November 15th, 2006

can't sleep books will eat me

I've been funny, I've been cool with the lines. Ain't that the way love's supposed to be?

If you read my blog and enjoy it (I suppose there must be people out there who read it and loathe it, given the law of averages, although I can't imagine why, on a giant internet, one would do such a thing), I'd like you all to take a moment and appreciate the fact that you all owe Rick Springfield a tremendous debt of gratitude. You see, it was Mr. Springfield who first acquainted me with the concept of narrative irony and the unreliable narrator.

Like most adolescents I was irony-blind. This is a situation that was probably exacerbated by having been raised, as previously documented, by wild lesbians, in the era when political correctness had not yet crept extensively into the mainstream, but was The Driving Force in the dyke scene. Fortunately, I recovered, probably in part due to early exposure to my matrilineal grandfather's Swedish sense of humor. (I'm a lot funnier than most of you think I am. Just ask mrissa.)

I can still remember the penny dropping. And as I recall it, it was Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" that clued me in that sometimes, things were not what they appeared to be.

And specifically, the lines quoted in the title.

...Dude. The narrative knows the narrator is kind of an asshole. And deeply in denial.

Well, how about that? Next thing I knew, I had figured out that Sting sort of understood that the narrator in "Every Breath You Take" was maybe not right in the head. I've had a weakness for tricky storytelling, in music and elsewhere, ever since.

You'd be amazed the narrative tricks you can learn from pop music and stage performers.

OMG it's 1980 and I'm wearing Keds with a power suit!

(danger: crunchy hook. the management assesses a fairly high earworm risk)
bear by san

link salad: industry stuff

Charlie Stross on How Baby Books Happen

Justine Larbalestier on POV

Justine on good unpublished books

Jay Lake and Jenn Jackson have been recursing on the subject of books being "good enough."



...there's more, but that will get you started. My answer is, there's no such thing as "good enough." If you are not writing the best book of which you are capable, if it's not making you sweat blood, it's not "good enough."

Swing for the fences, and you might get on base.

But I have been called compulsive in the past.

Also, jaylake talks about voice here and here.

Just to throw some mud on the fire, I work in a totally different manner than Jay when it comes to editing. My first drafts are usually crap, in terms of style; I have to go in and do a lot of work with pick and shovel to get them presentable. I've learned, through years of effort, to do a good deal of this editing *while* I am writing, but it slows me down enormously. I have to write a crap sentence and then twiddle it, revise it, look for the right words, etc etc. (see recent post on writing for speed for a link to an example of what my editorial process looks like.)

For me, voice emerges in that editorial phase as much as in the initial writing. I find better ways to phrase things, quirkier and cleverer and cleaner images, stronger verbs. I can bring out the character voices as well, and perfect the through-line (which is a first-draft challenge for me: y'all are so linear.)

As a complete aside, sickness is the mother of invention. I really wanted Thai hot and sour soup (I'm wobbling on the edge of con crud, still, but so far extra sleep and lots of OJ and carrot juice have been holding the line for the home team) but didn't want to take my sneezy self out in the rain and the dark to get some. So I dug out a can of Campbell's chicken rice, and doctored it with a pint of lobster stock from the freezer, two sliced carrots and two sliced celery sticks, some ginger, Thai red chili paste, lemon rind, cilantro, and lemon juice.

It wasn't too bad.

Now, off to watch Mythbusters and answer some of this email.

david bowie realism _ truepenny

More everything I know I learned from pop songs:

So, that thing jaylake was talking about, regarding how voice influences a narrative?

Do yourself a favor, and listen to both of these versions before watching the videos.

[20:29] matociquala: wow.
[20:29] matociquala:
[20:29] matociquala: I am not sure how I feel about that.
[20:31] stillnotbored: Bear, I think I love this
[20:32] matociquala: I am conflicted
[20:32] matociquala: it is... very different.
[20:33] stillnotbored: oh it is
[20:33] matociquala: I'm not sure that makes it bad.
[20:33] matociquala:
[20:33] matociquala: compare and contrast
[20:34] stillnotbored: I'm going to revoke their right to grow their hair out
[20:34] matociquala: The Exies?
[20:34] matociquala: Or your characters?
[20:34] stillsostrange: yes
[20:34] stillsostrange: heh
[20:34] stillsostrange: would that work as a threat?
[20:34] stillnotbored: classic Talking Heads *g*
[20:35] matociquala: David Byrne obviously learned to dance by watching David Bowie on coke and thinking "That's not really spazzy enough."
[20:35] stillnotbored: lol
[20:35] matociquala: (MY GOD! WHAT HAVE I DONE!)
[20:37] stillnotbored: it's the same song, but so different
[20:37] matociquala: yah
[20:37] matociquala: Voice is everything
[20:38] stillsostrange: I should probably watch it with sound
[20:38] stillnotbored: oh yeah
[20:38] matociquala: It has no bassline