mrissa: (reading)
Picked up from [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks.

The book I am currently reading: Ambrose Bierce, Shadows of Blue and Grey. From Grandpa's collection. Wrenching stuff.

The books I am currently writing: Um. Polish revisions on What We Did to Save the Kingdom. Deeper revisions on The True Tale of Carter Hall. And poking around the edges of the Aesir noir book, which doesn't have a title yet, because I really should get The True Tale out to beta readers before I start anything else, but...y'know...I like writing books...and it's been a long time since I started on a new book...and there is so much shiny....

The book I love most: Seriously. Seriously? No one who likes books enough to answer this meme is going to have their One True Book Love. It is virtually impossible. It may have been virtually impossible since the early 19th century, because how many serious book people are like that? Book I love most, uff da. What a question.

The last book I received as a gift: Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk.
The last book I gave as a gift: Bagthorpes Unlimited by Helen Cresswell. Although I have some ready to give very soon.

The nearest book on my desk: the Bierce. Also my Kindle, which doesn't have someone else's book in progress on it at the moment: I finished the Kindle book I was reading at [livejournal.com profile] timprov's appointment yesterday, and I haven't started another. I am in the middle of using that to read my own book for revisions, though, so What We Did is apparently equally close.
mrissa: (Default)
So hi. I haven't been posting much lately because I have either a) been doing other things or b) been collapsing after the doing of other things. And sometimes we get too much into "Let me esplain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up," mode around here. So here I am, summing up. state of the Mris, including concerts and vertigo report and who knows what else I'll get to )
mrissa: (winter)
I should know by now that "I am up to my elbows in dishwater" is not a good reason to fail to write something down. There was an insight into The True Tale of Carter Hall, and now it's gone. Fee. Come back, little insight! Join your friends!

The other insight, which is not gone, can be summed up in an index card reading, "Earlier Wild Hunt snowmobile deaths." So there's that at least.

The impulse to restructure the entire book is such a seductive one. I should remember that next time it hits. It nearly allows a reset to the beginning of the process, when all things seem possible, and also it means that the wibbling I'm doing is productive, creative wibbling, except when it totally isn't. This happened with What We Did to Save the Kingdom, too: "Maybe I need a second POV character!" No, you don't. "Maybe I need extensive flashback structure so that each chapter comes with a bit of the protag's past!" No. No, you don't. Write the book. Don't think, meat, just pitch. And stop breathing out the wrong eyelid. I mean William Blake.

I have no idea how people who don't have Bull Durham and Galaxy Quest in their brain write books, truly I don't. It's not that I don't believe there's a way, because of course there's a way. I did it myself, when I was 11 and again when I was 14. It's just that I don't remember how it goes any more. What gets you through revisions when you get to the middle of the book and spontaneously rant, "This scene was badly written," and then you don't think of Sigourney Weaver and grin? I'm not sure. I'm just glad to have it to hug to myself and move on.
mrissa: (intense)
It turns out that "smugglers" is not the same thing as "snugglers," although I suppose one could go looking for either in the king's woods.
mrissa: (intense)
Okay okay okay.

So last night's entry about titles is almost certainly the result of me a) wanting distraction and b) being nearly ready to send this thing out. I don't actually want to stall on sending it out. But sending out novels is frankly kind of scary. You have to blow your hair out of your eyes and set your jaw and decide that, no, really, you shouldn't try to make it better, you should just send it out, and no, it's probably not perfect, but removing and replacing that comma on page 58 is probably not going to make or break the agent's desire to represent you or the editor's desire to publish you so send the book out already.

But the title is bigger than a comma, and poking around at it before sending the thing out is not completely unreasonable. Especially as some of you are giving me lovely titles. For sequels. Sigh.

This one feels particularly large and looming as I prepare to send it out because I've never taken this long to revise a book I knew how to revise before. I don't want to make excuses for myself, but I also don't want to ignore reasons. The vertigo is a reason. And this is a weird combination of still dealing that and getting past it. I am still struggling through this. It's better than it was. And the book has been holding still and letting me wipe the dirt off its cheek and the frosting off its nose, and...here we are. Getting there.

