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I read a 450-page biography of Dean Koontz last night, and I'm glad I did, because it was written in a beautifully straightforward chronological style that provided tons of good information for the essay, including mini-summaries of almost all his books, even the very early ones. (I've read most of them, but it's been years, and some of the plots and titles and so on were running together in my memory.)

I've pretty much done my research at this point, so it's all over but the writing. I've got two more weeks to finish the essay, but I'm going to try to get through it in the next week. I find non-fiction much more time-consuming to write than fiction, and always have, though I'm apparently pretty good at critical non-fiction (I was in college, anyway, to judge by the various awards and scholarships I was given). I want to get this out of the way, so it's not hanging over my head, creating stress. Especially since I'd rather be writing fiction right now. But I do need the money, especially now that we're going to Worldcon. (I have a simple rule when it comes to going to conventions and workshops and so forth -- I can't attend a con unless I've made enough money writing to pay for it.) I'll work on it some this weekend, and try to finish it up next Wednesday, on my once-fortnightly day off.


Whoo. Lots of movies I want to see. Kill Bill, Vol. 2 and Hellboy come to mind, as does Robot Stories. On DVD I want to see American Splendor and The Office (the latter not a movie, of course).

But I've got a busy weekend. Maybe we'll make it to a matinee of something tomorrow. Maybe.


So this afternoon I'm off to the first meeting of the writing group I've joined. It's an hour BART-ride each way, which I'm looking forward to, actually. I like riding the train, reading on the train, writing on the train. I almost never ride the train anymore. The meeting itself should be good, too (they're critiquing meeee! Or rather my story "Komodo"). The feedback will be welcome, though the social/general-writing-discussion aspect is what I'm most interested in. I spend a lot of time in my house, and one of my unpublished New Year's Resolutions (unpublished because I thought there was little chance of my accomplishing it) is to go out more and to be more social. So I'm giving it a try.


In other news, I'm 95% sure what novel I'm writing next (and it's not the bridges-and-suicide novel I may've mentioned in conversation; it might be a while before I'm ready to tackle that one). A few years ago I wrote a book that had about ten different working titles -- Ladies, The Mad God's Daughter, lots of other ones that were even worse. I finally decided to call it Raveling. It was a huge, ambitious thing, with over a dozen viewpoint characters. It absolutely collapsed under its own weight and complexity, though I did complete a first draft of about 140,000 words. I've thought about it a lot in intervening years -- I still remember the names of even minor characters, and the book has some of the best scenes and moments and characters I've ever written. I read it again a couple of years ago to see if a rewrite could save it, and determined that, no, it couldn't. The book needed to be started over entirely, with at least three major characters excised completely, with fewer viewpoints, with a much more carefully-constructed plot, with a lot less cynical emotional manipulation. It also needed a voice -- or several distinct voices -- which is what was missing most of all in that first version.

Last night, I was thinking about it again, and I suddenly figured out how I could make the novel work. The story still compels me, I love the setting, and I miss the characters. So I think I'm going to write that book next. It's not a rewrite. I'm not going to tinker with the original manuscript, because that's a mess. I'm going to take the main characters and the setting and the basic plot and write it again, and see if I can do it well this time. I imagine it'll be a lot different. It'd have to be, in order to be successful!

Raveling is the most ambitious book I've ever attempted, dark and strange and redemptive, and I'd love to make it something I could be proud of. I'm going to try writing with an outline, too. I've never done that before -- I jot a few notes now and then, but that's it -- but I think it's necessary for this one, because it has multiple viewpoints and converging plot-threads that have to connect in just the right places.

I still plan to write a bunch of stories in the first half of this year, and I need to revise Blood Engines. It'll be a few months before I get into writing a new novel, and in the interim, I might decide revisiting Raveling is a bad idea. But right now, I'm excited, and suspect I'll remain so.

In August, Heather and I are going to North Carolina so she can meet my family. But it's also an opportunity to visit the mountains of NC for a day or two, which is where Raveling is set. It should be good.

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