Saturday, November 28, 2009

The End and The Editing

La la la, oh, sorry. Caught me in the middle of the NaNo/Thanksgiving happy dance. Fifty thousand words and 131 pages (double-spaced) later, I'm finally catching up on my reading. I think writing wrings it out of me and, like a dehydrated runner, I'm gulping down the sentences and chapters of the books that have been waiting by the desk. This week it was Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre and Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Both books centered on a female character for whom the particular mystery in each book was not their first rodeo. One could draw other similarities, but they would be endemic to the genre.

Blue Diablo had a unique urban setting and voice for it's protagonist, Corine Solomon. Despite a frenetic storyline, her voice was never less than assured with humor cracking beneath. She was vulnerable enough to elicit empathy and strong enough to drive the story forward with her choices. Since the story hewed closely to the Texas/Mexico border, the descriptions and concerns felt both new in terms of my reading and familiar in terms of the politics and concerns of living in Texas. Rosemary and Rue shared the same frenetic pacing, but it played more like a movie such as Crank or Speed, in that motion seemed to be the entire goal of the plot and at times I felt I was being shoved forward through yet another door with the story shredding around me as I tried to keep up. Not that the story wasn't interesting or that I didn't enjoy it--I enjoyed both books and will look for the second in each series.

However, I am wondering when the pendulum will swing back from the action every second plotting that marks so much contemporary fantasy and back into the slower but for me more enjoyable action, breathing space, action, breathing space pacing that marks some older works. I dislike finding myself at the end of a book relieved that I don't have to suffer through the character's insane life anymore. Each time I pick up a new book, I'm hopeful that it will represent an author that I'm going to want to follow over the course of several books, someone who is going to show me something different, not shake me through a series of creative trope-tweaks while he or she whips the characters into pulp, occasionally rewarding them with cheap sex or a resolution that gives them extra-narrative breathing (gasping, rather) room.

I think part of me will never enjoy the pulp fiction elements in any genre. It's a worry of mine, because it seems like something that other people enjoy and that I as a writer (and human being) should master. What I miss, though, is wonder. Even dark tales can contain their elements of amazement and discovery, but when you're moving at 80 miles an hour down your plot track, it's easy to miss those moments or just flat out mow them down. Why can't adult fiction aspire to the gasp and awe of children's literature?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Still November

So we're dealing with NaNo guilt. Because it's not just your friends and family who are eager to over-obligate you . . .your imagination is would like to do so as well. Am I actually reading anything else in November? Not really.

Instead, I'm trying to work out what is becoming a four-part novel that bears little resemblance to anything that I've written and is instead covered with snake and dragon and fire imagery. It's like some other book bled copiously into my narrative. I've quit several times, only to have this feeling of guilt creep up on me. Who else is going to tell this story (who will care?!?)--it's almost like the main character is tugging at me to keep telling its story. This confirms my theory that guilt has a gravitational aspect, since the main character is a sentient planet who is learning to be an individual through first contact with a gaggle of spacefaring humans. Since this is a fantasy masquerading as science fiction, everything feels just a little off.

I start other stories but am drawn back to this one. Who will tell the story of this little corner of the universe and the struggle of a planet to transform itself from an insular paradise into a connected part of the universe without becoming deranged? In at least 50,000 words before the end of November? Anyone?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

And Then There Was Silence...And Crickets

It's November, so I'm NaNoing in another universe and unable to pick up the blog right now. Actually, my novel and I are having a completely dysfunctional relationship and cordially resenting each other. I quit for a day, deleted my word count and my summary from the NaNoWriMo site and growled at everyone who came near. I'm picking that up from Varda, who is quite a talker when you get her going. She's also been sneaking my stress putty to use as gum, so there is a decreasing amount on my desk just when I need it most.

Since it's just a NaNo novel (I have several sitting around gathering dust), it probably shouldn't matter that I'm having such a hard time with it, or that I have several weeks of novel classes shouting in my head while I'm trying to write it, or that I'm hating exactly the things I would have otherwise liked in it. Disillusionment with "how to write" shibboleths is setting in. Aren't we all glad that I've found another medium within which to bitch? Why don't I just go read a good book?

Fortunately, there are lots of good ones lying around and I'm looking forward to working through them during my increasingly extended NaNo breaks. Stashed in various locations are The Mermaid's Madness (by Jim Hines), Ice (by Sarah Durst), and The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars (by Steven Brust). Yea!! Stuff to read!! On a side note, it's time to put romance novels back on the shelf with other romance novels. Yes, putting in the Fantasy section will sometimes fool me. Yes, I will sometimes buy one. No, I will not be happy. More than likely, I won't finish something that's about little more than how devastating it is to be away from the pretty wolf-boy demon elf thief while actually having to--gasp--live your life! Stuff it, cupcake, and get on with the story.

ooooooooo. No more posts while on NaNo. Cue the crickets! Here cricket, cricket, cricket. . .