Thursday, October 29, 2009

Today I met an albatross, and she was so existent I stopped breathing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Things We Forget

Two splendid people who live very far from me conspired to send this penguinous card to me. It landed on Friday, I opened the envelope, read the edit on the front and went, "...oh yeah!"

I'd totally forgotten that my Not Birthday was coming. I checked my diary, and discovered I hadn't written it in. I wonder if that was intentional? Maybe, at the beginning of the year when I was jotting down all the good and proper birthdays of awesome people, I looked at that particular date and decided that it didn't need marking.

Who knows. It worked, at any rate. I had forgotten. And now that I've remembered...I'm kinda proud of myself for forgetting. Somethings don't need to be held tightly all the time.

But. Well. You know. Any excuse for birthday celebrations, right? I've auto-scheduled this to post on the proper Not Birthday date, because on this day, I will be in Monterey Bay, at the aquarium, feeding sea otters (feeding brilliant animals seems to be a birthday thing of mine), and then I'll be heading up to the start of WFC, to see a whole lot of people who are most excellent and attend launches for a book I have a piece in and another couple of books I quite adore.

Pretty awesome day, no?

(I may have to take steps to ensure cake is present.)

Halo: Evolutions Author List

Also known as: zomg, it's real.

From Kokatu, Who's Who in Halo: Evolutions

The only books I love more than video game novels that explore untold back-story is anthologies of stories that do the same thing. Makes for an extremely bathroom-friendly read. Check out the full list of contributors below, along with a nice shot of the book's cover, so you know what to look for.

TOBIAS S. BUCKELL, the New York Times bestselling author of HALO: The Cole Protocol and Sly Mongoose.

B.K. EVENSON, the Edgar and Horror Guild International nominated author of Last Days and The Open Curtain.

JONATHAN GOFF, writer and artist with 343 Industries.

KEVIN GRACE, writer and Managing Editor of 343 Industries.

ROBT McLEES, Bungie game developer and writer on Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3, as well as the upcoming Halo: Reach.

ERIC NYLUND, the New York Times bestselling author of Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, and most recently a new non-Halo series that begins with Mortal Coils.

FRANK O'CONNOR, the Franchise Director for Halo at 343 Industries.

ERIC RAAB, writer, and Tor editor of the Halo novels since 2004.

KAREN TRAVISS, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of her own Wess'har series as well as Star Wars and Gears of War novels.

JEFF VANDERMEER & TESSA KUM: Vandermeer is the World Fantasy award-winning writer of City of Saints and Madman as well as Shriek: An Afterword and Finch. Kum is the author of 7wishes and editor for Weird Tales and the Best American Fantasy series.

FRED VAN LENTE, the New York Times bestselling author of Incredible Hercules (with Greg Pak) and Marvel Zombies 3, as well as Cowboys and Aliens and the upcoming Marvel comic series Halo: Blood Line.

"Bathroom-friendly". Don't think I've come across a more appropriate anthology descriptor. I love it. Heee.

I'd like to point out that I am not an editor for either Weird Tales or Best American Fantasy. I am merely a humble editorial assistant to the mighty Ann VanderMeer. And that Jeff fella.

That Jeff fella in question posted regarding the finer points of name order in collaborations, and what he says is true, which includes the fact that it was a 50-50 effort. So, purely because it'll irk him, I won't switch the name order here, even if it is changed in future print runs of the book. Also because I just can't. I'm physically incapable of reversing the order. My audacity isn't a high enough level.

Preorder here. Is it sad to admit I'm rather looking forward to reading it? There're some fine, fine writers in that list. Although I think it is fair (and entirely irrelevant) to say that I have the greatest surname of the lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"If the white covers my whole eye, I'll die."

The above was said to me by a beggar who pounced me not a block from the hotel I'm staying at, the Adante. I'm afraid I didn't believe her.

This hotel is unbelievable. Originally I'd booked a hostel, but on further reflection didn't like my chances of surviving the flight across the Pacific and not feeling like the Bilges of Hell, so sucked it in and paid for a proper hotel room with private bathroom and my very own toilet to curl around and chunder in if I needed it.

