November 20th, 2007

new chi

Gold is for Boys, and Glitter is for Girls (don't ask me why)

It is with some considerable pleasure that I can say that Chapter One of Joey Lafaye is finished. I did 1,280 words on Sunday, then another 1,550 words yesterday. And never mind that my 5,000-word chapter actually comes to 7,357 words. A chapter in only five days is remarkable (for me), and now my foot is the door. I think I'm very pleased with the first chapter. There's a darkness there, but only an idiot would call it "genre horror." Now, of course, I have to turn my attentions to Sirenia Digest #24. This month, if you are a subscriber (the few, the proud, the polymorphously perverse), you'll be getting the reverse lycanthropy story and something about zombies. I think.

Oh, and Spooky found another story about my Second Life BBC2 interview, which you may read here.

Now, a question sort of thing re: Tuesday's journal entry from pwtucker:

You're eschewing your prologue? Interesting. I've been wrestling with this issue ever since reading Elmore Leonard's 10 Writing Rules or whatever in which he states that prologues are just back story, and should be inserted into the body of the text. But then a week ago or so you said that prologues help set the tone and mood, and I liked that, I agreed with it, which is why I wrote one for the thing I'm working on.

But now you're cutting the prologue. I understand that you had a false start on it, but why drop it altogether? Is this due to the character of this particular novel, or have you begun to distance yourself from prologues in general?

Elmore Leonard is a fine, fine writer, but "writing rules" are pretty much always a bad idea, or something even worse than a bad idea. That said, yes, I'd decided to drop the prologue, because it just wasn't working. And I decided to drop it altogether because, at the time, I'd decided it was unnecessary. However, since then, having finished Chapter One, I see how a very short prologue may work after all (though an entirely different one from what I was trying to write before). Basically, what I'm saying is that a writer must remain almost infinitely flexible, which is one (but only one) reason that trying to follow someone else's "writing rules" is generally a bad idea. Even when following my own writing rules, I never view them as anything more than possibly helpful suggestions which may be disregarded should the need arise. Do not do a thing because a writer you admire made it sound like a good idea. Do it because you need to do it.

Also, this question from "The Brain" via MySpace:

I assume you may get approximately 100,000 of these questions a day, and if you have a scripted answer that's fine, but anyway: What advice would you give to a fledging writer coming from a background not too dissimilar from yourself?

I only get about a hundred of these a day, and I have no ready answer, if only because the question is too broad. The first answer I thought of was stay in school for as long as possible. Not because creative writing courses can teach you to write, because they can't, but because a) it buys you time to find your voice, and b) there's no course you can take in college that won't prove useful at some point when you're writing. However, if you have to run up huge student loan debts to attend college, given that most writers don't make enough to eat, much less pay back student loans, the whole college angle becomes a very bad idea, unless you get a degree in something that will actually allow you to make a living when it becomes obvious, as it almost inevitably will, that you do not wish to spend your life as a writer. The first rule of writing is: There are no rules. The second rule of writing is: There are no rules. The third rule of writing is: What works for me almost certainly won't work for you. Sure, I can say that you won't get anywhere if you don't have perseverance, and you shouldn't get anywhere unless you have talent (though many do), and a solid knowledge of grammar and spelling helps, but these things should be obvious. Beyond that, I have no advice.

And speaking of LiveJournal (well, I was, a few paragraphs back), I've been doing less of it, having discovered that the entries are more interesting if I allow a day or so between them.

Last night, we went with Byron to see No Country for Old Men, which is definitely one of the best films of the year. Tommy Lee Jones better get an Oscar nomination. There has yet to be a film by the Coen Bros. that I did not like, and most of them I love, but it's good to see them do something grim again. And No Country for Old Men is unrelentingly grim, which is the very least one should expect from a film based on a Cormac McCarthy novel. See it, but don't expect resolution or justice, because you're not going to get either.

There are two novels on my "Must Be Read" list that have been languishing for some time now, and I resolved yesterday to try to get through them before January 1st. One is Neil's Anansi Boys. The other is Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I will try. We shall see.

The BBC2 Interview

Thanks to a fellow denizen of New Babbage, young master Loki Elliot, the Beowulf segment of this past Saturday's The Culture Show (BBC2) is now up on YouTube. Not bad, all in all. But this is twice now I've been called a "cult author," and I have to admit there's something peculiarly damning in that appellation. But I'm happy with how my bit of this came out, and watching it, my thought was, gods, I've become the stuff of science fiction. And I do love that the RL photo shown of "me" before the Second Life portion begins is a photo of me as Nar'eth. Also, I rather like what Tom Paulin has to say.

I will admit that Ray Winstone comes off rather poorly, what with all the rambling on about "the first superhero" (I always fancied that would be Gilgamesh) and admitting he's never actually read Beowulf, which he refers to as "the books" (making me wonder if he thinks J.R.R. Tolkien is somehow in back of this whole thing).

Anyway, without further ado, the clip: