Dancing to Dirges

Depressing and happy things Tim says, sometimes while drunk

Friday, September 30, 2005

In other news...

I think I'm going to start referring to myself as an Obama Democrat

I'm big in Europe. Honestly.

Well, that last post was sort of random. Sorry about that. Navel gazing and what have you. Work yesterday was nearly intolerable, and I spent a lot of time wondering what the fuck I was doing, and why I was doing it. Anyway.

The rewrite for InterZone is going fairly well. It's almost done. Well, the first pass is almost done. Jetse has expressed a willingness to go through several drafts, going so far as to say that he would prefer to do it that way. I have a strange feeling about this story. I have sort of a history with Jetse now. In the May e-sub period for IZ, he passed one of my stories up to the editorial counsel and really wanted it to sell, but it stalled and didn't make the cut. He wrote me the longest rejection letter I've ever gotten, 1300 words, describing what went right and what went wrong, and how best to make a sale next time. To be clear, Jetse really liked the story, and if it had been just him making the decision it would have sold. He even asked me to notify him if the story sold somewhere else, so he could buy a copy. It did sell, and to a magazine that Jetse already subscribes to, so all is well.

When August rolled around, I submitted two stories. The first he put on hold, and eventually it made the final cut and moved to the full counsel, where it's sitting right now. The second is the rewrite request. I have no question in my mind that if I hadn't already made an impression with the first two stories (the one in May, and the first of the August stories) that this story would have been rejected. I could be wrong, but that's the feeling I have.

The best part about the rewrite is that I'm realizing that I was telling the wrong story. I'm getting an insight into the editorial process, I'm seeing the story with fresh eyes and I'm learning how to plot better. At the very least I'm going to come out of it with a much, much better story. At the best, I might end up making a sale to a really great magazine. It's crazy.

Anyway. I suppose I just wanted to vent all that, and to thank Jetse for being a hell of an editor. As the kids are saying: Roxor.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

In which the author makes no sense and doesn't even give a good god damn.

What makes you happy. What makes you get up in the morning, get out of bed, get dressed. What moves you forward, when lying down is easier. Makes your life interesting, makes your life worth living. What.

For me it's little things. I like to play with my dog, to drive. I love to write and spend time with my wife. The danger, I think, lies in anticipation. Nostalgia for things never seen, places that aren't, people we could never be and wouldn't like if we met in a bar. Looking forward and looking back are dangerous things.

Such a fucking sap. Be happy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Well, in subscribing to my own RSS feed, I've noticed something. I seem to have a pathological fear of paragraph breaks. I mean, every one of my posts is one big paragraph. What's wrong with me?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Okay. I've supposedly set this blog up for RSS feeds, via FeedBurner. I don't know what you, the reader, have to do to subscribe or whatever. I hate getting involved with new technology, cuz there's this nebulous early stage where I'm wandering around in a fog, spouting technical terms without a complete understanding of their core principles. Stumbling. It's embarrassing.

On other matters, I'm knee deep in a rewrite for InterZone right now. It's exciting and frustrating and stressful all at once. What the editor wants the story to become is not the story I wrote. I'm fine with that, because the story he envisions is a good story. It's just completely not what I was writing when I sat down and wrote this specific story. It's going to take a bit of mental reworking, tinkering with how I approach the story, before I can actually do the rewrite. So, if you're expecting things of me, or trying to talk to me, and I seem distracted, that's why. I'm retooling my narrative apparatus. It's complicated.

Friday, September 23, 2005

How self centered am I? Very, very yes

I went to a signing by Neil Gaiman last night. In the pantheon of writers, I have this holy trinity in my head. William Gibson, Neil Gaiman, Tim Powers. China Mieville is crowbarring his way in, but so far those are still the big three. And as of last night, Powers is the only one I haven't met.

Something occurred to me, however, as I was standing around outside the venue, waiting for the doors to open. There was a congregation of the faithful, maybe about fifty or so. They represented, in its purest most undilluted form, Gaiman fandom. Goths, mostly. There was a lot of clove smoke in the air. Blue hair, piercings, tribal tattoos. That sort of thing. And it was also the autumnal equinox, so there was a lot of talk of mumblehain. I didn't really catch the exact wording.

The point is, this got me to thinking about fandom. I understood these people, I agreed with them on the quality of Gaiman's work. When he signed my book I was too dumbstruck to say anything other than, "Yes, I'm Tim. Hi." and then I nodded and, well, managed to not make an idiot of myself. It went better than meeting Gibson, I'll say that much. So, yes, I'm a fan of Gaiman. But I'm not part of fandom. I don't devote any of my time talking about Gaiman's work with other people, I don't devote time or energy thinking about the man, my affection for his work extends to the work itself and no farther.

