Tuesday, January 03, 2006

barraccuda in a guppy bowl

Well, it's 2006. And Tuesday. And I'm back at work. Y'know, when you're a kid, the holidays are fun in part because it's a break in routine. But me being the creature of habit I am, after almost two full weeks at home, I'm actually glad to be back in the office.

Some random events and idle thoughts...
  1. Sit started me on the Big Daddy of forms last Sunday, the Six Elbows internal form, which is the basis of his kung fu style, the sacred hand-me-down of his teacher's teacher, blessed be his name, amen. This is heavy-duty stuff, because he doesn't teach this to just anybody. It's long and difficult and it's a sign that he takes me seriously and believes I will take it seriously, which means I may actually have to practice. He also offered to start teaching me some advanced meditation techniques, but I don't know that I'm ready for that kind of time commitment--it's not the kind of thing you can pick up and put down when convenient, and the last thing I want to do is flake out at this stage. He mentioned once that in 30-some-odd years he's only had one female student complete the internal form, and I don't think he's ever taught the meditation to a woman before. Serious, indeed. I don't know if I can handle that kind of pressure, I put enough on myself.

  2. The number-one source of self-induced pressure at the moment is, of course, Trace. I want to have it finished by summer, which is going to be pretty tough at my current rate of production, and considering that I may be even busier for the next few months. After I got the news that Jintsu was folding I quickly submitted End of the Line to a new venue and almost immediately ran afoul of one of those Barracudas-in-a-guppy-bowl, a/k/a the First Reader. He said the story was well-crafted and left indelible images, but said I needed to be careful with my dialect. I asked if he could be more specific. He said that nobody with Trace's education would EVER used an "unlettered" dialect. I countered with examples of how I do it every day, and trumped him with a news article about how politicians take elocution lessons to sound more "folksy." He responded with, "well, I'm an editor, and I strongly suggest you change it." I said, "Change what, exactly? If you could give me some examples I might know what the problem is." He said, "Forget it, you win." As if I was really being difficult for requesting a little specificity! I told Rob and Alison from my writer's group about it, and they told me to quit screwing around with rinky-dink e-publishers and make up a package for Tor. So that's what I did New Year's Day; I wrote a query letter and hashed out some summaries for the last five Trace stories. Which brings me to issue number five on my mind....

  3. I have a pretty good idea how the last half of the book is going to go, but I'm concerned about Mereck as the Big Bad, because he hasn't really made an onscreen appearance yet. He's been working well enough as this shadowy presence, kind of an abstract of evil or in Sabine's case, the devil who made her do it. He's going to get some development in Sabine's backstory, however, and in story number six, he's going to--needs to--appear front-and-center with a vengeance. And I'm not really sure how I'm going to do that, because the personality extremes are pretty well filled in the Sabine/Trace dynamic. And then AJ posted this Whedon quote, which kind of brought to the front of my mind how we've become accustomed to shades of gray in our good/evil dynamics, and what I wanted to do with this was create something much more black-and-white. Which means, Mereck has got to be BAD. But not Clive Barker-Rawhead Rex bad; at the moment I'm leaning toward the Victorian Old Scratch idea of the Devil: dapper and gentlemanly and seductive and inherently evil. Hating humanity, utterly consumed by his own selfishness and contempt for a good deed, but attractive even though you know he's going to destroy you--an extension of the theme of Trace's fascination/addiction/repulsion with regard to his powers and to Sabine. I'm thinking in terms of sexual deviancy, where you're aroused and nauseated at the same time. I'm thinking in terms of medieval torture devices. Poor Trace.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am in definite disagreement with the editor who questioned Trace's use of the vernacular. I figure it's one of his strong points, being able to converse with his fellow workers without confusing them with jawbreaker words and high falutin grammar. In my own checkered career, when circumstances forced me to rub shoulders with the Great Unwashed to make a living, my college vocabulary was suppressed.

Trace is wisely following an adage of Poor Richard: "Spell with the learned; pronounce with the vulgar."
Scott Garten

Holly said...

The first full-time job I ever had was at a title company. The boss there was one of those women who gives women a bad name--flighty, uneducated, underdressed, oversexed, extremely emotional and frequently hysterical. She hated me and the feeling was mutual.

On my first performance review she wrote that I didn't know how to communicate effectively. I knew perfectly well that wasn't true because I'd been told the opposite by a great many people throughout my life. So I went around cursing her name for a ridiculously long time, until it dawned on me that if I wasn't speaking in patterns and words she could understand, then I wasn't communicating effectively. It really doesn't matter how dumb she is, if I don't bend myself to accomodate her, and find some common ground, then I really can't gain any karma points by patting myself on the back, can I?

I should've handled this First Reader a little better, too, but by the time I realized he thought I was the jerk, it was too late.

AJ Milne said...

...they told me to quit screwing around with rinky-dink e-publishers and make up a package for Tor...

What they said.

Holly said...

*salutes* I'm on it, cap'n!