pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm thinking of starting a Patreon. I know, all the cool kids have done so already, but I am still thinking about it. For good or ill, that is how I roll.

David has supported my writing career since 1981. I have in fact made money from writing, and it came in very handy for any number of things. But after Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary was published in 1998, I didn't sell any more novels. I wrote a synopsis and the first few chapters of a Liavek novel and submitted it to Tor, which rejected it. Then Harry Potter became a sensation, and Sharyn November started the Firebird line at Viking/Penguin and bought up and reissued much of my backlist. She also bought a new novel called Going North. Briefly, I turned the book in late and too long. It was suggested that I expand it into two volumes, which I did; but at that point two-volume fantasy novels were not doing well, so I was asked, and perhaps unwisely agreed, to try and shrink the even-longer revision back down to 100,000 words. This did not go well at all.

Going North was cancelled in 2012, and then took a very long time to be pried loose from the publisher that no longer wanted it. In the meantime, I worked on the Liavek novel and on a number of pieces of short fiction, none of which is as yet finished. I don't work fast, but I have been working. Last year, Patricia Wrede and I put together a collection of our Liavek stories from the original anthologies, added a story Pat had written that never got into any of the anthologies, newly-revised; and also added a brand-new collaborative story about some of the background of our characters and their ancestral connection. This was published by Diversion Books as Points of Departure. Diversion Books did a lovely job on the cover and editing and the entire project was very gratifying. Unsurprisingly, however, it did not really solve our financial problems.

In the meantime, the market for the kind of work David does has been evolving; and we've been limping from crisis to crisis and having a hard time making ends meet. The house has accumulated a lot of deferred maintenance. Once I got the rights to Going North back, I approached various agents with it, but none of them wanted to represent it. I am also, honestly, a bit out of patience with conventional publishing.

In response to this lack of patience, David and I recently started Blaisdell Press and reissued Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary and The Dubious Hills. We are also going to reissue "Owlswater," a Secret Country novella originally published in Jane Yolen's Xanadu series. But reissues aren't enough. We fully plan to publish the new novel. However, it needs to be revised and expanded again from the state I got it into trying to reduce it to the contractually mandated 100,0000 words; and I haven't been able to settle to this properly because I am so worried about money and the state of the house. Also, with timing I will not dignify by describing it, I was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This is stressful, time-consuming, and, even with insurance, expensive.

I am having a very hard time working. If I could generate some income, it would be much easier for me to concentrate as I need to, and we might be able to begin fixing things that need fixing, as well as continuing to pay our share of the mortgage and our health insurance premiums, buy groceries, and so on.

I know that many people write far more than I do while they too are dealing with chronic illness, day jobs, and other very pressing problems. But I write as fast as I write. What I have is this: these are my stories. Nobody else can tell them.

David continues to look for work and to do it when he gets it. He'll be teaching a course this fall, but that doesn't pay as much as it ought to.

I haven't thought through the levels yet, but among the things I am considering offering are such diverse elements as:

Scenes from the short stories I'm working on. These include one about wish-granting merpeople and one about astronomical werewolves. The latter is a result of having removed entire characters wholesale from Going North. There are several others too inchoate for an easy description.

Chapters from the Liavek novel. This takes place after the events of the last Liavek collection, and is about the theater.

Videos of me reading snippets of the offered passages.

Videos of me answering questions that supporters of the Patreon send in.

Cat pictures, of course. Possibly cat videos, though this depends more than photos do on the actual cooperation of the cats.

Chapters of the original very long and extremely opaque Going North.

Chapters of the even longer and still somewhat opaque two-volume version of Going North.

Posts about the process of revising the latest version of Going North, which will be sometimes subtle, but not actually opaque.

If there's actual interest, vegan and veganizable recipes I have made, with commentary. (I eat a diet that is mostly vegan but does encompass fish and occasionally sheep- or goats-milk cheese, but I have recipes for cheese substitutes, and some fish recipes work nicely with tofu.)

I'd like to say garden photos and essays, but the yard is one of the things that needs fixing. Well, there's certainly a lot of it and it does have a lot of things growing in it, as well as birds and dragonflies and bees and so on. So, I suppose, if there was interest in an ex-garden, or a garden that needs to be rehabilitated, it would be fairly easy to write about what's out there.

I know that some of you don't like dealing with unfinished work, or waiting a long time for something you've had a taste of. I will do the best I can not to be more dilatory than necessary.

What do you guys think? Is there anything else you'd like to see, in addition or instead?

Thanks very much.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I have, not exactly in my hand right now, but very near by, and honestly I think I might sleep with it under my pillow, the termination paperwork for The Dubious Hills AND the cancelled and as-yet unpublished sequel to Hills, that is, the work sometimes known as Going North.

This has been imminent for some weeks now and I have been trying to figure out what to do. I will let you guys know as soon as I have.

