Thursday, March 31, 2005

In Like A Lion

Rain and thunder and smothering winds all day today. I sold some DVD's I don't watch or never watched and got some extra cash for Midnight Madness on Friday. I won't be giving plasma, as I know some have done. Although I suppose it's more civic minded than cashing in old DVD's.

I went on a bender and wrote 12 pages in chapter 23, nearly completing it. This one seems to write itself. Darkness and descent. Temptations and garden snakes. The book is up to 550 pages, and I'm not exactly done with 23 tonight, though I doubt I will finish. There's a character I need a name for who for the last three chapters has just been going by as PERSON. My kingdom for a name.

I did this YEARS ago!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Revenge of the Gaelic!

The weather was just gorgeous today. Still is, really. Talked to my good friend Lisa and made plans for the epic Chicago/Indy adventure at the end of April. It will be fantastic to see her as well as Amy and Conan. I can't wait.

Also making plans for Midnight Madness on Friday, which for some reason is becoming just as logisitically challenging. That's why one reason why these things aren't fun anymore, and why Ben is quitting.

I wrote ten pages of chapter 23 tonight, and combined with the five or so remaindered from 21, I somehow managed to be half done with it. That brings the book up to 540 pages, and no doubt about it, 700 was conservative. The tipping point of the book is in here somewhere; I am starting to wonder/worry if the A/B plot structure is working, if it's not too jarring in some places. I've set a goal of finishing this chapter by Friday night.

You know, so I can do Midnight Madness. The shame.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Chapter 21: Owned

Maybe not owned, but I broke through on problem child Chapter 21 the last two nights, writing about fifteen pages, and finishing the chapter. Brings it all up to 530 pages. I don't know how successful it was, or if it gets me where I need to go, but it's a start. I wrote so much I had to excise some of it for chapter 23. There's still probably too much in the way of information in this chapter, a lot of telling of things that can't be shown, and I'm not sure at this point how it can be avoided. Since I've already finished chapter 22, I think I'll go straight into 23.

The best part of 21 was that it dealt with the character who's been kicking around in my head since 1995, if you remember my mention of them. All this has been kicking around in my head since '95 or earlier, really, but this character has been on the bench until just now. I have a lot of ideas and characters in mind from years back.

Star Wars Midnight Madness is coming on Friday. Usually, Hasbro wines and dines you before screwing you over. Not this time.

Charles Webb won't release the sequel to The Graduate until after he's dead. I'm doing this, but with every book I've ever written.

Sunday, March 27, 2005


So I spent Easter alone all by myself. That was weird. At least the weather was nice. Around 60. I went for a long walk down by the river. The first clouds of bugs hovered near the ground, so I guess that means spring has sprung.

I've decided there must be an Archetectonic Novel Help Line. Not just for me, but for any poor soul who foolishly attempts such things. Maybe they can talk you down, or send you an emergency assistance Novel Kit that may include: a thermos of coffee (or Red Bull), arthritis medication for your carpel tunnel, that MOVE THIS CD collection hottie Rachel Perry is hawking on late night TV so you can least get your groove on while you sit and sit and sit and ponder the impossibilities.

I finished Chapter 22 last night, and I don't have any more answers for 21 than I did when I put it aside. With all the exposition I have to get down in it, it's almost more difficult than the first chapters of the first novel. Sigh.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Cancelled Possibilities

'I felt the weight of all the things I wasn’t writing when I was working on this.'

I know there's been some snark about Jonathan Safran Foer, but I found the above interview with him interesting. When he talks about the cancelled posibilities of novels, I know exactly what he means. Lots of roads not taken with this one. Mostly mash.

Novel Mash

I've gotten fairly back on track this past week with the novel. I'm close to finishing what will be Chapter 22, forging ahead with it after not getting any traction on 21. There's just too much going on in it and it got to be like a congressional debate, so I decided I would go do something else rather than sit on my hands. I may continue on that track (if you recall, there were two: Monster Mash track, and Polar Mash track, this being Polar Mash [PM]) until I get my feet under Monster Mash (MM).

