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Strange Blood
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I finished Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell today. It's a thoroughly enjoyable, witty, odd, interesting book, and I recommend it if you like Clarke's stories. The novel is much like the stories, only writ more large. One criticism: I think it's amazing that she spent ten years writing 800 pages and still managed to rush the ending... more happens in the last fifty pages than happened in the 750 preceding them! But it's beautifully written, and quite cool.

I've been writing, too, of course. I finished (finally, finally, finally!) the final revision/polish/line-edits on the collab I did with Mike and Greg, called "Gillian Underground." It's off to a magazine in today's mail.

I met with my writing group this past weekend. I'm occasionally ambivalent about being in a writing group at all. I did a lot of heavy workshop-type-stuff in college and afterward, and I think a regular group can be dangerous for me, and give me a skewed sense of priorities. It's possible to get into the habit of trying to please your group instead of yourself, to self-censor. But the group I'm in is very good, with talented, perceptive members, and since we only meet a dozen times a year, I don't feel any particular weird external pressure, and I'm confident enough in my own abilities (and my own intentions) that I don't think I shape my work to please them. The social aspect is wonderful, and their feedback is, indeed, very valuable. I took them the first chunk of Blood Engines, and in addition to the problems I expected them to find, they noted some other problems that I acknowledge and plan to fix. (They also had some complaints that I'm cheerfully disregarding, because I think they're wrong; author's prerogative.) Thanks in part to their feedback, my opening chapters will be tighter, more suspenseful, and more emotionally involving. What more could I ask for? They definitely get a place on the acknowledgments page (if the book ever sees print, that is).

Heather attended workshop this time, since she's been part of my writing process from the beginning, has read and critiqued the book in its first incarnation, etc. It was good having her there -- I don't see her often enough, and giving up a weekend afternoon and evening with her is hard!

Blood Engines is at the draft-and-a-band-aid stage right now; I wrote it, then fixed the glaring logical errors and other sundry unbearable flaws, then put it in a drawer to season for a few months. Revising Blood Engines is the next priority after I finish revisions on Rangergirl (which will commence once I get the editorial letter, which should arrive any day now). Then I'll have nothing standing between me and the Bridge novel. I hope to have a draft of that by next summer...

Work is going to be really rough for the next week. We're working on the big Worldcon issue, which has lots of photo spreads, which are incredibly time consuming. Photos have to be color-balanced, layouts have to be done (and redone, and redone...)... this is all in addition to the usual researching and writing of news, trying to get review copies and finished copies of books, dealing with e-mail and correspondence, chasing down forthcoming books lists, preflighting and placing ads... gah. I'm getting stressed out just thinking about it. It's a much heavier workload than usual. This is one of the most difficult issues every year. I'll be glad when it's over. In the meantime, I'm trying to chill out in the evenings, play video games, read, watch movies (Somewhere in the City, which is incredibly odd and only intermittently interesting or good; the usual episodes of Jeeves & Wooster). The issue goes in on the 20th, and I'll be able to relax a bit after that.

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