Eeeek.
mrissa: (intense)
For a variety of reasons, none of them a great deal of fun, I am more tired than sleepy right now. And I thought, "Ah! I can ask lj to brainstorm titles for me!" Because I am still not convinced that this book ought to be What We Did to Save the Kingdom.

So here are your parameters: there are lots of birds and wings and flight bits in this book. It is a secondary world fantasy. There is a revolution in it. And the magic is sort of math-related, and so I came up with a list of math words that might help:

vector limits inequalities algebra equations theorems axioms coordinates transforms/transformations (note: we have a fair number of transformations in this book) functions curve splines lines limits fractions chains fields spheres prisms

Only I don't want the title to sound like it will require the doing of math for people who are not fond of the doing of math.

Any ideas? The main character's personal title is Ordinal. (It's like Cardinal but completely different. Just as she is like Richelieu but completely different.)

Non-usable suggestions that amuse me, such as Endomorphism's Game, are welcome too, of course.
mrissa: (writing everywhere)
I am doing revisions on a printout, because I need to revise on printouts mostly, and when I try not to, I bang my head repeatedly against the wall and then feel stupid when it turns out all I needed was a printout. So. Printout! I need to remind myself of this in future, because I am unlikely to come admit to you-all that revisions have stalled out and give you the chance to remind me that I need a printout.

Anyway: I am doing these revisions with the purple pen of mystery. It's the oddest thing. (Where by "the oddest thing," I mean "a fairly ordinary household object.") It's a disposable fountain pen. There is absolutely no way to refill this fountain pen. It's nice, though. It's a pilot, and I wouldn't say the nib is any worse in smoothness than my refillable Pilot fountain pens, though it's lighter. I found this pen cleaning out a box of things that got stuck on the corner of the hearth when we moved in and stayed there. And yet the ink has not dried out and the nib isn't clogging. It is a good little pen.

The thing is, we cannot figure out where this pen came from. Mark doesn't use fountain pens. Timprov and I know all of our fountain pens personally and have no recollection of this pen ever joining their number. And we can't think who would have left this pen with us. Most of our guests are definitively non-users of fountain pens or else Dave obsessive enough about their fountain pens to know what kind they use and keep track of where they've gone.

It's too bad, too, because after five years I would not offer to give this pen back, at least not until after I'd finished revising this book with it, but I would want to know where the heck they got such a thing, and where I could get another, or ideally a whole pack of them. Wait! I know! The magic of the internets has told me where to get more. Well, all right then. It is a Pilot Varsity. If this might be your pen left at my house for five years, I'm dreadfully sorry, but at least I know replacements are only $3.25, so you won't be too bereft. And neither will I when the thing runs out.
mrissa: (intense)
Dear character:

I have put you in a novel. I am putting you in a short story right now. Yes, this very minute. I recognize that you are not the main character in either. But I think that getting to do interesting things in multiple works of fiction ought to satisfy you, and I would really appreciate it if you could keep your mouth shut if you happen to have an interesting life story. Particularly if it involves astronomy. Lalala I can't hear you. I particularly cannot hear you about the astronomy. Lala. La.

Crud.

Love,
[livejournal.com profile] mrissa
mrissa: (tiredy)
Yikes, I'm sorry. I posted the synopsis I was working on without a filter, when I meant to filter it to people who had volunteered to help me remove suckage from it. If you were one of the people who kindly commented and were not included on the filter (under which I have now stashed the post), and you wish to continue helping me with it, please let me know; it's an opt-in filter, and I'm glad to opt you in. I just didn't want to subject the whole world to it.

Anyway: I stayed up late last night completely rewriting the synop, which you would think would have given my brain less time for nightmares. Now I am pretty tired. Hoping that a nap makes its way into my light cone sometime today, but I'm not betting on it. Stupid light cone anyway.

Tomorrow is the book discussion day for The Kestrel, so please do remember to stop by and revel in Ruritanian revolutionary goodness.

For whatever reason I am plagued with They Might Be Giants songs today. I cannot get rid of one without getting another. As I have been reading The Kestrel and the last of the Simon Schama series, I can't come up with any reason why this should be.

