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[books|writing] Onward through the fog - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-10-11 05:45
Subject: [books|writing] Onward through the fog
Security: Public
Tags:books, calamity, cancer, health, klog, little dog, personal, sunspin, writing

Chemo fog is beginning to slow down my brain, but I aten’t dead yet. Still reading, still writing.

On the reading front, I am currently consuming The Sky Road, the fourth book of Ken MacLeod’s The Fall Revolution cycle. Because I’m an idiot, I’ll be reading The Star Fraction (the first book) last. All the same, this is a cycle, not a tightly-coupled series, so that’s okay. I am loving these books. As I said on Twitter and Facebook yesterday, I find them to be “grim Scottish socialist SF, Riddley Walker meets The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with bells on.” That is high praise. It’s also interesting stuff to read just after gulping down Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels all in a row. Plus the new Pratchett will be in my hands shortly.

In chemo terms, I’m not reading as sharply as normal, nor quite at my usual pace, but I’m still taking in the story. For now, I’m pleased.

Incidentally I have also conditionally promised to do a foreword for a nonfiction book and a blurb for a single-title novella, if brainspace holds up, but that’s practically a segue into writing.

I’ve got notes from various sources on the second draft Calamity of So Long a Life, the first volume of Sunspin. Amusingly, and pleasing to my heart, my Dad has been a very engaged first reader. I’m awaiting comments from my agent before I see how much a can worms I need to open here, and whether I can commit to whatever deadlines that implies. I do expect to hear from her this week on the book.

In the mean time, I’m slowly working through the outline of the proposed joint novel project with urban fantasy author J.A. Pitts, a/k/a [info]bravado111. This is the book I’ve occasionally mentioned in jest about a werewolf with achondroplastic dwarfism. We’ve decided to actually write the damned thing, and see how it does in the market.

The series title is Little Dog, because that’s the protag’s (very insulting) pack name, and we’re working with Son of a Bitch as the the title for this book. It’s probably going to border on dark comedy, but we’ve got some real neat concepts coming to boil underneath, drawing pretty heavily on my medical experiences for both inspiration and verisimilitude. John’s skills as a character-driven writer are far sharper than my own, so while I’m doing the tippy-type drafting of the outline, we’re having frequent story conferences by email, SMS and voice wherein he’s showing me some pretty deep things about the narrative and characters that I would have been a long time coming to on my own.

This is the whole point of collaboration. So I can learn and grow from John, and he can learn and grow from me. Plus it’s a fun idea, and we’re having fun working on it.

The reality is the most we’ll get done this year is the outline. Chemo will be checking me out from writing soon, and I won’t be in a position to draft it. Such writer cookies as I still have need to be prioritized for Sunspin. But at a projected length of 90-90,500 words, it’s a project I can easily wedge into my spare time next spring as I begin the process of busting out the second and third volumes of Sunspin. Or if we decide John is going to write the first draft, it becomes a revision process for me, which is even easier to fit into my schedule.

So I guess I’ve sprouted another novel. Because there’s never such a thing as too much to do, right?

In the mean time, I read, write and wait for the chemo fog to close in so tight I have to shut down the control tower and be reduced to watching Netflix Streaming.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-10-11 16:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ken MacLeod hangs the moon. Wonderful writer, and a lovely man.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2011-10-11 18:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It looks as if there's another author I need to read. Between you and Charlie, it looks as if I ought to get The Fall Revolution books. But right now, I can't afford so to do.
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2011-10-11 19:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They're repubbed in two volumes by Tor as "Fractions" and "Divisions". (Annoyingly, "Fractions" is in the Kindle store but "Divisions" is not.)
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Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2011-10-11 19:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Minor note:

The fall revolution books aren't a tetralogy -- they're a trilogy with two alternate final volumes ("The Cassini Division" and "The Sky Road" being the alternates). Thematically it's an exegesis on different theories of anarchism -- libertarianism/extropianism, anarcho-syndicalism, green anarchism, and socialist anarchism. My understanding is that PNH published them in the wrong order in the USA because he figured if he started with "The Star Fraction" the politics would be a bit too strong for the American palate. (Warning: explicit COMMUNISM!!!.)

I want to write something that smart when I grow up.

Edited at 2011-10-11 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-10-11 21:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In any case, they are impressive, smart work.

Of course, I now want to read a sequel to The Cassini Division...
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2011-10-11 23:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I shall read the books and make up my mind on that last. The explicit communism is not very likely to cause me to faint (the last time I rang up the head of a communist party he said 'how you doin' man?' I hadn't talked to him in a long while; on another occasion, I walked into the office of a communist activist whom I'd last seen when we'd been on opposite sides of a battle for the soul of the Press Association of Jamaica, after about twenty minutes of friendly chat, I said, 'Y'know, Mark, the last time I saw you you threatened to kill me.' 'Ah,' he replied, 'a lot of water's flowed under the bridge since then.')
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That Which Fights Entropy: gallifreyan text 1
User: amberite
Date: 2011-10-12 01:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:gallifreyan text 1
In chemo terms, I’m not reading as sharply as normal, nor quite at my usual pace, but I’m still taking in the story. For now, I’m pleased.

We should for sure have that conversation soon about regular vs. intermittent brain-wrangling strategies.

I was musing on it today/yesterday, thinking about how to quantify the things I have done to keep writing something in times when my brain hasn't been fit for writing regularly, and what I've come up with so far is that when I can't write coherently (create + synthesize) I separate out the "create" phase and the "synthesize" phase.

Which is to say: if I'm not feeling up to making a word count goal, I'll set a "write something new down" goal and put some random thoughts down on a notecard.

Rather than making it a concerted activity block, I check in with myself periodically, in between other things, while waiting, on buses and the like, or while getting ready for bed at night: hey brain, any ideas? thoughts? commentary? -- and then I'll write down something like "Problem with plot: not a strong enough reason for Jane to want the macguffin. Maybe add foreshadowing about how a similar thing was stolen from her." or a line or two of actual story, frequently dialogue, frequently with some brief note of what context it's in.

The latter is sometimes quite fruitful in a sort of delayed-action way. If my brain is drifting in idea-space but I can't focus well, then the idea is to capture just enough of it to be able to write the scene later. And then, later on, if I'm feeling more capable of focus but not up to figuring out the bones of a new scene (like the brain-state you described the other day when you were more capable of "left brain stuff") I'll trawl through my stash of scribbled ideas, find one of those lines of dialogue or 'scene anchors' and write from that, using it as a sort of outline or starter.
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