I mentioned before that we were all not feeling very well. I’m mostly better, and so are the kids (Rachel a little more so, Vanessa a little less). Denise, on the other hand, is about the same, and it looks like she’ll stay that way for a while yet. So everything (including the writing) is on hold until things settle down. After having a crazy, exhausting week last week, this one is a lot closer to normal, but not quite there yet. I’m itching to get started on a number of things, but family comes first.
All four of us have some sort of cold. Rachel is probably doing the best, which is unfortunate because she can run circles around us when we’re all feeling great, so now she has all this excess energy because no one will run around with her, and jumping about makes her cough. I’m trying to pretend I’m not sick to take care of everyone else, but it’s not always working.
My boss was nice enough to drop off my work computer at my house today, so at least I can get work done without infecting my whole office. I’m hoping to return to something a bit more normal any day now, but who can tell.
One of the great life lessons my dad taught me was “You can’t win.” He taught me this every time he had a certain type of argument with my mother. Once it was over he would explain to me that he could not win these arguments, and that I would never win them either. I haven’t thought about this in a while, but just a moment ago, my wife came into my office to yell at me because when she came upstairs to go to bed she thought I might be hiding, ready to jump out and scare her. I wasn’t. I was checking my email before going to bed. Apparently she figured this out, and came to yell at me that it would have been horrible had I been planning on scaring her. In fact, she was scared that I might be doing something to scare her, even though I wasn’t. I asked for clarification that I was being yelled at for not scaring her. “No!”, she replied.
I’m so glad my dad prepared me for this. Thanks dad! Good night!
Holly Lisle posted the the introduction to Holly Lisle’s Create A Culture Clinic, the next volume in her Worldbuilding Course. Reading it really drove some things home for me. My wife often asks why I choose to write stories set in a fantasy world that I have to create, giving myself that much extra work to do (other people ask too, but she asks most often). There are two problems with that. Firstly, it’s not so much a choice so much as when I sit down to write, I write fantasy stories. I didn’t make a conscious decision to write fantasy stories. Secondly, I don’t think it is more work.
No one seems to believe me on either of those, but the second one seems to dwarf the first in peoples minds. How can I possibly believe such a thing? Because it’s true.
If I want to have a race of purple headed bird people in my world I have some work to do. How to they interact with other races? How are their lives different than humans? What’s their history? Do they speak their own language? Do they eat worms? That’s just the start, and perhaps these violet faced flying folk will only play a passing role in my story.
What’s that? I’m failing to prove my point? Be patient.
If I want to set a story in modern day Saginaw, Michigan, where I’ve never been, I still have quite a bit of work to do. What are the people like? What’s the economic and social structure? What local slang is in use, and by what age groups? What clothing lines are popular with high schoolers? What’s the ethnic makeup of the city? What color are the police cars? How many schools do they have? That too is just the start.
See, in the fantasy world, I make my own answers. Sure I have to make them work in a believable context, and I might make some stupid choices I have to later deal with in some way, but I can’t really be wrong. After all, I’m the world authority on those purple headed bird people. You might think people will be forgiving in the second scenario. It’s only fiction after all, right? Not that I’ve seen. Authors who take liberties with the world we live in get ripped apart. Maybe not all the time, but I’ve seen it happen about really stupid stuff.
So why not write about my hometown, or somewhere I know more about firsthand? I’ve always felt I had a lot of good reasons why I chose not to do that. But Holly’s introduction gave me another one by pointing out a big danger in writing about the world you live in. If you fail to capture the culture in the story, once the culture changes you’re story will no longer work. Yikes! It’s not that it can’t be done, and maybe I could do it, but it sounds like a lot of extra work.
Took the kids to The Big E yesterday with my mom and Howie. We had a great time. Rachel really enjoyed the rides and both kids loved seeing all the animals. It was pretty late by the time we got back home. I managed to carry both kids to bed from the car without issue. Good thing, because I was ready to get some sleep.
After getting the kids off to bed tonight Denise and I watched the season finale of Life on Mars. It’s a great show and I really recommend it. The main character is a modern day police officer who is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973. He believes he’s in a coma and everyone else thinks he’s crazy when he tries to explain. Not your average cop drama. Very well done.
After that I headed up to the office to continue on with the revisions. I think I made pretty good progress.
Today didn’t go at all to plan. We had a pile of places to be today, but Rachel isn’t feeling herself, so we ended up staying home. On the plus side Denise was kind enough to give me time to work on the book (thank you!), so here I am posting an update. Some of the chapters look a bit shorter that I want them, but I’m going to finish the type in and think about what to do afterwards (if anything).
Wahoo! I’ll write more later, but I need to go spend time with the long ignored family now.
I’ve spent almost all of my time since my last post getting ready for, traveling to and from, or participating in Jon and Nicole’s Wedding. Jon’s been one of my best friends for twenty years. I was honored to be asked to participate. The ceremony was amazing (if a bit hot), and the reception was a lot of fun. It was great to see some people I haven’t seen in some time (including Jon’s family), and meet some really fun new people. I even managed to give my toast without choking too badly. I wish Jon and Nicole the very best, and hope they’re having a great time on their honeymoon.
The drive there took forever, but coming back things at least kept moving. Denise and I listened to the amazing unabridged reading of Ender’s Game (I’d heard it before, but it’s great to be able to enjoy a good book with your wife). The full-cast unabridged readings of the Enderverse books are some of the greatest audiobook productions I’ve ever experienced. I can’t recommend them highly enough (available for download from audible.com as well).
I need to thank my Dad for spoiling… er… taking care of the kids while we were gone. I also need to thank Edna and my grandparents for helping him survive the experience.
Now it’s time to clean the desk off (it got a bit cluttered during the search for the GPS serial cable), and get back to work on the book.
Amazingly I managed to get started today even though many things conspired against me.
I completed the discovery section of the One Pass Revision with little issue. I had pretty much done all that stuff before starting the story, and some of it even still applied. I worry that it may have been too easy. Maybe I did something wrong? We’ll see.
So I started the slog. I managed to be brutal. I hacked the entire first chapter right out of the book. It was a tough choice, but I think it was the right one. I’m holding on to it, because it could easily be expanded into a short story on it’s own, but the book doesn’t need it. Do I think the book is better without it? I’m not sure, but it’s not the solid start I want, so it had to go.
Chapter 2 Scene 1 didn’t need too much work. Chapter 2 Scene 2 wasn’t bad, but I rewrote most of it. Chapter 2 is light on dialog. Chapter 1 wasn’t. Since it’s gone, I needed to get some more dialog into the book earlier. This removed a bit of infodumping, and allowed me to improve some weak characterization.
Not a bad hour and half’s worth of work. Special thanks to the kids for letting me get it done.
Denise took the children out shopping after dinner, so I was able to spend some time on the desk before heading out to training for the night. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to use now.
As usual, I’m pretty busy, but my goal is to have the revision done by the end of July.