February 11th, 2009


[links] Links salad likes its sugar with coffee and cream

Last day to put an entry into the new Green Amazon ] ARC contest [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ] — And yes, there will be goodies for the person whose nominee wins.

HEMA — Click on this link, then just watch a moment. With the sound on. Some funny meta-art. (Thanks to garyomaha.)

Raising the world's IQ — Mmm, salt. (Thanks to sheelangig.)

1st deep sea observatory looks at climate change — (Thanks to lt260.)

Crunching the Data for the Tree of Life — Some cool bioscience stuff here. (Thanks to my dad.)

361 Civilizations in the Galaxy? — More Drake Equation awesomeness from Centauri Dreams.

A Man of His Words — An old link to Lakoff on framing, but still very apropos. (Thanks to danjite.)

?otD: How does Mario C. like to keep it?

Body movement: 40 minute stationary bike ride
This morning's weigh-in: 220.6
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

Originally published at jlake.com.


[process] Learning from The Beast

Still thinking quite heavily over the experience of working on this just-completed draft of The Heart of the Beast. I've commented several times in recent weeks on the process working with a detailed, complex outline; something which is absolutely outside of my prior experience.

I've always said that my writing comes from deep within. That's especially true of some of the work which I consider to be among my best. A classic example of "unconscious competence," except that I seem to have skipped the stage of conscious competence to get there. With this work, I feel like I'm explicitly using some of the key tools of a novelist's art with some deliberate precision and direction for the first time.

To render a specific example, I've never thought much about scene order or function within a plot, especially not when I'm drafting. I'm perfectly capable of articulating those concerns on revision or critique, but drafting has always felt like a black box activity to me. And I've become reasonably good at it over time, in a black box way.

Working with this detailed outline has enabled me to visualize the novel's structure in much finer grained detail than I have normally (or possibly ever) done before. That in turn has meant that even while I was drafting, I was able to make choices about when certain scenes needed to fall, or where they needed to be moved to; and how other scenes needed to be added in to bring certain plot points or character transitions to the reader's attention at the right moment in the flow of the text.

This sense of conscious control is something I've actively rejected in the past as being interference with my process. I'm acquiring an understanding of the power of the outlining technique which will probably take me quite sometime to internalize back to an unconsciously competent tool, but I'm pleased as punch to be doing even this.

All the above will seem to be originating from the "Sky is Blue" department to some of you reading this, but this is my journey. I love it when I discover new territory

Originally published at jlake.com.


[child] Wisdom (or not) of the Child

Just now as she was reading to me, her book contained sentence, "Alice had named the pig she talked to, and now the man who owned it couldn't butcher it." Under her breath, the_child muttered, "I don't see why not."

And this morning she announced to me that last night she had punched herself in the face repeatedly to knock out a loose tooth.

That's my kid... way tougher than me.

Originally published at jlake.com.


[writing] What drafting a book does to my life

First drafting a novel for me is always a bit of a sprint. Last spring, Green was about 200,000 words in 35 days. Last fall, Tourbillon was about 200,000 words in 51 days (I was being a slacker on that one). Just now, Heart of the Beast was 40,500 words in nine days, once I got to straight drafting, plus the eleven previous days of revision and bridge writing on Jeff's draft. Not quite the long-haul sprint (so to speak) of the other books, but if you do the math, a comparable pace. (And we shan't speak of what Sunspin is likely to be...)

When I come off of one these writing jags, it feels rather like running up the stairs and not realizing you've made it to the top. I look around the house and discover a bleeding mess. I look in the mirror and discover that my beard has advanced beyond the razor-wired Maginot line of my indifferent maintenance. I wonder why the laundry hasn't been done, then remember that a) I live alone; and b) I haven't been doing the laundry.

My IRL friends will tell you how distracted and generally unfocused, even inattentive, I become when I'm in manuscript mode. A book sort of eats my brain, and that's almost the most fun I can have. But as all good things must come to an end, eventually I must recover equilibrium.

So tonight's writing activities consisted of a bunch of house-cleaning and maintenance of various sorts, along with Con prep, packing and whatnot. Given that I'm leaving town tomorrow for nine days, this seems like as good a time as any, because I'd sure hate to come back to this mess.

Originally published at jlake.com.