Aside from free wifi (FREE! WIFI!) (I didn't think I'd be touching the internet for the whole two weeks) (SURPRIIIISE!) and a window with no screen (I could fall out! Yay!) it has TOUCANS. YES. TOUCANS.


And a dewy-eyed doe above the bed, which doesn't seem to be in keeping with the otherwise tropical jungle feel of the room.

My decision was a good one because I felt bad when we landed. Bad. Very bad. I threw up on the plane. Then I threw up just before going through immigration. I thought I was okay then, shyte, but okay. Collected my bags, went through customs, found the BART station, boarded a train - you can see my mistake right there.

I didn't have much to bring up, which is good, because I didn't have anything to bring it up and out into, so I vomited in my mouth. And swallowed.

That is why I fucking hate long flights.

You didn't need to know that at all, but it grossed me out, so I'm sharing it.

The walk from the BART to the hotel was only a handful of blocks, which normally I wouldn't bat an eye at, and didn't when I booked it, but oh holy hairy horse scrotums, it was the longest most horrible walk of my life. It was a death march. Only I wasn't going to die, I was going to vomit and/or faint. In a foreign city. Good stuff. But the stubborness is mightier than the dehydration/exhaustion/nausea/on a stick, and I made it to the hotel without puking in public, fainting, or dying. Go team!

This was followed by an intense two hour nap that involved dreams in which I was cross-dressing to pose as some tart's fiance so we could run off to another country but her mum and lawyers found her anyway.

And this was followed by a shower (oh!) and teeth-brushing (OH!) and I ventured out to jump on the Muni to Pier 39 and the SF Aquarium. Trams, awwwww. They're just as rattly as the City Circle trams in Melbourne. (The stops are very confusing to figure out, because this country drives on the wrong side of the road.)

Pier 39 very touristy/kitschy/quaint. Aquarium s'alright. Better than the Melbourne Aquarium at least. Probably on par with Sydney, although I haven't been to Syndey's aquarium in a very long time. There were white sturgeon, which was great to see. They're beautiful fish. I did get to pet a bat ray and skate, though. They're both lovely soft creatures, delicate, slimy or incredibly silken. They shiver and wheel away when tickled too much.

Have viewed the sea lions.

There's a lot of them. They like to carry on. Distinct bouquet about them.

Dinner, or lunch, or the first meal I'd eaten since lunch when I first got on the plane which was I don't know how many hours ago in another time zone and I'd puked it all up again anyway, was at Chowders.

Picked at random as I was walking past. Although I didn't feel hungry, nor didn't like the idea of putting anything in my stomach, my body knew best, and started near quivering at the sight. I'm no expert on chowder, and so when the woman behind the counter recommended the white clam chowder, I went with that. Best. Chowder. Ever. Even if I don't know what I'm talking about. Just thinking about it now I want some more, in a nice touch sourdough trencher.

The Muni home was driven by a character. He reminded me quite a bit of my Dad. In fact I assumed he was Chinese until he started drawling away in Spanish. It's amazing the similarities between the two races. He'd pull up to tram stops, pop on the outside speaker and say, "We're a rolling sardine can, we are packed like sardines, so I'm not stopping, just passing by...byyyyyyyeeeee!"

Feeling like utter incapacitated shyte is one of the best ways to permanently ruin your perceptions of a place, but San Francisco is so...SO. Just so! That it steamrolled through my shyteness and I'm quite enamored of it, even the tiny little bit I've seen. I walked past a Dr Suess gallery on the way back, and there appears to be a King Tut exhibition on somewhere in the city. Shall find it.

San Francisco has this comfortable air about it. I don't really feel I'm in a strange city. There are echos of Melbourne here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When in doubt, flee the country.

Bags are packed, Tim Tams purchased, and I know where my passport is. I would take my heart to San Francisco, in order to leave it there, but I can't find it. Clearly, I did not keep it in a safe place, like my passport.

For those I am going to be seeing for the first time in years, or in fact for the first time at all, here is a true-to-life-taken-right-this-second depiction of the front of my face:

So now you have no excuse not to recognise me (and are free to flee on sight, I'm considerate like that).

