December 2004

Apparently, my muttering and grumbling about the sacrilege that was Sci Fi’s Earthsea have paid off. Brian gave me Tehanu and The Other Wind for Christmas. Woohoo! And also The Lathe of Heaven. Yes, we’re having a very Ursula K. Le Guin Christmas here. Woohoo!!!
For my last birthday, someone gave me Lyda Morehouse’s Apocalypse Array. Since this is book four in a series (including Fallen Host, Messiah Node, and Archangel Protocol), I was really hoping to read the other three first, and it looks like I’m going to have to buy them myself. I was half-hoping someone would give me these for Christmas, but no dice. I hear from Jen that they rock.
So many books. So little time.

I decided that my enthusiasm for in medias res had led me to start this story too late. There was a large amount of narrative summary/exposition that I thought might work better as scenes.
1400 words later… Yeah. And there’s a lot more narrative summary in this story that can go the way of “shown don’t tell.”

A Wizard of Earthsea was the first SF/F I ever read, and if I hadn’t enjoyed it I probably wouldn’t be here. I read and loved the entire trilogy, but was particularly fond of The Tombs of Atuan, which had a wonderfully creepy, anthropologically fascinating religion of an older, chthonic worship of the Old Ones and an obviously superimposed cult of the GodKing. Oh, it also had a female protagonist, which was very exotic for a young female reader.
Upon coming across this I was a bit discouraged. To quote Ursula K. Le Guin, “So, for the record: there is no statement in the books, nor did I ever intend to make a statement, about ‘the union of two belief systems.’ There’s nothing at all about the ‘duality of spirituality and paganism,’ whatever that means, either.” Nevertheless, I did want to see it for myself before I judged.
I should have known. Tenar (the name “Arha” is not used) is apparently a Catholic nun, or Vestal Virgin, part of an entire bevy of veiled priestesses devoted to holding back the Old Ones through the power of prayer. When Sparrowhawk said, “There’s a great power here, not magic but a power for good!” I’m afraid I gagged loudly. WTF? “A power for good”? We are talking about the Old Ones, right? the ones that demand teenage girls come up with executions for criminals?
Le Guin adds, “I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien ‘intended…’ would people think they’d been ‘very, very honest to the books’?” What, you mean you didn’t intend to write a piece of Christian propaganda designed to prop up the reign of the GodKing? You didn’t intend to write a parable about how science and faith need each other to be whole, but science is powerless in the realm of faith?
Can we have a do-over, but with Peter Jackson instead of this guy?
I am so, so very afraid for The Left Hand of Darkness!

What I really need right now is a Hollywood Creative Directory. I haven’t done anything with Dot Com since I heard back from Austin Film Festival during the big move, and it’s time I change that. Maybe this weekend I should cuddle up with Max Adams’ book and come up with a strategy.
And, of course, write.

I’m trying to be all positive and stuff here about the writing process. Okay, no, I’m trying to be all positive in life about the selling fiction process.
I’m finding really long turnarounds to be much more discouraging than quick nos. However, I’m at the stage in these two stories’ submission paths that they are at pro markets with long turnarounds prior to going to the semipros, so…
145 days. 70 days.
Clearly, what I need to do about it is finish the next one and send it out so I’m paying attention to it and not turnarounds on the other two.
Clearly, what I need to do is focus on the writing and be all Zen and extinguish appetite for zippy turnaround. Which should lead to finishing the next one.