Saturday, January 31, 2009

Power Outtages Can't Slow Me Down!

Owing to a power outage, I didn't get as much work done on my snow day as I might. But I did put down Wuthering Heights long enough to hammer out some more writing in Chapter 5 and organize my notes and sketches of conversations into a manageable and coherent whole. The battery on my laptop lasts for about three and a half hours. And that's not a bad span of time for a writing session, but it's only midnight now and I find myself wishing I had at least another two hours of battery life to expend as I'm positively on a roll and hate to be kept from my writing when the characters are being so very cooperative.

I have almost 2,000 words of 5 written. I imagine it will eventually stretch to a little over 3,500 just as the previous chapters have done, so I'm about halfway there. This is good progress, but the hardest part still lay ahead, the stitching together of disjointed thoughts and making the actions and movements of David flow one into another effortlessly. I have a bit more research to do still, and a lot of passes with the editor's fine-toothed comb to smooth out my awkward phrasing. David is feeling particularly effusive in this chapter, which is turning out to be rather dialog-intensive. I am still honing the dynamic between he and his mother. It's a dynamic thing, Kathryn is always making adjustments for David's idiosyncrasies, so it's hard to give it a distinct label as being “nurturing” or “combative” and that translates into a lack of focus when I write interaction between them. I tend to wander and get lost in discovery rather than move the story along in a pointed manner. I just have to remind myself that I many tens of thousands of more words in which to explore Kathryn and David's mother-son bond.


Our power is out for the second straight day, but I charged the laptop at work so I'd be able to get some more solid writing time. I was reading some more in Wuthering Heights before firing up the laptop, though, and got thinking about Claire and MarLo as opposed to David and Kathryn, so I started work on Chapter 6 instead of 5 tonight. All the better, as perhaps when I finish them, it won't be too many weeks apart. I had a bit of an inspiration for the opening of 6, and it merged so seamlessly with the short conversation between Claire and MarLo that I'd already written that I just carried on editing what I've already typed out. The end product is over 1,500 words, which is a healthy start, but what I'm most pleased with is that it's a solid 1,500 words that don't break between paragraphs waiting for me to go back and fill in a transition. Chapter 5 is all in bits and pieces that still need to be assembled. They're in the right order now, but transitions are such a trial for me. I can get stuck on a single transition for weeks at a time. So I'm very, very happy to have 6 being more cooperative in terms of cohesion. But then again, I wrote the Claire/MarLo conversation that opens 6 months ago, so it's been percolating for a lot longer than anything I've invented thus far for 5. Poor David. He's at such loose ends in his life, that it's a real challenge for me to fill his days with anything at all except staring at his chalkboard wall and thinking about how disappointed he is in his lack of inspiration. I'm glad to have Claire finally in his life. She'll get him moving in some sort of direction, even if it isn't the right one.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Research and Work on 5

Chapter 5 is coming along. I'm very excited about getting this next tandem completed, as 6 chapters is a bit of a milestone in my outline. After 6, things will really begin happening. And I'll be very relieved not to have any more setup to mull over. I think stretching the introductions out over several chapters was a good way to avoid a large backstory dump, and it allowed me to ease everyone into my peculiar style, but there are risks adherent to this decision. More on that later.

Tonight, I'm doing some research on working memory, attention buffers, dual task performance processing bottlenecks in the frontal lobe, that sort of thing. All for one of David's little science asides. I like beginning a chapter while he's in mid-thought, breaking in on his hefty ruminations, and then moving on with the action from there while he works through his little internal dilemmas. In this chapter, some pretty important things are happening right in front of him while he's completely taken up with his own thoughts on his mother's gift. I have the bones of the chapter laid out, but need to fill in the color or else I'll just be moving David from place to place like a chess piece so that he can observe things that need to be observed. I'm waiting for him to make the events his own by adding in his unique non-observations. It's happening, but it will take some solid hours of writing time to work out the kinks. For one thing, I have a conversation between Kathryn and David already written, but it's rather long, and I never know how much of it will be completely unnecessary by the time I get to the end of the chapter, where the conversation will take place.

