Saturday, February 23, 2008

You Have To Kiss A Lot Of Drogs To Find A Prince

Boy, writing books is hard.

Who knew.

I started Possible Third Book on Monday, and zipped through, completing 30 pages by some point on Tuesday. Then Wednesday was volunteer work day and Thursday and Friday I spent rewriting the first 15 pages and completely rewriting 16-30. I think I'm on page 39 now, and once I'm through here, I'll return to work (okay, maybe I'll eat lunch first).

A lot of the reason why I had to rip things to shreds and start all over again is because of my neverending struggle against the bleakity bleak. As of the moment, the bleakity bleak is winning all the primaries and has the lion's share of super delegates. All I can hope for is that the bleakity bleak doesn't plagarize, since most likely I'll be held responsible if it does (life is so unfair).

My new plotting philosophy is I can have one terrible horrible bleakity bleak scene that can be used as a set up for a second terrible horrible bleakity bleak scene, but no matter how tempting a third terrible horrible you know the rest might be, I must say no to it and move on. It's the only power I have over the bleakity bleak, but it's causing me to lose lots of really ghastly moments and a fair amount of sleep (these scenes tend to pop up in the middle of REM cycles). Of course, having only written 39 pages, I can't guarantee that I'll be able to maintain such control. Bleakity bleak is startlingly seductive.

Another reason I did so much rewriting is because this five year after the start of Life As We Knew It the dead and the gone world is still evolving in my mind. I feel like I have the whole thing worked out, and then I start thinking (never a wise move) and I end up adding something or subtracting, and have to rewrite.

For example, I've known since d&g that the post moon world is status based, and if you're on the low end, you are really on the low end. That's pretty much what the story of P3B is about, how Caitlin moves from upper end to lower end and then to upper end again (as I was vacuuming yesterday, I remembered how much I'd enjoyed Sister Carrie, when I read it multiple decades ago, because I loved seeing her move from job to job, promotion to promotion. Of course, it's also a show biz story).

But sometime between Tuesday night and Thursday morning I decided there had to be a term for the lowest caste people, some unattractive word that anyone reading the book would understand to be a term of denigration.

You think naming a character is tough? Try making up a word. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, every single combination of letters has been used for something. And I have standards. I decided I couldn't use a word that kids (theoretically kids might someday read P3B, although if the bleakity bleak takes full control no person under the age of 47 should be allowed anywhere near it) would recognize and not understand in a different context. Like mule or grub or sludge. Sludge in particular is an unattractive sounding word (so is gallbladder, but I couldn't use it either).

So I spent a lot of time over at looking up synonyms for Workers, but none of the possibilities sang to me. I had a fine time checking out Dregs as well. Sometimes a word would just jump out at me (Mung! Go with Mung!), but it never held up to scrutiny. Then I started putting "er" at the ends of things (Munger! Sludger!) but I wasn't thrilled with any of them either.

Thursday night I settled on Drog. It has a nice sci fi sound to it (I can picture laborers on Star Trek the Original being called drogs by one of those full of themselves races with bad hairdos). It's short, punchy, and while it does have something of a Google history, it's not nearly as well used as Plog, which I also considered. I taught drog to my spellcheck, and a good thing too, since I'm prone to typing brog instead. I reversed "b"s and "d"s when I first learned the alphabet, and apparently I still haven't mastered them.

So Caitlin is a now a drog. Although she identifies herself as ,"A drog and an understudy."

I guess by book's end, she'll be saying, "I'm a drog but what I really want to do is direct."

It's what Sister Carrie wanted also!

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