Full Circle

14 September 2001

Yesterday morning I put chili in the crockpot, and the house smelled like chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano for the rest of the day. I did laundry, too, so some detergent and softener sheet smells mingled with that, while I folded towels and watched the news. Very domestic. I did some edits on Reprogramming, crisp white paper and liquidy black ink, and now I'm really into it, so I should have the edited version out to a publisher fairly soon.

I have a dilemma. The publisher I intend to send Reprogramming to first is one with a fast turn-around time, in part because they only ask for the first three chapters. I should have the first three chapters edited up by the end of today, unless I go completely nonsequential (which is a possibility -- I wrote an extra scene towards the end yesterday). Still. Done soon. So. Do I send them the sample chapters before the rest of the manuscript is edited? Some Among Us have been known to do that, but Some Among Us also got caught doing that and had to scramble to get the edits done on the rest of his book when an agent showed interest. I'm thinking I'd wait a few more days anyway, just so that I can be certain my book wouldn't get lost in a train station somewhere in Idaho (or at least, as certain as I can ever be with the US mail). So by that point, depending on how crazy I go with this, it may be moot. But what do you guys think? Send it before it's all the way edited, or keep it until it's done?

Mark pointed out, knowing me and my work style well, that the first three chapters might change as I changed the later chapters. And this is true. But I think the question is not whether they are in their final form, but whether they are in an appealing form. Which they will be, soon.

This may also imply to those of you who are wise in the ways of M'rissas that I have put chapters into this book. Oh no, not so! I have put three chapters into this book. The rest, well, how should I know? Chapters? I'll get it done, I really will. I just hate chapters so much. You know those people who have nice quotes at the beginning of each chapter, or interesting chapter titles or something? The only way I will ever be one of those people is if Timprov decides he wants to do that on a collab. And then I will ooh and aah about how pretty the chapter quotes/titles are. Will scratch him on the back and say, "Well done!" But it will be none of my doing. It's always nice to know who, in a collab, did your favorite bits, or whether it was everybody. So keep this in mind.

It's funny: when I was little and writing stories, I would first write down who was in the stories and some bare, cold facts about them -- their age, their height, their hair color, things like that. And only after I was sure I had all the possible characters that might be needed would I launch into the actual telling of the story, if at all. As I got older, this mutated -- first I went to having a few brief descriptors, so that instead of "Mark -- blond hair, 26, 6' tall, green eyes..." it would read "Mark -- intense blond computer geek," which would be enough for my purposes at the outset. And then it mutated again, and I'd write some exchange that seemed typical of the character: "'We were talking about memory earlier,' said M'ris. Mark grinned. 'Oh, were we?'" And pretty soon I was just writing the story from the get-go.

The thing is that as I write a novel, things change in my mind, they evolve, so now I find myself sitting with the manuscript jotting down the description references, so I end up with a sheet of paper that reads something like, "Mark -- blond hair, 26...."

Yesterday I read One Day Closer to Death. Find and read it. I like Brad Denton. He knows from prairie. There are other reasons to like him, too. He does not have a gift for plausible speculation. What he does have a gift for is implausible speculation that's interesting enough to go along with. And he doesn't pretend that it's plausible. He doesn't mumble about gravitational flux or anything else that might make me think he was trying to be plausible. He just goes. My, isn't he a happy bunny, though.

I also read The Extremes, by Christopher Priest. Big fat meh on that one. It looked like it was going somewhere deeply cool, and then it stopped. Not even a to-be-continued stop. Nope. Just bam, stop. It was one of those things where you could feel the book growing slimmer in your hands, and you were trying to figure out how on earth he was going to pull it off in that few pages, and the answer was, he didn't. Timprov warned me, but I had to find out for myself. Today I'm reading Parallax. It's deliberately claiming to be in the Longitude school of popular history. While I enjoyed Longitude, I didn't think it was as fabulous as many people seemed to. We shall see. Parallax is background reading for my historical novel, which is rather far down my list but certainly on it, and firmly on it. Those characters are not going to let go of me any time soon, even if they're not being demanding.

Oh. I've found that some of you may have confusion about how to pronounce "M'ris." Well, ideally it should be obvious: if you can make a "mr" dipthong, do so. Add "iss" on the end. There you go. Otherwise, say "Marissa," leave off the terminal a, and then try to minimize the central a. Okay? Good.

Also, Another Mark has written to say that Midway was in the tank and laying off people before this all came about. I suppose that's reassuring, in a sense.

I hope you don't understand this, but one of the nastier feelings in the world is the feeling that you can't entirely trust a close friend to mean what he/she says or to do what he/she claims will be done. And at a certain point, that sinking, twisting feeling must be addressed. So if you'll excuse me, that's what I'm going to attempt to do now. It's 9:00 a.m. If you don't get e-mail soon, don't worry, I'm not talking about you.

My evening, with Mark and Timprov and Amber, should be pleasant. Don't worry too much about that last bit.

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