I think I've finally settled on a name for Decker. I wanted something old-fashioned and lame that MarLo could make fun of. I had originally chosen Lawrence as a nod to one of my favorite films, Girl in the Cafe, but I decided Clarence is just as suiting and will honor my deceased grandfather. His full name is now Clarence Gershom Emmanuel Decker. All of his mail comes to C.G.E Decker. Claire doesn't know his given name(s). MarLo does because she weedled it out of him. Gershom is an Old Testament name meaning "exile" or "a stranger there," and Emmanuel also comes from the Old Testament and means "God is with us." Gershom is particularly telling of his character as Decker regarded himself rather displaced in academia until he discovered his passion for baking. Actually, Decker's character is slightly reminiscent of the law student-turned-baker in Stranger than Fiction. He's much more laconic and non-confrontational, though. But he still has a bit of Ana Pascal's hippy sensibility.

I may make one of my characters a diabetic. Perhaps Claire's younger sister. That will add a little drama.

For tonight, though, I'm about done for. I'll try to make sense of my research notes on my lunch break and continue the long process of stitching the chapter together out of the many scraps and loose threads I have laid out so far.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chapter Titles

It's possible that my ulcers have finally perforated. I've been more anemic than usual, have been running a low grade fever, and am in a fair amount of discomfort though it doesn't quit rise to such a pitch that would necessitate calling it pain. So that's kept me away from the keyboard tonight, though I did get nearly a half a page written on my lunch break today.

Chapter titles aren't necessary, but I think they're kind of fun. They give the opportunity to play with reader expectations. It also give me more solid footing when I think back on the story timeline. And I find that giving the chapter a 'theme' in the title keeps me from drifting into asides. I had thought to have every chapter title be a different platitude, as if Elizabeth were giving Claire and David little nuggets of advice or conventional wisdom, but that idea may or may not hold as the story progresses.

Chapters One and Two:
"All downhill from here”
“It's an uphill battle.”

Three and Four:
“Going nowhere fast”
“Speed isn't everything”

Five and Six (tentatively):
“Stop and smell the roses”
“Something fishy”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Revisions to 3

I actually did a bit of writing on Chapter 5 today. A bit. About four lines. On my lunch break. But it's a start.

Tonight, I wrote a lengthy response to some reader feedback on the Reach Readers forum (some of which I may repost here when I'm not quite so in need of sleep.) After re-reading the input that my panel has given me on Chapter 3, I went in and cleaned up a few minor areas. I'll post the revisions on the Reach Readers site soon. I can't remember now what draft I'd posted, but I'm sure it's not as tightly integrated into the following chapter. I should have waited to post it until they were a completed tandem! I will do that with 5 and 6. I've gotten a good jump on both of them, but I have to make the time to write them out. Saturday at the library might not happen as my friend wants to make a shopping excursion. I may have to turn our all-day shopping trip into lunch and hitting up one store, though, as I don't really need to spend any money, and my priority is Project Reach. Saturdays are my only writing time wherein I'm free to spend a solid block of hours with my ass in my office chair typing. Sundays are generally filled with football and grocery shopping and laundry, and this Sunday I'll have to get scrubbed up because I have tickets to Wicked! So probably no writing on Sunday.

Right now I'm going to shut the computer down and drift off to sleep while trying to come up with chapter titles for 5 and 6.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Today is NOT a day off, but I can't seem to get down to work on Chapter 5. I'm having trouble finding David's voice again. It'll come, but I can't force it. Instead, I wrote a poem and have developed a really hilarious spoof of Elizabeth Alexander's snoozer of an inaugural poem.
This about sums it up:

All the images of death I've even seen
real, filmed, or imagined
carry far less terror
than the panicked white
of an empty page,
so like skin drained of blood.

The only thing to fill the emptiness is fear.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ideological Holidays

I'm taking today and tomorrow off as holidays. Today I watched two of my favorite movies and Girl in the Cafe and Something the Lord Made. Tomorrow I'll watch a new president be sworn in on my lunch break, and probably watch coverage of the inaugural balls all night. It's doubtful if I'll get any writing done, but that's okay. I'm taking an ideological holiday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chapter 4 finished

I have posted Chapter 4 to the Reach Readers' forum. Several of my readers have been clamoring for it, which is about the best compliment I could hope to receive. It took longer than I'd expected to get the final few paragraphs to really sing. There was an exceedingly delicate balance of description and action to achieve. I think I've done it. But I can't be sure.

