Tag Archive: language

Monster Enough.

What is Monster Enough?

That question started out as a rumination on how those of us who dream we are monsters are always afraid of not being Monster Enough.  We are pragmatists.  We know that no matter how good you are at your game, there is someone who is better, or faster, or just luckier today.  We bank not on being the best monster (because there is no best monster, o best beloved, only the monster who wins right now), but on being Monster Enough to win right now and to scare away all the need to win eventually.

When you ask it that way, what is Monster Enough, there is no real answer.  It is a hard question, I think, but not a true question.  It is a question for the place between childhood and realism where you can dream that all your fights will have a winner and a loser, that everything really is that simple.  Certainly, if you pick enough of that kind of fight, it seems like that’s the only thing that’s important.  But that blows away any chance of knowing Monster Enough.

Ask it another way:

Who is Monster Enough?
I am.  You are.  We are.

We are Monster Enough to make the people who love us feel safe in our arms.  We are Monster Enough to make the people who try to chain us tremble when they think of the word “reckoning.”  We are Monster Enough to be soft and good to cuddle, and Monster Enough to roar loudly in pain and fear at the dark.

My Monster Enough is big, and loud, and cuddly if you are nice.  She makes pancakes and knows how to sharpen a knife.  She dries tears on her fur and sings songs while her den falls asleep, and tends the fire and watches the dark outside the cave, just in case.  Monster Enough is not afraid of “going soft,” just because she loves.  Love makes her fiercer, stronger, more desperate.  Monster Enough knows that things which are too hard are brittle, and break easily.  Monster Enough is not afraid of being unready.  She knows that she was ready when children came, all unexpected, and that she was ready when danger came, all unannounced.  She does not have to plan to be ready – she just is.  She is Monster Enough.

My Monster Enough is not afraid to be weak sometimes, because being weak sometimes makes the strength she has stronger, more lasting, more tempered.  She is not afraid to nurture, because nurturing takes more strength than yelling, even if it is not as loud.  She does not need to prove anything, because she is already Monster Enough.

She and I are not the same, and may never be.  But she is someone I would be proud to grow up to be, and I am grateful to have met her.

Who is your Monster Enough?

Words mean things.


“You deserve this,” she whispered into the cup of my ear, nibbling on the outside ridge of it.  “You deserve everything.  I love you.”  We curled up into each other, a nautilus twined in on itself in the gravity of infatuation.  We slept together, and woke together, still tangled up and relaxed, still so in love that it permeated around us.  We were beautiful, together.

“You deserve this,” she whispered into the side of my neck, clinging to me as if to life.  “You deserve everything.  I loved you.”  I pushed her away from me, frightened, repulsed.  She fell back, leaned on the wall, clung to me still with her deep, wet eyes.  She staggered back to her feet, slowly.  I looked around at the unholy mess our little apartment had become as she tottered out.  I barely heard her open the front door, but I heard the click-whoosh of her lighter.



“I… I need a favor.  Please.”  It shocked him to hear it, almost as much as it must have hurt her to say it.  She was not the type of person to ask for things, ever.  He had never, in all his years as her friend, heard her say she needed something.  It was new, and frightening.  He knew, in that instant, that whatever it was, it was something she needed as she needed breath and light, and that he would do anything to give it to her.

“Look, I just need a favor, all right?  Nothing big.  Just a favor.”  The words were fast, too fast, trying to overrun her objections.  He was cupping her face in the palm of his hand, like he knew she loved, and she knew he was trying to make her see it his way, like it wouldn’t cost her anything.  She knew, too, that it would work.  Just realizing it made her tired, sad, and a little sick.  She was so tired of “compromising” with the things that he needed.

“I need you.”  I looked her in the eye, and did not flinch.  It was a powerful statement, left bald that way.  She was afraid, and I wouldn’t let that stand.  “I love you, and I need you.  I will not be the same if you go.”  I took a deep breath, and let it sigh softly out of my lungs, deflating all my defense, all my ego.  “I need you.  You are still my sun, my moon, my starlit sky.  It hasn’t gone away.  It’s not going to.”


