Monday, September 11, 2006

I think Trollope wrote his novels sequentially, so measuring his progress by the number of pages per week made more sense for him than for me. I think that's almost convincing.

Only two or three hundred words tonight. Again, I was focusing on getting rid of small chunks of notes in blue, rather than writing a large section. I think I'm coasting downhill toward the finish on this book, at last - and rather to my surprise, because I had been thinking I was only in the molasses middle.

My intention has been to balance having lots of nitty-gritty detail in order to make the made-up setting real (a particular necessity with time-travel and alternate-history novels, I think) with giving the reader a dreamy and detached feeling. On rereading, last night and tonight, I decided that, in the interests of the dreaminess thing, some of the sections I had yet to write and thought would be very long would be better handled in brief, with those parts of the story told by hinting and implying. I'm not sure whether I'm being terribly artistic or just very lazy.

I've always had a terrible memory. Of course, it hasn't improved as I've aged. I'm finding notes in one part of the manuscript instructing myself to be sure to take care of some crucial detail, but the crucial detail is already taken care of in detail in some other part of the manuscript. Or the whole thing is repeated in another note somewhere else. This isn't due only to my awful memory but also to this novel having an intricate plot and there having been gaps of years when I wasn't working on it. Sometimes I'm afraid that I'll finish the book and sell it and it will be published and years from now someone will come up to me at a science-fiction convention and point to some really stupid contradiction in the plot that destroys the entire novel. Of course, I'll have to kill him.

I'm also experiencing something on rereading that I've experienced with previous novels. While I'm writing, what I'm producing seems much too light on action and much too heavy on introspection and psychological stuff and slow, quiet, thoughtful dialog. When I reread the book, it seems the opposite -- lots of movement and brief exchanges between characters who are rushing around excessively.


Chris said...

Hey, there's no reason you can't be artistic AND lazy...

David said...

Chris, I like the way you think.

I read that when Trollope's autobiography was published, the literary world was shocked and scandalized by it. LitWorld had always been bothered by how prolific he was, and they felt that by writing according to a schedule, he wasn't being a true artist. They also didn't like his determination to earn lots of money from his writing.

Well, I do have trouble adhering to any kind of writing schedule, and I don't produce as much as I think I should, but I certainly don't object to getting royalties for what I do produce.