I'll continue with 5 tomorrow. I've got a good outline for it, but nothing at all written whereas I have much of 6 written but no real order for it to fit into. Hopefully their writing will go much quicker than the previous chapters, now that I know what I'm about, so to speak.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

5 and 6 Begin!

I began Chapter 5 today. Mostly, I just sat down at the Taco Bell after work and typed out an extended outline with commentary that will serve as the bones of the chapter. I was finding it difficult to hear David's voice, though after having inhabited Claire's head for so long, so I'm considering going ahead with Chapter 6 while her cadence is fresh in my mind. I already have a few segments of 6 in a working draft, so it's just a matter of filling in the transitions and pushing it out beyond where I left off.
The following are my comments on a post in the Reach Reader forum dealing with Chapter 1:

On David's voice: I really don't spend hours scrolling through the thesaurus injecting large words into David's narrative, but he does have a tendency to always choose the best and most accurate word to convey his exact meaning. Most people can get by with saying that something is 'tiny' and adding emphasis with facial expressions and gestures. Since David has little aptitude for recognizing nonverbal cues, he relies more heavily on his ability to retain a large vocabulary. So your 'tiny' would be his 'minuscule'. For my part, it's actually more of an effort to keep large or obscure words out of Claire's chapters. I frequently catch myself trying to slide a David-esque sentence into Claire's internal dialog.

On chapter length: the chapters are running about 3,000-3,500 words each. That is very short. I'm not sure if they will continue to remain the same length or not as the story elements begin to gather complexity. That remains to be seen. The reason that the opening chapters have been so short is that I'm trying to get to the crux of the story as early as possible. Nobody likes slogging through 50 pages of backstory and setup. Also, I wanted the first few perspective switches to be snappy. I wanted to end Chapter 1 on a mini cliffhanger and switch directly into Claire's rather workaday morning for the pure joy of the juxtaposition. In this way (I hope) we can get the initial jolt of the concept of having dual narrators out of our systems early on.

On David's current age: I wanted it to be a bit of a mystery to add a few barbs into my hook, so to speak. So you don't get to know David's age until Chapter 2, and even then if you're not paying close attention it may slip right past without notice. But it's in there, and I've added more emphasis to it in my revision, which hasn't been posted yet. In chapter 2, David states that he turned 18 in the previous June, and as the story is taking place in the fall, specifically early October, that would make him 18 and a half. Though the corpus callosum line is a bit jarring, I've left it in to demonstrate David's early fascination with the brain, though he hasn't much familiarity with its study. And yes, I added in the human anatomy class specifically to justify the later use of corpus callosum. Referencing "Office Space" was meant to be a place-holder phrase that I intended to fix in a later edit, but it ended up staying because I couldn't come up with anything when I was making the last editing pass. I'll fix it in later revisions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Work vs Writing

I was having such a good run today during my lunch break that I considered not going back to my desk when my hour had run out. I was sitting in a lounge chair in our employee break room, making another editing pass at Chapter 4, trying to get the ending to progress more smoothly, and I was just making such pretty work of it that it was torture to close the lid on the laptop and go back upstairs. My supervisor is on vacation, so I doubt if anyone would have missed me for an extra 15 minutes, but I couldn't do that. I try to be a good employee, and I love my job. I really, really, really don't want to get fired for being a slacker. But if I did get fired, at least I'd have more time to write. It's just such a shame that I didn't have a story to write when I was unemployed for months on end in 2006-2007. But now that I think of it, I was attempting to write a novel then, too. I outlined the entire story, but barely got a chapter into it before giving up. It was just such a depressing tale that I couldn't bear to spend hour after hour inhabiting it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What to do with feedback

I've come to learn that having a panel of first readers is not a typical thing for an author to initiate. Debut authors, especially. But having been a poet for so many years involved in both live readings and an online community, I am confident enough in my writing not to fear feedback. Indeed, I find it to be essential. So when I set out to write a novel, I knew I'd have to recruit my friends as first readers if only to have someone urging me to keep completing chapters! I chose to create a 'formal' panel instead of just passing around chapters as e-mail attachments because I like the idea of having a structured environment for criticism. So instead of a back alley street fight in which my poor manuscript gets the shit kicked out of it by my highly intelligent and discriminating friends, I have a civilized boxing ring in which my poor manuscript gets the shit kicked out of it by my highly intelligent and discriminating friends.