The rest of you, keep the internet warm while I'm out.

Now, tally ho! What!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Look Ma! No Hands!

The change in work style and the fact that I have been working for seven days in a row means my hands hurt. The sort of hurt that has me frightened all the way through, which can't entirely be blamed on nightshift psychosis.

As a result, I will not be replying to any non-essential email for the meanwhile. Probably won't do much reading or commenting either.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I did mention the giant angry testicle, right?

To quote Jeff VanderMeer:

There’s nothing like a little challenge to roil the blood and take over your life for a couple of months—all while not being able to say much of anything about it publicly, but, finally, I can announce that: Tessa Kum and [Jeff VanderMeer] have sold a monstrous, kick-ass, action-packed, insanely entertaining 35,000-word novella entitled “The Mona Lisa” to Tor editor Eric Raab for the anthology Halo: Evolutions–Essential Tales of the Halo Universe. Other contributors include Tobias Buckell, Brian Evenson, Karen Traviss, and Eric Nylund. Halo: Evolutions should be available in bookstores by November-December.

This post, this post, this, this and this, all refer to the time period in which I was working on that story.

'Monsterous' is indeed the word.

It kicked off when Jeff mentioned on a Facebook status something about writing a Halo story, to which I immediately reacted by demanding reading rights, because I heart Halo. One of the best games out there. The MC is the man, and Cortana is the sldkjflksjdfing bomb.

Shortly after having planted this familiarity in Jeff's head, Jeff realised that (1) I didn’t have enough time to do it myself and (2) although I had some familiarity with Halo, it wasn’t nearly enough to get up to speed in the condensed time period in which the story had to be written–especially considering an idea had to be pitched first, and approved by Microsoft..." I woke up one morning to find an invitation to collaborate in my inbox, which had a not too subtle subtext of Tessa: Get Out Of Gaol Free! Card.

To which my immediate reaction was, "Oh, no, not at all, that would be silly. I couldn't. I mean, a three week deadline from conception to final draft, that's just, that's, I mean, there doesn't exist a word in any language to express how ridiculous that is. And I've never collaborated before. Whoosh, that's a steep learning curve in a short time frame. That would take a lot of time. I can't afford that time. And, that's Jeff Fucking VanderMeer, I can't collaborate with him, I'm tiny grasshopper and he's a GINORMOUS grasshopper. It wouldn't work. And. It's only three weeks. I mean. Three weeks. That would just be silly."


So it begins.

This was followed by a mad scramble to come up with a story premise that would not involve too much in-depth research, given the time constraint, which turned out to be near impossible, as what exists in the Halo universe is exceptionally well mapped out. I have to give mad, mad, MAD props to all the peeps maintaining the Halo Wiki - that is some badass detailing you have going on over there. We were never given the official bible (something of a sore point, please, let me restrain myself from that rabid rant), and quite frankly, could not have got off the ground without the wiki.

Three pitches were submitted, one was accepted, and we were off. Jeff has posted an excellent account of the collaboration process here, which I'd encourage you to read if you're curious about collaborations at all.

This was my first collaboration. Prior to it, I had never given collaboration much consideration, other than to scrunch my nose up at it slightly. I don't play well with others in general terms, let alone when it comes to MY PRECIOUS ART OH GOOD LORDY LORD. Still, I wasn't to concerned about working with Jeff. I've ripped to shreds critiqued several of his novels and had him read some of my shorter pieces, so we already have a history of getting into each others' narrative mechanics, and dude, seriously now, it's Jeff Fucking VanderMeer, one of the best writers out there.

What did concern me was, quite frankly, me.


The first draft was entirely mine. I worked off the pitch we'd submitted to Microsoft, had the end scene clear in my head, and joined the dots in between. And it was gross. We'd established the protagonist in the pitch, but I could not get her to talk to me. The word count rose and the body count rose and I didn't have any sort of feel for her. She was nothing more than a plot device with a name. To get around it, to have someone who was an actual character drive the plot a bit, I created a second POV character. I didn't know her either, but at least her personality fell into place, and with that, the people she interacted with did as well.