It's hard to explain, but what I'm trying to get at is that I've never been a *fan* of other things. I liked Star Wars, but I've never wanted to be a part of that universe. I enjoyed LotR, but I don't hold much nostalgia for the work itself. Same with other books, other authors. I enjoy the work, but I don't participate in the Fan Thing.

When I was a serious gamer, it wasn't enough for me to just be a gamer. I couldn't just play the games. I had to extend beyond that. I knew people who measured their value by how many of the books they owned, how well they knew the rules. At the time, I measured my worth by how many of the books I had written. And even then, when I was writing the games, I wasn't as much of a gamer as most of the fans.

And now it's become writing, only really it's always been writing, hasn't it? At most cons, there are two events going on at once. There's the industry event, where the writers and editors and publishers get together and talk about the craft and business of writing. And there's the fan event, where the fans get together and talk about, well, being fans.

I think I summarized it best last night when I turned to the friend I was with and said "You know, I've never wanted to be a fan of someone else. I've always wanted someone else to be a fan of me." And I guess that's a little fucked up, but so be it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Color Wheel of the Apocalypse

Postmillenialism: The belief that things will get better and better, until the kingdom of earth reaches a moral tipping point, triggering the return of Christ. Also called the stairway to heaven. Very popular in Victorian times, but not so much now. The 'post' implication in the title indicates that we're living the millenium now, and the actual reign of Christ will involve a recreation of this earth in the perfect image of God.

Premillenialism: The basic selling point of the premil movement is that the book of the revelation is a literal transcription of what's going to happen at the end of the world. The only argument is the exact order of events. Do the elect get pulled before the tribulation, or after. Is there one last crusade of christ, one last opportunity for redemption following the tribulation, or is just a warm up for the inevitable lake of fire. This is the predominant view of most christians, as romaticized by the whole Left Behind series. It's one of those things that if you sit down with a christian press them, they should be embarassed about. I mean, seriously folks.

Amillienialism: I'm not sure how best to express this belief system. Well, the basic point is that the book of the revelation is mostly fiction. Hyperbole. The thousand year reign of christ is now, it's not a literal period of time. There are fractured opinions about the actual end of time. This whole 'return of christ' thing is a bit iffy, with some folks believing that the rapture is death, the millenium is christ in our lives, and judgement day is the individual reckoning between the sinner and the saint. Life is the tribulation. Anyway. Oh, and one extension of amillenialism is that lucifer hasn't yet been cast out of heaven.

Anyway. That's how I remember it. Haven't had that argument in nearly two decades.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What do you mean, when you say Work

My boss just left for vacation. By my count, it's the ninth vacation he's taken this year. I have no idea why. When I say Vacation, I generally mean a break from work. If you go on Vacation, it implies that you have, at some point, been at Work, and were Working. Now, I'll grant you that my boss is frequently here, in the building. I might even be willing to concede that he does the occasional work. But it's occasional, and not exactly difficult.

Now, if playing solitaire were a paying trade, he'd be the hardest working man in the zipcode. Solitaire and online poker. I actually went into his office once. I had a client on the phone, and they had a question that only my boss had the authority to answer. Answering the question would have required him to log into the company's customer database, check some numbers, and make a decision. The customer was hot. A big client, too, not just one of our rinky-dink customers.

He wouldn't do it. He had me put the customer into his voicemail because he didn't want to interrupt his session of texas hold 'em. Had a good hand. He was gonna hit it big on the flop. Understand, this isn't even a game for money. Not that that would make it okay to blow off your clients, but still. Just pretty pictures on the screen that made him feel smart when he pushed the right buttons. Do you see where I'm going with this? Do you understand the idiots I work with?

Anyway. He's gone for the week. No one will notice. He will receive no mail from clients, field no calls from vendors, and make no decisions about scheduling. He never does. He has successfully made himself superfluous to the operation. The only thing he does is complain about how much work he has to do, increase the workload of those of us in the vicinity of his responsibility line on the org chart, and play solitaire. Mostly solitaire.

So. Have a great vacation, boss! You're the best!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jesus is a Swimming Pool

On BoingBoing today, there was a link to some pictures of the dillapidated Heritage USA. For those of you unaware, HUSA was Jim Bakker's christian theme park, in the great wide plains of South Carolina. It's pretty much falling apart, and the pics are a great tour of something kitschy gone to seed. It reminded me of some stuff, though.

