500 Page Point

20 September 2002

Good morning! I want to know how it is that we can be out of juice when Timprov and I bought Everything on Monday. Everything. No more food left for the rest of you, they had to grow some more, because we bought it all. And yet today we have no juice, no onions, no soy sauce, no peanut butter, and very little lettuce. How does this work? We just bought Everything!

So. No more juice, so I'm drinking two glasses of water instead of a glass of water and a cup of juice. My routine has been disturbed. Sigh.

But! I passed the 500 page mark on the Not The Moose Book yesterday. I don't usually count pages overall (since the book exists in three files for the three sections) -- usually I just do a word count, and all is well. But I know that people who are not themselves writers have very little a priori feel for how long 1,000 words actually ends up being, so I like to be able to tell them where I am. In this case, I had been talking to Scott about short-shorts and how long they were in pages, so I thought I'd see how many pages I could tell him I had on the book. 500 as of yesterday. Wooo. I know there's nothing particularly special about 500 except that it's a big, round number, but when I'm writing a long book, I have to take whatever markers I can find on the way.

I got into a good rhythm of it yesterday, and I think today will wind up being pretty smooth sailing as well. When things are going well, they just keep clicking: well, of course if they just finished doing this, she's going to do that, and he's going to react thus. I can come up with the conclusions anyway, but on worse work days, they don't feel so natural. And I say "work days," but yesterday morning and afternoon weren't really so hot, work-wise, and it wasn't until the evening that I really hit my stride. So there's no telling, for me, when I'll break through to the easy work, except that the way to do it is to keep putting words next to each other and hope that it works out.

That's the way to do it for me, of course -- I'm not saying it's how you have to do things. But I seem to be the opposite of Marymary in that regard. She's a poet, and in the entry I linked there, she was talking about how difficult it was to switch to fiction after honing things into intricate 140-syllable boxes, and how usually the rhythm and sound propel her forward when she gets stuck. I'm the opposite exactly. If you get three syllables glaringly wrong in a piece of 140 syllables, there they are, staring up at you, ruining your sonnet. (Or other 140-syllable piece, I suppose -- how many forms run to 140-syllables, besides sonnets? Any?) But if you get three syllables glaringly wrong in a piece of 500 pages so far, you can deal with them later. Later is a word that applies blessedly often in the writing of long novels. Make notes. Deal with it later. I do check the rhythms and the sounds of my novel, in a different way of course, but I do it once the bones are on the page. If I had the luxury of doing that with poems -- if "seashell blue element" counted as the rough draft of a poem and I could just consider the rest of it editing, even if the only word I kept was "element" -- maybe I'd write more poems. I don't know. But story is what carries me along, plot and character together, the thing that has to happen along here so that something else can happen next.

For some reason, I was thinking that I would not have written the Not The Moose Book as short as I usually write. I think it's because some of my writing short is a sparseness of description, and the things I'm doing in this book force me towards a bit more physicality. But that's not the only way that I write short in novels, and I believe the other stuff will pop up later (as well as some physicality, I'm afraid -- ah well). There will be things I find obvious now that will be apparently not obvious to the reader in editing read-throughs. And there will be scenes I decide I need, later, and then I'll wonder how I ever did without them. I'm all right with that. I've done four books that way so far. I'm just fine doing the fifth that way, too. I just didn't realize that I would be.

I finished Warchild yesterday, and Karin Lowachee made me feel much better about chapters. Some of hers are a page long. None of mine will be a page long. Therefore mine are not too short. Alec suggested on Monday that a chapter break should occur whenever a POV shift occurs in a multiple POV novel, and, heck, I can do that. I can do that no problem, I can do that here, but it takes tools, and it takes time, how long...ahem. Sorry. Jordan moment. Anyway, since I don't understand the damn things anyway, I can just apply the Alec Says So rule and come up with chapters in my book. And since other people seem fond of chapters, Alec Says So seems like as good a rule as any. I'm not convinced that chapters containing scenes from multiple POVs are really bad, and it doesn't solve the problem in Reprogramming, which is in the first person throughout, but solving some problems is better than solving none, I think.

I also read Jane Yolen's Wizard's Hall yesterday, as it had been strenuously recommended by one of you-all, and it was fun. I liked it. And I read the recent Analog, and I read Katherine Paterson's Preacher's Boy. Sigh. I really, really loved Bridge to Terebithia (go read it! go read it now!), but so far most of the rest of Paterson's stuff has not impressed me so much, and Preacher's Boy was just kind of there. I have some recollection of Jacob Have I Loved also being worthwhile, but it's been at least twelve years since I read that, so I don't know for sure. I should probably add it to my library list, but that thing is growing faster than I can keep up with it, I'm afraid, even with the number of books I get from the library and the speed at which I read them. It's a children's book, though, so it can go on and off the list quickly. (And don't stop recommending books to me! I'll still put them on the list, and there's no strict chronological order to reading the books.) I've started Sharon Kay Penman's The Queen's Man, which is subtitled "A Medieval Mystery." We'll see. I have a great fondness for Penman's big chewy straight-historical novels, but I found her other historical mystery, Cruel as the Grave, to be thinner and less satisfying. I am not far enough into The Queen's Man to say whether it'll be the same in that regard.

I always wake up hungry: good morning, hypoglycemia, how are you today? So I almost always have a glass of milk, a tortilla with Nutella or some oatmeal or cold cereal, and a cup of juice. It doesn't seem like the cup of juice should be important, in terms of assuaging my morning hunger, but evidently it is, because it's quarter to ten, and my body is complaining again. Huuuuungry, it says. Where's my juuuuuuuice, it says. Sigh. So I'm going to eat a kiwi and hope for the best. Silly body.

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