So far there isn't much to critique because nothing has really happened in the story yet, but my readers all have interesting input into the characters and my writing style. My dilemma now is figuring out to what extent I am going to allow all of the feedback I'm getting to inform the story. So far the only revisions I've made based on feedback have to do with issues of clarity. Some concerns that my panel expressed over David's voice I haven't addressed yet because I'm giving David more time to develop and grow into himself. If after a few thousand more words, he is still annoying the hell out of everyone who tries to read his narrative, then I'll consider a re-write. My policy as of now is to "let David be David". And we'll see how that plays out.

I shared some of my ideas for upcoming plot points with one of my readers today, and she approves of and is excited about everything I've revealed to her, but she also made a suggestion for a future event. She thinks David should get a cat. Now, I could write that into the story...but it wouldn't serve any purpose except to gratify the friend who made the suggestion. As a writer, I prefer not to dictate events, but to allow the characters to lead their owns lives and merely record what happens to and around them. I'm hoping that none of the other panel members try to steer the plot by making suggestions that "so-and-so should do such-and-such". Bringing something to my attention that I may have overlooked is one thing. (As when a panel member alerted me to the fact that I'd recorded David making an aesthetic judgment of a book cover, which is something David clearly wouldn't do, and it was actually my own assessment of the cover that had deposited itself into the narrative. That was my error, and I'm glad my reader caught it.) But putting in requests is completely different. I'm gratified that a reader would take so much interest in my characters as to feel ownership over them, but I think I have to draw a line at plot contrivance.

Another line I've drawn has to do with offers of writing assistance. I'm bad at dialog. Thusly, many of the characters I've created are taciturn, introspective types that don't do much talking. I had one of my readers offer to write some dialog for me. While, again, I'm gratified that the reader is able to take so much ownership of David and Claire after only four short chapters that he'd feel comfortable putting words into their mouths, I'll have to pass. I try not to feed my characters lines to deliver, and I'm relying on my readers to notify me when I've written something that David or Claire just wouldn't say. I have a tendency to stay up too late writing, and after a certain point, I just get a bit delirious and things start making their way into the chapter that have no business being there.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

(a reminder to myself to blog about stream-of-consciousness narrative)

Decker and MarLo

I finished Chapter 4 last night. It was my fourth consecutive night of staying up until about 4am to write instead of sleeping, and I've come to the decision that it's just not worth staying awake until I'm delirious with sleep deprivation because it impairs the functioning of my brain to the point that anything I write is utter rubbish. I was feeling pretty good about the chapter until I read what I'd written last night while on my lunch break this afternoon. I was shocked at how poorly constructed the sentences were. So, yes, I finished Chapter 4, but I'm going to be re-writing the last fourth of it tonight. Only I won't stay up past 2:30, no matter what.

I tweaked my outline today by reordering some of the events that dictate the relational dynamics between MarLo, Claire, Decker and an as-yet-unnamed young woman who Claire mentors through a young adult bible study ministry. I've decided to delay the revelation (to Claire) of Decker and MarLo's relationship and push the introduction of Claire's mother and younger sister to an earlier chapter...which means I have to locate the paper upon which I jotted the names I'd chosen for them. I still have no idea when to add Claire's father into the mix. He won't be an actual character, but I'll have to mention him at some point as he figures into Claire's choices in the final chapters. I still want the Halloween party to be near the front end of the book, when David and Claire's relationship is still brand new, but I keep adding plot before it.

I also discovered the mechanics of how MarLo and Decker get together. Now, the whole idea of MarLo and Decker being sexual partners was not a case of me deciding on it and then writing it that way. I simply created two people who have a lot of common interests, but who have completely different but complementary ways of expressing their interests. The characters themselves informed the nature of their relationship. When the idea came upon to me, it was a complete surprise, but also made so much sense that I allowed it to be what it was without raising any objections. Oh, MarLo and Decker get together. Of course they do. He's so passive and she's so assertive. It would have seemed contrived if they hadn't become intimate. The only thing I got to decide is when to reveal their relationship to Claire. I chose to get it all out in the open right away because I needed something to drive the story before David and Claire actually meet. Now all I have to do is to sit back and record Claire's reactions and thoughts. Easy. The easiest, most organic thing I've written thus far because it 'wrote itself', so to speak. And it's actually written itself three times. I have recorded three variations of the 'reveal' scene. None of them exceed 500 words. One is nothing but dialog. One is two short lines of dialog in the midst of a larger and more important plot driver. One is hilarious simply for the sake of being hilarious. I'm going with option 2.