When I was a kid, I was different. I don't mean different from my friends, exactly, though I was. I mean different than you. I didn't have the normal childhood. I didn't get into the regular trouble, I didn't have the regular dilemnas. I didn't get to be a regular kid. Cuz my parents, love them as I do, are religious nuts.

Nuts isn't really a fair word. My mom is nuts, in the absolutely, clinically verifiable form of the word, but I suspect that's a much more common thing. Let's just say that my parents are very religious. My dad's a theologian. My hometown is a retirement community for presbyterian missionaries. Think about that. My neighbors, all of my neighbors, were people who had completely committed their lives to living in third world shitholes in order to spread the name of christ. Having held the torch high for thirty or forty or fifty years, they came home and settled down in this rural nook. Can you imagine how extreme these people were?

I went to christian schools. That is not a normal childhood experience. Since then I've divined that most kids were doing other things, like listening to rock and roll and making out with girls and sneaking cigarettes behind the gym. I remember, as a fifth grader, getting into arguments with my friends about when someone should be baptized. The big topic in junior high was millenialism. I'll bet you don't even know what millenialism is, do you, punk?Postmillenial, historical pre-mil. Amillenialism? That's how I rebelled in junior high. I was an amillenialist. Drove my mother crazy. Crazier. Whatever.

The point is, I went to Heritage USA. On vacation. With my parents. I had a great time. Looking back, I wish I had had a cynical view. I wish I could have looked around at the place when it was at its peak and been able to think "Man, how fucked up is this?" But I didn't. I couldn't. I drank the fucking kool-aid, all the way through high school, into college. Things started to fall apart in high school, but it was a long time before I got that programming out of my head. Years. A decade, maybe. Almost thirty years before I was my own person. Before I could think, really think, on my own. Why? Why would you do that to your fucking kids? Why would you take a child and make them into that. Why would you take away a childhood.

Anyway. They had a theme park. It fell away, and now it's weeds and cracked cement, and the rot is creeping in.

Monday, September 19, 2005

On the upswing

Well, I think I've managed to get past the cold thing. Yay.

I have a very odd feeling about my writing, right now. I started out as a science fiction writer. I even groused about so called "speculative fiction" and the watering down of the popular rags. Too little good science fiction, too many stories about grandmothers and cranky magicians living in subdivisions and whatnot. Not that the specific stories were bad or anything. In fact, they were quite good. I had just read my share of them, and really thought that the industry could do better.

Problem is, now I'm writing stuff like that. And it's going well. I'm making some sales, and my stories that aren't selling are getting deeper into the submission process than previously. I can't remember the last time I just got slushed out. So I very much have this feeling of cusping, of just about getting there, of just about hitting it big. Of course, I imagine this to be a sudden and blinding event, and it will probably end up being a slow accumulation of sales and contracts and whatnot, and then one day I'll look around and realize that I've made it. Or something. If I ever get around to deciding what I mean by "made it." Fuck.

Oh, in completely unrelated news: If my goddamn coworker doesn't stop whistling the same five fucking notes, over and over, at the top of his goddamn lungs, I'm going to fucking immolate. My head, in all seriously, will shoot out lasers of pure, incandescent HATEFUCK!

Also: I love rain. And tea. And a nice cookie. I don't have a cookie right now. c.f. HATEFUCK!

Friday, September 16, 2005

That thing I said yesterday, about having vanquished the foul disease from my system? That was bullshit. I am still sick. I woke up yesterday feeling fit and fiddle and, you know, healthy. Two hours in this hellscape of an office and I was back down in mucus town. Today is hardly an improvement, though I feel better now than I did yesterday at this time.

I have trouble writing when I'm sick. It's like I can't *get at* the paper, no matter how many words I write or what order I put them in. I essayed a little yesterday, and came up with an inordinate number of Ums and Uhs and Likes in my mental patter. I'm just going to leave it alone until I'm feeling human again.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

ex nihilo shadothism

Well, I've decided to try to restart my blog. Problem is, my old blog has been consumed by ye blogger. So I'm starting a blog here. And then I decided to have the word 'blog' (or words with the word 'blog' as their root, c.f. 'blogger') appear in the first paragraph of my blog at least eight times. So there you have it. Eight blogs. Nine.

I have a cold. I rarely get sick, but I totally have a cold. The story I just finished writing involves a lot of mucus, and in the course of writing it my wife caught a cold, and now I've caught it from her. But I'd like to point out that I'm all ready almost done with my cold, whereas she's still pretty clearly sick. And this is because I'm a better person, and have a purer soul, and the mucus demons are uncomfortable in the cathedral of my lungs. My sinuses are holy ground, bitch.

Okay, okay. Seriously. Sorry about that. I tend to ramble. I'll stop now. For now.