>To start again

>So I turned the latest book (DOG AND DRAGON) in on Wednesday. At some stage Toni will read it, and hopefully like it. At some stage the Australian Dollar will strengthen to a 10 year peak and I will get paid. Currency manipulators could hire me.

For a day or two I just had pure burnout. Glad to go out and fish and do some of the vast list of round-tuits that have built up. Dive for Abalone, cover myself in gooey little bits of it. (What? Do you mean you DON’T? Oh. But it is so good for your fur. Honestly, ask any hairy chested damsel out there. Really, you need to try it. Especially you poor bald-chested folk. It stops the deposition of all that fat on chest too. That only happens to cold chests to protect them. You can see this because of the hypertophy in the ones with insufficient clothes to keep warm.) Then I got onto chasing people who are late paying for shorts, and trying to sort out just WHY we’re still waiting on CRAWLSPACE AND OTHER STORIES (Tomorrow, we are promised. We will see), and to follow up on the contracts for WITHOUT A TRACE. I even had a go with Audacity (programme, not lady-of-ill repute) reading one of my shorts aloud. I want to put this up somewhere and am not too sure how or where. – So ideas welcome*

Now I am starting on phase two of recovery. Which is reading fiction again. The latter part of a book just lacks time and I read nothing except research material. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you but there are books / authors I turn to get myself wanting to write again. Call it hero worship if you like. For me it’s Zelazny – probably ‘I Immortal’ right now, or ‘Jack of Shadows’ – and a good happy wallow in a Heyer or two. A Pratchett – Probably Small Gods or Pyramids, but possibly my friend Moist Von Lipwig. And probably a Michael Scott Rohan – who I suspect is an author’s author as he never really hit the audience spot that Jordan or GRRM did – but appeals almost infinitely more to me. Then I might read Goblin Reservation or Way Station again just to be reassured that rural writers had readers. After this I’ll move onto some newer fiction, some of which I will hate. But returning to these roots is what shapes me and makes me desire to be a writer. Any books that do this for you?

Phase 3 will be writing proposals as the voices start clamoring to get out, and maybe a short or two. And then, once more, body, mind and soul into the book-pit. At which point some Kindly One** will intervene with edits or proofs or something, and I will have extracate myself and worse, get back in. Usually this stage is reached in about 2-3 weeks, with goatgaggers (Heirs of Alexandria books) taking me longer to recover from. They’re much longer books.

So: as we’ve all said – never write one book/story… how do you guys cycle back in? Do the books you read shape the direction your next book will take? They do for me.

*Slice and ‘where the monkey keeps its nuts’ are not ideas. They are places. Geography.
** You should get a better Classical Mythological education if you want to follow my obscure sarcasm. Sneaking in ‘in jokes’ in your prose is one of the small compensations for the pay-rates.


  1. >I just finished a first draft as well. Of course, mine are a lot draftier than yours . . . I took a look at my accumulated "to be read" pile, shuddered and found an old favorite. The new books will have to wait for the head to empty a bit more.Something recently reminded me of an author I'd never been able to find anywhere but libraries. Ah! But now! Once I'd managed to dredge "James Oliver Curwood" out of my forgettery, I was ready to remedy that past problem. I only bought one, since my tastes may have changed in thirty years. But since they're all "Call of the Wild" with romance added, I suspect I'll be buying and reading them all.It'll be interesting to see what effect, if any, they have on my writing.Then I've got twelve books in the to-be-read pile. Mostly fiction but a few non as well.Clearly I need to whittle that pile down before I start writing again. And it's spring, I think the last frost has passed and I can start out there. Horses are shedding, need to brush them, might even try something strange, like riding . . . So the world may be safe from my writing for quite a while.

  2. >Matapam -sounds a similar process – including not being able to face new fiction (which could be good or bad) for a while. It'd be nice if all those 'never found anywhere but the library' become available as e-books! I'd get all the Grace Ingram / Doris Sutcliffe Adams books – for a start.

  3. >After a period of writing, I go back to buying new fiction and am often disappointed. I quite often fall for the old, 'If you enjoyed Leiber, you'll love so and so…'Or worse yet, the word, "Tolkienesque".I know this is a trap and a terrible weakness of mine, but just can't resist. Anyway, quite looking forward to finishing off Rowenas's KRK trilogy and reading a book of novellas by Steven Erikson.

