Saturday, August 11, 2007

What I'll be doing this weekend

Galleys for Covenant
Around 10 AM on Friday four boxes for de-cluttering arrived.
Around 3 PM my transcription job arrived.
Around 6 PM my galleys for Covenant arrived in my e-mail inbox. This is a printout of the .pdf file.

I'd say that pretty much takes care of my weekend....

I also added to Book #6 for the first time in nine days, though I devoted part of Thursday to scribbling notes and have now crossed the 10,000-word mark in the draft (10,384 words, to be exact).

My note-taking headquarters was the local Hungry Howie's, where I ruminated in my journal while downing a spicy chicken salad and soda. I consider diners, cafes, and fast food joints my "writing table rentals." (Added to that nowadays is "A/C rental.")

I'll be using four POVs to tell #6's story. I was fairly clear on three of the characters, but the fourth was problematic. She is as crucial as the others, but I had to find where the drama lay in her part of the tale. So I sat down with my soda and my chicken salad and asked, "What is she risking? What has she got to lose?"

From Naomi Epel's The Observation Deck in her chapter, "Raise the Stakes": "Ken Follett says that you need the stakes to be high for every one of your fictional characters. If you are writing about a bank robbery, make sure that your robber has a compelling need to steal the money. It's not enough that he wants to be rich. He needs to have an ambitious plan that requires a million dollars. He has to have someone or something that will die without the money. The bank should also be at serious risk if a million dollars is lost. Maybe the bank's insurance has been canceled or the banker is in serious debt, having 'borrowed' funds to cover a secret gambling loss."

I thought of Epel's chapter as I scribbled in my journal.

My notes are my version of an outline, except they're much sloppier. I write them on the fly in tandem with the story. They're full of trial balloons that never see draft. I talk to myself on paper, in a combination of half-formed thoughts, incomplete sentences, point-counterpoint type arguments, rambling monologues, to-do lists, flowcharts, and other graphic representations with what for me passes for "drawing." By the time I finished Thursday's installment I had a good idea of some conflicts, some scene details, and the inner workings of this person and how she puts herself in jeopardy. I saw how and where to position her allies and antagonists.

On Friday I cut out her original, 955-word opening narrative and put in a 1,478-word replacement. The doorbell rang as I was writing and I answered it to find my transcription job.

A Better Box

A new storage box now holds the magazines, anthologies, etc., in which I've been published. Most of those items had spent years overflowing the old cardboard box partially visible at upper left.

I've carried the publications through multiple moves in multiple states (the earliest material is from when I still lived in Brooklyn -- my first published fiction in the small press dates from 30 years ago).

I also bring a "show and tell" collection (along with correspondence consisting of rejection slips, acceptances, contracts, etc.) to and from the final (marketing) class of my creative writing course, so that adds wear and tear on the items.

I was thrilled to give these publications a more durable home. The issues of Star*Line and Reed contain an article and creative nonfiction, respectively, two of several pieces that have come out so far this year. File folders at bottom center hold some of the publishing-related correspondence. I've got more in other folders, but I might consolidate everything in the box. A mostly-complete bibliography is here.


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