Overcast again today. Currently, it's 53˚F out there. The scaffolding the painters put up outside my office window a month ago is still there, though we've not seen the painters in over two weeks. Perhaps it may be a permanent addition to the house, something to make the bleak view from this window all the bleaker. I'll try to begin thinking of it as a dysfunctional fire escape, rather than thinking of it as a scaffold fashioned together from ladders.
“If there is a magic in story writing, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe” ~ John Steinbeck
I did sleep again last night. More than seven hours. That's two in a row. My head's clearing a bit.
Yesterday, I wrote 839 words on the story I owe Ellen Datlow. It doesn't yet have a title. I began it on December 5th, in the middle of this attack of insomnia, and as of today I've only managed a total of 5,128 words. I've been doing good to get two good writing days a week. But, I've projected the length of this piece at 7,500 words, and if the sleep holds out, I should finish on Christmas Eve.
Confession: I've not finished a story of fiction since I finished Agents of Dreamland back on August 26th. That's almost four months. Such a drought is unprecedented in my entire writing career, beginning with, say, the second half of 1993. I suppose such a thing was inevitable, but after twenty-two years, you begin to think you've dodged the bullet, right? Having completed Agents of Dreamland I went to work on the screenplay, but in mid October I set it aside to attend to short fiction deadlines, and that's when this began. I started several pieces in late October and in November, but I made it no farther on any of them than two or three pages before hitting the proverbial brick wall. I do not entirely understand why this dry spell began (the six weeks of insomnia, though, have surely played a considerable role). I only hope that it's loosening its grip. My bank account can't take much more of this. Nor can my nerves.
Last night, Kathryn and I watched Francis Lawrence's Catching Fire (2013) and Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014). We'd loved Gary Ross' adaptation of The Hunger Games (2012), but we'd also loved Suzanne Collins' novel. I was considerably less impressed with the two sequels and so put off seeing the films. But I was very pleased with Ross' adaptations, especially Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence never fails to delight me, in everything that she does. And the action scenes that were so clumsy in the books flow in the films. I had this same problem with some of the Harry Potter novels. Rowling isn't very good – and sometimes she's very bad – at writing long action scenes. The films were able to make them work. I'm thinking, especially, of the climax of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I found the end of the novel all but unreadable, but David Yates fashioned from it a dynamic action sequence. Yes, Virginia. Sometimes, the movie is better than the book.
I should go now.