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Not much. I'm doing a lot of thinking and cosmic digesting of said thoughts. I may blog about all that or may not, depending on how the digestion process goes. I find myself mostly wanting to convey little blurps of information—which is right up the Twitter alley, of course. I am writing, and dealing with a series of physical irritations. Nothing at all serious, just a string of little things to deal with, but it's amazing how a discomfort can occupy so much of one's thoughts.

I've been working on chapter 12 of the reconfigured first (incomplete) draft of Venus in Transit and it's been kicking my butt some. Yesterday I wound up deleting six pages of what I managed to complete last week and wrote three more. I'd gone off on a tangent, it wasn't working, there wasn't any choice but cutting it. Or, actually, transferring the pages to my "off" file in case I change my mind later. I always have off files for first drafts which often get quite large and I almost never go back to that material—but you never know! Every word is sacrosanct. Ha.

The problem with chapter 12 is that there are a series of events that must be introduced to the story now, the gradual reveal of the mysteries, and I didn't think that the old timing worked as it should have. I needed to throw more tension in the way of the MC's so I rewrote accordingly. But over the weekend it occurred to me that not all of the new sequence worked. That's what got cut. I did manage to introduce material that will have the reader waiting for the other shoe to drop, even while the characters remain as yet unaware of the conflict. So I have a kind of chapter 12 now, but I'm not sure it works. I'm going to let it sit for awhile and push ahead before I post it to the workshop.

And the thing I'm itching to do next? The rewrite of my historical vampire novel, The Making Blood. I don't know why because I thought I was done with vampires for good, but it's really making a case for itself these days. Not the entire 170k failed monster with three timelines, but the cut down 6th century-only section that comes in around 100k. If I thought I could knock that off in a couple of weeks, I might take a break from Venus and give it a shot, but these things always take longer than I think they will. So I'll keep slogging on with the current WIP.

Venus in Transit through chapter 12:

Venus in Transit in total:

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I've got nothing to complain about. I live a privileged life, all told, and so far my health is holding up. I have a roof over my head, more than sufficient to eat, a job to pay the bills, a second job that I mostly love except when novels refuse to finish themselves without my assistance.

I even managed to write 1000 words this morning. It fought me every step of the way (or I fought it, hard to say which). It was, in fact, a fight scene and I'm bloody sick of writing fight scenes—but it's written now. From this point on it's just writing the heart of the book, the thing that I've been aiming at for 484 pages. The thing that makes the entire enterprise stand or fall. (Mommy!)

I don't know why I should be nervous about that, especially not after the disaster of Night Warrior/The Making Blood. No, I'm sure that failure to stick a clean landing isn't playing any part in this refusal to take that final jump and finish the course. Nope, nope, couldn't be that.

I'm going to go to the post office and do some other errands, then maybe I'll come back home and try to write some more.

Spread the lolbook:


(courtesy [livejournal.com profile] nikwdhmos)
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When I was twelve or thirteen a teacher gave me a book because she thought I might like it. The book was The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff—and the teacher was oh so right. It followed a young Roman officer, Marcus, on his first command in the frontier fort of Isca Dumnoniorum, present day Exeter in Britain, circa 129 A.D.. The larger story was about him trying to find out what happened to his father, a centurion in the infamous Lost Ninth Legion, whom legend said marched into the wilds of Caledonia never to be heard of again.

I ate that book up, and started scouring all the libraries in the area for other books in the series, all set in Roman Britain and the Dark Ages, and tracing many generations of the same family as they lived through the chaos and war of those years. I never found them all and back in the day there were no used book dealers all hooked up by the Internet so I rarely found one in stores.

I remember what a huge sense of victory I felt when I actually did find a Sutcliff book in a store: The Shield Ring. I can't remember now if I found it in a new or used bookstore. Another big moment came when I browsed the bookshelf of a neighbor and found Sword at Sunset, Sutcliff's version of the Arthurian saga. It was a nice hardcover edition and I had to beg for weeks before she'd let me borrow it. I didn't immediately tear into it like I wanted to. I had a sense that it might be amongst the last of Sutcliff's books I'd be able to lay hands on because I really had wrung out all the libraries and I wanted to savor it. In point of fact, it was the last Sutcliff book I read.

