It has rained all night, and in the dawn’s early light outside my windows everything looks wet and soggy. It was still raining this morning when my alarm went off, but as I sip my cappuccino and prepare my lunch before sitting back down to my computer, the rain has ceased, or at least there’s now a temporary respite. These are the days when I would rather curl up under a blanket and read a book, but alas–that is not to be.
I started reading Nick Mamatas’ I Am Providence last night and am enjoying it so far, although I’m only a few chapters in. I’ve not read him before, and this is a crime novel set at the Summer Tentacular, a conference/festival in Rhode Island celebrating Lovecraft. (I’ve also not read Lovecraft, which is another reason, one would suppose, why I am terrible at writing horror; Lovecraft apparently is de rigeur for writing horror or fantasy. I tried reading him when I was a teenager and didn’t get very far; I would try again but my TBR has basically already taken over my living room.) I love books about writers, and I love books about writing conferences–two of my absolute favorite books are Isaac Azimov’s Murder at the ABA (long overdue for a reread), which is set at what was once called the ABA (American Booksellers Association) and now called BEA (Book Expo America), and Elizabeth Peters’ hilarious Die for Love, set at a romance fan festival in New York (also long overdue for a reread).
I recently realized I’ve been writing stories about writers a lot lately–a couple of unpublished short stories, and of course, Jerry Channing appeared in both The Orion Mask and Garden District Gothic; I’m even thinking about an entire book with Jerry as the main character–and it’s always been something I’ve resisted–writing about writers, even though it’s something I know intimately and always enjoy reading. I even said this to one of my co-workers at the office lately, a quote that’s always in the back of my head: there is nothing more narcissistic and masturbatory than writing fiction about writers. That thought has always been in the back of my mind, and whenever I start creating a character who is a writer or have an idea for a story about one, I always pull back, remembering that. Saying it to my co-worker recently got me thinking about it–where did I read it? Who told me that? Stephen King has, for example, always written about writers–both ‘salem’s Lot (Ben Mears, moderately successful novelist) and The Shining (failed novelist Jack Torrance) have writers as main characters; and I can think of any number of other authors who’ve also done it, quite successfully. Elizabeth Peters’ series character Jacqueline Kirby starts out as a librarian, and eventually becomes an international bestselling romance novelist, for another example.
And then, last night as I revised a short story about a writer, and then curled up with the Mamatas novel, I heard the words clearly in my head again, and knew exactly where they came from.
That wretched writing professor who told me in 1979 I would never get anything published.
I might have known.
So, tonight as I continue to revise that story and work on the new book, I am giving you once again, Asshole Writing Professor, the finger.
And now back to the spice mines.
Here’s a hunk for today: