Life Sentences, Day 131: Nearing the End

February 9th, 2011

I’m either two or three writing sessions, barring a serious setback, from finishing PULPED.

With perhaps 5000 words to go, I’m in the unusual position, for me, anyway, of knowing what they should probably be.  For that reason — because I want to start putting them on the page — this is going to be a short post.

As I’ve found my way through the story, I’ve had to entertain a recurring conviction that parts of it, essential parts of it, are preposterous.  Now that I’m one or two good sprints from the end, I’m absolutely certain that it’s preposterous.  The issue is no longer whether the whole series of closing sequences is preposterous, but whether I can get away with it.

In other words, I’m stuck with the ancient question that faces everyone as he or she nears the end of the rainbow: Am I going to find a pot of gold or a three-day supply of string cheese?

When I find myself with a doubt I don’t know how to resolve, I ask myself what I can say about the book that I’m 100% certain is true.  This is what I come up with re: PULPED.

1.  I’ve had an immense amount of fun writing it.

2.  There’s a character in it I love.

3.  Parts of it have terrific velocity.  (Whether that velocity is leading in the right direction is a separate question.)

4.  The underlying idea is an interesting one.

5.  Some of it is seriously funny.

So that’s where I am.  Five almost-unqualified positives.

On the other side of the scoreboard, I don’t think there’s a publisher in the world who would take it, and if there were, my advance would probably be a handful of grocery coupons.  But I didn’t write this book in an attempt to conform to the publishing industry’s value system or enthusiasm of the moment.  I wrote it for me and for anyone who wants to see Simeon Grist again, even if he’s in a very different kind of book.

So there. So now I’m going to write.

By the way, the redoubtable Everett Kaser has volunteered a Valentine’s story called TOPANGA HEARTS.  I love it, and  I’ll put it up in the next day or two for your delectation and delight.

8 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 131: Nearing the End”

  1. Everett Kaser Says:

    It sounds to me like the positives FAR outweigh any negatives, and the one piece of advice I seem to keep hearing from pretty much ALL “writing advisers” is to write something that you want to read. It sounds like you’ve accomplished that, and I know that I and several other follogers are eager to read it. As for a publisher, you know very well that you already have one: Amazon.

    So: Damn the torpedoes.

    By the way, yesterday I finally caught up with all of the old blogs, 2006 to the present. So, the index is complete now (except for THIS post), and the files containing the concatenated blog are complete (up through the end of 2010; I’m building one for the first quarter of 2011, too, but it’s not posted). The index and the searchable concatenated blogs are available on:

    ebooks – Hallinan

    Seriously, Tim, if at the end of this 365 days of blogging you drop back to blogging once every week or two, I may drop into a deep depression, deprived of my daily Hallinan Hit!

    Thanks for all your writing, novels, blogs and everything else! When all of the sand and gravel has been washed out of the pan, there’s a lot of gold nuggets in there! I found most enjoyable the series on creativity, and the series on “Pantser vs. Plotter,” and “Counterclockwise,” too, even if you did cruelly leave us hanging in the wind.

  2. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Tim

    I’m really impressed with the number of ways in which you are able to appreciate your experience of writing PULPED. It seems to me, and please give me a (gentle) elbow to the ribs if I’ve got this wrong, that this book came to you more freely than some of your other recent efforts. Is this true? I know you always work hard but it seems that you didn’t reach any major setbacks this time around. Sort of seems like new territory all together. In any case, maybe there is a publisher out there who will love this book as much as you have loved writing it. But the main thing is here you are almost finished and you’ve had a great time writing it. That’s gotta feel great.

  3. micael hallinan Says:

    why risk all the upside for an unresolved ending? the novel can wait a day or two. i tell my students that if they are just making their paintings different rather than better that this is a good time to turn them to the wall for a few days. a successful painting consists of a series of
    small things done right. clarity will come if you allow it to. i , for what its worth dont follow my own advice. good luck mike from portugal.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    It seems that this book needed to be written, unencumbered by any “will it sell” rules. How freeing, and I think you are experiencing some real pleasure at watching “Pulped” develop. I’d like to take a minute to second Everett’s post. If there is such a thing as karma, you have built up a ton. Do you have any idea how much pleasure you bring? Your willingness to let us know where you are at any particular time, and to show us your writing process, has been a gift. I work part time, but ill health prevents me from from being fully engaged in life. I know some wonderful people, and to connect in some way with a writer-and man-of your caliber has been so nice for me since I thrive on intellectual stimulation, and laughing. Thanks for all you do, and thanks for posting on DorothyL which is how I found this blog in the first place.

