I’ve only dipped my toe into Pottermore, which I finally got access to this morning. Actually, I didn’t find out about it until I got to work this morning. So there I am, overwhelmed with stuff to do and looking at a busy week ahead of me, and now they decide to give me access? Murphy (of Law fame) is obviously their head membership bigwig.

Anyway, the website is down for the moment, so I thought I’d record a few initial impressions. The main one which is, the “new content”? LOL, I will bet all my sickles and knuts the “new content” is coming straight out of Rowling’s old story notes and discarded word count. Any writer (even me of overwriting fame) has a ton of content they wrote way back when that didn’t make it into the final draft, not because it wasn’t good, or relevant, or “the wrong direction for the story”, but just because it was tangential, or background information. Or became tangential/background info as the plot of the story developed.

So how much of this “new” content is new from Rowling’s POV? Probably none of it. But as someone who enjoys deleted scenes on DVD extras, and writer/director voice-over versions of movies/episodes explaining their creative process, I vote this “pretty darned cool.”

ETA: And now that the site’s back up and I’ve read along a little further, I have found the page where she admits to all this. ; )


Ten years ago, I was living with my friend Kevin in his apartment in the Haight district of San Francisco. I used to wake up to the classical music channel every morning on the clock radio (I don’t even use an alarm clock these days–no point). I remember waking up to music, but then when the music faded, they broke for a news report about the one of the twin towers in NYC being hit by a plane. No one knew why yet. I think everyone assumed it was a really incompetent pilot.

So I went in to work, and heard about the other planes hitting their targets. I spent the rest of the day glued to streaming video news on my work computer. I watched the towers crumble. The ATPo board was full of anxious posts as we worried over our NYC friends, and waited for each to check in (http://www.atpobtvs.com/existentialscoobies/archives/sep.html).

At some point, it was revealed that one of the planes, the one that crashed in rural Pennsylvania because the brave passengers took it away from its target, was originally bound for San Francisco. Many SFers were on the plane. None that I knew personally.

I went to New York in July of 2005 along with many ATPoers to hang out with each other and see the city. midnightsjane and I took a double-decker bus ride around lower Manhattan, and saw ground zero, among other sights.

I guess the closest I came to losing anyone I knew in the disaster was wondering if that week was the week my writing coach was supposed to go to NYC to do a writing seminar for some New York executives in the tower. Turns out, it wasn’t.

Original fiction project – week of 9/04/2011

Dis/inhibition: Still working on final edits. It’s going slower than I thought it would, and that’s frustrating. Especially after having an editor go through it and clean it up. I’m probably adding in new missing/misused words and awkward sentences after she cleaned up all the old ones. As for the artist doing website artwork, we are halfway done already. Cute little illustrations of my characters come to life.

New story: I love it when you start a chapter intending it to work one way, and it ends up playing out in a way you didn’t plan, but gets the job done all the same. One difficulty I’ve been having with this new story is that I have these spirit being characters who I can’t really show in all their detail, nor feature as point of view characters, because that gives away too much of the unfolding mystery. And yet I still want to “show” their activity behind the scenes in the story. Finding clever ways to manage that has forced me to write each new chapter in creative ways, which is resulting, I think, in chapters that are a lot more interesting than they would have been.

It’s the middle of September now (how?!), which means it’s time to start making NaNoWriMo plans. My plan is to belt out 50,000 words of this story, which is currently in chapter 6. It will be a disjointed mess come December 1st, but then I can clean it all up and be much further along than I would have otherwise been polishing off each chapter one at a time.

Original fiction project – week of 08/28/2011

Dis/inhibition: Still working on final polish edits of manuscript. I just don’t get time for it as often as I’d like with a new story to write and work being busy. I really want to get this out the door before year end. Still working on the website illustrations with the illustration artist. We are up to illustration 3 of 6.

New story: I think asking the Sculptor to read the chapters of the first draft as I write them was a good plan. I have noticed that things I might have gone ahead and “just done” if I’d been writing it on my own I think twice about with an audience. Chapter 5, which I finished this week, is a good example. This chapter brought in two new characters who know a LOT more about the unfolding mystery than other characters I have featured, and for a while now, I have been angsting about how much of their point of view to bring in, because it would spoil the mystery.

As I mentioned last week, I threw out about 2,000 words written in the point of view of one of them, because he knows too much. Most of what he “knows” is guess work, but he’s too much of an insider for his guesses to be all wrong. The other new character, though, is supposed to be the third in a trio of main characters who solve the mystery. His POV is unavoidable. But he had this one “close encounter” in his past, that if recounted too soon, gives too much away.

I went ahead and wrote that encounter anyway as part of chapter 5, then set aside what I assumed was the final version of that chapter I would give to the sculptor. That has been my practice up to now: finish a chapter, but don’t send it off to the Sculptor before I look ahead a little and see if there is anything else I need to establish in the current chapter. It didn’t take me too long to realize that the gradual mystery that’s unfolding in future chapters would be ruined by what’s revealed in this guy’s “close encounter.” So I could either have him just conveniently not think about an encounter that changed his whole worldview, or decide it didn’t happen to him after all. And I didn’t want to do either of those.

Then it occurred to me to fall back on a(n albeit rather tired) storytelling device that could make it so the close encounter happened, but he doesn’t have to think about it in the chapter: amnesia!!1!1 Which sounds lame, but then I realized that was what most likely would have happened to him. He had this amazing experience, but see, there’s this faction of characters who I’ve already decided go around covering up proof of their existence. And since they have supernatural abilities, they can cloak human memories. And if, as I had already written, my character runs into one of these guys towards the end of his close encounter, that is most likely what the guy would have done to him anyway.

So the problem I angsted over for a year during planning/outlining was solved in a day because I actually started writing the damned thing. It’s like I’m always saying: You can outline ahead of time until the cows come home, but when you start writing? It all changes. Your story becomes the story it was meant to be.

And now I can have my character gradually “remember” his experience, providing Yet More Clues to the Mystery.