When Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliott and I were noodling up 'The Golden Key,' we had pages upon pages upon pages of notes about everything to do with our little universe. Much of this material was used; the rest was there if we needed it. But it all had to be consistent within itself and adhere to its own logic.
During my last year of college I wrote the same ten pages over and over again. Those ten pages became the first few pages of my first novel. I can still recite the opening paragraph from memory - only now I cringe when I do it because they are - surprise! - a classic example of overwriting, in addition to being a more than a little pretentious.
I was a journalist. I was a drummer. I was everything. I didn't know what the heck I was. But with Jack Paar, the job was very specific - no confusion. You came in each day. You wrote five pages of jokes. You handed the pages in... The pressure was to write five pages of jokes every day. I did it, and I thought, 'This is what I like to do.'
There is a hideous invention called the Dewey Decimal System. And you have to look up your topic in books and newspapers. Pages upon pages upon pages... " Uncle Will frowned. "Didn't they teach you how to go about research in that school of yours?" "No. But I can recite 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' while making martinis." "I weep for the future." "There's where the martinis come in.
Desire overwhelmed me once she had gone. But it was not a desire for Homer. I had to return to the library. I could already smell the books' muskiness and in my mind turned over pages with as many differing textures as a forest; pages that were brittle and fragile which had to be coaxed to turn; pages that were soft and scented, presenting their words as if the were a gift in the palm of a hand, and pages that fell open heavily of their own accord as if weighted by the importance of their message. But more than anything else I was compelled by their mystery, by all the stories they had yet to tell me. 'I have to go to the library, Homer. I have to be with the books.
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I shook myself; I was dreaming. As I went to bed the words of the eighth-grade class's teacher, when the class got to Evangeline , kept echoing in my ears: "We're coming to a long poem now, boys and girls. Now don't be babies and start counting the pages." I lay there like a baby, counting the pages over and over, counting the pages.
In spite of my study, I have learned. Every grand religion begins in light. Yet only hearts hold light. Pages cannot. I have paper in my hands. Give these words to the world and they will be loved and understood by those who already know their truth. The truth doesn't burn. The truth waits for anyone who wishes to find it... only these pages will burn. At one with the stars... with the pages and their love... one with everything that is, that ever was or will be. One.
I had tried writing novels for many years, and they always escaped me. For a long time, I thought, 'It's just not in me to write a novel. It's not something I'm able to do.' It seemed like everything I wrote naturally ended at the bottom of page three. A picture book, three pages; an essay, three pages.
A lot of people say I tried to emulate Tupac, but when I look back at my career, we're very different artists. I took pages out of Pac's book, of course, and lots of other rappers - Biggie, Nas - of course you take pages out of those books, but you eventually make it your own thing. And I think I did a good job of that.
When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages - a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.
Twenty-two pages is not a lot of space. Believe me. Having written a bazillion comics, I still find myself more often than nine pages into a script and realizing to my horror that I'm only about a quarter of the way through the story I wanted to tell, and the next thing you know, I'm making fresh coffee and tearing up the floorboards to rewrite.
When I'm writing, I try not to think things like, 'Gosh, I have to finish writing this book.' Books are very long and it's easy to get discouraged. Instead I think to myself, 'Wow, I have this great story idea, and today I'm going to write two pages of it. That's all - just two pages.'
Linda Sue Park
I thought 'UnSouled' would come in at around 400 pages, but it took 650 pages, and even then I felt like I was rushing the conclusion, so I asked my editor and publisher if I could divide it again. So a sequel became a trilogy, and the trilogy became a tetralogy - although we're not calling it that.
Once you understand that everybody's going to get connected, a lot of things follow from that. If everybody gets the Internet, they end up with a browser, so they look at web pages - but they can also leave comments, create web pages. They can even host their own server! So not only is everybody consuming, they can also produce.
I've thought for the last decade or so, the only actual place raw truth was seeping through in newspapers was on the Comics Pages. They were able to pull off intelligent social comment, pure truths not found elsewhere in the news pages, and had the ability to make it all funny, entertaining, and pertinent.
I figured I could read more than five pages tonight since I'd been deprived for the last couple of days. When I finished the fifteenth, I discovered I was three pages from the next chapter. Might as well end with a clean break. After I was done, I sighed and leaned back, feeling decadent and spent. Pure bliss. Books were a lot less messy than orgasms.
Any kind of writing that's meaningful becomes hard work, so there were times when it would really flow, there were times when I'd get 10 pages a day, and then there were days when I would do three pages. Depends on the thickness of the material. If it's satisfying, it's hard, but it's pretty wonderful.
