It has been a while since I posted here. Several blogs have been partly written, but none were finished due to a sudden outbreak of stress and chaos and distress in my life. (There may be more about that later, but then again, there may not.)
As some of you know, I joined the July NaNoWriMo frenzy. (NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month in which you write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel. It has gone international.) Unfortunately, I didn’t frenz — too many distractions, too many things to do. I’d set my goal (you can do that in July but not in November) at 30,000 words — 1000 a day. Even I can do that, I thought. What’s more it would be easy to keep track of, which 1667 words a day last November wasn’t. I was wrong.
It was easy to keep track of, mostly because I hardly wrote anything. Six hundred and ninety-five words the first day and nothing for a week after. And more nothing the week after that. I’d planned to do the whole second draft of Marzipan’s True Adventures but was still stuck on how to sneak in the back-story without becoming turgidly tedious. I thought I might do it with a prologue, but it kept trying to turn into an entire prequel. Arrrgh.
Okay, I thought, I’ll just write the wretched prequel instead, a whole book in itself, and then I’ll do the second draft of the real story. Noooo. The prequel folk simply ran wild, busily doing things and becoming real characters but without a trace of a plot. Entertaining for Marzipan and me, but not probably not publishable. But even with spurts of prequel, the word count remained down in the few-and-far-between, barely visible with a microscope.
I’d so many great excuses, ranging from welcome guests to minor surgery to the now-usual chaos at home to wiltingly hot weather. I began to despair. In fact, I was on the verge of withdrawing from the whole NaNoWriMo thing and digging a deep, cool hole in my forest (like a modern fogou but without the stone walls). But that was too much work in hot weather. So.
All this finally led to a decision to simply give up on NaNoWriMo this time as an act of kindness to myself and to everyone listening to me moan about it, but I drew one of the oracle cards (from my (unfinished, unpublished) oracle in Second Life — actually Marzipan drew it for me) (now that I think about it, I’m a little suspicious of her motives). Anyway, the card very firmly advised me not to give up. So I’m going to change my goal to not-a-word-count-at-all, but to getting a fairly good version of a short prologue. I may be able to do that.
I dunno. Writing short and scintillating and like a sybil is tough stuff! I’ve come near to writing an entire prequel while trying to write the dratted prologue. One intended, concise, sparkling paragraph kept turning into pages and pages of unnecessary detail. Writing short is easier in poetry where you expect to sweat blood over every word. What if I wrote it in blank verse then? KISS — Keeping It Simple, Sweetie. Then taking the line breaks out would… No, it didn’t. It just kept getting longer. And writing a book in blank verse is just not what I wanted to do.
At last, one night several days ago at bedtime, looking for a book to read myself to sleep, I came across Mike Resnick’s Santiago on my bookshelves. Its orange cover glowed temptingly at me. Without wondering why a color I normally dislike looked so alluring, I headed for bed with it and a cup of hot cocoa.
Resnick is an excellent writer. I always liked his writing, but as I’ve learned more about technique, now I can see more about why much of his work that I read before seemed so good (in spite of his female characters usually being either non-entities or bitches). The surprise was that three pages into it I was out of bed again and pacing the floor, muttering to myself. Resnick had done it in his prologue; he had accomplished what I was finding so impossible in my own prologue — a back story/stage setting in brief and with sizzle.
I read it over and over trying to see how he’d done it. Now I’m trying to do something equally as compelling — which perhaps is not so easy when you’re writing about faery kittens and other faery gentry as it might be when writing about bounty hunters and legendary giants on the galactic frontier. Or maybe it is, and I just haven’t gotten it yet.
I’m still working on the beginning of the beginning, but I have hope and a few short paragraphs of a start. It sings to me. It sounds, I hope, like the myth it is supposed to become. My Megan Granddaughter said, “Wow!”
But, you know, even with all this I’m completely delighted to be co-writing a book (or a series) with Marzipan. If you haven’t already you might want to check out her Facebook page though she actually has more followers than this blog does — and gets a lot more comments. She is also much more cute and fluffy than I, but she is a cat and that is only to be expected. I was going to put a photo of her here, but there are lots of both the virtual and the earthly photos of her on Facebook and her own web pages. Happy Tuesday!