Friday, October 27, 2006

A Good Excuse

I won't be doing any writing this weekend, because I'll be spending much of it at the local science-fiction convention, MileHiCon. But I will emerge energized and writerized* and raring to go**.

* Meaning feeling like a real writer and filled with writing energy.

** Except for Tuesday, when I have a 1.5-hour dentist appointment scheduled.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

700 words yesterday, none the night before that, and none tonight. This evening, I had to spend what would have been my writing time catching up with various kinds of paperwork and paying bills, which is a good thing, I suppose, because this way I'll continue to have electricity to power this computer, thus enabling me to write more tomorrow. Except that tomorrow I plan to work out, assuming my wrist doesn't screech in agony, so I won't be writing then, either. Thursday, then. And I expect to have electricity for the purpose.

Gary, who has posted in the comments, and I were discussing via e-mail the problem of passing the hump in a book, the point at which you really can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized that, for me, there are two humps per book. The first is the dreaded mid-book slump, the point at which the project seems endless and hopeless. That's where I was on Time and the Soldier when I started this blog. For me, the second and very important point is what I might call the gelling point. After passing over or through the mid-book hump, I can let myself believe that I really am going to end up with a book-like object. But it may in the end only resemble a book and not have any sense of unity. Much further along, very close to the end, the book starts to gell. At least, in my view of the book; maybe it really gelled much earlier, but I couldn't see it. I think that with most of my books, I've written almost all the words before it suddenly begins to feel like a unified book that is properly centered around a theme or idea.

I haven't yet reached that point with TimeSold, but I'm feeling hopeful that that will happen soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just over 1200 words today. That's good.

I still haven't managed to get Delia back to 1937. At least Tommy's finally finished lecturing to her. ("As you know, Delia, the primitives of those dim past ages were crude and uncivilized, so be very careful never to look any of them in the eye. We will be equipping you with the newest delastifrabisticizer for your protection. " Well, it's not quite like that.) The next part I'll be working on will be Delia's Exciting Adventures in the Past.

I've also been jumping around the book and adding little details that pop up again in another part, set in a very different time. When such resonances are done well in a time-travel novel, they can provide the reader with a nice sense of something snapping into place, like a jigsaw-puzzle piece fitting unexpectedly. When they're clumsily done . . . Mustn't think about that.

I'm worried that I have too many characters jumping around in time. It's a plot-driven story, but of course I want the characters to be real, and I want them to be driven by their own motivations and situations, not by the visible hand of the author and the outline he sweated over before starting the book.

But at this point, my focus has to be on actually getting a first draft written. The way I write, I can't do much about adding solidity and detail until I've got the book done in a rough form.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just over a thousand words tonight, which is better than I expected when I started. I thought I'd have to be satisfied with another mickle, so I made up a proverb to encourage myself: "A mickle a day keeps the blister away." But tonight's production turned out to be two or three mickles, so I feel pleased.

I'm still in the long section where Tommy tells Delia (as she's now named) that he's a time traveller and she will soon be one as well. I wanted to keep it short and punchy, but it's getting rather long. It's also turning into one of those "'As you know, John,' the professor said" scenes that science-fiction writers always try to avoid. I've had such scenes in other novels of mine, and I try to disguise them by having the characters doing stuff while talking, and also by trying to make the scene a dialog rather than a lecture. But it's hard to disguise such a scene satisfactorily. "Disguise" is the wrong word. What I mean is that one has to make the scene interesting despite its really being a lecture.

Well. Gotta get through this draft. Then I'll fix it up on the rewrite. That's always the hope.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A mere 400 words, boo hoo. However, that's partly because I spent much of tonight's writing time pondering names.

Earlier, I came up with Dolores as a new name for one character - a good name plotwise, but not a good name for that character. However, in the plot, she goes by two different names at different times, so I chose Delia for the other name. That one does fit her much better, and it's a name my wife, Leonore, suggested, so my using it will please her. That's always a good thing.

So she's Dolores in the 1930s and 1940s and Delia from the 1960s on (and on and on and on, but I don't want to get into all the details now). It makes me think of The Importance of Being Earnest - of being Jack in the country and Ernest in the city.

