Monday, December 04, 2006

Progress--or at least directions

But first a question: why is it that when in good faith you post a blog some fool leaves comments that offer you Viagra and other "enhancements," (hardly what I need or want). The current anonymous who's responding says things like, "Cute, man . . . thanks!" The perils of the internet are not at all overstated!
Bot today, progress is on my mind. My mentor, mentioned a blog or two ago, has finished the draft of the mystery, as far as it goes, and emailed that he likes it, pointing out the things he likes such as the distinctive but likeable protagonist, the ex-husband who's objectionable enough that no one minds when he's "offed," as they say, and the opening discovery of a skeleton which gets things off to a good start (he always begins with the positive, bless him). But then he moved on to his suggestions, which were what I really needed to hear--more backstory. I race through things, without lingering to savor the environment, flesh out secondary characters and their relationship to the protagonist. It's his opinion readers like a little diversion if it fills in the story. And just as personal preference, he said this cries out for first person. I've always written my best work in first person; the only things I've done that worked in third person are a few short stories--but I think my best stories are even those in first person. I was writing in third person because I thought that was a convention of the genre, but my teacher (I hesitate to name him because of the occasional kook who reads this) pointed out that Patricia Cornwall's best work is first person. So tomorrow, I'll print the whole thing out and begin a rewrite.
A note on first person: after I"d written three or four novels, someone told me beginners always write their first novels in first person and then "graduate" to third person. I asked the then-book review editor of our newspaper what he thought about that, and he said, 'I think if Judy Alter never graduates, it would be a good thing."
Of course it's the wrong time of the year to be serious about writing. I'm barely keeping up with anything except the holiday season. TCU Press had their annual event Friday--a great success but poorly attended, Saturday I went to an afternoon party and an evening one (made me feel like a social butterfly), and Sunday I fixed a pot of chili for Jordan and Christian and my neighbor. Jacob sat on the dining room table in his bumber chair or whatever it's called and kept us all in laughter. He is adorable. And I've been cooking--so far two batches of cookie/bars, a cake, a cheeseball, and two bags of Texas trash. Jordan has requested more trash so that I can give it to her--might as well use up all that cereal!
Tonight I'm going to finish the mystery I'm reading (and almost done with) and then banish Deborah Crombie from my mind. I've got to dig into the huge pile of books for the Western Writers of America Spur Award for the best traditional novel--I've read some, marked a few that I liked, discarded more than that. But there's an appalling number I haven't cracked the cover on. Tonight I hope to do a quick sort into priority piles.
Too bad I don't have enough to do . . . and then there's that manuscript I'm editing. And I went to work this morning with the longest "to do" list I think I've ever had. But did it all! I guess I don't have to worry about going senile because I don't keep my brain active. Better than crossword puzzles, which I always heard were good for warding off incipient senility.

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