It Ends and Begins

29 August 2002

No countdown any more. It is my goal final draft date, and I'm done with The World Builders. It is sitting here on the kitchen table, all printed out, complete with cover page, cover letter, and SASE. It is mine, and it is done. Thomas had some really good suggestions, the kind of suggestions that go, "I'd kind of like to see something of this," and I say, why, that's funny, I can work this in in four lines, and I know which four, even. It wasn't The Timprov Oracularity, of course, but it was still cool for the final run-through edits.

(The Timprov Oracularity is very good. Often I can go to Timprov when I'm writing a book and say, "Something is missing," and he'll say, "It's something about Nate's dad," or appropriate comments for whatever book I'm writing. And I'll get skeptical and he'll say it might not be, it's not his book, and then I'll go work on it and he'll be right.)

So the only thing it lacks now is an envelope large enough to contain it. Which I will be fetching this morning, most likely from Mailboxes Etc. (shudder) while the guys are getting cleaned up and ready to go, depending on how they're feeling.

Mama's Pajamas, one of my picture book texts, got rejected yesterday, so I get to send two books out this morning. Which is kind of strange and cool and doesn't happen that often. And in some ways I'm glad it doesn't happen that often, because having two books rejected on the same day would be really horrible if they were both novels. Since this didn't involve a two-novel rejection, no problem.

Zak called when he and Sharon got to town last night, but we had already thawed the salmon, and Mark had come home early with a headache, so we didn't meet them for dinner. Turns out that it might have been better to do so even with the headache, as the salmon had gone south. Far, far south. It was winter for sure where the salmon had gone. The funny thing was, it didn't smell bad, or else the way in which it smelled bad was not one I could smell. And there's really not a lot I can't smell. But the taste was unmistakably awful, and it was unmistakably badness and not that I'd screwed up the seasoning or anything like that. Even after I had tasted the badness, I could not smell it, however. Weird. So we picked at leftovers and sandwiches. It's a good thing I made peach-chocolate-chip scones yesterday, or it would have been a Bad Kitchen Day. But the scones are good. Would have been good even if the salmon had been good, too.

So I'm reading Liz Williams' Empire of Bones, and the beginning made me really, really mad. It started with the line "'They're all starting to die,'" and had a prologue that was in a quite different milieu/perspective from the first several chapters. It felt like Williams was Hooking The Reader With Something Interesting, and frankly, I was not hooked. I know Hooking The Reader With Something Interesting is one of those textbook beginnings. I think it's overrated. Of course, when some kinds of books are done well, you don't want to put them down after reading the first page -- or the second page or the tenth page, and I think that part is key. If you switch immediately to a quieter, more measured tone, and the reader wouldn't have been interested in that tone in the first place, well, it's just as easy to put down the book after three pages of melodrama, because we have no reason to care that they're all starting to die. I feel like the Prologue was attempting to reach through and grab my by the guts and not let go, whereas the first chapters were going to take my hand and tell me a story. The two don't go well together.

On the other hand, I like the hand-holding story so far, so I will forgive the prologue if it continues to be good. But I just have this fear that this book will be cited years from now as how to write beginnings, because it's so textbook, but it doesn't trust the reader for a second, and I will shriek and howl.

So Julie is dreading the coming of the university students. And I can definitely see how they would be annoying, but I'm also at a point where I keep thinking: annoy me! Annoy me! I'd love to roll my eyes at the students now encroaching on the Chinese place where Aaron likes to eat in Dinkytown. I'd be happy if I got to play Annoyed But Patient Professor's Wife at the supermarket. I would be good at it. I would. I would have Mark's students over for dinners and accept compliments that I had not, in fact, fed them dorm food. I would tell funny jokes to the other professors and their husbands and wives and ask them about their work and their kids and maybe baby-sit if their kids were little. I'd get to know their names and say hi to them when I came to get Mark to go out for lunch every once in awhile. I would make Mark bombers or mint brownies to eat for while he was grading midterms, so that he'd be in a better mood. I'm ready, coach. Put me in.

Maybe next year.

So. I should get in the shower, I think, and get ready to fetch Thomas and head down to WorldCon. And get an envelope for The World Builders, of course. Wish me luck. Wish me fun. Wish Thomas a timely flight. And all that.

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