Monday, December 13, 2004

Some days the bear's on top...

I told my agent today, when she made the mistake of asking how the novel was going, that all was misery and gloom and that in addition I couldn't write for toffee. She pointed out cheerfully that we've had this conversation three quarters of the way through everything I've ever written in the last sixteen years, which frankly was not the kind of sympathetic response I was looking for*. Then she told that most of her other authors do it too about this point in a book. I think I preferred feeling aggrieved with the universe and unique to feeling like just another author three quarters of the way through a book.

It's just bear-wrestling, I suppose. Some days you're on top. Other days the bear's on top.

(*A properly sympathetic response might perhaps have involved sending someone over to my house carrying a large fruit basket containing a venomous and grumpy asp, so that I'd have a really good excuse to give my editors for not finishing this book viz. and to wit. being a bit too dead to keep writing.)

Anyway. Had not planned to post anything until I was a bit more on top of things, but this came in from Nalo Hopkinson, with a request that I put it up, and it's for an extremely good cause:

Nalo Hopkinson fiction for Caribbean hurricane relief

A few days ago, I wrote a Christmas story. I had originally intended to use it as a Christmas card, but to be honest, I've never yet managed to send out group Christmas cards to anyone. And since it is the season of giving, I've decided instead to post the story to be viewed for free. If you appreciate the gesture, please consider using the link on the story page to make a donation to hurricane relief in the Caribbean, which is still very much needed.

You can read "A Young Candy Daughter" here:

and then there was

If you haven't read Making Light from the 12th, you ought to. It's about naughty Santas, Christmas traditions and what happens when old world personages get brought to New York City. Alison

She's referring to and you definitely want to read it. Ho ho ho.


Long time reader, first time writer. I'm sure you've been asked this before, but as I can't find it discussed on the message boards:

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." - William Gibson, Neuromancer

"The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel." - You, Neverwhere


You're either paying homage to Gibson, which is weird because the two books are in different genres and he isn't mentioned in the acknowledgements, or perhaps there's some manner of Jungian collective unconscious phenomenon at work here, in which you have unwittingly mimicked Gibson, or..?


Or it was a very small joke, essentially pointing out that since what is arguably the most famous opening sentence in SF was published in 1984, the nature of what a "dead channel" looked like had completely changed, from grey static fuzz to a pure dead blue. Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.

Hey Neil: Just curious; you often say you don't have time to do blurbs for books, yet you have time to write a review for the Times Book Review? Was it the Grimms tales that you couldn't say no to? Matt

It's apples and oranges: each and every week, about half a dozen books and manuscripts arrive at my house from editors or publishers or authors with a nice imploring note asking me to please read the books and give a blurb. I don't have time to read them, to decide whether I like them or not and whether I want to say something. So mostly they don't get read and mostly they don't get blurbed. (Or I suppose I do have time, but not if I also want to do things like write books and comics and movies, read things I'm quite looking forward to reading, do this journal or play with my children.)

A few times over the last year I've been asked by the New York Times to review a book for them, and wasn't able to. When they asked most recently, I decided The Annotated Grimm's Fairy Tales sounded like something that I would have wanted to read anyway, and I try to do a review or so a year (here's a link to the Washington Post review of Michael Chabon's Summerland; the review of the King-Straub Black House has vanished from the Post site, and the only version I can find online is edited down beyond a point where I'm comfortable in linking to it), just to feel like I'm part of the ongoing cultural wossname, and to remind myself that reviewers are intensely fallible creatures, or at least one of us is.

One book review a year I can do. Wading through a couple of hundred books a year is a different matter (it's the reading them that takes the time, not the writing the blurb).

Anyway, go and read what Ursula K. LeGuin has to say about the Earthsea TV series (about half way down the page).

Right. I'm going back to wrestling the bear.