April 28th, 2006

viking princess necklace

Grimly and copper and titles and Bert

I am coming to the part of this book where "said Soldrun grimly" is going to have to be expunged a million times in the next draft. She says a lot of stuff grimly. That's kind of how it goes. I could fuss about it now, or I could just write it down and move on to the next bit and handle it in revisions. It's one of those things that goes remarkably easily in revisions, not like getting the timing of character deaths wrong by a decade or more, or neglecting to write major plot points. (She said, carefully not looking at the manuscript of Sampo.)

Speaking of which, I was thinking about alternate titles for Sampo again. I was hoping to find something that went with Thermionic Night and Midnight Sun Rising a bit more, but so far Copper Mountain is all I've got. I like it because it's not only the traditional/mythical name of the place where most of the book takes place, but also refers to all the copper wire being strung about it over the course of the book currently known as Sampo. I'm not sure, though.

All the other ideas I've come up with have sounded like short story titles to me. Do you draw distinctions? Are there things you think make fine short story titles and terrible novel titles? Can you articulate why, or at least give examples?

My allergies are still rather miserable, but seem to be tapering off a bit with the rain. My aunt and uncle are down at my folks' house already. markgritter's folks are coming to town tomorrow, and my grands will make it up from New Ulm sometime Sunday. (They're going to a wedding there this weekend.) And markgritter's post of the best Ernie and Bert bit ever made me laugh so hard I fell over. (But has Bert always been from the East Coast? Did no one warn me? I just thought he talked funny when I was little, like any other Muppet talked funny, not like, you know, a specific talking funny.)

Angry with Bronson Alcott Yet Again

I wonder if it's a good idea to write a book because I'm really angry. I've read books recently by people who are very good writers technically, but the specific books made me think, "Why would you write that many words about something you clearly disliked that intensely?" And yet, this future 19th century utopian commune science fiction YA novel, I think it will have things in it I like, wood and apples and aliens and people who are willing to do what they have to do to leave it all behind.

Still and all. Today I went for a walk in the rain alone with the dog. I wore sturdy boots and cotton (denim) trousers and a warm wool jacket. We walked by the lake and past the slough and through the trees, and I noticed the violets coming up in the park, and the water lilies on the lake, and where a child had cut a path through the woods from the apartment complex, using a bad pocketknife (and I know what those paths look like, because I was once that child, and I had a bad pocketknife too, then). I kept the dog from disturbing the nesting mallards in the bushes. I watched how the rain made the white petals fall from the flowering trees. I knew they would like all of it. And I knew they meant that someone else should do all this, not a grown woman and not a technophile and certainly not a grown woman technophile. And I thought, well, screw you, Bronson Alcott, grown woman technophiles can notice violets, too. (I find myself thinking, "Screw you, Bronson Alcott!" with increasing force with each of Louisa May Alcott's books I reread as an adult. It's really alarming, the level of hostility I am developing towards this long-dead man.)

And then I think I haven't progressed as a writer since I was 11 years old and desperately wanted there to be a new ending of Rilla of Ingleside where Walter didn't die, because this book on the back burner, the one I've barely started to research, is really about getting Louisa May Alcott free of her father. And Louisa May Alcott isn't even in this book. But Magdalen Branch is, and there is a bad pocketknife in the pocket of her apron, and I can feel it all, the worn cotton around my hand and the smooth wood and rusting metal of the knife, and I can smell the rust and the flour and the goldenrod as she walks off, and I know I will write this book one of these days whether it's a good idea to do it or not.