Hi – my name’s Jemiah. I write books by inclination, and co-edit comic books by vocation. Here you’ll find info on my published works, thoughts on and previews of the upcoming Dark Horse projects I’m doing, a bit about me, and then a bit more about me.
Today I was awake, with the help of a lot of caffeine. It was difficult and the day was close to unpleasant. The flu shot wins this round.
Sweet Dee found a sunbeam.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kate Beaton is a messy, hilarious, profane genius, both in person and on the page. Her smash success with the Hark! A Vagrant website and publications are absolutely deserved; somehow she makes scenes from Les Miserables, 19th Century Canadian history, and the annals of LBJ into hysterically funny comic strips that reward re-reading and sharing with others. You two will become fans of the way she draws babies, the Brontë sisters, various Dr. Watsons (Gay Watson is a particular favorite), ponies, peasants, Napoleon, and Crime-Solving Teens. This collection incorporates mostly material that can be seen for free on the website harkavagrant.com, but with some additional material that’s worth seeking out. Besides, buy the book and give her some money so that she can make more comics and make the world a smarter, better-educated, sillier place.
It’s been a heavy couple of weeks.
This week alone, I decided, and formally announced on my facebook wall, that I am stopping work on the m/m erotic three-way romance novel on which I’ve been working for the past 4 years (to a resounding lack of reaction from nearly all 1000+ fb ‘friends’ with the exception of my dear and real-life friend Nancy, who only said “whatever is right for you so that you’ll stop being so hard on yourself”, which is not exactly what I’d hoped to hear, but it’s something, I suppose–but fundamentally, fuck my well-being; i’m supposed to be a novelist and i’m supposed to destroy myself in service of the muse or whatever and FOUR YEARS of work and angst and hell down the drain and nothing to show for it and my heart is so completely and utterly broken that I feel nothing), and had my third cranial MRI, and the first one with contrast. This entailed an IV tap that flowed a gadolinium-salt solution into my veins so that activity in the form of inflammation would appear on the magnetic scan. The solution was not too bad, but the insertion of the IV hurt like billy-o and took me quite by surprise. That part sucked. The MRI itself was just fine, as usual, and I entertained myself by imagining what bands and songs each clunky pass of the big magnet sounded like – “Bugman” by Blur, the opening of “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, the usual general Aphex Twin/Autechre IDM thumps and bangs, and a hint of Matmos’s machine rhythms. Afterward I went home, drank a bunch of water, turned my back on an astonishingly hot and bright day, and went to sleep until late evening and sunset. When I woke up I ate something (technically “lunch”, at 11pm – I had hoped I could skip food that day, but it was not to be), read some things on the internet, stayed up until midnight. All the while I imagine the areas of my brain already wrecked by the lesions – to me they seem huge, like white fists on either side of my corpus callosum, one baby-sized and one adult. I should get my new scan results soon, and will be viewing them with my neurologist in a few weeks. I don’t know what I hope. I don’t feel hope, really. It seems foolish.
Now—on my increasingly severe writers’ block, which feels to me more profound than a mere loss of confidence, and which has nothing whatsoever to do with running out of ideas (I still have tons and tons, all the time, every day): I may be at a fulcrum point, but with no idea of how to find the other side. However, I will quote from an interview with Samuel R. Delany published in the Paris Review, which I found somewhat instructive (emphasis mine):
You describe a moment of transition, around the age of twenty, between conceiving of writing as the transcription of a sort of mental movie to becoming a writer who felt the presence of blocks of language, so that you were no longer just describing images and ideas but creating a string of sentences and paragraphs with verbal particularity and rhythm and so forth. Has that transition continued?
Arrogant and self-flattering as it is, today I really like Lessing’s description of genius from his wonderfully suggestive Laocoön—the ability to put all your talent into the service of a single idea. That’s usually what I’m trying for these days, rather than just describing a movie in the mind—though I still lean a good deal on diegesis, that movie in the mind.