Also I cannot get it through my head that today is Wednesday. In my head today is Thursday, which gives me less time to do some of the things I want to get done, but also makes it time to do the things I'm supposed to do Thursday, so at least they can come off the list. But they can't. I am, as my grandmother would say, more mixed up than Hogan's goat. Who is Hogan? Why is his goat more mixed up than other goats? Does this have something to do with really bad fake German accents? This and other clear indications that I am really tired: next on livejournal.
mrissa: (intense)
Someone broke into my computer and rewrote my rough draft synopsis of What We Did to Save the Kingdom so that it would sound stupid, boring, and confusing.

At least, this is a much more palatable explanation for what I'm looking at here than the other alternative I can think of.

Sigh.
mrissa: (intense)
I don't know why I have this happen every time I write a book: every time I write a beginning, and every time I have to rewrite the beginning to remove the colossal suck from it. Why is this? I could not say. I can begin short stories without the Suckitude That Ate Golden Valley coming and rearing its head every time. But novels, no. Never. Evereverever. Why not? I could not say. I write out of sequence, so you'd think maybe just once. But no.

I fear that this one owes a bit too much in structure/cadence to a certain formative book of my youth, but there aren't any sea serpents, so it has to spill out somewhere.

At any rate, I have been trying for, no kidding, months to get this right--the vertigo slows the process, and I've been working on other things--and now I have one sentence. Just one. But I think it'll get all the rest. I think it'll do.

And now there will be ice cream.
mrissa: (Default)
Well, despite still being miserably, miserably sick and missing out on time with my grandparents, I managed to do a few quasi-useful things today. Occasionally my brain decides to pretend to be Zed or Elise and makes up a whole bunch of titles all at once. I write them down in case I need them later. In the mix this time was a theory about What We Did. Remember, if I don't use What We Did to Save the Kingdom for this book, I will write a lighter, YA fantasy for which it could apply. So for those of you who love it: no vote in this poll is a vote against me having a book called What We Did to Save the Kingdom, it's just a vote against applying that title to this book.

[Poll #1341256]

Also, I have now tried all the kinds of tisane in the house and sorted them for which ones are to go find themselves new homes and which ones are to get drunk up by me. Possibly soon. For whatever reason, hot chocolate does not appeal with this kind of sick, so I go through a lot of tisane.

I have been telling people that the people who make Numb3rs were sending a message by having an episode where Alimi Ballard's character is revealed, casually and respectfully, to be a comics geek, and that episode guest stars Christopher Lloyd and Wil Wheaton. And that message was, "Dear Mris, We love you and want you to be happy. Mwah! --The People who make Numb3rs." Well, I watched the next episode after that one, and it turns out that there was a postscript: "P.S. We really really mean it." Because the next episode was full to the brim of Enrico Colantoni goodness. To the brim! Could barely have fit more Enrico Colantoni in it! I attempted to squee, but it came out croaky and I will try not to do that again for another few days at least. But! Enrico! Squee! (It doesn't hurt when I type it.)

Now I have no idea what they could do to follow up on this in the next episode, since Madeline Kahn is dead, and I checked several other people's IMDB pages and verified that Fyvush Finkel, Tina Majorino, Percy Daggs III, Walter Koenig, Claudia Christian, and Francis Capra do not appear in Numb3rs any time soon, much less all together in the same episode. Ah well. It was still a lovely pair of episodes.

Apparently I totally do not mind fan service when I am the fan being served.

Oops.

Nov. 25th, 2008 04:11 pm
mrissa: (intense)
The problem with not being sure of a title for something you've finished is that when you go bouncing titles around, some of them stick to other things. This is not so bad when you come up with What Kingdom Remains and think, "Yes, good, that's the last one in the series." Or when you squint sideways at Flight and think, "No, no, gives away too much and leaves out too much." But what's bad is the crazy ones that come pouring out when you do this. Especially when you do this with the aid of a [livejournal.com profile] timprov.

Which is how I came to be writing a short story called "How Descartes Became a Horse on Tuesdays."

