Saturday, January 22, 2005

Happy Weekend Folks

Hi Everybody! Have a great weekend.

Diane -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

I can't believe it's Saturday again already! The week FLEW. Good news does that though.

Finger is ugly, but has now healed enough that I can type. Might wind up losing the fingernail. Good thing I can type though, because I've started on the Catherine book.

Catherine is one of the Sazi books. It's one of the 3 we're doing for Tor in 2006. Hope to have a Christmas theme with it (which is tricky because I've never done a theme thing). Catherine is actually the first book that was ever conceived in the Sazi world. She's the one I created the world for and worked it out with Cathy. At one point we'd drafted it so many times (and so many different ways) I was sick to death of it/her and told Cathy that if I had to look at it any more I'd "willingly join up with Jack and kill her myself!" Fortunately its been long enough now that I'm happy to run into her again.

It's funny, looking at the old drafts. We've learned SOOOOOOO much in the years we've been doing this. And it's so WEIRD to see how MANY years. I feel like the time has just been a blur. For example, this week. It was exactly one week ago that Cathy and I drove to Fredricksburg to meet with our fellow author. It feels like it was yesterday -- MAYBE the day before. (Because I DO remember my day trip to Austin with James). I hope I can keep an open mind and KEEP learning and KEEP getting better. I also hope I don't get to the point where I'm just writing to "pay the rent" as it were. I know you know what I mean. You read a favorite author whose written incredible stuff, and you'll come across one of their books that is flat as a pancake, not well thought out or executed and you can just TELL that they did it because they needed the money, not because it was something they wanted to write or they had something to say about.

I told James that if he ever catches me doing that or "cheating" (i.e., you write yourself into a completely untenable position, then change all the rules of your reality 'just this once' to get the hero or heroine out of it', deus ex machina (sp?) ) he should kick me in the patootie. Cathy and I work really hard to keep each other from doing it, but sometimes it's really tempting. It's also really tempting to include this TERRIFIC scene that has nothing to do with the plot but is just SO COOL that you feel you've JUST GOTTA -- which is how you end up with these anticlimactic endings that drag on and on. ("But I can actually VISUALIZE the wedding. I know the readers want to see it. Of COURSE they do!") Or your story "sags" in the middle and you don't really know why. Sometimes writing can be really brutal. Stephen King refers to it as "killing your babies." Because those scenes FEEL like your babies. But if it doesn't advance the story or reinforce the subplots, if it's not absolutely essential, you need to cut it.

It's funny. I spent years reading about writing, attending conferences, studying and practicing not knowing if I'd remember anything or be able to use any of it. I was scared to death that I wasn't "good enough." (Still am for that matter. Cathy is the one who insists that 'It's fine. It's ready. We're sending it!') But while I can't always say why something isn't working for me, the time and study I invested pays off in that I can see that it isn't working. Then Cathy and I can hash out a solution. Writing is a craft. It's worthy of study, but it also takes practice. AND you have to be willing to listen. We learned more from the edit letters we received from our editors on the first book than I learned in all the books I read in the market. They made it so CLEAR and SOOOOOOO much better. I felt like the little lightbulb was coming on over my head.

The HARD part about it though, once you start learning this stuff you can't just turn off your brain when you're reading. I'm a much more critical reader than I used to be. And I'm much more likely to see the little logic gaps. (Sing along with me folks: "First there is a purse and then there is no purse and then there is.")

Well, I'd best get going. I've rambled on long enough. Writing to do. Laundry to do and miles to go before I sleep. Everybody have a great weekend!

Cie

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,
It's a ton of snow here in the midwest! but I got out to the bakery to get two king cakes (one for my ParentsBrother/Sister's house and one for me). Happy Carnival season! I finished "Hunter's Moon" today! Great job on the book, I loved page 327, it got to me. Awesome! Viva les Sazis!
Jim

Y said...

I really enjoyed reading the post, Cie. You talk about some really cool and interesting stuff. I agree with you, writing is a neverending learning experience! And the more you write, the more you learn and the more you evolve as a writer... it really starts to show in the work.

I've done a lot of growing as a writer and I haven't even been published - well, except for the online short story market - still, writing's wonderful!

I'm very curious about Catherine's book! Can't wait...

Have a GREAT weekend!

***

Hey Jim!

Glad you got through HUNTER'S MOON... told ya it was OUTSTANDING, and TERRIFIC! Wasn't it great? And I bet you can't wait for the next one! :)

Have a good one!