Line edits have developed a rhythm. I go for the easy things first, the low-hanging fruit; the changes I don't mind making or know most definitely that I won't be making. I work through a whole chapter, go back, pick at the other stuff until it frustrates me and I'm out of tea and avoidant and annoyed and magically rediscovering the urge to scrub out my bathtub or reorganize my kitchen cupboards.

Then I go back a day or two later and magically, those hard things are all easy.

I don't know if it's the absence of information overload (less red ink = easier!) or if reading the chapter through again helps set the newer shape of it, and so the bigger changes or thinky bits are easier to fit in when there's a more cohesive whole. But it seems to work. Let it sit and I can finish.

So the shape of my revising evenings now looks like this: do the second or third pass on the last chapter, vacuuming out all the hard things. Take a short break. Do the first pass on the next chapter, until it frustrates me and I'm out of tea and avoidant. Put it the hell away.

I am starting to pick out some of my editor's tendencies (she likes but vs. and and is trying to drive the general pacing faster, kick the whole thing up by 10 mph). I am starting to notice very sharply some of my own (describe everything, little things, big things; start the narration of an incident at the middle or end, and then double back to explain). This has all kind of been impressively educational.

No, I am not finished yet.

In another part of the world, here's [ profile] jimhines on readership, fandom, the Internet, and how they overlap (or don't). I endorse this theory entirely, and there's good stuff in the comments too.

In yet another, this band is good even if their video is terrible. Have some:


Sep. 18th, 2010 02:22 pm
1) The apartment is chilly. It gets chillier in the evenings. We go about in fuzzy socks and sweaters, and eat homemade onion soup from mugs (oh yeah, some cut-up ends of smoked gouda do really good things to an onion soup), and have a fleece blanket at the ready on the couch. We figure the landlady's waiting for the official start of fall to turn on the radiators, so we're playing the world's slowest-motion game of chicken. This is less bothersome than mildly inconveniencing. I like fleece blankets.

2) Hot bath season is officially open.

3) This weekend's cook list: cabbage rolls (cabbage and tomatoes in the farmshare this week); bread; red bean chili; Chinese eggplant with miso; tofu red curry. And something with grapes.

4) Wrote longhand for the first time in years the other night, when I was feeling antisocial and had the urge to wander and eat alone in Thai restaurants. Funny thing: it worked. It's easing me around the place I was stuck. Funnier thing: when I write longhand now, it's in the same disjointed puzzle-piece chunks that I do on the computer, and I have to string the bits together later.

5) Started back at bellydance class on Tuesday. I haven't been, for various money and time and laziness reasons, for about a year and a half. But this is a new studio (close to home), a new class system (semestered, not drop-in), and a new style (ATS, not Egyptian), so I'm hoping all that will conspire to keep me a bit more regular about it. Also the fact that I've built up some truly epic muscle strength and stamina this summer -- if you ever want to get really strong legs really easily, move a half-hour walk from work -- and I enjoy being epic and want to stay that way. Even in the winter, when I fully expect to totally wimp out and take the subway to work mornings. I notably lost stamina when I sprained my ankle back in June and was off my feet for maybe just a week, and it made me sad.

There are a lot of things about dancing that are still hardwired into my body. And there are a lot of things I have completely forgotten, and my arm strength is mildly embarrassing and I'm considering taking up bouldering to, um, get some arm strength. But I still remember how. And I still do best at this when I stop hyperanalyzing every move and piece of technical form and just set myself like a metronome to the actual music and dance.

There is a really obvious Family Ties moral-of-the-week in that, but we won't go there. It's a really nice cool crisp day, and some things are best appreciated for what they are, and not everything benefits from being interpreted for life lessons.

So. This is a story about dancing. I will tell you another after next Tuesday.
The weather's broken here in the T-dot; it's been cooler and sunshiny with bouts of Crazy! Rain! for added flavour for the past few days (which, might I add, is really lovely when we have all the windows open at home: it sounds like you're in the last treehouse outpost of civilization during a very Bradburyesque green end of the world). My two-week-long bout of insomnia hasn't broken just yet, but the cool weather's helping: I've managed to sleep some the past few days. Not enough (wah!), but enough to work:

The window table at Aroma is mine. I will unhesitatingly cut all trespassers.

