Thursday, 21 November 2013

Next up: Suckerpunch

After giving myself about a week's (okay, ten days') rest after finishing up Scorpion 3, I'm starting to get back into the groove to write. Next up is "Suckerpunch", the "Counterpunch" sequel. It' all part of a larger concept, and there will be news about that pretty soon, too. My deadline is 7 January, which might be tight - though considering that I'm going to devote 2014's solo writing entirely to WWII historicals, that allows me to do both. It's just a week sliced off that big block of time.

So I did some plotting and have about 90% of the book in my head now. (All outlines suck.) I hope I'll get it right, but at this moment, I don't worry too much. Right now, it looks like of of the "easy" books (he said before it bit him in the face). Though, "Counterpunch" was easy and quick and I loved writing it. So maybe it's that memory of the previous book that makes me so optimistic.

Lori and I wrote "Payoff", which is the third Tristan, Jared and Rolex short story. I've done my editing pass on that yesterday and Lori has to give it another pass and then we're on.

Then our long cop story has returned from the editor - I spent last night going through the line edits he made. There are also about 400 comments in the text that will require a measure of tucking and nipping and general rewriting. I'm hoping to get my pass done by Sunday.

So that's my 2014 line-up, and I think it's looking pretty good overall. No releases yet for 2015, though I'm hoping to get a couple of my dozen or so current projects across the finishing line.

Then I had a very good meeting with Caroline, who's a poet. The care and attention and frankly bloody-minded struggle it takes to get a poem on the page has always been an inspiration. I'm not a poet my any stretch - it takes more discipline and attention than I have. I was born with a linguistic chain saw and that's how I'm writing. Poets are neurosurgeons. Chainsaws and brain surgery don't go naturally together.

That said, I do believe there's much prose writers can (and should) learn from poets. My editor never tires (well, I guess he does, but he's very gracious about it) to tell me to "trust the reader" when I over-write and over-explain. Well, in poetry, you can't really explain. The lines stand and fall on their own merit, naked and exposed to the reader's questioning mind.

The other thing is seeking the right word. One of my poet friends said that one wrong word kills a poem, a wrong sentence kills a short story, and a wrong chapter kills a novel. The margin for error on such a small space is almost non-existent. (See how writing poetry would turn me into an anxious ball of writer's block?)

Another thing is sound. Poems are by nature musical, rhythmic and sound-based. Funnily enough, that's how I read. If I read the lines of anything to myself in my head, I hear and feel the words like breath and sound, though they are neither. I definitely hear and feel my own words. If a line is clunky, if an author is very clearly tone deaf, I just can't read it. It makes me itchy and antsy like free jazz. Just can't. So, awareness of rhythm and sound.

Which made me aware that, while I have poetry on my bookshelves, I have not recently read any. This is complicated by the fact that about 90% of what I own in terms of poetry is in German. Not sure what effect German poems will have on English prose, but the thought is a bit daunting. That said, I think my literary novels will benefit tremendously if I add poetry to my mental diet in addition to all the non-fiction I've been reading. I'll attempt to borrow some of those skills. I'll also try to get my hands on readable contemporary fiction written in the rough area where my books are set. I already read "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky, and while I didn't particularly like it (it didn't age very well), it had good details that I'd never considered (such as the rate of electrification in rural France).

In any case, I've loaded up the Kindle with a number of books on boxers and have subscribed to a number of boxing news sites. (Bad timing, too. The very day I did, I learned that David Haye's retiring because of a fucked-up shoulder and his fight with Tyson Fury is off. On the positive side, Vasyl Lomachenko, who had me gobsmacked during the Olympics because I've NEVER seen a boxer use angles like that, has gone pro and seems to be doing well. It's the pure boxing drama - pros fall, new hot talent rises up.)

So, I'll be quiet and hopefully productive, though tumblr and twitter should be good places to get updates as they happen. I do like posting snippets on tumblr and twitter is just chatting with people and being silly and sharing cool stuff.

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