The Language of (writing) bees

The first draft of The Language of Bees is drawing to a close, with all the main characters and events converging on a (more or less literal) race to the finish line. As I wrote Touchstone, I found it very tough to write past a gap. That is, as I was writing, or even rewriting, something in chapter five, say, I would realize that I would need to change the setup in chapter two. And knowing that I had a gap back there, I couldn’t deal with what I had without going back to chapter two and fixing that. And then printing it off so I could see what I had.

This makes for an appalling amount of paper. I cringe to think of how many reams of paper I used up in the process—in fact, I couldn’t bear to look at the mountain, so I packed one entire grocery bag off to the recyclers’ rather than stick it next to the printer to print on the back side, which is what I usually do. And I still have a mountain, waiting to be re-used on the reverse.

This time, I’m back to my usual PostIt method, where I make a note on one of my big square lined PostIts about adding a clue or defining a character more clearly or changing a sequence of events, and stick it in place for the rewrite.

I’m thinking it has more to do with the circumstances in which I wrote Touchstone than with any differences in the book itself. Granted, Touchtone is a complex story and it was tricky to keep everything in mind, but it’s more likely that, writing it while my husband was in and out of hospitals, I just had less mental flexibility to wrap around the story. And although he’s still ill, the brain just doesn’t maintain a panic mode after two years. The Language of Bees is not only familiar territory (Russell and Holmes back in England) but it’s a familiar style of writing for me as well.

With nowhere near the amount of guilt at cutting down a forest for one manuscript.

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  1. Indigo Eyebrow on March 11, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Not many authors allow readers a glimpse of what writing a novel is like, they prefer to cast a shadow of mystery over their job.
    Thanks for sharing your methods and ideas with us; your blog is really interesting.

  2. Carlina on March 11, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Squee! Thanks for sharing. I’m guessing it was easier to switch gears this time moving to more familiar territory. That was…really pretty fast I think. Then again, I’ve been locked dissertation hell since January so it may just be my loss of a temporal context. Although I guess sometimes these things tend to write themselves..sneaky little characters running about doing what they want…getting out of hand. Ever have that problem?

    As for the forest…well we can always reseed, replant, and re-sapling can’t we?

    Thanks again for sharing and as always my best to you and your family!

  3. wsmvgn on March 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    This is wonderful news! You go, girl!
    Although the Yahoo group is giving me daily Russell fixes, the real thing by the real author is sorely missed and eagerly anticipated. Thanks.

  4. Poodlerat on March 11, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    The process of writing a new Russell is easily worth a tree or two, compared to some of the other things that make it into print!

    I loved Touchstone and The Art of Detection—especially as they both had ties to Russell’s world!—but a new Russell will be best of all. I’m so excited for this book, I’m re-reading the series this year in anticipation. (Not that I don’t re-read them just about every year anyway, but usually it’s haphazard. This time I’m being systematic!)

  5. Real Icon on March 12, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Considering that Wolfram von Eschenbach has his heroes waste at least one forest’s worth of spears in each of his major epic works, I absolutely agree that there are worse things to spend trees on than a new LRK novel.

  6. KathyElliot on March 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I’m really looking forward to this new Russel installment (even because there are only so many times I can re-read the others without cracking the spine …), and the Green Peace member in me is rejoices as the lack of tree killing! ^v^ It’s horribly conflicting, to be both an avid reader and writer and hating trees being pulled down.

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