Quoth Mrissa, on her own work: “Any minute now the last third of this novel is going to hunker down and make breakfast out of most of my grey matter.”
Quoth me, in response: “You know, that perfectly encapsulates the current state of my life.”
I go to sleep, and I’m thinking of this book. I wake up, and I’m thinking of this book. Leave me unattended for five minutes, and where does my brain go? I can only break out of it by scheduling other things: there’s X-Files watching on Sunday; I’m going to go do that. (But if there’s a crazy person in the episode, my hindbrain is taking notes for Tiresias.) There’s D&D on Tuesday; I need to remember to switch gears. (And it’s a good thing Lessa’s so easy a character for me to play, or that wouldn’t work.) HP7’s coming out soon; I’ll be spending most of Saturday reading it. (If it takes me too long, will I quit so I can get my writing done, or just pull [another] all-nighter?)
The last time I remember a book eating my head so thoroughly, it was the first one I’d ever written. It was (and is) an urban fantasy set in Canada (no, I don’t know why; that’s where the book wanted to be), and during the home stretch, kniedzw would look at me periodically and say, “you’re in Canada, aren’t you?” Now it isn’t Canada; it’s the sixteenth century. It feels like my brain has taken up permanent residence in the story, and is only coming out occasionally to visit the twenty-first century, rather than the other way around.
I’ve got a theory for what the similarity means, and I hope it’s true. Writing that first novel was a watershed for me. I consider it my transition from apprentice to journeyman work; I’d acquired all the basic skills, the last one being the ability to finish what I started, and after that I was qualified to earn a day’s wages as a writer (though it took me some time to actually do so). I’m not going to claim MNC is my transition from journeyman to master — that shift is yet in my future — but I think, I hope, this is another watershed for me, another transition to a higher level of skill. It feels like it, when I’m not wallowing in Standard Writerly Self-Doubt, but it’s hard to judge how sharp and white and straight its teeth are when it’s lunching on my brain. (Oh yes, it’s getting not just breakfast, but lunch and dinner out of me.) It’s the best explanation I can think of for why none of the six novels I wrote in between, including Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch, ate my head this badly.
Or at least it’s the explanation I like best.
So if I’m staring off into space, or I don’t answer e-mails, or seem otherwise to be Not Quite Here, you’ll know why. I’m in
Canada the sixteenth century. And since I probably have another thirty thousand words to go, I won’t be coming back any time soon.