  5. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hey, everybody —

    Today I wrote the scene that’s highest on the preposterousness scale, and I may be crazy but I think it’s terrific. I mean, it needs about a 70% rewrite, but the bones are there and most of the stuff that needs to be on the page, is on the page. And I had SO MUCH FUN writing it that it’s hard for me to believe it won’t be fun to read — even with the one GIANT unresolved question that everyone’s going to have to wait two scenes to learn the answer.

    Hi, Everett — sorry about COUNTERCLOCKWISE. I think I got tangled up in THE FOURTH WATCHER, which had a mind of its own and just couldn’t write two at once. But I loved the opening line — something like “Anyone who thinks he’s his own worst enemy is probably forgetting about someone else.” I may use it in a short story I’m thinking about, with both Wattles and Fronts in it, plus a rich girl of 15 who’s alone on her birthday. Although it’s already got a good first line: “Wattles was always happy in the morning because he hadn’t done anything bad yet.”

    And Everett, there’s no question I’ll stop blogging daily when the year is up, and possibly before. Although your index is so amazing that I’m tempted to add to it just to keep you working.

    Hi, Zanna — you’re right — this book came relatively very easily, and quite quickly — just a few months. Writing it, with the exceptions of my misgivings over the fact that it seems to be in half a dozen genres, has felt like writing one of the Juniors, which have absolutely no plot at all when I start to write them; they simply unspool as I sit laughing at the keyboard. This one has been pretty light-hearted, although there are all these dimensions.

    Mikey — oh, pardon me, micael, which actually sounds like an angel’s name from the Arabic. I never know how it’s going to end, and this is no exception. I agree completely with both statements — good work is a series of small things done right, and clarity will come if you allow it to. And slowly, clarity is arriving. It may be awful or it may be terrific (or something in between) but it’s where this particular ball of yarn has led me.

    Hello, Lil — Spot on, as I seem to be saying lately. This is the first book written under my new “screw the market forces” aesthetic, just for me and whoever might enjoy reading it. And I hope that eventually includes you. Thanks so much for all you said about the pleasure I bring. That alone is enough to make this whole day worthwhile — even without almost 5000 words of PULPED.

    So bless your heart.

  6. Laren Bright Says:

    I think you hit the key in the first line of your response. You quit ruminating about it and wrote it. One thing I have always admired about your writing process is that you are always more than willing to get feedback and make changes. So, your approach here of writing it and then seeing what you have certainly trumps the idea of not writing about it and speculating on whether it would be okay or not.

    Can hardly wait for Pulped.

  7. Philip Coggan Says:

    Hi Tim and everyone. I actually wrote something here early this morning and thought I’d posted it, but the gremlins evidently kidnapped it on it’s way through the woods. Anyway, Tim, never I think has one of your books been so eagerly awaited by your fans. E-publishing is going to be fun, and it’s going to be THE place to be – every time I go to my local chainbookstore it’s selling fewer and fewer titles and more and more hand-crocheted anti-macassars (and I’m not making that up). Paper books are seen by few, bought by fewer, but e-books have a market as big as the world. Go for it!

  8. Everett Kaser Says:

    Tim: I just started reading The Fourth Watcher this afternoon, as luck would have it, and so far it’s fabulous. I enjoyed Nail very much, but I’m already enjoying Fourth even more. Maybe I’m familiar with the characters, maybe YOU were familiar with the characters (by the second book), I don’t know. I just know that it’s sucked me in right from the get-go, and I can’t wait to get back to it. That hasn’t been happening with a bunch of the books I’ve been reading lately. I’ve been trying lots of new writers, and they don’t always ‘click’ with any given reader. Of course, if I hadn’t “tried a new writer” with you, my life would be the poorer. So, I’ll keep trying new writers. Every once in a while I’ll find that nugget!

    The short story sounds VERY interesting! I think you should work on a few more shorts. It will expand your tool box, and publishing shorts and novelettes is a great way for new readers to find you.

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