The edit has progressed into chapter four, which is a land of mostly fairly focused and isolated notes, one of the major systemic issues, and then one tricky interconnected thing that sent me back and forward in the manuscript to construct and seed a consistent rationale for a whole line of conflict that's better than because I said so. I think it works now. I'll check for soundness on the next pass.

I've also hit the point where there are a few things I need to ask my editor about: wordcount inflation and clarifications on some notes and the like. I shall bundle them up in a package with an attractive bow and e-mail them over tonight.

Otherwise, things we have been doing?

Went to a workshop in Kensington last night that was half identifying culinary and medicinal herbs that grow randomly in the downtown core and half making salve out of them; the workshop leader was, coincidentally enough, someone I went to elementary school with (see: the Only 500 Player Characters in Toronto theorem). They're doing another one on canning and pickling next month, and that's on the calendar. Afterwards, watched Proof with Dr. My Roommate, which was a startlingly chewable and amazingly well-written movie, and managed to finally deliver a late birthday present to a friend, who seemed to (yay!) really like it.

The autumn concert ticket pile has been started. Just two shows so far, but consider this to be a nice solid foundation for the fifty-floor skyscraper I'm planning.

Planning for the Most Epic Housewarming in the Universe has also started. A couple days of my time are going to be spent test-cooking party snacks very soon.

Did a stack of additional notes on Indestructible while I was feeling it the other afternoon, and have roughed the structure of the first few scenes. There is a thing in the file which could be the first line. It could not. First lines delineate and circumscribe so very much about a book. They have to be chosen with ultimate care.

Put in some work towards getting the September issue of Ideomancer ready, which will be coming to that website over there near you on, well, September 1st. I'm really pleased with the TOC on this one: it's thematically solid, but really nicely varied in terms of style and genre. We just bought a raft of really good poetry, too.

There is a cabbage as big as my head in my fridge, from last week's farmshare. Dinner tonight will be cabbage rolls. Apple coleslaw or Waldorf salad may also be in my future. It depends if I can get some decent apples on the way home.

Speaking of which, my battery has maybe 10 minutes left on it (and the downside of working at Aroma is that the plugs do not, how we say, plug), so home is where I'm going. More tonight, maybe, if my concentration keeps.
Oh look, we're back.

That'd be a triple-decker grilled cheese on challah with caramelized apples, there.

Yah, I've kind of been avoiding the revision. Why? Writing is hard, that's why. This chapter contains two of the major issues in the whole edit letter, and I had to think about them and make some decisions: the kind that balance the impact of the scene right now against plot-logic throughout against the theoretical faux-physics of how the speculative element works and how that ties into the theme. This is why revising is hard on a project that's this...well, set (in the way that Jello sets). Every choice you make has to be weighed in terms of its merits and demerits, what it's going to add or subtract. Everything pulls at another string of the whole fabric.

It makes my head hurt.

So yeah, I worked on it a bunch and complained some to [ profile] bunnyhero, who is also here at the tea shop doing some work (and keeping me honest by his industry), and he actually came up with a decent workaround, so that will hopefully hold. I'll check back on it when I do the readthrough pass at the end (a readthrough pass at the end is looking more and more inevitable) and see if it leaks.

Other notes from chapter two: it is incredible how ass a certain important, pivotal scene was. Fixed that for you there, Leah.

Also, I love it when I just kind of made up a vague set of symptoms, with a vague diagnosis in mind, for a character, and then two or more years later I go back to actually do the research because my edit letter is asking me a specific question about it and find I got the pathology of, say, osteosarcoma, exactly right. Okay, so we started in the wrist, not the upper arm. Doesn't matter. My backbrain rules.

