Monday, January 13, 2014

Writing a Lot and Reading Nothing

This is going to be a quick post. I wanted to write an essay Saturday afternoon, but I wrote on We Don't Always Drown until evening, and then had to beta read for a friend.

So I intended to write an essay after hitting my word count goal on the novel on Sunday, maybe during the football games. But word count is horse hockey, and I kept writing until I'd finish an arc in the novel around 9:30 PM. Then I needed to find food.

Once the rough draft is done I'll post the breakdown of words-per-day on We Don't Always Drown, but I have never had a book start like this. In five days I've written over 13,000 words. It is the most I've ever gotten out of the beginning of a book. The big cheats are knowing the characters, loving their chatter, and already having the major plotting ready. It's a rush, and I'm blessed with the strength to stay upright and keep working. I don't know how long I can keep it up, and keep expecting to crash. The syndrome always gets its day, you know.

Serious work in books.
The downside is that, besides beta reading and some #fridayflash, I haven't been reading. I'm spending all that literary energy on composition, which can get dangerous. It makes me look forward to #NaNoReMo in March, when we'll all draw our classics from our shelves and do a penance unto the canon.

I rummaged through my book boxes and unearthed most of last year's candidates, as well as a few books that have been around and unread even longer. I don't know why my list is sausage fest after two straight #NaNoReMos of reading women, but it is. I figured I'd share, particularly if anyone has questions or recommendations based on these. I'll open up a proper poll in February. For now, the long list is:

-Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations
-Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita
-Alex Haley’s Roots
-Victor Hugo's Les Miserables
-Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace
-Fyodor Dostoyevksy’s Crime and Punishment
-John Irving's The World According to Garp
-Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities
-Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
-David Foster Wallace's The Infinite Jest
-Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow

Any winners?


  1. Yikes! I think the only one I've read is Great Expectations. Must think on that. I'm going to call Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov classics and read some of their work. Awesome about the novel progress!

    The Warrior Muse

    1. Bradbury and Asimov are absolutely in the SciFi Canon, at least in the U.S. Any particular books of theirs you're looking at? I mean to try The Martian Chronicles again eventually.

  2. That's a lot of writing.
    I've read a couple of those. I like Dickens, but that one wasn't my favorite.

  3. Les Miserables and Great Expectations are both well worth it. If you want to knock out more than one though, I would say start with The World According to Garp. I love that book, and find it particularly interesting as a study in character development. For me, the end falls quite flat and is drawn out too long, but in a way that feels like it might be informative to your study of the craft.

    1. I swear to give all these books their fair hearing eventually, but am pondering which is right for March. Garp isn't comparably long, so the investment seems easier. Your recommendation is strong. It's probably going on the short list. Thanks, Lillie!

  4. I've read Great Expectations, World According to Garp, and Gravity's Rainbow. GE was OK, WAtG was great (and a straightforward read), GR was astounding and amazing (but a terribly difficult read).

    1. Another easy vote for Garp! Didn't expect this turnout. Gravity's Rainbow seems so interesting, though. I guess my biggest question is whether I want to read a long and terribly challenging novel while writing one of my own.

  5. Your NaNoReMo makes me think I should pick up one of the doorstop "classics" I have lying around. I'm debating between Dickens' Our Mutual Friend and Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

    1. I've never read a bad Dumas! The Count is his most straight-forward classic, with the obvious build and the long path of revenge. I found it breezy and happily endorse it.

  6. Congrats on the writing streak!!! That's so exciting. I love it when a story just chugs along like that!

    If you haven't read Les Miserables, that gets my vote! But then, I've never been interested in War and Peace, I hate reading Dickens with an undying passion (love his STORIES, can't stand reading his novels), and don't believe I've actually heard of any of the others... :) But Les Mis is very, very good.

  7. Wow, on your writing streak. All that preparation is having a brilliant impact.
    I am not a Dicken's fan, and probably need to revisit. I have read Lolita (years ago). Ditto on War and Peace, The World according to Garp And Bonfire of Vanities. I think that Garp's World is probably one of Irvings best. And can remember loving Bonfire of Vanities - but not why.

  8. I read Dickens Great Expectations a long time ago - why not give it a go ;)


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