Words mean things.

Words are the birds that take flight, and show you where your enemy is hiding.

Choose your words as carefully as you would choose ammunition, a love’s or lover’s gift, a mode of travel, a medium in which to burn and create.  Words mean things – have a care that the things you say are the things you mean, or ‘ware the dragons that live outside the edges.

Because today was a day full of work, and then tonight was a night full of work, and now it is almost today all over again, and I will fuck up today’s work quite thoroughly if I don’t at least pretend I intend to sleep in between.

But there are things that need writing, and will not leave me alone until I acknowledge them.  It’s been a very right-brain-eating-my-face week, and for some very good and very interesting reasons, and some very bad and very interesting ones.  I am sorting through all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, and now here is a list, because that way I can pretend to the things that need writing that I will get to them, at least long enough to sleep.  And maybe, when I wake up again, I will remember what I meant by all this – or, even more interestingly, I will half remember, and make something not-quite-new-but-curiously-rewrought out of the bits.  Upcycled memory.

Words mean things.  It needs writing because it is true.  Because deserve is a blessing and an epithet.  Because need is a plea, a bargain, a comfort, a curse, a coward’s way out, a pretty lie, a naked and trembling truth. Because words mean things, and people mean things by words, and what we mean by things means everything – and when what we mean is not what it means to someone else, things can go very awry, or just very else.

The trouble with torture.  The trouble with torture, O Best Beloved, it’s that it’s predictably and practically pointless to do it to anyone else but one’s very own private, potent, purulently penitent Self.  No one else has the tools to hone the edge of the tool so fine that it cuts precisely where the intent meets the deed, so that the Self is reminded of what it couldn’t be bothered about before any of this silliness began.

Hookers, whores, call girls and storytellers.  We lie.  We all lie.  And the ones of us who are paid the most to lie to other people are paid to do it because our lies sound like something that those people want very, very badly to be true.  Find the truth that your john wants, and feed it out, micron by micron.  Get paid in the coin of your choice for every morsel.  Wrap as much of what you believe or want to be true in it as you can bear – every word that comes out of your cocksucker that you can believe, your john will believe because you believe it, and it will be easier to sell the ones you know are lunacy and pap.  Cut yourself on true words to feed him watered down lies that taste like lifeblood just enough to make him want more.  And while he’s swallowing, pilfer his wallet.  Or tell him why he had the idea to sign the contract.  Where is the line between fantasy and sociopathy?

Brains are tuning forks. Songs are the note to which mine resonates right now.  The shortcut drug is in full effect, and it is digging things up out of trunks long left locked to rust in the dark.  Pieces of Split City are slotting together, and I think I expected that to be a good thing.  It is definitely becoming something very else, though, and I don’t know what I think of that.  I am becoming, slowly, hesitant to think of these things that I am putting words to as part of some linear work.  There are too many parallels, overlaps, whorls.  Plotlines run like fingerprints.  It is confusing, fascinating.  I have told and retold the story of my own life to myself so many times, in so many ways, trying to make sense of it – perhaps I have worn parallel sorts of paths in my brain, so that it creates not single things, but what if bouquets of possibility and potentiality.

We shall see.

(Much of this is recognizable to me, minimal prismatic action.  It is, essentially, the narrative thread that life “ought” to have, but so often doesn’t.  It’s the story I’m starting to tell myself, in a lot of ways, about who and what I am and what I want and what I am willing to do.  Assume some things have been scrambled, and also that I made up most of the actual events, because many things are easier to process if they are posed as fiction.)