Many years flowed under the bridge of my life and I'd occasionally think about those Sutcliff books I'd tried so hard to find and never did. I always remembered The Eagle of the Ninth with a special place in my heart: it became one of those primogenitor books for me, one that burned like a steady light in the back of my imagination. My character from The Making Blood, Caius Cassivellaunus, was a kind of tribute to those books. Because of them I was fascinated by Dark Age Britain and always wanted to write something about it.

Writing about Caius, I think, is what finally prompted me to remember Ms. Sutcliff and the profound effect she'd had on my imagination. I started looking for those books online. I didn't have to look far. Amazon had a newly published copy of Eagle and some of the others. I immediately bought Eagle and when it arrived, I put it in the To Be Read Pile...and never read it. I was afraid to read it, truth be told, afraid that it wouldn't be as special as I remembered, and then that luminous place in my heart would be tarnished. It must have sat in that pile for four or five years until last week when I came across Rosemary Sutcliff again while researching something else on the Net. It was time to take a chance, I thought.

I'm thrilled to report that I love this book as much as I loved it all those years ago, that practically every page tells me just how much of Ms. Sutcliff's style and worldview I internalized, how she taught me so much about telling a damned good story with heart. I owe her a great deal.

I owe the teacher who gave me that book so many years ago a great deal, too. Rarely do teachers ever find out how far the ripples spread from their good deeds, from those they teach and out into the world. Teachers create a little piece of eternity inside their students when they do things like this, the ripples spreading on in little and big ways, as long as someone remembers and shares what they remember with the people they know.
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First, I had to write a self-evaluation today, an exercise in hyperbolic conflation if ever there was one. And I had to carve time out of a over-busy morning schedule to do it. That'll lead to chocolate bingeing every time. Then, I've been denied writing time two days in a row. Four if you count the weekend. I usually get some writing in on the weekend, but that didn't happen this weekend. More chocolate! Next, some people who had to do the same self-evaluation as I were having whiny snivelly fits about having to do it and I was not in the mood. Be a man! buck up! CHOC-O-LATE!!

Adding to all this, I've reached a point that I reach in every novel, what I call the panic point. That's when I've got a sufficient bulk of novel behind me to know I'll probably finish, but still have a ways to go before I type The End. This is also the time when the passages through the story start narrowing as I draw closer to the denouement. Alternate possibilities disappear on the horizon, never to be seen again, and I begin to wonder if I'm going to be able to pull off the vision thing as, well, envisioned. Do I really know what I'm doing? Is the ending as viable as it seemed when I thought of it, or is it just an absurdity echo in the gag factory of my mind? Am I about to make a really big fool of myself? Did I write the correct novel after all? Or should I have turned the story in a different direction and written that other novel?

Oh, slather me in chocolate!

Knowing this panic happens with every novel, I should draw comfort from it, but I never do. This time around I've got a fresh failure to remind me that I don't always pull it off at the end: the overly ambitious Night Warrior/The Making Blood—three, three, three novels in one! I expect that one's going to continue haunting me until I either do a successful rewrite or successfully finish another novel. I'm hoping Charged with Folly will be that successful finish, but one never knows.

I do like the ending of CWF. I took a mechanism I used at the end of my first completed novel, a sort of generic quest fantasy with a science fiction twist which will never see the light of day again, and will apply part of it to this ending. Then I took another piece of science and added it to the mix with a bunch of metaphysical/philosophical crud to finish off the concept. It seemed like a viable resolution. But some days there isn't enough chocolate in the world to reassure me—until the damned thing is actually done.

Random quote of the day:

"I'm here because I was born here and thus ruined for anywhere else."

—Colson Whitehead, The Colossus of New York

Something for the boys (of both sexes):

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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First the title Night Warrior turned out to be a severely overused title and I had to go through the agonies of finding a new one. Much whining was heard in the land (for months on end!) until a friend suggested another title that I liked. Then the moniker of another of my WIPs, Brother Wolf, turned out to have been used before so after much kvetching and whimpering, it became A Taste of Night. I actually wound up liking that one much better, but it's always difficult for me to reassign titles. They become such an integral part of the book for me that it's akin to amputation. Well, okay, maybe not quite that bad. Maybe just slicing off a little skin.

