Thursday, January 11, 2001

Hello, faithful readers.

Thanks to Hilary for her flattering coverage of my mini-Dare. Moan all you like about your hit count, Hilary. I love your journal. It's getting funnier and funnier -- when it's not touching and scary, like your Open Letter to Cassie.

Now, what Hilary perhaps doesn't realize is that having Aviva on my arm while I do my Dare is not a handicap -- it's my secret weapon. It's hard to give in to the demons of self-doubt when the most beautiful creature in the world is sleeping against your chest, holding onto you as if you were the only source of warmth, stability and love anyone could ever need. I expect when she's one like Cassie and expecting me to fetch toys, it'll be a different story, but for now, I think Aviva is my muse (since Hilary's Ganpati-Baba is so cool, I have been wondering when I get a muse. Duh!) 

Aviva the Little Goat-Girl (because she says "Meh! Me-ehh!") -- don't leave reality without her.

Here are the final results of the mini-dare:

Day Words Written Cumulative
Saturday 1000  1000
Sunday  700  1700
Monday 2850  4550
Tuesday 2500  7050
Wednesday 2650 10700

Yep: I did it. "A Siege of Cranes" is finished, clocking in at a hefty 10,700 words. It's the longest thing I've ever finished. That's a novella, right? Did I just write a novella? Or is it just a novelet? Maybe novellas are 15,000+? Well, it felt like a lot anyway.

I think on sometime Monday the major plot details came to me, and after that it was gravy. Marish, the hero, was one of those characters who just talks in your head -- you think you have an idea what the next sentence out of his mouth is going to be, but then he says something entirely different, which you can only gleefully write down (just like Web Rat Karina's character Arna). I stole many of the cultural, magical and backstory details from the work Lee Moyer and I (as well as Jamey Harvey, Ethan Ham, John Mueller, Matt Hulan, Walt Carter and others) did on Sanctum, messing with them as I saw fit (so that Sanctum purists, if any ever read it, will surely throw up their hands in dismay -- "No! no! Humans are the House of War!") ... and the rest of the plot was just precisely the kind of thing Jamey and Ramin Ackert and I spent our entire adolescence dropping on each other in innumerable roleplaying campaigns.

In other words, I'm not sure I can repeat this level of production on something with more literary pretensions. This was a pure swashbuckling romp. (Or as close as I can get to a pure swashbuckling romp. Some literary pretension did creep in. This is me we're talking about, after all.)

Still, I'm taking the fact that I managed to knock this mini-Dare out of the ballpark as strong evidence in favor of the "ride the wave" or "write the first draft with the door closed" theory. I followed the Stephen King recipe (from his book On Writing) of starting while inspired and not distracting yourself with anything else -- not showing it to your wife, not revising, not dabbling with another story, not taking a day off from it -- to which I added not eating, sleeping, working at the day job, or bathing -- until the sucker is done. Now I'm putting it aside for a little while; then I'll run through it for consistency, clarity, verboseness, confusing bits and infelicities of expression (but not contemplate major plot or character changes unless I absolutely can't help it). Then I'll send it to the RMCrit online writing group -- if I can get anyone to read a 10,700 word whale, that is.

One problem I know already: the title has absolutely nothing to do with the story. But it's such a cool title! Sigh.