Saturday, June 11, 2011

A long week and a good book

I hate to have another three-day gap in my blogging, but in times like this I can kind of forgive myself.  It's been a long week, with an accreditation visit on Thursday in conjunction with 8 hours of substitute teaching for an injured instructor, followed by an accreditation report due on Friday that, in the end, only filled up 147 pages (I say "only" because by this point I'm kind of numb to it...the shipment yesterday brings the total pages for just this one agency in the past year to nearly 2600 pages of reporting).  I didn't even get to the end of month reports that were technically due on Friday; luckily on those I can sneak in and do them tomorrow when nobody is around, and most likely won't get yelled at. 

*sigh* the life of a Dean....

Anyway...the writing life of The Other Stephen King hasn't been all that exciting either.  Revising a story is entirely different from writing one, and so I've been slogging through seemingly endless pages of prose tightening up the language, cutting down on my use of synonyms for "said," finding adjective phrases to do the job better than jarring adverbs, etc.  It's productive as heck, and I think I'm pretty good at it, but the title of "editor" certainly isn't one I want anytime soon.  Those of you who do editing professionally, my hat's off to you.

At least my reading has been interesting.  I finally picked Water for Elephants back up from where I put it down several weeks ago. Part of the reason I put it down was that I had a lot of interesting books in the same stack to read, but the other part of the reason, the one I'm not sure I should admit, is really just jealousy.  I keep thinking of it as "the five million dollar book."  That's not precisely true, of course.  Sara Gruen did receive a five million dollar advance, but not for was for the next two books after that.  And she received it in part because WfE did very, very, very, very well.  And that was because, as I'm learning now, it's a very, very, very, very good book.  Damn good, in fact. 

I'd read the prologue before I put it away in favor of the Darkover novel and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.  I have to say that the beginning scene didn't do an awful lot for me, mostly because I'm not much of a circus guy.  But I went to the next part a couple of days ago...and almost put it down again.  I'm not much of an old man scene guy either.  Yes, I know that some day I, too, will be forced to eat tasteless mush...if I'm lucky, that is.  But Gruen's description of the decision between eating corn on the cob and having sex was delightful, and she really does seem to have a good sense for what drives both old and young men. 

All that said, she knows how to characterize.  I think that's probably the biggest, most important thing I can say about the book.  After a little while--a very little while, in fact--I find myself laughing along with the main character, and feeling his pain in the appropriate places.  This experience, if nothing else, shows me how crucial it is to get the readers to know the characters in the book...unless, that is, it's a book about a pretty vampire and a well-built werewolf, but that's a subject for a different blog.  In any event, I look forward to continuing to see how the writing develops the character, and once I'm done, it'll be interesting to consider how the characterization process is different in first person versus third person writing. 

All that said...I know, I said that twice, but it makes sense's time to get back to slogging through the editing job.  I think I'm going to skip around a little to make the job seem a little less tedious. 

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