On Belay at the Devil's Crack

07 Nov 2006

It's been a while since I've run a picture of Satan, so I figured I'm due. Truth be told, I miss those fundamentalists writing in to warn me about eternal damnation. I guess I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. ("The sinners are much more fun ... "). Now, if I were ol' scratch, I'd probably do away with the horns -- not that they're not wicked cool, mind you. But, they look so damned top-heavy and ... impractical -- like those bizarre freaks you see every so often who grow their finger nails out for years. Back to horns, though ... Maybe just a nice, normal sized set. (Of course, being effectively omnipotent, I suppose you could easily change them as needed.) I like Satan; Satan's cool. (Okay, let the comments begin ... )

Anyway, what got my wheels spinning today was a neat story on Yahoo news about a newly rediscovered cave in England. As I've said before on this blog, you really have to pay close attention to many of the stories in the science section because, quite often, details buried in the text turn out more interesting than the main point. In this example, scroll about half way down and you get this gem: "In a paper written in 1793, James Plumtree described a network of caves found after descending into a lead mine near a local fissure known for centuries as the Devil's Arsehole."

I love how the British arse is only ostensibly equivalent to our word ass. Arse is somehow less profane, right? It's almost poetic, as a matter of fact (here in America, anyway). The result, of course, is that America likely has few, if any, fissures known as assholes (except for our politicians, of course). But, no one would ever say, "Hey, let's rappel into the Devil's Asshole!" That just doesn't sound like fun. Actually, the word "fissure" is kind of funny, too. Technically, it means "a long, narrow opening; a crack or cleft." So, how about The Devil's Crack? An improvement? Perhaps not ...

And now for something completely different ... The NaNoWriMo novel's going well: 10,600 words, as of last night, plus I've almost finished outlining the thing. On the subject of outlining, I should note my opinion that it can't be a good thing to attempt to write a decent novel without one. Sure, sure, I'm all for writing for the sake of writing. (You're reading that kind of writing right now.) But, creating a (hopefully) marketable product seems to require a bit more forethought. I've now spent a good deal of time actively crafting my plot, but I've also struggled to meet the writing deadlines. That meant writing for a while without knowing exactly where I was going -- and this proved a little wreckless for two reasons: (1) I've already had to significantly revise a few characters as I discovered that the traits I'd given them would not work properly with my developing plot, and (2) if one has a roadmap, I believe that this frees up part of one's subconscious mind to develop appropriate foreshadowing and other focused thematic imagery along the way toward the goal.

By the way, I've made a note to re-research standard novel length. I'd stated earlier that it was 75,000 words, but now I'm thinking it's more like 85,000 (minimum). Well, if I get it to 75,000, I'm sure I could painlessly add 10,000 to fully ensure a publisher's bidding war resulting in a six-figure advance. Over 30 chapters, that's adding only 300+ words per chapter. Shouldn't be too difficult. Anyway, that's what's suppsoed to happen, right? You pen a novel, and everyone thinks it's the next DaVinci Code...

I love how so many people come down on that book, btw. Christians hate it because Jesus gets a little table dance at the last supper; nonchristians hate it because it simply confirms what they've thought previously but didn't bother to articulate themselves in novel form; and the literary establishment doesn't seem to respect Brown for various reasons -- too formulaic, too trite, too accessible, too profitable, too written by someone who didn't go through the Iowa writer's workshop. Christ, if everyone hated it so much, why'd Brown make $75 million from it?

At first I was going to state that the preceding statement was meant rhetorically. I was going to say that I really don't care to beat a dead horse. I was even going to come right out and say that I don't care to hear anyone's opinion on it. But that's not true, really. I welcome any opinions anyone wants to share. As for Dan Brown, I think the guy's a fine writer. I also think that about J.K. Rowling. I also think that about Stephen King. I'll kill myself if I start one more sentence with "I." (I'm joking.) Seriously, though, I specifically picked those authors because they're top three I continually hear criticised as "poor writers." And, I truly think that people who say this have forgotten one of the main purposes of writing -- to entertain.

I was just commenting on Monstro's fine blog the other day how Thomass Mann skeeved me out. Whether Death in Venice is some beautiful metaphor about beauty or a manifesto for NAMBLA is perhaps a matter of conjecture for the ages. Either way, the journey was far less enjoyable to me than, say, Harry Potter 6. So, that's where I'm at now; I actually think that books should entertain.

Back to novel length ... so, sure, I could easily add 10,000 words if necessary. But, I'm also very much in agreement with (I think it was) Pascal, who once quipped that one of his letters would have been much shorter if he'd had more time -- the message being, of course, that if one invests enough time into these things, it may be possible to lose all of one's hair over the course of a single novel by saving a few hundred words here and there. Still, it's sage advice. If only I had time to edit this post ... I may've decided to simply leave the Satan picture.

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