Today I all but finished the second book in the Citlalli series… or at least I think I did. I will go over it once more in a month or two, but so far it looks like I’m on track to release that one by the end of May or the beginning of June. Now on to book three!
ARGHHH! Okay, now that I got that one off my chest I have to say that I am having some trouble with my writing… no, I’m not stuck, but rather I have a project that seems to have taken a life of its own and now I find myself facing a bit of a dilemma: I began writing that one in what amounted to a hiatus of the second book of Citlalli (I always take a small break before I start revising it to gain a modicum of distance). That hiatus was supposed to last a couple of months, which could be stretched to maybe four.
Well, those four months are almost over and the other book, which I had originally envisioned as having something like 25,000-40,000 words is well past the 60,000 mark and I am only half way through. That means I have to choose between postponing Citlalli to finish at least the first draft of the new one first, or putting this one on hold even though I am only half way through. As you can probably guess neither one of these seems to me like a particularly pleasant choice, but a choice I’ll have to make.
Did I mention I’m not happy about that one?
Okay, so I haven’t posted an update on what I’m reading for what feels like ages. I’m still going over the Discworld series (and I’m still enjoying it). I am currently up to Going Postal, that would be book 33 out of 39 for those who are not particularly familiar with that universe. I think chances are that I will finish with the series before the year is out, though I will probably reread Nation and The Nomes Trilogy after that, so I may be in Pratchett mode until January.
Six months after my books went live in amazon I can honestly say that they haven’t sold well. Seeing how I am a writer, not a publicist, this is not entirely unexpected and I had originally thought I would let this particular milestone slip by unnoticed. That would have been the logical thing to do (we tend to celebrate our successes, not our failures), but the thing is that the fact that my books haven’t sold made me think about what this ‘failure’ means and to try to examine it more objectively… and then I decided that that was something that might actually be worth sharing in a world of ever-cheerful, self-promoting, self-published authors.
I am currently working on several projects (in fact, seeing how between original works, revisions and translations I am currently juggling five/six projects, I think it’s safe to say that I am working on a few too many projects). The thing is that while I can usually handle multitasking just fine, I am afraid one of these projects is spinning out of control. That has me a little worried, seeing how it is one I am really excited about. What’s happening there is that what began as a wacky idea for a short book that I thought would be maybe 30,000 words long has sort of ballooned. In fact the first draft currently stands at 40,000 words and I think I’m a little more than half way through. That shouldn’t be much of an issue as I usually have no problem letting my books take me where they will, but I do feel it is getting bloated with too much detail… and that the spirit of the book I set out to write has been lost somehow. Still, I am not giving up. Sure, it may need a lot of editing in the next round, and it will probably take much longer to be done, but there is no hurry. I know I can tell my time, that is the beauty of being a totally unknown writer… though this is shaping out to be one of those projects that leave me wondering just who the hell happens to be in control of my writing!
Earlier today I came across this article about a couple of lawsuits that have been filed by the Faulkner estate for copyright infringement. One of these targets Woody Allen for daring to use a nine/ten word quote in a movie (words that were openly credited in the film), the other targets a defense contractor for quoting the author in an ad. From my perspective the second one of these lawsuits does have some merit (even in a full page ad, an identifiable quote is likely to represent a measurable chunk of the content of that ad, not to mention that a quotation under those circumstances can be seen as a tacit endorsement, and I agree that authors and their heirs have a right to refuse such a thing), but it is the first one of these lawsuits that I find not just troubling but also extremely dangerous.
Yes, copyright is important (though I also have to say that the laws that were meant to protect it have been badly abused in recent years) and plagiarism should not be tolerated, but there is no plagiarism here, and as far as I am concerned this particular lawsuit is not only taking things too far, but if successful it threatens to set a precedent that would be extremely dangerous. Let’s face it, authors have been quoting each other for centuries, and when it comes to very short snippets the truth is that that may not even be deliberate. In fact I have read hundreds of books in my life, some as a child (to say nothing of countless newspapers, magazines, blog posts and other sources of written material, plus films and TV shows), and I freely admit that there are any number of turns of phrase that have crept into my long-term storage without the appropriate bibliographical reference attached. That comes with living and being human, it is part and parcel of the way in which we absorb language from the world around us. The question then becomes where do we draw the line. That is not an easy one to answer, but I do believe that the freedom to quote other authors, within reason, has always been one of the cornerstones of writing and literature as a whole. No, I would not extend that freedom to advertisement, that is a completely different kettle of fish as far as I am concerned, but when it comes to film and literature I do believe that suing over less than ten words out of a whole script is taking things a bit too far.
Now, as I reread my words, I can only hope that I won’t get sued for saying that extending such a freedom to advertisement would be ‘a completely different kettle of fish’, after all that particular expression is precisely one of those that have crept into my long-term storage without the appropriate bibliographical reference attached. I know I didn’t come up with it but I don’t know who did, and you know what? I don’t particularly care. It is a part of language, one of those expressions that are understood by most even if it doesn’t really seem to make much sense, and I suspect that by now its origins have been all but lost. That is how language lives, how it grows and how it thrives… and it is precisely that ability to thrive that I fear is being threatened by the Faulkner’s estate decision to sue over nine or ten words.
Okay, this one is about my own books. I know I rarely talk about my own projects here, but today I decided to make an exception. Right now I am working on the second book in the Citlalli universe and as I try to keep things coherent I am developing a far more intimate understanding of the advantages and the challenges posed by working within the context of what is basically a known universe. The biggest advantage is that, with a couple of exceptions, I don’t really have to worry about getting to know the characters anymore. That was one that gave me some trouble in the first one, as it took us a while to get comfortable with each other, but at the same time now I live in constant fear of contradicting myself, or of realizing that something I mentioned in book one has effectively caused me to paint myself into a corner in one of the sequels. I mean, when I write a stand-alone story I can always go back and make whatever changes I deem necessary to make sure that the whole thing works out in the end, but with a series the first book is already out there –firmly set on bytes and paper– and while I think book two is coming along nicely… well, there are still books three and four for me to consider. Continue reading To be continued…