What I’m Reading
Still reading Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima. I’ve also got out a bunch of other books on the bombings, and a few other WWII non-fiction books, including ones on Japanese-Americans in the military, the Battle of the Bulge, and the unlucky Americans who ended up in concentration-camps (both POWs and civilians). I don’t think I know how to read anything lightweight and carefree!
What I’m Writing
In the thick of edits and revisions to my first Russian historical, in preparation for its slated 7 November release. I’m finding a lot of crap I either thought I’d taken care of during some of the previous edits, or else didn’t recognise as nonsense much earlier. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the things I’m excising, rewriting, and shifting around this time come from the middle of Part I, the chapters I wrote during my middle period of September 1996-circa June 1997, NOT the remaining original 1993 material.
The story suddenly took on rather stilted, formal, stageplay-sounding language, like I were trying to sound all serious and take the story in a more mature direction. Unfortunately, that didn’t mesh with my natural writing voice or who these characters are. About midway through this midway point, there suddenly appear a lot of inappropriate, awkward, infodumpy, preachy historical and political lectures, mostly delivered through super-unrealistic dialogue. This was around the time I discovered why the Russian Revolution happened and why the majority of Russians hated the Tsar so much. It was always a largely apolitical story, and these segments just smack of mental masturbation, like showing off my knowledge and love of Russian history.
Other meaningful changes so far during this round include painting Lyuba’s mother in a more sympathetic, understandable light during the long flashback to Lyuba and Ivan’s month-long secret romance which ended just before the book began, and emphasising how progressive and strong-minded Lyuba’s aunt is in the letters she sends to Lyuba and Ginny. Part of me has toyed with the idea of moving that flashback to the beginning, but I really like how its omission raises a number of questions, like just what the story was behind their first attempt at romance, why it really ended, and why Lyuba’s mother is so determined for her to not marry Ivan. You shouldn’t give everything away at once.
I reckon I’ll have two more rounds of edits and revisions, after I’m done with this one, and then spot-check it through the Kindle previewer. Since the current version of Pages doesn’t allow you to create a hyperlinked table of contents, I’ll probably have to go back to my old computer and take care of that in Word.
What Inspires Me
My ability to edit my own work. I really agree with the sentiments expressed in “Lies Writers Tell… To Other Writers (Part Three — You’re Too Close To Your Work),” and wish more modern writers would be more confident of their ability to do something so basic and necessary. It’s not something I’d recommend for people who’ve only been writing for a few years, or for people who haven’t yet reached the point where they understand why it’s important to edit (whether a light or heavy hand is required). However, if you’re an experienced writer who’s been at this a really long time, you should totally do it. You just need to be honest about your book’s strengths and weaknesses. The longer you’re away from a book, and the more time between rounds of editing, the less emotionally attached you feel towards keeping everything 100% the way you wrote it.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
9 September was my 14-year anniversary for Tommy! I can hardly believe it’s been that long already. I actually bought the album on 7 September 2000 (having no idea at the time it was Keith Moon’s Jahrzeit) and played the first few songs on the night of the 8th, but ’twasn’t till the 9th that I played it all the way through. And thus my amazing journey started, after years of only being a casual Who fan. So many years later, I still get chills at the haunting, plaintive cry of “See Me, Feel Me” near the end.
And speaking of music, I’m going to be building a page with links to the album reviews I’ve written so far and will be writing in future. It’ll be alphabetised by artists’ names. I have dinosaur taste in music, so don’t expect any current albums! I don’t have anything more recent than George Harrison’s hit and miss swan song Brainwashed (2002). At least give me credit for having some albums made in my lifetime, including albums by a few bands who actually got famous in my lifetime instead of years before I was born!