Anyway, just now while I was peeking at Amazon to look up Magic Bites by the lovely and talented and incredibly dynamic writer [livejournal.com profile] ilona_andrews...☺...I saw it had been paired with a book by Vicki Petersson that looked interesting—one of those "Buy both together" things. I clicked through to read up on that book, and saw she had a second one out. It's called The Taste of Night. Lo, and there was whining in the land once more.

At least Brother Wolf/A Taste of Night/Whatever the Hell is a WIP-on-Hold and I don't have to think of a title right away, but damn. This is getting tiresome. And I'm also thinking I might have to change the name of Charged with Folly, too, as the story seems to be evolving away from it. But maybe not. I won't truly know until I get there. And I ain't changing the title unless I absolutely have to.

In other news: Chapter 13 is done and a big chunk of 14 is, too. I also had to rewrite the end of chapter 12 again yesterday so 13 would make sense. I think it does, now.

Random quote of the day:

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."

—Adolf Hitler
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It appears I'm not quite done with Dark Ages Britain because I just had to buy another book on the subject, Battles of the Dark Ages by Peter Marren. It arrived from Amazon today. Which I suppose means, by extension, that I am not quite through with Night Warrior/The Making Blood and vampires.

Oh, I'm not looking to do a second draft any time soon, and not looking to write the other two books in the trilogy any time long, but it's still alive inside me regardless of what I say (even though I'm always perfectly sincere at the time I say it).

Ideas, stories, characters haunt us until we give them their do—at least they do me. There are few ideas, partially written books or stories, even some completed novels which ever truly leave me and become a dead issue. The generic quest fantasy I wrote a mountain of years ago is probably a dead issue—but that was a "practice novel," anyway, something I had to get out of my system, something to prove I really could finish a novel. I was dead serious about it at the time, even tried marketing it a little, but I managed to move on from it fairly quickly.

That's the largest of my "truly finished" projects. Everything else, it seems, is still up for negotiation. I could probably fill up the next dozen years with the hulks of partial novels and novel ideas on the harddrive. They're waiting, lurking.

Sometimes when I turn the computer on, I think I hear that shark stalking music from Jaws.
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Good writing session this morning, just shy of 2k. Maybe I'll get some more done this afternoon, but I needed to do a mental walkaway. I know what's going to happen, but I'm not precisely sure what's going to happen.

The writing is getting easier. I'm finally getting into the part of the story I was looking forward to writing. It's been veering around like a sailor on a three-day pass, but I think it's heading in the right direction. Unfortunately, I've already blown a plot element and may have to confess that to my faithful readers (other than passively, as in here) and move on. I don't intend to rewrite at this point. As long as I can still feel what I need to feel, I don't have to circle back. I like to push forward and keep pushing forward until I have a draft on the page. Sometimes, though, when I have one of these late in the game add-ins, I do have to circle back and re-lay the groundwork—for myself so I can get under the skin of the new characters/situations.

Not always, though. I added something quite late in the game in Night Warrior and I was able to perfectly well inhabit the scenes without writing the earlier stuff. Although the entirety of that novel didn't work, that section did, I think.

I finally wrote up one of those crits and I'm doing stuff around the house. I think I finally woke up. Then I'll go back to work on Tuesday and start the whole process of being ground back down again. Such is life.