Oh, but I was saying that last night I discovered the catalyst for Decker and MarLo''s first encounter. I had written into Chapter 4 that Decker had bought carry-out bags for The Deck's first catering delivery, and that he'd had stickers with The Deck's logo printed to put on the bags as advertisement. (Of course I would write that into the story, that's what I do for a living! I work in the art department of a company that prints labels.) But that's how Decker and MarLo get together before my narrative even begins. Claire sends Decker to the copy shop where MarLo works to have them printed. Whether Decker expresses his immense anxiety over starting up the catering aspect of his business or MarLo infers it from his body language, we'll never know, but when Decker comes in to pick up the stickers the day before my story begins, MarLo offers to take him out for drinks to settle his nerves. And, of course, in true MarLo fashion, she gets him drunk and takes advantage of him!

Also, I still don't have any dialog for Decker yet. I've been toying with the idea of having him always in a scene, but never actually say anything. He shouldn't have to say anything because any scene that Decker's in is a Claire scene and I made him the strong silent type on purpose to display Claire's ability to read people. Of course, I wouldn't write the words out of him. If he needs to say something, he will. But it would be fun if he never needed to say anything. And now that he and MarLo are in an intimate relationship, she can speak for him in some instances.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More Words I've Added to my Spellchecker


Monday, January 12, 2009

Quotes from Chapter 4

Some lines that I consider highlights from Claire's second chapter:

"I shut my eyes tightly in a moment of what I supposed passes for prayer when I'm at my very lowest. My silent petitions don't take the form of language in times liked these. I do not begin with “Dear Lord” and end with “Amen”. There is merely a succession of wants that rise to the forefront of my mind and jostle for rank. It is a rush of mingled pleading that I could no more interpret than the chatter of dolphins."
"A tiny sizzle of hope flares into being under my sternum and runs length of my arms as I seize my knife and begin immediately where I left off."

"I feel pressure mounting behind my eyes and close them tightly. For a few short seconds I am locked in battle with my unruly tear ducts."

"Gratitude floods through me, but finds no appropriate outlet. I can't very well hug a perfect stranger. I stand, searching for words, wasting precious time. I want to tell her that I couldn't be more in her debt if I were an inmate on death row and she'd just made the call to pardon me, but a simple “thank you” is all I can manage."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sample Query

I need to order a copy of Karl Iagnemma's novel The Expeditions. I'm a big fan of his collection of short stories On the Nature of Human Romantic Interactions, and I've been meaning to pick up his debut novel, a historical fiction, for months. Same goes for Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer. I've been following his blog, but definitely need the book. I also need some Richard Powers (Galatea 2.2 and The Gold Bug Variations, in particular) and some Jonathan Lethem. It appears as if I will have to leave my study of the classics aside and delve into more contemporary fiction, not to mention the reading I'm still doing to acquaint myself with cognitive and neurological sciences. No time for classics.

Today, I tried an exercise in which I wrote a mock query letter for Project Reach. I was racking my brain trying to think of a novel I can compare it to in terms of style and subject matter only to find that I've never read anything quite like the novel I'm attempting to write. Iagnemma's short stories at least are drawn along the same lines as they are works of fiction that involve science without being science fiction. They are primarily about people and relationships and science serves only as a backdrop and plot catalyst, which is precisely where Project Reach is headed.

I'm also going to have to pick up a copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as it was represented by the agent that I'm very much hoping will take me on when Project Reach is ready for publication. I've been following her blog since I began writing Project Reach, and she often mentions wanting to acquire more literary works. Hotel is the only literary work listed on her web site, but I noticed that her women's lit and romance titles frequently deal with the paranormal, so that's encouraging. And actually, the idea of writing a mock query came directly from this agent's blog. It's been a very useful and illuminating process. It has helped me continue to refine the direction of the narrative and to re-evaluate the balance between David's and Claire's separate dilemmas. I've also used excerpts from the exercise to update the abstract posted in the sidebar of this blog.