What I can say is that Going North needs to be re-expanded, not to its former two-volume length, but by perhaps 20,000 words; that probably not all of them will be words that I have already written; and that I am very well, indeed painfully, aware that people have been waiting for far, far too long for this book; so I will do my best to be expeditious.

One might well ask why I didn't do the revisions while I was awaiting the paperwork, but I can only say that they had not come properly into focus, and in fact I needed to write a short story first to get things to line up or clear up or whatever this analogy thinks it is doing just now. I would apologize for my creative process, but that wouldn't make it any less annoying.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
I haven't been posting much because, after a brief moment just after LJ struggled to its feet again in the wake of the latest DDOS attack, when everything seemed to work, LJ is again failing to play nicely with Opera. I can type in entries till I'm blue, but neither the Preview button nor the Post button works. If I click on the link in an emailed comment notification, I can type merrily away in the comment box thus provided, but the Post and Preview buttons do not work. If I attempt to comment directly on a journal, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I can comment on a journal, and if I go back to answer a response, suddenly I can't comment any more. Some journals seem permanently barred ([livejournal.com profile] karenkay, I would pester you a lot more if I could). LJ Support heroically worked on the problem during the DDOS attack, but told me they had been unable to reproduce my difficulty with several different versions of Opera.

I'm using Firefox to post this.

I don't know why I don't just switch to Firefox, aside from a less than healthy hatred of unfamiliar things in my working environment. I think some deep part of my brain, faced with the fact that a particular website does not work with Opera, decides "Forget that website!" rather than "Forget Opera!"

Oh, and I can't post to or comment on Google+, either. Well, I could, but only if I didn't put spaces between words. This would give my comments an interesting flavor of very old classical manuscript, but seems unproductive in the long run. In any case, I'm unimpressed with Google's handling of its insane insistence on real names.

However, I do have some good news. I heard back from [livejournal.com profile] sdn, my fabulous editor. She does not hate the book! It needs more cutting and tightening, as I knew when I sent it off, and hence has been moved from Fall of 2012 to Spring of 2013. This is not, I understand, good news to people who are still actually waiting for the book rather than having found authors who write regularly and don't end up expanding and shrinking their novels as if they were variable stars, but it's good news for me. The book would have needed to be in copy-edit by November if it were to be published in the fall of next year, and now it doesn't have to be in that enviable state until March. Breathing room to make revisions -- with any luck at all, the last revisions this unfortunate composition will need to suffer -- will be useful.

I should make posts about this summer's hiking and about books I've read, but we'll see.

I am reading you all, and I rejoice at your triumphs and am saddened by your sorrows and laugh at your jokes.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
I had meant to mention, my book is due on October 15th, and that is a real deadline. I am really not sure if I'll be about as quiet as usual or post madly when I get stuck. I sometimes think that I should have gotten something like a garden-design program for this book so that I could stick things here and there to see how they looked before committing to any given order of events. I think I have only one more major alteration to make before the end. I think.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
This year Fourth Street left room to drag people onto panels at the last moment. I had an hour and a half's warning of the first one, but missed completely the moment when I was put on the Sunday afternoon panel about how you know when to stop revising. [livejournal.com profile] skzb reasonably felt that, given the situation my book and I are in, I should be on this panel. I didn't have any preparation time at all, however. Furthermore, everybody else was talking about revision driven by the writer or at most by beta readers. What I had to say about that wasn't really different from what the other panelists [livejournal.com profile] truepenny, [livejournal.com profile] matociquala, and [livejournal.com profile] skzb himself) had to say.

Unfortunately, at the time I was in the foggy, foggy middle of formulating what was making me most uneasy about the project of cutting the 375,000 words of Going North and Abiding Reflection down to 100,000 words. I was over being grieved that I had to remove half a dozen characters, and had at least become calloused to cutting a lot of scenes that I loved madly and wanted other people to read. But I hadn't yet realized what was still making me twitchy. I kept thinking, though I didn't think of saying this on the panel, because I don't do well in realtime, that what I needed was to recognize at what point the book was no longer like a book that I would write. This isn't very useful advice to beginning writers in any case, because they don't know yet what the books they will write are going to look like. Every time I cut down a description, or removed a convoluted section of dialogue, or started with the action rather than moving into it crabwise, I would wonder if I had reached the point where the book didn't sound like me. I've always tried to keep all of such tendencies under control, not wanting a book entirely composed of them, but I thought I could go too far.

The problem was elsewhere, though. It was thematic. This book is about a lot of things, but among the ones I am aware of are such diverse elements as family, whether chosen or biological, and in particular mother-daughter relationships; identity, including both disguise and misidentification, and in general the matter of what I've heard Graydon describe as "being present as oneself in the world"; how community is formed and maintained; how romantic relationships are formed and maintained; and how all smaller relationships fit into communities. I just deleted a long conversation between Frances and Arry about why they never visited Arry's paternal grandmother. It's not directly pertinent to the plot, though it acts indirectly on the plot by informing Arry's actions. Her actions are somewhat overdetermined anyway, so that wasn't an issue, but I suddenly saw through the overt structure of the book and into the thematic underlayer and became seriously worried that I was doing a lot of damage to it. I manage that layer primarily by intuition rather than painstakingly thinking it out as I do plot (such as my plots are), and I felt that I might have done something crazy that would result in an earthquake.