To assume that “putting all your talent into the service of a single idea” necessarily involves something fundamentally different from concentrating on the precision, energy, and ekphrastic force of the single sentence is to commit one of those logical slips Orwell described so well in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” the one he calls “operators” or “verbal false limbs,” assuming there are differences and oppositions where there are really developments and continuities. It’s just a way of starting to talk about the larger project, the bigger picture—and critics are always slipping into the false notion that there’s a conflict between the bigger picture and the details that compose it, when there isn’t. That’s one of the ways they mystify the artistic process. Sometimes these are honest mistakes. More often, however, they are symptoms of lazy reading and lack of thought about what the writer is actually saying.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diegesis. This is not a word I’ve ever encountered before. Peculiar, isn’t it, when this is what I’ve been doing for the last 28 years in writing? In trying to “glean my teeming brain” and make those images concrete and manifest in a form more than merely mental? Reed College, you failed me (even if I should have known this, and was taught it before, the fact that I forgot means you failed me)! (Literally at times. I still don’t know my grades. I do know I failed a lot of my classes. And of course, if there’s one thing I did learn at Reed, it’s that if I’ve failed, it is my own fault, no one else’s, and I can’t assign blame to an exterior force when my interior weakness is the true cause.) Anyway – diegesis! Is what I’m doing diegesis (that ultimate horror sin of a writer, “telling” rather than “showing”?!?)? Is that the problem? Or something else? And is the knowledge of these terms, and their definitions, the kind of thing I’m supposed to have gotten in graduate school, on my way to becoming a professor of literature? Did I learn this stuff in school, and merely retained it long enough to regurgitate in 5-page form so I could get the hell out of that place and/or please instructors on whom I had crushes/felt a childlike desire to appeal to, to be “good” and thus worthy of recognition, or at least lack of exclusion and distaste?
Anyway. I did not know this word and now I feel that excellent combination of “dumb” and “excited to learn something new” but to no true end. I am an autodidact by circumstance, and I have both the urge to write academic papers on subjects in literature and narrative, and an abject horror of the idea of ever having to write another academic paper ever again. That’s fine, though. What I want to write is narrative – and not just narrative, and not just good narrative, but good narrative for which I can be paid more than a couple hundred dollars. What I want is to write narrative that is at least better than Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, because that book was fucking terrible, even if it contained some great ideas, of which I am deeply annoyed that I will have to read “cliff’s notes” summaries to receive because I can’t take the agony of reading the actual prose itself. I hope Wikipedia or someplace has a really good synopsis, because I don’t think I can watch that movie again, either (even if it is one of Brett Rattner’s best efforts – poor Ray Liotta!).
Once again, it all comes down to “Basically I have always needed a working spouse/partner for any aspect of my life to have worked out, particularly creatively.” I don’t know if I’m not bitter, or if I’ve been so bitter for so long that I don’t know what it’s like to not be bitter. It’s like not knowing what it’s like to not be fat, or black, or a woman. And yet I can imagine my way past those things… have I imagined my way past bitter?
Yes, I am lucky. All is well, honestly. Right, Rich?
Somehow in all the chaos and detritus of life, time passed and summer is now at its height – not that you can tell by today’s weather, which is as cool and grey as an average April. Huh.
Nothing to report publically that isn’t personal or classified, so I present a photograph of my new furbaby, Diamanda Boots (or colloquially Sweet Dee – or even more colloquially Wormie). I’ve had her for about a month, she’s about 11 weeks old, and I am madly in love. And covered in tiny wounds.
I am a really crap blogger. I keep on thinking “Oh I should put that on my blog” or at least “I should put something on my blog” and then I don’t do it. Why am I so inhibited?
I have taken this week off work, and am spending it at home, slacking and writing (at least, that’s what I’ve done so far). I am at last making a bit of progress on the novel (in progress); ideally I’ll finally be done with chapter 12 by the time I go to sleep tonight, marking the first chapter I’ve completed since… oh, I don’t even want to think about it. Again, why am I so inhibited?
Strange news today; I’m going to process it a bit more with the help of my friends before I say anything publicly. Because it’s not just about me, so I’m going to exercise the usual discretion.
The reason why blogging should be regular is that if I only do so intermittently, I end up with far too many things to mention. Can I call a do-over?
Anyway, here’s Benedict Cumberbatch, grumpy in the shower. This has been linked to my Facebook page several times in the last 24 hours. Support your local fan, I guess?