Just flung a story into the aether unsupported, in the hopes that it finds a soft landing at Circlet. Old antho that needed a couple more short stories to round it off– my editor from the first round sent me the info, and I managed somehow to write a decent story to meet the criteria in about… four days? Five? Less than a week to write, edit, revise, polish, send.

I think I’m insane.

My brain is vaguely squishy now, however, and so I feel very strongly that it’s bedtime for bitchcakes.

Crossed fingers and toes for acceptance to the antho, and that will be three publication credits to my name, which makes bitchcakes very happy indeed.

Even if the editor doesn’t take it, it’s a damn good story and I know it. So there.

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-her map of Tasmania. It’s her first show, and she’s terrified and ecstatic. Her mother watches, fretting with glued-on lashes a flurry of spiky black around gem-bright eyes. Sequins and rhinestones catch the cheap-lightbulb fluorescence that surrounds the makeshift dressing-room mirror as she puts her scissors down and picks up a pair of sheer stockings. The fleshtone nylon whispers and scratches as she unrolls it over her skin, encasing herself with a drag queen’s first line of defense.

She stands, smoothing her slitted gown over her bestockinged thighs. The slice in the fabric nearly reaches her naval, and slides as she moves, a shifting peep-show that shows far too much but never quite …everything.

“You all tucked up, honey?” her mother asks, and the virgin queen reaches between her thighs, giving the space there a quick once-over with cherry-taloned fingertips. Nothing comes loose, and she strikes a pose. The line of her posture is nervously perfect, from the tip of her glittering stiletto pump to the peak of her lace-front bouffant. Someone must have bled on her lips to get that color of red, and her lashes are a falsely modest line against her carefully porcelained cheek as she shyly ducks her head and blows her mother a moue of a kiss.

“You’re beautiful,” whispers her mother through proud tears that threaten to make her eyeliner run, and with all the frightened determination of a robin in late spring, she nudges the virgin through the curtained door, down the dimly-lit hallway at the end of which the stage is waiting, dollar bills in hands around it, waiting for a garter to receive them.

So we registered strangeandsavage.com in my name tonight.

The project is… the secondary, parallel track to my impulses to make things. Stories come first, but images are a close second.

Watch this space.

In going through my photographs and scribblings and story-bound dribblings, I’ve picked up on a pattern I hadn’t been aware of, but that has given me something to chew on. I haven’t had much time to mull it, so these are nothing more than incomplete thoughts and observations, jotted down here for future reference, or perhaps as a placeholder I can come back to for further chewing.

I suppose that makes this cud. Ah, well. Sorry about the spit.

I am fascinated by doors. Doors, windows, apertures of all kinds; the line of demarcation between Here and There. Gates, entryways. Portals. The slender in-betweens that define the edges and boundaries. I get the same rush from standing in a doorway as I do from standing at the edge of a lake or the ocean: this is in-between. This is a meeting-place, the crossroads where Here and There meet.

Oddly, I don’t get that tingly feeling from crossroads.

I know people who don’t like mirrors. In my head, mirrors and windows are the same creature, and I am compelled to think that it’s instinctive, and that perhaps it’s why so many people don’t like mirrors: they’re windows through which we cannot see the other side, and who knows what’s lurking there, watching us while we fix our hair or glide eyeliner across our lids, or shave, or merely glance? Intellectually, I know that behind the frame and glass is simply an impenetrable wall like all the rest not covered by mirrored surface, but the creature-soul in my hindbrain knows that I’m fooling myself with silly, trivial facts, that reality is something far other, far stranger.

I don’t like dolls and mannequins for the same reason. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then theirs are shuttered and dark, and all manner of unspeakable things may be going on behind them. Human shaped things without life, with eyes but without souls. They’re terrifying.

But… doors. Love ’em. Fascinated by them. I’ve photograph after photograph of doors and gateways and windows of all types. I wonder what it means, down there in the creature-brain? It’s certainly not been a conscious gravitation. The things are clearly important to somebody in my head. I wonder who it is.

The designer behind Hidden Eloise is claiming that Amazon.uk retailer Paperchase has copied, duplicated, and profited from her designs.

Frankly, giving the two pieces in question a brief comparison, I have to agree. It’s blatant plagiarism, and Paperchase’s response to a request to desist has been, apparently, a great big shrug and a step up in the merchandising.

What a bunch of assholes. I don’t have a .uk account with Amazon (not that I’m using my US-based one right now anyway; they pissed me off over the MacMillan books tiff) but it makes me wish I did just so I could post a screed in the reviews of each of the products in question. Still, others have got there ahead of me. I’ll take comfort in that.