The big question raised by all this, of course, is "Does writing a sample query letter when I only have four chapters of the novel completed qualify as putting the cart before the horse?"

Well, if I'm to be perfectly honest, yes. But it helps me stay on target. As I've said many times, so long as the quality of my output continues to improve, I'll approve any means. I realize my process is quite ass backwards, but I'm making my peace with that.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Classics

Well, despite having gotten distracted watching a delightful episode of Great Performances on PBS featuring a new stage adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac starring Kevin Kline and Jenifer Garner, I did actually manage to get a few sentences written last night. I'm in another crucial transitional paragraph, so a few sentences at a time is all I ever manage from session to session. Once I clear this latest log jam, I expect another half chapter in a single sitting. But I'll have to get past this first as it will inform the mood of Claire's next actions. Poor Claire, she's been standing at the same crosswalk since before Christmas! I'm at another point in which I can't seem to make much progress no matter what I do. It's an extremely frustrating situation.

After shutting down the computer last night, again intending to get some solid sleep, I cracked open Wuthering Heights to send me off to sleep. I have been reading Henry James' The American as my bedtime book for months now and can never get more than 5 pages in without drifting off. I thought Wuthering Heights would answer the same purpose. I was very wrong. I haven't ever read Wuthering Heights before, but I am a keen follower of Masterpiece Theater Classic and they're airing a new adaptation of it in a few weeks, so what better time to read the book?

I had the firm intention of only wading in for about 20 pages or so and then snapping up some much-needed REM rebound, but I have a critical lack of self restraint when it comes to good books. I only fell into an exhausted slumber after having polished off a good fourth of the story. The first two chapters, especially, are filled with such wonderfully-polished insight that it makes me fairly despair of my own writing. A Bronte I am not. But I supposed that comparing my own writing with one of the greatest classics in the English language is being perhaps a bit unfair to myself, no matter that they share the attribute of having been written in the first person. I should pick up some Nicholas Sparks and compare my writing to that! Maybe that would make me feel better. Though perhaps not. I've never read anything by Nicholas Sparks, and so I'm not qualified to offer an opinion on the quality of his writing, though I did read an interview with him in Entertainment Weekly in which he boasts of writing 2,000 words a day. He's written 14 books in 14 years! I admire his incredible work ethic, but I'm highly skeptical of the depth and literary merit of his work. But then again, who needs literary merit when you've got millions in sales?!

And that brings me to another point about Project Reach (which I've increasingly begun to privately refer to as Comfort Foods Cure), I'm beginning to get a real sense of what kind of book it will be in terms of tone, readability and overall appeal. I know what it is - or rather what it is going to be - and what it isn't. First of all, in terms of tone, several of my first readers have expressed concerns about David's voice being too lofty. This has concerned me as well, but I believe I've finally decided to stop worrying over it and just let David be David. I want Project Reach to challenge readers. It must be accessible, of course, but it must also force thought. I'd like to say, to hell with the readers who are annoyed by David. If having to infer the definition of an obscure adjective from the surrounding context turns some readers off, then so be it. I'd like to say that, but the truth is that I do hope to procure representation for the manuscript at some point in the future, and no one will touch the thing if it's unmarketable. So I try to strike a balance between my tendency to over embellishment and tangential observation and the critical need for solid pacing and clarity. I keep the idea of "the target audience" in the back of my mind at all times while writing. I actually enjoy placing those scant limitations on myself much more than writing solely for myself. When I write for myself, the end result is often quite abstruse. Taking the considerations of others into the process allows me to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. It forces a level of clarity and warmth that I seldom achieve in writing for my own purposes. As for the appeal of Project Reach, I endeavor to keep it as broad as possible given the limitations that the story will place on it. I think of it as purely literary, if I must apply a label, but I can see it being mistaken for science fiction or indeed as fantasy in the later chapters. I must manage it very carefully to see that it doesn't get misrepresented when/if it every goes out on submission.

Sometime soon, I intend to make a deeper study of those first two chapters of Wuthering Heights that so impressed me, and pull from them some cues to add into my own narrative.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recharging vs Charging Forward

Intent to turn in early and get caught up on my sleep, I instead got drawn into a writing vigil last night. When I finally did fall asleep at around 4:30am, I had written yet another poem. I had been meditating on the sheer absurdity of the English language for having only one word for 'love' and only one word for 'pain', and my thoughts became this.