Singing for Myself


“It’s like being hit by a truck,” I told her, pulling a drag of smoke deep into my lungs and exhaling, feeling melodramatic just putting it that way, even though it was the only simile I could find.  “I mean, that sounds stupid, but it’s true.  It’s just this noise, that doesn’t even process as sound, and then a flash of impact, and then you’re lying there on the ground, trying to move, trying to get up.  And it’s this horrible feeling of helplessness, because there’s something wrong, and you can’t make everything work quite right anymore.

You know, in a minute, it’s going to hurt like nothing else ever has, and the pain is going to be a wave that rolls you under it if you don’t hang on tight.  But you also know that if you could just get UP, make everything MOVE, that you’d be back in control, and that no pain would stop you.  But because there are whole sections of you not answering the call anymore, the pain rolls you under, drags you into it, leaves you washed up on the shoals of your own mind gasping for breath and praying not to get hit with another wave.  But the whole time, even under and inside the pain, the voice in your head is telling you just how MAD you’re going to be, when you can just. Get. UP.”

She had her head cocked on one side at me, smiling a little bit.  She waited for me to hit the end of the picture I was trying to paint for her, and took another drag off her own cigarette.  Slowly, slowly, she nodded.  “I know what you mean,” she said.  And she did.


So, here’s the thing about being me: I’m stubborn, and I cannot let something stand once I know it is standing dead in my way, if I have control over it.  The picture I was making was about a song, that hurt in a way I couldn’t even begin to process.  So, like all the other stories I tell myself about myself, this story is about love, and about getting the job done.


There was fire in the sky, and I chased it.  I ran gladly to meet it, knowing it had no thought or opinion of me, no thought or opinion at all, but I wanted to meet it, to see it at its strongest and most glorious, to stand in the middle of it and be alive.  So I chased the fire in the sky, and caught up to it, for a little while.

There’s a thing that I can never really decide whether I believe: that everything happens for a reason.  I know that my life is too full of coincidences for them to be just coincidences, but I also know that I’m a pattern-identifying primate working under a load of genetic sample distortion that’s pretty fucking epic.  But one thing in the last couple of weeks definitely happened for a reason, and it makes me happy that it did.

A few days ago, I was engaged in a series of conversations by text message that were surreal, sleep deprived, and quite entertaining about the oddnesses that one encounters in this or that county, as I was driving.  It was between 5 and 10 A.M., and I was on small roads, with almost no one else on them.  One of those conversations was lamenting that I had been all over a particular piece of parkland, hunting for the entrance, and could find everything, apparently, but the main gate.

I found out, last night, why I spent a few hours muttering in frustration to myself.  It was so I could chase fire in the sky, and know where I was going and about how to get there.

Because, see, here’s the thing: if there are roads, then I will drive on them.  Your polite sign about permits makes my problem with authority itch.  I will politely close gates behind me, and I will not damage the terrain I explore.  I will not litter.  I will not start uncontrolled fires.  I am a safe, intelligent person.  And so I have decided I am permitted to drive on your roads, because you have made them fit for my car.

And, frankly, because I care enough to do it and you don’t care enough to stop me.  Not really.  So I win, because I give more of a fuck about whether I do it than you do.

So I saw the storm, in all its rolling, lightning-lit and multi-splendored glory, from below the epicenter, listening to the wave of silence that rolled in before the wave of rain.  I sat on top of my car and laughed to myself, gleefully, watching the sky open up and rain hell down on the forest around me.

And somewhere in all that, I remembered being hit by a truck, and feeling parts of myself go weak and numb, refusing to respond to my commands and calls.  I remembered singing in their kitchen, cooking, happy.  I remembered singing because it meant I was happy, and so they’d know.

And I remembered when the only times I sang were because I was so happy it needed somewhere to go, some way out of me so I wouldn’t have to try to contain my joy at just being fiercely and amazingly alive.

There in the rain, sopping wet in the wind and dark, I sang because I remembered what it was like to overflow with joy, to have my self run over without fear or worry that it would be damaging, somehow, to anyone else.  I found how to sing for myself again, and I sang to the storm because it was sing or explode.

