Cramming Weird

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2010 @ 8:18 pm • Uncategorized

There are about 300 more weird apartments pets beaches bars castles ruins highways houses outdoor theaters cars dirt roads nights professors writers painters musicians lovers enemies creatures farms dungeons catacombs books janitors fisherfolk faces eyeballs spinal cords things in bottles clocks knives mental hospitals etc in mah brains now than 48 hours ago.

23 Responses to “Cramming Weird”

  1. Larry says:

    Are you suffering from information overload? Do you need to switch to Bing? :P

  2. jeff vandermeer says:

    Ha. I will say as jaded as we were before, it’s doubly so now. “oh–it was a ghost? zzzzz.” “oh, the guy was already dead? zzzzzz.” “oh, it’s an old one? zzzzz” “oh, the killer was his mother? zzzzzz” “oh, that thar thang in the woods warnt no bear? zzzzzzz” “oh, it’s an old appalachian ritual? zzzzz” “oh, that thar thing be cursed? zzzzz” “oh, that wasn’t the wind? zzzzz” “oh, the narrator’s not human? zzzzzz” etc.

  3. Larry says:

    I’m beginning to know the feeling. I just read through an entire journal this evening and nothing seemed more than competently done. But books after books of the same? How have you kept any sanity?

  4. brendan connell says:

    The weirdest thing is that the wind really is the wind.

  5. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Brendan: LOL!

    Larry–well, we don’t read all the stories all the way through. We read more than we would if reading the slushpile, but that still cuts down on the possible insanity. And the gems really really shine through. And they’re not always what you might expect…

    We also have the capacity to include a few novellas, which is nice.


  6. Nadine says:

    Aaaah, Jeff, you diminish my hopes of ever writing anything awesome enough to be noticed. xD

    Still, I’m optimistic enough to keep gnawing on things. Eventually I’ll finish something and give this publishing thing a go.

  7. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Nadine: Well, the thing is…the really depressing thing in a way…is that (1) more than 60 percent of the stories in most of the books we’re looking at (author collections, anthos, etc.) are stale or seemingly pointless or just not very good and (2) of the other 40 percent half now seem quaint or outdated despite being good.

    So we should all think of being published as just the first step in admittance to the Great Cycle of Mediocrity!


  8. Nadine says:


    Fair enough, then. It’s good company to be mediocre in, at least- the vast majority of my favorite people/role models/outright heroes are writers.

  9. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Really? ‘Cause most writers are whiners, complainers, stealers, wheelers, dealers, peepers, and sleepers.

  10. Felix Gilman says:

    a weird lawnmower, that hungers for blood but can feed only on grass; that is its curse, and its tragedy

  11. Nadine says:

    – Really? ‘Cause most writers are whiners, complainers, stealers, wheelers, dealers, peepers, and sleepers. —

    Most people are, I’m learning, including the people I really like, which is frustrating and comforting all at once.

    And I’ve just managed to frustrate myself with the comment above because, dammit, I don’t want to *be* mediocre. I want to be *damn good* but at the moment what I’m really damn good at is getting in my own way.

  12. Felix Gilman says:

    a weird packing foam structure that comes in the box for the new laptop you ordered from Best Buy, but which appears on closer inspection to be designed to fit and cushion not an ordinary laptop, but an unknowable item of non-euclidean dimensions. Nightmares ensue.

  13. Felix Gilman says:

    a weird firm of Licensed Conveyancers, who advise on tax and transfer of title issues relating only to properties that do not in fact exist, and never have. also one of the partners is a werewolf.

  14. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Felix: I think your ideas are excellent and you should write those stories.

  15. Ann VanderMeer says:

    You forgot trees. Lots of stories about weird trees…..

    And yes, Felix, please write those stories and send them to Weird Tales :)

  16. Felix Gilman says:

    a weird country: Belgium

  17. Nadine says:

    I’d love to read the weird estate firm.

  18. brendan connell says:

    I used to be into weird trees, but now I’m more into weird walls. I actually have a pretty interesting story forthcoming in Jeremy Wycol’s “The Walls Have Eyes” forthcoming from EFEL out of Romania.

  19. Jeff VanderMeer says:


    Oddly, in one unthemed antho from the 1980s, horror, there were no less than FIVE weird tree stories. It was rather bizarre…but not weird.

  20. brendan connell says:

    Yeah, I think there was a tree thing in the 80’s. That was before people got into zombies I suppose. I actually did write a series of 17 short tree stories – but more as a challenge to see what kind of variety I could put into such a dull subject.

    To be honest, I have long been planning a book of bridge stories, but life might not be long enough to write it.

  21. Felix Gilman says:

    A weird frog. Look at him. Look at the big weird frog. Gross!

  22. Larry says:

    I wake up to read of weird amphibians battling it out with strange arboral creatures? Perhaps I shouldn’t have read through all the comments and just taken Jeff’s advice on skim/skipping. Then again, I just hate leaving something unread, boring and trite as it might have been. Appendices being a notable exception; those are just strange creatures of their own, begging to have stories written about their odd relationship with actual stories and actual writing.

  23. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Oddly, we just read a story about a woman who turns into a salamander.

    It’s usually pretty clear within a few pages if something’s going to be any good, and a check of the ending, a sampling from the middle…if it’s not grabbing us, we’ll set it aside. But the fail-safe is Ann reads a book or mag, marks the ones she liked, if any. I do the same with a different book. We switch. We share our opinions. if they match up, we move on. if they don’t, we mark the discrepancy. We’re right now just weeding stuff out, while slowly building up a few must-haves.

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