(And yes, even though they're not mentioned by name, I know the official diagnosis, pathology, and treatment regimen for every medical issue in Safe. This is what we call iceberg worldbuilding.)

The draft is slowly inflating. I will need to ask the relevant people how much of a lid they want kept on the wordcount.

I have been doing stuff while avoiding my revision: notably, seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on opening night and a Jeunet movie at the Underground, catching up with friends I hadn't seen in like a month (several sets), getting a haircut that was actually supposed to be a trim and turned out shorter than anything I've had since 1997, drinks with workfriends, high tea with yet more people I haven't seen in ages, officially forfeiting my Twilight virginity (actually not a bad movie), and then skipping two concerts because I was sniffly and dead tired. It is really, really humid in Toronto right now. Sleeping is hard. Not sleeping makes a week seem really long. I am, in point of fact, sleepy.

Okay, going to get another pot of tea. I've run out, and chapter three is waiting.

ETA: Got halfway through chapter three! And now I am virtuous, and need a nap.
So, I've been revising. Here's yesterday's proof:

And here's today's:

Mmm. Fish tacos.

Technically I have not finished chapter two and so you're all probably supposed to treat me like something a cat ignores. But I will say in my defence that things got tangly and snarly, and I needed to do about five passes on chapter one to make everything click into place.

The edit letter is a multi-pass operation: individual chapter queries/issues, systematic whole-book arc issues that need to be checked for consistency in each chapter, prose stuff, things that aren't in the edit letter at all that I just want to deal with. This is tricky. The trickiest bit is finding the openings for new stuff: to borrow a metaphor, it's like finding a way to unpick three rows in the middle of an already-finished sweater to add in a dart or something without unravelling the whole book. Some bits won't let me in; others will. I have to sit behind a blind and wait and reread and pick until I figure out which is which.

I kind of knew it would be like this: not huge overhauls, but picky, delicate detail work. It takes concentration. I have to think before I slice, a lot.

I am not going to finish chapter two tonight. I've been at this all afternoon/evening. My brain hurts. I am going to go watch Heroes with Dr. My Roommate. And maybe knit.

Forward the draft. Tomorrow. :p
Quote, from this article on the New York City bedbug problem:

"'We want to send a message to bedbugs,' City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, announcing the measure Wednesday: 'Drop dead. Your days are over.'"

1) Bedbugs aren't listening. They're bugs. You cannot send them a message. They have no motherfucking language centre or mammalian brain to put one in.
2) You cannot engage in psychological warfare tough talk with bugs. They're not scared. Because they're bugs and do not hear or understand you.
3) Nobody is actually going to send the United States Marines into a protracted land war with bedbugs right after this announcement.

Yes, there are literal, figurative, metaphoric, formal (as in an arrangement of forms), slang, etc. interpretations of language and all are valid; that's one of the things that makes language cool. But language isn't just forms; it's not an empty box. There's meaning in that box. Words mean things.

This is a mindfulness applicable to writing prose fiction; it deals with spotting second-order cliches and getting them out of your writing. It's also a good way to make sure, well, we aren't sounding hellaciously silly. :p

This is why rhetoric is cool and more people should learn it. The end.
February 21, 2010 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 750.
Words total: 3600.
Reason for stopping: I'm going to go have some soup and cough medicine and go to bed.

Darling du Jour: Something went out of her eyes. Not that flickering, quivering movement that most people confused with light or life or spark unless they'd seen a double handful of men die. It was the pain.

Mean Things: Trauma reactions, what's either a slight bout of alcoholism or some compensatory binge-drinking, your dealer getting mad at you because you got him out of bed at six in the morning.
Research Roundup: Formal name for stir sticks; whether tea lights were in common circulation in the late 1940s; reference photos for 1920s bar tables; common names for black men in the 1910s or thereabouts, which I didn't get very far with.

Books in progress: Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl; Kurt Vonnegut, Galapagos.
The glamour: Decidedly unglamorous. I have admitted to myself that I am Sick (TM), and spent today watching Castle and coughing, in my pajamas. There was also sushi, because I was feeling sorry for myself.