So I wandered because I was lost, but wandering lost would show me the way when I needed it.  And I found the self that overflows again, and is not afraid.  It’s probably just coincidence that I found that particular piece of myself again just in time for Pride weekend, right?

Mythology of self

We tell ourselves stories all the time, every day.  You’ve heard me talk about this before, and it’s a theme I come back to a lot, primarily because I spend a fair portion of my time asking myself what story someone is telling themselves about a particular set of facts, events, circumstances, whatever.  There are lots of stories to tell about any particular event, and the story that you tell yourself will materially and significantly change the way you look at the event, how you feel about it, how you feel about yourself and other people in relation to it.  The facts form a very, very low percentage of the actual opinion and emotional resonance that a human forms around any important event: most of what goes on in our heads is the story we are telling ourselves about what happened, what is happening, what will happen, what might happen.

That becomes even more pertinent, even more common, even more influential when we think about people instead of facts.  People are mutable and interpretable in a way that facts are not.  Though we spend a lot of brain power excusing or ignoring internal motivations, on some level we (as humans) are basically incapable of ignoring the fact that other humans’ internal motivations DO exist, in a theoretical sense.  So, based on the fact that it can only ever be a theoretical sense, we create theories of who they are, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, what they might or might not think or feel or do in regards to us and what we feel and think and do or do not do or think or feel.

How, then, do we reinterpret and recreate ourselves?  We are, from an internal perspective, a complex mix of both fact and perception, of concrete certainties and guesses.  When you ask someone why they did a very important, very emotionally loaded thing, they will often have a logical, rational, prepared explanation.  They have a story.  They will tell you their story about why they acted the way they did, what they were thinking, what they were feeling, and why all of that makes sense in the context of what was going on.

The problem with that (or at least, this is my theory today – ask me again tomorrow, it’ll probably be different) is that it’s bullshit.  It’s a story they’ve devised to explain to themselves why what they did was right, or why it made sense, or just why it was okay to do at the time.  It’s a construct, a fabrication, a creation designed to uphold their certainty that they do have reasons for doing things, and that they understand why they do things.  People, in general, devise their sense of self and identity from identifying common characteristics in the stories they tell themselves and other people about themselves, and then basing their future stories and behaviors on those characteristics.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of identity reinforcement.

Here’s the chink in that armor: ask someone why they engaged in an action that has no real resonance, that wasn’t important, that didn’t have any real meaning to them at the time.  Preferably, ask them about it both right after they do it, and then again some time later (best if you ask after they have forgotten the first conversation about the action).  At first, usually they will not know why they did that thing.  It was a small action, an unimportant thing, that didn’t need a story.  But when questioned, they will create a story, no matter how small, no matter how poorly constructed, to uphold their self-identity.  They will seek a story that holds a reason that somehow jells with the way they see themselves, through the lens of years or decades of stories repeating the same themes.

After they have forgotten the first conversation, ask again.  The story will probably have changed, although in many cases not by much.  It will hold together better, and small details will be altered to make it flow more freely and coherently.  It will be more according to the standards they expect of themselves, positive and negative, and it will be a better brick in the wall of self-identity.  The story gains stability the further away from the action the person is – because memory is a strange and mutable thing, and we color it in with details that make it easier for us to make sense of it in context of our world.

So, the thing I am going round and round trying to get at is this: we create our own set of stories, our own mythology of self.  My mythology of self is complex and at times incoherent, and interacts with others’ mythology of me in interesting and sometimes very surprising ways.  Everyone I know has a mythology of self – a series of stories that they have told to themselves and others that is part truth, part fiction, told and retold, honed and refined so that it supports and reinforces the person that they have convinced themselves they are.

The mythology of self is a critical part of human experience, I think.  It is utterly inseparable from the way people self-identify in a more scientific and psychological sense, and it is crucial to creating a bridge between separate people, so that they (like fractious deities in totally unrelated pantheons, forced to overlap and interact) can mingle their mythologies to help form a society that we can all thrive and find wonder in.

