Fell asleep at eleven last night, woke up at eight. At eight! I never sleep past 6:30 at home, because Anand is awake with the sun, like a miniature alarm clock. Usually I�m up earlier, at five or five-thirty, so I can have a little time to myself before the children descend. A chance to catch my breath. If I�m careful, I go to sleep by ten or earlier, so I can get eight hours of sleep. Many nights this last week, I didn�t manage it, and clearly, my body was just waiting for its chance to take advantage again. I had vague plans of getting up at five and doing some hard-core writing first thing, but apparently, sleep was more important. So be it.
Tea and a story from Ploughshares. This one, about zombies and a small black town, I�m not sure what I thought of. There were lots of great bits, lots of funny bits, but I felt as if I were missing some of the larger cultural context needed to really make sense of what the author was trying to do. Still, interesting. Checked e-mail, and discovered some good writerly news that I�m not allowed to discuss yet. Soon, I promise. It�s a small thing, but some of you may enjoy it. And it feels like a good omen for Ragdale.
Read chapter two of the YA aloud, making minor edits. This is all very clean � final revisions are moving fast. There�ll be more work to do on later chapters. Break for breakfast; I brought some leftover rice and curry with me, which was a good choice � the food here is good, but I remember from last year that I quickly start missing spiciness. My mouth is addicted to heat. While eating, read the next story in Ploughshares, which is an unexpected treat, a story by my friend Sugi (V.V. Ganeshananthan), �K Becomes K.� I liked her novel, but I like this even more. Like is perhaps not the right word. I think it�s very good � moving, in a restrained way. About love and war. Sometimes that�s all I think about, I think.
I had thought I might take a walk on the prairie next, but it�s already too warm for my comfort; tomorrow, if I want to do that, I should try to go earlier. Back to the YA novel, chapter three to retype.
10:45 and what had been chapter three is done, retyped and read aloud. I actually made a structural change here � I�ve been fretting that the opening is too slow, that it takes too long to get to the real problem of the story, the one she�ll be tasked with solving. I�m still worried about that, but I managed to combine two sections to make chapter three move faster, so that�s a help, I think. And then combined some earlier stuff, so now chapters 1-3 have turned into 1-2. Right now, it looks like this:
- prologue (flash forward to magical battle)
- chapter one (in our world, setting up family, culture, characters, internal conflicts)
- chapter two (step through portal to magical world, making sense of it, various small incidents building tension, revealing magic, big fight at end of chapter) � this takes us to just under 10,000 words
- chapter three (finally meet major characters from other world, big issues set in motion).
I�m not sure if that�s too slow a lead-up; I keep trying to condense it, but I�m not sure how to tighten it any further, not without losing important characterization and at least a bit of reality to the portal fantasy. I mean, I could essentially delete all of chapter two, but there�s a lot I like in it, that I think helps makes it all make sense. But I keep thinking back to A Wrinkle in Time � I think, if I�m remembering right, we learn about Meg�s father and magic and she sets off on her quest to rescue him by the end of the first chapter? I don�t know. Ugh.
Going to go get a yogurt and read another story or two. Maybe that will clear my head.