Second revision draft is now on chapter 22. This book, thanks to the years of not writing and brain foggy stuff, may take more than one run through the “Construction Phase” to get things right, but every thing so far is willing to be nudged in the right direction. My metaphors for the problems are wandering all over my other skillsets, but would be covered by “following the blueprints but oh, lordy, the shoddy workmanship in places.” Luckily, not in ALL the places.
The beginning, as it is, will not be in the book at all. It would be a fine beginning for a movie, a sweeping view that the title and a few names could glide across, a quick look at what’s there: the view of the Vail of Valdaire, a quick glimpse of two particular travelers and then a dive into the city, but it’s not working as a beginning to a book that is not, after all, just a travelogue.
So today and tomorrow will probably go to writing at least two completely different beginnings and seeing if either of them works. One is already done and off to an alpha reader. It’s amazing to be able to do that kind of thing again. To have WriterBrain up and running, cooperating with me: “Tell me what you need, about how long, and then turn me loose.” It can take a night’s sleep, some thinking time, but then…there’s something reasonable close. And going from reasonably close to sharply focused worked for the other stuff I’ve worked on this week since the worst of the pain was down to a dull roar and now…nothing. When it was working before, I wasn’t able to define what it was that made WriterBrain more than just “a brain with the knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, syntax, basic grasp of structure, insight into human behavior.” Having lost the rest for several years, now I understand better how it works when it’s working. There’s a strong sense of Engineering going on as well: the ability to understand not just basic structure but how components interact…what a “bearing wall” is actually bearing, how to look at something and grasp how it works…how to look at a faulty thing and see what it needs to be “right” for its purpose and then make from scratch or improvise something that fills the gap. So this is where my parents’ EngineerBrains shows in connection with the StorytellerBrain (which, at the low end, confabulates reality, tells lies believably, though the lies themselves may be logically so flawed most can see it, and at the high end merges into WriterBrain seamlessly.)
What I think now (and could still be wrong about, of course) is that the best writing needs both skill-sets, both toolboxes, and needs them in balance. An overload of EngineerBrain gets you info-dumping, stiffness in the works, and insufficient or cliched characterization. An overload of StorytellingBrain gets you the kind of person who tells long, disjointed, nonsensical episodes on a long train journey (and will ask you, if they’ve realized you’re a writer, if you’ll just take some of their ideas and write them up and share the money.) WriterBrain balances at various points between, depending on the writer, and books that are somewhat heavy on one or the other can be equally good reads.
Finally got the permanent crown on the left-side molar w/problems; the right side molar w/ problems (site of the recent abscess) has another chance at dental work next Monday. Hope they look at it and say “Yeah, it’s doing great, good-bye.”