Thursday, November 15, 2007

SGTD

I got an e-mail a few days ago from Mithridates. He said if Tender Only to One was what he thought it was it should go public because it might help people who were close to the edge.

Also an e-mail from someone whose son had read The Last Samurai many times many years ago.

Also an e-mail from Hassan Abudu, who in the midst of jobhunting has grappled with PHP and MYSQL and produced a map for the website where readers can mark their location.

Also many e-mails from Mark Greif of n+1, who is seeing Your Name Here through the last stages before the magazine goes to print.

Among others.

So I have been discussing vexed questions by e-mail. Is it kosher to talk about bad things people do when one is fresh from a psychiatric ward, I say, citing the example of X. Mith: Yes, you should definitely use this. ... Check with Rawls; I'm sure of it!!! It's in the chapter called "Fuck Him": Rawls uses Grotius in a really
interesting way there....

And what would be good headings for the map app, says Hassan. What would make speech bubbles less lame? What would make the forms look good? And what about a shopping cart for the website?

I was not sure this was such a good idea; there are more stories, yes, but they are on hard drives on three or four laptops, or a pile of plastic folders somewhere, and they would have to be cleaned up, and in short this looked like a good way not to finish a book.

I then remembered the website I had asked my first webdesigner to use as a model 3 years ago. Haunch of Venison. I thought, Yes, maybe we could pirate the design of the HOV website for the map page. So I had a look, and I suddenly realised that if I could have a shopping basket like the HOV shopping basket it would be worth digging up 5 stories to have something to put in it. I passed this on to HA, who writes:


laaaaaaaa ilaha illallah... You know, when I first read you'd consider digging through terabytes of data and kilograms of paper to get 5 short stories together just so you could have an online store like this HoV thing, you had me wondering what sort of shopping basket could be that cool, I mean, it's just a freaking shopping basket, anyway, it's also just a webpage, how bad could it be. Sweet Jesus and Mary Poppins I will never doubt again. Next time I will show Faith! Holy fucking cow, where on earth did you find that thing? How am I also going to fully communicate the full scale and magnitude of my awe, and of course my newfound respect for web designers who take pride in their work, I mean, who'd ever think to do that to a freaking *shopping basket*, canonically the shittiest part of any website?! OK, now I see where the bar has been all along, I see I'm going to have to step it up a notch now. *stretches fingers*
Which may sound irrelevant, or anyway irrelevant to thoughts of suicide, but the thing is, I've spent the last 12 years working on books where the look of the page was essential to the narrative. (I can't stand to look at the Greek and Japanese in The Last Samurai; I remember the way this was meant to look on the page, I think of the designers who fought successfully to achieve something amateurish, I don't want to think about it.) I told agents: I want to work with an editor who's interested in design, who'll let me work with a designer, who's interested in the technical side, and they all said: You're never gonna get that, you're wasting your time, you'll go barmy if you try, no editor is interested in that, you'll drive yourself mad. My website was supposed to achieve all the things I was told No Publisher Will Allow in books, so I hired a designer in Berlin 3 years ago and asked for something like the Haunch of Venison site, only with Jim Rose's kanji stroke diagrams, and No Webdesigner Will Allow.

Spolsky's criterion for good hires is Smart, Gets Things Done. It's strange to stumble across people who are SGTD not by sending out manuscripts, not by recruitment, not by paying people, but just by swapping e-mails with people who happened to read a book. If I'd been dealing with people like Mith and Hassan for the last 12 years I would have spent the time writing and publishing books, what larks. Meanwhile Hassan is full of ideas:

Oh, but I have reworked the database design so that a social networking book
exchange webapp should just fall into place naturally. ... What I changed: the user data we'll now be able to store when I'm done are: name, password, town, country, picture, books you own, books you desire, and an message section where you can send and receive messages. Anything else come to mind?

I could say more, much more, but I am meeting someone in Rosenthalerplatz in 15 minutes, so I am already late. The beta of the map app is here:

http://www.helendewitt.com/secondhand/newusers.php

2 comments:

Holly said...

wow i have a blogger display name. how does it know?
despondently i write you from the corner of my eye, the rest is a view of a bookshelf of leatherbound classics and, let me check, no they have not been embossed. i asked a women at the secondhand bookstore if she had anything on HOW TO TELL STONER BOYFRIENDS TO STOP SMOKING SO MUCH GODDAMN POT and she said hm, no, but possibly something on how not to date stoner boyfriends and other self help tools by so and so. i wrote to my stoner boyfriend:

Perchance our sex is as soft and sweet as a lover’s lullaby. It could be passionately dispassionate, or mysteriously mysterious. Sweaty twisted sheets in an epic six hour sonnogram? Best forgotten come sunlight, come morning birds and hangovers? Or are we big, glossy American pornography? Are you a sailor back from shore leave longing to pound my perfect pussy? Groaning and screaming in Oscar winning ecstasy as I slap you in the face with my big glossy American penis. Maybe we both have big glossy American penises. Maybe neither of us have penises. Are we women? Or are we eunuchs? Are we cigarettes smoking ourselves?

