writing rengeek magpie mind

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writing rengeek magpie mind

We can't stop here! This is bat country!

My day job, which I don't talk about much, requires me to analyze and summarize vast tracks of television news; basically, I produce Condensed News Nuggets for a video monitoring service. (It's like a clipping service, except television instead of print media.)

This afternoon, I had the sudden uncontrollable desire to write the headline:


Bush Names Wolfowitz Pope
E.U. Warns: Vatican Will Be Seen As Instrument of U.S. Policy


It's probably a good thing I still need the money.



Progress notes for 18 March 2005

Carnival

New Words: 1055
Total Words: 14,825
Pages: 69
Reason for stopping: Ugh. It's been hard-fought getting words out of these guys today. And I am beginning to suspect that I've reached the part of the book where I have to stop and look at what I've said, and figure out what questions that raises, and try making sense of things.
Mammalian Assistance: headbumps from Marlowe, and a brief fly-by from Mith, who came for his tithe and left, offended, when all I had to offer was yogurt parfait. Also, Mebd came and sat on my keyboard. They may be hungry, but I'm sure it's not love.
Stimulants: Um. Cyclone herb tea. And pomegranate black tea. And Galliano and bourbon; I have earned booze, this week.
Exercise: Gothercise!
Mail: nomail, but a thoroughly uncomplimentary review by livejournaler cofax7. (I think I'll just log reviews under "mail" from now on, rather than in separate posts.) It's easier, and I can still find them later when I want them, which is, after all, the purpose of the exercise.) Interesting to compare this review with the ones that seemed to think the exposition, character development, and backstory were inserted in the most hamhanded possible fashion. Some days, alas, you can't please a soul.

Actually, this is the thing I was talking about a while back, the one that keeps writers humble. (Or turns us into ego monsters, or blocks us to the point where we never write anything except insurance claim adjustments again. YMMV.) 'Cause you kind of look at that and go, okay, so this obviously thoughtful reader loathed it for all the same reasons that three other people loved it. And you shrug and go back to the book you were writing, because that book was three or five or six years ago, and it frankly feels a little unreal to you now. Although I know or know of at least two writers who've gotten so wrapped up in trying to "fix" old things that they've stalled out, kaput, frozen in place, endlessly reworking the same dead, already-published manuscript into perfection. (That ur-manuscript mentioned in the previous post, the one on plateaus)

You know, or you can get all in the reader's face, like certain authors who will not be named, but who make a hell of a lot more money than I ever stand a chance of.

It's a weird thing, going in, because I have to believe I'm writing good books, or there's no reason for me to write them. And I believe I'm writing them to be read, or else there's no reason to write them. And that every reader's response is equally valid, because they all bring their percentage to the table. And that maybe a third of readers will actually like what I do. If I'm lucky.

But some point, I think most writers--when they start to sell, and their work becomes 'fair game'--make a decision about the opinions that they are going to listen to. And generally, I think, it's the agent's, the editor's, and maybe one or three or five trusted confidants and first readers. But by the same token, it's axiomatic in the industry that a writer's opinion of his own work is about as reliable as any eyewitness'. Which is to say, there's a better chance of getting a good report from Hunter S. Thompson.

(We do it for the glamor. Oh, wait, that's field archaeology. Sometimes I get confused.)

Tyop du jour: het governors (the queer governors need not apply)
Darling du jour: people so energy-rich they let the tropical sunshine splash on their streets and skins, unfiltered by solar arrays, like letting gold run molten down the gutters
Books in progress: Ed Sanders, Tales of Beatnik Glory; Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver (I suspect I should just remove this category, but I'll leave it here for the guilt value.)
Interesting research fact of the day: hair braid patterns based on fractals. (via msisolak)
Other writing-related work: I really need to get to this slush. Tonight, preferably, if not tomorrow.

Hmm. I've got about a sixth to an eighth of the book on the page, and that thing is starting to happen, where the first bits of the setup are done, and my brain is starting to pitch out questions about backstory and motivation. I deel like it needs more characters, though--but I have a good opportunity to get some of those on the page tomorrow, if they introduce themselves.

And I've gotten up to the first big reveal, and the first big dramatic setpiece scene. Yay! Those are as much fun to write as they are to read, usually.

Comments

I told Frank Wu a while back, in the flap over his cigar smokin' faerie cover for On Spec, that there's no good book that hasn't bounced off at least one wall. And I stand by it.

And yeah, you can learn a lot more from what *didn't* work for people than what did. (I did thank cofax7 for her review--as I said, it's obviously thoughtful, and it definitely shows me how the protocols of the book didn't engage with the protocols of the reader, so to speak.)

useful stuff.