I received Down Among The Sticks And Bones on Friday, and I'm so excited. Every Heart A Doorway is... everything. DAtSaB doesn't have to be everything, it just being is enough. But I'm putting off reading it a bit, because I want to clean out my brain some. I also found my misplaced copy of Steering The Craft, which is one of those truly great books on writing. Which is... I've hit this point, where a lot of writing advice just isn't helpful. I may not have gone anywhere career-wise, but in writing theory it feels like I'm well beyond that entry level journeyman advice. So things like Steering the Craft, Get To Work Hurley, Wonderbook, and the occasional twitter thread are precious. You know now that I write that I see how it times in - how the need for more higher level craft insights has driven me to meta, lore, and analysis. The ruthless breaking down of stories, laser focused cause and effect. And let me tell you, Dark Souls and it's relatives are a GOLDMINE for that. I could speculate that it had something to do with how we have to dig for basically ALL the story in the Souls games, but nah.
So yeah, it goes like this: long form Dark Souls lore/analysis videos are great to play to fall asleep - yo Bloodborne is just as good/even better! - ongoing Themes of cosmic horror in my life(if Cthulhu himself arose out of the lake I'd be like 'sure fine it's just another Tuesday around here') - tumblr memes - oh hey this one book is really awesome(EVERYONE READ WINTER TIDE OKAY?!) - I kinda want to write in this vein - ...might as well read Lovecraft now.
I haven't actually, not in any focused way, and I've just been in that mood for awhile so why not? His stuff is fairly short and readable surprisingly. I think there might be a lesson in there, about about how his mythos as he wrote it wasn't that well suited to longer forms, as well as how to craft short stories. And I mean, he was so good at harnessing readers' imaginations that his works seem so much more then they actually are? (Hardly anyone talks about the craft aspect, which is interesting. And well, standard disclaimer here about how he was an actual trainwreck, but that's not what I'm here for today.) (I read something recently about how he encouraged others to take his mythos and run? There are conflicting reports, but I am Intrigued.)
The thing about actually reading Lovecraft's stories is while I am aware that the narrative is pushing me to be repulsed, disgusted, etc, what I actually feel for the characters is sympathy. To use The Dunwich Horror as an example, since it's the freshest in my mind - I can't find it in myself to be unsettled by a disabled woman and her eccentric farmer father? or the woman's heavily autistic-coded son? Ultimately the 'spooky/scary other' falls completely flat for me, doing so so much as to upset the entire tea cart of the story. It's a bit of a quirk of the writing style, that the bigotry can be attributed wholly to the narrator(something that is not helped, confusingly enough, by the Wilbur being a self insert. wtf lovecraft.)
The result of ignoring the narrator's opinions is it then reads as a tragedy of the complications of raising half-human children, and of not fitting the social mold. Our only solid source of for the Whateleys' motivations is the questionable translations of a child's diary. Looking at it that way makes monsters of the stuffy old white men of academia that we're being fed as the heroes. It's kind of amazing that it can so easily be read that way, and explains some of the longevity of Lovecraft's mythos. It's an interesting exercise in itself to view the story through both the lens of the author, and on its own. Death of the author and all that.
I'm not sure if I got out all my thoughts about this. It's taken a long time to write this entry, due to my brain just being a bad brain in general. I feel like my knowledge and understanding of this whole subject is much less sophisticated then it could be. Here is a link to The Dunwich Horror, in case one might want to read it for themselves.
Addendum: thoughts on the Call of Cthulhu. My audiobook tells me that I've been pronouncing R'lyeh wrong this entire time(audio, btw, is an excellent format for these stories.) My original above thoughts stand, about perspective and how Lovecraft's stories are like prisms, and you can get something totally different with how you turn it. It was a bit amusing that it seemed like he was deliberately padding for wordcount by repeating plot points over and over again, and I got the impression that he didn't really know meanings of all of the big words he used - I wonder how many readers do? "an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse." is still objectively hilarious.
