Monday, June 02, 2014

Summertime Hygiene

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. George Orwell

I’ve written before about how well Orwell called it, how finishing a book really is like an ordeal of illness. That was posted after I’d finished Bleeding Kansas this time last year.

It’s like giving birth, except it’s really
messy and the labor lasts all year long.
It was especially bad this year with Grace Among the Dead. It’s so bad, I finished the book a week ago, turned it in Friday night—and I’m still shell-shocked. It’s like that first day when you’re starting to get better, but your hands are unsteady and, after weeks laid up in bed, you’re teaching yourself to walk again. 

I’ve gained ten pounds. I look and feel like hammered crap. And I’m still not shut of my responsibilities to Grace. I’ve got dialogue to clean up on page 106, and a middle chapter than needs tightening, as in, “throw out an entire pages-long scene that serves as a weak and ultimately unnecessary infodump and does nothing to advance the action.”

And then I have to iron out the references to the scene in the pages following.

Unretouched photo of the author as of this weekend.
And then I’ve got to get some headphones with a microphone and get a proper YouTube channel. As in “right away,” which in my case translates as “as soon as I can move my tired, bloated ass.”

While moving slower than I’d like, I am getting more done than I’d expected by this time. Yesterday I went through the folders in my Dead Silencer omnibus on my computer and ended up throwing out four megabytes worth of crap, streamlining the directories—and assigning a working title to the third book, namely, The Wrong Kind of Dead. It works on several levels which will make themselves apparent to readers. I may keep it.

Haters gonna hate.
I also made a major decision in regards to tone. A lot of people were put off by the misanthropy in Bleeding Kansas. I did much to lighten that up with Grace Among the Dead, showing that cooperation among the human survivors is not only doable, but desirable.

I’ve had the basic plot to The Wrong Kind of Dead in my head for a couple of years now, and its storyline depends on that Nietzschean conceit that people are generally tolerable as individuals and sometimes productive in small groups—but are an utter nightmare as a mass. I’ve spent no small amount of time pacing the floor thinking of how I could do this differently.

No. Fuck that. This is the way Derek Grace’s story is supposed to end. People are just going to have to deal with it. One reviewer noted that while she hated the toxic attitude in Bleeding Kansas, she would be willing to check out something else I’ve written. Bless you, gentle reader, I say. Let me get this bit of realpolitik unpleasantness out of the way so I can write those other books. I’ve got four more planned once The Saga of the Dead Silencer series is done, with the immediate next one being a quartet of my best supernatural tales.

I intend to get this out of the way, and super-fuckin’-fast, too. No more of this bashing away over one chapter for a month at a time. I’ve plotted out Act One and a little bit of Act Two as of last night. I’m giving myself until the 15th to get the whole thing plotted out from the Six Points to the 60 beats on a standard beat sheet.

I could very well get this done early but I’m going to pull some reverse psychology on myself and forbid myself from beginning writing until the 15th. When I start, there will be no narrative gaps for me to figure out how to bridge. There will be nothing left to chance.

I’m not going to make an ass out of myself by giving myself a deadline I might sabotage myself for down the road. I am, however, going to write this damned thing as fast as my fingers can carry me. People waited too long for the last sequel. That’s bad for the customer, and bad for business. One year is also too long to spend writing a novel. That’s bad for my health. No, really literally.

I see a very short summer ahead. But I expect to be feeling a lot better by the time Labor Day rolls around.

Let’s clean this mess up and get on to the Next Thing!