I think is the weirdest shuffle I've done yet. All stuff I like, but a wacky combo:

Just Like a Woman/Bob Dylan
The Heart of Saturday Night/Tom Waits
Breathe Me/Sia
River Man/Nick Drake
Mr. Bojangles/The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Strauss: Vier letzte Lieder: II. September/Elisabeth Schwarzkopf & London Philharmonia Orchestra
(Ghost) Riders in the Sky/Marty Robbins
Gimme Some Lovin' /The Spencer Davis Group
Both Sides Now/Judy Collins
Tala Sawari/Ravi Shankar
East Infection/Gogol Bordello
I Try/Macy Gray
Affair on 8th Avenue/Gordon Lightfoot
Tenderly/Rosemary Clooney
Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine/Country Joe & the Fish
Follow Through/Gavin DeGraw
David/Nellie McKay

My mom used to play Marty Robbins all the fricking time when I was a kid and I hated it. And Roy Orbison. Now I love Orbison and find Marty Robbins to be kinda corny but kinda enjoyable. And I used to screech any time clasifical music came on. It's funny how your taste changes over time. Now I even enjoy "Smells Like Teen Spirit" done on ukulele. :-)
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So, is there anyone out there who's not on their way to WFC? And why do I think WTF every time I see WFC? I think WFC is a perfectly fine convention and hope to go there some day, maybe next year, but my mind persists in turning it into WTF. I am some funny in the head sometimes.

Unsolicited plug of the day:

Whenever I log onto Amazon it keeps popping up with Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews--[livejournal.com profile] iagor. (Awesome cover art, btw.) I get excited and reach for the Add to Cart button, then realize it isn't out yet (March 2007). This is a pre-order nudge. But I appreciate their eagerness to sell it to me. I'm eager to buy it. It looks good. You should check it out.

Writingness of the day:

Eudora's Song got a no-thank-you yesterday, so I did a quick read through, cut maybe another half page, and sent it back out today. It's good to keep it circulating, though I remain as unhopeful as ever. And although that's true, I'm not particularly bummed. I'm writing something new that I like so all's write right with the world. I'm not even mopey over the failure of Night Warrior/The Making Blood earlier this summer--though I suspect that wouldn't have been as big of a deal, either, if it hadn't coincided with my summer mopey season. And I should say that now, with the perspective of time and a new project, I don't consider that an outright failure. It's a problem that needs solving--but that's for another day.

Which reinforces yet again that it's the process that's the most important thing.

Unless, of course, you've got a publisher breathing down your neck saying, "Where's the next book, dammit?" (We should all be so lucky.) Then it's pretty much, "Screw the process! It's the outcome that's the most important part!"

Random quote of the day:

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

—Oscar Wilde

Damn straight, 'Scar.
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Just for the sake of argument, and because I'd thought along these lines before, and because someone reminded me I'd been thinking along these lines, I went through the bloated corpse of my novel, Night Warrior, and cut out everything but the 6th century stuff. New word count: just short of 104k.

And it will be slightly more than that if I decide to smooth it out and make it a stand-alone, maybe another 10k(?), because I've got to write some bridging material because of the time leaps, and I've got to write in a chapter (at least) of late-in-the-book inspirations. So, maybe 115k?

Looks like I've got a goddamned historical fantasy on my hands, folks. And a historical fantasy sequel will have to be written if I decide to do such a foolish thing. Then I can incorporate the 20th c. stuff into a third novel, with more stuff written to good and properly end that timeline. But I probably won't do that unless and until I market this novel and sell it. I'm done with these bloody vampires until someone pays me not to be.

Or unless sufficient time passes and other projects get written for me to forget I ever made this vow.

Oh, and Night Warrior has a new name, courtesy of the lovely and talented [livejournal.com profile] merebrillante: The Making Blood.


Jun. 2nd, 2006 09:55 am
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Once long ago, in a lifetime far, far away I read R. A. MacAvoy's exquisite Damiano trilogy—Damiano, Damiano's Lute, and Raphael. The emotional and creative power of it stuck with me all these years. I never reread the trilogy, more because I loved it so much rather than because I didn't love it, if you understand me. But I've been haunted by the brief author's note she stuck at the end of the last volume (no spoilers here). I'll have to paraphrase because the books are still packed away and I can't check exactly what she said, but it was close to this:

"This is the last book of the Damiano trilogy. There won't be anymore. I no longer know what it means."

I was fairly young at the time, though not a kid, and I had an intellectual appreciation for this statement because having read those three books, I could well imagine how exhausting they must have been. But I hadn't written even my first novel then, so although the words haunted me, they didn't quite inhabit me, if you know what I mean.

