Saturday, November 28, 2009

A larger story

I reread the novella that I’ve been trying to condense into a shorter story, and it was immediately obvious to me that there was too much going on in it to fit into one story, so I’ve been trying to split it into two separate, but connected, stories.

This, however, has not been working.  The different events are interwoven in the original version (more by accident than design), and separating them into two distinct stories seems to weaken both.  They need each other.

And so it is that I suddenly find myself working on a novel instead of a short story, which means doing a bit of outlining first to figure out which areas to expand and where new material needs to be added, etc.

I never expected to be the sort of writer who outlines novels before writing them, but in a way it’s turned out to be my favorite part of the process-- dealing with the plot as a single, fluid idea, rather than concentrating on the details.  It’s like sketching out the composition for a painting with broad, free strokes, working fast and loose.  It’s the part where I get to figure out what happens; writing the novel itself is usually a task of translating the vision into language (though there are still surprises, such as when I discover a character can’t follow the original plot because it requires them to do something that they wouldn’t actually do).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books and more books

The local library had a huge book sale this week, and today was bag day ($2 for as many books as you could stuff into a paper bag).  Somehow, despite trying to keep in mind the fact that I was already out of shelf space and didn’t have enough room for the books I already had, I ended up getting six bags.  That’s in addition to the forty or so books I’d already picked up at the sale earlier in the week.

I really need to build some bookshelves.  Er, except that would require cleaning out the garage....

Speaking of books, I found myself overcome this weekend by a sudden strong desire to reread Jeff Smith’s Bone, which I’m enjoying immensely.  One of these days I’d like to get a set of individual hardcover volumes; what I’ve got right now is a one-volume edition, which at more than 1300 pages is thick enough to be a little awkward.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Doing the library thing

I recently joined LibraryThing.  This is one of those rare situations where my tendency to hang on to practically everything because “it might be useful someday” has actually paid off:  I happen to have an old CueCat USB barcode scanner that’s spent the past eight years or so sitting in a box of miscellaneous stuff; I got it when the CueCat company was giving the things away in malls, essentially pushing them into the hands of everyone who passed by.  So I dragged it out, declawed it, and started scanning.

Of course, a number of my books are too old to have barcodes, or ISBN’s, so entering a shelf of books is rather time-consuming.  But not necessarily in a bad way.

Now, it’s probably self-evident that time I’m spending on LibraryThing is time I’m Not Writing.  But this is one of those cases where the distraction (frolicking through my library, so to speak) is happening because I’m not writing, not the other way around.  Real-life stuff has been interfering with my writing time the past few weeks (I really hate it when that happens).  It’s mostly (but not entirely) an issue of having too many other things bouncing around in my head to devote proper attention to my stories.  Which is a good time to do stuff like cataloging things and blogging and redesigning web pages.