Which is also how I ended up ordering biographical works about Descartes and also some of his own works to reread, all from the library.

Also I fear what happens if I am not careful, because if I push my brain for a visual image on "horse," I get the runestone drawing of Sleipnir.

Oh dear.
mrissa: (intense)
When I was writing Dwarf's Blood Mead and The Mark of the Sea Serpent, the word I overused and had to search on to replace with other phrasings was "grim." There was way too much grim in that book. Grim, grim, grim. For What We Did to Save the Kingdom, the word in question is apparently "cheerful."

Mostly with a certain level of irony.
mrissa: (intense)
Please note that I am aware that most of you have not read this book, so you are not being asked to comment on whether the title works well for the specific book I've written. (Although if you have read it, feel free to e-mail me with opinions on how the title worked for you.)

[Poll #1294645]

Also, if you ran across a book called What We Did to Save the Kingdom, what, if any, preconceptions would you have about it? (Funny, serious, high fantasy, swashbuckling, sword-wielding protagonist, lots of boats, whatever.)
mrissa: (out with friends)
It is the most beautiful day here today. Seriously, you would not believe it's August. It's like a much nicer month than August. (Which are the much nicer months than August? All of them. Except maybe July some years.) And we had plans to loiter on a terrace with desserts and fruity drinks this evening anyway, so the weather just decided to hand us today on a shiny, sparkly, not-very-August platter.

But before we get to the loitering on terraces part, we're doing the bit where we introduce my parents to Maria's, which is its very own kind of shiny.

Last night I sent a few people What We Did to Save the Kingdom to alpha-read. If you had said you wanted to read and crit it for me but didn't get a copy, it means I'd rather have you read a later draft; I will be asking people to beta-read once the alpha-readers have told me what they think and I've worked with that. I'm at the point where it's like repeating a word over and over until it makes no sense: I cannot judge it at all without external input. So I'm getting that.

I'm going more or less directly into work on The True Tale of Carter Hall next. I don't know how much preparations for Montreal will eat my next few days (less than a week! eee!), but I've had about enough of revisions; it's time to write something new. So I'm excited about that, too. And that's where I am this morning.
mrissa: (intense)
Me: When you get run over by a truck, does that come with nausea?
[livejournal.com profile] timprov: Ummm...I wouldn't think so.
Me: Then I definitely don't feel like I was run over by a truck.

But this was in pursuit of revision, and today was a record day since the vertigo/PT started: over 3K new words on stuff that had to happen but hadn't happened yet, in Chapter 10 and Chapter 32.

Tomorrow: more piano breaks. More not-piano breaks. More breaks. For sure.

Still, I can't really regret today.
mrissa: (intense)
Had clinic PT today. I know that it would be worse if this "two steps forward, one step back" thing was reversed in ratio. Still and all. Continuing faith from my physical therapist that this will be fully resolved. Eventually. Someday.

So tired.

I've finished revisions (for this pass through only, of course!) on the first eight chapters of What We Did to Save the Kingdom, and also on 11, 16, 18, 19, 23, 25, 30, and 34. (Just two of those today. But still, two of those today, on a clinic PT day. This? Could be worse. Even without any new fiction.)

I think one of the things about this particular type of revisions is that it's forcing particularity. I cannot wail, "It is not as shiny as it was in my head! Unless it is and I just can't see it because it's been languishing unrevised and unloved!" I have to say, "Chapter 4 is dragging," or, "I have not explained the thing about the salt magic," or whatever. The down side of this is that the whole thing may still be thoroughly unshiny when I finish this set of revisions. But I have hopes that, if so, it will be unshiny and moderately sensical. With this style of approaching revisions, I have to deal with the book that is rather than the book that is not, and this is, I think, to the good. There will be time to talk more about what it is not and could be when I can get smart people to critique it for me. For now it's time to get all the things that need to happen before smart people have the information they need to be smart about it. And progress, progress is good. Measurable progress on something. I hope.
mrissa: (intense)
So. I recently read a friend's novel, which is really good and probably not going to be published, because the said friend is not seeking publication for it, but I'm not actually posting this to say nyahhhhh. (As long as I'm here, though: nyahhhh.) And my friend's process involves each chapter being a separate file, which would drive me completely insane and lead to me never, ever writing anything ever again. But seems to result in novels for him.

