This is the blog of Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison, a professional writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Sarah Monette is my real name; Katherine Addison is a pen name, intended to be transparent.
If you've found me here, odds are pretty good you're looking for something to read, so the following is--to the best of my knowledge--a complete list of everything I've written that's available online:( STORIESCollapse )( ESSAYSCollapse )
If you know of anything I've missed, please leave a comment!
1. Yesterday I posed with a giant inflatable colon
to promote colorectal cancer awareness. Most surreal Thursday morning ever.
Yes, a colonoscopy is not the most fun you will ever have, but speaking as a friend of the awesome Jay Lake and
as someone who has had a polyp removed from her colon and will be going back for another screening in a couple years, colon cancer needs to be beaten to death with a stick.
2. Liz Bourke has reviewed The Goblin Emperor
for Tor.com. As an author, positive reviews are great, but what you really want are good
reviews, reviews that understand the book you tried to write and convey it well. This is that kind of review.
3. I am currently undergoing all kinds of adjustments to my . . . I don't even know what to call it. The victory conditions for sleep? They're shipping me a different mask to try with the little Cthulhu machine. It will still look like a disastrous attempt at an elephant costume, but hopefully it will (a) be more comfortable and (b) seal to my face better. Yes, I have seen Aliens
. Please don't remind me.
But ALSO, my sleep doctor and I are trying to rejigger my RLS medications, because I'd gotten to the point where it was requiring way too much narcotics to club the damn thing into unconsciousness. The new medication is definitely working, so that's a plus, and
I am re-weaning myself off the narcotics. Yes, there has been just a tiny bit of withdrawal. I haven't gone off them entirely yet, but I am working on it because I hate the damn drugs. I am hoping
that when I can finally stop taking them, I will be less tired and also that my creativity will come back again.
come back in December and January before drying up again in February, and the creepy thing is that I can actually articulate the difference. When everything is working correctly (i.e., what I thought of as "normal" until the clusterfuck began in 2010), there are words in my head. Well, there are always
words in my head. I am like Hector Puncheon, who "usually thought articulately, and often, indeed, conversed quite sensibly aloud with his own soul." So maybe it's more accurate to say that the staus quo ante
, to which I desire ardently to return, is that there are stories forming, word by word. Because there are words, separate from my internal narration/dialogue. They form themselves into sentences, and the sentences form narratives. When it was working right, I would frequently "get" sentences from Booth out of nowhere.
Now, I can force prose. There are always days when you have to. But it's not the same, at least from my side of the proscenium, and I really didn't realize what I'd lost until I had it back. I didn't realize that there was
a wellspring, that I wasn't
imagining that writing used to involve joy instead of just grim desperation.
I had it back, and then the RLS went bad, and it was gone again. I knew that bad RLS nights correlated with low or nonexistent creativity, and now I know what it's attacking. I know that there's a thing that should be there that isn't. And I can only hope that it can grow back. Again.
- Tags:goblin emperor, i think you mean epiphany smee, i was the bride of frankenstein, katherine addison, little cthulhu machine, meatfail, portrait of the author as, reviews, the dragon's in the details, the internet is full of things, who needs sleep, writing
Diana Wynne Jones famously deduced that the horses of Fantasyland are vegetative bicycles. Here are some ways that real horses are anything but:
1. Horses are very large animals. This is something that you can know in the abstract, as we all do, and still be taken aback by when interacting with an actual horse. Horses take up space
. Their heads are massive chunks of bone
. Even when they're being affectionate, they're still a good eight to ten times larger than a human being, and they are proportionately stronger.
My perspective on large dogs has completely changed after two years of dressage lessons.
1a. Corrollary: horses have very large, hard, heavy, inflexible feet. Obviously, if one steps on you, it's going to hurt
. But even a glancing accidental blow is likely to leave bruises. As I was bringing Milo in the other night, my foot happened to get in the way of his. (See above re: horses take up a lot of space.) Entirely accidental on both sides. And I ended up with a welt on my heel where the edge of his hoof hit me.
2. Horses are, on average, thousand pound herbivores. This means their digestive systems have to keep on trucking pretty much constantly. Which is to say, they are poop machines
. And you want them to be. A horse who isn't pooping regularly (by
which I mean several times a day) is a horse who is in trouble.
Also, and I'm sorry to burst the bubble of everyone who grew up with My Little Ponies
*, horses fart. Noxiously. A lot.
