Friday, March 18, 2005


...has been a strange, transitory month. I've spent much of it fulfilling fiction and nonfiction obligations--a story for Jay Lake's TEL anthology, more secret lives (I think I can safely say the Secret Lives book won't be out until October), a piece on House of Leaves for Horror: Another 100 Best Books, edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman, various PR projects (including a VanderMeer 2005 sampler)--but also dealing with the distracting situation of having had a mole on my arm diagnosed as pre-cancerous. I had it surgically removed this past Tuesday (a very common procedure, although the first time I've had surgery of any kind), which has been quite a relief, but which is also kind of weird in a Frankenstein way. I've never had stitches or a long gash in my arm or anywhere else for that matter. It's so strange to be typing and feel the stitches tighten every so often. At times, it almost feels like the wound is separate from me. The discomfort isn't great; the sensation is just unfamiliar. I keep trying to differentiate it from other sensations so I can use it sometime.

This month I've also been thinking about this blog and how I use it and what I use it for. When I started it, I felt I used it as a kind of personal journal focused on writing. Then came a transitional phase when I realized I had an audience--I mean, I knew I had an audience before, but I didn't know, if you see what I mean--and I began to post entries with an awareness that there were readers to be entertained. More recently, this awareness has changed yet again, in that I realized that the audience had grown enough that it would be effective to publish interviews and features on writers who interest me. Even more "off topic," I've begun responding to the entries of other bloggers. This counter-punching was never my intent when I started because the point has been to share my own experiences.

So, in some ways, I feel as if I've lost something with this blog. I've gone electric, so to speak, and there's no longer that pleasant sense of having to lean forward to hear an unplugged, acoustic guitar. This means I've gained something as well, but at the expense of creating something more personal.

I haven't reached a decision on what I'll do with the blog in future--for one thing, I'm going on a mini-tour of Seattle and Vancouver soon, and am prepping for that--but I do see a time coming where I re-direct the blog's intent. Either to re-purpose it or to regain the original intent.

In the meantime, I'm feeling somewhat transition-y and restless. About two weeks before any big trip, I find it more and more difficult to write any fiction, and I've done just a couple of short pieces recently. That makes me mentally twitchy, while the stitches are making me physically twitchy. (How Ann puts up with all of this, I don't know.) I'm kind of in a driving-down-a-deserted-street-late-at-night-after-a-light-rain mood. Which means Seattle and Vancouver will be good, since you'd be hard pressed to find many places in Tallahassee you'd want to hang out at after one in the morning. I'm looking forward to a lot of late nights and cool or strange or even languid conversations and a lot of visual stimulation, being in places I haven't been before. There's this sense of wanting to explore and kind of to roam that comes over me sometimes, and it's frustrating at the moment to wait a week to get to that place.

One thing the movie Lost in Translation did is perfectly capture that kind of late night slide, the way places and people merge and you're sort of part of the places and apart from the places, and it's a feeling that's both comfortable and edgy. I think you need that as a writer. And it's not so much that going to new places provides inspiration--it's that it knocks things loose from inside of you that were already there but needed a way out. And it makes your nerve ends react differently. Processing is different. The same street that in your home town excites no interest from you has its doppelganger in a strange city, and there, by god, every little detail suddenly becomes important, and when you're home again, driving on that road, the two become superimposed and the familiar suddenly becomes strange. Those sorts of things happen.

Maybe it's just a way of wrenching yourself out of the familiarity of what's around you so you can again appreciate the miraculous in the mundane.

And maybe I'm re-purposing this blog already.


At 9:29 AM, Blogger Weirdmonger said...

Felt very much in tune with this entry, Jeff. You always make me think.

Sorry to hear about the operation. It must have been a worry. My best wishes from UK for a speedy recovery.

And good luck with re-purposing (wonderful phrase!)

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Kelly S said...

There must be something in the water infecting bloggers this March: just last week Jonathan Strahan began questioning his blogging purpose too. For what it's worth, as a reader these blogs are wonderful and inspirational, kind of a boost in the arm.

Good luck with the stitches! The whole experience of the stitches feeling detached from the body sounds like a Vandermeer story in the making.

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Matthew Rossi said...

Personally, I think one of the great things about blogs is their ephemeral nature, the way that they change form from day to day with the author's mood and circumstance, so that one day the blog is a place to gripe, another it is a personal journal, or a place to share something cool on the Web, or what have you.

Enjoy the trip and the latenight conversations/explorations/whateverations. Those are always good for inspiration.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Robert said...

Just keep doing what you do, Jeff. Even if it's something different every day. Especially if it's something different every day.

Glad you're now mole-less. The idea of a separate wound is definitely story matter. Chimes in somehow with phantom limbs. And I've always thought the whole concept of 'pre-cancerous' has a lot of potential.

Being in a 'driving-down-a-deserted-street-late-at-night-after-a-light-rain mood' sounds a bit like Fitzgerald's 3am in a real dark night of the soul. I'd bet that every VanderWorld reader who recognises that feeling is either a writer or trying to be. And you're right about Lost in Translation - so many great things in it, but what struck me most was simple recognition.

Re-purposing. Interesting word. Something one could also do to a warhead?

At 7:15 PM, Blogger JeffV said...

Great comments. I think a general, unfocused melancholy is something that strikes every writer every once in awhile.

I think I might have been talking as much about the baggage that accompanies having a semblance of a career as about the blog. I think I'm going to try to strike a better balance between the personal and public with this blog and just my life in the next few months/years.

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