Haven't touched this since New Year's Day. Cardinal rule of writing: If you're really itching for wordcount, go drop a booty call to the project you need or want finished the least. That'd be this novella. Hello, novella. I was just missin' you tonight, baby.

Second cardinal rule of writing: If you really can't figure out how to get around a corner on a scene, just ignore it for six or seven weeks. It'll magically have solved itself when you come back.

Yes, this is how I end up working four projects at once, pulling down steady wordcounts on a day-to-day basis, and still not actually finishing anything for months at a time. Do not try this at home. :p

Okay. Soup. Tea. Bed.

Laptop Debt Kill:

2000 / 17000 words. 12% done!
February 10, 2010 Progress Notes:

The Enchanted Generation

Words today: 350.
Words total: 600.
Reason for stopping: This is hard. Not frustrating, just...delicate and careful like piecing together a broken mosaic, trying not to drop any of the pieces for fear they'll shatter.

Darling du Jour: I couldn't hear footsteps; not Edith's nor the shuffling walk that was all that remained of Father's steady tramping. Edgar's disappearance and the telegram from the War Office had lightened him by half in the space of an afternoon. Mother's death pared the rest of him away in a fortnight, and for the two years since we'd buried her he had drifted through the house in long, soft smears, a terrible, silent ghost.

Mean Things: Embedding major thematic statements on the first page like they're actually just about the situation at hand and not the whole game, heh heh heh--
Research Roundup: China cabinets, sideboards, and buffets, and the differences between 'em.
Books in progress: Douglas Coupland, The Gum Thief.
The glamour: Booking my tickets for CupcakeCon next month, making bread, and buying kleenex, since I am out. Of such things is the writer household made.

Not what I'm supposed to be working on. Not not not. It crept into my head like a child into its mother's room tonight and whispered the new first line in my ear.

The last metrics post on this project is dated November 8, 2008. Between now and then I have figured out how to concretize sentences. Compare:

It was six o'clock when he came home. I recall it six-o-clock because the light was coming from the west, and Lilli had just broken Mother's last good china teacup.


It was six o'clock when my brother came home from the war.
They had taken the grandfather clock for its metal at the end of 1916, but I recall it six o'clock: the light streamed through the dining room curtains from the west, orange-tinged and soft on the light wood floor, and Lilli had just broken Mother's last good china teacup.

Presto change-o! One of those things was an outline. The other is, while still drafty, the first two paragraphs of a novel.
January 8, 2010 Progress Notes:


Words today: 350.
Words total: 750.
Reason for stopping: Felt the pump start to go dry. And finished my tea (Tuscany rose rooibos). And it's past 11:30 and I haven't eaten dinner yet.

Darling du Jour: The back door banged in its frame like an angry drunk; the snow hissed and ground at metal and brick and bone. Cora lit a second thin-rolled smoke off the first and listened to the gas pumps rattle in the heartbroke wind.

Mean Things: Vulnerability. Portents.
Research Roundup: Photo references for your common raven; Inuit facial photo references; Dene family names.

Books in progress: Dashiell Hammett, The Dain Curse, The Glass Key, and Selected Stories.
The glamour: Mostly errands that had reached the status of necessary. Today I came home from my brief shopping trip with black leather gloves, underwear, vitamins, and duct tape. Which sounds like a much hotter night than anything I actually had planned, which was writing and making more cranberry bread.

This has broken open for me. It's not gleefully tossing words at me and romping through fields, but it's not fighting me anymore. Either the first paragraph I ended up with the other night was righter than I knew, or writing that poem just unclogged something in my head. Either way.

In the interests of ongoing hard-hitting journalism, here's tonight's loaf of robot bread, which is honey and cranberry. It was going to be honey and cranberry and cinnamon and orange zest, but I was out of oranges.

A little flatter than the last two, but I will love it just the same. In about ten minutes. Once it's cooled a bit.


