3 June 2002

We emerged from Ikea with more money and less stuff than we went in with. I think that's very little short of miraculous. Not necessarily in a good way, though. We returned the picture frames we'd bought, the ones that were the wrong size, and they didn't have any in the right size, and none of their couches were outstandingly on sale. And while the nursery light was still very cool, we really didn't want to brave the checkout line just for that, especially as we have no nursery, no one to put in a nursery, and no plans for same in the near future. So home we came, reversing the flow of money for the day. Very strange feeling, that.

I finished another iteration of "The Children's Village" last night. I did the first version clear back when I did my first seven stories/seven days thing. And it was fine for what it was, but it wasn't necessarily science fictional. I don't know that it was specifically how things are working right now in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa, but it plausibly could be, except for a few details about Nairobi that I don't think are the case right now and one easily missed plot point. I needed it to be more SF, because it was too SF for mainstream and too mainstream to really count as SF, and it wasn't particularly saleable in either direction -- it wasn't literary enough for the slipstream folks, I would think. So, since I really didn't want to take out the SF bits for the mainstream folks, and I didn't want to impose some stylistic trick or long musings on the significance of a battered corporate logo T-shirt on a starving African child, I'm playing up the SF parts. Which means, essentially, an entirely new plot arc. I'm not sure I've obliterated the old plot arc enough, though. It feels like it might still be bumpy. It feels like I may have gotten lost, and the question is whether the reader gets lost, too. The other question is whether I've shown why the main character makes the decision she makes, or whether I've just told people that she has. And the last question is whether the reader feels that I've given a Definitely Right and a Definitely Wrong side. I don't think there ought to be one. I think it's a tough enough question that nobody should go either way for absolutely sure, but I'm not sure that I haven't said, "This is a tough question! You can't be really sure about this! But really you should be, and your decision should be as follows."

I have several notes on the next iteration, so I'll be doing that today, and maybe a fourth iteration, and then, I believe, sending it to the writing group whose name I avoid mentioning. (Bay Area Rapid Fiction. Its full name is not Barfolomew. I just kind of wish it was.) And then they can tell me whether they felt lost, confused, and preached to. Aren't they lucky. Alternately, they could tell me that they felt none of those things, but did think that a dozen things I haven't thought of were also wrong with the story. That's another viable option, I think. I hope.

I've been reading Francine Prose's Hunters and Gatherers. Meh. I know that it's totally unfair of me to be disappointed in this book for not being When Sisterhood Was In Flower, the 1995 Version. But I am. It's not quite funny enough, not quite serious enough, and the wimpiness of the main character is making me wonder why no one has smacked her (answer: because the book is largely about women's passive-aggressive behavior with each other, and smacking leaves the passive part right out). This character is one of the people the main character of WSWIF would have wanted to shake until her teeth rattled, and so do I.

There isn't enough shaking until one's teeth rattle in fiction now that Louisa May Alcott is dead. I miss it. Not enough to go through my unpublished works and insert teeth-rattling scenes. But I do miss it some.

Anyway, Blue Angel and The Glorious Ones built up enough "credit" with Francine Prose that I'll most likely read the other things the library has from her (including one that's in my stack over by the armchair right now) even if I continue to be disappointed by Hunters and Gatherers.

Well, okay, so. Lots to do, of course. Stories to edit, novels to work on, lots to do at the post office -- oh my. I have two wedding presents to send to happy couples, four author copies to send to loving relatives, and a bra to send back because I ordered it online, and when it showed up, it was hideously pink. On that happy note, have a good day.

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