My first novel was one of those generic Medievaloid quest fantasies and although it seemed a big challenge at the time (and it was), it wasn't as much of a challenge as later novels. Each one's been a little harder, but I can truly say that none of them gave me as much trouble as Night Warrior—not even close, and I was writing it during a chaotic (but not tragic) time in my life, too. Not to be overly dramatic about this, but I think after this experience, I have a little emotional piece of R. A. MacAvoy's statement inside me.

I haven't gotten anywhere close to her achievement, and there are still enormous problems to solve in order to make Night Warrior workable. I don't know if it will ever be a good book, but I do know this: the work transformed as it unfolded, became something I didn't intend, something in the end that was more than I could have done before. The work, and more importantly, sticking with the project even when it made me despair, has transformed me. I don't know what it means anymore—good, bad, ugly, pretty, or indifferent. I just don't know. And it hardly matters at this moment, at the end of a long process. It is what it is.

But (*deep sigh*) I'm glad I finished it.
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Epilogue - 1968xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Epilogue - 6th centuryxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Epilogue - 1976xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I've written a frickin' epic—but IT'S DONE!!!!!

Final nasty page count: 746 SMF
Final nasty wordcount: 186,500 SMF (178,500 in Word)

I think that should count as both novel #4 and novel #5, don't you?

Unmarketable as sin, but for the moment, I don't care.
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Epilogue - 1968xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Epilogue - 6th centuryxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Epilogue - 1976xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

For old times' sake, because every other part of this book caused me trouble, the 6th century epilogue decided to give me trouble. I told it the time for that was past, to just shut up and hit the road. It finally did.
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Epilogue - 1968xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Epilogue - 6th centuryxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Epilogue - 1976xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

All three local betas have read the final chapter and I received three thumbs up. Which is not to say it won't need work, but encouraging all the same.
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It's been a challenging couple of weeks—but all petty stuff. Elsewhere on my flist and in the wider world, real and heartbreaking challenges have been happening. But the minor league stuff has eaten up my time and made me distracted.

My petty list: Unanticipated events, scheduling kerfluffles, misunderstandings, annoying narcissists, I've been sick twice (including today), and there have been major and minor pet mishaps.

The good things: Undie's doing much better. Now that the nasty infection's on its way out, she's been rolling onto her back and making coy burbles in order to get scritches. It's nice to see her feeling better.

And I finished chapter 40 of Night Warrior yesterday. Chapter 40 is the last chapter of the book. It's all over except the epilogue(s), my friends. I'm not giddy yet, because I've got to tie up the loose strings for three timelines in that (those) epilogue(s), and I had to fight hard for every damned sentence of chapter 40. The epilogue(s) is (are) already partially written (I've been anticipation writing for weeks now), but I don't want to get cocky. It'll be done when it's done.

And then I'll get giddy.

Watch this space for whoops and chortles. ☺☻☺☻
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Quote of the day:

"There is no trifling with nature; it is always in the right."

—Johnn Wolfgang von Goethe

Writing talk of the day: You know what I hate (love)?

When you get an idea and you think, "Oh yeah, that'd be cool," but as time goes by and you write more of your novel you think, "Nah, can't think of a way to fit this in." So you cut it. Then you write more of your novel—maybe, perhaps, it's late in the game and you're just trying to finish the sucker up—and suddenly, there's that idea again. And you know how it works in now, and it's too good to pass up, so you put it back in, realizing you've got to rewrite passages further back to make it fit. But you say to yourself—because it is late in the game, "Rewrites, do that in the rewrites, and send a note with the chapter to your betas who are reading this chapter-by-chapter to explain why that idea is there. Do not rewrite now!" And for once you listen to yourself and push on?

That ever happen to you?

No, me neither. I don't know what I'm talking about.

In other news: I went back and looked at the poll where people helped me rename Night Warrior. (Because I don't have a—whatchacallit? Life?) A very close runner up to Born to Darkness was Of a Dark Moon Born. That has the attraction of not being a phrase from Anne Rice (that I'm aware of. Anybody?), plus it googles well (i.e., it googles not at all which, in terms of titles you want to name your thing, is a good google).

