In Which Our Heroine Will Be Sterner With Her Brain

16 April 2004

Last night I let my brain do what it wanted, and what it wanted was a letter-game letter to Peg -- owed to her for lo these many moons -- and picking at The Dune in the Forest and "Even Without Deceit." I think The Dune in the Forest is going to be like The Grey Road in that I'm going to wake up and realize I've got it half-written someday, and then I'll just do the end kind of as an afterthought.

I'm the sort of person who has been known to write books accidentally. Sometimes this is a little alarming.

Anyway, I'm not going to accidentally finish The Dune in the Forest today. I'm going to be much sterner with my brain and sit down and work like mad on the Reprogramming edits. Because this book does not deserve to be trunked, and I have a destination in mind for it, and wandering through future novels is not going to be helpful. So. Yes. Editing day, or days, depending. And then back to the Not The Moose, because I can feel it falling together, and it's a longer home stretch than a YA book has, but it's still the home stretch. (Huh. I wonder if the fourth book of the other place series will have something of a home stretch feel all the way through, or whether there's been a big enough gap in the middle of the writing that it won't happen that way.) I'm back on familiar ground, and while the book may be a muddle when it's drafted, it's a very familiar kind of muddle. I've felt this kind of pre-muddle before.

The more I'm doing something different with the book itself, the happier I am to see familiar states of mind accompanying it. So many times we hear "you don't learn how to write a book, you learn how to write this book," and I think that's true as far as it goes. If you try to make different stories have the same structure or work the same way, that'll mess things up. But I think you can learn how you are when you write books. Not in every detail, just a nice broad overview. The highs and lows.

On Sunday Steve Brust said that the first novel was the hardest part to get through, and I'm not sure I agree with that. My first novel was a remarkably well-behaved little thing, I think perhaps in reaction to the tumult around it.

I finished rereading The Dubious Hills last night, so it has let go of my head and my head is useful for something else again. Things kept coming out sounding like Arry or Oonan or Con, most particularly Con. Bloodthirsty and cheerful and insistent. Which is fine when what you're doing is okay for that: paying bills, for example, can deal with a bit of bloody-mindedness. But it won't do for everything. "Even Without Deceit," for example...well, it's not that part so much as the cheer that's misplaced with that particular narrative voice. Anyway, I'm pretty keen on seeing what happens with Going North, since Ruth was my favorite in the other series anyway.

It's the most curious thing: I open the door to get the paper in the morning, and there is not a blast of cold air to greet me. I don't understand this! Out there is where the cold is! Also there is a willow tree across from the circle that has turned an astonishing yellow-green, and a few of the little trees in the backyard are starting to get a lacy green fringe around the edges.

There are definite hazards to moving in October.

Anyway, out I go for lunch with Mark, wearing a little dress and sandals and no stockings at all. Like a good Minnesotan, I'm a little dubious still: I'll grab a sweater well into May, I think, just in case. I'm not prepared to swear it won't snow again. I'm ready with the jeans at a moment's notice. It just doesn't look like they'll be necessary this moment.

I've cultivated a kind of relaxed attitude towards the weather -- which is, I suppose, appropriate for something over which I have no control whatsoever. But generally it's a relaxed and happy attitude. It's snowing, it's not snowing, it's raining, it's warm...great! Whatever! I'm good with it! And I keep repeating, "It was never like this in California."

Sometimes it was all right. But it was never like this.

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