Novelly Goodness

24 March 2001

It's raining out -- a lovely rain no matter what Mark says -- so I'm a little dampish coming in from dinner. It's a good day. Timprov and I drove down to Santa Cruz to hang out with Tim, and I'm really excited about the novel I'm on, and the two that I intend to write after it. Really really excited. And I'm excited about Timprov's new stories. And I'm excited about Tim's new novel.

This seems like it's a pretty fabulous place for a writing group to be. I would hope that it can be fairly common, if you pick your group right. But it's by no means guaranteed. Timprov and Tim have both had ideas that sounded fabulous and ideas that sounded good but turned out fabulous. I have a lot of faith in both of their writing. It's just nice to be able to be actively excited and looking forward to reading new stuff.

And even nicer, of course, to have direction for my work that I'm really happy with. Tim accuses me of being the novelist equivalent of a chain smoker: that I will light each book from the dying ashes of the last one. While I'm not sure I like the idea of my books dying in ashes, going up in flames, or any of the other related metaphors, I really like the idea of trying to minimize "down time" between novels. I needed it after Fortress because I was not sure how to write the next book. I needed it after The Grey Road because the only book I could definitely have written right then was the third other place book, and I didn't want to do that. And then I figured out that it was Anton's and Moira's story that needed to be told next, and all was well.

But now, I'm pretty sure I could sit down and write either The Tides Between the Worlds (the third other place book) or the one that prompted Thursday's entry. I'm working on an outline for the latter, and I'll probably do an outline for the former pretty soon, too, because I'm going to write up the series synopsis. Aaaagh. Synopses suck. And what sucks worse than a synopsis? A synopsis for books I haven't written yet! Yaaaay! (I know, I know. They don't hold you to the synopsis anyway, and I should want to get used to doing these, because if you can sell books on the basis of the synopsis, you're in. But it's still scary and weird.)

And I resent the heck out of my paying work for taking time away from all this novelly goodness. (Novelly goodness. For some reason that sounds like it should taste like a malt. A chocolate malt, in case Sarah or her boyfriend reads this one.) (My synaesthesia is not very strong, but it's there.) But then I think about it and remember that I'm getting paid to learn stuff and then write about it. And that's pretty awesome.

This is what's wrong with our school system: most teachers believe that learning stuff is a necessary chore. They try to "make learning fun." Nobody "makes trips to Disneyland fun." Nobody "makes cartoons fun." Because those things are already supposed to be fun. Learning can be like that, too. Really. But not if you force the issue. Not if it has to have chocolate coating to make it go down easier and you can't go in swimming after for what, an hour? A good hour. Yeah. Not like that.

When I was a little girl, I thought I didn't like fun. Because whenever someone's mom or a camp counselor or whoever said, "Oh, come on! It'll be fun!", I was guaranteed a miserable time. Absolutely guaranteed. It didn't occur to me to dub the "fun" things "no fun." Nope. It was clear that I just didn't like fun.

I think it would be a lot of fun to sit down and mess with the characters from the alien diplomacy book. I may do that tonight. Or I may work on a longer entry, inspired by Marilyn Vos Savant and Columbine. We Shall See, she said in somber and mysterious tones.

(I have this bad habit of tagging my dialog in real life, too. This is one thing about journals: it's hard to tell where people's prose styles intersect with their speech styles. Sadly, this is one place where mine do.)

(Has anybody noticed that I keep proclaiming different things to be The Problem With Our School System? Does this give you an idea of how messed up I think it is? All of these things strike me as big enough to be The Problem all by themselves. In case you were wondering.)

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