Thursday, November 20, 2008


Finishing a novel leaves you with something like jetlag. You think you're functioning normally, but your IQ and attention span are seriously out of whack. You go to make a cup of tea, put the cat in the kettle, throw the water out the door, and when you've sorted out that confusion, discover you've made a tasty beverage with a stock cube. Fish stock. Or as Edward Gorey has it in his wonderful The Unstrung Harp, or Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel:
The next day Mr Earbrass is conscious but very little more. He wanders through the house, leaving doors open and empty tea-cups on the floor. From time to time the thought occurs to him that he really ought to go out and dress, and he gets up several minutes later, only to sit down again in the first chair he comes to. The better part of a week will have elapsed before he has recovered enough to do anything more helpful.
After finishing and sending off Gardens of the Sun, I had a week much like that, and then, at the beginning of this month, in muscular commercial author fashion, started on my next project. Alas, I'm not much cop as a muscular commercial author. A few weeks later I find I've written some 20,000 words, which is the length of the piece I promised to deliver, but they're the wrong words in the wrong order, or the right words in the wrong order, or the right words in the right order in the wrong place. And after going nowhere very much the feeble rivulet of plot kind of runs out into the sands of ennui . . . But! This morning I realised what needed to be done, and went for a long walk to work out the finer points, came back and typed up a page of notes and reordered the salvagable bits and pieces and made notes for what's needed to link them together. Of course, now I'm about to fly off to a convention in Holland, but I reckon (if I'm not whistling in the dark) that I have sort of cracked it. All I need to so is write the damned thing, but that's the easy part. I hope.

Via John Joseph Adams at the Fantasy and Science Fiction site, this little test to find out which SF author you are. I'm Octavia Butler, which makes a weird kind of sense.


Blogger PeteY said...

I'm delighted to find that I'm Stanislaw Lem. I think it was the futility question.

November 20, 2008 5:33 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I was Stanislaw Lem on a different test. I must have mellowed.

November 20, 2008 5:51 pm  
Blogger PeteY said...

Do you know any SF authors who turned out to be themselves?

November 21, 2008 4:26 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I don't. But it would be a good baseline test :)

November 21, 2008 8:53 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was Stanislav Lem as well. I also suspect ticking that box about futility and pointlessness may have swung it...

But hey, there are worse things than being Stanislav Lem.

November 21, 2008 11:46 am  

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