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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantasy According to C. S. Lewis

I thought that I would take the opportunity to blog about a few topics near and dear to my heart as I wait for my manuscript to come back from my editors. I have made it no secret that I have a passion for good fantasy literature, my favorites being the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling. Some critics of fantasy literature accuse it of being (among other things) juvenile, escapist garbage, commercial trash, or even wicked (based on the presence of magic, witches, wizards, warlocks, sorcery, etc.). I freely admit that some fantasy literature falls into these categories, but nobody should write off the genre as a whole based on these presuppositions. In fact, I find that fantasy as a genre is more edifying in many cases than any other genre of literature, for many reasons. Rather than continuing to hear me wax philosophical on this topic, however, I thought I would present a few quotations from the late, great C. S. Lewis for your consideration:

"Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women's magazines. None of us are deceived by The Odyssey, the Kalevala, Beowulf, or Malory. The real danger lurks in sober-faced novels where all appears to be very probable but all is in fact contrived to put across some social or ethical or religious or anty-religious 'comment on life.'" From An Experiment in Criticism

"The boy does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted... the boy reading the fairy tale desires and is happy in the very fact of desiring. For his mind has not been concentrated on himself, as it often is in the more realistic story." From 'On Three Ways of Writing for Children,' Of Other Worlds

"...When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." Ibid.

I particularly love the middle quotation. Anybody who spends any amount of time with teenagers has witnessed the malignancy which is the self-centeredness of the American teenager. We live in a society of "YOU." Everything is always all about YOU; what makes YOU happy, finding YOUR hidden potential, being true to YOURSELF, etc.... Reading good fantasy (or fairy tales) can take a person outside his or herself in a way that causes him or her to desire a power and a fulfillment outside of him or herself, as well as encouraging them to see him or herself as part of a larger, more beautiful story. Anyhow, I'm ranting now, I suppose, and I could go on for much longer, so I'll cut myself off. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Revision

Well, I finished my first revision of The White Thread earlier this week, and I felt this amazing sense of relief! Ahhh... finished with the most laborious stage of the operation. The draft is with my friend Beth getting its first outside edit, and I can't wait to hear what she thinks of it. As with the previous two books, she'll be the first person to read it all the way through other than your's truly. I still feel as though I should be working on my book every night, though, so I've been getting this strange sense of unrest every night and am craving a good story to read. It really is good for me to have the story off my hands for a few weeks because I have a lot of other work to complete before the school year starts... which is really soon! Anyhow, this is just a very quick update. I'll try to write something more clever later in the week.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Revisions... And YouTube Book Plug!

Hello All! I am halfway through my first read-through/revision of The White Thread and feeling very good about the pace of things. This first revision is mostly about checking for continuity from beginning to end (ie. did I start any subplots that I neglected to resolve or address later on?) and checking for obvious typos. When I am finished with this, it will go off to a good friend for editing, and then another good friend after that for another edit. While it is out of my hands, I will be re-reading The Six and The Oracle to fact and continuity check (again... it's really a never-ending process). When it comes back to me, I will incorporate all changes and suggestions, in the meantime completing my second read-through. Then I will hand it off to a student reader. I do this to gage reader response to the story and how successful I was at suspending disbelief. While it is with my student reader, it will also go to an author friend who will be reading it to write a "blurb" for the back cover for me. Finally I will submit the draft to createspace and order my first proof copy so that I can complete my third read-through... and so forth and so on until I feel that it is as polished as it is going to get. There are also formatting and cover submission details to work through with createspace, which is always a headache, so I don't really want to think about that just yet. Oh yes, and I suppose I will have to write my back cover description soon. So... lots to do, lots to do. I will try to keep it fun and post an excerpt or two from the book as publication time draws near. It warms my heart to know how many of you guys are looking forward to this book! While YOU are waiting, check out this amazing youtube video plug for my book. It will take less than two minutes to watch, and the more hits it gets on youtube, the better! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Draft 1, Complete!

I tried as hard as a could to complete my first draft of The White Thread by Sunday morning, but I had to call it quits at 5:30 in the morning when my thumb joints had swollen so badly I could hardly move them and I was so fuzzy-brained that every word was a challenge to get out. Still, I went to bed feeling as though I was basically finished, as I was half-way through the last chapter. I finished officially, however, late last night (or early this morning) and it feels quite good to be done! So, 51 days of writing has left me with a draft that is 407 pages long. I have much editing and revising to do, however, so this number will remain fluid, and I'm going to try and trim it down to 400 pages if possible. Trimming the length doesn't always have to mean getting rid of a lot of content, either. I tend to be wordy and redundant in my rough drafts, so cutting out overused words and phrases can sometimes gain me back whole pages.

I had planned on beginning my first read through this afternoon, but as soon as I sat down to write this blog post, I could hear my two year old stirring from his nap. Do toddlers have an internal radar that alerts them whenever Mommy wants to get something done? Quick! She's about to be productive... make a ruckus! Oh well. I could probably use a day off anyhow.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Almost There!

I was right about how I'd feel this week... a LOT happier than last week! I finally got through my block and the second half of the book starting rolling along very quickly. I'm on page 300, so I'm less than 100 pages away from the end. Some of the scenes that I wrote this week are really great, too, I think. I introduced a new villainess, and she was scary enough to give ME nightmares when I went to bed that night, so I must have done something right. I've also written a deliciously awkward scene between two characters and a scene that even made me cry a little. I know, I know... this is probably the point at which some of you will say, "Wow, you are way too invested in your characters! It's just a story; come back to reality." Well, of course I'm invested in my characters and my story! If I can't write characters for which I feel something, then why would you - my readers - feel anything for them? Anyhow, I am almost there in terms of having a finished rough draft. I hope that I can finish in about a week, in fact, I'm almost certain that I can. I have this condition that when I get within a certain number of pages from the end of writing a book, I just HAVE to finish it, so I'm anticipating an all nighter sometime late this coming week. And then I will start the revision process, which is long, arduous, and sometimes painful... Just kidding. It's not that bad... most of the time. But for now, I'm off to bed.