I guess we'll see.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
No, this entry is not about the spring, but about my Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Book. Unfortunately, no book or any other prose work of mine has ever been adept at shrinking, and this one is no exception.

Partly at Eric's behest, I'd made some impromptu decisions about where I should be in the revisions when, so that the project, being without external deadlines, would not languish too long. I actually did finish up with Chapter 12 (formerly 16) within a few days of when the calendar said I should. Eric had been strongly urging me to do a word count at this point, so I did.

Sixty-seven thousand, eight hundred and eighteen. What this demonstrates is that, if I had only to cut the book down by half, I'd be doing very well. But since I have to cut it by nearly 75%, this is Not Good Enough. I am taking a few days off to sulk and also to ponder, two states that often come together with me.

I have removed five characters and four subplots, as well as a lot of incidental repetition and indulgent description, but there is no way I will get to the end of this story in another 23,000 words. I haven't decided exactly what to do. There are a lot of intractable and sometimes contradictory requirements. This book is a sequel to two others, and the incluing I already did for the story-so-far was not sufficient, so that has to be done, and it is not exactly simple and straightforward, because simple and straightforward is not what I do. The characters remaining are heavily entangled still with those no longer present, and I'm not proposing to warp their personalities and the past by removing references to the missing. The plot is somewhat ornate, and there is only so far one can simplify it before it becomes simply silly. I use description for characterization, to distinguish points of view, and for pacing and thematic pressure, so I'm not sure how much of that I can get rid of or whether getting rid what I'm willing to sacrifice would even be sufficient.

David asked, when apprised of this dilemma, whether I didn't need to mow the overgrown lawn at one height and then again at a lower one, and this is in general how I want to proceed. However, I'd like to have a few principles in mind as I go through the rest of the book for the first time, even though I know a second mowing will be necessary. The only thing I have thought of so far is to significantly pick up the pace (I hate that a lot) so that what's missing won't have time to make itself known. However, even at the glacial pace of the original, readers complained about not seeing enough of characters who will be offstage for much of the second part of the book, so there are some limits to this approach. Still, at the moment, it's what I have.

I'm planning to save a copy of the first pass through, though, just in case.

P.

P.S. Hey, Jo, the LJ spellchecker thinks that "incluing" should maybe actually be "uncling." As in "uncle me no uncles," I assume, though it could also be a command to let go of something, to peel oneself off.
pameladean: (Default)
The last time I wrote a large post with multiple cuts and subjects, LJ ate it whole and did not even belch. I don't know if I'll try to recreate it or not.

In the meantime, I was settled in for an evening of revising the Amazing Expanding and Shrinking Novel. I think, the last time I wrote an uneaten entry that mentioned the book, I was avoiding Chapter 7.

I just finished Chapter 11 and started work on 12, but it fell apart in my hands. It was short anyway, but it just shrunk from eleven pages to five. This is all right as far as it goes, since I am, after all, supposed to be shortening the book. However, this annoying gimmick of alternating viewpoints means that I need to either put more material in 11, new material, or else that I need to change the viewpoint of part of the next chapter. The next chapter is thirty pages long and can stand to be shorter, but I'm not sure there is a good breaking point. On the other hand, there really is not any new material that wants to go into 11.

I have been rereading the Vorkosigan books backwards, and I think I might just go sit with Cetaganda for a while.

Pamela
pameladean: (Gentian)
I had a migraine all day Monday, and missed going out to Afton to see the Leonids. Unfortunately, this made [livejournal.com profile] carbonel and [livejournal.com profile] arkuat miss them too, since the rearrangements necessitated by my absence caused them to lose their enthusiasm. I did go outside around 1:30 in the morning, when the migraine had lifted, and saw one long streaky meteor, at least.

I have finished Chapter 3 of Abiding Reflection. This is Ruth's first ordinary chapter and was almost entirely existing text, although it had to be smoothed out and altered a bit. I also had to go add bits to the prologue, since the text of the new Chapter 3 referred to information that's been cut, and assumed knowledge the reader no longer could be relied on to have. The prologue is going to need repeated tweaking. I said this to Eric this evening on the phone, and he sensibly suggested that I wait to tweak it until I'm done with the book and know what else I left out.

The next chapter is Arry's, and will be about half new, I think.

I really enjoyed the responses to my last post where I wished people well with their work and some of you told me what you were working on. You can do that again, or different ones of you can do that, if you like.

Pamela

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