Jan. 6th, 2010 12:54 am
I haven't actually discussed this a lot, but I haven't really written poetry in a while. The last one I finished was "The Murdered Woman Comes Home", written in January 2008 or so, which is about when I hit the midpoint of my Modernist Poetry course in the last year of my degree. It was a great course, and I learned a lot: how to see the layers and references and assonances and themes, how densely packed the ideas were in Pound or Eliot or Auden, the discrete art of word choice and how every word radiates back to a whole web of cultural debris and etymology. One of the things I learned was that, when it came to writing poetry, I didn't know what the hell I was doing.

So I stopped.

This is usually the part of the story where people scowl at the academic establishment and its crushing of my poetic spirit and tell me to keep reaching for that rainbow and overcome. And while the faith is nice, this isn't what this story is about. I chose to stop. Because all of a sudden I could see through skin into muscle and the play of veins around bone, and it just wasn't good enough to write poems that only sat on the skin anymore. I need to learn to write through to bone, and until I could give that task the time and attention it deserved -- think up dense thoughts for dense poetry -- I wasn't going to half-ass the job.

So you will understand why this took me completely by surprise.

January 5, 2010 Progress Notes:

"Little Songs"

Words today: 100.
Words total: 100.
Reason for stopping: Draft.

Books in progress: Margo Lanagan, Black Juice.
The glamour: Dayjob, dinner out with my mother, some writery business e-mail replied to.

It's a formal Petrarchan sonnet with a music motif, a poetics terminology motif, and a dirty Greek pun. The structure complements the content. While I can't say the whole etymological level works, I know at least some of it does, including the title. It has no speculative element, period.

I would appreciate a profesional eye or three, if anyone's game.
January 3, 2010 Progress Notes:


Words today: 300.
Words total: 400.
Reason for stopping: Back to work tomorrow, so bed for me.

Darling du Jour: She felt the storm come in in her kneecaps, then her thighs, and by eight o'clock it blew from the north into Enterprise January-hard and fine like sand, and Cora's hip was aching.

Mean Things: Suicide by snowstorm; possession; what sounds like it might be fibro or arthritis.
Research Roundup: South Slavey/Dene language and common phrases therein; wendigo refresher.

Books in progress: Margo Lanagan, Black Juice.
The glamour: Tidying, dishes, vacuuming, yet more laundry. There seems to be a dirty laundry respawn point somewhere in this apartment, because all those socks sure ain't me.

Tonight is all-around frustrating. It took me hours to get those words -- and notably that darling -- and it's still all feeling shaky. I mean, I think I have the right in here? It immediately rewarded me with information, so it probably is the right in. But.

This is making me snappish and snarky and generally unpleasant to be around. Knowing what is happening in my process on the theoretical level and being able to see what's wrong are one thing. Doing anything about it and/or liking it are another. I am not the Happy Phantom, and I reserve the right to bitch.

Also, the spout on my favourite teapot broke, and now it pours all fuckedy.


While these are all, yes, first-world problems, I think I'm going to go crawl under my blanket now.
December 29, 2009 Progress Notes:


Words today: 100.
Words total: 100.
Reason for stopping: Need to be up at a decent hour, to do laundry before heading out for lunch with Several Writers (tm).

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Mean Things: January. Thin sandy icy snow. Wendigoes.
Research Roundup: The community of Enterprise, Northwest Territories: its geography, demographics, and resources; distances to Hay River; Hay River auto parts shops; Persephone cults; Raven.

Books in progress: Emma Bull, Bone Dance.
The glamour: Bathroom-cleaning, kitchen-cleaning (mild), finally putting some stuff on Freecycle.

I have confirmed it. It's definitely the sentence level, which has either crumbled like old cheese in my hands or is figuring out something new and better or...something. But again, like with "When Your Number Isn't Up", I circled this and circled for a first sentence, knowing it involved the storm, which comes in at eight o'clock from the north; that the snow is like fine sand, icy and dry; that it is January; that with it comes the man in his limping long-haul truck. And I could not put one together, in a voice or cast or feel that clicked, to give myself satisfaction on the matter.

