Returned

I am back from Wiscon, have had a full night of sleep, and yet still feel totally exhausted.  How on earth have all of you other con-goers managed to write these lovely con reports and love letters to fellow attendees already?  I feel ready to fall over just typing these words!

So I will write more later, after I return from fixing the headlight that blew out as I started my car last night.  And after I sort through all of the stuff I dumped out of my luggage onto the floor and left there in favor of climbing into my bed.

It was lovely.  One of my favoritest Wiscons in history.  I love that convention like the trees love the wind blowing through them.

More later, soon enough.

Something Awful

Bob Mackey is funny.  He’s a local internet writer who just graduated from Youngstown State University and will be heading off to graduate school this fall.  In this piece, the world of temping and the world of Youngstown buildings that haven’t been kept up meet and marry like an internet version of Kafka.  Call it The Castle Lite.

There is both a satisfying and depressing quality to quitting your job because it’s too boring. It’s satisfying because you live in an age and place where this is possible, and depressing for the same reason. Sure, infants in Bangladesh often get their hands torn off by the giant weaving robots they assist in making Old Navy sweaters, not complaining to anyone for fear they will lose their precious pond water money. But me? YAWWN. *smacks lips* My job is boring. Sitting in a comfortable chair for eight hours a day is more strenuous than the anguish of all Chinese railroad workers combined. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that this hellish existence is similar to Orwell’s 1984, except with a new date indicating the future!

Make sure to read the whole thing.  The last page has a wonderfully funny dialogue.  I wish I could just think Bob is making this stuff up, but unfortunately there are also pictures linked (again in the last page) and also I have temped in years past and come across many of these same creatures he describes.

Laura Bush wants you to know…

…that no one is suffering over the war in Iraq more than she and the president.

Tell that to the military troops and the civilians who are DYING over there, Laura, not to mention each and every one of their families and all of their friends.

I’ve never seen a president and first lady, nor read about any historically, who are more out of touch with reality, let alone their own people, as these sheisters. 

Who’s a zombie? I am, I am

I am sick with allergies that started a head cold that eventually turned into full-blown achy, moaning, zombiefied foot-dragging slouching through the apartment for the past two days. 

 This made me sicker:

“What’s most troubling about Senator Reid’s comments yesterday is his defeatism,” Mr. Cheney said. “It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party.”

Cheney has always tried to make Democrats seem unpatriotic and “negative” about the war, mired in defeatism, from the beginning.  It’s an old tactic that some people let fool them for the first few years of the war, but not many do now, Dick.  Get a new line of argument, one that actually speaks to the issues, instead of trying once again to make your opponents seem un-American when in fact they’re only doing the job the people hired them for when they turned control of congress over to them again.  Cheney should remember he’s in the service of the people, too, and the majority of us want this finished.

Now, back to dragging my foot behind me and moaning.

One more dimension

I looked on the Random House page for One for Sorrow today.  They have the number of pages listed for it now:  336 pages.  I want to squeal like a little kid for some reason over page numbers, probably because it adds yet another dimension to the book that makes it feel real.

I could also see what the cover will look like with a blurb on it. 

One day late in August I will actually be able to hold it in my hands.  Right now, for me, it’s still sort of a dream of a book than a book. 

Writing thoughts and questions

Boy writing in fogDo you have any thoughts on why writers can’t tell if their own writing is any good or not? I mean, I think there are probably some writers who do know (or believe) that their writing is good, and there are probably some writers who do know (or believe without any trouble) that their writing is bad, but I think it’s more universal to hear writers talking about not really knowing if something they’ve written is any good or not, don’t you? I feel compelled, probably culturally so–following the hand me down line that’s usually used for questions like this one–to say perhaps not being able to see one’s own writing in a very clear light is like it is to be human, not being able to see ourselves as others see us, from the outside, except perhaps in small glances here and there. I confess some days I read over something I’ve written and think, I really like this. I’m surprised that it’s something I’ve made. Then there are days when I might look at that same thing and think, this is dreadful, this is horrid. How could I have let myself make something so bad/ugly/awkward/boring/shallow? The worst thing about all this is not knowing which of these evaluations is true, or thinking perhaps both are. That’s an even worse thought for me. But perhaps it’s correct. Maybe our best stories are still, in the long view, just more scratches on the cave wall, and if there is beauty in them at all it is not in the product but in the story that the story tells, the one under the surface of what’s written, that someone made this for some reason, stepped away from the business of living and gave a portion of their time in living to make something that might be around for someone else to stumble across now or years later and know that they haven’t been alone in all of this…this thing we’re doing here in the world.

I think about that, but then I think that’s perhaps too forgiving and seeing everything in its best light. I think maybe I’m probably really only forgiving of things that’ve been made with a certain earnestness in the quality of their final shape, despite whatever flaws they may have. But less forgiving of things that may be mostly flawlessly made but not meant to be much of anything at all, other than perhaps a comfort fiction, as it’s being called these days.

That’s another thing that’s been on my mind lately: consolatory art. What these days, in the speculative fiction field at least, is being called comfort fiction (at least sometimes, I think, by some people who see consolation and comfort as one and the same thing). I think the rise of the comfort fiction brigades has done some damage in its crusade to rid the world of fantasies that lie to us about the nature of living in various ways (and not good lies, not ones that are really truly helpful to us, so I sympathize with what they’re saying about those in that way). But I do think that to a certain extent there’s been a sort of confusion made at times of two different sorts of writing that are separate things altogether, for me at least. One of these I think of as wish fulfillment stories, which are the ones that lie about the nature of our lives perhaps. The other I think of as consolatory stories: stories that can console while still telling the truth. I think that’s possible. To tell the truth and still find consolation in something. Not comfort, but consolation, something to go on, to feed and keep the spirit while we’re here for a little longer. Not to insulate us from the horrors of living here, but to stoke our fires and keep us going on despite the wolves howling at the door.

Thoughts? Anyone?

I’ll be there.

Stop by and have some fun this Friday at The Stage at the Oakland Center for the Arts. I’ll be reading a short short story called “The Flood” (which is being published in Foundation’s 100th issue this August), and there’ll be comedians, dramatic monologues, crazy improvised hallucinogenic music-video imitations, tap dancing, independent film trailer releases, poetry, song and art. Watch or get up and strut your stuff. It’ll be a blast, as usual, in downtown Ytown.