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Withholding Out
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Here's a song my bop, Heather L. Shaw, sings to me some mornings:

"My bop,
is a very very very fine bop,
he has two eyes and one arm
he wants to own a farm
but it's hard
to own a farm
with only one arm!"

And she sort of yodels, there, at the end. I love her so much.


A small-press poetry publisher heard I was leaving Star*Line, and wrote to ask if I'd like to edit a poetry 'zine under their auspices. You'll be surprised to hear that, in a Herculean effort of will, I actually said no. I! Said no! To a writing-related offer! You see, I'm forcing myself to be strong. No new projects. That's what I said. That's what I meant. I'm being good.

Then the same publisher and I talked about the possibility of my doing a poetry chapbook for them, and hey, it might happen. Still in the talking-it-over stage, and it wouldn't happen for several months yet if at all, but yeah, it seems like there's a good chance. A collection of Bestiary poems, actually. Illustrated, no less. So we'll see. Details will follow if it happens.

Y'all would buy an illustrated collection of my Bestiary poems, right? Especially if I wrote a few new ones for it?

I've never had a poetry chapbook. It would kind of rule. Hope it works out.


Otherwise, Flytrap is printed and on its way. Copies will get to Mike before he goes to World Fantasy, so if you're going there, get ready to be astounded, rollicked, flabbergasted, beflummoxed, and otherwise struck with wonder. The rest of you will get your copies in the mail early next month.

I also put in an order for copies of my collection tonight, so those of you who've kindly sent money for signed-and-fondled copies will have them as soon as I can get them, sign-and-fondle them, and put them back in the mail. So not much longer now.


Marvel at Heather's name! (And, hey, the cover looks different than it did on the first two! This is good. Not that it was a bad cover, but not good enough to use three times, no.) Thrill to Heather's rather out-of-date bio, complete with amazing ageless baby! You can pick this book up at World Fantasy, too, you lucky bastards.


Only 100 pages to go in The Wolves of the Calla. Fine stuff, still. King is doing that thing he does, though. The thing that never bothered me until I became a writer and took writing classes and so on. That thing where he withholds information from the reader, even though his viewpoint characters know it. He refers to that information! He tells us that the information is about such-and-such, and that it reveals something vital, and that it is the key to the whole damn story! But he doesn't tell us what that information is, though we know most of the other innermost thoughts of the characters. Is this technique effective for building suspense? Hell, yeah. Does it feel, to me, as a writer, rather like a cheat? Also, yeah.

Does this bother anyone else, or am I batshit crazy? King uses this technique in his books a lot (I remember that he does in Desperation and The Regulators, for instance). It keeps me reading, because I want to find out the secret, and it's suspenseful because I know there's a secret (which is an effect that truly withholding the information, by which I mean not referring to it at all, wouldn't have), but when I know things like who the characters are having illicit love affairs with, who they're resentful of, when they masturbate -- when I know all that, it annoys me on some level to not know the huge looming thing in their consciousness, the key to their plan, you ken? This same trick happens in movies a lot, where a secret plan is suddenly revealed, some trick or reversal, but in most movies the story is all surface. Unless there's cheesy voice-over narration you don't know what's in the minds of the characters, and so the technique doesn't seem like a cheat to me then; I don't expect to know their secret thoughts.

I don't think I'd be comfortable using this technique in my own fiction. Am I depriving myself of a useful tool? Or am I just being fair to my readers? If there's a secret plan or fact in one of my stories, I might have a viewpoint character who knows of the existence of the secret plan or fact, but they damn sure won't know the details, not unless I'm prepared to divulge them to my readers, too.

I didn't mean to go on about this at such length. I guess this is that analytical-reading thing that older writers always warned would happen to me eventually. I'm still loving the hell out of the book, though. This really isn't bugging me that much. I don't remember the last time I read 600 pages in three days.

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