Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

April 22, 2012

In sickness and in health

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,news of the day,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 4:10 pm

It’s been quiet around here. Too quiet. I’ve finally come through the bout of bronchitis that I’ve been carrying for the past two weeks, just in time for the wedding yesterday of our housemates Simon and Sarah.

The bronchitis hung around forever, morphing its modus operandi several times over – hacking cough, stinking headache, fever, lethargy and never all at the same time. Thankfully the suite of antibiotics – including one normally prescribed for pneumonia (!) – put a bullet in its tricksy little brain and rolled it into a ditch. I’m still a bit on the flimsy side, but I’ll be back at work on Monday without any problems.

The writing

Since I had the concentration span of a fish finger during the illness, work on the novel was non-existent. That is, until one night last week when I sat down and hammered out the final chunk of text for Draft Zero of my novel in a single literally feverish session of a couple of hours. It really was one of those trance-writing sessions that some authors talk about, when the story pours out as fast as the writer can type it. [1] I don’t have those very often – my technique is more “think for twenty minutes, type for five, repeat”. It seems that slight doses of delirium agree with me. Reading back over it, it’s mostly usuable, which is even more startling.

So, yay, step one complete. My unreadable mess draft is finished. Sure, nothing much happens for the first forty pages, the protagonist doesn’t drive the action much, the cosmology is half-thought-out and largely nonsensical, there’s continuity errors all over the place and the climax is a cluttered mess that fails to address most if not all of the questions raised in the preceding narrative – but it’s done. Next job will be to go back to first principles and write a proper outline of the novel. What’s there is a useful guide, but now I have to knuckle down and start applying some elbow grease. I figure I will do at least three or four passes on the outline before I dive back into the writing. I do tend to write a lot faster when I know where I am going with something. I’m not setting myself any deadlines yet, but I hope it won’t take more than a few weeks to get the outline into the shape I want. While I’m doing that I will write short fiction if I feel the occasional urge to be spontaneously creative.

The wedding

The wedding of the year took place on a beautiful autumn afternoon alongside one of Canberra’s many picturesque lakes. Simon and Sarah opted for a very simple ceremony under the trees, with the formalities over and done with inside ten minutes. That’s always a good idea when most of your guests are standing. Brother Jimbo and I acted as Simon’s groomsmen. I am happy to report that neither of us managed to break anything. Then there were photos with mountains, trees and a lake decorating the backgrounds, some chitchat with some dear friends who’d come from near and far for the ceremony – not to mention various members of Simon’s family whom I’ve not laid eyes on for mroe than ten years – and finally it was off to the reception.

The venue was a small brewery called Zierholz, in the industrial wilds of Fyshwick. The food was excellent German fare – sausage, pork, sauerkraut and a slightly out-of-place-but-delicious risotto – but the beer was extraordinary, with a great range of styles. Nothing that I tried was less than pleasant and a couple of them I would have been happy to drink myself sick on. If not for the fact that I was still popping post-bronchitis codeine and that I had to do a speech, I would have researched their range with considerably more diligence.

Simon extended me the honour of delivering his best man speech, which I think came off well. Lacking the sincerity and depth of character to do a serious speech, I went for (specious) meta-analysis of the purpose of best man speeches and for (ludicous) speculation as to what Sarah might be getting out of the marriage. I made it to the end without blowing any of the jokes or collapsing with a coughing fit, and everyone laughed at the right parts, so I assume that it had the desired effect.

Even jokey public speaking takes a lot out of me though – after the speech (and the fatty food, and the booze, and the tremendously rich and fabulous chocolate cake) I was trashed. That’s my excuse for not dancing – not even for ‘The Time Warp’. My other excuse is that I can’t dance, but in fairness nobody else used that as an excuse, even though it would have been reasonable to do so.

Anyway, the whole day was sweet but exhausting. I’m glad for the relative lack of social obligations today. I probably need a bit of a rest before I resume normal speed tomorrow. I have a lot of work, exercise and writing to catch up on.

[1] Alternately, it may be comparable to Stephen King’s inability to recall writing the novel Cujo, though in that case it was because he was hoovering up sacks of cocaine at the time.


  1. “…the protagonist doesn’t drive the action much, the cosmology is half-thought-out and largely nonsensical, there’s continuity errors all over the place and the climax is a cluttered mess that fails to address most if not all of the questions raised in the preceding narrative…”

    This is of course also true of the best-selling book of all time…

    Comment by The Once and Future Dr Clam — April 23, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  2. My hope for my own work is somewhat more modest than direct competition with that particular tome – though if anyone wants to buy a copy for every motel drawer in the western world…

    Besides, there’s not an editor in the world that would give the Bible a pass now. It would have to be self-pubbed, probably as a collection of novellas suitable for later release as an oversize anthology. It would be a much harder sell now than it was before the market expanded.

    Comment by Lexifab — April 24, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

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