I think the 'mash' is pretty much over at this point (leaving me to wonder if there's not too much mash), and before we get to end of novel mash (okay, that's enough) I get to the heart of the drama, the intrigue, and what hopefully is the juicy center of this thing. Someone said each time you write a novel, you learn to write all over again, and that's certainly true with me. On one hand, I feel like I learned how to write this kind of book on the last one; the learning curve was pretty steep. Not so much this time, but I'm learning how to write THIS novel, this 19th century Tolstoy sprawl for the very first time, it's painful and joyous all at once. Oh, to write a simple little roman a clef.

I think this novel is in some way about resisting your nature. The main character believes her life, her choices, her nature, have all been decided for her. This makes her angry, but what really makes her angry is that it doesn't really. If she had a choice, this is who she would be. Does God ever wonder what it would be like not to be God?

Anyways, it's up to 515 pages. "There's no going back now, kid." I'm rounding the corner onto the last third of the novel now. I can see it anyways. Secrets. Lies. Mash.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Presumption of Life

The right to life. The right to die. We argue a lot over just what rights we have nowadays, a lot really for a country that sees its mission as the march of freedom and deomcracy across the globe. Like most every one else, I would prefer that Terri Schiavo live. The bottom line is it's not my decision, and it doesn't matter what I think. This is a fact lost on Congress, on the President, on many people. The argument then spills over into what God wants. What God intends. I don't know what God wants for Mrs. Schiavo. Neither does anyone else. I do know God has nothing to do with it.

God gives us life, and he takes it away. Or at least he used to. We have the power now to keep people alive whether they should be or not. How we make use of that power is a question we must answer for ourselves. If God did not want us to have this power, one that extends into our genes, into outer space - we wouldn't. God cannot answer this question for us, anymore than Terri Schiavo can.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


The first light from an extra solar world has been detected by astronomers. What fascinates me most is the size of these things. They're often much, much larger than Jupiter, but much closer to their star. Is it possible these big guys have Earth size moons? And that they might be more hospitable towards life?

'The guns do not scare inmates any more as safety experts have advised guards not to fire them.'

Publishers can TPO me if they want.

EPIC TRILOGY WARNING AHEAD: Denis Johnson, he who wrote "Jesus' Son", joins the fray.

Midnight Madness

Conflicted on what to do about my book. Books. I've come to see this one I'm supposed to be working on now and it's perenially rejected predecessor as all one work, and so I hem and haw over whether or not to address more immediate concerns with the first one rather than plug away on the second, knowing it's pointless if the first one isn't circulating. So I've done lots of work on both, into the wee hours of the night/morning, to the point where my hands hurt and my eyes are sore.

Somewhere I smell cookies. I believe I'm being seduced.

Polly is contemplating quitting smoking. I think everyone should, but just a word of warning for those who worry about getting fat: I'm what happens when you quit smoking and drinking, but continue to write. You leave the smokes, but alas, get the cookies.

Looking for a job. Looking for any lingering trace of spring.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Out On The Piss

As the Dubs say of going out on a bender. I didn't quite do that last night, but I had one or two (and one for some Irish buddies, such as Sugu and Polly). I got pinched a lot because I wasn't wearing green. Apaprently my Irish name and authentic Irish lineage were not enough to qualify. That's okay, I pinched back.

The book is very frustrating right now. I'm in the middle of one of those terrible exposition scenes that just can't be avoided. These are the times you wish you were writing what I call T-shirt and jeans stories, because you don't have to explain the real world from the ground up. Everyone knows what a cell phone is and how it works, for example. The nice thing about sci-fi is that there a lot of concessions in it (going faster than light, etc.) so you don't have to explain them too much. It's everything else you have to. I'm trying to find a way to do it without it all bunching up together, and most importantly, without it all being boring as hell.

The big problem here is that a lot of the world I've already established comes into question in this scene, and the main character discovers much of what she believed about herself, her family, her people, was wrong. I'm eager to get it down and get through it, because the juiciest bits of this story are on the other side.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


What to say, what to say. Things unspooling here in all sorts of ways. I don't have a great desire to talk about it here, which brings up the issue of why even keep this blog if it doesn't serve to keep my thoughts.