And, well. You see what that is. That's all the elements of a sentence right there: the approach, the appropriate telling detail, half the structure and the thematic tie, the hook. It's already most of the way to telling us what kind of story this is. But it's the rest. The rest is in the how, in the telling, and I can't put these jagged pieces together in a way to make that whole these days. I don't have the glue. They're just pieces, and they fall back apart without my hands to hold them steady. If I was in a worse mood today or had been doing this for fewer years, I'd say It is like I have forgotten how to write.

I have been doing this for eight and a half years, so I do not think this thing. It's a lesson, and the brain needs to deconstruct an element to reconstruct it better; hence bloody bitchy frustrating plateaus in the learning curve. And I am pushing through it with "When Your Number...", and will thus push through it with this story, but I won't lie and say that I didn't have my face pressed to that winter doorway, watching them move shadowplay inside, and mutter to them, to myself, Oh, you bastards, give me the in. Open the door. Let me in.
December 27, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 300.
Words total: 2600.
Reason for stopping: Uncooperative protagonist is uncooperative.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Mean Things: Not the greatest moment for one's stash to roll all over the crime scene floor. No wonder he's not cooperating.
Research Roundup: The date for the invention of sugar packets (too late, alas); hotel registers.

Books in progress: Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man.
The glamour: Out for a brief shopping trip this afternoon, which involved schmancy Aveda shampoo, more books, and a few gifty things. It demonstrated the thing where I need to be out of the house a little more often than I have been this week. Luckily, there is drinks tomorrow to accomplish that for me.

I feel like every week and a half or so I get a thought on this and circle back to dump a few words on it, which is an exceeding coy way to do business. This time it was a way to demonstrate one of the three or four lines of conflict, and what was missing: motive. I thank Dashiell Hammett for figuring that one out for me. Those two thinks should take me solidly into at least the third section of five, if I can just cough up the words to take us there. Right now I'm struggling to fill out the first scene.

That struggling makes me wonder if my brain is determinedly trying to learn something about sentence-level prose, and if that's why I hate mine so badly at the moment. It would make a lot of sense in terms of how these things have gone before. If so, this is on a long-term level all to the good, because I will emerge from this plateau cranky and disheveled and a better writer. Right now I'm just cranky and disheveled, sadly, so we wait for that shining day to come.

And now it is past midnight, so I am going to retire to bed with The Thin Man and fill my brain back up with words for tomorrow's dumping.
December 16, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 300.
Words total: 2300.
Reason for stopping: I'm not squeezing much more out of this tonight.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Mean Things: Some times are good times to make a joke. Some are not.
Research Roundup: Types of fish in the Chicago River; options for carpet cleaning in 1949; the history of VA hospitals; names of WWII generals; Chicago VA hospitals circa 1949, polio rehabilitation.

Books in progress: Patricia McKillip, Harpist in the Wind.
The glamour: I am to be reminded to eat food regularly and to take my vitamins if I don't want to be emotionally fragile. This is a thing you'd think I'd have learned. You would sadly be wrong. Luckily, a half-carton of milk contains enough vitamin D to interrupt this cycle and buy me working time.

This thing continues to be viscerally difficult.

I did find the final (I think?) chapterlet title, which gives me a better sense of the narrative structure and what's supposed to be doing in those scenes, and that'll be a help. I wonder if that's why people name chapters, for the guideposts; to hold up the arc when you don't have a story to rest it on yet. I can see the thing arching like a roof frame now, all naked against the sky. The shape and pace reminds me a lot of Sugar, which means that 1) this'll potentially be a slog and 2) it'll also potentially work.

Out after work tomorrow -- I actually kind of have a shockingly awesome social calendar going this week and next -- so more dispatches from the front Friday night.
December 7, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 400.
Words total: 2000.
Reason for stopping: Teapot empty, head empty, past midnight on a work night.