It is 12:07am. We are seven days into the new year and I have already written two acceptable works of poetry. This is encouraging considering the fact my total output for 2008 is a mere 10 works (discounting the Fire Sermon canto of "Rewriting the Wasteland" that I put some work in on). I am very pleased to have some creative writing to my credit in the young year, but I wish I had been motivated to put the lid down on Chapter 4 instead. I have a very intense fear of the law of diminishing returns. I doubt I'll lose interest in David and Claire's story, but the process of writing is intensely draining and I can see myself putting the project away for months on end, using the excuse that I need to recharge. I do not need to recharge. I need to charge forward. I need to prove to myself that I can complete a large, important work of fiction. I need to do it for Claire and for David, for MarLo and Decker, and Elizabeth and Dr. Feigner.

Tonight, instead of working on Chapter 3, I am mailing off poetry submission to the Indiana Review. I think my works are more contemplative and less form intensive than they generally accept, but I'm going to send them anyway to give my home journal the right of first refusal, so to speak. The editors of IR "admire works of risk, ambition, and scope". That doesn't necessarily describe my work. I would have to say they're more works of clarity, introspection and elevation. I am sending "Balm", "Advent", "A Wintry Mix", "Love and the Doppler Effect" and "Van Gogh Eyes". I added a few words onto a line of "Balm" to help smooth a rough stanza break and changed the title and some wording in "Advent". "A Wintry Mix" is actually "A Wintry Mix and "I Become a Blizzard" combined and revised. When I place my works one on top of another in one document, it is apparent that I write often on the change of season, nature, science and emotion.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Library

Well, I may not have gotten anything written this weekend, but I did get quite a bit accomplished, nonetheless. I have now set up my library (as seen below) and am quite relieved that my books will no longer have to lay in inglorious piles on the floor. They now have comfortable homes where they are easily accessible, out of direct sunlight and safe from damp and dust. There is even room for another shelf or two if I decide to get rid of the rickety blue one and put my DVDs nearer the television.

My "Favorites" shelf looks a bit thin because I keep most of my true favorites within arm's reach of my bed. (And I don't own the Aubrey/Maturin series, which would claim a shelf of honor, I'm sure.) And it occurred to me hat having a bit of room to grow on my favorites shelf would be wise. I positively impressed myself by having a full shelf of nothing but poetry. And, yes, I do indeed have two full shelves of nothing but Orson Scott Card. They are mostly first editions and many of them are signed. I'm thrilled to finally be able to display them properly. Actually, now that I think of it, my "Science Fiction" shelf is all OSC overflow and the complete works of William Gibson. I really don't think I own any other science fiction books. I always just borrowed them from friends or the library.

But now that the holidays and the hard work on the library are all behind me, I intend to throw myself back into the narrative of Claire and David. I would like to get them past the Halloween party by the end of February. But we'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Making Time

I feel as if I've squandered my holiday time off from work. I haven't gotten any more of Chapter 4 written, but I have watched the extended versions of all three Lord of the Rings movies, Funny Face with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, partied with friends who aren't often in town, and played countless rounds of Wordjong and Scramble. I haven't read a thing in ages or done a speck of research in weeks!

Tomorrow night I have plans, and I'll likely spend Saturday and Sunday putting my living room back in order and installing some book shelves. I'm going to try not to get too involved in the much-anticipated and enjoyable task of organizing my book collection because I'll have to make some time to write. I have another pact deadline on Sunday. Additionally, I need to post the Google Notebook for Chapter 3 and finish some Google Earth and Streetview research that I'm hoping will make the writing of Chapter 4 go much smoother. I'm not even going to think about 5 and 6 yet!

I reorganized the electronic filing system for early drafts and working documents and reformatted my USB drives accordingly, so that is good progress. I'm also attending a Linux User's Group meeting in a couple of weeks and am excited about a presentation on how to run a sync command that will overwrite the latest version of a file between my USB and hard drive. I've found Google Docs to be helpful, but not the best option for me as I often find myself working offline.

And I wrote another poem today. Two whole pieces in one month. I'm quite encouraged by that.