Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The New New Year

I had a reasonably nice holiday weekend. I watched a few movies read a lot in between checking on the Weather Channel. It looks like the first bands of the remnants of Gustav will reach us this afternoon, but we'll only get about half an inch of rain. It's pretty windy now, while still sunny, but I don't know if that's normal Texas wind or Gustav wind.

I kind of treat the day after Labor Day as a second-chance New Year's Day, I guess going back to the idea of the start of the new school year. It's a chance to re-group after the laziness of summer and re-focus on more serious goals. It's also when I start really thinking of fall, which means I start getting a little more domestic. Hey, I cleaned the bathroom yesterday! I'd like to have my house reasonably clean before the holiday season, and I need to get back into the exercise habit I let slip after WorldCon. I also really want to stick with the writing/productivity schedule I've established.

Today my big task is digging into The New Project and doing a serious revision, using everything I've learned lately to really take it up a notch or two. In addition to those screenwriting books I've been reading, last week I picked up a book on revising fiction. The table of contents is essentially a checklist of "did you ..." questions, and it's kind of paranoia-inducing, especially when I'd never heard of some of the terms they were using. Of course, if I hadn't heard of the term, that meant I probably hadn't used that literary device. Oh no! And then, just to make me more insecure and paranoid, if you did use that device, the next question was did you over-use it? No matter what you do, it's wrong!

But more seriously, the book used examples from works that have existed in multiple forms, such as first being published in a magazine, then later as a book, or starting as a short story and later extended into a novel, with the author getting the chance to revise in between. That showed how the suggested types of changes really worked and how great authors revised their own work. I'll have to see if it's of any value to me. The book is pretty old (I found it at a used bookstore, and my guess is that it's long out of print, as I've never seen it new in a store, not even at writing conferences where they bring in books about writing) and it's focused more on literary fiction, but paranoia aside, the table of contents as a checklist alone may be worthwhile for things to think about.

Meanwhile, I seem to have developed what I can only describe as a restless itch. I feel like I need to be doing something extraordinary or making some major change, but I don't know what. When I get like this, I tend to buy airplane tickets on a whim and head off to strange places, but I can't really afford the time/money right now. Or I redecorate my house, with the same time/money constraints. I guess I need a little adventure in my life every so often, but I haven't decided what the adventure should or could be. It's not a strong urge at the moment, just a nagging little sense that something needs to be done. I should probably channel this into a book (and it's entirely possible that it developed from a book, where I took on a character's feelings).

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