Books and Tornadoes

30 July 2001

Well, we didn't go to the Berkeley Kite Festival after all. We looked at the schedule, and all of the exhibitions were things we'd seen last year or didn't care to see. So instead we went out for tea at Suju's, and it was nice. Less photogenic, though.

I finished an untitled story; I'm going to edit it today and that'll be that. I also have an online orientation meeting with the tutoring people, which is making me a bit nervous, as our internet connection is shaky this morning. If it doesn't get itself cleared up by noon, I'm going to try to reschedule. Frustrating, but not much else I can do.

Evan said that he was able to find my website by searching on my full name, but not by searching on "Marissa science fiction goddess." Go figure. And they say Google is such a great search engine....

It's nice to have a way to get unstuck when you get stuck on a novel, when none of the scenes you have left to write feel vivid and real. It's good to have an "out." With my other place books, the characters talk to each other in a way that feels natural enough to me that I can often start out with that, with something stupid, and have it go somewhere. I send them out for ice cream, and they figure stuff out over double chocolate chunk and lemon sorbet. And then if I want to, I can later delete the ice cream scene, if it doesn't work, but it still got me into their behavior, it still got me into their minds and their lives. With Reprogramming, my narrator, Anton, is cranky enough that he can just start ranting about something in the world around him, and either get to something like, "Case in point: I was walking to the train station that morning when...." or else someone (his sister and his girlfriend are both really good at this) will interrupt him and find something useful for him to do because he's ranting or brooding, depending on whether it's out loud or not. And once again, the rant/brood can be cut short later if it needs to be, but it's my entrance to his world.

I don't have this yet for the Not The Moose Book, but I have a bit of an odd one for the alien diplomacy novel. I just think about the tornado and what was going on after the tornado and how I felt and so on. What stuff came in what order. It's pretty much my template for a group-related disaster. The tornado was March 29, and it was August before I went a day without saying the word "tornado." I was paying attention. Anyway...Timprov refers to the alien diplomacy novel as my Clarion novel, because I have a small number of highly motivated, bright people together in an enclosed space with one goal and a limited time frame. But it's also the tornado novel in that something horrible happens to a group of people who have purposefully identified themselves with a community, and some of the people who are supposed to be leading that community are instead an obstacle to coping and getting it back together. Information withheld. Help refused. Confusion, separation, fear. Tornado.

That book isn't only a post-tornado book. Of course. But it helps. It's a good starting point when I'm stuck: okay, what was it like before we got back? What was it like before they let news crews see what our home had become? And then I can draw out that feeling and see how it goes. And -- I hope -- end up with a good book.

But not just yet. That's not the one I'm planning to work on next. Really. So unless it eats my brain, which has been known to happen (The Grey Road, most notably), it'll be awhile down the road. But there's no harm working on it a little now. Hmm. Right now I'm thinking I'll do some significant editing this week, maybe a few scenes each on the Not The Moose book and The Tides Between the Worlds, and then get serious about one or the other (or, gulp, both) when we get back from DC. It sounds suspiciously like a plan.

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