There is something in this idea, I think, that I will find really useful for exploring the concept of deity as self, and self as deity.  I will have to chase it down one day soon.  For now, I am having great fun poking holes in my own mythology, squinting skeptically at what ego and mis-memory created to convince me that I am me, and there is no other way to be.  We are humans and gods, children and crones who have a fascination with the other and the self, and we are inherently mutable and adaptable.  The mythology of self may well be one of the most powerful tools we have in reinventing our selves and our worlds to be people and places that we are invested in, joyful about, and in love with.

Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a question that I’ve heard at pretty much every writer’s panel I’ve ever been to, ever.  (And, all bullshit aside, I’ve been to a lot of them.  I get a *lot* of writer crushes. Don’t judge me.)  Every time someone who has managed to get together the combination of talent, intelligence, drive, dedication, and circumstance that allows them to become famous (or semi-famous, or somewhat popular, or well-known in their field) comes before an audience that is invited to ask them questions, inevitably that one question comes up.  (Well, okay, I’ve never heard it asked of a non-fiction author, so assume I’m speaking only of fiction authors, here.)

Where do you get your ideas?

And it’s been answered a billion billion different times in a billion billion different ways – everything from angry, sarcastic non-answers to joking, sarcastic non-answers to genuine attempts to explain the answer in metaphor to attempts to explain the answer by example to any number of other things.  All these men, women, and other humans do their best (or their best at the time) to answer that one topologically simple question: where do you get your ideas?

Now, I’m not famous.  I’m not popular, except for a *very* limited definition of the word.  I’m not well-known in my field.  But I do write, and over half what I write is fiction, and most of the things I write end up baffling the reader(s) as to their genesis.  So I am going to engage in that ultimate egomaniacal exercise, answering a question I have not been asked, that no one has cared to ask me.  (Telling me that my brain works in very strange and unpredictable ways doesn’t count as asking even by a very generous standard, I think.)

I think the reason that it’s so hard to answer is this: the answer is different for every idea.  Beyond that, it’s different for every facet and every flavor of every idea, and sometimes it goes on to become different again as the idea grows and morphs and develops ideas of its own about what it should be.  So the concept of it having some brilliant moment of genesis is a little fundamentally flawed .

Most really creative ideas, at least in my experience, are a little like a mad scientist kitchen with fifty different experiments going at once.  Imagine having each different experiment in a separate container, and not making any notes on what goes into any of them – just having confidence that you’ll be able to remember it, or figure it out again, when you get back around to really working on that one.  So you’re working on fifty different experiments at once, throwing a little of this and a little of that into each pot.  And every so often, one of them will explode – either in a cloud of noxious gas, sending you fleeing from the kitchen, or in a brilliant ball of flame and light that makes you go “How in the HELL did I do that, how can I do it again, and now how do I make that work for me so I can put it in something useful?”

Then add in the fact that all of the containers leak, most of the countertops are crooked, none of your measuring implements are quite accurate, and there are gremlins who change around what’s in your ingredient jars while you aren’t looking.  So eventually you can figure out how you got the noxious gas or the beautiful flame, but usually it takes a lot of back-analyzing and chipping off residue from the counter and occasionally licking it to see what’s in it, and then ending up in the hospital because you had the terrible, terrible idea of licking the burnt-on shit that came off your countertop.

So, when you get back out of the hospital, you can sort of remember what you were doing, and then probably recreate something like what you had the first time, but mostly you’re working on memory and instinct, and hoping for a lot of luck.  And asbestos underpants.  That’s what having ideas is like, for me.

