Novel-Writing In Flower

25 May 2002

Mark's computer has crashed again, so I don't know when this entry will go up. Sometime after he wakes up, and I don't want to wake him. It's Saturday. That means something to him, even if the Saturdayness of it is kind of hazy to me.

What I feel like is a kitchen rampage. I restrained myself yesterday and only made a potpie, but I feel like doing potato salad and blueberry muffins and Mark's mud pie and cupcakes for his work and something elaborate for lunch or dinner. I know I should wait on the cupcakes until tomorrow night or Monday morning, and I should probably consider banana bread instead of blueberry muffins (because we have so many bananas). Hmm. Maybe I'll just stick the banana bread in the freezer if we still have blueberry muffins to deal with. That sounds sensible enough.

Right then. Ahem. This is the sort of nonsense I usually put in e-mails first thing, to kind of wake up, but I can't write e-mails with Erdos crashed, so you get the full benefit. Aren't you lucky.

I finished Edge City yesterday, and it was interesting throughout, if sometimes full of it. As expected. And I finished Girl in Hyacinth Blue, which was disappointing to me. It felt very slight, too much message per unit book. I also read magazines and Florence King's When Sisterhood Was In Flower. Oh my, oh my. Zed was talking about this book, and it sounded funny, so I got it from the library, and it was. All of the best bits had to do with when the author was writing porn, so they're not really appropriate for a "family" journal. But I did like an earlier bit about the main character's writing attempts:

"'All my books are about rakes.' I sighed. 'I wanted to start with something simple while I was learning the mechanics of fiction. Someday I'll write about real people.'"

I found that amusing, until I thought that a lot of people write children's books on the same theory. Ah well.

(Note to Michelle: do not read this book. It will indirectly encourage you to talk like Susan Faludi, and that's not good for any of us.)

It was a good day for digging up quotes about writing novels. The winner was Candas Jane Dorsey's: "You don't learn how to write a novel; you learn how to write the one you're writing. Then the next novel, you learn how to write that, because it's always different." And is that true. And I'm glad of it, myself. It's part of the charm.

No rejections, though.

I was reading e-mail from Karina yesterday when I realized that some people have novels like having babies: they pick a month to start trying, hope for the best, and with enough persistence and good luck, there it comes. Me, I have novels like a chronic disease: once it was diagnosed, I knew I was stuck with it, and while it may go into remission every once in awhile, I know it could flare up any minute.

That's totally okay. In both cases, actually. Sometimes I think the central rule of writing is, "Your mileage may vary."

Zed wrote to me after I did my rebel entry, commenting that I should distinguish between rebels and radicals. We had a bit of trouble with the word "radical," since it's used to mean too many things. But he's right -- I should make it clear that I didn't mean to imply that there were no large-scale social changes that could be made or that people are in the process of making, just that there are almost no superficial changes that are truly rebellious any more, and that doing things for the sake of opposing other people is silly.

Zed pointed out some viewpoints I hold that he thinks are pretty radical, and maybe some of them are. It's hard to see, though: I'm a Christian girl from the Midwest. From Nebraska. And when you're from Nebraska, you're always aware that your extremes may not mean diddly-squat compared to the extremes of the coasts. Being the person in Omaha with the best sense of haute couture, for example -- whoopee doo. (I have decided that the old expression, "Bully for you!" ought to be revived, just for cases like these. My mom agreed with me. It's a simply capital expression. Hmm. Maybe we'll leave "simply capital" out of things and just stick with "bully for you.") But deciding that something isn't radical because a Nebraskan does it is about as silly as deciding that it is radical because it's "so San Francisco."

I also think that the most radical things are most effective for social change when the person doing them doesn't make a big (rebellious) stink about how radical they are. Just going about doing things the way you think they ought to be done is probably more effective. But then, "None of your business" may be the most radical notion of all, in some circles.

Anyway. It's my grandma's birthday. Yay, Grandma! She's 70, but people don't believe it, to look at her and talk to her. (They don't believe that my Onie will be 90 this summer, either. I think they just have low standards for older ladies.) My grandpa always said that if my grandma didn't know how to do something, it wasn't worth doing. That's not quite true (at least, I hope not, because Grandma doesn't write speculative novels!), but it comes a lot closer than you might think. One of the best things about being a grown-up has been that I can listen to my grandparents talk about each other and hear in their voices how much they're proud of each other, in ways that I wouldn't have consciously apprehended as a kid. I'm quite aware that most people don't have nearly such close relationships with nearly such active grandparents, by the time they're in their twenties, and I'm really grateful that I have mine.

So. I'm going to bake something and read Kate Wilhelm's The Hamlet Trap and work on "Fair Use" and the Not The Moose Book, and maybe on the Moose Book. And I'm going to wrap Mark's birthday presents and call my grandma, early while she's still home. And so on. Have a good weekend.

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