Hi all! Well, Clementine has decided that 6 am is a nice time to wake up and play. It could be worse, certainly.
Here she is, in all her dawn glee, wrapped up in the bed sheet :-) Hopefully we'll get a nap later, but for now, this is just a brief check-in before I get to work on my w.i.p.!
First, for fun, a picture of a serious writer at work, and not just any writer, but the best-sellingest writer in history:
Take it from Agatha: have some dignity while you write! No slumping around in your pajamas, woman! (Just kidding. I'm wearing pink fuzzy slippers right now that match my hair. Most emphatically not wearing a tweed suit.)
Also for fun, this pulled from a slide show I did on, appropriately enough, finishing your novel.
Since we're all setting goals for next week, this is perfect! If you're wondering about the image, the explanation is this: I had the slide show all finished and ready to go (I thought), but luckily I proofed it one last time, because I discovered that this slide (sans image), actually read: Set small goats and meet them. Oops! So here's a small goat I would like to meet. If you're wondering, it's a Kashmir goat. I had not ever thought about where cashmere came from, but there it is: these goats spin it from their butts like spidersilk. Okay, not really, but it does come from these goats!
Also, yesterday the Comic-Con/Wondercon newsletter came in the mail, with a section on writer's advice. I bring you two different approaches. First, from the wildly imaginative China Mieville, very specific advice as to process:
"If you want to write a novel, don't try to stare at it head-on. It is Gorgon: If you meet its gaze it will turn you to stone. Countless wonderful books get not written -- a more intransigent state of affairs that not getting written, by far -- this way. Instead, I recommend writing a book behind your own back. Frontload as much organization as you can -- way more than you think necessary, certainly more than you want to -- plan the whole thing out in detail. Characters, setting, story, in deep detail, so you have an overall arc, an outline of at least a short paragraph for each chapter, what'll happen in it, who's going to do what in it, and where you need to be by the chapter's end. Estimate the book's overall length, very roughly. (In words. Stop thinking in pages, please: in the modern world of font-profusion, let alone the explosion of e-books, it is totally unhelpful to keep saying "I wrote 10 pages today." Ten pages in, what 8 pt. Courier? 17 pt. Centaur? I implore you to think in terms of numbers of words, not "pages.")
Take a good long time over this -- a few good weeks. Then, when it is done, forget it. Don't look at it. That way, when you've finished, you'll have a book-plan, which, paradoxically, will allow you to ignore the terrifying book-ness of the book. Because all you need to focus on is the chapter you're on, and you know what has to happen there, because you've planned it, and it's right in front of you. Forget about the rest of it, just focus on trying to write, say, 500 words (or whatever) on a writing day, and thinking just about the chapter you're in, and getting to the end of it. If you don't do that, everything you write you'll be thinking in terms of "Adding To The Novel," and that's way too intimidating, so there's every possibility you'll stall."
And then, from the other end of the planning spectrum, these words from comic book writer Geoff Johns (and recently named co-president or something or other of DC Comics):
"Stop thinking about writing and write."
Words of wisdom. I didn't know that China Mieville was such a planner, but it makes sense since his books are long and dense and chewy, with crazy world-building skills and lots of characters and man, Perdido Street Station had one of the ickiest wickedest monsters evah. His approach, above, is sort of what I'm up to this month -- I took a chunk of the book and made an outline and I'm taking it on piece by piece. I go in waves of working that way. Sometimes that is called for, and other times I need to "fly into the mist", that is, go forward not knowing, invite serendipity, close my eyes and see what magic appears, see what blossoms. But now I'm on a little planned spree, so we'll see how that goes. And yesterday I met my small "goat" which was section 1 off my new outline. Yay! I love making tick marks on a list. Section one, tick.
Happy wishes to all writers today :-)
(Peter S. Beagle's writing advice in that article, by the way, is very practical: "Invest in a comfortable pad for the chair in which you work." Ha ha. From someone currently sitting on a folded afghan on a hard bench, I can tell you it isn't bad advice! I also happen to be reading Peter S. Beagle's first novel right now, A Fine and Private Place, and I was marveling at it even before I learned the effer wrote it when he was 19!!!!! How-what-really-whuuu??? Seriously: so smart, so good.)