Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Satiating angry gods, and writing with a knife (not necessarily in that order)

As I move forward with Silksinger, the sequel to Blackbringer, I am learning this whole thing all over again like it's the first time -- this whole "writing a book" thing, that is. I would say it is easier the second time around, if only because now I know I can do it, but it's not that much easier. For me, anyway. I've been working on Silksinger for a while, and I've caught myself with this expectation that Silksinger, as it is being written, should be in the sort of clean and shiny condition as the final version of Blackbringer. Madness!

I have to make myself remember what it took Blackbringer to get to that state. It wasn't always pretty. The dead ends, the dumb ideas, the things that didn't pan out, the characters that had to be banished into oblivion, the outlines that mysteriously didn't work out, etc etc.

I hit upon a term today for my first draft -- the EXPLORATORY DRAFT -- and I like that! I'm writing an exploratory draft. It sounds like it should involve jungle expeditions and rafting canyons that no human has ever come out of alive. You know what? No human has ever come out of writing Silksinger alive. I will be the first. It's very exciting. I feel like I should have a knife strapped to my thigh like my character Magpie does. What if I became a super eccentric writer and one of my quirks was that I strapped a knife to my thigh while I was writing? Ha ha!

Now, here is something funny that came to me via email forward and I am impressed by the young mind that spawned it. The context was a whole bunch of funny wrong answers students had given on tests. THIS was an essay about El Nino, and here is what was written by Jeremy Lavine, Period 3, who may or may not be a real person, but if he is, he has a future as a writer. I've underlined some funny parts, but read the whole thing:
El Nino is spanish. It is the spanish word for child. Like all things spanish, it is dangerous. It kills people and burns down trees. This child is more than a child. It really isn't a child at all. It is a storm. A deadly storm that kills people and burns down trees.

In Peru, they have many names for many things. One of the things they have names for is people who go fishing, go fishing to make a living. If we had a word for this kind of people that word would be "fisherman". But we don't. In Peru they have different names for things than we do in America. They call that kind of people "pescadores". That's Spanish. That's what they speak in Peru. When El Nino comes, these "pescadores" can't catch any fish. El Nino is caused when Peruvian gods get angry. They have been angry for millions of years and have made El Nino for millions of years. Many many moons ago, the Peruvians committed human sacrifice to satiate their gods and end the flood that was caused by El Nino. In today's modern dog-eat-dog work-a-day world of scientists, diplomats, McSalad Shakers, and George Bush, Jr, we no longer have access to such solutions. We are too proud. We will not commit human sacrifices. We refuse to satiate the Peruvian gods. Thus, they remain angry and keep killing us and burning down our trees with El Nino.

Instead of satiating the gods, many of these "scientists" have tried to control El Nino with "science". They put up expensive fish-attracting buoys that run on flashlight batteries. Imagine, fighting the power of the gods with flashlight batteries! Needless to say, this didn't work and everyone died.

How awesome is that? The teacher scrawled at the end: "Jeremy, please a little less drama!" It doesn't show what grade he got. If I was a teacher I would have been thrilled to get this. I think. How about you?


Alexandra S said...

The wonderful thing is that this time around you have a perfect, beautiful cozy writing room to write in!

Amber said...

Ha ha! That would be funny. I think I would make copies to put up in the teachers room. ;)

I love the title, "Silksinger". really neat!


tinker said...

Hee hee! If only creativity counted towards extra credit...

I rather like the idea of writing with a knife strapped to my thigh - it might come in handy so I could slice off those pesky dangling participles that are always getting in my way!

Rella said...

My wish for you is a delightful and fullfilling journey with this next book. As for the young author...I laughed out loud and loved the drama and hope with all hope that he totally dismisses the scrawling of the teacher and charges forward. Wouldn't it be geat if you could actually contact this young mind and encourage his ability?!! Best to you ~ Rella

Amber said...

From the "other" Amber... (how cool is that?)

I was eating lunch, leftovers from last night's chicken tikka masala, and nearly sprayed it all over my keyboard when I read about you strapping a knife to your thigh.

I, too, am writing an Exploratory Draft. It feels like hunting penguins. (Not that I would ever, but my characters do it all the time!)

Again, my keyboard nearly merged with Indian cuisine when I read about El Nino. I wish I'd had the guts to write with such drama when I was in high school.

Frida World said...

I find myself wondering what kind of essays you wrote for high school assignments. I suspect some were exploratory drafts that brought a little magic and drama into the teacher's day.

[a} said...

That kid would be my favourite student!

Sarah said...

Exploratory Draft is the perfect term. In both my first book (which I'm shopping around to agents right now) and the one I'm now working on, I've used the term 'extended outline,' because my first write is much more detailed than an outline. The word exploratory is a more accurate description of the real process.

I added your book to our amazon wish list. A question that I've never seen discussed... Is it better for the author to have online preorders or for the book to be bought from an independent book seller?

FYI- Laini, found your website through Shannon Hale's blog.

Anonymous said...

he went to my school-he's real