This wasn't helped by the fact that I have to write my way through the story to figure out what happens where. It works for me, but is not time efficient, and that first draft was a rancid pile of lion diarrhea. It did not make logical sense or narrative sense, the pacing was shit, and the beats on tension were craptastic. And it's ugly. Rough as guts. It's a frame work in the progress of creation, and is not pretty to read.

But, I wrote a 15k first draft in a week, which is pretty damn impressive even if I say so myself. It involved staying back in the office after work to do so, to remain free of distractions and give me the extra motivation (if you focus, you'll get your quota sooner and can GO HOME), and I buggered my hands, but I did it. I wrote the final scene in the state library in one of my writing dates, and started dancing and clapping, much to the amusement of my comrades.

Which was great, until I realised that the next step was to send this utter piece of shyte first draft to Jeff Fucking VanderMeer, and Jeff Fucking VanderMeer wasn't just going to crit it, he was going to have to actually work on it directly. What if he thought it it sucked beyond salvation? That would be awkward, to say the least.

If I had balls, about then they would have shriveled up and dropped off.

No one sees my first drafts. They're first drafts! They're supposed to be shit, and that's okay because they're generally easy to fix and make unshit on my own, before anyone else sees anything at all. But this! THIS!

This is what collaboration is. Getting caught with your pants down and having to just. keep. going.

I sent the fucking thing.

Then I had a very big drink.

Which was followed by another very big drink.

Thankfully, Jeff found lots to work with, and I was not forced to ritually disembowel myself. In his post, he spoke of trepidation and nervousness on waiting to see what I'd produce, and the same was true for me.

What I found when I opened his draft, was FUCKING OARSUM.

It was still a shoddy piecemeal patchwork draft, but holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit! I cannot state enough just how gobsmacked I was by what I read. All the horror and mild writerly shame and horror and angst and horror that had been churning away in the hintermind was stomped all over by the FUCKING OARSUM Jeff had come up with. He utterly nailed our original protagonist, and holy shit, he made it worth reading. I remember getting ridiculously excited to the point of incoherence. The damn thing just popped. I wanted to read it, even if it was still sorta my story and I knew the ending and it wasn't finished. I mean, there was this one bit in there that creeped me out. I got goosebumps reading it, that's how brilliant it was (sadly, this section had to be cut).

This more than refuelled my enthusiasm. With the deadline gallumphing ever closer and the sequence of events suddenly clicking into place for me, I went at the next draft in a suicide drive. I spent a whole Sunday bashing my face on it till the early hours of the morning. Then I went to work. After 8 hours at work, I turned off my work computer, turned on my laptop, and spent another 5 or 6 hours bashing my face on it. Then I went home, and decided that it had to be done, now, NOW, and bashed my face on it till it was finished. I sent a 35k draft to Jeff at 3 o'clock in the morning, my time.

Which...look, I got the job done, but I really don't recommend doing it that way.

That was (I think) the last major structural draft. I could be wrong. We passed this thing back and forth so many times I don't know who wrote what when. There was some tinkering at the back end for a while, to make sure the climax was hitting the right beats, but I think the structure in this draft stayed through to the final (Jeff will correct me if I'm wrong).

This was followed by lower level tinkering until it was finally sent off to Tor. When I got up on a Saturday morning to find myself CC'ed on that submission email I burst into tears. That's just how much pressure I'd been putting myself under. Then I bought an ice cream (or two).

I learned a shitload about collaboration. Mostly, I think I learned that I was damn lucky to be working with who I was working with. Our strengths/weaknesses tended to cancel each other out: I could do bare-bones structure on the fly, but it was boring plain prose. Jeff tripped over sequencing, but damn he made it so good to read holy shit holy shit holy shit. It was a great weight off, knowing I could rely on him to make it OARSUM.

I think I was also quite fortunate to have my first go involve a franchise universe. It meant I couldn't get precious about anything, being as none of the darlings were mine. I've a tendency towards territorialism, which did perk its ears towards the end of things, when we got into turf wars over pronouns and personal preferences in sentence structure. The universe and the insane deadline didn't lend itself towards such vanities. There just wasn't time to get stubborn. Nothing was sacred. Nothing I had contributed was sacred, nothing Jeff Fucking VanderMeer had written was sacred, if it had no place in the story, it went. I'm not sure I've ever been so honest or brutal while writing.

