Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Moving Onward

Chaco Canyon Ruin

Sometimes all you can do move forward and do the work. I've never had much of a problem doing that, really. The last four days were not terribly difficult for me once I turned off my email and just threw myself into the novel. I wrote 36,605 words in four days. If we hadn't gone out of town on Sunday I might have done 40k, though some of it would have had to have been on something other than Serendipity Blues -- because I finished it today.

The first draft of the novel is done. Is it any good? Some of it. Some of it is very good, in fact. The plot is great, and the parts that I picked up on during the writing just made it better. I am, however, lacking a lot of the depth I want to place it in the proper time period. Russ is going to help me out with some of the historical/cultural material because it's a time period he's really more knowledgeable on than me. I also realize that I short changed one of my characters in the second half of the book, and maybe worked too hard to make certain things happen that might be handled better.

Right now, though, I'm going to let the book sit for a while. Probably the rest of the year and have it on the rewrite list for 2006. That will give Russ plenty of time to go over it and help me out with some background material, and not put any rush on him. He's kind of a busy guy.

In fact, he'll be back in Georgia for a week starting on Thursday. Sigh. Well, at least we had a few days where we spent a little time together. I'm sorry he felt so ill for some of it, though! And he's going to miss his three day weekend by being out of state again. I wish he could have spent it at home.

I just turned my email back on for the first time in two days. Oh dear. I have a LOT of work to do. On the good side, someone wants me to adapt one of my pieces for the cover art to an anthology. We'll see what I can do. On the other hand, I have the county agenda to get done RIGHT NOW. I've been doing these agendas since 1998, and you know they still take me by surprise when they show up. I can never figure out the pattern to when they meet! It also doesn't help that they've had a couple extra meetings the last two months.

In the next couple days I'm going to try to finish up the final draft of Glory. This includes a reworking of the final confrontation, which I realize missed several important points. I've listed them out and now I'm going to look at the battle and see how best to rework it with these factors in mind. I hope that it won't take me more than one rewrite of the last chapter to get them into place.

And then on September 1 I am going to begin work on Ada Nish Pura.

For those of you who read the previous post, you might realize what an important step this is. Ada is a good novel. It's one of the best I've ever written. What it isn't is literary science fiction. I don't write lines that are meant to stop the reader to exclaim how lovely the wording is. I don't want to throw the reader out of the story to admire pretty words just for themselves. But that is what the publisher wanted when we went into the rewrite. And that came as a real shock to me, because before I signed the contract I had asked specifically what the rewrites would entail. Her answer had been that it would be working in more cultural detail in the story as well as expanding some of the details about the world's makeup, and I agreed completely with both parts. That is, in fact, what I am going to be doing on this rewrite. What I couldn't do, after five months of reworking the same three chapters, was write in a way that I -- to be quite honest -- rarely like. There are some writers for whom the beauty of the words themselves will get me to read anything they writer. Samuel R. Delany is one of them. Ellison is another. I love their words and I don't care what the story is about. They can make me stop and read a passage with delight.

But I am not that kind of writer. I won't even pretend to be. And I could not rewrite myself into one. Once I understood that the rewrite had changed from worldbuilding to style, I backed out of the contract. I hated to do it, and it left me with a very anxious and annoyed feeling, and that is what has affected my writing for most of the year. I had spent five months (and a bit more, from the year before) trying to reach a satisfactory rewrite, only to learn that the entire rules had been changed and no one told me.

I've had hundreds of rejections, and some of them rather sharp. I've had a few bad reviews. I've looked them over, learned something from some of them, and kept going. What happened with Ada Nish Pura was something completely different. It was not a rejection or criticism. The editor, even after we parted ways, said she liked my novel, but it was not going to be what they wanted.

Yes, I'm spending way too much time looking this over, rethinking it, trying to find if there was something different I could do. I know there wasn't. I was not going to be the writer they wanted, and five months of trying to fulfill that role was more than enough. But the entire incident left me reassessing what I was willing and able to do to get any single publication. I'm still working through that process. In the meantime, thought, I'm going to get back to work on Ada and get it back out in submission.

It's obviously way past time to move on.

And while I was writing this up I suddenly remembered an entire little side thread toward the end of Serendipity Blues that I forgot to tie up. Oops. Well, I'll note it and do it... later today. It's nearly 5am. I have to get to bed for a few hours so I can start fresh and get to work on Vision.


Carter said...

Sometimes it's really hard to let go of the past and move forward. I think you did the right thing with Ada Nish Pura. You're the author; you have to stay true to your vision. It's not up to the publisher or editor to tell your story.

I'm glad to see you're making such good progress. Congratulations on finishing the first draft of Serendipity Blues.

Melly said...

That must have been hard and took a lot of courage to back out of the contract. Good for you, you know yourself and have a spine (something I completely lack so I really admire it in others).

Congrats on finishing the first draft.