And I’m going to try to do Witchfinder’s end ASAP. I have everything fixed in my head, how it goes, but I still feel as if my brain is bruised (eh) so it might be tomorrow afternoon before it’s up. I’m going to try to do it (or at least a fair chunk of it) today after I shower and do the litter boxes (which smell radioactive, if you know what I mean) today.
I’ve been trying to think why NB was so hard to finish, and why it took me so long to figure out what the ending was, and …
The thing is, as with most of my characteristics, you can’t say “she’s this.” It’s more “She’s this but–” Not that I’m not a very decided person, but … I tend to complicate things (possibly due to overthinking.)
For instance, you can’t really say I’m outspoken, because I spent 20 years not discussing anything that might upset anyone else. Yes, part of this was because my job depended on people not knowing too much about my opinions, because the other side of this equation (if I can be said to be on a side) confuses politics with moral redemption and therefore views different opinions (which in the end amount to believing in a different way to make things as good as possible for most people) as evil. It’s not a coincidence that more and more mysteries end up with “the murderer was insane” or that so many antagonists in a fantasy are possessed before they take a different road from what the character wants.
I did this, myself, in my first written novel. Of course I was raised very left, simply by virtue of being brought up in Europe. The pieties filter in, and you have this idea that it’s perfectly clear what’s good and what’s bad: compassion for everyone is good; cutting endless slack to those who do wrong (particularly if it’s very, very wrong in the traditional sense, like murder, theft, or child abuse, but also if it’s a sin of extreme selfishness like refusing to bathe or using up all your money on drugs) is good because, well, they’re victims of society, having tons of sex with lots of different people is good (you wouldn’t want to repress it, now, would you, besides the natural man is the noble savage and therefore good), and things like wanting to have money and material security is evil, wanting to live in a comfortable home is evil, wanting your children to behave politely in public is evil (so repressing!), being good at the sort of job where you supervise a lot of people is evil (so authoritarian!), military is evil (because if you don’t attack people, no one attacks you) and judging other people for their behavior and culture is the ULTIMATE evil.
This type of low grade “poison” seeps into your brain. It’s all very clear cut and doesn’t account for individual variations or people. It doesn’t account, for instance, for the person who runs a large factory doing it not because he’s in love with telling other people what to do (the ones who are are actually lousy managers) but simply managing this because his family depends on it to live. It doesn’t account for the person who doesn’t bathe being, not a natural man, but a sadist, who likes to watch his polite circle trying to ignore his offensive odor, it doesn’t account for the fact that most of us are not victims of society but ourselves. (Oh, all of us are influenced by society, for good an ill. BUT in the end we’re thinking, reason-endowed beings who choose our own path.) The Military is very needed and very praiseworthy in defense of freedom, in a world that is hostile to it. And if we choose to murder or steal or do evil things to innocents, we are in fact doing what pleases and making OTHERS the victims. We don’t deserve sympathy. Victims do.
Anyway, the problem as an artist is that when you have these categories fixed in your mind, you can’t really create an approximation of life. You hear no villain is a villain in his own mind, but having been brought up to see things in stark black and white you can’t see how anyone could disagree. (Until you start reading history and economics, which, children, has been my downfall and brought me over to the dark side. Living doesn’t help, either, and meeting real people not the cardboard cutouts the leftist pieties imply.)
So the only way I could think to make someone go against my enlightened ruler (brother! Don’t get me started!) was to have him go insane.
Anyway — all this digression to explain why I’m not “precisely anything” — I tend to think (or overthink) every point of every position, and sometimes I agree with the conservative or the leftist (they really aren’t liberal, sorry) sides on an overarching point, but for quite different reasons. Not that most conservatives mind — to quote my friend Bill Reader, the other day, “I can tolerate a lot of disagreement between liberty-minded people.” Because the point, of course, is that things can be argued out, and even tried out, and then we see which way is better. It’s not like I (or most conservatives, and even less most libertarians) have anything invested in having anyone do things my way, my main point is that I want to be left alone to live my life according to my moral judgement. And I don’t particularly want my friends pushed about, either. Other than that, well — I don’t care.
So. This brings us to how I’m neither pantser nor plotter. (My son, neither a pantser nor a plotter be!)
I do get ideas that push, and flashes of inspiration, and “voices” starting a story in my head, but very often, I have to work everything from there on with pen and pencil, and careful plotting (And a lot of cursing.)
Even the novels that more or less dictate themselves will have transitions and rough patches I need to figure out on my own. (The cursing happens then. And it’s loud.)
By temperament I’m more plotter than pantser. Look, guys, I don’t take pain killers even when I really need them — oh, after an emergency Caesarean followed by a three alarm uterine infection, say, kind of like poor Jane Seymour went. I had all but one of the morphine pills left three years later, when we moved. No, Dan didn’t let me sell them, and frankly I had no idea how to go about it. Which is a pity because we were SO FAR beyond broke. I don’t take them because I want to make sure that what’s thinking my thoughts is in fact ME and as clear-headed as I can be.
In the same way the flash from the subconscious disturbs me. I’ve come to accept it will happen — I don’t have to like it — but I feel better if I can work out the plot along with — or preferably just ahead of — the flash. I try to be logical and…
And with Noah’s Boy it failed me. Part of it was that it got interrupted three times, (Then two or three in rewrite) by the perpetually breaking down body. When it gets interrupted, I need to read back, to be reminded where I was. And then the rational mind notices things it didn’t before, and goes and carefully alters the plot ahead.
But more important was that my carefully worked plot wasn’t “Right” and that my sluggish subconscious knew better than I did, but because I liked the character too much and didn’t want it to die, and because I don’t like being dictated to by “voices from the ID” I was blocking it so hard, it first had to get me good and tired and THEN pounce on me with a dream.
Now it’s done, and it’s off my desk, and as soon as I can I’ll do the end of Witchfinder. And then I SHALL take a week and draw dragons and kick back. And then I start working on Through Fire, the second of the Earth Revolution, while revising WF and Shadow Gods.
Now to shower and do the cat boxes.