(Well. Except regarding Henry. That was a hill I was prepared to die on.)

(Fortunately, I didn't have to die on that hill. I didn't even get to make a valiant stand. Had a list of dot points arguing my side ready to go, but Henry is just too awesome to be questioned.)

I can't emphasise the value of communication either. We must have written at least know, I'm not even going to aim for a ball park figure, but a LOT of messages went back and forth. You should see the email folder I have dedicated just to this story. While I was working on a draft I'd shoot off notes to Jeff telling him of things I'd changed or cut and why, to what purpose, and he did the same for me. It gave each of us in waiting time to gestate what was coming, and be thus more prepared on what needed addressing. There was so much going back and forth it was probably a whole other novel just in story notes, but it meant there was very little room for confusion. We both knew what the story was doing at any one time, and there were no nasty "oh wait, hang on, I thought-" moments to recover from.

(We used Facebook for this purpose, so I could had access to all notes both at work and at home. Access; also important.)

Time zones worked in our favour as well, the story was never idle. Jeff would work on it, send it to me and hit the sack, which would land during my day, and after work I'd work on it until I sent it to him and hit the sack, which would land in his the same time, as Jeff pointed out, it meant neither of us had much in the way of down time. In fact, I think I had the advantage, having a day job. I had enforced Time Apart.

What worked best for us, however, was simply the fact that we shared the same work ethics and priorities. The only agenda we had was to get the story written and submitted in time, above all else. ("All else" included hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, back, eyes, sleep, appetite, stomach, family, friends, dishes, washing, grocery shopping, etc etc etc.) I trusted Jeff with the story, which sound pretentious, but isn't. It's a significant thing to find you're thinking of it as 'our story' unconsciously.

After submission came the editing process, which the deadline also made lunatic. Mostly, it involved me, the newbie, ranting and raving about WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE and Jeff ignoring me and waiting for me to shut up and do what needed doing. I admit that each time the story came back for Yet. Another. Editing. Pass. My the pressure in my skull upped a notch. Submitted, yes. Editing, yes. But accepted? Yes, yes, I know. It is writing. We do it because we love it. IT IS ART OH OH OH. But I had done some terrible things to my health both physically and mentally, and the thought that after all that they could still turn around and knock it back kinda made my eye twitch. Jeff took all this with good grace, and bore all my capital letters and exclamation marks with stoic forbearance. In this aspect, he channeled Obi-Wan (or Palpatine, now I think of it), saying, "Patience, my young apprentice." I can't help thinking the whole 'patience' lesson went over my head. In this sense, our overlapping strengths and weaknesses extended beyond the narrative and into the meta-admin, and I seriously am lucky to have worked with him. In either an Obi-Wan or Palpatine way. Does that make me Anakin? Fuck, I don't want to be Anakin. Insert a better metaphor there, please. Jeff, dude, you're the one good at making things OARSUM, work with me here.

(There was one particularly bad day that involved a late train, getting locked out of work thus unable to print, having my tram take a ridiculous detour, having to wrangle the complicated state library printing system, sign up for a printing card, only having a $50 note to feed the coin machine, trying to find a way to carry $50 worth of $1 coins, wait in line, finally print, only to have the printer BREAK IN THE MIDDLE OF PRINTING, being told it couldn't be fixed, getting a refund, giving up, leaving the city and go out to my parents because that was the only other printer option available to me, counting the minutes on the train as minutes wasted that I could have been working on the story, getting there and having mum give me a hug, a cup of tea, and a piece of lemon meringue pie- which made everything better.)

The thing that caught us both out was the fact that we had written a 35,000 word "short" story. It's easy to forget just how long that is. More than once I sat down with a hard copy and red pen, only to look up hours later and realise I still wasn't done and this was taking far too long. Had to jettison working from hard copy in the end, just to save time.

