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bear by san

December 2021



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writing gorey vast reluctance

noses and grindstones and bears, oh my

My June column is up at Storytellers Unplugged.

And now I really need to go work on this novel, since we're going mountain biking in three hours.


Where in North Carolina? Our son lives in Raleigh and Tita and I are thinking of moving there.

The western half of the state is really pretty.
Thank you thank you thank you for that column.

I feel a bit less pathetic now about all the gut-wrenching I do over every draft. And I'm still never satisfied :)
Have a happy ride! Only riding I can do is on a stationary bike until this thumb splint comes off.
High five. Great column.
Yes. that stuff.

Hate it.
I totally hear you on the boredom of many drafts, and the diffusion of story-versions, at least in my own brain. And my sympathy on your change of editors.

But here's a question: is this one way mosaic novels are created -- by hitting all previous versions with a hammer and sticking bits together in beautiful, surprising ways, with new bits included, and new glue? (Not necessarily obvious mosaics, but, erm, faceted stories, rather than layered ones.)

Because Blood & Iron felt much more mosaic to me, and I can't imagine a book like Holes or the Westing Game written linearly from scratch, whether carved or concretized.

(This might not be your goal, of course. But it could be a cool thing, with 5 POVs. Or maybe I just love that kind of structure, done well.)

My favorite part of major revisions is picking the pieces out of the piles, and finally creating patterns.
It's a cool kind of revelation.

(Yeah, really I just want you to learn it so you can explain it to me. *ducks*)
Actually, I wound up making B&I a lot more linear on the revision. It's original draft had bits of song lyrics and diary entries and god knows alla what sprinkled through it, and those all went. Boom. Some of them wound up over at elaine_andraste, if you want to see.

They made me put transitions in, and explain things. *g* (A mosaic novel is technically a novel made up of linked short stories, like NEW AMSTERDAM, FWIW.)

I use almost everything I write. I'm an under-writer: my first drafts are very spare, and I have to go back and put in huge chunks of stuff so people who do not think like me can understand them.

But I tend to think of novels in terms of their shapes, how they feel and weigh and spin, and changing that stuff is Hard.

The original draft of THE SEA THY MISTRESS is all chips and facets, and it was written in a completely linear fashion, beginning to end. I have no idea what it's gonna look like when I rewrite it. Maybe the structure will stay the same.

That would be cool.
(A mosaic novel is technically a novel made up of linked short stories, like NEW AMSTERDAM, FWIW.)

Yeah, sorry -- I tend to use that term for any sort of non-linear pattern structure, with motifs and all, even though I ought to know better.

I'm an under-writer too, which, oddly, makes it easier to lift bits out and fit them back together (except for the part where I can't remember what's still where).

But however you do it, I hope you find a way to create a new cool, surprising (and not broken) whole, and maybe even learn a new piece of the process (without too much pain and time, of course!)

Creative revision and pattern-piecing are some of the most difficult parts for me, mostly because they're hard to hold in my head all at once, and difficult to make comprehensible notes on, since they're so subconscious. Or I think that's why.
I like that theory. *g*

I honestly don;t feel like I'm learning anything on this revision, which is part of why I'm bored....

I still love the book, and think it's a good book. But man, I have read it many times.
I honestly don;t feel like I'm learning anything on this revision, which is part of why I'm bored....

Then you have to find the thing that makes you stretch.

(I know, easy for me to say.)

What is it about revision that you don't know how to do yet?

(I'd be more sympathetic if it was a brush-up-and-dust-off revision, but seriously? You have a ground up revision and you aren't stretching yourself at all? Why not?)

(Sorry, sorry -- better at ass-kicking than sympathy around here... not so helpful, though, sometimes. Enjoy your vacation; you'll find it when you aren't looking for it. They hide, you know.)
Because I've written and revised seventeen novels, kid, and several of them were far worse revisions of far more complicated novels than this one.

Now get the hell off my lawn.
Point taken.
My apologies.

I've been working on this fucking thing since 1993.

The tenth time you rewrite the same book?

Generally speaking, you've gotten all the juice out of it.
What are you doing in NC? I'm in Raleigh/Durham right now for IBM, but I'm flying back to Germany a week from Saturday.

That's what I get for not having the LJ-gene, I guess. :-/

(And it's Really Fucking Hot here ...)
Visiting my dad and my wicked stepmom, and then Sycamore Hill.