Catch up time

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

September 26, 2009 -- 5:34 a.m.

Busy, busy, busy. I'm behind on everything.

The party went all right, a few people came and I had some nice conversations. No one came prepared to swin, so my swimsuits were a moot point. They arrived Monday and I love them.

The novel's going in circles. I've been reduced to removing and replacing words like "that" that I removed only a little while ago. Oh, the agony!

I've decided that I'm going to stew and wallow in the minutiae of commas and split infinitives unless I set a proper deadline. So, on a whim, I've decided that I will send it to people, ready or not, when I get the new Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson book on Oct. 27. The prologue for a Gathering Storm is for sale on The first chapter is free though, if you register. (Link is here). I just found it so I'm just reading it, so I can't comment on it. It looks like they continued the tradition of adding a paragaph of description to the "wind thing" per book. I have a sense that when I read it, I'll feel lukewarm no matter how well-written it is. The idea of someone else writing his books...

No offense to Brandon. I'm sure he understands. I can't imagine how he sleeps at night, I'd be so nervous. Will the fans like it? Will they hate it? It's a big, huge thing for his career either way. I wish him luck.

I'll get used to the idea, I'm sure. I was thinking that next year will be the Wheel of Time's 20th birthday. Oh my.

Anyway, I'll be there in the BYU bookstore signing. I'm applying to be one of the volunteers, but if I'm not, I might try to be first in line. I wonder how early I'd have to get there? I wonder how many other people will think of the same idea? I wonder whether or not the bookstore has plugs so I can put the finishing touches on Godsplay as I wait.

But that gives me about a month to get things hashed out. I'm trying to "lock down" a chapter a day. I'm putting my foot down and saying "no more revisions." Unless I need some earthshaking plot change or something, that is. But no more changing "he intoned" to "he said" and then changing my mind and putting it back again. And changing it again. And again.


Well, I've locked down the prologue and the first two chapters, which are now 1) Rachell meeting the Elv and 2) Sathain plotting. Tomorrow or Sunday I will try to lock down chapter 3) Rachell dreaming. Then comes 4) Thaya getting brain sucked. So that's the new order since the workshop. Necessary, because I threw such huge chunks of description in there. Everything lengthens.

I still feel a little nervous about the book's ending. I wonder if I made a mistake by limiting myself by word count. Maybe I should go for the gold and try for the 300,000 word novel, as long as every word is delectable and irresistible. Good sense, or my original vision? What should I do?

I was also thinking about Robert Jordan's vision for the scope of his series. How much did he plan out and how much did he wing it? The foreshadowing in his novels indicates he had a lot of stuff done in advance (can you imagine remembering every vision you foreshadowed for decades of writing? I'd probably forget and leave stuff out of my books). I don't, which makes me nervous. Stephen King didn't work from outlines. I'm kind of in the middle. I'm do outlines for a book but not the series. Because the plot of Godsplay was too big to fit in one 100,000-size book, it will get split into at least two, so I know what happens in this one and the next one, but after that?

I don't know. I have no clue. I'm lost in the dark. I wonder if I'm not giving myself the space to work, if I'll accidentally write myself into a corner I can't get out of later because I don't know what tools I'm going to need in the future. If I suddenly die, my readers are going to be screwed because I don't know what's going to happen.

Most people would say: don't invite trouble. How about you worry about getting one book done before you worry about the third?

Of course, that would be sensible. But human beings are not.

In order to save space, I ripped out the quotations of the Gods having conversations in the beginning of each chapter. I liked them, but they weren't really adding anything to the plot. And I need space, not filler, and they were easy to stow away. I've got them saved, of course. Maybe I'll use them somewhere else. Another book. The conceit is just too beautiful.

Celebrating my birthday tomorrow, again, this time with the cousins/aunt and uncle. I'm trying to learn two songs to play on piano at my cousin's baptism, but I'm so out of practice. My wrists are sore from playing and typing. I'm not sure I'll make it. They're simple songs, but it's been 14 years or more since I played seriously. We'll see how it goes. Luckily, there's a backup if I flunk out.

