Monday, January 28, 2008

I give you... The Age of Rust

The Lord of the Rings. A Song of Ice and Fire. The Chronicles of Amber.

Every fantasy setting has a name. Those are some of the greats. The Age of Rust is mine... it's greatness is yet to be determined.

It's not something I planned to do or worry about for a long, long time. Write the fucking book has been my new mantra, and for all intents and purposes, that's what I've been doing. And yet, there it was. Unexpected, unasked for, but there.

Maybe its a working title. Maybe it's the real deal. Maybe its the "marketing" part of my brain putting its two cents into this particular creative endeavour. Whatever it is, I like the way it sounds, and the images it conjures.

I credit my friend Tom Clancy with planting the suggestion that the concept of rust would fit well in a fantasy story with heavy steampunk elements. He just sent me an email one day with the idea that bad guys in a steampunk world should worship something called "rust". He hadn't thought it out any more than that, and it's good, becuase I'm not using that idea exactly. I do thank him from the bottom of my heart though, for dropping that little pearl in my lap.

I love what rust represents, what it stands for. Decay and disuse. Poor maintenance. Slow death for the great works of man. Its very evocative to me. My novel takes place during the twilight years of a great empire. Old and decadent and rotten to the core. It's a world of machines, mages and madmen, and while nobody worships rust, everyone serves it, in their own way.


Work continues apace. Chapter 3 is put to bed, and chapter 4 is soon to follow. Chapter 3 is very short, which is the sort of thing that used to worry me in my younger days. But, that was before I knew the rules about chapter length. There aren't any, really. A teacher once told me that a chapter is as long as it needs to be. Crazy talk, I thought. There must be some kind of rule, some kind of formula, like x words times y pages = fucking awesome writing.

Turns out its not that simple. I mean its still simple. Just a different kind of simple. I've come to realize each chapter is like a scene in a play, or a movie. Some are long, some are short. If you make a long one short, it will seem rushed. If you stretch a short one out, it will drag. There's no way to know until you're writing the damn thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Location, location, location

So, once again, I found myself at the Grey Dog on monday night. I meet my wife there after her pottery class and then we go home together. Usually, I leave work, grab a quick bite, then head down there. This generally leaves me about 2-3 hours to write. I finished up chapter 2, and got midway through chapter 3 this monday.

I don't know why, but I find it really easy to write there. It's usually very crowded, very loud, and they don't even play music I like half the time. Still, something about it is just conducive to a "writing state of mind" for me. I get the same feeling to a lesser extent at most Starbucks, but when I am at a starbucks, I tend to slack off more and just surf the internet instead of working. Ditto for when I try to write in the office on a quiet day, or at home when I have nothing to do.

It's really working for me, so I guess as long as my wife is taking pottery classes downtown, I'll have at least one productive night per week. I'd really love to be able to get into that zone in other places though. Who knows, in time, I might be able to. Perhaps its not so much the place, but what it invokes in me. Would be nice to carry that around with me, though. For now, at least, location plays a big part in whether I write or not, and I'm happy to have a place that works.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's on.

So, an amazing thing happened earlier tonight.

I opened up word and started the new draft. I was at an old coffee shop that I used to work near, called the Grey Dog. I used to write in there sometimes, so maybe the setting had something to do with it. I have been trying to get started for weeks, but I kept finding ways to put it off... eve ndoing the prep work like outlining was a way of delaying the reality of actually having to start writing the fucking thing.

But, once I started writing, it started to flow. I'm still getting to know the characters, but the dialogue is flowing smoothly. I've written about a chapter and a half... one is pretty heavy with action, the other is mostly dialogue so far.

It felt really good to be writing again. I've been under a lot of stress lately, but somehow, like midway through chapter 1, I hit a zone where I was just writing, not worrying about anything going on in my life, not obsessing over details, just writing as it came to me.

It was a good feeling.