August 19th, 2008

phil ochs troubador

through the dustbowl, through the debt, grandma was a suffragette

First off, thanks so much to everybody who popped by Amazon to say something about the Stratford Man books. That looks a lot less naked. *g* (I suspect my quota of Amazon reviews suffers because people just come over here and give me what-for.... the perils of leaving the ivory tower! ...oh, who needs an ivory tower anyway?)

Went for a run this morning, which is crazed because I am going climbing again tonight--three days in a row, and possibly also tomorrow. This is a sign that my stamina is improving. Heck yes. In fact, I don't actually feel totally slagged out, despite the fact that it was sunny and oh so bright, and I have a headache now. The hat helps, but not enough--the yellow face, it burns us. (Of course, now that I'm back inside, the promised clouds have rolled in, and the forecast is showers and scattered boom!) Soon, I will even have the energy to stagger into the shower and flood cold water down my body.

Anyway, 33.3 miles to Lothlorien. It's only about a day's walk, as the Hobbit trundles. Probably take me another month to get there.... I really have to not get sunburned this year on Martha's Vineyard so I can get up and go for a run in the mornings. Also, remember to pack a swimsuit this year, Bear. And goggles. I may have to buy goggles; I think my last pair gave up the ghost after some years of exposure to the rubber-destroying aridity and skin-peeling chlorination of All Things Las Vegas.

I probably should climb as much as I can while I can--I'm missing next week because the gym is closed for reno (whole new front room! Of course, they are taking down three of my favorite routes, and the only 5.8 I have a hope in hell of sending, and the 5.8 on the skywall that I really wanted to climb someday... but alas. Change is good, right?) unless we can either get our butts outside or get to the smaller gym in Manchester, or both. And then I will be missing the week of my birthday because I'll be at Viable Paradise (trying not to get sunburned.)

I shall endeavor to think of this as Valuable Recovery Time. Besides, a week off isn't so bad. It's after two weeks without rocks that I start to lose it.

Goals for today--I have to start reading a ginormous graphic novel compendium for a review, and I must sign a whole bunch of things and then send them on to the next victim. Also, some paperwork. (Yes, that same paperwork. I am avoidant lass!)

Things to get done by the end of September, if I am lucky:

Finish Bone & Jewel Creatures (Come on, Bear. It's like two more scenes.)
Finish "The Tricks of London"
Finish "Smoke & Mirrors"
Finish "Mongoose."

But none of those things are likely to happen today, or even this week, I'm suspecting. Though "Smoke & Mirrors" might be talking to me most, because of course it's the one on the longest deadline.

I've actually got most of the end of that one written. I just need to write the first two thirds.

Oh, and I need to call Honda and bring the Moby Smurfberry in for maintenance and an oil change. La.
sf farscape leather

as cool as i am, i thought you knew this already

I just recently finished reading Ian McDonald's (ianmcdonald) Brasyl, Hugo-nominated this year, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I learned an enormous amount from it.

Especially, I learned why we put transitions and exposition in books--because Brasyl doesn't have that stuff.

Don't get me wrong; it's a brilliant book and a seriously amazing achievement, but I'm a pretty hip and attentive reader, and I know I lost a ton of what was going on in the sheer tightness and density of the book's concentrated information delivery. There was no room to catch your breath.

As You Know, Bob, I'm a big proponent of getting every word in a story to do as much work as possible--I think every sentence should build or resolve tension, woldbuild, develop character, develop theme, and advance the plot (pick at least two)--but one thing I'm starting to realize is that sometimes, letting air into a story is a kind of work, also.

I also joke about not worrying too much about readers who don't want to do a little work. "You must be as tall as this sign to ride this ride."

Well, my experience with Brasyl was very close to "You must be as tall as this sign to attack this city." Heluva book; I could only read it four pages at a time, and I kept losing the threads of what was going on.

Because the jump-cut ethos of the book means that it takes effort with each scene break to orient youself (which is an artistic choice in this case; this is an observation rather than a critique), which messes with the line of direction and the flow through the book, and results in a somewhat mentally strenuous reading process. (Probably not unlike the sense of disorientation a number of readers have complained about with Blood & Iron, which (among all its other qualities) is my novel-length attempt to actually demonstrate the way my weird nonlinear kinesthetic brain functions on paper.)

So yeah, I've learned a lot. I've learned some things about why we exposit and why we write transitions, and how we can do both unobtrusively, and why we provide a little guidance--line of direction, the camera track and points of focus through the long shot (to strain a metaphor)--for the reader as he comes along with us. Some of it's direction, and some of it's misdirection, and all of it's important. And it's important when you chose not to use it, either, to abandon those guides and assists and kick the reader in neck-deep and see if she can swim.
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    Iron & Wine - Evening On the Ground (Lilith's Song)
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writing whiskey wicked faerie

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Oh, by the way--if anybody noticed any typos or other infelicities in the trade paperback edition of Whiskey & Water, now is the time to tell me about them.
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Now that was a good climbing night. Okay, I stank on the bouldering problem (still can't get that last move, though I feel closer.) But I did a 5.7 I've never done before on the first try (There was some falling off involved), and then I re-sent two other routes I've done before.

And now apparently I have some fiction that's pestering for attention....