October 1st, 2003

bear by san

Heart like a wheel. Brain like a cedar chest.

I vaguely remember a story from somewhere out here in the Wild Weird West about a town where it used to be illegal to arrest a man after he had his boots on in the morning. It's on my mind this morning because I need to put *my* boots on and go to work now.

I wonder if it's possible to write books or stories without a brain like an attic.

At the very least, all of my best ideas seem to come from these detained tidbits and momentary passions. I spent nine months back in 1991 or so utterly obsessed with the historical Vlad Dracula: Along with a lot of Victor Hugo, it tried to turn into a vampire novel that makes a significant chunk of my million words of juvenilia.

Thank God I'm over the urge to write vampire novels. That's all I have to say.

I still think vampires are sort of neat, but I don't tend much to writing them the way most people seem to. And Vlad III (Really a complicated if somewhat unappealing fellow) (that's Yankee understatement in action) came back as a plot point in my Celtic/Arthurian novel, which I need to start gutting from the ground up as soon as I finish SM and take a little vacation.

I have no idea what it is I'm supposed to do with the Norse novels. They feel very --finished-- I can see their flaws: All the Windwracked Stars is very much a first novel. The pacing's uneven, even with all I can do to fix it, and the characterization is a little melodramatic, and the sentence-level writing is competent at best (if I'm feeling generous.)

And I have given it another pass since anybody's seen it, and cut ten thousand words of fluff, and tried to make Thjierry make more sense from the outside. But I don't know if I'm capable of totally changing the shape of the book at this point. It's so--done. The story has served its emotional purpose for me, and I've moved on to these other things, and I just don't know if I could write that book again, or would want to.

Which may prove to be a serious handicap for me in my career as a novelist. But you know: I've written six novels and a novel's worth of short fiction since I wrote Stars. And it's true what they say about not being able to step in the same river twice.

I'm not sure I need the book enough to be able to fix it anymore: that part of my life is over. Hmm. I don't know that I need to change the shape of the book. It may just have to live with it's flaws, and perhaps I can pretty it some.

And yet I can contemplate rewriting Bridge, and changing it completely, and my only panic is "How the hell can I pull this off in under 200K?" (Well, I had some initial panic, in that --my skills just aren't up to this-- , But Jenn talked me down off the ledge. Which is what friends are for, right?)

Writing is hard. Writers is weird. Film at 11.
  • Current Music
    Oingo Boingo - Nothing Bad Ever Happens
bear by san

Style on a Macro Level

I should be working, but I'm thinking.

Some of my writer friends are really powerful worldbuilders. I'm specifically thinking of truepenny and meritahut (C. Scavella Burrell: you can read her glorious little story "The Book of Things Which Must Not Be Remembered" here).

They both write very detailed, very richly realized worlds in which their characters interact, complete, and define the settings through which they move. The setting, the world, becomes a character in their work. Their stories move forward very linearly, and every detail is fascinating: the BNA who comes to mind in comparison is Richard Adams, who can make the details of a fisherman knotting ropes and mending nets utterly real and utterly necessarily to the story.

It's good stuff.

I realized from talking with truepenny recently that I don't do this. I'm an impressionist: I hit the high points, the change points, the moments when things happen, and move on. My work tends to be very fast passed, almost a little rough-and-tumble. Things happen, or fail to happen, and there's very little breathing space between in which the everyday goes on. It's the momentum of a landslide rather than the momentum of a long-distance runner.

And that's not a bad thing either.

And it's one of those things that defines an author's feel, on a macro level. Defines her voice and her power to move and shape a reality, evoke a world and a feeling. I dunno, maybe this is just me, but this feels like an epiphany on a small scale, and something really, really cool and important lurking just underneath it that maybe can't quite go into words.

I bet most writers fall somewhere between the two extremes.
  • Current Music
    Aztec Two-Step - Ballad of Humpty Dumpty and Cindarella
bear by san

I know what the next scene is but I am too tired to write it.

Words: 1,942
Reason for stopping: See above.

I did good today. It is not a sin to stop in the middle of a chapter. It is not. Is not. Is not.

Yep, it's the last bit of the novel. The downhill slope. The part where I can see everything I need to go back and fix, because I can see the way the threads all have to come together now.

The part where I can't wait to get the book out of my head.

The part where I want nothing in the world more than to hold on to it for as long as possible, because once it's done it's done, and it's like a fabulous consuming love affair that--pfft--dies with the winter.

Finishing a book is like selling a house you loved. You walk around on the bare pine floors looking at the freshly painted walls, and all the cabinet doors are open and empty and all the shoes are out of the basement. And you know before you shut the front door that you may drive past it and see that they've planted roses, or they've let the lawn go to seed, but you'll never walk through that door again.

But it's also a little bit like sending a kid off to college. So that's okay, too.
  • Current Music
    Jethro Tull - Serenade To A Cuckoo