In Which There Are No Comforting Proclamations

19 August 2003

Amber brought a tart last night -- the pastry variety, I made sure to tell people -- and I made red jungle fowl's joy, and we finished the bottle of Green Hungarian, so that's one less thing to move, and tasty, too. Also, the r.j.f.j. required the end of the jar of peanut butter. But I bought brown sugar to make it, some, lose some. And we have some r.j.f.j. in the fridge and some in the freezer, so we don't have to eat all the leftovers at once. So sneaky. And also, my mouth is feeling better, and I'm thinking I won't have to buy anything nasty to put on it, which is a positive thing.

I finished Rose Daughter (and wrote more of my own Beauty and the Beast story, sigh, but only enough so that I'll remember it when I get around to it) and went back to the first Year's Best Fantasy and Horror collection. It's largely confirming my prejudice that I'm not really interested in reading more horror. I've written a few darker pieces, but horror has not been like mystery for me; it's not a genre I'm discovering in pieces. There was a time when I just didn't read mysteries. Like pretty much every literate 12-year-old, I was introduced to Agatha Christie and dutifully read several of them -- probably more than most literate 12-year-olds -- but from there, I came to the conclusion that I Didn't Like Mysteries. I was just discovering SF and fantasy, which I Liked, and seeing things in those big categories wasn't a problem at the time.

But it's like food in some ways. There were foods I Didn't Like when I was little, and I like many of them now, but it frustrates me when I try something I Didn't Like and still don't like it. This whole being a grown-up thing is not, apparently, infinitely rewarding. So with mysteries, I'm kind of easing in as well. I don't think I'll ever be a hard-core mystery reader -- I just don't wallow in them the way I do in speculative stuff. I enjoy some of them, and I'm glad I decided to give them a second look as a genre.

Horror: still no. Horror is like shrimp: if it's in the midst of otherwise good stuff, like the shrimp cakes at House of Nanking, I will deal with it. If it's not in more than two bites total. And the peanut sauce may make it worthwhile. But being asked to eat it as the prominent feature of the dish, no, just no thank you. No.

But again, I'm probably drawing the line between horror and dark fantasy so that the stuff I like is on the dark fantasy side of the line. Biased sampling. (Not "the good stuff," though; I want to make that clear. "The stuff I like.")

My Mondays have followed a clear pattern the last few weeks: I've accomplished all sorts of little things in the morning and taken them off the list, followed by an afternoon frenzy of putting more new tasks on the list. And I'm not even getting lots of rejections in the afternoon/evening mail to deal with, either. (Where are they? Why don't they want to talk to me?) I'm going to try to duplicate the earlier part today without having to also duplicate the later, but I'm not sure how that'll last.

I'm having a crisis of faith in a short story I've been picking at, "Making Alex Frey." I'm just not sure it's going to turn out good. All right, certainly; I can turn a phrase and spot a plot hole. But "all right" is not all right, not really. You don't shoot for all right; you don't jump up and down for all right. I think there are maybe a few little things I could do to make it better than that, and I'm going to try them today. But if it still doesn't snap, I'm afraid it's going to have to get significantly longer, and I don't want to write another novelette this week. I did that last week. This shouldn't have to be a novelette. I hope. Crud.

And if it does, it shouldn't have to be a novelette that's too long for the anthology that spurred the idea into fruition in the first place. Right? Right?

Sigh. Sometimes I just want to swear off all forms but the YA novel forever. I love the Not The Moose, I really do, and I think it'll rock when I'm done with it. Which will be awhile, counting the rest of the rough drat and all the editing and subsequent drats. Uff da, awhile.

Several months ago, someone asked me if there was a reason I wanted to write for adults at all. The reason is the ideas -- the same reason I write short stories and novelettes and all. There are ideas I want to write, and they come with natural best lengths, and many of them naturally have better markets and worse markets. And I don't want to give up some ideas just because they're not in a given category or genre.

Sometimes I suspect myself of trying to take shortcuts with some short stories, trying to write the short story because it would be a tremendous amount more work to write a novel with the same conceit or idea. Just this morning, brushing my teeth, I started thinking, hey, "Heart-Shaped Hole" (last week's novelette) would make a pretty decent self-contained prologue. I could take the main character back to her kids and her ex and her job and her life in Milwaukee and see what she manages to do with Greenlandic shaman powers there.

I stuffed that idea firmly back down in my head. I did not dig out the novel list and add it on. There are several short stories that could go that way someday. They don't have to go on the list, probably. I know where they are. I even occasionally remember where they go.

I would here proclaim, "No new stuff on the lists!" and feel good about it, but it would last until maybe lunch, and then there'd be more stuff that I'd start agonizing about forgetting if I didn't write it down, so no comforting proclamations. Pity.

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