Saturday, April 26, 2008

Charles, You're Killing Me, Here

So the idea is to grab the nearest book, turn to page 123, count down to the 5th sentence and type the next 3 sentences (see previous entry). Shall I be honest and actually grab the nearest book and let the world know that I'm boring, or shall I sneakily try to find something hip, exciting, and/or cool, like a biography of Muddy Waters, or Lady Chatterley's Lover?

If I were a fly on the wall, as my mother used to say, I'd love to secretly watch everyone who indulges in this excercise and see who surreptitiously slips his dictionary or her copy of 100 Ways to Clean Your Bathroom under her chair and hunts out her copy of The Winged Energy of Delight, Selected Translations, by Robert Bly. In which event the entry would begin: "Meanwhile Indians are falling into the sugared chasms of the harbors, wrapped for burial in the mist of the dawn..." (Pablo Neruda).

But am I cool? Did I not several months ago admit my sadly unhip state? I feel it's my duty to stand up for the mundane everywhere and admit that I was also doing research when I saw that Charles had tagged me for this experiment. I have right here in my lap a copy of Culpepper's Color Herbal. Page 123 is the entry for meadowsweet, and sentence 5ff is as follows:

"The flowers are alexipharmic and sudorific and good in fevers and all malignant distempers. They are astringent, binding and useful in all fluxes. An infusion of the freshly gathered tops of this plant promotes sweating."

I'm tagging mystery writers J.M. Hayes (, Elizabeth Gunn (, Ken Kuhlken (, Mara Purl (, and Betty Webb ( Stand up and be counted.

A little business to end -- I'll be speaking and signing at Scottsdale Public Library this Tuesday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m. I'll be talking about my books and how I go about writing them. This is my last currently scheduled gig until August, aside from an emcee-ing job on May 1. I have a book to write, and I'm beginning to feel a little bit hysterical about it. I was fascinated by Vicki's post (below) about her writing process. All of us on this blog have spoken about how we write, and the techniques are as various as we are. Vicki said she's a "binge writer". I am, too, really. I will sometimes go for weeks without actually writing a word, then I'll spend weeks doing nothing but writing, to the detriment of everything else in my life. I write a historical series, unlike any of my blogmates, so I spend almost as much time researching as I do writing. The interesting thing about the copious research is that I actually use very little of it in the finished book. But certainly know my time period, by damn.

The actual writing is usually rather a slog for me. It easily takes me a year to finish a book. While I'm finishing the MS of one book, I usually am doing the preliminary research on the next. I've blogged before about how I tend to write the first draft quickly from beginning to end, and then do a lot of rewriting. The first draft is not that quick, to tell the truth. I actually write sections of the book, and then rewrite them to my satisfaction before moving on to the next. I've written four books, thus far, and all four of them were executed in slightly different ways. There's no perfect way to get a book done, I suppose. If it works, it works. The most important technique of all is to sit your rear in the chair and do it.


Charles benoit said...

You are hipper than you think.

Rick Blechta said...

What is hip? I'd really like to know.