Sunday my wife and I bought our first food processor. It took me less than five minutes to put the sharpness of the blades to the test. The blades are, as the many warning labels attest, sharp. As a writer, I can think of no worse minor injury than the one I inflicted on myself Sunday. The tip of my left index finger was ripped open. I bled some, but the problem is more in writing over long stretches. Yesterday I wrote a fairly long post, but only produced 1,000 words (half of my daily goal) for my novel. Today, I’m giving the blog a rest so I can force my way through the pain to 2,000 words.
This is my life. I injure myself in stupid ways. Of course since that’s a belief I hold about myself, any evidence to the contrary produces dissonance. Hmmm.
Happy Easter everyone. I’m taking the Friday to play with my daughter and paint some eggs. Relax, spend time with family, and enjoy the salvation.
I’m back from a nice, long, relaxing, unannounced vacation. I’m recharged and raring to go. The first bits of feedback are coming to me about the latest draft of Wolf. Generally, it’s better. There are still issues, but they are more minor in scope. Though, I do still have at least one character whose name I change halfway through the narrative. Gah.
I’ve started on what’s next, now. I’ve worked on it the last two days. I’m pretty jazzed. I don’t think it’ll fit all of the things I really wanted for what’s next, but it should fit many of them. I’m kicking around elsewhere in the Five Nations. I’ve spent the time to give the world a history and to invent, or cobble together from disparate sources, a system of magic I find interesting. It would be a shame to waste that. So, I’m write a novel about a mage from the northern nation of Syt. His life is not as great as one might think. I’m only a few thousand words in and I can promise you that.
The working title of my next novel is The Mage’s Price, but, really, it’s too early to know what I’ll end up calling it. For now, the above will work. I’ll keep plugging away here, too. With tidbits and thoughts.
The highlight of my day yesterday was the discovery of ‘contranyms’. Contranyms are words that are their own antonyms. The word ‘contranym’ is a neologism, but it works. The specific word that caused my exploration was ‘unravel’. I , innocently enough, wanted a synonym and an antonym. I was a little surprised to find ‘ravel’ as acceptable for both. Apparently, the idea with ‘ravel’ in particular is that as threads become unwoven, they oft become tangled. The act of unraveling and raveling is one and the same. It’s very yin-yang. Words are the bomb.
Having finished draft four of Wolf: Sins of the Father, I thought it might be fun to brainstorm in public a bit.
What follows is roughly the shape of the world my next novel will occupy. It may be the world of the Five Nations. It may be something else, but these are roughly the things I am thinking. Of course, anything I write here has a long way to travel before it makes it into a novel I write. And I’m not talking about the story so much as the general feel of it all.
- The Golden Age is in the distant past or never came.
- People are flawed. Some do the right thing for horrible reasons and some do horrible things for what seem to be the right reasons.
- True evil only exists in the supernatural. In the mortal, we get shades of grey.
- True good exists only in the supernatural as well.
- There are supernatural forces of good and evil. And there is magic.
- Magic is difficult and mysterious. It is not science by another name. It is an ineffable ‘black box’ of logic and rules.
- Heroes and villains both come from humble origins.
- Humble origin <> blacksmith’s apprentice. From a certain perspective, just about anything can be of humble origin.
- Evil seeks the destruction or subjugation of all life.
- Good fights this.
- But. For whatever reason, Good chooses to fight through flawed mortals in far more subtle ways than evil.
- People, generally, lack faith in anything but themselves.
- Friendship and camaraderie are important
- and horribly fragile.
- and nigh impossible to reconstruct after breaking.
- Resources are limited. In the Golden Age, they were far less limited than the current age. Remnants of this Golden Age still scatter the landscape in ruins.
- The Golden Age was marked by hope. The death of the age meant the death of hope for the common man.
- The Golden Age cannot be recovered. The best one can hope for is an age less horrible than the current one.
- Cowboys are cool, but I’m still too close to the Dark Tower. So, no cowboys.
- Hobbes was right. Locke was wrong. The state of nature is: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. Locke would weep.
There is more, but that’s a good broad stroke. The more gets into specific things this list has got me thinking about. No specifics will find their way here, yet.