*BEFORE YOU CLICK* The following link leads to a blog which contains images that may not be safe for workplaces or viewing by children (the blogger is a photographer whose repertoire includes artistic nudes).

I stumbled across a link to this blog article about police methods in dealing with photographers in public. It’s… confusing. I have friends in law enforcement, so I can understand the desire to be absolutely certain about a person’s intentions and motives for doing something. The attitude this particular officer describes, however, is not so much cautious as belligerent. It troubles me.

According to the officer interviewed, as far as he’s concerned, whether or not someone’s breaking the law ‘doesn’t matter’, and it similarly doesn’t matter whether or not someone’s required to show ID. My instinct is to be offended by that. The job description is ‘law enforcement’. If no law is being broken, immediate initiation of what can only be called harassment activity is not an appropriate response.

This really stood out for me: “we hope the public will take note and take comfort from this kind of activity. We want people to feel more secure.”

Having read this interview, I don’t feel more secure. I feel terrified, because it illustrates that there are law enforcement officers out there willing to obscure the law and intimidate individuals in response to little to no provocation. I understand that there is a balance between protecting the rights of individuals within a society, and protecting the society as a whole, but this seems way over the line, to me. I may be biased: I’m a photographer, and I enjoy photographing structures for the artistic merit they may hold. I’m not interested in doors and windows (an example mentioned in the conversation) unless they form an integral part of the composition, but now I’ve the worrisome thought in the back of my mind that my liberty may be in danger for doing so. I don’t like to think that my name and address may show up in a police file because the light was just right behind an abandoned warehouse while I was out for a walk one Saturday afternoon.

I know there are officers and people related to the field who read my blog- please weigh in and give me your thoughts? I genuinely want to understand the issue, all sides of it, and if understanding gives me reassurance, so much the better.

Tad Williams is a man of a brilliance I can’t touch. I can write passingly well, I confess that much, but he creates, and does it on a level that is, I think, rare. Lots of people write, many of those tell excellent stories. Tad brings his people and his worlds to breathing life. I don’t know how he does it. There’s magic to it, in an older and more terrible sense of the word than legerdemain and Disney. Alchemy- he turns the lead of letter, syllable and phrase into a golden reality, one accessible only by turning pages and hoping he gives you more once you’ve done so.

It’s that quality that has me excited and more than a little anxious about one of his upcoming projects. He is collaborating with Paul Storey on a novel, written by Tad (er, obviously), illustrated with paintings by Paul, based on Wagner’s Ring cycle. Tad and Paul have me a bit frightened over it. It holds much promise, and more than a little threat, because I know already what Tad can do. Coupling his talent with what Paul is offering… well.

The paintings make me uncomfortable. Paul is a fantastic artist, with the ability to evoke more than any typical “ooh isn’t that a lovely picture” feelings with his work. Tad has been posting on his website sneak peeks of the Ring-based paintings, and I’ve been keeping tabs on them, and trying to articulate what it is they do to me. I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed to do so, but then again, I suspect it may never get clearer than this.

They’re disturbing. I mean that they disturb the equilibrium and give me pause with a little shiver of discomfort. I can’t say it’s a bad thing, but it is a more than a bit off-putting. Think of dropping a stone in a pond: everything moves and shifts and looks different for a minute. The sky’s reflection is broken and scattered, and for a moment you can sort of see what’s lurking under the surface, whether you want to or not. The paintings do this to me. They are very dreamlike in their composition: forms and figures are distorted, stretched-seeming, with muted, muddled colours that here and there are marked with splashes of something more vivid and arresting. His subjects’ expressions are withdrawn, resigned, caught in the story, I suspect, and aware of it. There are subtle references everywhere to things I think I ought to recognise but can’t quite grasp: the linked limbs, for example, especially in Rhine Maidens (there is a symmetry to their linked arms that suggests something to my hindbrain that I cannot catch hold of); the wheel formed by the stretched bodies in The Voyage of Siegfried. I can touch the edges of these things, but I can’t quite grasp them, not awake. The paintings touch something that stays asleep and dreaming once I wake up, and that part of me, I think, recognises the undercurrents and swims in them, whereas the rest of me is floundering on the surface. Is there a significance to the single edged cuff in The Bride? I don’t know, and I’m not sure I want to find out– but then again, I desperately want to know.

These paintings are haunting me.

Just like Tad’s characters.

The two of them… they’ve got me worried. And very, very thrilled.