Here’s the reason that the question is inherently unanswerable, though: that’s just me.  And that only explains the genesis of about half my ideas, at most.  Don’t get me started on the Bai Ling-turns-into-a-zombie-who’s-really-a-rocker-dyke-who-just-wants-to-be-loved-but-probably-we’re-talking-about-an-accidental-apocalypse-thing-here, which, as of last night, doesn’t actually contain Bai Ling at all anymore.  There is no answer, because the answer is always different.  Even for one idea, there’s no one answer, because there are so many things that go into the synthesizing process of creativity that there is really no point in trying to give a technical explanation of the process.

And, at the same time, it is possible to distill the answer into a couple of pithy phrases, if you really really want to.  Where do writers get our ideas?  Life.  We get them from living.  We get them from tilting our heads funny and asking the wrong questions that turn out to be the right questions.  Where do we get our ideas?  From not being afraid to lick the countertops.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go refinish the kitchen in my brain with an all-new activated-charcoal chic.  It’s the new thing this season for the cerebral experimental gastronomer.


Every day when you walk through the world, there are people around you screaming.  They scream all day long, every day, and then scream into the night, and wake up or just stumble out of bed without ever having slept to do it all again.  They are screaming for you, at you, with you.  They are people like you, and they are screaming to try to be heard.


Every person walking the face of this planet has a voice.  Some are simple, some complex, some restrained and some impassioned and out of control.  All of them are worth listening to, because every single one of them is unique in some way.  Experience is never repeated, only refracted and reiterated into a new shape, a new time, a new person or circumstance.  When you lose track of the idea that all voices deserve to be heard, you become deaf to the beautiful complexity of living.


Every moment you breathe, there is something in your mind that is trying to be heard.  We are island creatures, made of flesh that cannot mingle with itself, and so we reach out to each other and ourselves to try and make the minds do what the flesh cannot.  We scream.  We chatter and stammer and beg, to try and be reaffirmed that we are people, that we have voices that other people can hear, that our voices deserve to be heard.


Do not lose track of the beauty in screaming.  Every scream has a meaning, a feeling, a thought, a moment of connection that will never happen again.  Miss it to your own detriment.


I scream to myself, to others, to nothing, to everything.  Like every other jumped-up monkey on our tilt-a-whirl rock, I scream all the time.  Often it is silent, and often it is unheard or misunderstood.  That doesn’t stop me, and cannot stop me, because to stop trying to be heard is to start trying to die.


Scream.  You have a voice, and it is a voice that has value, that deserves to be heard.  Scream.  Other people will be better for hearing it, because it reminds them that they are people, and that they can understand you a little, and so you can understand them a little.  Scream, and remind yourself and the people around you that you are all people, who have things in common, fears in common, loves in common, being in common.  Scream, and be whole.


And when other people scream, remember that they are like you, burning to be heard and understood.  To silence another person’s voice is the closest you can come to the Platonic ideal of sin – it excises and burns up something that is precious in its rarity, its complete immunity to recreation.  We are all fumbling in the dark of sentience, trying to find a way to touch someone else that we can never really see or be one with.  The closest we can come is to scream, to create a voice for ourselves that has something of all of us in it, that creates a bridge between the islands of ourselves, that provides for us the vital sense of connection, of being a creature who is not alone in the dark of its own mind.


Scream.  You will be heard, and someone is equipped to understand, and to care.  You are not alone in the dark.


Or you are going to feel a hell of a lot fucking worse.” – From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

And, lo and behold, my best got a hell of a lot fucking better, and I don’t feel a hell of a lot fucking worse.

I’ve gotten down a little under 3,000 good words of actual story content today.  No dialogue, nothing that will go verbatim into anything, but everything is Split City, and everything is something that will either fuel the plot or make the world tick over behind the plot, so it’s all directly useful.  I haven’t done anything nearly that productive on something that was my own project in over a year.

My best just got better, and the bar just went up.  Way up.  I’m pretty sure I’m happy about that – happy and terrified.  It’s a little daunting to look at what you can really do, when you focus and give it your best damn shot, as opposed to giving yourself reasons not to have to do the real fucking work.  This is the sharpest my brain has felt in a long damn time, and it feels really, REALLY good.  It’s the same feeling above the neck as a good sweaty workout followed by a hard spar gives me below the neck.  It’s exhausting and satisfying and makes me want to do it again tomorrow – and I have way more than enough bubbling in my brain to do it.

