Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So Many Books

I know my brain must be back into writing mode because I haven't been able to sleep. My brain just keeps going and going until I finally give in to exhaustion. Then last night, just when I finally fell asleep, my heater kicked on (for the first time in weeks), and the noise woke me up. I know it was kind of cold, but not that cold, and it seemed like the heater was making things too hot, so I got up and turned the heater off entirely, and then it took me another two hours to get back to sleep. I guess I have incentive to finish these revisions if I ever want to rest again.

I was having trouble getting to work on much of anything yesterday afternoon, so I used things I tend to procrastinate about as a way of procrastinating. I loaded up some things I needed to mail (that I probably would have put off mailing for a day or two longer) and my library books in my backpack and walked to the post office, then to Walgreen's to drop off some film for developing and then to the library to return my books. As much work as I have to do, somehow books became suddenly incredibly appealing to me. I kept grabbing one after another, until I could barely fit them in my backpack for the walk home. There were so many things I wanted to read, and I had to remind myself firmly that they would be there some other time. Besides, it's not like I don't have a towering to-be-read pile and a box of books from my editor. It's a sickness, I guess (and I really don't want the cure).

The long walk alongside the flooded canals (so they looked like real rivers) was good for my creativity, though. I wasn't quite coming up with the logical planning I thought I needed, but I did start dreaming up scenes. Later when I sat down to do the logical planning, it became a case of finding the explanation behind the scenes. What would be going on in the background to cause such a scene to take place? That really got me started thinking, and now I have an even stronger understanding of how my magical world works in the background and who the real power players (no pun intended) are.

Meanwhile, that helped me figure out how one of my subplots tied into the main plot, and in a weird bit of synergy or serendipity or whatever you want to call it, that tied back to some research I did when I first had the idea for the first book. When all I knew was that I wanted to write about a magical company in modern-day New York, I started researching the kinds of businesses you might find in lower Manhattan that had been there forever and that possibly began in Europe before coming over to the US to use as a model for my corporation. I read this giant tome on the history of the House of Morgan (and felt very in-the-know when I was at a party at the home of a friend whose husband used to be the dean of the business school at NYU, and they had the very same book on their bookshelf in their home), but ended up going with more of a software company as the model for my business when I actually started writing the book. Now, though, I need a financial company, and I have all these notes on the House of Morgan. I guess I wasn't wasting my time when I spent a week or so one summer plowing through a book on the history of a bank.

Then I had another case of serendipity. I have a spiral notebook full of random character information, stuff like archetypes for villains and heroes, character ideas I dream up that I don't have a book for yet, etc. When I need a character to show up to deliver the mail or other "spear carrier" (from the opera world) roles, I can find a ready-made character to plug in. Quite often, that character comes to life and moves into a larger role. I was flipping through for some character ideas for what I imagined would be a brief walk-on part, and I was pretty sure it would be a man, but I flipped to the wrong page and hit a female character type and had a sudden burst of inspiration that then created a whole scene in my head, which solidified the subplot and added a layer to my "what's going on behind the scenes" ideas.

The problem is, I keep coming up with new scene ideas and haven't yet found anything to delete, and the book is already huge. There's one plot thread that I'm going to change, I think, and some of the new stuff may replace that. I guess I'll find out once I really start rewriting.

Meanwhile, when I was sitting on the chaise in the library/loft and working, my attention kept straying to the giant to-be-read pile on my bookshelf. I caught myself really wanting to dig into some of those books (in spite of the stack I just got at the library). I may set up a plan to try to read at least one of those books per month, with the understanding that if I can't get into it, it gets put immediately into a bag to be donated to a Friends of the Library book sale. It would still take me years to get through that pile, even if I don't add to it.

No comments: