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Jan 30, 2007

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Dan Wickett

And now that you're at least closer to being grown up - have you figured out where you're going to carry that sword?

Dan Wickett

I'm a little surprised at no "Girlschool" by Britny Fox on 2nd Grade.

Interesting to note how you completely shut down seemingly instinctively during these novels, when you think you've done something to set yourself on a wrong path.

In the past has it not taken so much effort to find what it was that that one part of you was noticing? Have you been this close before to scrapping a whole novel, not because you decided it wasn't going to work, but because a part of you knew it had a problem, but you didn't know what the problem was?

StephenGrahamJones

man, and there's no excuse for this, but I never got into Britny Fox. Samantha Fox, yeah, I mean, c'mon, and FOX & THE HOUND, of course, even some Red Foxx, but I don't think I've ever owned a Britney Fox album. a big gaping hole smack dab in the middle of my musical education. or, no that'd be 'music' education, I guess. wouldn't 'musical education' involve teachers who sang algebra?

as for hitting that wall and having to lay low and cycle for a week or two, yeah, happens all the time. trick is, finally, now, I'm getting to where I can live with not writing on the thing for a week or two. and I know too that there'll always be other novels, so scrapping this one wouldn't be the end of the world, no matter how much I might think it matters. used to, though, sure, I'd cue in that I'd just made some mistake, but then I'd always force the issue, just keep writing, and writing, and would end up writing the same 10,000 word stretch over and over and over, until I fell in love with the wording or something, at which point I'm rationalizing it's non-deletion from the novel and it becomes that much harder to excise, even when it's for the good of all.

and, yeah, my everyday sword now's that Spyderco, I suppose. feel just naked without it. longest I've ever kept a carry-knife, too. I mean, going on four years, maybe five. and, sure, I've had to file the serrations off and shorten the tip, but I've yet to snap the blade. speaks better for Spyderco than for me, too, as I've become no less careless with cutting, no less shy about offering my knife for whatever. just because, like books, they were made to be used, not to sit and be pretty.

Dan Wickett

I don't know that I'd call it a gaping hole - being probably 17 or so at the time it was running, the video for "Girlschool" is about the only Britny Fox experience I recall having myself. It was a tough one to turn away from.

Back to your writing though - so, in the past you'd have been more likely to try to write through this section, even knowing it wasn't working all that well, vs. now, stewing over it and re-reading until you determined what was causing you the pain behind the eyes?

StephenGrahamJones

yeah, days gone by I'd just power through, damn the torpedoes, all that (and I have no real idea what that means, 'damning' the torpoedoes -- shouldn't it really be usefull verb of some kind? or what's that saying even from? it's got have some cultural [ie, movie] import that I've never cued into, I'g guess).

but, to get unparenthetical for a moment, unless stacked clauses are also a type of parenthesis, say, with Fast Red Road: that was a novel where I went back through and had to kill all these big wandering 20K word sections, I think. just because there'd be a mistake right at the front of that section, that was frying everything after it. but, as for killing big parts of in-process novels, Seven Spanish Angels ranks top there, for sure: at my then-editor's request, I've torn that novel down to nothing just so many times. I think maybe I go into page numbers over at the Cult interview or somewhere. I'd guess I've written at least 2000 pages just to get a solid 300 there, though. but I guess that's kind of different, too, as it wasn't so much that I was seeing somethign wrong as that my then-editor was, and he held my strings, pretty much. which, don't get me wrong, that's kind of the way it should be, I think. most editor's don't do violence to your novel unless it's for that novel's good, where 'good' is of course measured in sales. which is something, just writing the piece, it's easy to forget about. but, I mean, sure, you're messing with art, mabye even 'Art,' but you can't forget either that you're going to be plunking that Art down into the marketplace, which is the real arbiter of whether what you've written's any good or not. a lot of writers complain about the sales pressure, about the flighty audience, all that, but, the way I see it, the marketplace is the only thing that really keeps us, novelists, in line. I mean, without that pressure to have to appeal, to need to connect, all that, we'd just tell these big wannabe epic stories about this time we rode the ferris wheel when were two and spilled all our Milk Duds, and expect everybody to be interested (my prejudice: I like stories in which things happen, stories which aren't boring, that aren't all in the head, that have a plot, that don't need to be told pretty in order to be effective [not that I don't appreciate the hell out of beautiful, clean writing, I do. I just don't think that should be the final goal. rather, the writing kind of's what allows the story to percolate up into the reader's head]). but I meant not to get all nested like this. just kind of how my brain crumbles, I suppose. and now I've kind of forgot what I was saying anyway. something about torpedoes, which makes me think of Captain Nemo, which leads me to Namor, the submariner, who of course is Spock before Spock was Spock, and now I'm just going to hit that post-button, maybe hint at an apology for my lack of focus (alt-tabbing over from Ledfeather here, so the winamp's on pause but my brain's still spinning in its case, whirling out everything at once).

Carolyn

I wish I could say that after talking to Stephen, I'd plopped into my chair and written 50 pages of a brand new novel!

It seems to me that SGJ has a very unintrusive internal editor. One that shuts the hell up until there is something really important, then wakes up and throws all the alarms. I wish I could train mine to behave that way. Could it have anything to do with listening to Skid Row and Cinderella?

Dan Wickett

Maybe next weekend, Carolyln, wake up and at 10 a.m. (well, maybe it's different in Pittsburgh than here in Detroit) find your local hard(est) rock station and listen to Dee Snyder's House of Hair. 2 solid (and I'll say it, glorious) hours of 80's hair metal bands. See what it does for your writing!

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Interesting to note how you completely shut down seemingly instinctively during these novels, when you think you've done something to set yourself on a wrong path.

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I wish I could say that after talking to Stephen, I'd plopped into my chair and written 50 pages of a brand new novel.

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Anyway, it was rolling, Ledfeather, it was happening, it was real and I was dreaming it, and by the end of the next week I was up to eighty pages, I think.

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