And because I did it today, there is less of a pressure cooker on the inside.  The city is starting to tick better because I am not hobbling myself, and I might get some decent non-chemical sleep.  Genuine joy in creation makes me feel more peaceful than I have in a long time, and more fulfilled than I have with anything I have created in more years than I care to count.  I am starting to have hope that this may be the first big art that I can actually bring to completion, instead of petering out partway through, and sighing and saying “someday…” and never getting around to it.  I want it to live, and I will see it through.  I am determined, and my best just got a hell of a lot fucking better.

And the phrase of the day is: squid saddle.  When you develop brain squids, buy squid tack and squid saddles.  It’s the only reasonable response.

Book time!

I just got done reading a thoroughly fabulous book, by a man whose brain I now want to not just lick, but chew on until all the gristly bits come out.  The book is The Name of the Wind, and its author is Patrick Rothfuss.  I am now going to blather on about it – if you have not read it, and you consider anything that may in any way be related to its plot to be a spoiler, GO AWAY NOW.  Go read the book and come back.  I promise, the book is worth the time, and the blog post will still be here when you come back.  If you have read the book, or your experience will not be spoiled by spoilers, read on.


First, Rothfuss’ use of language is exceptional.  His differentiation of character voices and speech patterns is good, and even his differentiation between different iterations of the same character is noticeable but coherent.  I was thoroughly impressed at the way Kvothe was different-but-the-same in speech and thought patterns between time periods.  It made me quite happy.  The way Rothfuss plays with the way people talk makes me, as a language nerd, extremely engaged.  It is easy to tell the difference, even in extended periods of dialogue.  Small irritation: there is relatively little honest back-and-forth dialogue, as so much of this volume is straight first-person or third-person narrative.  The plot carries itself well enough that the lack of speech only becomes apparent to me in hindsight, and Kvothe’s inner monologue is interesting enough not to be cumbersome, but it’s still something that I could see giving the work as a whole more movement, and a greater sense of space.  We are trapped, most of the time, inside the confines of Kvothe’s head – and although it is quite a spacious, flexible, and capable head, it is only one head, nonetheless.  It will be interesting to see whether or where that changes in the second book.


Second, I absolutely, wholeheartedly, and without reservation ADORE his willingness openly to acknowledge fantasy tropes, hold them up to the light, and shred them mercilessly with Kvothe’s hands or words or thoughts or deeds.  Highly, unerringly entertaining, and worked cunningly into the plot so as to make the action more realistic, the characters more interesting, and the overall slowness of the development bearable in its pace.  Make no mistake – this is definitely set at “Civilization: Epic” speed, where every moment counts.  The movement is often bogged down by minutiae of the everyday, but they are fascinating minutiae, because they are not saved by fantasy convenience.  Most often high fantasy of this kind is moved along by plot devices so obvious they could make an eighteen-wheeler double-trailer on fire driven by a meth-addicted demon with hookers dancing on the roof dressed in neon seem subtle and understated by comparison.  Rothfuss doesn’t use these very much – and when he does, the answers to them are inventive, unpredictable, and often inconvenient.  Grant you, this is a double-edged sword.  Without a taste for the epic, this could as easily be a habit that irritates instead of entrances.  For me, it’s fucking fabulous.  I will read a 700-page book that could have been 400, because it is well-written and not lazy.  I prefer it, because it is intelligent and does not cut corners.


