I just went back over chapters 3 and 4, for net additions of 316 words. I'm on page 59, and just about to start revisions on chapter 5. The hope is that when I'm finished with this revision and read-over of the first two thirds of the novel, the climax will have come together in my head, and I'll have gotten the underlying structure sorted out into a plot rather than a series of unfortunate events.
It occurs to me that this is not unlike the process I always have to go through with a book--I write a bunch of it kind of helter-skelter, enough to get a feel for it, and then I have to stop and take it apart and rearrange the pile of rocks into something that will bear weight--arches and pillars--so they can support the structure of the rest of the novel atop them. It's just that this time it took a lot longer to get to that stage.
Funny thing, because on the surface, Chill is a very simple book, structurally speaking--much more so than almost anything else I've ever written. If Dust was a quest-fantasy structure, Chill is a race-to-the-goal scenario. (I think Grail is going to be a plot coupon fantasy, because that's the basic genre fantasy plot trope I have left to play with in this series, and that was always the plan.) Anyway, plotwise it's very direct and uncomplicated. So I dunno why it's persisting in being so tricky to write, except this is not the way I instinctively structure plots. Linear is not easy for me.
And maybe there's something profound going on under the surface, because to be honest, the externals of a story--the stuff that's obvious on the surface--are just the framework on which the portion of the brain that doesn't have direct access to language hangs the real story. Our minds are far more complex than we realize, and they process an enormous amount of information on levels that are not necessarily immediately accessible to the part of us that calls itself I. Those levels are still critical to the gestalt, though, and they still influence everything that goes into a work of art.
So today, what I need to do is revise two more chapters of Chill, review the page proofs for The Tricks of London one more *&^%*&^%*&^ time, and revise "Seven for a Secret." That sounds like a pretty full day, doesn't it? "Mongoose" and "Lucky Day" are currently with their other mothers, so I don't have to worry about them for a little while.
But first, I need a nice hot shower.
Glancing at my logsheet, I see I can expect to break 200,000 words of writing for the year this afternoon. I think if I manage that, I get something extra delicious for dinner. I know, it's piddly numbers compared to some people, but considering how much the last two months of 2007 and the first six months of 2008 sucked in terms of my creative output, I'll take it and be glad. (That number does not include blog entries here; it does include essays on group blog websites, which are somewhat more formal in nature. It also includes fiction and poetry.)
My best year ever in terms of writing, for reference, was about 600,000 words. But I'm pretty sure that was the year I didn't leave my desk except to pee and get snacks. Hypergraphia: do not try this stunt at home. (I can sustain about two thirds of that and have a life and keep my health and my sanity--it's under 2,000 words a day, after all. This year, I am very, very doubtful that I will break 300,000 words, which has me averaging less than a thousand words a day. Yes, it's been a rough year, writing-wise. But I'm back, and determined to do better in 2009. Which will entail things like cutting my convention schedule, not getting divorced, and trying not to poison myself on nutritional supplements.)
ETA: The reason I log my wordcount, by the way, is because I tend to be very hard on myself in terms of productivity. My superego's constant refrain is, "You haven't done anything, you lazy so and so!" And if I have a running tally that I can pull up and look at, and say, "No, seriously, Puritan Work Ethic, you wrote five pages every day this week!" it shuts the hell up. It's accountability as neurosis control, more or less.
I know other writers who log work to ensure they actually, you know, work. Which is also a great strategy. For me, it's a matter of keeping the guilt gorilla at bay.
In other news, the fine magazine Not One Of Us has agreed to publish my poem "Li Bai Drowns While Embracing The Moon" sometime next year. Some of you may remember that I posted an early draft of that poem here, not too long ago. Thanks to sovay, who provided the lead.