An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-02-08 20:05
Subject: [writing] Progris riport, day 18, The Heart of the Beast
Security: Public
Tags:beast, books, process, sunspin, writing
5,500 words net over three hours, to 95,500 words on The Heart of the Beast. 74.5 hours on the project as a whole. This evening I quite literally have felt as if I could finish the book if I could only type all night. I doubt that's actually true, but it confirms to me that Fred has the shape of things pretty much nailed down and is ready to commit them to the page.

I continue to be fascinated by my own experience with this project. The whole process of outlining is acquiring a different meaning for me through this effort, one which I'll explore more fully when I get back to Sunspin in April or May. At the same time, Jeff and his Beast have also unlocked a stylistic door for me.

I've been experimenting for a long time with POV in short fiction. If you've read "America, Such as She Is" or "In the Forests of the Night" you've seen how this can work for me. Even more radical POV-wise is my extreme steampunk novella "The Baby Killers", which will be out in 2010 from PS Publishing as a single-title book. But I've remained almost oddly conservative in how I handle POVs in novels, relying on very tight, regular structures, strict transitions and so forth.

The Heart of the Beast has me using my recently expanded short fiction toolkit in ways I've never applied them before at this length. Very liberating, a little bit frightening, and a hell of a lot of fun.

As usual, a WIP:

So their beach hikes were an irregular progression, a drunkard's walk between the tinkle of metal and the sheen of buried devices on the one hand, and flocks of corbies and blackflies on the other, marking their biologic treasures much as a column of smoke indicated a distant fire. Commons thought Bayless a bit strange, but tolerated him for friendship's sake. He knew that Bayless thought the same of him, fixated on worthless metal bits when the true machinery of the universe was ready to be exposed in the stretch of sinew and the winding of intestines.

Between them, like a bridge, Galendrace. Her own ambitions were pointed in a direction which led to no beach, unless a trunk full of books or scrolls were to have washed ashore; but she came because the two men she loved were there. At least, that was how Commons put it to himself when he could manage to overlook her extended sidelong glances at Bayless bent over some ravaged cuttlefish or waterlogged ship's rat washed to its final port of call.

He knew she would be better with him than with Bayless, who would always be flighty and a bit of a fool and furthermore have his arms dirty to the elbow with the most questionable stains. It was just a matter of time until she saw this too, though Commons was sure that Galendrace already understood there was a more solid future in things, in possessions of value, than in the handling of the dead who, whatever their estate in life, were universally paupered by the grave.

Originally published at jlake.com.

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