Things I am not certain of yet: I don’t know whether it’s Kvothe or Rothfuss who so enjoys foreshadowing events as yet unrevealed.  I do know that I, as a reader, do not enjoy being blatantly teased.  It seems too clumsy for Kvothe, and exactly the sort of thing that I have seen from a number of authors whose first works of length are excursions into high fantasy.  It does not match up with the grace of the rest of Rothfuss’ writing, however, and just seems… off.  We’ll see how he follows up on it (or doesn’t) in the next book.  I don’t know how I feel about the fact that the entire first volume is, essentially, a prologue.  I am thoroughly in love with the fact that the way the book is set up is different – very different, story-within-a-story, without feeling the need to bring either story to a resolution.  I must hold judgment on that in abeyance until I see whether either story can be brought to a resolution, or whether the promise in either of the two main threads will wither on the vine because of the convoluted construction.


Things I hate: the cover art on the mass market paperback.  The fact that I did not take notes on the phrases, sentences, constructs that jumped out at me to spark my own writing (he has a knack for using turns of phrase that make my right brain sizzle and spark and snarl).  The fact that I will never get to buy Kvothe a drink, or sit down and have a smoke with Denna and talk to her about being a woman in the world she lives in.  That surprisingly few people will not look at me with surprise when I pick up using “blackened body of God” as an expletive or intensifier, because it fucking works if you spit it out.  That it will be next year before Day Two comes out.


It is a good book.  Tomorrow I may read it again.

I know this.  I know that I know this.  I am occasionally a drummer, and often a hummer, and alone or around people who don’t mind that I can only carry a tune when equipped with a sizable bucket, I am a singer.  But, realistically, I am not a musician.  That’s okay – everybody’s got their thing, and while I can appreciate and love and revel in music, I am not equipped to make it with any real facility.

Here’s the problem: ever since I read the thing and then wrote the thing about belligerent essentials, there has been a song punching the back of my brain.  It is a song I am in no way equipped to write, and if I did try to write it, it would end up being a hunchbacked quasimoto of a thing that limped along and said nothing like what I wanted it to say.  Words I can do, and meter I can occasionally do, but words + meter + tune = Motley’s Brain Explodes.  But it has a beat! You can hear it and feel it in the way the words come out in the rant, in the way they line up together to try and kick down doors.  There is a thing there that wants to be a thing that people can howl along with and fling at their enemies while taking back wild spaces for themselves, even if it’s only in their own heads.

Or, on the other hand, maybe that’s just the part of my brain that makes up things telling me that there should be a song like that, and it’s just making up things again.  I don’t know.  But it’s infuriating, whatever’s going on.  My right brain is eating my face.  Everything punchy that the phrases can slip into has the words kicking into the backbeat and distracting me.  Because they pulse, like adrenaline junkie music.  Except I can’t make adrenaline junkie music, so there’s nowhere for it to go.  So I am trying to Rubix Cube this thing that wants to be a song into something I can actually make, so I can get it out of my head at least enough to get around it and back to the things I am trying to work on.

Once again, I am living in a land of arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!  So maybe I will find a big piece of posterboard and a Sharpie marker and write all the phrases that want to line up with stompy boots and kick down doors and stomp to that fucking beat, and then it will at least be out, and not in the way of everything else.  Then they can live in big letters and no lines and be waiting for when I can figure out what in the hell I am going to do with them, and they will not chew on me in trying not to be forgotten.  This is a plan, I think.

Today I pack for a trip to the Frozen North.  Packing includes acquiring and becoming functional in the use of little voice recording gear, so I can make at least some practical use of 20+ hours in the car this weekend.  Maybe some good stories will come out of it; who knows?  I am determined to stare into the teeth of the Feeling Like a Crazy Person Talking to Herself tiger and giving it a good kicking.  It’s the only way I will ever get past it.  With enough practice, it will feel normal, like so many other things.  If nothing else, I can get a lot of good notes on “this is the sound of” type things out of my head and onto the record, so that I don’t lose track of them, and then once I am better at getting my right brain to stop eating my face, I can get more detail of the scenes and people that live in the music onto paper or at least into words.  Now I just have to figure out how to translate that smell-o-vision 5000.

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