In between all that, I've been reading a little. The problem with revision is that you have a hard time just reading for fun--I have this urge to read with red pen in hand and strike out all the unnecessary commas (one of my own vices, I know). But I still managed to relax and enjoy several books in the past month:

I try and read with an eye toward education so I can improve my writing, but Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth sucked me in. I loved almost every minute at it and was amazed by the amount of detail and research in it. I expected it to be dull, but it wasn't at all. If you have this on your "to read" list, I'd recommend bumping it up and doing it soon. I was deeply disappointed that Kingsbridge wasn't real--I wanted to visit the cathedral in person. If I learned anything from this book, it's that, if you write what you love, a subject that may seem deadly dull to some people can be very interesting. Though anything with religious politics will likely stir my interest. This was a historical novel as historical novels were meant to be written.

Next is Terry McGarry's "Illumination." This is a re-read for me. I enjoyed this book a lot the first time I read in and have ever since. It has one of the most unique magic systems I have ever encountered. How the author ever came of with it fascinates me. One of the best things about the book is that it has a fallible narrator. Ever hate the fantasy heroes who always succeed? Meet a stubbornly flawed heroine who's wrong more often than she's right. It's the first book of a series, but it stands alone on its own--it's sequel doesn't involve the same POV characters. I also took away from it that using lots of incomplete sentences is okay as long as the meaning is clear. McGarry has advice for aspiring authors on her website. I wonder if it's good luck having a name like Terry? It seems to have worked for certain other authors.

Finally, I have PastWatch, the Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card. I don't normally like time travel books, but this one worked for me. Another good historical book, though with less depth (anything has less depth than pillars of the earth). I liked the characterization of Christopher Columbus and the history. I wished he'd focused less on the science fiction and more on the past world, but that's just me and my obsession with history. It's always fun to see more international characters woven into his stories. What I learned from this is that two authors can approach a subject in completely different ways and there's space for both. Because, while I liked OSC's way, it made me think about a time traveling book where Columbus discovers time traveling people are out to get him--a thriller, rather than contemplative. I'd read them both and I'd own them both. Like vampire books--okay, most of them are quite similar, but if two authors put different spins on the work, I'll put both of them on my bookshelves. Which is good news for anyone nervous because they're writing about an idea that's been "done before" (ie, Arthurian Tales, Tolkein-style fantasy, etc.)

I also read Worlds of the Golden Queen from David Farland. It's always fun seeing fantasy pretending to be science fiction. I loved the bear character, he was my favorite. I thought the author did a really good job thinking about what it would mean to be a bear. The POV was totally real for me. I liked the ending of the first book, too. I didn't see the Maggie part coming. From this, I learned that I probably need to work on differentiating my POV characters more. A human would not think like a Lomari, even if they grow up in the same culture, side-by-side.

What else? Well, I've been watching Legend of the Seeker in Hulu. It's humorous how bad the acting is sometimes. I want to whack the scriptwriters and say "use contractions. Interrupt each other. Have them speak in not perfect grammar." You can pretty much guess what's going to happen, and the characters don't always act with perfect, logical consistency, but Richard Cypher's a cutie. It's best when it sticks to the books, and there are moments of genuine humor. I liked the episode with the "Grand Puppeteer". Zed is the best actor of the bunch, I think. I wonder if he looks so bug-eyed in real life. I wonder how Terry Goodkind came up with Zed Zul Zorander's name anyway. I like the sword fights. They're a big step up from Buffy/Xena type "whap/pow" tv combat.

I have to find a gift for my cousin tomorrow. I never put off shopping for presents like this. What's wrong with me? Like I said, I've been busy.

I think this damn book is going to give me an ulcer.


  1. Luisa Perkins said...

    Wow, you *have* been busy.

    I also just read The Golden Queen. The bear was my favorite character, too, and I had the exact same delight over fantasy pretending to be sci-fi.

    I loved Pillars of the Earth. I haven't read Pastwatch or Illumination.

    I think your goal is a great one! And you're right: the minute changes back and forth can kill your soul. Been there.

    I think it's good to take out the god convos for now; when the book/series gets purchased, you may be able to put them back in, especially if the book gets split.

    I'm nervous about the Brandon book, but I am rooting for him to come off conqueror.

  2. Lee Ann Setzer said...

    Since you're celebrating again, happy birthday again.

    When you mentioned _Pillars of the Earth_, I thought, oh, yeah, that's on my to-read bumped up. Thanks!

    Keep me on the beta reader list! Sooner than 10/27, if it would benefit your incipient ulcer...

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