In spite of distractions like Charlotte the kitten, model and movie star (see the previous entry for Charlotte watching Charlotte watching Charlotte, a concept Pirandello would have envied), and having other self selected obligations, like reading Susan Cornish by Rebecca Caudill, before I go Illinois, where Life As We Knew It is nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Award (I started it last night, and thus far am really enjoying it. It's about an eighteen year old girl who gets a job teaching in a one room schoolhouse, whose students are the kids of white sharecroppers), I have actually begun writing This World We Live In, aka B3.
(I'm hoping you'll be so dazzled with the adorableness that is Charlotte, you won't notice how clunky that sentence was.)
Speaking of clunky, I wrote 24 pages (two days worth of work; I want to write 12 pages a day, although I have to admit Wednesday, when I began, the 12 pages took longer than I'd thought they would), and then I realized that I needed to get the action going in the story faster. I can get lost in the beginnings of my books, establishing background and characters, but that doesn't mean readers want me to take my time. As one of my editors taught me a long time ago: Start the story as close to the center of the action as possible.
This is good advice, but particularly tricky for B3. On the one paw, it's a sequel to LAWKI. On another paw, it's a follow up to the dead and the gone. But on a third paw, it's a book some people who've read one but not both of those books might read. And on the fourth and final paw, it's a book some people who've never read either book, or who read and forgotten them, might read. I guess that's four and a half paws, which could give you pause.
Did you know that Anne Boleyn had six fingers on one hand? I saw A Man For All Seasons in NYC yesterday and Sir Thomas More never mentioned that once.
Back to B3. Having written 24 pages, I've cut 4, to get the action moving faster. Then yesterday, while waiting for the play to begin, I realized that I'd made a plot mistake. I have Matt not walking to town because he's still too weak from the flu, but I plan for Matt to walk to the Delaware River to go fishing for shad (Todd Strasser pointed out to me that shad run in the Delaware. Todd loves to fish. I thought shad looked like minnows, but I researched them and they look like full grown fish). I also decided, so that the action could move along faster, that Matt would meet and marry Syl while he and Jon are there fishing for shad. I figure there are a number of people there, all of whom presumably learned from Todd that shad run in the Delaware in the springtime.
I had Miranda and Jon walk to town so they could talk about all the deserted houses and how they should go through them to see what they could find. Originally Matt was going to find Syl in one of those deserted houses, but now that he's going to meet her at the Delaware, maybe I should dump all that stuff, which would certainly move the action along that much faster. Heh.
When my editor worked with me on LAWKI, she had me cut the beginning. When she worked with me on d&g, she had me add some stuff (description of how people in NYC were as Alex walked home). These beginnings are tricky things.
And I'm distracted. There's Charlotte (currently taking a bath on my lap). There's people coming over to meet and admire Charlotte. There's mother obligations (she has no interest in meeting Charlotte, but she laughed at the second of the Charlotte videos). There's Illinois. At the end of next week, my friend Hilarie is coming over to meet and admire Charlotte, and my friend Joyce is coming for the weekend to meet and admire Charlotte. And at some point. I've got to get Charlotte to the vet for her next set of shots.
After all that, I should have clear sailing until the US National figure skating championship, in mid-January. I won't be there, but I'll be able to watch it on the net, and undoubtedly I will.
So the only commitment I'm going to make to B3 before I leave for Illinois is to have the first 20 pages edited and ready. Ideally, I'll get some additional writing done, but I'm not going to go crazy. At least not more crazy.
Speaking of beginnings, I found the following while doing a Yahoo search the other day. It's all about endings, but I find it particularly funny because B3 is going to have a completely open ending:
Has anyone read the book the dead and the gone or life as we knew it by susan pfeffer?
don't read them the book is really interesting but the ending a dissapointer she never ends her books! you count on a sequel but no there isn't one she keeps on making non ending books. it will piss you off so don't read them if you already have leave me a comment on it as an answer. i am not reading another book by her again!
However, I've been getting emails from people lately who've been asking when This World We Live In will be published. Spring 2010 remains the answer, assuming everything is still all right with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. But for those of you who are impatient (a small group that would include me), I'm going to wander over to thirdmoonbook, put in there the parts of this entry about B3 and then cut and paste the first diary entry of B3 (roughly four pages long). I don't intend to keep putting in parts of B3 over there, but I figured there might be people who'd like to hear from Miranda again. So if you're interested in reading the first few pages, already edited, but most likely to be edited even more, feel free to go there.
I will go back to reading Susan Cornish and playing some more with Charlotte!
ETA: I finished reading Susan Cornish and it was considerably more sophisticated than I'd anticipated. It actually mattered to the story that all the kids at the school were white. The heroine (Susan Cornish) is waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Ed, and towards the end of the book, she reads a book written for UNESCO that explains that all people are the same. She reads some of the book out loud to her students and is accused of being a Communist, and she has to defend herself against segregationist politicians. Unlike real life, she wins in the end, falls in love with a handsome young reporter who's covering her case, gets engaged to him a week after they meet, and gets a foundation grant to study wherever she wants whatever she wants (she doesn't have to apply- they just offer her one). She decides to study in Denmark and convinces her brand new fiance to quit his job and go with her to Denmark. Of course her school remains segregated, but that's because the Supreme Court hasn't handed down its decision yet. The UNESCO book apparently was quite convincing.
On the other hand, she seeks out ministers to conduct religious services in the school, so Susan Cornish wasn't all that familiar with the First Amendment. But you can't have everything.