Science is  discovery. Science is the quest for understanding. Science is also a way to think about writing novels.

I read a fascinating article from the Scientific American blogs today. Not only was it informative and thoughtful, it also provoked thoughts of writing.

I am often disheartened by the Rules of Writing. Do this. Do that. Here’s a check list for Character Development. Follow it for Instant Success. Here’s another checklist for Plot. And one for Structure.

And oh, by the way, here’s ten tips to make you an incredibly successful self-promoter. (I obviously don’t follow those!)

The point is, writing does have rules. A rule. But it is quite simple. Write well.

Subset: learn grammar. Learn punctuation. Learn to read your own writing analytically so you can eliminate all the unnecessary words and tangents that bog down the story.

Now that is hard. Check lists are much easier. Ergo, people like them.

This article discusses the origins of life, the adaptation of bacteria to a new food source, the consistent relationships between size and actions in cities and animals, and reminds us to get off the internet!

How does all this relate to writing?

Well, /  I’ve discussed it here, /  just one click  (internet, ah irony!) away.

I meant to take Labor Day Weekend off. I’d worked frantically and frenetically to finish my experimental young adult novel by the 31st of August. Pretty much accomplished my goal. Over 70k words, and some good editing / revising. I needed a break after that intense month of writing. Not to mention the horrifying realization that all I’d done was give myself three novels in revision instead of two.

But then it got hot. We’ve had such a gloriously cool summer so far, with too much snow remaining in the mountains for my son’s backpacking endeavors. I know many will say I’m complaining irrationally. Ninety degree days in September are not so bad compared to ninety degree days in July / August. The temperature goes up and down quickly — a spike rather than a long curve on a graph. And our nights almost always fall into the 50s. But I am very heat intolerant, and even with air conditioning it enervates me.

Thus my break became, so far, twelve days. I’ve stopped reading so many blogs and articles, read a few good books instead of (hopefully)  writing them, and didn’t post on either blog or on twitter. Which, by the way: I find I am using twitter more and more for posting interesting articles I find, and finding interesting articles to read. So less posting here.

Not a break from thinking, of course. As always, when I take time away from writing I find ideas rise.  In this case, too, I’ve been dreaming.

I’m not one for ‘interpreting’ dreams, but it is also quite obvious that sometimes dreams are telling you things.  Funnily enough, the last five nights I have had astonishingly clear dreams. No bizarre symbols or abstruse analogies. My dreams have been acting out, clearly and precisely, the issues I am grappling with. And, as a bonus, leading me into that marvelous light-wakefulness where ideas are born like Aphrodite from Zeus — whole and complete. I now know what my next project will be, how to work out a complicated emotional issue in the main novel under edit, and how to shape my time wisely to achieve (hopefully) my goals.

I am still pursuing little goals in the hopes of training myself for the larger ones. It seems to be working. I am making myself do things I am afraid of, reaching out to people I would previously been hesitant to approach, and remembering to do little things that make a big difference in mood. I am hiking (walking, if you’re a serious hiker) and have discovered a new and beautiful lake (not hard to do in this part of the world), and am finding out how very many wonderful hikes/ walks there are within a few minutes of town.

Last night we went for a walk under a salmon-pink full moon. A ten minute drive from home, up a path through an oak and fir forest to emerge in a hilltop meadow. The lights of town below, the Coastal Mountains silhouetted against the dying sunset, a strong, cold breeze blowing away the last heat of the day. Then back into the shadowy forest, leaves rustling, crickets and frogs chirping, and that wonderful full moon apparently dancing about in the clear sky as the trail twisted its way down the hillside.

This walk will, of course, be found in a story eventually. If only I had the right words to evoke how it actually was….

Taking this unexpectedly long break has also allowed me to reaffirm my plans for my life. The hardest parts of any life-change are patience and consequences. Patience to go slowly, and to work through setbacks with steadfast resolve.  And consequences, or the fear of, are debilitating. One must be constantly assessing and reassessing what one is doing, what one is working toward, to minimize harm to others and to self, but also to be ready to answer if opportunity knocks.

I wish I had a better sense of balance for such teeter-tottery living. However, my dreams seem to be convinced that I’m clear on what’s important to me. I hold fast to that in the midst of all the uncertainties.

A Cat Toy To Free Humans?

August 30, 2011

Cats know perfectly well that you are dragging the feather or string, that you are tossing the catnip mouse, that you are controlling the laser pointer. If you try to do anything else, they stop and stare at you until you give them your full attention again. Rather like human toddlers, they seem to need you to watch them play.

I saw this today. Would it, just possibly, free me from servitude to my Feline Overlords? Could I program it to sufficiently random movement, or must it be controlled in real-time? And either way, would I still have to devote myself to Their Amusement, or could I write and play with them simultaneously?

Not that I don’t want to involve myself with their antics, but when they keep poking at me, demanding I stop writing and come play, I get annoyed. This might be useful.

Over the next month I’m planning to write, in its entirety, a young adult speculative fiction novel.  I’m posting daily updates for the writing stats, but they’ll always be on my other blog, Adjacent Possibilities, which links from this page. Here is a link to the initial post:  70k Words in 39 Days — Or — Yes, I’ve Gone Bonkers

Yes, I am insane. But it is a challenge I needed. And a way to force myself to learn some things, especially about ebook publishing, that I need to know.

Today I also posted /  a bit of the beginning./  Take a peek — it’s not so very bad, I promise!

Comments are welcome.

I’ve put up a post and tweeted on this.

I really, really need to get back to writing. I’ve set myself a goal of 70k words, written, revised, and edited by the end of August, and mustn’t let myself get so distracted.

But I am angry, and I am curious.

Please go to /  this post from my other blog /. After you read that, would you go to the hashtag given, and let me know how you would have responded, or what you think about the issue: are writers somehow intrinsically less intelligent than mathematicians?

Thank you!

Words Matter

July 20, 2011

Synchronicity is intriguing. You are thinking about something, and suddenly you see it all around you. I suspect it’s largely because we see what we are thinking about.

For the last couple of months I’ve been thinking about words. And language. Reading Wittgenstein. Trying to get a sense for what language means in defining the world or describing the world.

I was delighted with this comic:

You draw a graph.
You click ‘correlate’.
And Google finds a data set whose graph closely matches what you’ve drawn.

My writing career correlates, with very high degree, to:

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    Maybe I should learn more about dubstep.

    An approximation of my birthday gave me these correlations. Not so close, but quaint.

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