So yesterday there was dayjobbery and tutoring and writing, oh my, with a side of doing the page proofs for Say Zucchini, and Mean It so I can mail them back to the folks at Daily SF and fix the various muddle-headed things I’ve done in the story.
Usually there’s something painful about the proofing process, mixing, as it does, a multitude of how-could-I-be-so-stupid typos and syntax errors with the larger, more consuming fear that the story itself isn’t any good because so-much-time-has-passed-since-you-submitted-it-and-you’ve-become-a-better-writer-than-you-were-and-would-do-things-so-very-differently-now.
The latter part didn’t really happen this time around. I’m still fond the story and think it does all the things I wanted it to do, and the bits I’d do differently I probably wouldn’t do that much better, so they don’t bother me quite so much.
I’m not sure whether this bodes ill for the story or not, once it’s out in the world, but I guess we’ll see next week when it’s sent out to Daily SF’s subscribers.
Last night’s writing? The skeleton for the first half of Chapter Three for Black Candy – I know how the scenes begin and end, I just have to write the middles – and some more work on Waiting for the Steamer on the Docks of V—, which is heading off in its own little direction and getting longer every time I work on it. About 1,500 words of writing all up, which is less than I wanted by more than I expected given I didn’t get home from work until 8-ish.
This morning I woke up an hour or so before my alarm, and it was cold and dark and I wasn’t all that sleepy anymore, so I stayed up and idled away the time for a bit, just enjoying the warmth of my bed and the slow shift of light on the curtains and the occasional checking of email on my phone.
Eventually the world woke up around me, so I climbed out of bed and went into the routine. I danced around the bedroom to the Sisters of Mercy’s Temple of Love. I showered and I shaved. I ate breakfast and ironed a shirt to wear to the dayjob. And since I was up early, and more awake than I generally am, I finished all those things much earlier than expected, so by seven thirty I was standing around my living room trying to work out what I’d do to fill the next three quarters of an hour before I drove to work.
So I started reading The Girl With No Hands and Other Tales, since it’s one of the things that was handy on my living room shelves that I haven’t also read in its entirety, largely because I’ve read a large majority of the stories in other locations.
I’d forgotten just how good Angela Slatter actually is. I mean, obviously I’d remembered that she’s a very, very good writer and I’ve recommended her to people constantly, but I’d forgotten that moment where, say, you read Bluebeard for and go “oh, sodding hell, this is brilliant” and go give up on writing for a while because there’s no chance you’ll ever manage something that precise and intricate and resonant. I know this because, the first time I read this, just after Angela and I met and before we were actually friends, I wandered off and tried very hard to do what she did in that story and ended up somewhere very different and nowhere near as good.
But that’s one of the ways writing works, I think. You just keep having conversations with writers who are better than you, except you do it through fiction because telephones are scary and you’re too damn lazy to email people you don’t really know.
And now I go to talk about writing with undergraduates, whereupon I will try to explain writing in a far less esoteric – but potentially more useful – manner.