- Orbital Operations
- Orbital Operations, 5 November 2023
Orbital Operations, 5 November 2023
Should Ever Be Forgot
Hello from out here on the Thames Delta, where I am sheltering cats from fireworks.
I am definitely powering down for the year. I think I might already have shut everything down by now if DEPARTMENT OF MIDNIGHT wasn’t taking so long to finalise. I think my most joyful times this year were recording that show with my team and our actors, but I always forget what a perfectionist Kevin is. It’s great, because I will get swept up in the joy of making something and stress less about fine details, and Kevin is right there in the fine minutiae of the thing, counting femtoseconds and interrogating the smallest inflections.
I could use something else to distract me: our Xmas has just been cancelled, as neither my daughter’s partner nor my partner’s mother are strong enough to travel after their recent health challenges. So my partner and I are going to be on the road through Xmas, visiting people at their homes and cooking for them there. I was really hoping for a more relaxed finish to 2023, but neither life nor work are cooperating.
But! I am informed that there will definitely be news to share on DEPT MIDNIGHT next week. And an old collaborator and I have signed the contracts on a big reprint project that will be announced right after he does a new cover for it. TV Thing contracts are in progress. And I have thirty bottles of wine in the house.
I also have cinnamon honey, which is delicious and also lets me make my Basic Hot Toddy Shot. Small glass. Shot of whisky. Pour in hot water and then stir in a scant teaspoon of cinnamon honey until it melts. Add a couple drops of lemon juice. Sink it and be given life in winter.
(Note: if you mash a small slice of ginger in the bottom of the glass first, it becomes a corrupted version of a cocktail called Penicillin.)
Kind of hoping for a short winter here, one that only lasts five months or so. (Winter here can start in October and end in mid-May.) But also still looking forward to it. It’s thinking time.
I remember a piece by Harry Harrison - maybe in HELL’S CARTOGRAPHERS - where he had to explain to his mother in law that when he was sitting staring at a wall for hours, he was in fact working. I imagine most writers will tell you three things about thinking time - it’s the most valuable work, the most frustrating work, and the least billable. Very few people in this world get paid for the hours spent staring at the wall. And it’s always frustrating, because what you want is for the form of a story to just drop into your head after thirty minutes in the chair, and that very rarely happens. It’s days or weeks of wandering around inside your own head and its stores, which looks to the rest of the world like you’ve become a vegetable creature whose circumnutations do nothing but slowly capture and engulf pieces of chocolate.
Yes, we are all outwardly lazy bastards — and if you are entering the journey of a creator of stories now, then be advised — you’re allowed to stare at the wall for as long as you damn well like and need to. Those days and weeks of farting around within the walls of your mind are what every piece of art people love come from. Every story you ever adored? Someone sat around like a piece of meat propped on a sofa until it happened. There are no lazy writers. It just takes some of us longer to get off the sofa and put the pen “on the attack against the innocent paper.”
(That line is from Olga Tokarczuk.)
You have permission to dream other lives and whole new worlds for as long as it takes.
kEK-W, Lukasz Kowalczuk, WONDER FUNNIES:
If you’re in the NYC area, Molly Crabapple has her first gallery show in five years on at the Postmasters gallery at 4 Bond Street from November 11 to December 15. Link to information.
My name is Warren Ellis, and I’m a writer from England. These newsletters are about the work I do and the creative life I try to lead. I send them every Sunday to subscribers. Feel free to send your friends to orbitaloperations.beehiiv.com , where they can read the most recent letters and subscribe for their own.
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That latter post led to me having a brief conversation with Gazelle Twin herself, which made my day.
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Take care of yourself, don’t let yourself get set on fire, and I’ll see you next week.