Asleep yet? I thought as much.
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What's new in the yard: The planter of amaryllis is in full bloom, but the first blooming flowers have started to fade. The pink and yellow lantana has been popping for awhile now. The Mexican poppies--a papery, pale lavender--have sprung up here and there throughout the yard. And the pink and white geranium has been joined by a maroon and pink one.

Writing talk of the day: A real good session yesterday. The final fight is well underway. A fairly good session today. I continued the fight, then spent a certain amount of time staring at the wall. But it was good staring at the wall, thinking about "If A happens, then B could happen, and lead to C..." I blocked out important elements of the rest of the fight and hope that means I can work steadily towards the conclusion now.

This late in the game I find myself second-guessing some of my decisions and that's slowed things down quite a bit. But I have to let go of the idea that everything will hang together perfectly at this point. First draft I keep repeating to myself.

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this book: I wrote two books. Two books, with a household move thrown in for good measure. I do not wish to repeat the experience.

And if Lois McMasters Bujold cannot sell a 200k ms. as one book, I haven't got a prayer because I am sooooooo not Ms. Bujold. I am not quite at 200k (SMF) yet, but so close it's not worth mentioning. When all is done, done, done, the epic will probably have to be taken apart and rearranged, and broken in two. And somewhere in there a third book will have to be written.

But not now. God no, not now.
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Quote of the day:

"You never learn to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you're writing."

—Gene Wolf (quoted by Neil Gaiman)

Oh, shut up.

These things come out of the random quote file at random—hence, the name. But it's amazing how synchronous they can be sometimes. I hate being bitch slapped by the Universe.

Corporate attitude of the day:

Perky corporate booster: Hi! Can I hang this flyer for the third floor unwinder over your quote of the day?"

Me: Over the quote of the day? What a concept. No.

Perky: Oh, okay. Well, be sure to join us for socializing and pizza!

Me: Uh-huh.

Concerned Neighbor as Perky scampers off: She wanted to post that over the quote of the day?? What was she thinking??

[Please note: I had not yet had my coffee.]

Crankiness of the day:

Every time I do intensive agent research, like I have been for the last couple of weeks, my mood gets progressively worse. This cumulative badtudinage starts to effect the muse, choking him to unconsciousness. When he reaches a state of moribund repose, I know it's time to ignore the agents again and return to blissful ignorance.

I managed to get four queries out before choking this time.

And I don't need any help dragging my feet over the boffo conclusion to Night Warrior/Born to Darkness/A Title to be Named Later. At least twice in the last week I took my usual writing time to lock myself into an empty office and stare at the wall, thinking about anything but.

I'm something of a fan of staring at the wall and thinking. Solitude and reflection are good things. Filling up every moment with items from one's To Do list or entertainment or chat leads to a high noise ratio in the ol' soully woully, I think. Quiet, contemplation, reaching inward...yeah, quality of life time we should all indulge in to refresh the spirit and replenish the imagination.

But I got things to do, damn it! I can't afford to sit around on my ass during writing time drawlin' and a lollygaggin'! So irritating.

In other news:

I did have a fine time last night with the girls, however, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory again and swilling wine. (Sangre de Toro, with a cute little bull charm hanging off the label. Hey, toro!) I even cooked—made my pasta with chicken, white wine, and artichoke hearts.
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Quote of the day:

"The Romans would never have had time to conquer the world if they had been obliged to learn Latin first."

—Heinrich Heine

But I'd love to learn Latin.

Writing and reading talk of the day:

❶ ☞ As I lumber through chapter 40 and the epilogue(s) for Night Warrior/Born to Darkness, I find myself looking forward to the next novel. It looks like Charged with Folly has taken the lead in that competition. It's the most complete idea at this point, even if I did write 200 pages of Venus In Transit, and even if Beneath a Hollow Moon has some really juicy character stuff going on. The worldbuilding for Charged has come on strong in the last month.