I went to a small group meeting at church last night. The conversation of careers came up, as it always does when men talk, and I said I was a writer. I mentioned I had just finished the second draft of my first novel. The leader of the group asked the question, innocently enough, I suppose, “So, is it Christian?”
My mind has been in turmoil ever since.
How does one answer such a question? In the affirmative? Because it has themes of redemption and sacrifice, because the deity to whom my characters pray is a triune deity, and because one who does not deserve a crown earns it? Maybe, but maybe I should answer in the negative. Because the novel is filled with murder, torture, and hatred. Despicable people act despicably. No dude named Christ walks around giving fist bumps of love. So is it in the negative?
I have come to dislike guys like this guy, who is a perfectly nice and generous soul. Christians, in the modern era, have killed art by asking this question. Insane Clown Posse declared its love of Jesus, for fuck’s sake, and we worry that they use the ‘f’ word. Right. Let’s not all rejoice or anything. Those guys are fucking weirdoes. Do they sing Christian music? Ugh.
If I have signaled my Christianity, by being at a Christian church and loving that Jesus dude, is my novel Christian? Can it not be? I poured me into the novel. It’s broken, disjointed, full of holes and struggles to understand itself. But, again, no son of God kicks it with fisherman. It’s apocryphal best.
Is the Mona Lisa Christian? Would people have thought to ask the question during the Renaissance? Why would they? Art has the impression of the artist and the viewer. If a consumer of my novel, which I blanch at calling art, sees it as Christian, then I suppose it is. If he doesn’t see a touch of Christianity, then I suppose it isn’t. Art is very quantum.
I thought of asking him if he sold Christian RVs with Christian financing. I didn’t. That’s unfair. But I almost said my novel is as Christian as Tolkien, Stephen King, or Insane Clown Posse’s work. Maybe that’s what I’ll do next time. Let ‘em chew on that.
Bah, go read the interview with the lead singer of Jars of Clay. He says it better.
If ever there was an arrogance perpetuated in the Church, our art is to blame. Our art describes the world where we live. We don’t spend enough time with prostitutes and outlaws, drunks and addicts. We don’t write about lust and fear and greed and obesity and broken things. We relegate our art to the way we wish the world should be and not how the world actually is. We are only offended because we forget the kinds of depravity we could reach if not for God’s grace….
I would like to revisit this topic when I’m less riled.
So, I finished the second draft of my novel, finally. I have commenced with the ‘writing with the door open’ segment of my work. Scary. My wife and some friends have the novel in hand and are reading it now. I’m a nervous wreck waiting for reviews. I thrum with nervous energy while a vast emptiness churns in my gut.
It was a neat experience to print it out and really look at it as a finished whole. I liked that part, but it was even better when I used Mobipocket Creator to make the file an e-book. I emailed it to the Kindles in my house. It’s a book. A tiny, unevenly paced, typo bearing, novicely written book. It’s right there on my device is such austere company as the Dark Tower series and the Long Price Quartet. I apologize to those fellows for showing up at their party uninvited. There’s a long way to go, and I don’t know this book will ever see publishing. Still, to see it one a Kindle is pretty nifty.
The experience has been a grueling one, and one that has wiped me out. But I’m already on to the next one. I have a few different books I want to write know. They each vie for attention and want to be picked next. Just when I think I’ve settled on one, the others raise their hands and make the universal grunting sound of kids who haven’t yet learned to fear being called on in class. I’m going to start Monday, though. Whichever one I pick. I think it’ll likely be the newest book of the group. It’s the freshest, and my mind turns to it the most. I’ve gathered a few lines and random thoughts for it. I’ve done some very rudimentary research around some of the topics. Oh, and I have some names. Hallelujah.
I finished my writing intensive at ChuckPalahniuk.net. It went well. I got some good rough drafts out of it, and I got to experience some good discussion over form and content. I met some other writers. All of that went well. I’m grateful for the experience. I would have liked a bit more ‘pro’ level feedback, and not all of the feedback from my contemporaries on my work was useful. Though, my feedback wasn’t always a homerun, either. Probably the best lesson I took from it was the discussion of dialog, and I think I’ll find that very useful moving forward.