I first started using Kindle on my phone, a Samsung Vibrant on T-Mobile’s network, last summer while commuting into Manhattan every morning. I’d had the app on my iPhone but never used it; cellular displays just aren’t really meant for long-form reading, and I don’t really read much besides books. Usually novels, but lately more non-fiction, too. But it was much better to read my phone than to lug around a paperback everywhere I went, and I quickly discovered the convenience of using a device that built-in bookmarks every time you close a book.
Which is awesome. I love that. I never used to use bookmarks, anyway, but I always used to end up thinking I was on a page ten before the last one I’d actually read.
When Amazon announced the third generation Kindle, I knew I was going to buy it, because I knew I wanted to put Meets Girl on it. I also knew I was lusting after it.
I went sort of nuts downloading samples via Amazon (on the web. Because the device purchasing side of Kindle sucks), and was enjoying a lot of what I was reading. Neil Gaiman’s were among the first books I bought, and Amazon, knowing my predilection for Gaiman, suggested Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. So I downloaded the sample and began to read.
And the thing about the samples are: it takes about as long to read one as to commute. Long-form reading of books on a device blows. But reading samples is about the same as reading short stories, and reading samples is awesome.
I had picked up the book to browse (I think at the Strand, maybe?), but never gotten past the first couple of pages. Now, with the sample and a train ride, I had the better part of two.
And the better part of two was good. The better part of two were so convincing that I decided to make The Magicians the first novel I actually read on my Kindle.
I mean, I tried to keep my expectations in check. I really have. Ever since The Matrix: Revolutions sucked my balls (and not in that pleasant ball-sucking sort of way), and The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I’ve tried to go into movies with lowered expectations. I had looked forward to Ironman, but I gave it a few weeks. I wasn’t first in line.
But then I see this:
And I just can’t help myself.
Because OMGWTFBBQWOOTFTW, can you seriously watch that trailer and not look forward to this movie?
If you can, I hate to break it to you, but you might be at the wrong blog.
I haven’t really mentioned it except to note that I finished the draft and was going to start blogging again. Which was true. The draft is, finally, finished, but still needs some polish. It clocked in at a little more than 109,000 words, but since I posted that I was finished, I went back over the beginning and cut roughly 4,000 of those, and that was only in the first hundred and some pages. There are still at least two hundred to go.
It surprised me it clocked in so long, as I excised a pretty major subplot. But I did so because I upped the limitations for the main characters, and I think that ultimately makes it work better. It was something several readers suggested when they read the first draft of it when I first finished it a little more than a year ago, and they were very much right.
As it stands so far, I’m extraordinarily proud of it, but I realized, as I was tightening, that I shouldn’t yet. Which is what I’m doing now; I’m taking a couple of weeks away from it. This weekend/week, I’ve had to participate in a normalizing grading session, and on Friday I’m supposed to come up with a comprehensive marketing plan for a business class I’m taking (one reason I buckled down to finish is that this is the book I’m using for class example, and I was having trouble marketing without actually having a, you know, product). Coming from a scientific/literary background and being rather deeply analytical in nature, I’m fascinated by branding/marketing but find it difficult to apply some of the concepts. I look at some leading, renowned marketers, like Seth Godin, for example, and I just have to scratch my head, because it feels like it all becomes about attention and curiosity, and very rarely does anyone mention the actual quality of the product. It’s extraordinarily difficult for me to come to terms with the idea that the quality of something has absolutely nothing to do with its ability to find its audience, even though this is evident time and time again (Spiderman 3, for example).
I’m leaning toward a new title, too: The Prodigal Hour. It’s a phrase that came in a flash while I was at work one day, and it’s perhaps the one moment that felt most powerful with the book’s so-far best draft. This is the one that went farther than the others, and I feel like it’s the one where my skill as a writer finally matched up with my talent as a storyteller.
I’m going to try to finish a novel/la (I’m not sure which it is, yet) in the next few weeks, then finish the manuscript and start submitting it.