Sort of confluence of all this is a story idea, something I'm pondering for an attempt at July's Camp Nano. It's definitely more of a gothic story, the cosmic horror stuff got mushed in there because *gestures upwards* I don't brain good in the summer though, and camp nanos have never gone well for me, on top of potential business, so we'll see if it happens.
8tracks playlist of the week - sounds nice in stormy weather and "It was so dark that it was even hard to hear"
Tired, sore. Stayed up late-ish last night to watch American Gods, got up early today to see mom off on her road trip to the west coast. Haven't slept well lately in general, and I just hurt all over for no good reason and moving about is a challenge. Looking forward to about two weeks of managing everything on my own.
Yesterday was for shopping. I missed the live E3 coverage, but I guess all I missed was getting attached to a really nice looking game before we all found out the creator is actual trash? Also I guess more on the new Bioware game? I'll have to check it out. I'm not focusing well on today's livestreams either - I've got a lot of catching up to do. Did watch EA's - eh? Honestly I'm not invested in anything. A Way Out has potential for neat use of mechanics. I like seeing developers making use of the medium. That dress though, totally stole the show. Look at the shwoosh! Star Wars games though... they just make me miss Factor 5 and Rogue Squadron.
Rec: Get To Work Hurley, Kameron Hurley's podcast, is excellent. If you can it's super worth it to get her behind-the-scenes videos on patreon too. Solid writing advice all around.
I made iced coffee this morning. First attempt - too much cream. Attempts will continue.
I almost forgot E3 was this weekend. I find it comforting to sink into the hype for a bit, to wrap up in the slick press conferences and streamed discussions. Makes it easy to forget for a moment that I won't ever play the vast majority of the games. In another life I actually became a gaming journalist.
So this week I had a... revelation. Walking two senior dogs three+ times a day, you end up with a fair amount of time to think while you wait for them to remember to tend to their business, and the thought that came to me was this - I wonder if growing up with an extended family for whom nothing was good enough has ANYTHING to do with why I have so much trouble interacting with online communities. Ya suppose? It's one of those things, being able to look back and say 'that was a really unfair way to treat a child'. Nothing like being held to a high standard by narcissists. I mean that's not the sole reason I treat social interaction of all kinds like hot iron, but it's probably one of the building blocks.
I try not to think about how posting this is technically interacting on a social network. If I did I'd basically have to never touch the internet ever. (Oh hey, a reason I occasionally disappear!)
8tracks playlist of the week : Take my soul
all my blankets were tossed aside, I couldn't breath and felt clammy all over. Wasn't sick - the weather had just decided it was time to be HOT and HUMID. For one wonderful week we had perfect warm weather and I fucking FORGOT that I currently live in MINNESOTA. I hate humidity, I just hate it - I hate being damp, I hate how it makes the heat so much, much worse. I hate not sleeping well, not breathing... Even Chai fussed at me about it, sat next to my desk and gave me the huge puppydog eyes, because once again my room has the least controlled climate in the house. At least I'm not alone in being miserable.
Admittedly it was less awful today, but doubly miserable because yesterday we went to dinner with my grandma and I guess I forgot about what happens when you have a solid meal after eating the bare minimum for so long. Had a hard time sleeping last night due to stomach cramps, and they're still there tonight. We'll probably have to cut back farther, so I just need to be more careful.
Time is being slippery today. So much to do and it's all so hard to keep track of.
Her dog is in good hands. Elle continues to be probably the best cared for acd in the country.