I want to lie with you, us both fifteen year old boys in service of a great Babylonian Queen, lie in your arms and hold your head as we cry and we cry and we cry. Cry over what we have lost, cry over what we never really had. Is this our sex? Two eunuchs weeping in the shadows of a human pyramid made for two? At least we will always have each other.

I think our sex should be hairy/sweaty/messy/scary/funny. Hairier than The Joy Of Sex I found when I was twelve – shit man, do grown-ups really have this much pubic hair? Is it really sexy to wear biker boots in the shower? What is this guy hiding behind his beard anyway? So sweaty that when we lie there dried in a post coital brain melt they’ll need a forklift to get us apart. And when they do it’ll sound like sticky taping a goldfish to a leather couch. Messy! Sheets sweet with the genocide of a billion sperm, grizzled Detective Inspector smoking a lucky strike, leaning over a billion tiny chalk outlines. Scary when you start talking in a voice neither of us have heard before, and I can’t really cum unless you hold my head under water while we fuck. Funny because you’re reading me passages of Fear and Loathing while I go down on you and neither of us can stop laughing. Three days later there’s still hee hee’s and haa haa’s echoing out of my vagina. Imagine the conversations at work.

Co-Worker: Do you hear that?

Me: Hear what?

Co-Worker: That weird, echoey laughter.

Me. I don’t hear anything.

Our sex can live on in cave paintings; in stories spoken by old grey men with bones in their noses. They tell the little ones that we are the earth and the fire; we are the moon and the cloud she hides behind. And I’ll be your Romeo, if you say you’ll be my Tibult. I don’t want this passion to fizzle out in a sappy double suicide. You’ve never really made love until someone’s gotten stabbed.

Our sex could be a beast, a monster. Seven foot tall, cobbled together from all our murdered relationships gone by. Patchwork and mewling it screams into the night when we consummate our starry eyed love, and our cum is like a lightning crash bringing it to life! Is that the fire of our passions, honey, or are the villagers trying to raze our love nest again? It’s a monster, but it’s our monster.

Our sex is contradictory, is hypocritical! Lets never meet half way. If you want golden showers I can only give you roses, but if you want me to whisper sweet nothings I’m going to tie you up and stick you in the boot of my car. Half way to vegas I’ll pop the trunk, fuck you in the mouth, and then keep on driving. Our sex is the smell of your hair on my pillow come sun up. It’s writing dumbass fucking out of key songs about long moon lit walks by rivers we never took, and all along you couldn’t stop looking down my top, thinking about how you were ankle deep in duck shit and would’ve preferred to be fucking when – you poor sap! – we were fucking all along.

This is our sex.

No great fanfare addled fluid exchange, no star crossed alliance, no dispassionate fucking. This is it, in this moment. Lying in a kerfuffle on the floor, desperate to get our breath back, still laughing, we are more radiant than all the World’s afterglows at once.

and he wrote:
jitter bug
poppy cock
blooming up
cheek blooming
up
song
fool juice
me fool
juice you
fool us
till its real
squeals
feel
listen
tsch
quiet
fool juice
drip pool
you me
is that real
splashing swimming
play
forget
remember that
oo that's real
Peal peal
blood's real
fool juice
drip drip
heal fool
laugh fool
fool cries
fool fool is
king fool is queen
when fool answers
shhh

and i withdrew into the grocery store where i bought some eggs and coffee, even though i didn't really need the eggs or the coffee. buying eggs and coffee can be soothing. i suppose.

my best friend has become a new age mother, her posture is overbearing, like her lavendar and bald head and the child she wears as an accessory. she is having a prayer slash meditation dinner at 5:30 on Wednesday Nov. someteenth. Want to go?

I have another friend who refuses to go to see live music with me because he thinks its too personal.

This is my new favorite place to write. it's secret. it's 20,000 leagues under you. I am reading books from your booklist. The Borderliners is the current one - I am thinking that Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow is the one I should really be reading. Next is Justice by Lottery. Perhaps Tender to One? should be the next, since clearly, the eggs and coffee aren't helping.

Elatia Harris said...

Would you look at that beta! Great going!