Saturday, September 20, 2008

Science and Psi

My trip to the library was very disappointing. I have no new research materials of note, but am waiting on a few things I've ordered to arrive. I should not go to the library when I'm utterly famished, though, because then all I want to do is get out of there and get some food and a coffee.

After I got home, I was reading a rather unflattering review of Dennis Lehane's new book (his first literary attempt) and my thoughts turned to the problem of keeping the science and psi in Project Reach from overwhelming the story. It's tricky. I'll be relying on my first readers pretty heavily to let me know if the science and psi get too overwhelming. I'm fairly good at not letting forcing my characters to stand around and expound on weighty matters. I only worry that I don't write enough dialog into the manuscript. I hate dialog. And I'm not good at writing it. So I just leave it out, which is easier when writing from the first person because internal dialog is sometimes enough to keep reader interest. But your characters can't know everything. Eventually, they have to be told something and then they have to react to that new piece of information.

I think it's rather funny that my two main characters don't have an actual conversation until about chapter 6. By this time, they know each other, they've studied each other's habits, and they have a level of acquaintanceship that brings them into each other's company every day...but they've never spoken to each other. And their first conversation, as I have planned it, is mostly carried out by MarLo speaking for each of them in turn. It's a really comical scene (in my head, at least, who knows how funny it'll be when it gets written?).


I've just submitted my first chapter to a writer friend with whom I've made a pact to adhere to biweekly deadlines. This will be the first external feedback I get. I'm not nervous. I'm rather expecting him to like it, as I know his literary preferences fairly well. But I am anxious to know what areas he finds need the most development and what his initial reaction to David is going to be.


I've also been pondering the problem of Project Reach's identity. It can't stay a project forever. Eventually, I'm going to have to start calling it what it is: a novel. And novels need titles. I'm not too concerned with choosing a title. I assume that the title will eventually choose me. Something that keeps asserting itself in the narrative will eventually just jump out at me and that will be it, the title...or at least the basis of the title. Lux et Veritas, actually has jumped out at me. It's just a little detail on a building that David notices when he visits Yale. It translates from the Latin to "Light and Truth". It's on the Yale Shield and, incidentally, also featured on the Indiana University seal. Light and truth will certainly be major themes in the arch of the story, but I don't want a Latin title. It smacks of 'trying too hard' and pretentiousness. I will keep my title options open for the moment.


I have just explained to a friend of mine why I couldn't get any real writing done yesterday and how useful I am finding my newly acquired knowledge of cognitive and neurological sciences:

I was under an unusual amount of stress at work dealing with a new account and later on I got really pissed off at my oral surgeon's office because I had to wait for a long time. This usually wouldn't phase me a bit as I'm a patient person, and I found it odd that I was feeling so angry at such a stupid (and expected) thing. But then I was like, huh, I must have had a stress-induced surge of catecholamine and cortisol leading to a state of adrenocortical arousal which makes me more prone to get tipped off by stupid things like being forced to watch Ryder Cup coverage while waiting to see my dentist.

Once I identified the neurological processes at work, I was able to better control my mood. And THAT is called metacognition, a concept which is given a brief treatment in the very first chapter of Project Reach.
Unfortunately, my anger and feeling of utter frustration lasted until bedtime and prevented me from getting any writing done last night. Alas, I am a slave to my amygdala.

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