Just... dear friends, take care of yourselves. Don't put things off, especially your health.
i'd like to write something overflowing with flowers; purples and pinks and a riot of scents, glittering dragonfly wings. honey and good soil.
i'd like to write something with coffee dark and creamy as oil, dancers lost in skirts and jewels and mosaic tiles, and smoky rooms worn out cards.
i'd like to write something about streetlights at night, and the sunset a slice of brilliant orange-gold at the horizon while dark clouds stretch overhead. Rain on windshields, the soft switch-switch of the wipers. Power lines and empty highways.
i'd like to write about old radios that play songs from the stars, ethereal and comforting in their strangeness. space ship crews singing songs best described as folk meets vaporwave.
i'd like to write about immigrants and prospectors outracing technology and the sky and land and the animals keep getting bigger and bigger the farther you go. wanderers and towns with their own strict moral codes.
i'd like to write about a lot of things. but where are the characters? the plots, the stories? setting isn't story, but that's all i have. Any time i've tried to construct characters deliberately they've... distorted the worlds, muddied their shapes. So does attempting to link the spaces together. the characters and bridges have to come naturally, or it all collapses, and i'm so tired of that. of not being the machine other writers seem to be, of not being able to just force it to happen. of writing hurting.
Yesterday was rough - I woke up with pain and low energy and a long to do list. I slept badly due to the strong urine smell, which meant priority #1 was cleaning the carpet, which meant I had to vacuum first. Cleaning the room of course equals taking a shower, which I'd previously promised I'd wash Belle the next time I took a shower. Add in needing to change a headlight on the car...
I fell asleep as soon as I laid down. I still remember listening to the thunder, though I'm not sure if it woke me up completely or I just came up to a lucid state. It was strangely soothing, comforting...
The air smells great today - ozone and rain and sap, the trees have started to green up the last couple of days. Finally. The soil must be colder by the lake, or maybe it's the wetness. Unfortunately it's tipped over to hot and humid and all that's yucky.
Had black bean spaghetti with tilapia for dinner, with a salad and cinnamon tea. It was sufficiently spooky looking that I pretty much had to read Winter Tide over dinner. That book sucked me right back in. It's all that I love about Lovecraft's worlds without the racist or sexist parts. My only disappointment is that it briefly waved a hint of one of my favorite tropes under my nose then pulled it away, but then that's on me for jumping on it.
doesn't feel like only Friday. I miss having more structure.
I'm writing, I'm trying to write at least. And the story I'm working on is just... frustrating me, in a way that's hard to explain. A sort of meta-doubt, about my responsibility as an author and if I have the skills for this damn idea at all.
To explain, the novel I'm working on is one I've referenced before as my 'bluebeard story', but referencing bluebeard is a... bit of an obfuscation. It's a BatB story, a girl-lives-with-wizard story. I call it the bluebeard story because it starts with a horror mystery - who is this wizard she's found herself with? is he as trustworthy as he seems? what about the Strange Rumors? and because well, aren't relationships all a bit horrorifying, even the good ones? (especially relationships with beings that can command Powers Beyond Comprehension? what's the difference between magic and money?)
It started out way more bluebeard then it is now - I didn't mean to write it as a romance, but honestly that's my Thing and I couldn't help it. (The last few years for me have been all about Accepting Your Thing and rolling with it. I highly recommend it - more id writing for everyone!) I figure that's alright, but now I'm having trouble fitting in elements from the original story - the bluebeard red herring stuff, that I feel like make this thing unique. I'm falling into this sea of Doubt - is this story pure hubris? do i have the skills to transition from horror to romance? does ANYONE?! I'm trying to make one character a Decent Person and a Credible Threat at the same time, and omg it just hit me that I probably need to read more gothic romances. Anybody have any recs for Modern Feminist Gothic Romances? except 'gothic' isn't the feel I want to reach for. am I just trying to force into place puzzle pieces that just don't belong here at all? I guess the only way to know for sure is to finish it and hand it off to someone else, and oh jeez do I miss my in-person writing group.