  4. >Hey, Dave. Congratulations on finishing the novel – enjoy your break you deserve it.Catch a few squid for me! I still remember the taste of that abalone in garlic butter:)Beware of the aliens that visit Mt Strzelecki. Apparently writers who have recently 'discharged' a novel ring louding in the psychic spectrum, sort of like the ringing of a hollow bell.

  5. >I've only "finished" one book so far, so I can't really answer this as meaningfully as you and Pam have. But I do run into patches where I'm burned out and can't seem to write anything that isn't crap. The Characters don't stop demanding. I just can't seem to do any of them anything remotely resembling justice until I regain some sort of equilibrium …For me, hands down, it's the first half of "The Silmarillion". Sadly, I've read the second half fewer than half-as-many times … "Of Turin Turambar" is my favorite segment of fiction ever written by anyone, but I simply CAN'T turn the page and just keep reading past Hurin's death. But that's the thing that inspires me to TRY again. Try, knowing I'll never come anywhere near that incredible emotional avalanche. But try anyway, bacause the mountain is there and demands to be climbed.Another "old friend" that's been very helpful was David R. Palmer's "Emergence", but I have to go scour the used-book stores for a "new" copy because I can't remember whom I lent it to.

  6. >One thing about fantasy is that sometimes you can be supprised.A lot of the memes are so ingrained that just by saying Dwarf you have images of miners and stocky migets greedy for gold and growing impressive beards.That is one reason I so love Bujold fantasy. She abandoned the Tolkien/English myth and played around in a Spanish and Rural American myth world. With Dragon Ring, you played with a hodpodge of myths, but it held together because you intentionally made the world a hodpodge world. With a lot of people wallowing in Celtic and Norse mythos, when someone comes out with a new suprise in their sources. One of the most awesome Vampire stories was a British TV Series called Ultraviolet, that subverted the vampire mythos in a great way while working within it. If people have new stories within common mythos, sure, I would look, however, If a see another Eddings quest, or a Celtic rehash, I will get angry, oh yes.

  7. >Yay for Michael Scott Rohan! Which one do you think you will read? Maxie's Demon or A Spell of Empire are my favourites if I am just after a fun read.

  8. >Chris L – I always find setting up an expectation like that is a serious mistake. After all, for say the true Lieber fan, it's a pretty hard to out-lieber Fritz Lieber. I really hated that with expectation built around the Karres books.

  9. >Hi Chris McMahon – had our own calamari tonight and were just talking about your kids reaction to it! The Aliens on Strzeleki can still be killed with mind bullets šŸ™‚

  10. >Stephen – that's exactly what I mean! Go back to writers who made me say "That's what I aspire to." No, I'll probably never reach half of it. But that lifts me, lets me know again, just how a book can transport me.

  11. >Voradams – the trouble with 98% of Celtic/English set fantasy is that it's derivative of derivative. So it's very alike, and um, quite often historically wrong. A lot of it is a bad mix of Tolkein (intrinsically Norse) and Geoffrey of Monmouth's Arthurian (which is coloured by the Norman conquest) – I actually like playing with it to give it a different take. Not that I don't enjoy most of the other mythos I've abused as well – but there is something about taking a topic others have (over)used (which is therefore familiar to readers) – and shining a very different light on it. Dog and Dragon for example is set in Cornish mythology – which in theory is a part (very much a part) of the Arthurian Celtic world. Yet, I suspect it is quite different to the Dwarves and elves of other 'Arthurian' tales.

  12. >Brendan: Probably A spell of Empire. I so wanted a sequel to that. Or I might read Gates of Noon again – simply because I like Ape šŸ™‚

  13. >NEWSFLASH! In the latest exciting development CRAWLSPACE AND OTHER STORIES is up on Amazon and selling gangbusters… well, one copy so far šŸ™‚

  14. >Actually, I thought Slice was a rather nice place, if you didn't mind the lack of sun. And everyone knows you don't use the 'm' word around a certain Librarian. Besides, I'm quite sure where you keep your nuts is WAY TMI.Seriously? (well, sorta) – can you put some of the readings up on your blog as links? I think Blogger lets you do that. Then you can warn people of the dire effects of listening to your voice, give them a nice little embedded media linky, and they'll click away out of curiosity. (YouTube also works – you could even put up a kind of slideshow of your Flinders photos with it so they've got lovely scenery to go with your voice. I think that would be really fun, especially if you could get a positively mind-blowing disconnect between visual and audio going.)Okay. I clearly need to be in bed and should NOT be trying to catch up after Lunacon. Next I'll start on the bishop and actress jokes and we'll ALL be doomed.

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