Monday, June 09, 2008

Welcome to Mercury Retrograde

I am not someone who must check her horoscope first thing in the morning; as many of you know, I have essentially no *beliefs*, only suspicions and experiences and observations. One observation that will surprise no one who knows me: there is something oddly numinous about Mercury's retrograde phase, something that changes things in surprising and frequently unpredictable ways. I'm not talking about the fact that mail servers seem to be behaving badly right now, which they are; I'm not going to get into the disaster stories I'm hearing from people who had the poor judgment to attempt software upgrades during this phase. (Just don't do it: that's what you need to know.) As far as I'm concerned, the significant thing about Mercury in retrograde is the effect it has on *me*, particularly on the muse.

I am supposed to be spending a lot of bandwidth on discussing my race to finish Affairs right now: and no, I haven't forgotten, nor am I done. [Bad writer! I am seriously late on my deadline. Fortunately I know the publisher. :) ] I've simply been unable to talk about process, or about much of anything regarding my creative life. This is a well-known feature of the retrograde, at least for me. I've been working steadily--but in typical Mercury Retrograde fashion, I've fallen into a sort of communications black hole, and while there's a lot of words being conceived and written in here, they just can't seem to find their ways out beyond the event horizon to reach other people.

So, to catch you up a bit: the muse woke up at the beginning of this cycle and decided that nothing would do but to drop everything and go back to the beginning of the novel, and start building in that neglected subplot-and-a-half. Classic Mercury Retrograde stuff, actually. I finally finished that over the weekend; at last I am ready to work through the final section before the climax. My word-count estimate was Just Dead Wrong, as usual: I am currently at 197K words, give or take, and I *still* estimate about 20K more. Maybe more than that, actually.

Yeah, I can't estimate.

The most surprising statistic to me, since I've spent all this time working on a subplot that was all about Deaclan: the PoV proportion is still hugely tilted in favor of Lesle. Which seems appropriate, since this was supposed to be her novel in the first place. As of last night, 68% of the pages thus far are written from her PoV. Yes, I'm a geek, and I do chart and conduct the occasional structural analysis: I need to do this, just to control for how often I get hijacked by characters. One more observation for the structure geeks; the rest of you can look away lest your eyes burn: this novel is turning out to have a Syd-Field-classic 3-act structure. My Act 2 has 5 reversals, not counting the reversal into Act 2 or the reversal (not yet written) into Act 3. Of those mid-act reversals, one is driven by Deaclan, the rest by Lesle; which, I guess, is proportionally correct. So maybe my plot is working. :)

I'm feeling a sort of existential insecurity about this novel at present: not *can I finish?* because I know I can; I could tell you exactly what the major plot points are, for the rest of the novel. It's more "Oh, gods, what if it SUCKS?"

That's normal for me, too. I'll just have to keep writing and see how I feel about it when it's complete, and pass it along to my alpha readers, who I know I can trust not to let me embarrass myself in public. :)

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