It went back and forth between us so much neither of us can say with certainty who wrote what. Even during the final pass over the typesetting I was tripping across bits and pieces I swear I'd never read before. Disconcerting, but kept it fresh. Almost seems as if the story grew itself, and when it had achieved critical mass it didn't even need our direct input to write itself out.

(It also went back and forth so much that it was a mess of American and English spelling. This, for those of you also bridging regional spelling, is a Bad Thing. Keep it in mind, one of you change your language setting or something.)

(Some of it was deliberate. I infect the world with Australianisms.)

(Some of it was accidental. I don't know what's particular to Australia, I'm Australian, dammit.)

(No, seriously, 'stickybeak' can't be just Australian.)

(Same with 'torch'. You guys know what a torch is, right? That has to be just some bizarre mental gap in Jeff's head. It has to be. It's a torch for crying out loud!)

During this, I experienced a focus I have never felt before. I have never been so immersed in anything. It was all I thought about for weeks. I did nothing else. People gave up asking me what I'd been doing. I had nothing else to talk about. I wasn't distracted. I lived and breathed and processed nothing but that story, and it was just incredible. Exhausting, but incredible.

Yes, Gillian, Jeff, I saw that. Cheeky buggers.

It has been insane. I keep saying that, because it's the only word that is appropriate. Insane. And it's 5.15 am in the morning now, and I'm tired, and this isn't quite as coherent as I wanted it to be, but that's probably fitting.

I can't make a call on the quality of the story. I have no perspective on it. It was good enough for Microsoft, and that's about all I can offer you.

Regardless of quality, I'm damn fucking proud that we pulled off the feat alone.

Not long after final final final final FINAL everything was sent off, and we knew we were never going to see it again, Jeff dug up my very first email demanding to read his Halo story, and told me he could send it across if I was still interested.


Thank you Deb and Andrew for putting up with me during that time. Seriously.

Thanks Dave for giving us a little encouragement when we (well, I say we, I can only speak for me) needed it.

And above all else, thanks, Jeff. For, yanno, stuff.


Monday, October 12, 2009

The difference between 'fact' and 'truth'.

On Deb's recommendation, I saw Daniel Kitson perform on Saturday night. He is, (or was, since it's finished now), out here for the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Deb possesses singularly OARSUM taste in stand up comedy, and Kitson was equal to that OARSUM. His timing is perfect, he's plays a beat on an older anecdote brilliantly, he never once went into a great stupefied rant about how insane Australia is ('cause seriously, we live here, we know all about the poisonous and dangerous animals, and kangaroos, yes, and fruit, yes, and please don't tell us we bask in the sun on the beach all day when you're standing on a stage in MELBOURNE do your damn research kthxbai), and he came kitted up with a deep uncomfortable insight into human nature.

He talked about his recent experience with death, with a focus on the effect witnessing such had on him. It gifted him with the realisation that life was completely and utterly pointless. It doesn't matter what you do or who you keep, it doesn't matter what meaning you choose to apply to things, or what you believe - none of it lasts. None of it has any points. You will die, and everyone around you will die, and that is inevitable. Nothing will stay, nothing will last, nothing will go with you when you die. You will die, and you will die alone.

Everything is futile.

Knowing this, understanding this, renders you incapable of taking any measure of joy from anything around you, whether it be a lovely surprise or something you have liked your entire life. It leaves you incapable of feeling. It leaves you depressed as all fuck.

I sat in the audience and said quietly to myself, "Yes. I know."

Because life is pointless.

Kitson did not stay in that pit of despair. Nothing happened in particular, he just started to feel a little better. He started encountering little things that meant nothing, but made the world a little brighter, if just for a moment. He said it was 'nourishment', that the mind seeks and finds these things for nourishment, to make it okay.

That's what I was doing all last year. Tripping over little pieces of nourishment, anything to keep me together just a few moments longer. When I couldn't find enough, I made my own.

Nothing in particular happened. I just started to feel a little better.

And I haven't seen any such nourishment around for months.

I wondered about that. I told myself maybe I was too busy, maybe it's because I had a normal 9-5 Monday to Friday routine that didn't take me strange places at strange times.