3. Horses are also thousand pound prey animals. They do not think like human beings. They also do not think like cats or dogs. Even a very calm, sensible horse is going to spook, and he's going to spook at things that make no sense
. Milo is in general unflappable, but he has spooked, for no apparent reason, at tree stumps, a wood pile, and an elderly VW. (He's also spooked at the barn cat, but I can kind of see his point there. She did
emerge from under the bench quite suddenly, so we'll ignore the fact that she's at best 1/100th of his size.) He's also spooked at himself
4. Horses are creatures with opinions. The are, for instance, herd animals. A solitary horse is an unhappy horse. They will try to follow each other pretty much automatically, which can be awkward for their riders. Take away their pasture mate(s), and they're going to be distressed. They're likely to call for their absent friends. (One of the horses at the barn screams
.) And in general, if they don't like something, they will find a way to let you know.
5. A horse's primary means of interacting with the world is her mouth. (Hard, heavy, inflexible feet, remember?) Anything that isn't a threat is likely to be something that needs to be tasted. Also, horses are opportunistc and greedy (see above re: the needs of their digestive systems). Anything that can
be tasted, will
be tasted. And eaten if possible.
To sum up: horses have presence
. They take up space in the world. They are intensely biological. They have opinions (often very inconvenient ones). And they have needs, both physical and emotional. They get bored. They get scared. They get lonely. They are the farthest thing from vegetative bicycles you can imagine.
*Completely OT, but can I just say how utterly creeped out I am by how thin
My Little Ponies have gotten? (Compare the first link, which is current MLP, to the second two, which are '80s MLP.) I mean, seriously, Hasbro, WTF? They're PONIES, not heroin-chic fashion models. FEED THEM.
So, it's NaNoWriMo
(For those of you who do not know, that's National Novel Writing Month.)
In her post
about the recent NaNoWriMo kerfuffle, Mary Robinette Kowal, explaining the benefits NaNoWriMo provided to her, said, "When you are getting your legs, writing long form is really intimidating."
Now, I don't doubt for a moment that this is true for Mary. It's her post and she has no reason to lie. But I read that and I thought, Wait, what? Long form is EASY. It's short form that's scary like whoa.
And then it occurred to me that perhaps this was worth unpacking.
When I started writing (at the ripe old age of eleven), I started writing novels. Or, well, "novels," since I doubt any of my first efforts was any longer than what I'd think of as a short story or maybe
a novelette today. But for me, at eleven, they were novels, and they were what I instantly and automatically gravitated to when I started trying to write. I knew the old chestnut about "if you want to break into publishing, you have to write short stories," so I tried, on and off through high school and college. (And then there was the most poisonous form rejection letter known to humankind, and I stopped like a lab rat hit with an electric shock.) But I never got the hang of it. Short stories were scary and hard and I didn't understand them. Novels, I just flung myself at; I started dozens, and every time one broke down, I just started another. I finished
maybe three or four (using the word "novel" loosely, remember) before I started writing Mélusine
, and got more than 50k into at least two others, but I never stopped trying, and I never had any fundamental doubt that I could do it. (Doing it well
was a different question, but that's also a different post.)
I didn't go back to short stories until 2000, when I got handed the old chestnut about "breaking into publishing" again, this time by my then-agent. And, serendipitously, I met elisem
and her jewelry. (I sometimes think my ability to write short stories is really all Elise's fault.) The first successful short story I wrote, in 2000, was "Letter from a Teddy Bear on Veterans' Day
", from one of her necklaces. The second was "Bringing Helena Back," which is the first Booth story. And, of course, obviously
, I've gone on from there, but I've always felt like my grip on the form was tenuous; I'm never sure why one short story works and the next one doesn't. They're still scary and hard, and I still don't understand them very well, even though I've published nearly forty of them.
NaNoWriMo doesn't work for me because I'm a competitive, literal-minded over-achiever, and if I focus on word count, then word count is all I will get, and the novel will be drivel. (See also, Why Corambis
Was Six Months Late.) This does not mean that I think NaNoWriMo is a bad thing in and of itself--and honestly, I don't have any right or ability to judge whether it's good or bad for other people. It's just bad for me
All I wanted to say, really, was that if you're a beginning writer and NaNoWriMo doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean you can't write a novel.
Learning how to write is a never-ending process of trial and error. You have to try things to find out if they work for you. If they do, that's great. If they don't, it's not a disaster. It just means you try something else. There is no "right" way to do it; it's all down to what works for you and what doesn't. And nobody but you can make that call.
