Tubes, Paint, Reflections

I’m about ready to roll out of here — I haven’t been able to get a whole lot done, because in about 12 hours, our little 4.5-month-old will be heading into surgery. Ugh. Mitch is getting tubes tomorrow morning, since he’s had five ear infections already, and we’re really hoping that surgery — which is really pretty minor and won’t take long at all — will help him get and stay healthy. The poor guy has been sick, either with reflux or ear infections, since Day One.

So yeah, it’s hard to get a lot done, thinking about your child getting knocked out and spending time in the hospital… Luckily, it won’t be for long tomorrow, and we should all be home by lunch time.

In totally unrelated news, we finally got around to painting our office at home yesterday (I was gonna call it “my” office, but we all use it, including Drew, who loves working on the laptop or taking pictures of himself on the iMac with the PhotoBooth app, which he calls “the crazy Drew”).

We painted it a darkish blue, with hints of gray. Of course I can’t remember the name of it, but it was something goofy. Surprisingly, it makes the room look much bigger, and once the odor of fresh paint goes away, it’ll be perfect. Then we can start framing pictures and putting ’em up on the wall; I’ve been dying to frame my story illustrations and book covers and put them up there behind my desk, for inspiration.

Amazingly, we were able to paint with Drew and Mitch at home with us, and we didn’t have any meltdowns. At least not with the kids — I was ready to lose it a couple times, because I was feeling stressed about getting my copy-edits done to my book. But we all survived… My wife is very, very patient!

Office photos coming soon, I promise! Here’s the unpainted version, for comparison sake:

And finally, speaking of copy-edits, I just wanted to note that there’s no better way to get a feel for your own writing strengths and weaknesses than to read 284 pages of your stuff in about 2 days’ time. I finished reading the Doorways novel last night, about 10:30, and felt like I’d run the mental equivalent of a marathon.

Along with the weird, easily fixed tics I mentioned in my previous journal entry, I found a lot of areas I want to work on in the next novel, as well as some encouraging sections of the book that I really liked. The good stuff included some really well-developed characters, something I think I tend to forget to do in the bigger structure of a novel, since I’m so busy orchestrating plotlines; and a nice use of shifting time frames to both give more insight into characters and keep the reader slightly off-balance.

That’s probably the thing I want to do more of, going forward — challenging the reader and taking more chances as a writer. That’s why I really like my novel-writing strategy for the new novel, which I’m trying to stick to. That plan is all about getting the words down on paper first, then going over and over the book about 4-5 times, each time making each scene better, fixing the structure, adding new stuff and removing flat stuff.

It really is like painting (a portrait or a landscape, not a room!), adding layers and details (though writing is BETTER than painting in that it’s much, much easier to erase and redo something, instead of scraping paint and starting over). I could tell the scenes that really benefited from this “iterative” (I know, ugly word) process in the Doorways novel.

I need to remind myself of this as I get bogged down in my first draft of the maps novel. I just need to get that first draft done. Even if it is a little bit on the shitty side. You can’t edit something if it’s not written down in the first place!

And those are my thoughts, today. Wish us all luck tomorrow, and see ya later!

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