But I think, no, now I know it was because I didn't need any such nourishment.

Part of me has missed it. The tiny moments of magic, secret pockets in time, little wonders for which you can't help but imagine the whole world and all history that has gone before exists only to support this one incident that only you have born witness to - they are incredible gifts, they do make every thing worth it.

Part of me has acknowledged that not needing to seek out such constant reminders can only be a good thing. The year so far has been the best year in...I don't know. The best year in terms of awesome things happening, the best year in terms of shit things not happening, and the best year in terms of peace of mind.

If I'm not looking for wonder, then I must be taking it for granted.

Yet, if I'm actually in such a position of mental stability that I can afford to take it and the world around me for granted, then I give myself permission to do that, and do it hard.

I've had various conversations over the years, the gist of which is that it is better to be troubled and gain wisdom from that trouble than to live a small and unchallenged life. It is better to be extreme than content.

I don't know.

There is a lot to be said for peace of mind.

There is a lot to be said against the depths below.

This has particular relevance to me now, having just started back on true shift work. I was waiting for my train at the station, after 11 o'clock at night, it was cold, I'd spent eight hours in a room full of people I am not comfortable with, there were delays on the tracks, my hands hurt, I'm afraid my hands are breaking, knowing that I was going to have to do it again tomorrow, and then start nightshift, and see none of the people I love who make me laugh, and I've known this was coming, and I've been inserting distance anyway, and I have too much to do, and it all involves typing, and my hands, my hands, my hands, and all the platforms around me are empty, and I'm trapped here, and I have realised I do not want this life.

I do not want this life.

I got home having cried on the ride home for the first time in a long time, and made myself an enormous hot chocolate. My first thought was no, I can't do that, I won't be able to sleep and that will wreck my sleeping pattern. My second thought was yes, that's what we're trying to do now, destroy the sleeping pattern you've won for the first time in years. And I cried some more and made the hot chocolate, because I was cold, I was cold inside, but not that side of inside. There's no amount of warm milk that can make this better.

Kitson ended by saying (badly paraphrased): "The fact about life is that it is pointless, completely pointless, everything you do is futile, and it is doomed to end in death. The truth about life is that it's beautiful, and heartbreaking, and full of love and brilliance."

A fact is unchangeable. It is what it is. You can't argue with a fact.

Truth, is much more mutable.

Life is not always beautiful.

Today I saw something small, and hidden, and wonderful.

Friday, October 09, 2009

for archiving and propaganda purposes

  • 17:18 on the highlands of suburbia, the scotties run wild. well. stand wild. stand calmly. #
  • 17:28 on the highlands if suburbia, the westies do actually pose nobly. #
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

for archiving and propaganda purposes

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Oh yeah, right, forgot about this.

I'm crossing the Pacific on the 26th of October. I'll spend a couple of days in San Francisco, head down to Monterey to go to the aquarium, and then on to San José for World Fantasy. Which is already looking to be insane and will probably burn out my people tolerance for another year, but what the hell. That's what you expect of hermit crabs, right?

Thursday night is the Last Drink Bird Head / Finch / Booklife party, which will also feature the first Last Drink Bird Head Annual Awards. Preorders for everything available, and everything worth preordering.

Friday night is a fancy schmancy dinner.

Saturday night is the Gigawatt's birthday party, featuring zombies and cupcakes (science-fictiony mortician's dress? check), followed by the Weird Tales party.

Sunday night I crawl around gibbering and looking for somewhere quiet to sleep.

Followed by a couple more days in San Francisco, and then another long flight back across the Pacific, to the future.

There's lots of people I know that I'll be meeting for the first time, lots of people I know I'll be meeting for the second time, and lots of people I don't know I may or may not be meeting at all. Should be interesting, at any rate.

(There is not at all enough time to prepare for this argh.)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

for archiving and propaganda purposes

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Friday, October 02, 2009

Like a giant angry testicle, THAT'S HOW UGLY.

Turns out, Madame Fearsome Baboon led my cranky pants astray, and left them with Mister Emo Bear.


Admittedly, if I had such adorable bear paws, I'd stare at them all day too.