22 July 2002

Mark diagnosed me last night with a new disorder: PWBS. I had noticed the symptoms myself, but I hadn't thought to give it a name and acronym. Makes it much more impressive, right?

PWBS: Phantom Writer's Block Syndrome. Here's how it works: when I am not actually sitting down and writing, I feel that I will not be able to write. I feel that I will be blocked. Luckily, I am of the "drag your sorry carcass to the computer and sit there" school of writing. I believe that when it comes to writing a novel, one scene is better than no scenes, one paragraph is better than no paragraphs, one sentence is better than no sentences. Even, perhaps, one word is better than no words. Even if it's "the." Even if I later edit out that "the."

So if I'm feeling like it's going to be a bad writing day, I still sit in the computer chair, I still call up the file or files, I still prepare to be working, even if I don't believe that it'll be worthwhile. And this time, it's been fine. As soon as I sit down with the file in front of me, I can work on it. Even though I feel like I can't the rest of the time.

I'd rather have it work this way than the reverse -- this way I'm getting bits of book written but feeling kind of cruddy about it beforehand. The other way I'd be feeling nifty and not getting anything done, and I have a feeling that the former is much happier when it self-corrects than the latter. I'm hoping that it self-corrects, though, because I have a lot more book to write, and I don't really want to do it all with this nasty feeling for the rest of my day.

I think that's the hard part about writing a book that's much longer than my other books -- anything I feel about it for more than a day or two becomes anxious, is this how it's going to be to finish this book? But of course finishing this book is no more uniform than any other really large project.

(A word on carcasses: I was so disappointed when I read Have His Carcase. It took me until a chance reference halfway into the book or more to realize that a carcase was a British carcass and not a valise of some sort. Because they'd had his carcass from rather early on, but as far as I recall, no traveling bags. I was waiting for it to show up and get Lord Peter and Harriet Vane going, the luggage, I mean.)

Well, I read Mara and Dann yesterday, and it was all right, good character development. The setting/conceit/idea was nothing particularly special, but it was well done for what it was. I would be surprised if Lessing read much spec fic before writing it, but whatever. I started reading LeGuin's Planet of Exile, which I bought in an omnibus with Rocannon's World (which I already read this spring, borrowed from David) and City of Illusions (which I will read next). It's entertaining, and it goes quickly, but so far, again, nothing particularly outstanding.

My "to read" pile is dwindling, and I'm not particularly excited about any of it right now. It's all stuff I'd like to read at some point, but none of it is leaping out and begging to be read. Ah well. My approaching birthday will probably bring a bit of reading material with it, and if things get too dismal before then, I can either reread or head to the library. I have a sudden urge towards Dumas. I think I'll finish reading these Hainish novels and then do some Dumas, even though it'll mess with my writing style a little bit. (He does that.) (I also think it was possibly misguided for LeGuin to tell us that her novels are Hainish. "No, really, Urshula, they're not sho bad." But I have a hard time making up names because I always think of that kind of thing.)

Have a good Monday. I'm going to work on the book. Unless PWBS turns into WBS. Which, you know, it could at any moment. Don't know if it has until I try. So....

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