Jim Hines has two great posts:
1. contact information for reporting sexual harassment in SF/F
2. This Is What Asperger's Looks Like
3. (via buymeaclue
) an important PSA for riders: WEAR YOUR DAMN HELMET.
has cover art for Fairyland
has been posting pictures of a train recently. This one
is my favorite (possibly because I'm thinking my blind automaton meets clockwork dragon
* story needs a talking locomotive called The Bullroarer, and although the period is all wrong, the picture really helps).
Today started for me with a really awesome piece of bad news, which I will share with you all as soon as it's official. (I know, I know, the cognitive dissonance will drive you mad, but I'm not being sarcastic. It really is both.)
*I realized last night that actually my statement in this post
could have been even better and more descriptive of my work as a whole, because it really goes like this: I write literary fiction about two women meeting in a train station and exchanging their life stories, except one of the women is a blind automaton and the other is a giant clockwork dragon.
You want to know what my problem is? I write literary fiction about two women meeting in a train station and exchanging their life stories, except one of the women is an automaton and the other is a giant clockwork dragon. That's my problem, right there.
ETA: A clarification or two:
1. I actually meant that statement as a synecdoche for my career as a whole more than as a complaint about this particular story.
2. I haven't finished writing this story yet, much less exhausted all the possible paying markets for it.
So thank you for all the comments of support and interest. I do truly and deeply appreciate them. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here.
More terrible RLS last night. And the damn acupuncture clinic still has not called me back to schedule an appointment. (Dear clinic, this is deeply sub-optimal. Nolove, Mole.) And
my Kinesis keyboard has died, like a Norwegian Blue parrot. (I'm typing this on a spare Mac keyboard mirrorthaw
happened to have lying around, which is fine as a stopgap measure, but no good as a long-term solution.)But.
1. I have 2100 words on a new story, tentatively titled, "Clouded Mary and Crawdad Marie," which seems to be what happens when steampunk crashes head on into The Wizard of Oz
. Also, seriously, inspiration can come from anywhere
. This one started in a rest stop in Indiana on the way back from WFC with a series of three doors labeled "Assisted Care," "Women," and "Mechanical." I'm hoping it will kick up something with which to simulate a plot soon, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying the characters and the world building and, well, the writing
. It's a tremendous relief to discover that I can still do this and all the machinery works.
(I wonder if one reason for the popularity of steampunk is that many writers are secretly convinced their creativity is like one of those steampunk machines with the gears and the levers and maybe a steam whistle. ... Or is that just me?)
is in town for TeslaCon
, and although I am not doing TeslaCon, I do get to have dinner with Cherie tomorrow night.
3. Also tomorrow, I am going to make the grand experiment of getting back on my horse, and I don't mean that metaphorically.
4. Everyone involved seems to like my Whedonistas
5. Truly lovely fan art for The Bone Key.
Still fighting with the RLS and the narcotics. PT exercises are both boring and uncomfortable, in the best therapeutic tradition. I can walk farther, and have in fact been dragging mirrorthaw
on repetitive circuits of our neighborhood in the effort to tire myself out.
On the other hand, the creative part of my brain seems to be waking up again. Yesterday I wrote 550 words on something new, and my dreams last night led to this snippet this morning:
"Who was that?"
"I don't know," the Swan said, shrugging an impatient, perfect shoulder. "Some ugly little boy."
"That's right," Min Chang said softly. "You don't
"What?" She was so exactly
like a swan, he thought, not for the first time: beautiful, vicious, and stupid.
He caught her arm and steered her into an alcove where they could have this discussion with some pretense of privacy. "Listen, Swan. Rudeness is a weapon. You don't go wasting it on people you don't know."
She was even lovely when she was scowling. It was remarkable. "But--"
"People watch you go around being rude to every random stranger, it doesn't mean anything. Just that you're a bitch. So then when you're rude to someone who deserves
it, that doesn't mean anything either." There were other things he would have liked to have said on the subject--about the petty meanness of being rude to someone who had screwed up his courage and taken a risk, about how that "ugly little boy" probably felt right now--but he'd learned with the Swan not to clutter things up with ideas she wouldn't understand.
He watched her puzzle through what he had said, watched her face change when she got it. "Oh."
"Right. Now let's talk about the other
reason you should never be rude to someone you don't know. Because, as it happens, I do
know who he was, and, Swan, you just made a very big mistake."
I don't know who the ugly little boy is, or who Min Chang and the Swan are, for that matter. But it's a relief and a pleasure to have my brain offering me tidbits again, even if I don't have much followthrough yet.