January 26th, 2009


[links] Link salad has never told you, quite as often as it should have

An Asian-language review of Escapement Powell's | Amazon thb | Audible ]

How many rejections have you had? [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — Comments thread of people talking about their fiction submission histories, and the relationship between rejections and sales.

The Making of a Writer, Part 1 [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — A casual exploration of my personal history.

Denon in Egypt — James Gurney on the perils of exploration. Worth reading if you write (or game) about people going down into dark, abandoned places.

Rational use of Russian bowelsLanguage Log with more (as ever) on the perils of mistranslation.

A Prayer for Archimedes — Some seriously cool textual history, and, palimpsests! (Thanks to danjite.)

Should Auschwitz be left to decay? — A fascinating pair of editorials via the BBC. My own experience of visiting Dachau at age 18 was profound to the point of life-changing, so my instinct would be to not let the memories fade into the earth.

From Juan Cole's blog, Jonathan Lyons takes a very long view of the relationship between the West and Islam — I suspect this essay will generate a "yeah, right" response from some American readers, but it's worth noting that many in the Islamic world refer to us as "Crusaders", which precisely fits this narrative. (Thank you very much to hal_obrien for the correction.)

Bush by the numbers — Just in case you still somehow think of the Bush administration as a success, a review of the government's own numbers on job growth, income etc. (And for those of you who proudly take refuge in Bush's record on terrorism, remember the Bin Laden memo he waved off in the summer of 2001 — the rest of us sure do — and consider that terrorism incidents worldwide have risen sharply under his watch.)
?otD: Have I told you 'bout the swans, they live in the park?

Body movement: 40 minute ride on the stationary bike
This morning's weigh-in: 221.8
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

Originally published at jlake.com.


[writing] The Heart of the Beast

Between having a cold and some general distraction this weekend, I still managed to get a fair amount of in done on The Heart of the Beast, my collaboration with Jeff VanderMeer. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned factors my pacing was off and I also neglected to report progress here. Still, I put in about ten hours of work, and netted about 10,100 words to the working draft (ie, counting my revised/extended work product, not Jeff's source material). Perhaps 20% is new wordage in the form of inserted scenes or wholly redrafted paragraphs and scenes. Book now stands at 34,400 words. This is respectable for the first four days' effort, and given that our target is in the 100,000 word range, also encouraging.

Much of yesterday's work was going through Jeff's print-outs of the first sections of the book and comparing them back to my revised electronic file. The source files he sent me weren't the same revision as the print-outs, and besides that he'd made a number of hand-written annotations. I was busy cherry picking material between version changes, or in some cases, taking a third way which made more sense to me. This effort is superficially similar to revising one of my own novels, but in fact represents a rather different creative effort, because I know what I'd originally intended in one of my own manuscripts, whereas in this process the best I can do is work from the words themselves. Obviously, I do have some access to auctorial intent here, in the sense that Jeff and I communicate quite regularly, but that's still a distinct externality. In that vein, several times I almost queried Jeff on some detail of plot or character, but decided this part truly was up to me, based on how we'd set the ground rules for our collaborative process.

Also through this process we've hit a curious snag. I have about forty pages of printout remaining, perhaps 10,000 words, for which I have no corresponding electronic file. For this I did query Jeff, to see if he had the file handy. Otherwise I shall need to retype that section. This feels qualitatively different to me than the process of working from notes or outline. If they were my words which I was forced to retype from printout, I know I'd default to frustration. If needed, I'll try to think of them more as incredibly detailed outline, rendered at 1:1 scale with respect to the actual material.

Past that, I'm into the outline and the handwritten note fragments. I've been extending the outline considerably as I work on this first third of the novel, putting in scenes which are required by character or plot logic, or simply implied by prior action. By the time I get there, it will be pretty robust. It's interesting, because I don't plot or structure at anything remotely approaching this level of detail when working on my own, but because I'm in many ways mimicking Jeff's process, that's been the net effect here.

More to come, of course. And in the mean time, Collapse )

Originally published at jlake.com.


[funny] And the dogs did howl...

I can't figure out if this is funny or frightening, but walking in from the Genre car just now, I was whistling the string arrangement of "Dark Spanish Symphony", off the Wild at Heart Soundtrack, which hits and holds some pretty high notes, and I set a dog in the neighboring yard to howling along with me.

The awesomeness is no charge.

Originally published at jlake.com.


[writing] More on The Heart of the Beast

About 3 hours on The Heart of the Beast this evening. I added roughly 3,300 words to the draft, more than half of them new-written, to 37,700 net.

Wound up taking the pages out of Jeff's mss which didn't have soft copy equivalents and running through an OCR process. Somewhat to my surprise, this was reasonably usable. However, I'm at a section of the book where even though I'm still (largely) preserving the earlier scene structure, I'm really working over the language. I'm not sure if it might not have been simpler just to retype from the paper page into the electronic file, as I'd considered doing.

Live and learn, learn and live.

Collapse )

Originally published at jlake.com.