Darling du Jour: Jake had forgotten about blood. It had a way of drying thick and clinging, the smell meaty enough to bring spit to your mouth and then make you ashamed of that before it even settled.

Mean Things: Some awkward casual Red Scare, a big mess, the weight of human indifference.
Research Roundup: Side effects of codeine; pain medication and trauma; 1930s perfumes, and then Guerlain Vol de Nuit scent notes; history of the Ukraine in WWII; the founding date of the Chicago Cubs.

Books in progress: Piers Anthony, Being a Green Mother.
The glamour: Dayjob, with somewhat less of the brutality that was expected of it today (so, medium brutal). A spot of OWW work, and a spot of Ideo work.

Buckets and scads of research tonight; at some points, half an hour of research for three sentences. Yes, this is excessive. Yes, I need to stop writing period pieces if I'm going to be anal about my setting details. Yes, I do this to myself.

Thing is -- and I didn't realize I did this until explaining it to [ profile] katallen tonight -- I really can't let it slide or handwave things very well. And it's because, over time, I've noticed that my best plot stuff tends to come from the unintended consequences of decisions made for total other reasons. All those side effects just accumulate, and suddenly the small implications of one decision made for character or just even as a stylistic flourish will bounce off something else and, well...create the plot. By accident.

Which is why I asked you guys about codeine and scalp wounds, just now. I smell the blood of an Englishman inciting narrative incident.

Now all I have to do is stay on the horse consistently here. So I can stop devoting all my writing energy to getting back on the horse.
I have come to understand why authors write proposals. You write the proposal for the editor, sure, but you also write it to get the idea out of your head; so it'll stop haunting your footsteps, whispering in your ear; so you can stop catching yourself humming its songs in the laundry room and get back to the thing you're supposed to be writing.

That being said.

September 27, 2009 Progress Notes:


Words today: 100.
Words total: 100.
Reason for stopping: This is snippet and outline and notes and arguments. I'm not ready to actually start writing yet, thus the token wordcount. That's what I've got in snippets and paragraph-ends. The notes are considerably longer.

Darling du Jour: No darling.

Mean Things: The Highway of Tears. The BC Missing Women Investigation. And having to find out the bad news thirdhand.

Books in progress: Daniel Rabuzzi, The Choir Boats.
The glamour: ...actually? This is the glamour right here.

It has character names and thematics, and some soundtrack and an argument, and the outline of the first chapter although the third scene thereof is under debate.

I made it an icon.

I guess it's a book.
"The frown surfaces on my mouth before I can turn away."

Well, yes, Matthew. Where else would it surface, your ass?


(Understand, this little beauty survived through five drafts.)
This is for posterity:

After much misery, Saturnalia-based, Above-related, Associated, and Other? My conflict for this book finally shook loose tonight.

I still don't have the plot pieces that'll open it up, but I know what typology of conflict it needs to be. I know what the problem all these people share is. I know what's wrong: what question I'm asking here, under the other bullshit. The point.

The rest is in the details.

This is for posterity, and because of the certain knowledge that next time, when I am chasing my own tail and crying and fretting and raging and in the depths of misery, I will want to know how it happened this time around.
Tonight I am bitchy. I am bitchy because I looked upon my second chapter yesterday and realized that I'm doing the thing again, the thing where I tidily establish a world, people, several lines of budding conflict ending in a nice, moody bit of tension at the end of the first chapter, and then I back the hell off it and people go have lunch. And I do this because the alternative is opening up those lines of conflict and inquiry to start the motor running on The Plot (TM), and I don't know well enough what The Plot (TM) is yet to throw it open like double doors.*

That's bad.

So the upshot is that I have to stop, and sit back, and maybe doodle around with some diagrams and draw braided lines of conflict and knit my socks and watch more Hustle and avoid and let my brain chew, because if I go any farther now? I'm just putting down more stuff I'll have to rip up later, when I figure the whole thing out for real.

