In Which Our Heroine Is Giddy With Books

19 October 2004

Starting a new book is a heady pleasure, and it's not one I've had with such purity for awhile now. Maybe not since Fortress. I didn't have 1000 words of Zodiac House when I started yesterday. I had an extensive outline, but not even a full scene on the book. Usually I have two or three scenes before I make a wholehearted start. This time I could just start poking wherever. I could let the notes take me different places. It was good. I am conscious of having the whole book ahead of me, in a good way.

That was morning work. Evening work was to begin the revisions on Thermionic Night. Revisions, when new, are another heady pleasure. These went very slowly, because I was bleeding gouts and gallons of red ink all over each page. Good gouts. Good gallons.

I know so much more than I did when I started these books. I think it was a good decision to wait and revise them both when they were both drafted. It makes me surer of where I'm going, how I'm getting there, how the whole thing works together. I don't think it has to be a general policy -- I don't think it would be productive to finish drafts of books in this series indefinitely without revision -- but these two books were so closely linked, so nearly conjoined, that my nonsequential writing self had to have them both together.

One of the things I like about revision is watching myself improve. I go through the scenes I've written, and some of it is just rough-draftedness, stuff that will always be there, stuff that's an artifact of getting the story down on the page and not just idealized in my head. But some of it is stuff I can just plain do better now than I could when I started this book. I feel like I'm this book's yoga instructor, and I'm gently going around adjusting its poses, making sure the stretch goes where it's needed. Where "gently" will sometimes mean "with some discomfort and swearing." I'm all right with that.

I'm also enjoying the heck out of The Game of Kings. Haven't taken the time to wallow right through it, not with starting a novel draft and a novel revision on the same day, but it's been a very pleasant interlude.

I got a picture taken of the back of my eyeball. CCD cameras are a beautiful thing. My optometrist seems very excited about this, because now they have a baseline picture of my macula and my optic nerve and all manner of useful things, so if they start changing on us, we'll know about it. If I keep going to the same person for the next 30 years or so, and their file storage format doesn't change, and....

Anyway, my contacts should be in within a week. The optometrist said two or three days. The optical technician said a week. The technician is the one who will have to deal with unhappy people if things take longer than anticipated, so I can see where she might pad the times a bit. Either way, I should have my lenses within a reasonable time frame, and this makes me happy.

Well. If you'll excuse me, I have more red ink to spill in great torrents on my manuscript. I was going to say you have no idea how happy this makes me, but I think a few of you have a pretty fair notion.

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