In Which the Fifth One Is Finished

7 March 2003

So, hi. Good morning. As those of you on mrislist know, I finished the rough draft of Dwarf's Blood Mead yesterday morning. Yay! My fifth book. (Mark says it's my eighth, but I really don't think the textbooks count.)

It's psychologically entirely different to be editing a book that's drafted than to be writing a new book. Even if it looks a lot the same -- even if I have to write a new scene into it, or two, or five, it just feels totally different. In a pretty good way, I think.

On the other hand, I'm almost never satisfied with just editing for weeks on end, so I'm going to be doing other stuff intermittently, too, which I wasn't so much when I was drafting DBM. Right now my plan is to try to let the draft sit until Monday. Today I hope to do no writing whatsoever aside from e-mails and journal entries. I'm going to be flexible about it, though, and if it turns out that working a lot was the only thing keeping me from going gibbering mad while I wait for everything in the world to happen, then I'll go back to it rather than going gibbering mad.

I plan to do a couple of short stories in the next week or two and then start in on the draft of the Not The Moose again. Poor, neglected Not The Moose. Someday, my books will go in some anticipated order. I will know which one I'm going to finish next at any given point.

Eh. Or not.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing to celebrate, as it looks so far as though the people I've talked to have a scheduling split. Oddly, it looks like a decently geographic scheduling split, so I could head up to Berkeley for one of two nights and then do something down here-ish for another. Which would be two celebrations for one rough draft, I know, which is outside my allotment, but several of these people have been on my "to see" list for many moons now. So I think I could be forgiven two celebrations.

Oh yes: and if you'd like to be on mrislist, just drop me a line, and I'll put you on there.

I was thinking about the contrast with this book and the previous YA fantasies I've done, and one of the biggest things is about magic. In the other place series, to a certain extent, magic has to do with what you are: there are certain characters who can never do any of it, and the characters who can do it have limitations on what they can do, based on where they get their power. But that's not a choice, it's an inherent thing. It doesn't (usually) happen without them actively participating, but they can only act so much to bring about magic.

In DBM, it's totally the opposite. Magic has to do with what you do, not who you are. It's a skill set, or rather, several skill sets, and someone would have to be hopelessly incompetent to be able to perform no magic whatsoever. It's a lot more of a sliding scale -- maybe the less skilled/talented one can stitch a magical reinforcement into the hem of a shirt so that the shirt won't rip as easily, say, and the more skilled/talented one can stitch a spell that makes the shirt entirely impervious to fire and blade. Or one can sing a charm that will make a papercut stop bleeding, and another can sing a charm that will heal over a severed limb. Some of that is talent, some study.

I just get sick of the "you are so special for no reason at all because you were just born that way!" school of magic, even though I have some of it in my own previous books and will probably have it again in some later ones. It was in Harry Potter, of course, and now it's in Caroline Stevermer's A College of Magics: there are these positions of world-healing or evil-defeating responsibility, and people are just born to them. "Oh, here's your infant, tra la, savior of civilization. Look at her put her toes in her mouth! Awww." I know that I need to edit The Grey Road so that this comes up less often (because it's drilled into the reader's head pretty thoroughly, and that gets tedious), but I think that Charlotte's parents' reaction is a totally rational one that people from a democratic society would have: "what do you mean my 13-year-old is the only one who can save the world(s)? Can't someone else do it? She's thirteen -- she doesn't know how to drive, for heaven's sake. Surely someone else has learned more about this than she does." It makes much more sense than, "Oh, colossally special for no reason whatsoever? Well, her grandmother already told me that!"

Well, maybe not a lot more sense. But I think some.

The other thing that bothers me about A College of Magics is that it seems like the main character is not nearly curious enough about anything. All sorts of things happen for which I would be climbing the walls, collaring people and demanding answers, or poking at various things experimentally until I figured out what the heck was going on. And I can understand her obsession with getting home: all of you know how obsessed I am with getting home! But I can be interested in other stuff in the interim, especially major course-of-one's-life-changing stuff! Ah well. It's entertaining enough, and it has some strong spots, but the lack of curiosity about some pretty strange stuff drives me mad.

I didn't finish either it or Time and the Gods yesterday; I was busy finishing my book, and I spent a decent amount of time hanging out with Timprov. I also watched a couple of the Learning Channel's home decorating shows (although I only do that with a book in hand). Timprov keeps getting ideas from them. I do, some, but mostly I get alarmed. (And I have to say that Timprov's ideas are never, ever reproductions of what they do on the shows, but always improvements on the same theme.)

Ah well. David's coming down for lunch, and I'm going to read a bunch. Other than that, no big plans, just basking in the drafty doneness of this book.

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