This place might kill me. It might turning me sour first. Everyone I've met here is so closed in their ways, so sure that things are someone else's fault(usually minorities.) No one reaches beyond themselves to see beauty in the world. The rule of here is tall daisies get cut down(and it's a bit baffling to watch companies that operate on 'squeaky wheel gets the grease' interact with the locals.) and I just want to scream 'YOUR PROBLEMS WOULD GO AWAY IF YOU GAVE UP THAT TOXIC THINKING.' I struggle to stay optimistic, to believe in the goodness of the world and humanity. To not fall completely into bitterness and the same closed mindedness. I feel like I'm failing.
Also, fuck Fox News in general.
The dogs are aging out from under me, it feels like. Chai jumped for a toy earlier this week and did... something to himself. He limped from a bit from his front, and still can't land properly jumping off the bed(which he insists on throwing himself off of multiple times a night) and is having trouble going up and down stairs. Yesterday he refused to eat breakfast.
Yesterday Sofi had a stroke or a seizure or something of that nature. She's having trouble finding her away around the house, or recognizing things, people, patterns - something's definitely sideways with her processing, even today though she appears to be recovering a bit. Or at least coping better.
Today Rita has a sort of a muscle tick in a back leg. I hope it doesn't mean she had a seizure last night, or is going to have one today.
Tobi is alright, I guess. Still haven't solved his panic with being in a crate - he pulled apart a wire crate earlier this week, the third he's done that too, on top of the airline kennel he wrecked last winter.
Belle, for the sake of mentioning her, is a very good girl. She did figure out how to open the front door, but she did come right to me without fuss. I can't imagine what it's like to be her and have all available examples of one's own species just... falling apart all at once. I hope she doesn't pick up any bad behaviors.
I'm so tired. There's not enough sleep in the world.
Chai had an old dog day today. He was standoff-ish last night, clingy before wake up this morning, and threw up at breakfast. I'm so glad we have a big porch now, that can be closed off so he could safely lay outside in the sunlight. We trained him too well to go outside when he's feeling ill, that when he couldn't at the last house it stressed him out and made him sicker.
He recovered. He's fine, but it's disquieting to be so reminded that he is aging. At 12 he's an old dog by any measure. I'm not ready for that.
The icy is going out, day by day. It's been sunny and warm. There were loons and ducks and geese on the lake today. Already I miss the ice and snow.
But even though it was an awful experience, I won't have started it at all if I hadn't liked the core of the idea. I still do - gothic americana zombie apocalypse roadtrip. Andrew Wyeth aesthetic and lonely, quiet survival instead of Survivalist nonsense; time's persistent march forward against all will. The fragility of technology and the permanence of its changes; something utterly modern and american instead of my usual fantasy and far off science fiction.
And I think the pieces of it are starting to fall together now. It doesn't hurt so much, and I see the shape of the story so much better. Changes in the world have, unfortunately, provided more of a landscape for the setting. It might be darker now, and it definitely as a vastly different ending(the first was Shit.) It would be a story for the world of Now, about the sadness and horror of an open road. I'm not sure if I want to set aside everything else to work on it, but it's coming together in the background.
I keep dreaming of dry-warm summer afternoons, stretching in the sun like a cat upon a quilt and a book balanced before my eyes. Yellowed library books, their plastic covers brittle and cracking, and sunsets stained red by wildfire smoke. Wind howling down from the mountains, the smell of fireweed and the bitter taste of currants on my lips, read smeared across my face. Frost on the windows, smoky tea and warm oatmeal with buttered sourdough toast. White cloud skies, blankets, and cozy dogs. Fat fluffy snowflakes drifting down outside the mexican restaurant's wide windows. Fresh tacos, and words written.
I am told I'm looking for a quick fix, but I don't think I am? I want a flotation device - something to hold on to, to pull my head above water so I can breath. I think I could make it back to shore on my own, if I had that. I've made it so far on my own. Aren't they the ones, looking for a quick fix? Just take this vitamin, do this exercise, suck it up and stop wallowing in self pity and everything will be alright again? I got you a smoothie this week, why are you sad, lonely, angry? I hate the thing you love, so let's do the thing I love and you hate.
