As always after a deadline, my office looks like a bunch of storm troopers had a barroom brawl with half a dozen Chechen war bands. So this morning I headed down to give it a clean out in preparation for the next round of deadlines. It didn't take too long. It never does when you just hold open a big garbage bag and sweep everything off the desk into it.
In tidying up I did have one stroke of luck. I found an unopened box which I had assumed was just reprints of Fellafel or one of the thrillers. Instead it turned out to be a small treasure trove of fantasy and sci-fi novels I'd ordered from Borderland Books in San Francisco, I think, almost exactly one year ago. It had been sitting there in the rubble and the rubbish that whole time. I think I might start with the Charlie Houston vampire noir novels first.
But not until I finish Steven King's Under the Dome, which I'm about three quarters through, and which I'm really loving. It's one of his big canvas projects, and possibly his best since The Stand. I'd find it hard to fault the book were I reviewing it. The characters are all brilliantly drawn, the pacing is perfect, and he's managed to pull off a trick that most genre writers find it all but impossible; embedding quite sophisticated political discourse deep under the cover of the surface narrative. He has a lot to say about politics, religion and ecology but he never preaches. Nor does he make the mistake of painting his villains and heroes in two dimensions with a limited palette. It gets JB's two thumbs up and a hearty recommendation for the next time you have a spare week to invest in a novel.
My next week is going to be invested in the rewrite of Leviathan. Sydney Theater Company have announced now that they'll be adapting it for their 2011 season, meaning I'd better get my arse into gear and get rolling on my update. That's partly what cleaning the office was about this morning, not just clearing work space on the desk, but clearing headspace so that I can shift from one project into the next without being held back by a lot of clutter and baggage.
I'm sort of looking forward to it, the change in pace. My first task is to go through the published papers of the early colonial governors extracting notes on the themes I'll be addressing in the new chapter, the city's aesthetic history. This will also be an interesting trial for the dictation software. I've been using it a lot to do columns and features, and it's proven itself more than useful in that area. This chapter, however, will run to at least 40 maybe 50,000 words, in effect, a standalone book. It's the first time I'll have tackled a project of that size from the get go using MacSpeech Dictate. I'll let you know how that works out.
The other thing I'll be trying is some writing software recommended by Hughesy. It's called Scrivener and I've got it on a 30 day free trial at the moment. She swears by it and I'm willing to give it a go on that basis, but I wanted to wait until I was at the start of a project. I won't use it for Leviathan, but I will see how it handles with the first draft of book 3 of the Wave trilogy.