In Which Our Heroine--Surprise!--Revises

20 April 2004

Adding to the list of words I am no longer allowed to use in a book: "well." (Not as the opposite of "poorly," nor as a source of water, but as an interjection or equivocation of the form, "Well, that's hard to say." "Well, I don't know." "Well, if you type it again, I'll break your fingers.")

As I said on livejournal last night, I know it's time to stop revising a novel and do something else when I call myself "dumbass" in my margin comments. Name-calling is almost never productive, and there's always something else I could be doing. I got through a chunk of Reprogramming yesterday, at home and in the coffee shop, and I'll do a chunk more of it today, maybe the rest, I don't know. And then there'll be the typing and the deciphering of previous notes and all of that. Ah well; I can type changes if I get too frustrated with finding them later today. Typing them is mindless, or nearly so. Doesn't require me to assess nearly as much.

Sometimes I really don't like revising. (I also don't understand why the British use it to mean "reviewing." They revise for exams? Do they go back in their time machines and change historical events to fit the dates they remember? "Shoot, I keep thinking the Glorious Revolution was in 1690. Quick! Let's revise it! To the chronoscrambler!") For me there's a white-hot energy when a book is first drafted, the idea that I can soon make it as it ought to be, that it will be good any minute now. Any! Minute! Gooooood! Fresh hot book, just being seasoned!

Let a few months pass and...hoo. Congealed grease in book form! It's like when you microwave something and the sauce separates and it was so tasty when it was fresh but now there's some kind of sludgy stuff and an oily layer. You can pitch it in the trash or you can put it on the stove and put some more stuff in it and stir and heat slowly and evenly and hope for the best. There will be no trash-pitching here. But the oily layer is still not fun to deal with.

All that aside, I'm in a better frame of mind for editing this book than I have been in months, and it's going to get done this week, and I'm happy about that and happy about what it's becoming. If you've read The Dubious Hills, you'll know what I mean about having kind of a Con attitude towards this edit, cheerful bloody-mindedness, wheee.

It's also good to know that I've learned a few things since I finished that book. I had the feeling I had, but seeing it in practice is all right, I think. And this book, unlike some short stories, is worth the time to improve. This book is worth my time. So are my new stories and books. My time, in fact, is being beautifully well used these days: I'm having fun with some stuff and being productive with some stuff, and there's a fair amount of overlap and not a lot that falls into neither category. Good good stuff.

There was a barrista who confused the heck out of me. I was sitting with my coffee cup on the plate which had contained my Danish. (Take that, California! I got a Danish!) I still had half a mocha in the cup. The barrista came by and picked up the plate to take it away. (She was deeply bored, I think: Monday afternoon is not the most thrilling time around there.) I grabbed the mocha off it, and she said, "Oh, did you want to keep that?" Uh, half of the coffee I paid for? Yes. Yes, I did want to keep half the coffee I paid for, thanks! Do a lot of people go in there, kind of sip at the coffee, keep sitting there, but decide that the coffee should go away? Just because the Danish is gone, or what? I don't understand this.

I finished reading Snow-Eyes, and it didn't annoy me as much as it could have, but way too many characters got randomly let off the hook by the author. Apparently no one was supposed to be able to observe anything in the months and months they spent with the main character. WhatEVer. I'll probably still read the other one Stella lent me, because it's short and Stephanie Smith may have improved between the two, but I was less than thrilled. I'm enjoying The Last Light of the Sun, though. I have the same kind of trust for Guy Gavriel Kay's work as I do for Jo Walton's (or rather, the reverse, since I was reading Kay before I'd heard of Walton): if something in their alternate world is different from in ours, I can happily assume they know the difference and did it deliberately. I can still enjoy myself rather than geeking out with, "Aaaaactually, I think you'll find that the followers of Ooooooodin...."

I sold "She Transcends" to Raven Electrick last night. Yay, sales! It's a short-short I wrote on a lark -- I have lots of those, actually. I think they're good for me, but sometimes I'm also relieved not to have to ship them around any more, too.

Also in the good column: Boston sporting events went as they should yesterday. Yankees lost, which I didn't watch, and Canadiens won, which I did. I'm also happy that Vancouver lost to the Flames, even with the suspension of that little bastard Bertuzzi: it's still his team. I'm glad they lost without him and are out of the playoffs. I hope he never plays hockey again, not even a pickup game on a neighborhood lake when he's 80. Perhaps especially not a pickup game on a neighborhood lake when he's 80, because he may still be an out-of-control psychopath at 80, and who wants the neighbor kids' heads beaten in?

Please do not write to tell me if you want the neighbor kids' heads beaten in by an elderly Todd Bertuzzi. Some things I am happier not knowing.

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