So no, I'll stay home and try to find a reason to tick another day off the calendar. Maybe someday I'll live again. Maybe this is all there is, day after day. Isn't the mystery exciting? But I don't need to harm myself with toxic company in the meantime.
Food is weird. I don't feel hungry, which... isn't exactly right. More like I just don't feel like eating. There's nothing I want to eat, even though food tastes good - put some in front of me and I'll eat it all. Gorge it down, as if I've been starving this whole time. I don't know what's hunger, and what's emotion eating - bored eating, comfort eating. Emotional eating is awful because it works. For a moment the emptiness goes away. But there's no pleasure in it anymore. Sandbags against a tsunami.
I should answer my messages. Just thinking about them is... a certain kind of exhaustion. It's the... knowledge that it isn't a one off message, but a conversation? I'm thinking of internet free weekends. I'm tired of missing out, of seeing everyone have fun at conventions. I'm tired of being too poor, too tired to do things. And most of all I'm tired of hearing how I've been missed. The line between missed and missed out is thin, and it just hurts to hear over and over how I'm loved and appreciated and oh how good it would be if I was someplace else. Isn't that just the poison?
I hate 4th weekend. I hate the loud, obnoxious music and yelling and the constant smell of smoke and random bangs and crashes. I hate the whining about wanting to sit by a fire next to the lake. I don't understand the appeal of just looking at a lake - it's boring, and mosquito-y. Fire smoke gives me migraines, and panic attacks and nightmares. It clings to my clothes so terribly that they have to go directly into the wash, so I couldn't wear anything that I might want to wear again soon. Maybe if things had been handled differently I wouldn't have this problem, but maybe not. I don't know.
I made a thing. Floral wire, floral tape, and four bunches of fake flowers from the dollar store - I followed wikihow’s instructions, but honestly I relied more on crafty instincts honed on a crafty childhood.
I didn’t use any glue, though I should have - I was being lazy. I didn’t want to fuss around with that part - I just wanted it to come together. The flowers have thus far stayed together, but I might go back and glue them to be more durable. It’s surprisingly light and secure - I put it on and forget about it. It took about three-five hours? I was watching E3 streams so I didn’t really keep track. I used all the flowers I bought, though the final effect is a little over the top? Maybe fewer/smaller flowers next time, maybe some ribbon…
The light was very forgiving outside when I took these pictures. :p
The hard thing is that depression doesn’t stop me from existing, from wanting to create things. Every day lately has been a struggle - this? This is pretty much all I did that day, and while I did this my room went uncleaned. For a moment when I was done I felt happy, accomplished. But people see this and tell me ‘you aren’t really depressed if you can do that, so just be happy!’ and that’s not how it works? But then I don’t feel like sharing because being constantly invalidated is exhausting. But sometimes I have to try anyway? idk.
I miss wind that lasts for weeks, that smooths out the soul.
I'm still tired. I have so much to do, deadline approaching. I don't know what to do.
I did have a fan running, and it was a bit breezy outside, but that's not quite the same thing. I think... I think I miss the familiar rhythm of the seasons - snow, cold, melt, green, rain, wind, snow. It's been 'hot' for so long that I'm ready for the wind and rain. Summer lasts too long here, autumn doesn't last long enough.
My energy ebbs and flows. I'm so tired today. I function, mostly, but there's no gas in the tank. No go.
Final Fantasy XII trailer
E3 is in *checks* let's call it 5 days. It feels like game developers are starting to get antsy. Can't blame them - getting the news out at the right time so it doesn't get drowned out by all the other news is tricky business.
I'm excited. To be honest E3 is all that's getting me through most days right now. It's a link to happier times. I hold on to the good things that can't hurt me.
Thinking about writing blog posts. Bloggy posts, not journaly stuff. One of those 'how hard could it be?' things. Step one - where the hell do I post the result? Here? tumblr? blogger? idk. I just want to get stuff out there, but I'm also mildly terrified of interaction. idk.