A couple days back, I was selling some old books at a local used bookshop. While I had initially intended to simply collect a bit of cash and be on my merry way, something caught my eye in the fantasy and science fiction hardcover section: a brown trade paperback called Storming the Reality Studio, edited by Larry McCaffery. I think perhaps I saw his surname and confused him for a McCaffrey (Anne, Todd, Georgeanne, and the like). Nevertheless, this 1992 anthology appears enriching, as its subtitle reads “A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Fiction.”
I recognized a number of contributors’ names: J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, Richard Kadrey, Jacques Derrida, Bruce Sterling, Marc Laidlaw, Thomas Pynchon, Rudy Rucker, Pat Cadigan, Samuel R. Delany, William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary, and Don DeLillo. Many of them were unfamiliar to me: Misha, for instance, and Arthur Kroker are names I don’t seem to recall having come across up until now.
Needless to say, I used store credit to purchase this tome of wonders and am now in possession of hours of potential entertainment and wisdom. (Ursula K. Le Guin and David Brin get mentions in the bibliography, though I don’t believe either of them contributed directly; perhaps they are mentioned within?)
I had seven books out from the library at my last counting: two Elizabeth Bear novels, two Victoria/V.E. Schwab ones, a crisp-smelling hardback of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, China Miéville’s Kraken, and an audiobook of Triss by Brian Jacques. Regarding the last one, I’ve had a bit of nostalgia lately for my sophomore year of high school, when I listened to the first four Redwall novels in publication order as well as Loamhedge. That coupled with my recent need to drive frequently across the western half of North Carolina, from near Raleigh to almost the Tennessean border, inspired me to embed myself in that series once again. Audiobooks are great for car trips–especially for those of us who drive a lot.
That said, I am trying to sit down in one place to read more often nowadays. I’m a flighty and antsy woman (walking stereotype of the absentminded creative!), and that aspect of my nature has helped me many times in the past. Still, there’s something about really getting into “the zone” and soaking up things like literature to let the stories and characters marinate for hours on end. Even after I emerge from holing up in the dark cave of whichever house or coffee shop I’ve been frequenting on a given day, these elements stay with me forever.
The other thing I’m trying to do more of nowadays is actually finish books. Even short stories. I have a careless habit of reading half or more of something before getting distracted by the shiny and the new. Not necessarily “new” as in just-published, as I read from various periods, but I have a trail of partially-read things strewn behind me, and I intend to rectify at least some of that. (Life is too short to spend too much time reading unappealing books, I might add. While I bear no ill will to most authors, I can’t read all of each one’s stuff, and simple time constraints force me to choose.)
I also need to finish writing more often. I’ve been toiling on what might be a short story – one that is probably going to remain as one of epic fantasy but might be reset in hidden corners of the “real” world – for at least a year now, and while I do love what I’ve gotten down, it’s been like pulling teeth. I’m trying to strike a balance between quality and efficiency, as I tend to be a perfectionist who spends forever tweaking the opening paragraph. I still don’t entirely know what the bulk of the narrative will contain, and the current ending might well change completely.
For today, I will crack Storming the Reality Studio to see how I like it. Perhaps I’ll also try and push forward a few sentences. No promises, but it doesn’t hurt to try!