Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's a grumpy old man

At great personal risk, I have bearded the Thin Man in his den and once again demanded a project status update. His recap of November was short and to the point: "I didn't get a damn thing done." Technically, that's not true. I know for a fact that he wrote two short stories but it has become his official policy not to count short stories as word count unless they're longer than 10,000 words. The reasoning is mercenarily simple. A good short is almost as much work as several chapters of a novel but the pay is literally in pennies. (The so-called pro rate is 5 cents a word. For a well polished 5,000 word short story it takes close to a week of work and pays, at best, 250 bucks. In the same amount of time, he could generate about 10,000 words on a novel.) I should point out, he refused to stop writing short stories (this seems to be some kind of mental disorder for short story writers--they can't stop) but he doesn't count them as "billable word count".

I understand his frustration. Since the Thin Man tries to support National Novel Writing Month, November is usually a productive time. Last year, just over 45,000 words on Calamity's Child; the year before, the entire draft of Red Scythian. On the other hand, this November brought family illness, farm work, recovering from a book release, and a change in medication. I didn't bother to bring this up because I already know the answer: "Results, not excuses." So instead, I asked, "What did you read last month?"

"Blood and martyrs, Cat, I don't know! The wife, she keeps a journal of what she reads. Me, I just pick up the next closest book."

I have, however, reconstructed a partial list that I present below. It's not a complete list because, like most transients, the Thin Man pretty much lives out of cardboard boxes so as soon as a book is finished, it goes into storage and a new box comes out, but here's what I know for sure:

What is Your Dangerous Idea? Edited by John Brockman
Strange Matters by Tom Siegfried
Necroscope, NS: Defilers, and NS: Avengers by Brian Lumley
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
That Yellow Bastard and Hell and Back by Frank Miller
Ultraviolet by Yvonne Vavarro/Kurt Wimmer
The End of Time by Julian Barbour
Shamrock and Spear Edited and Translated by F. M. Pillkington
The Strange and Uncanny by John Macklin
Red as Blood by Tanith Lee

And now we know why he's in such a bad mood. Not many books, nowhere near enough fiction and no military sci-fi at all. Who wouldn't be a grump?


Starbuck O'Shea said...

Ooooh, Red As Blood!

I sat down on the floor in a Flint bookstore, reading that. No one, not my parents, not the employees, THOUGHT to look in every aisle, they just looked for my head -- because everyone stands upright in bookstores, right?

I hear you about not enough.

Am making myself Do Stuff. Bear's book is staring at me, and waxing the cat beckons... Plus, I love blizzards, and would rather walk or drive in a blizzard than stay indoors. :> Snow's a goodness.


MKeaton said...

Cat waxing!!! Don't even say such a thing. It gives me the shivers. Humans can be so cruel.

Speaking of "Red as Blood", ask nicely and I'll sneak you a copy of the Thin Man's short "White as Frost". It's his own take on the same subject matter.