Yesterday was the slow sort of writing day. I did 526 words on The Dinosaurs of Mars, getting myself back into the story after a ten-day absence during which other things were written and attended to. And much of my afternoon was spent researching the geology of the southern part of Elysium Planitia, and the area just south of Apollinaris Patera. I will not say it was a bad writing day, as low word counts do not equal bad writing days. Bad writing days are days when you mean to write and can't, or are interrupted so frequently that nothing gets done. I'm disheartened at how often I see the blogs of aspiring writers bemoaning how slowly a book or story is coming along. They have somehow gotten it in their heads that writing is a thing done quickly, efficiently, like an assembly line with lots of shiny robotic workers. The truth, of course, is that writing is usually slow, and inefficient, and more like trying to find a cube of brown Jello that someone's carelessly dropped into a pig sty. Five hundred words in a day is good. So is a thousand. Or fifteen hundred. A good writing day is a day when one has written well, and the word counts be damned. Finishing is not the goal. Doing the job well is the goal. And I say that as someone with no means of financial support but her writing, as someone who is woefully underpaid for her writing, and as someone with so many deadlines breathing down her neck that she can no longer tell one breather from the other. Sometimes, I forget this, that daily word counts are irrelevant, that writing is not a race to the finish line. One need only write well if one wishes to be a writer. A day when one does not do her best merely so that more may be written, that's a bad writing day.
Oh, and my thanks to Anne Sowards, my editor at Penguin, for sending me the cover for the new edition of Murder of Angels, due out next April (behind the cut, unless you're reading this via MySpace):
I've reached that stage in the cycling of my insomnia where I'm actually sleeping (at least eight hours last night), but not until late (after 3 a.m.), and then I find it impossible to wake up and spend the day in a haze. Not as bad as dreamsickness, but aggravating. My grogginess laughs at coffee beans and Red Bull.
Maybe it's time the platypus gave me a good shot of adrenaline, straight to the heart...
Postscript (1:43 p.m.): I just ran across a new interview with William Gibson at (sigh) Amazon.com, and I feel the need to post this excerpt, regarding book proposals and not knowing the end of a story when one begins writing it. I feel not so alone now. Anyway, it's behind the cut:
Gibson: I sometimes don't like to confess how little I know about these things when I start them, but I'm starting to admit to myself that the less I know at the beginning probably the better it's going to go.
Amazon.com: We have your original proposal for the book up on our site, and the thing that struck me immediately was that none of the characters you discuss ended up, at least with the specifics that you give them at the time, in the final book, and I'm curious how you progress from one group of characters into another group as you're planning the book or writing it.
Gibson: Well, I think the key thing there is that I never really believe in the proposal.
Amazon.com: Does your publisher believe in it?
Gibson: I don't know—it seems to be a sort of ritual object and I've actually been afraid to find out whether or not I could get a contract without one, but I've been surprised a couple of times when characters from the proposal have actually survived to publication. They usually wind up being tweaked beyond recognition.