As to the number of words, it occurs to me that there've been a lot of periods in the past when I wrote only small amounts at a time and didn't write often enough. And yet those small bits added up to a fair number of complete novels. Many a mickle makes a muckle, as an old Scottish proverb supposedly says. Gotta keep mickling on.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Work. WORK!

Sometimes, I feel like Maynard G. Krebs. Because of deadlines I'm behind on, I spent Saturday working on job matters and thus not writing. The deadlines are tight, but I should have been sufficiently on schedule that I could have had Saturday to myself*, and it's my fault that I didn't. I can't blame the company I work for, although I could blame the general concept of work itself, as Maynard would have.

I was a teenager when the Dobie Gillis show was on the air, and I thought that Maynard was, like, cool, man. Nowadays, various noxious rightwing fundie freakazoids would be shrieking their demands that the character, or the whole show, be removed from the air. As work was to Maynard, so anything out of the ordinary or faintly, suggestively liberating is to them.

* After doing the grocery shopping and before exercising to the standard embarrassingly bad original science fiction or horror movie on the Sci Fi channel in the evening.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


In my last post, I should have added that I spent some of that non-writing time updating the SBOBU Economic Index page on my Web site.

This is an utterly unscientific, anecdotal, silly, trivial way of looking at U.S. unemployment that seems to mirror reality far more closely than the official numbers produced each month by the cynical data massagers of the Bush Administration (motto: "We're fascist swine, and that's just fine.").

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Static Friction

Oh, a blister to the eye, indeed!

Around 1250 words tonight. Acceptable, all in all. The blister begins to subside.

So what kept me from writing for so many days? Depression, my usual enemy. I'm very prone to it and slip into it too easily. Some slight thing will trigger it.

I was feeling a bit down for various reasons and took time off to read the new Dick Francis novel. Francis had announced his retirement, but I suppose his publisher waved an enormous checkchecque in front of him and he felt he had no choice but to turn out another novel about horses and murder and an intrepid but introspective and sensitive ex-jockey. I read light fiction to recharge my batteries, and the new Francis novel accomplished that end.

I wrote a bit last Friday and then went down to the basement to lift weights and did something weird to my wrist.

That wrist has been bothering me for years. Many of my joints have been bothering me for years. Both of my parents suffer/suffered from severe arthritis, and now it's my turn. Exercise and supplements seem to be keeping it somewhat at bay, but only somewhat. When I was young and hurt something while exercising, I didn't think too much of it. Now I always fear it means The End. The great decline begins! I'll have to stop lifing weights, and I'll turn instantly into a withered, decrepit, disgusting old man! I'll become that eventually, anyway, but I'd rather it be well in the future. So the wrist injury, which didn't seem to be improving over the next few days, cast me into gloom.

Which finally began to lift today. I don't know why, since my wrist still hurts. Maybe it's the Guinness Gary gave me as a birthday present today.

Writing and exercising both make me think of static vs. dynamic friction. It takes less force to keep an object moving than to start it moving. When the object is at rest, the force binding it to the surface beneath it, static friction, is actually greater than the force binding it when it's in motion, dynamic friction. I think we all know that from experience. When you don't lift weights for a while, I like to joke, the weights put on weight from lack of exercise, so they're that much harder to lift when you finally get back to it. It's also harder to make yourself get down there and start lifting again. The longer you stay away from writing, the bigger and more daunting the task of writing seems. I think it was Frederik Pohl, the science fiction writer, who advised against ending a writing session at a logical stopping point. He said you should stop in the middle of something, while you have momentum, because that way it's easier to get started the next time.

I'm writing a scene where Tommy reveals to Dolores that he's actually a time traveller. He sort of slips it into a conversation. "Nice weather today. Don't think there's anything good on television tonight. I'm a time traveler. You're going to have to go traveling in time, too. Read any good books lately?" She's disconcerted.

Originally, her name was Farani, which made no sense at all, as I finally had to admit to myself, but it did suit her. Her character has changed a bit, and I needed a name that did make sense in terms of the plot. Dolores is better, but it doesn't suit her. She's not a Dolores, but I can't think what she is. It sort of needs to be an Hispanic name, but preferably one that is also commonly used in the wider society.

I hope the right name will come to me in a blaze of inspiration after a wonderful writing session and while I'm vigorously lifting heavier weights than I've ever lifted before. If not that, then while I'm drinking a beer