And I said to myself, hmmm. My friend is not stupid. Possibly there are advantages to this system that might apply to my very own situation. Possibly I could make use of some aspect of it without having the complete crazy-making of trying to draft that way. Possibly?

And so I printed out the chapters of What We Did to Save the Kingdom with -- and you will probably find this completely radical -- page breaks between each chapter. (I know! The creativity just never stops around here.) And I paperclipped each chapter together. And then I went through the list of things that Really Truly Must Be Done Before Another Soul Can See This Book. (Filename: What We Did to Sort the Revisions. Other filenames in the same folder: What We Did to Sum It Up, What We Did to Write the Sequel, What We Did to Excise the Flashbacks, What We Did to Keep Track of the Details, and What We Did to Annoy the Readers. The last is a preemptive file. For later.) And I wrote each thing on a Post-It note, and I put it on the chapter it goes with, and if it goes in more than one chapter, I put it on more than one Post-It note.

And now when I want to work on the revisions, and I know I won't have much time before the vertigo starts to eat my brain, I can pick up a chapter and see discrete chunks of work that need doing in that chapter. So I don't have to look at what needs doing and think, "Does that go in Chapter 7? What if it's in Chapter 12? Did I check that it can happen that early? Or that late? What's going on here?" Also I could weigh the chapters in my hands and think thinky thoughts about them. How they flow and how it all balances.

(Also, the last quarter to a third of the book -- the bit that is Ending in my head -- is on bright blue paper instead of white. I would love to say that this is because I am brilliant about structure, but it's actually because we ran out of white paper. It is nevertheless extremely useful for pacing purposes. Go serendipity.)

And in fact I tried this tonight, and I got rid of all the notes on Chapter 6 and all the notes on Chapter 7. They are okay. They are ready to be seen by mortal eyes. I'm not going to subject some poor mortal to the book in this form ("Here you go! Here are Chapters 1-3, 6, 7, 19, 23, and 34, which is the last chapter!"), but still, concrete, verifiable progress was made. Even if this system comes to a screeching halt in a flurry of Post-Its and paper-clips tomorrow, there were things that needed doing to Chapters 6 and 7, and now they are done.

Eeeee. There is light after all, and it's not just that I've decided that there must be something bigger and better than a lamp and called it a sun. I've been spending the last few weeks as a Puddleglum Novelist*, and it's sort of nice to think that at least some of it is back to being Under Me.

*Puddleglum paraphrased for novelists: "That's why I'm going to stand by the play world...I'm going to live as like a novelist as I can even if there isn't any novel." Also: "Reshpecto[livejournal.com profile] mrissale." All right, it's late, I'm ridiculous.
mrissa: (I'm listening....)
1. My mom, who is a hero of the revolution, trimming all of our front bushes for us. Big task out of our hair! (And since she was going home to shower, I assume it's out of hers now, too.) Yay!

2. Really good cucumber on my lunch salad. Hey, I didn't say they had to be big good things.

3. Managing to keep my temper with a friend long enough to remember that there were really good reasons why I should cut her slack.

4. Being cut slack myself.

5. New framed [livejournal.com profile] komododaikon photo on my office wall.

6. The extreme Swedishy Swedishness of this library book. Oh my goodness. It actually noted that if you read between the lines of one euphemism, you could discern...and then the thing you could discern was another euphemism. In other spots it is completely blunt about things American writing is not generally blunt about. Just in summary: very, very Swedish.

7. 1K of The True Tale of Carter Hall, with potential for more this evening.

8. Finishing figuring out the rest of the revisions for What We Did to Save the Kingdom, so now they are in tiny bite-sized pieces, and might be done in the available chunks of computer time while the vertigo gets bad. Maybe. You never know.

9. Finding a glimmer of hope that all of my behaving as though I can get somewhere with this...might mean that I can get somewhere with this.

10. Mango sorbet with dark chocolate bits on it. Nom.

Your turn.

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