Archive for November 2009

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November 24, 2009


Further Cat Waxing

November 11, 2009

I can’t say why I’m finding it hard to settle in to writing this morning. I feel a great need to wax the cat. So far this morning I have checked in on Facebook; decided I was bored of my profile picture and looked at the existing FB photos of me for a new one; decided that I needed more current pictures on FB; concluded that it is time to organize some sort of hugely fun outing of the sort that motivates us to take pictures and post them on FB, so I can have a new profile pic. Things aren’t bad enough that cleaning the kitchen looks like an option, but they might get there.

I think I need better things to do while waxing the cat. Suggestions?

This is almost like work

November 9, 2009

After a good morning in the study, I have completed a scene. About 4-1/2 pages. Under ordinary circumstances I would pronounce that a good day’s fiction work, have some lunch, and go downstairs to the office, where myriad incomplete tasks await. But I haven’t made my page goal.

Discipline in the area of my own fiction output is something I haven’t expected since–well, since I started Mercury Retrograde, I suspect. Writing has mostly been a guilty pleasure of late. I must reaccustom myself to expectations of productivity. I must have some lunch and come back to the study, and stare at myself until I write another scene.

The good news: I have gotten past the “maybe I’ve entirely forgotten how to write, and now suck horribly” fear that always comes up when I haven’t been writing for a while. I know what I wrote this morning is good. Now I (mostly) only doubt my ability to attain the level of productivity I’ll need to make my date.

Mostly. I still acknowledge the possibility that No One Else Will Love It. But that’s a thing every writer must live with. It is one of the top two reasons so many writers drink so much.

The other, of course, is fear of abject suckage. But coping with that, and writing sentences anyway, is one of the most important things that separates pros from amateurs.

Today, I am a pro. I’ll be back after lunch.

Sign of the times

November 8, 2009

I’m not sure how to spin this, but I do know it’s weird. And absolutely typical of how we live now.

Last night around 11, Mark, Rachael & I were hanging out watching one of our guilty pleasures on the DVR. The phone rang; it was Daniel, calling from his dorm at the University of Chicago. (Naturally my first thought, which is a sign of my age, is that it must be something Serious and Important because he was calling so late. But those are old attitudes; we’re all routinely up at that hour on weekends, and Dan know this, of course.)

But as it turns out the subject of his call was time-sensitive: he had just changed his relationship status on Facebook, and he didn’t want us to find out from Facebook rather than from him that he was, as it says on FB, In A Relationship.

He is a considerate soul, and that’s one of the many things I love about him. But I cannot escape the sheer bizarreness of living in times when your parents can Facebook Stalk you from 1500 miles away. I mean, isn’t having a little privacy the main reason to go so far away to college?  Distance has become immaterial.

I am very pleased for Dan, and for his girlfriend Sarah who I don’t yet know: there is a reason why college is where geeks go to spawn. That’s where geeks have to go to find people of analogous levels of geekiness. I am proud of their ability to balance having the kind of relationship geeks crave with the demands of the educational path they’ve chosen. And I’m glad to know about it, because the idea of their happiness makes me happy.

But I also appreciate that there is a natural interval between being ready for your friends to know about the relationship and being ready to make the announcement to your parents. And Facebook has just closed that gap.

I don’t know how to spin this. But I do know it’s weird.

Stupid novelist tricks

November 7, 2009

Well, as a famous sidekick once observed, I’m back.

After really screwing myself on my fall schedule (more on that anon. Yes, I know I said that already.) I am finally back in the study, where finishing my own novel is actually the hottest project in my queue. ‘Cause, yeah, back when I said I’d publish it next May, it seemed a totally attainable deadline. Meanwhile, I have (according to the word count thingy in Power Writer, my writing program) a little more than 88K words written. I know that number’s inflated; it includes a lot of planning and previous-draft material. A better gauge is that I am a bit more than halfway, in terms of distance my characters must travel, to the midpoint of the novel. If this one has four acts (and I think they do, but I also think the first and fourth acts are more in the stage-drama than the screenplay tradition: which is to say they’re meaty) then I am in the second half of act two.

What I know is that, if this book is going to press in May, I’ve got to finish it by early December. It’s going to be interesting.

The good news: this is not a first draft. I know the story. The bad news: the previous drafts are mostly not up to my current standard, and I’m writing every scene from scratch–and, in fact, most of the scenes I’m writing are wholly new.

During the golden period when all I did was work on my fiction-writing skills, I could produce about 7 pages per day. Now, of course, I’m also running a publishing house–and I believe I need to be producing at least 10.

“Nervous” is an understatement. In fact I’m waxing the cat right now.

Off I go, then. Wish me luck.

Taking a moment to appreciate the magic

November 2, 2009

I had a wonderful conversation with a reader this morning. He had heard about the free eBook giveaway for Ed Morris‘s There Was a Crooked Man and wanted to know how to lay hands on a print copy. (Amazon, which can never quite get the dates right, is amazingly late in getting the Trade Paper version of Crooked Man live on their site. Probably trying to make up for the time they listed one 6 weeks before its pub date.) We started by email, but soon he picked up the phone. And that was when I re-encountered the magic of what I do every day.

The reader (his name is Jason) made a point of telling me that he knows Ed Morris; they went to high school together, and he remembers how Ed was always The Creative One. I shared with Jason what an enormous kick I get out of working with Ed, and how quickly his star is rising. We took care of the business for which Jason had called and I went about my business.

A few minutes later, it struck me: what a magical thing it is that those of us in the book business do every day. Everything comes down to the readers in this business, of course; but they are not who we talk to, day in and day out. Our days are full of talking with other authors, with agents and members of the book trade, and press in-genre and out. And all those people spend their days on the business of books, too; it’s easy for all of us to think it’s normal.

But Jason gets it, where most of us don’t remember on a daily basis: this is magic. For people not in the book business, the wonder of books and authors is readily apparent, and all the rest of the stuff we think about every day is beyond imagining: because, of course, it’s not really relevant to the experience of reading, of opening up a book and having realities of which we’d never dreamed come to life in our heads.

Strange how all of us who are in this business came to it because we were in love with the magic. And yet as soon as we begin working in the business every day, we forget it’s magical at all.

It’s not just those of us in the book business who fail to see the magic in the things we do every day, of course. All of us think our daily lives are normal, while at least some element of what we do is like magic to people who see it only from the outside. All the blessings we enjoy every day, all the wonder in which we take part: they are our particular magics.

We can’t exist in a state of constant wonder over our own lives, of course; not and get anything done. But today, I’m glad I’ve been reminded of all the wonder in my daily life.

I make books. Every day. Surely I am one of the luckiest people on the planet.