Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 40 - Excitedly Treading Water

I was going to write a regular blog post today, musing on reading and its part in writing.  But I got blocked on my writing until it was too late to think about it.

So instead of writing about reading, I just read.

In regards to the project block I've got right now, it's mostly a traffic jam block.  Too many ideas jockeying for attention.  And all of those ideas spawn ideas for existing scenes. (OH! If I do THAT, then I can foreshadow it here and set up that other thing there!)  And then it gets too complicated for my brain to handle and it goes blank.

This is not really a serious problem.  It's partly popcorn kittens and partly burn out.  I have too many ideas for too long and my brain gets tired.

Two solutions, both of which I applied:

1.) When your brain is tired, read.  (Or watch, or listen.)  Let somebody else figure out the intricacies.

2.) When you've got too many things vying for you attention, just start listing them and then grab one at random.

In my case, I just went through the manuscript and found an empty chapter.  It was a chapter I kinda wanted to avoid, but the break throughs I had over the past couple of days gave me a handle on it.  Plus, when your problem is too many ideas, the whiny "but how do I start this scene?" voice goes away.  So I'd been whining and whining last fall about that sequence, but now, I look at it and the first sentence just popped into my head.

"June had a firecracker personality."

And even though my brain is tired and individual words are not coming easily, I knew as soon as I wrote that, what that sentence was setting up: June, who has always sparkled, ain't sparkling in this next scene.  That's the dynamic. That's what the scene is about.

In the meantime...

Murder and Blueberry Pie
I thought I'd show you the cover of one of the books I'm reading, Murder and Blueberry Pie, by Frances and Richard Lockridge.   I used to think this cover was terribly ugly -- that the whole mid-century design thing was ugly -- but now I'm doing a lot of art like it. 

(Same with historical periods in general: I used o think the 1910s and 20s were boring compared to what happened before and after.  Now they fascinate me.)

But you know, what's really interesting about this cover, and many others, is that they really whet my appetite for a book.  I think it's because so many of the great books I found in used bookstores and at sales when I was young came from this era -- even if the book itself was written earlier.  That particular edition was most likely printed in the 50s and 60s.

This is the cover and spine. I like the wrap around -- using a vertical change of color to divide the spine from the front.  The design then extends about a quarter inch into the back.  This is not because they're afraid the printing will be off.  (If it were a bleed, or just buffer space, it would extend into the cover as well as the back.) All of these Lippincott mysteries had that little wrap around to the back.

And even more interesting, they didn't have a description of the book on the back.  That was on the inside fold.  On the back, they had a long wordy essay about why you should read mysteries.  I haven't read it in a long time, but if I remember right, it's by Rex Stout, and it quotes famous, important people who got through their important war work by relaxing with a good thriller every night.  This was on every single mystery in this Lippincott line.

Can you imagine today the howling that would ensue if some indie writer had an essay about why you should read their genre on every book?  A LONG essay?

And yet I remember reading this as a kid and feeling very justified in my reading material.

The vagaries of marketing and fashion are... well, interesting.

See you in the funny papers.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I do use the list solution a lot...that really helps. Or housework/yard work until I'm ready to get back to thinking again.

You know, I actually really like that cover! For some reason it reminds me of art deco, although that's the wrong age for it. But an essay that reads like an ad for a genre? Ugh. No thanks!

The Daring Novelist said...

Now that I look at the few copies of Lippincott myteries I have (the few that still have dust covers), I see that not all of them have the essay -- and furthermore, there is more than one essay!

The essays appear on the book club editions. The non-bookclub editions have "about the author" pictures and info.

(As for mid-century design looking like art deco: they're both very abstracted and modern. However, art deco goes for more organic and pretty shapes. Mid-century was going for a more disturbing, off kilter sense. Which, of course, really suits thrillers.)