Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Strange days

Well, it is a strangely anticlimactic moment (if I could celebrate, it would be by going back to bed, but that is unfortunately not an option!), but it seems to me that as of about half an hour ago I was writing the last words of the last scene of The Snow Queen...

I have had a thirty-day writing streak. I wrote in the region of 1500 words a day. I did not skip a day. This is the way to get big things written, but it takes a toll, I will hope not to have to do this again any time soon!

The elephant in the room: I have been writing by hand, I now have c. 45,000 words to type and edit in the next nine days, the manuscript is due on Friday the 13th!

(Good thing I have a black cat to give me moral support.)

It is not really finished, even aside from the typing question.

Though I am a firm believer in writing things straight through from beginning to end, I had to skip some conversations and bits of description in the last section of the book (Lapland!) when I realized (a) that I had only the vaguest idea about the logistics of travel from Karasjok to Spitsbergen, (b) that it would be a good idea, before putting words in the mouth of alternate-universe George Orwell (who is traveling with the same herd of reindeer that Sophie is!), to dip into some journals and biographies of real-world Eric Blair, and (c) that I could not afford to stop and do the research when I could press through and reach the end.

I also need to go back and reconcile some plot set-up in the opening sections with the way things work out later on, and do a bit of pondering and re-writing to have it all make more sense.

And of course there are always the queries - here's a sample list of what I always think of as "fact-checking" points, even when I am writing fiction, from the first third of the book, and I will certainly have another page or two of similar points for what I've written in the past month:

But I am now going to have a blessed twenty-four hours off from everything to do with novel-writing, and though I must dig in and get started on the monstrous typing job tomorrow, I have also just had a quick stop at the library, where I was able to pick up a bunch of really lovely stuff I had requested from the offsite storage facilities.

Here is the pile of books I am going to delve into to sort out Spitsbergen issues - in fact a pile of books like this is probably the prospect that most fills me with joy of all sights in the world, so my spirits lift at the thought of this part of the job:

(I am not sure it is the best book of the bunch, but surely the prize for best title goes to The Trottings of a Tenderfoot!)

It is a strange ending, and a strangely proportioned book. I was having some musings the other day about the way the shadow of the atomic bomb (the mushroom cloud!) darkens the children's fantasy literature of the early twenty-first century: it is very strong in Garth Nix and Philip Pullman, and certainly in my books also. My closing scenes, in the Snow Queen's palace, are highly and intensely literary - aside from the obvious precedents in Hans Christian Andersen and Pullman, I was thinking of Susan Cooper's Silver on the Tree, and Madeleine L'Engle's Camazotz, and a scene set in a castle in Dorothy Dunnett's Dolly and the Nanny Bird (those books are an intense guilty pleasure of mine, only I have read them so many times that I have leached all the pleasure out of the rereading exercise), and Malvolio's prison in Twelfth Night.

(Of course the Snow Queen is much like the White Witch of the Narnia books also.)

The force-field that keeps Mikael inside his ice chamber is from Star Trek: The New Generation, and the color and quality of the light that glances off the force-field is like the purple stuff emitted by those weird automatic fly-catching devices!


  1. Congratulations!

  2. That was totally fascinating - not in a fireworks way, but in an engrossing, ref. guy secreting blogs behind his reference desk sort of way.

    About the post-atomic fantasy: isn't the period of fantasy-as-[ahm ...]-"not-as-dark" relatively short? What became today's fairytales, of course, were rife with pessimistic (yet practical) life lessons.

  3. Thanks for naming these books that grip your imagination -- I want more!

  4. What a marathon, heh! Lovely to hear you've crossed the - no, I will not say it! And I'm going to be very curious to compare your ice chamber to Corvus's ice cave, the latter having perhaps having a greater literary antecedent in Don Quixote.

  5. Congratulations on finishing!

    Do you revise/rewrite while you're transcribing the written draft into the computer? Or do you just type it all in as is and then revise later?

  6. Presumably typing well underway now.

    45,000 words - ah, no bloat!

    Geeky pedantry insists that I comment:
    Star Trek: The Next Generation

  7. Maybe illustrations to The Snow Queen book by award-winning Ukrainian artist Vladislav Yerko will add a drop to your inspiration:)

  8. Someday, I would like to type up your novels. I'm sure I would find it very satisfying work!