In Which Our Heroine Is Thinking Of (And Writing) A Thing

15 January 2004

Mark reads The Volokh Conspiracy and was recently talking about an article...hmm. I'm not sure if that's linking to the actual article I meant. The one I meant was the first one on the 13th, about creative cities and growth. Anyway, the gist of it is, there was a study claiming that cities with a high "creative population" and things like a thriving music scene, a gay-friendly reputation, etc. have a better jobs-creation rate, more new businesses, and so on. And that claim, in its specific incarnation at least, was pretty thoroughly debunked.

The thing that interested me was that it seemed pretty clear why people believed that the "hard" thing worked and the "simple" thing didn't: because that was what they really, really wanted to believe all along. They really wanted a thriving arts scene to be a good answer to problems other than, well, a lagging arts scene. They wanted to be able to justify it externally as well as internally. If the message is what you want to hear, it can be as counterintuitive as it needs to be.

And this reminded me of writers who want The Secret Of Publishing Success. They never want to hear that it's 1) write and revise a good book; 2) shop it around until someone gets interested and publishes it; 3) market the heck out of it; 4) repeat. They want to hear that it's going to all the workshops you can possibly get into, or getting an MFA from the University of Giveusyourtuitionmoney; or that you have to go to every con on your continent or island and buy lots and lots of drinks for people; or that there's this one topic or theme or subgenre that's a guaranteed success right now. I would contend that none of these is the simple answer, since all of them also involve writing, at least, a novel or series of short stories, if not brilliance in that endeavor: even the most nepotism-ridden publisher can't publish her favorite nephew's book if the kid didn't write one. It looks like the same thing: advice I want is more sensible than advice I don't want, even if it's no easier or in fact is harder. And, honestly, having a thriving arts scene or hanging around at cons with big names, that sounds like fun stuff. You can see why people would be happy if they were convinced that it was totally crucial for meeting their goals. And it can be -- but the goals are not really quite the same when it is.

And speaking of goals...oh my. So I had what I thought was an issue last night, and I decided it wasn't an issue, but it may be an issue again later. Here's the thing: right now the Not The Moose Book exists in two files, labeled "Part One" and "Part Two." Part One is, for some values of the term, drafted. I have a whole bunch of notes on what it needs added and subtracted in edits, mostly added -- and remember that adding, it's going to be important in a minute. So now that my brain is working again, I've been rattling away happily on Part Two. And when I check daily or weekly word count, it's been on Part Two. La la la, Part Two. Now it's 40 kilowords! Now 45K! Now 48K! I'm making progress! It's so lovely!

Part One is 105 kilowords. So thing I'm writing is not 48K and heading for 120K. Nooooo, no no. It's 153K and heading for 240K-ish. For those of you who don't think in terms of word count, a lot of grown-up books are in the 100K to 150K region. Nooooo problem. 240K is...a lot of book. A decent amount, in fact, of two books.

But here's why I don't have an issue: because I'm telling the story. I already broke off the last third of this, um, thing. This thing we got here is already not what I thought it would be. (Part Three, by the way, now its own entity entitled Midnight Sun Rising, is the merest 38K so far.) So I'm just going to keep on writing scenes, because the stuff I'm writing needs to happen in the second section or in the second book. Because what I'm doing here is telling the story, and I don't so much mind if I need to shape the story into N+1 volumes instead of N. That's fine with me.

(I have the feeling that I have six books to do in this series so far: that the one I'm currently doing is two, that Part 3 is number three, and that the events I thought might be conjoined with it are, in fact, number four. I already know I have number zero during the Winter War, and number minus one is clear back when the Swedes and Russians were fighting over Finland. I also have the feeling that if I was less used to books in my head, this would be daunting. But, y'know. Books. They can sit around for awhile, when you're attending to other books. It's not like this series is the only thing I'll do for the next decade, or even the only thing I'll do for grown-ups for the next decade. It just happens to be...massive huge, is all.)

Actually, this may wind up all for the best, if I get to the point where I can work on Part Two and Reprogramming edits simultaneously (because my brain is grooving enough for more than one project, I'm thinking), then I can do that and then read over Part One and start mucking with that. So then when I'm done with what I'm doing now, I might have three adult books ready, which would be really lovely. (And, honestly, Reprogramming could go out again if I wanted it to. I've cured a lot of what was worst with it. I just don't see the sense in sending it out okay when it's going to be better, so...soon. Yes. Soon.) And if what I've got is hard to sell right away, I'll write something else and sell that. Okay? Okay. Good then.

I was telling Timprov this, that my brain is allowing me to work on multiple things again, and he said, "So you promptly started four new projects this week." I demurred, and he started counting Letter Games. But Letter Games totally do not count. They barely count more than Scrabble, although some of them may end up a good deal more saleable than your average Scrabble game. They are for fun. And besides that, I literally cannot go forward on any one of them until someone else does, and I am almost always The Speedy One. So that's good, you see. More relaxing.

I finished the latest F&SF yesterday, so I'm all caught up on my periodicals for the first time since we moved, I think. (So I expect another in the mail today, naturally.) I'm reading Patricia Wrede's The Raven Ring, and enjoying it, but it feels like it's still running about collecting things, not yet begun, and I'm 100 pages in. Which is fine, it's allowed to begin slowly. It's even allowed to end slowly if it wants to. I'm okay with all that.

I'm not sure what Timprov's computer is doing over there without him, but it just beeped loudly.

Plans for the day include lunch with C.J., dinner with Maren and Jeff (and not Arianna, sigh! but Jeff's parents do have a right to their grandbaby now and then, and Maren was pretty sure they'll bring her back before we go home), and lots of writing and house stuff. I have thinger to write, after all. The Not The Moose Whatsit.


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