Odds and Ends

Recently, I have had a lot going on. I have been hard at work on my Compendium outline, fleshing out more of the first novel’s plot. It is coming together nicely, and I am confident that I will have a working outline in the next twenty days or so. I will try to flesh out as much of the series arc as possible, but it may stay a bit vague at least for now. Once I have the outline for the first book, I think it will be easier to dig into  the major plot lines for the rest of the series. I am still not sure how many books it will end up being, but my gut says four right now. Essentially, one will be the set up for the entire series plot, the middle two books will escalate the tension and the final book will wrap it up. I may be able to add a fifth book, but I would rather have four really tight books than five with filler that doesn’t advance my story or characters in a meaningful way.

Additionally, I  recently finished reading Magic Kingdom for Sale… Sold! (the first of the Landover Series) by Terry Brooks, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. Both of these were good reads. I had no idea that Terry Brooks was a lawyer before he was a writer, but I knew pretty much immediately into the beginning of the first book in the Landover Series. His description of practicing law was too accurate (even though the book was written thirty years ago). It was eerie actually. Many lawyers dream of leaving the profession. Even I have occasionally had this feeling in times of stress, but, luckily, it is a fleeting feeling for me. That said,  it was really surreal  for Terry Brooks to marry that concrete feeling that many lawyers have  with the idea of buying a magical kingdom, wrapping up one’s practice, and escaping into a fairy land. He took something many lawyers grapple with, the decline of the profession, the stress and all-encompassing elements of practicing law, and those other parts of practicing that niggle  lawyers, and he threw the entire idea into the realm of the absurd. He even made a point to state that Ben Holiday was wealthy because of family money. That was a nice touch.

The book was well-written, and I really enjoyed Landover and plan to read the rest of the series. I did notice some moments of cabbageheadery.  Questor Thews  spent a lot of time explaining parts of Landover  to Ben, where  I might have rather enjoyed encountering some of these elements through action rather than exposition. Big blocks of explanatory dialog sometimes slowed the pace of the story. This is an issue I am sure that I will grapple with first hand as I complete my first Compendium book. Overall, it was fairly minimal (and largely occurred in the beginning of Ben’s time in Landover), but it was something I noticed as I read.

I really appreciated Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls as well. It think it was one of David Sedaris’s better efforts. My favorite is still When You Are Engulfed in Flames. I lived in Japan during 2008, so that book and the stories really resonated with me. His latest book was very travel-centric as well, so I definitely enjoyed those stories. I also really enjoyed the shorts that were written from other perspectives. They were well done, although it was sometimes a guess when I would start the story as to whether it was written as Mr. Sedaris or written as a “character.” Most of those shorts tackled political issues, largely in a satirical fashion. They were all entertaining. Mostly, when I finish a David Sedaris book, I end it feeling grumpy and annoyed that I don’t have such entertaining stories spilling out of my fingers and into my computer waiting to delight the masses. I say grumpy and annoyed, but what I mean is old-fashioned jealousy. I have some hilarious stories about Japan and India and family, but I just have never gotten my act together to compose such clever segues. Maybe if I get the opportunity to participate in NYU’s Low Residency MFA, I will get my act together on some personal essays.

Speaking of that, if I didn’t have my nails slathered in a gel manicure, I would have bitten them down to the stumps by now. I have been on pins and needles, and every day that turns into another week where I don’t hear anything leads me to believe I’m going to be in limbo until after the application deadline. I know what they say about assumptions, but I can’t help thinking that if they hated my work, I would have already gotten a rejection, and if they loved my work, I would have already gotten an acceptance. Thus, they probably think it’s good enough, as long as a bunch of other better people don’t apply between now and October 15th. So, I will just continue to wring my hands and try not to dwell on whether I need to start preparing a new application for June.

About the Photograph: Photograph of Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji) taken in Owakudanai, Japan in March, 2008. 

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