Teahouse on the Tracks (Alastair Reynolds)
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Sunday, 4 November 2007
Gold Star for Robot Boy
Now Playing: Guided by Voices

Last night I finished HOUSE OF SUNS. I gave it another look this afternoon and made a few additional changes. Then I emailed it to my editor.

There is still work to be done, although as always at this point I feel that the hard labour is behind me. Writing a book takes me about eight or nine months all told. For most of that time the work falls into what one might call the 9-to-5 category, in that I do a manageable chunk of work each day and sustain that output over many weeks and months. I'll sometimes set myself micro-deadlines to keep up the pace, but they're a separate issue from the contractually specified delivery date. Miss that by a couple of days and the world won't come to an end. Miss it by a couple of weeks, and the knock-on can cause major difficulties with production slots.

The work moves into a different phase in the last month, in which I work at a level I know I can maintain for a few weeks, but not for month on month. Finally, the last week or so - seven to ten days - is an endurance exercise. At this point I'm not necessarily setting myself arbitrary word count targets for a given day's work, but I am focussed on doing all that is necessary to finish the book. As often as not, that'll involve a large amount of cutting, so word length targets become a little moot. For a few weeks in October I was cutting in the morning, then adding in the afternoon, with the net word count hovering around the same mark.

I'm exhausted now, but I know from previous experience that my recovery time will only be a couple of days. Writing is a compulsion for me  - keep me away from it for more than a few days and I start getting frustrated. Before very long the stamina levels are back where they are and a new story is hatching. Last year I wrote and submitted  "The Sledge-Maker's Daughter" while awaiting feedback on THE PREFECT. I've got to write a story before Christmas, although I don't know what it'll be yet. By the end of the week I hope to be getting some idea.

I'll say a bit more about HOUSE OF SUNS in due course, and perhaps post an extract or two. For now, it's safe to say that this feels like my" biggest" novel to date in terms of scope and complexity - it's real galaxy-spanning stuff, far more so than the relatively claustrophobic and contained RS-universe stuff.  Structurally, it's got more going on than any of the recent books, although it still follows a more-or-less linear timeline. It has 25-km long starships, two major space battles, immortal clones, a variety of different planets and locales, a supporting cast of robots and posthumans, and (I'd love to think) a touch of that far-future colour, exoticism and off-hand weirdness that I so much enjoy in the work of Cordwainer Smith and Gene Wolfe. Well, you've got to try, haven't you.

And now I can start catching up on my correspondence...


Posted by voxish at 4:57 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 4 November 2007 5:25 PM CET

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