❷ ☞ Someone reminded me the other day that Anne Rice (who I haven't read for at least a century) used the term, "born to darkness," in her novels to describe someone being made into a vampire. I had completely forgotten that. Yeah, that's right, I'm using the same cryptoamnesia excuse that Kaavya Viswanathan used to explain why she plagiarized huge chunks of Megan McCafferty's books (possibly, as it turns out, egged on by her book packager). (See this post.) However, considering the major angst it caused me to come up with Born to Darkness as an alternate title for NW, I ain't changing it again. Let's just call it an homage, shall we?

❸ ☞ The reading I've been doing lately has mostly gone towards supporting Charged with Folly, so I'd say that's another sign that novel might be next in the queue. I've been reading about the geometry and abstruse symbolism of labyrinths, alchemy, chakras, Paracelsus, and string theory. Although reading about Paracelsus also goes towards supporting the world I created for the 18th century cunning man, Simon Jellicoe, that novel isn't ready to pop yet. The string theory might apply to that one as well. Not to mention the Diane Purkiss book I quoted the other day, At the Bottom of the Garden. It all goes into the compost pile, and hopefully something rich and strange comes out the other side.

Miscellanea: And speaking of the windmills of your mind, I always find myself wanting to sing that lyric:

Keys that jingle in your pocket
Words that jangle in your head
Can analysis be worthwhile?
Is the theatre really dead?

Too much Paul Simon at an impressionable age, yah sure.
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I'm Little Miss Architecture when it comes to writing. I need to set a place in my mind in order to write it, and this usually entails making floor plans and sketches, or if it's a historical place, finding such things in books. I get really quite obsessive about it sometimes. Once I have a strong sense of the layout of a place, then I can populate it with furniture, knick knacks, and people, but otherwise the setting is never fully realized.

The thing is, today when I sat down to write the big battle scene in 1976 I realized for the very first time that I had no clue what most of the interior of Caius's house in the Pacific Palisades looked like—where the battle takes place. I had a couple of rooms and the staircase down cold, knew what the verandah and the backyard looked like, but the rest is a shadowy haze. I was gob-smacked that this hadn't occurred to me before this moment. And furthermore, I realized that when I put all the parts I'd thought about together in situ, they didn't always make sense. For one thing, I'd gotten east and west totally confused—the orientation of the upstairs went one way, the downstairs the other—so the manner in which I was envisioning things didn't work logically. The sea here in California is always west, can't change the inevitability of geography. Since the house sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, east-west orientation is a biggie and pretty much set in stone.

So I spent my writing time today making floor plans and trying to turn the vision in my head around to face the other way. Impossible, or feeling that way at the moment, and so aggravating. And still amazing to me, given my compulsions, that I didn't think of that until now.
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Quote of the day:

"Great art is as irrational as great music. It is mad with its own loveliness."

—George Jean Nathan

I can verify from personal experience that [un-]great art is mad with its own [perceived] loveliness.

Writing talk of the day: And speaking of low-brow art, I had one of those nice surprises today that keeps me in this godawful game. I've had this gnarly plot point, see, right at the end of the story that's bothered me for ever-so-long. I had no idea how I was going to fix the bastard, but I kept writing towards it hoping some idea would come to me. Last week I started the chapter where I was pretty sure that plot point was going to come into play (because, like, I'm running out of things to write, so yanno). I still had no idea how to fix it, so I just let go of it and said, "I'll have to fix it in the rewrites."

Then today, out of the blue, as these things often hit me, I suddenly knew how to fix it. Ha. I love it when that happens.

What's up in the yard of the day:

The daffodils are still a presence. Though the earliest of them have faded, more have popped up. The purple iris are coming on strong, and one bright yellow one. A lovely mauve-peach gladiola has struggled up beside the lush, thick crimson leaves of the bougainvillea. The periwinkle and that other ground cover that I don't know the name of with the small, pink flower globes, are going ape squanto. The tea tree and Scotch broom that we put into the ground are very happy, as are the herbs out back. And, of course, the calla lilies are in bloom again. (Impossible to say that without doing the Katherine Hepburn imitation, although she never actually said that except in Warners Brothers cartoons.) We have white and rose-tipped calla lilies scattered here and there throughout the front and back yards. The stephanotis also remains happy.

On the drive home, one house has planted scores of multi-colored runuculas around the bases of the trees planted by the city on the grass beside the curb.


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