should ask Bart, since he's good with titles?

This weekend I'm driving to Farragut State Park, where I have no great desire to go, but duty calls. Then next weekend, leaving for Pennsic. I'd better put a note on my OWW information, to say I'll be reviewing again in September.
Events in Calendar are closer than they appear.

Just finished reading: July issue of F&SF (why yes, I am way behind, thank you). Nothing really useful to say about it, except that all the stories seemed kind of old-fashioned. I don't so much mean the writing style--I like trad narrative myself, as may be readily determined--more themes and plots.
"PowerSuit (tm)" could've come from the early '60s, when satires of corporate consumerism crushing creativity were trendy. "Car 17" could've been from the '50s, or whenever Roger Elwood was turning out all those anthologies. "Cold Comfort" was cute, but slight, and the man/machine theme was again, not exactly fresh.
The Lucius Shepard story had a great title, but the payoff was kind of meh compared to the hints of real eeriness in the body of the story. For some reason I connected it in my mind with the Laird Barron story "Hallucinogenia" from several months ago, which annoyed me greatly although/because I'm a Lovecraft fan back from my maladjusted early years. (I never tried to write like HPL--I knew my limitations).
This could all be sour grapes, since I have little or no expectation of getting a story in F&SF. Or I should be more hopeful, since I'm not an experimental sort of writer, and am just as unlikely to be accepted by more cutting-edge markets.
Or it could be that I'm reading to learn about the markets instead of for pure reading, and that takes the fun out of it in much the same way as trying to get pregnant takes the fun out of sex.


Anonymous said...


Far better to have provoked great annoyance rather than minor, I always say. ;)

Gordon Van Gelder once said something to me to the effect of, 'You don't want people to throw the magazine across the room a page into your story.'

To which I replied, 'No, I want them to hurl it across the room after they've read the "last" page.'

Best regards,


batgirl said...

Thanks for the correction - this comes of working from memory, but I did get your name right, which should count for something.
Actually I quite enjoyed the ending of the story, but found the beginning hard going. It felt like an information overload about the characters' backgrounds, and I never did figure out what the point of his in-laws' disapproval was. I'm not sure I would have kept reading if I weren't a completist by nature.
On the other hand, IROSF's review was quite positive, so what do I know?

Anonymous said...

"...but I did get your name right, which should count for something."

It does, it does! I get tired of "Lard Barrow," and "Larry Baron," etc..

Yeah, personal aesthetics = Eternal Mystery.

Take Care!