The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ended up not doing any actual writing yesterday. However, I think it was a productive day because as I was scrolling through the ms file to get to the place I'm working on (about a hundred pages in) I saw the section I've mostly skipped because I don't know what to do with it. That's the part right after the traumatic event. All I have there is a tiny piece that has little to do with the story, but that rings true to me and feels very right. As I passed over that piece, I suddenly saw that the point of it is actually a thematic thread that runs through the entire book. It may even be the entire point of the story in a nutshell. So it could be that I now have the idea that I've been needing, to keep me focused and to keep the first hundred pages from veering off course and petering out, the way they're doing right now.

We'll see, but it looks very hopeful. Anyhow, that's what I did yesterday instead of write; I took notes and wrote a long e-mail to writer friends* explaining in excruciating detail what I thought about this nutshell/idea and why it was important.

Today I was thinking about Repossessed, because in the speech I gave in Anaheim I said that to me the book (Repo) is about rejection. Because I was talking to librarians rather than writers, and had other, more important points I wanted to make, I left it at that. But leaving it at that was misleading. It made me sound like I knew what I was doing the whole time I was working on the book. Really, knowing what a book is about only comes (for me) well into the writing process. Sometimes very, very late into the writing process. Sometimes I'm ready to pull the book together but can't because I haven't nailed down in my mind what it's truly about. And even after I get it nailed down, a lot of the stuff that's in the book is still subliminal. For the speech in Anaheim, I said that every character in Repo has to deal with rejection in some form. That is true--but I only realized it when I was trying to figure how what to say in the speech. I already knew that the demon had been rejected, because that's what was driving me to write the story, and I knew that the little brother Jason had been rejected because that was driving me, too. But it wasn't until the book had been out for a year and I had to give a talk about it that I took a close look and saw that that particular theme really did run through the whole book.

I think if you get saturated with an idea, it naturally comes out in a book. I think this goes for research, too--if you want to build a world, you can't just look up each detail you need to know and then go write it. You have to be saturated in the world yourself. Then it naturally comes out on the page and feels real to the reader.

But anyway. Blah blah. I was also thinking (Tyson and I walked four miles today. That's why I was thinking so much; Hobo is not so conducive to thinking because he's neurotic and also doesn't walk as far) about whether I can use any of this to help me when I pick up the swordfighting ms again. I was thinking about that feeling of strong certitude and rightness I have with that tiny piece in the problematic section--which may turn out to be the subliminal key to the entire book (or not; who knows). I was thinking that maybe I need to start that story (swordfighting) someplace else. Right now it starts smack in the middle of action, because that's how you're supposed to write a book. But I was thinking, maybe starting it in a technically perfect place is throwing me off. Maybe I ought to see if there's any other scene I feel compelled to write, that establishes something important to me that's not about plot. Because the whole thing just seems like a grind, from where I sit now. That's not right, is it? Should a ms feel like a grind when you step back from it and look with a little perspective? Any ms can feel like a grind while you're in the middle of it, but what if it still seems flat and pludge-y after you've laid off it for a few months? Isn't that an indicator that something's wrong?

I think it may be. But we'll see. It doesn't look like I'll be working on it for a while, so there should be plenty of time to consider.

*That's what writers friends are for. You can write them long excruciating e-mails about esoteric cr*p that is utterly confusing and means nothing to anyone but you, and they pay attention and even try to help you sort it out.

Blog Archive