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Archive for March, 2007

Progress Report, in which I invite my muse over for a chat

5800 words on Petra last week, bringing my total up to 38K.

I finally managed to escape that first act–which, as you may recall from last week’s exciting installment, was getting quite bogged down.  It was such a relief to limp past that particular hurdle.  Now, things are looking up.  The following chapter, nearly complete, flowed pretty well.  Made me feel like a writer again.
Last week, I had expressed some frustration with this whole “write as fast as you can” thing, since I was convinced I was writing crap.  But it occurs to me that it’s possible to write crap slowly, too.  (I should know; I’ve been doing it for better than fifteen years now.)  So I could have used my old process to slog through the end of that opening act, agonizing over line edits, staring at the monitor, engaging in avoidance behaviors . . . and it would have taken me a month instead of a week, and it probably still would have been tripe.  Instead, I just bulled my way past it, which is what I would have done eventually, anyway.
Lesson learned.  I hope.
Anyway, now we’re into the second act.  I took a glance ahead, and perceived . . . uh, nothing.  I knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, the one I’ve nearly finished, and after that, I had only vague hints, with still no sign of an ending.  This struck me as a problem.  I don’t outline, per se, but I knew I needed something a bit more concrete than what I had.  It wasn’t that I had written myself into a corner, with no way out.  Rather, I had a wide range of choices–way too wide.  All kinds of conflicts and loose ends.  The story could have gone in a number of different directions.  And that amounts to the same thing, really, as writing yourself into a corner.  So while I had a few moments, I decided to sit down yesterday and have a chat with my muse, see if we could work it out.
And what do you know, she was amazingly forthcoming.  As if she’d been waiting for me to ask.  She told me all about this secondary character who is about to become very important to the plot.  Then she dished about what’s going to happen in the second act.  She even let me in on–get this–the ending!  Which I thought was exceedingly generous of her.  Many details and fine points to work out yet, but that’s for me to discover on my own.  “Not a problem, boss,” I said to her.  “I’m on it.”
In all, a very pleasant visit.
I also took some time yesterday to update my marketing database and get a few mss back in circulation.  Harder to do when you’re working on a novel, but you can’t just let this stuff pile up.
Write Club updates:
Analog bounced “The Multiplicity Has Arrived” with a tier one rejection.  Ouch.  I had grown accustomed to personal notes from Stan Schmidt.  I knew this story was a longshot, but hey, I had felt the same way about an earlier piece I sent him–and that one, even in rejection, had garnered glowing praise.  Response time, about a month.

A second follow-up to Weird Tales re “The Woman Who Hated Halloween” netted the response I was expecting:  the ms is lost.  Nearly eleven months wasted on that one.  But to her credit, Ann VanderMeer got back to me immediately.  My original follow-up, sent before she took over Fiction Editor duties, got no response at all.

And that’s it for now.  I’m outta here.

Put down your beverage . . .

. . . before reading this.

Just trying to save you from buying a new keyboard.

Progress Report, in which I feel a hot breath on my shoulder

“I am writing every day but, frankly, the copy stinks.  This novel may involve several rewrites, followed by a decent burial.”

–Robert Heinlein, in a letter to his agent, re Stranger in a Strange Land

Another 5100 words on Petra this week, bringing the total count to 32K.
I should be pleased with this.  I’m on schedule, at least with the word count.  And passing the 30K mark makes this my longest work of fiction since my first two novels.  But I’m not as far along in the plot as I would like to be.  I fear I’ve bogged the narrative down a bit.  I may be stalling because I have some doubts about the next scene–a big action sequence that closes out the first section of the novel. 

I know I’m supposed to be outrunning my editor brain here, but thoughts like the preceding indicate that it’s catching up to me.  These doubts smell suspiciously like my editor brain’s noxious breath.

I know, I know:  I’m the absolute worst person to judge my work.  I get it, really I do.  I mean, take a look at what Heinlein said up there.  I get it.  But . . .

Let’s not kid ourselves:  this novel ain’t no Stranger I fear this is going to be one ugly rewrite.  Part of me wants to scream, “What’s the point in writing the first draft quickly if you’re just going to spend three years revising the damned thing?!

No, no, no.  Get thee behind me, editor brain!  Back, I say!  Back! <whip crack>

Write Club update:
Personalized rejection from TOTU for “Ashes, Ashes.”  It was one of the final 30 or so stories, and had been recommended by a couple of staff readers, but Eric Heideman had a few problems that prevented the story from making the final cut.  He gave some nicely detailed feedback (handwritten, two pages) and said he’s willing to consider a rewrite for a future reading period.  Response time, almost five months.
And that’s all.  Gotta run.  Almost literally.  (Get back!  Back, I say!)