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Journal Entry

Friday, October 15, 2004

Many projects, bubbling

When I started this blog years ago -- before, in fact, the word "blog" was generalized to include what this is -- I used to write about writing process a lot. What I was working on, who I was submitting to, etc.

I don't do that as much any more. Partly, as I began selling more, I began to get circumspect about kissing and telling. Since some of my editors read this blog occasionally (the strangely horizontal monkeys come to mind), I wasn't sure I wanted to sully their impressions of stories with whining about them beforehand. "Jeez, this story has bounced everywhere in creation, I hope to God I can cajole someone into buying it" isn't, perhaps, the best preparation for sitting down before a crisply printed story with for unbiased read.

Plus, also, I don't know -- how interesting is hearing about the work of writing to you folks? Is it what you come here for, and you are annoyed that lately you have to wade through reams of political ranting and cute things my kids say? Or are stories, really, like laws and sausages, the kind of thing best viewed as springing wholly formed out of nowhere?


The plan had been for the novel that Ramin (aka David) and I were working on, The Library of Souls, a metaphysical Kabbalistic thriller about the curse of immortality, to be done for this Worldcon. I would gladhand the agents, manuscript clutched coyly behind my back, etc.

Didn't happen.

The consensus at Blue Heaven was that, while there was much to love about that book, it was still pretty flawed, had major problems of structure and character motivation; and after taking some time off and reading it again, Ramin and I found that we agreed. So we spent a while brainstorming the plot, came up with a radical revision -- character relationships transformed, whole characters dropped, chapters littering the cutting room floor -- and rolled up our sleeves.

I found myself, though, getting more and more frustrated. For one thing, I didn't want to be writing this book still -- I wanted to be done. The fact that after five years, many months after typing the magical words "The End", we were once again in the middle of the book with no clear end in sight, was driving me bonkers.

And for another, I was finding collaboration increasingly difficult. Now, Ramin is the most amazing collaborator in the world. His emotional stability -- his ability to take my temper tantrums in stride and pounce on them creatively and proactively -- is prodigious, indeed sometimes almost frightening. We've taught each other a great deal, writing this book, and at its best, it's a lot of fun.

But I had things I wanted to say with this book. Things I wanted it to be, if it was going to be my first book. And while two years before, making the case for why the book should be that way seemed interesting and learning-rich, at this point I just wanted to delete the stuff I didn't like and rewrite it and then have it stay that way. I wanted to just do it myself.

I also felt like, if it were my book alone, I would just put it on the shelf to sit for a few years -- but that I couldn't do that while Ramin was still excited about it.

Ramin turned in a multichapter revision that was good -- exciting, a new direction, well crafted -- but just wasn't what I wanted to be writing.

I talked to some good friends (including Esther) and they told me (as good friends do) what I was telling them: that I wanted to write a new book.

So, I've given the creative lead on Library of Souls over to Ramin. It doesn't have to be the book I intended (and earnestly suffered for and agonized over). Rather, I'm like: this has some cool stuff, let's see what we can do with it. As soon as we made this decision, helping Ramin write it -- brainstorming plot, doing revisions of chapters for language and character, giving him notes -- became lots of fun. The book is a lark again, a fun thing to do with a friend, which is how it began.

The new book awaits. I'm gathering ideas. It's heady and exciting: a field of untrodden snow.

And meanwhile, I'm writing stories. God, I love short stories. Short stories are so clean and clear and lovely, compared to novels. So easy.

Also, with life's usual perversity, I am delighting in collaboration again. Not just with Ramin -- I'm playing around with a possible collaboration with Cory, and another one with Greg and Kelly and Chris. I'm mining the last version of Library of Souls for stories, and have sent one out -- it would be fun if a series of them came out in one venue. I am finishing revisions on "The House Beyond Your Sky", the story set so far in the future it makes "Droplet" look like contemporary realism. It's at the OWW if you belong to that and want to take a look.

And a boon, of late, to writing productivity -- my sister has moved to town, and for the last few weeks, almost every day, we've been meeting in a cafe at 7:30 to write. Yay sisters!

Posted by benrosen at October 15, 2004 09:57 AM | Up to blog
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