In the Doldrums..

August 18th, 2020Posted by Nancy

Despite the fact that there’s finally a breeze, literal in the fact that it’s not appalling hot and metaphorical in the sense that I’m doing a ‘250 words a day’ project right now. I’m on target but…. but…. There’s always a but.

I’m working on both the Witch Novel and the completely reimagined Glass! Art! Love! project (previously known as ‘Not the Witch Novel’). Moving between helps me from getting too bogged down or panic-stricken. It’s sad but true that some days writing those 250 words is a grim slog. I stop after every paragraph and count the words. It’s helpful to be able to switch to something completely unrelated when it gets to be too much.

The downside of this process is that I’m carving out tiny bits of the story every second day or so and it feels very disjointed. There are days I barely remember what I wrote in the previous session. Since I’m discovery writing, I’m always trusting that the headlights illuminate enough of the plot that I don’t drive into a ditch (hat-tip to E.L. Doctorow for that*).

Things I have read:

Song for New Day, by Sarah Pinsker. This year’s Nebula winner. Ticks lots of the boxes of my youth (music, punk, rebellion, etc) and the depiction of the early days of pandemic have a eerie resonance with the world today. Pinsker is a musician and you can tell.

Nomadland: Surviving American in the Twenty-First Century, by Jessica Bruder. This one had been on my list for a long time. Excellent, inside story of aging people who have to hit the road to survive. Many of them end up working seasonally at Amazon (the stories about the robots were amusing, but it does seem to suggest a problem with the warehouse offers free painkillers). The movie version, featuring Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, and some of real nomads, is coming out in September.

The Other Bennet Sister, by Jane Haidlow. The first part of the book shows the events of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of shy, bookish, awkward Mary Bennet. The rest of the book takes place later, as she tries to find a way to be happy and fulfilled in the world. This inevitably involves romance, some of which I thought was reasonably handled and some of which seemed a bit too much like the trope of “girl takes off glasses and becomes sought off by multiple men” to be believable. On the other hand, it completely confirmed my love for Mrs. Gardiner.

Axiom’s End, by Linday Ellis. I’ve been a fan of Ellis for several years so was excited to read her novel. You can definitely see her various passions in it but it’s a fast-moving and entertaining first novel. There were a few parts that made me go “wait, how is she suddenly able to X? Oh yes, she needs to for the plot” but there was more than enough there to make me want to read the sequel when it comes out.

*Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

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