Words In, Words Out

Seems like I only get to my computer once a week these days. As I play catch up, going through gathered emails and RSS feeds, I notice over and over that MacJournal has to only highlight one day of the week to reflect the additions I’ve made. Skip back a couple of months and it’s blue-blue-blue instead of blank-blank-blank.

And I’m not happy about that. But my new tendency to wake early, and we’re talking 6:00 a.m. here, may finally push me into something I’ve wanted to try but have been too sleepily lazy about until now – getting to the computer first thing in the morning. After the animals have been appeased, of course.

In the meantime, I’m on a reading glut. Had to put down the delightful second book Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder in order to read WWW: Wake by Robert Sawyer who arrives in Sudbury for the book signing and subsequent meeting with the Sudbury Hypergraphics on the 25th. I’m also in the middle of three other writing how-to books, Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers (a book about line-by-line style choices), First Draft in 30 Days and its sequel From First Draft to Finished Novel by Karen S. Wiesner (which pleasingly reinforces and expands on my own structural urges), and the so-far brilliant (and I do not use the word lightly here) About Writing by Samuel R. Delany.

Delany’s book is too good not to own. Right now I have the Toronto Public Library’s copy on inter-library loan, but I will be buying it as soon as I have the cash. It’s dense and thoughtful and critical, making me flashback to university in the best of ways. I’m reading it more quickly than I’d rather, because I have a huge backlog of books to read before the end of the month, but even so I’m absorbing enough to go, “Aha,” and “That makes so much sense,” and, more importantly, “I have words for something I only half-suspected before but now understand.” There’s always something useful in books about writing, but only a few of them become books I return to again and again and this book will be one of them. I must get a copy.

In writing news, making slow but steady progress on Spirit Cat. On a whim, sent Chapter One to a friend, an ugly, unedited first chapter with things I’d change right on the front page as so as I’d sent it. Weirdly, I’m not anxious about my writing in the way I used to be anxious. I’m not sure how or why this has changed but I seem to have developed a sense of detachment from my writing. The idea is no longer me, it’s a product, full of sometimes working and sometimes not working wheels, spokes, screws and pistons that I can move around, redesign, and scrap without personal consequence or judgement.

I also edited a short story. Beginning to end, edited. Could it use another drafting? Possibly. I sent it to a beta reader, a non-writer, and will be shortly sending it another beta reader who is a writer. This was impossible for me before. Like a guilty cat I would vomit up whole, or in part, a story, and run away from it before I could be found out and chastised for the mess. Now, I want to know, I want to edit. A delicious paradigm shift.

Lastly, George is not your bitch. This link will direct you to Neil Gaiman’s wonderful blog, where’s he’s asked about the much harangued George R. R. Martin and his brilliant (again, not used lightly) A Song of Ice and Fire series. This meme that Martin “owes us” and “how dare he” was circling the internet before A Feast For Crows was released back in 2005 and seems to have only gotten worse. I love seeing other authors reinforce the idea that writing, while a craft, is not a mechanical operation and that fundamentally there are more productive ways to entertain oneself than stewing about a unfinished book.

Back to Delany for me!

(You may have noticed that all the book links are now pointing towards Chapters/Indigo, a Canadian owned bookseller that I’ve ranted about in the past. Their bizarre advertising practices may annoy, but not as much as Amazon’s recent stunt. Since I recently renewed my iRewards card, I figured, what the hell, let’s do it Canuck-style on the blog.)

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