"My work has escaped my control, and I have produced a monster; an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and rather terrifying romance, quite unfit for children (if fit for anybody)..."

This is J.R.R. Tolkien, talking about Lord of the Rings. I thought it apt considering it perfectly sums up my feelings about the book at this point. One reason the aforementioned agent dismissed the book (or I should say its predecessor) was her feeling that it didn't know if it wanted to be a book for adults or for young adults. She doesn't know who it's for. I guess I don't know either. It's for me. What do I want? Do I even know? Some people claim I don't.

I suppose there's no reason to keep playing footsy with the material - what I'm writing now is the second part of a trilogy. Yep. The cliched epic trilogy. There should be hazard signs up for these things. "WARNING: EPIC TRILOGY AHEAD."

It's very slow going writing it. I wrote five pages tonight, which brings up to about 20 in the last two weeks, or barely half the average.

Sugu redesigned his site. And if you've noticed the Star Wars joy around here, it's because of this.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Bit Of A Breather

So I haven't updated in a while. I've been sick, and I've had some disappointment with the writing. Another rejection from an agent. This felt like a stone that had been gathering momentum down hill for quite a while. The peaks and valleys of being a writer are well documented, so suffice to say, I'm in the valley part right now. This must be the long way around. I made a list of agents and I'm pretty much at the end of it. Can't get into grad school to save my life. Sometimes I get real discouraged, and then I think: I'm not made of tougher stuff than this? I guess we'll find out.

John Gardner described the process of writing a novel - let alone the trying to get it piublished for heaven's sake - as a 'fierce psychological battle.' And I'm exhausted, let me tell you. Hit the 500 page wall. I need a time out, coach. So a bit of a breather from the novel as I recouperate and sort out my thoughts.

I am working on the short story. Ten pages or so of that so far.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

This Book Yet To Be Rated

Sugu and I had an idea like this, but I suppose it was inevitable. I have my own thoughts on how to make these kind of innovations work in my own books, so I'll keep them to myself for now (mostly revolves around including ten dollar bills in the jacket of every copy).

The Lord of the Rings honeymoon is over.

Wrote four pages to finish chapter 20 tonight, bringing the book up to 471 pages. Got to the sword fight tonight. As Joss Whedon once said, there's a sword fight because you have to have a sword fight. I suppose that makes the book PG-13.

Ides of March

Don't know all the details, but this seems sufficently gestapo. Makes you wonder. Back in junior high, a fad went around school where we wrote 'gory stories' that basically revolved around mass murder in our school. They were Freddy/Jason clones. I think one was 'Col. Killer' or something. It was ridiculous and we did it only to gross each other out, but I don't know of any of us who grew up to be terrorists. Thanks to Ben for the linky.

Not a lot to say today. Things not so good in casa Darb. I did write seven pages in chapter 20, bringing the book up to 467 pages. I'll likely finish the chapter tomorrow, although I may take a day off. I'm enjoying the book a great deal, but I'm getting to where I want to write anything but what I am now. Something very Iowa, very used bookstore and copied keys.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


The new - and last ever - Star Wars trailer is announced. Let the geek begin. I remember as a kid being very upset after learning there would be no new SW films after Return of the Jedi, and then upon learning of the 'prequels' as they're known now, I just could not wait. Now it's nearly over.

Backstory is a wonderful new blog I've found where writers reveal their stories on the way to publishing. This comes from Buzz, Balls, and Hype which is also a lot of fun.

I realize I report on the progress of the novel here, but say very little about it. A teacher of mine once said writers who talk about their work were somehow sinful; it put me off ever talking about my work, but I understand now he meant writers who talk about writing and books/stories they mean to write but won't, that's the 'sin.' Talking about writing and having your friends unscrew the giant mess you've made of your story, that's a blessing. Still, I'm not gonna talk about the book. Except to say I wrote ten pages in chapter 20 tonight, and probably could have done more if I didn't want to leave some in the tank for tomorrow. The novel is up to 460 pages.