Saturday, November 8, 2008

So if I'm done, why do I still have this queasy lump in my stomach?

Two weeks of edits. Two weeks of no exercise, skipped meals, late nights, and cats who either don't understand that a 3:00 a.m. feeding should allow them to wait a little past their usual 8:00 a.m. breakfast slot while their exhausted can opener tries to sleep in a bit, or who simply reject that premise on general principles. Merciless hungry claws hooked through my internasal septum at 8:05 because a novel outline that was supposed to be done in fucking August was still making my agent go huh? and By the time they get back to earth I have no idea what's going on in October.

What we got here is a Blindsight spinoff; a thought-experiment on the nature and evolution of Singularities, past and future; a cast of characters who don't understand their own actions (one of the themes of the book is that it's neurologically impossible to understand our own true motives; the best we can do is make guesses after the fact); all told through the eyes of a man whose brain is literally being rewired throughout the course of the story. Oh, and we also got a subversive Biblical allegory in which angels, Christ figures, Tempters, and God all have hard-sf underpinnings, and in which the only route to salvation is to lose your soul. If you're not at least a little confused by then end, I'm not doing my job right.

Still, I can sympathize. Agents the world over would probably quail at selling any book which asserts that the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey was too obvious.

But I think I'm done. I've tried to cover all bases: three opening chapters; a two-page Coles-Notes bullet list on Why The Singularity May Not Work As Advertised; three separate outline/pitches/teasers ranging from 400 words to over 7,000. (And let us take a moment here to acknowledge the beta-reading skilz of Dave Nickle and Madeline Ashby, the latter of whom literally rewrote my 10K outline in less than 3K — by, in her words, turning Solaris into Transformers. I had to fatten it up again a bit to hide the decepticons, but watch this woman: notwithstanding the whole Goat's-Head-Soup motif on her blog, she will go far.)

I don't know if it works now. I don't know if my agent will like it; I don't know if he can even get it out there before the whole fucking publishing industry packs it in for their annual two-month Christmas vacation, or if anyone in today's economic climate would buy a book that tells them how much worse everything is going to get. But there's nothing much I can do about that now, and I have other duties piling up that will more reliably pay the bills.

First things first, though. I've just completed my first 16K run in two weeks or more. I am about to take my first shower in almost that long. Now I am going to gorge on crème pumpkins and reread Watchmen, and tomorrow I will be attending a Swedish vampire movie of unknown pedigree. I am going to take this weekend off.

If I'm feeling especially decadent, I may even change the fetid litter box of my deranged and hostile cats.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

GreyjoyBastard, posting anonymous because Blogger's identification system is being an ass:

Congratu-fucking-lations! That vacation is well-deserved. Hopefully your agent and the publishing companies are sufficiently on their balls that I'll be reading your book by... April, say?

Also, happy belated Obama Day.

November 8, 2008 7:08 PM  
OpenID eriko said...

Now damn it. I want to read it now so it can make my brain ache like blindsight. Hmmm.... Maybe I should just read blindsight again.

November 8, 2008 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Madeline said...

Dude, you get to see "Let the Right One In?" ENVY.

I see no goats at my blog. Perhaps this is a failing on my part. I may have a case of goat-blindness.

And in case anyone's worried: it's still Solaris. I just stuffed her in a corset and cinched her up nice and tight, so she could attend the ball.

November 9, 2008 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Sunday said...

Don't change the litter box on account of anyone else, Watts. Some of us have a mental image of you we'd like to keep pristine.

November 9, 2008 1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Ashby says:

And in case anyone's worried: it's still Solaris.

hahaha - when I read Peter's description paragraph which starts "What we got here is a Blindsight spinoff; a thought-experiment ..." I said to myself, "So, Solaris?"

Because after I read Blindsight I thought, hm, this guy is channeling Lem, that notorious bag-o-cheer. *shudder* Peter, if you find yourself bragging in print about your IQ or doing other Lem-ish things, run to the exorcist before it's too late. Stanislaw, if you are reading this while hitching a ride on Mr. Watt's brain? Go home. You had your chance, time to move on. Thanks. *smiles*

Mr. Watts says:

two weeks or more. I am about to take my first shower in almost that long.

2 weeks???

Dear DHS,

Subject Watts has taken up development of biological weapons, after interest in high caliber harm to the POTUS-elect waned. He experimented on comrades in a small apartment with a dangerous mixture of 10 days worth of BO and volatilized cat urine on election night. We believe they survived, but this subject bears further surveillance, as he may be under the influence of a sci fi writer of a former Soviet block country.


November 9, 2008 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Madeline said...


Yeah, I got that vibe, too. But actually, this particular story is a lot like Stanislaw Lem and Garth Ennis meeting up to discuss Nikos Kazanstakis, then ending up in a broken bottle match five minutes before last call.

...And if that's not a pitch, then I don't know what is.

November 9, 2008 10:51 AM  
Anonymous cd said...

I really hope you liked Let The Right One In - I quite liked the book and thought the movie did a pretty dang good job of adapting it to the visual medium (it helps that the book's author also wrote the movie's script).

November 10, 2008 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


- razorsmile

November 11, 2008 1:04 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

cd said...

I really hope you liked Let The Right One In...

I did. The pacing was glacial, but 1984 and 2001 are two of my favorite all-time movies so I could deal with that. I've definitely crossed Sweden off my list of Bright Places To Retire To, though.

Reaction amongst my moviegoing companions was definitely mixed: one stomped out after 20 minutes, another was ambivalent, and a third spluttered like a Sarah Palin fan hearing the O-word. After the dust had settled, I think only two of us actually liked it — the same two who are into True Blood, now that I think of it.

November 12, 2008 12:17 PM  
Anonymous cd said...

Peter Watts wrote: I've definitely crossed Sweden off my list of Bright Places To Retire To, though.

Yeah, it gets pretty grim'n'dark here in the winters, even as far South as Stockholm (sunset at 15:30 in mid-November). But the movie is set over 25 years ago, and it's not quite as dismal a country these days.

November 15, 2008 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"and it's not quite as dismal a country these days."

This for a country that made a national monument out of a 1600s warship that capsized and sank within a kilometer of being launched.

November 17, 2008 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Dario Miranda said...

congratulations on another novel.

November 21, 2008 1:20 AM  

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