(this is a reposting of what I wrote, over at Castle Debacle, because I want my bases covered. I don’t want to come back and find internet headlines that read OBSCURE NUTTER AUTHOR VANISHES MYSTERIOUSLY; JAMES RITCHIE SUSPECTED or, you know, something)
If this is Monday, then I have enacted my super-evil genius mad plan of doom! Bwahaha! Soon, I shall have membership in the Evil League of Evil, and you shall all tremble before my–
Oh. Wrong note. Er. Whoops…
There is a plan, but it’s not that one (the above plan involves seventeen overripened strawberries, two pints of malt beer, and a kazoo, BUT THAT IS ALL I CAN REVEAL). This plan…is that I am going completely off the internet, off every corner and piece of it completely. Out of my e-mail, off blogs of all sorts. I won’t even see news or weather sites. I’ve got my wife changing the password on the router box so I can’t access there. I’ll lock myself out of all other avenues too. Completely gone.
For how long, you perhaps say? (Or perhaps you say “hooray! finally!” to which I reply “HMPH”) How long is until I have finished a novel. I’m sitting at the start of something like the nineteenth draft of The Neon God, which has been worked on, off and on amidst other projects, since 2001. I’m really sick of looking at it. I want it done. (That said, I’ve got a headful of ideas for my second draft of “The Nondescript” too, so who knows what I’ll wind up writing).
The problem with the internet is that what I mostly use it for is to talk to people I like, who talk back to me. And this is a delight. The problem is that intelligent and mind-stretching conversation does use some of the same engines I use for fiction. So if I explore an issue, a piece of science, or what-have-you that is filling up my head, in casual conversation, then I’ve satisified the need to figure it out and it doesn’t turn into fiction. If I have a lengthy conversation in e-mail, then I’m not writing fiction, but because it gently turns over the same engines…I reach the end of the day not particularly dissatisfied with myself. I’ve done writing. Just not useful, and not a novel.
Like I say above, I’ve been doing start-and-stop drafts on The Neon God since 2001. Thus far in 2008, I got about halfway through the best draft of it yet, and it crashed again. I want to tell the story, but it’s big, and complex, and it goes down and down. When it comes to works like the serial stuff I was doing, The Book of Grey stuff, I can do that and maintain conversations. But I’m not a natural novel-writer, particularly not one that is so big and complex. I need to be entirely inside my own head, inside the novel, until it’s done.
Does that make sense? I hope so. (I didn’t explain it like this at Castle Debacle, but I want to here, before I vanish). If it helps any, I have precedent. If a huge and spectacular mind like Bill Gibson has to shut down his blog and go off the internet while writing books like Spook Country and Pattern Recognition, and if a great storyteller and mythmaker like Neil Gaiman tends to go off to internet-free houses to write, then I think bumbling nutter me could probably use the same idea.
So, that’s how long. Until the book’s done. Then I’ll be back and around and useful. Or whatever it is I am. I don’t know how long it’ll be. Maybe I’ll write the book in two weeks and be back in no time. If I’m still gone at Christmas-time, er, then I really suck as a writer, that’s what!
Right. And off I go!
(Another P.S.: If I’m needed for anything, while away — for example, The Joker breaks out of Arkahm Asylum again, or my Power Of Heart is needed to summon Captain Planet and his green mullet — then get in touch with Lori, or Kristine, who both have ways of digging me up. Or, hell. I’ll write back. Physical letter corrospondence is nearly meditative, and is a very fine thing.)
Right. Now really off I go.