So I am bitchy, because this is driving me a bit nuts. Saturnalia and my brain are on the fifth date at least, and have been sending each other lovey little text messages every day from under their desks when they're supposed to be working. Half my head, for the past week or two, has been off in those dark little spaces between crumbling concrete buildings and the pulleys and gears that run them. I catch myself humming bits of the soundtrack songs while I'm making tea at work, or closing my eyes and just getting flashes of the smell of steel strings and rust and machine oil. I sit up in bed in the middle of the night to scribble down things like Sybil/Mina Harker inversion? and Is there something here about how Z & G aggressively do not act their ages? and then I have to decode them later, because my handwriting is terrible in the dark. This may sound like hyperbole or the ever-hated big-R Romantic creative process***. It's not. My head's in love, and this is what it does when it's in love: it siphons away mental resources. It makes me distractable and slow. It agitates to see its boyfriend all the time. And it doesn't quite understand today why, since we've nothing else major to do, I won't let it go to town on this book.

Which is all a very long version of: ohGodIwanttobewritingandIcan't.**

I suppose this, this exactly, is why it's important to know your own individual process. Because when you know you're going to do this every time, that you naturally incline to screw up in the same ways, like a horse that always leans a little to the left, you can at least call a halt to it early, step back, circle and examine and think and then mop that shit up before you're 40,000 words in and wondering why the hell this book isn't working, why it's crashed on the ground.

But I still reserve the right to be extremely bitchy about it.

On a non-bitchy, non-process note, there is also new Shadow Unit tonight. It has a pot pie innit. Go read.

*For a variant of this particular personal disease, see The Royal Commission on the Plot.

**Also, I still have a head cold.

***We hate that shit. If ever there was an excuse for people to behave badly, or for people who don't behave badly to be treated badly. See also: Artistic Temprament.
August 17, 2009 Progress Notes:


Words today: 600.
Words total: 8900.
Reason for stopping: I actually overshot the goal by a touch, and it's the inevitable 1:00 am.

Darling du Jour: Her throat worked. He could see the veins in it through the skin, blue as her chipped nailpolish, cradling the tendons of her neck like creeping ivy.

Things Yet to Cough Up Their Names: The Pendulum's owner, who apparently owes Zeke precisely two favours (Mercutio Walker); the band name Zeke and Gregory have been gigging under; Gregory and Zeke's once very Art-Deco and trendy, now hopelessly run-down and seedy but still kind of awesome neighbourhood.
Gratuitous Baby-Eating References Inserted Into Scene: One (1).
Mean Things: That kind of cleaning crisis where you're fine living in filth usually, and then a cute girl shows up and you're edging the dirty socks under the couch and feeling absurdly, embarrassingly like your mother.
Research Roundup: Traditional anniversary gifts; Mercury and Roman gods of hospitality;
crossroads myths.

Books in progress: Daniel Rabuzzi, The Choir Boats; William Gibson, Spook Country.
The glamour: Some businessy stuff that I wanted to turn around quick. Also, this evening was my annual rewatching of The Princess Bride while sacked out on the couch knitting my socks. At this advanced age I can see just how middling the production quality of the thing is, and yet I completely don't care. :)

This is probably more work than it looks like, even though I did spend the better part of my evening watching TVlike objects and knitting (which is the only way I can not get restless and feel like I'm dicking around while watching TVlike objects). Some small but non-trivial plotting for the next chapter or two went in tonight, as well as two little revelations that I thought of half-asleep on alternate nights this weekend, structural things. Next, we stir.

I am finding myself absurdly grateful for my random OCD need to do these very metrics posts. I spent a bit of tonight charting the work gap and habits for Above, and then looking at where I've started and stopped with Saturnalia. Apparently when I was writing Above I slapped down 10k and then just ignored it for six months. This gives me a better idea of what to expect around these parts, although I hope this time it doesn't take six months.

Civ4 is proving eminently distracting. I may have an O Lord, What Have I Done? moment if it keeps up through the week. 0.0

Bed now. Dayjob tomorrow. No rest for the wicked past her 8:00 alarm.

November 2016

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