A Book 'Now' - said a good book unto me - 'Open my pages and you shall see Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine, Gold and silver in every line, And you may claim them if you but will Open my pages and take your fill. 'Open my pages and run them o'er, Take what you choose of my golden store. Be you greedy, I shall not care - All that you seize I shall gladly spare; There is never a lock on my treasure doors, Come - here are my jewels, make them yours! 'I am just a book on your mantel shelf, But I can be part of your living self; If only you'll travel my pages through, Then I will travel the world with you. As two wines blended make better wine, Blend your mind with these truths of mine. 'I'll make you fitter to talk with men, I'll touch with silver the lines you pen, I'll lead you nearer the truth you seek, I'll strengthen you when your faith grows weak - This place on your shelf is a prison cell, Let me come into your mind to dwell!
Edgar A. Guest
A series of books, dilapidated and faded, sit bundled together. Most of the bindings are separating from the yellowed pages, but each is at home in its battered state. Their wrinkled pages and discolored skin tell not of old age, but of a good life. These books, unlike so many others, were not just read, but revisited, loved, and experienced.
My God, this novel makes me break out in a cold sweat! Do you know how much I've written in five months, since the end of August? Sixty-five pages! Each paragraph is good in itself and there are some pages that are perfect. I feel certain. But just because of this, it isn't getting on. It's a series of well-turned, ordered paragraphs which do not flow on from each other. I shall have to unscrew them, loosen the joints, as one does with the masts of a ship when one wants the sail to take more wind...
I really do believe that chance favours a prepared mind. Wallace Stegner, who was one of my teachers when I was at Stanford, preached that writing a novel is not something that can be done in a sprint. That it's a marathon. You have to pace yourself. He himself wrote two pages every day and gave himself a day off at Christmas. His argument was at the end of a year, no matter what, you'd got 700 pages and that there's got to be something worth keeping.
Though I leave the house as little as possible, I have the impression that someone is disturbing my papers. More than once I have discovered that some pages were missing from my manuscripts. A few days afterward I would find the pages in their place again. But often I no longer recognize my manuscripts, as if I had forgotten what I had written, or as if overnight I were so changed that no longer recognized myself in the self of yesterday.
I used to comfort myself with the idea of a book with serrated, detachable pages, so that you could read the thing the way it came and then shuffle the pages, like a giant deck of cards, and read the book in an entirely different order. It would be a different book, wouldn't it? It would be one of infinite books.
It had a crisp paper jacket, unlike the paper-covered library books I was used to, and the way the pages parted, I could tell I was the first to open it... I valued that half-dream state of being lost in a book so much that I limited the number of pages I let myself read each day in order to put off the inevitable end, my banishment from that world. I still do this.
Allison Hoover Bartlett
I've sat down and written with a more or less supportable or insupportable idea or thing to say, and it ends. When it's not 200 pages, people want to call it a story. I guess they're entitled to do that. In my view, if it were a supportable idea, it would have gone 200 pages, and it didn't.
If you're 50 years old or younger, give every book about 50 pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up. If you're over 50, which is when time gets shorter, subtract your age from 100 - the result is the number of pages you should read before deciding whether or not to quit. If you're 100 or over you get to judge the book by its cover, despite the dangers in doing so.
Snow not falling but flying sidewise, and sudden, not signaled by the slow curdling of clouds all day and a flake or two drifting downward, but rushing forward all at once as though sent for. (The blizzard of '36 had looked like that.) And filling up the world's concavities, pillowing up in the gloaming, making night light with its whiteness, and then falling still in every one's dreams, falling for pages and pages... ("Novelty")
A book is maybe about 350 pages, and the prose allows for readers to get a glimpse into the internal lives of the characters. A screenplay is 120 pages, and it's all dialogue and action. The pacing of films is different, the structure is often different, and the internal lives of the characters must come across through the acting. Movies are just a different experience than reading - so it just depends on what an individual prefers.
Arthuriana has become a genre in itself, more like TV soap opera where people think they know the characters. All that's fair enough, but it does remove the mythic power of the feminine and masculine principles. So I prefer it in its original form, even if you have to wade through Mallory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur' - people smashing people for pages and pages! It still has the resonances of myth about it, which makes it work for me. I don't want to know if Mordred led an unhappy childhood or not.
If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it. If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil. If you seek an adventure, may this song sing you away to blissful escape. If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions. All books reveal perfection, by what they are or what they are not. May you find that which you seek, in these pages or outside them. May you find perfection, and know it by name.
Sometimes the people who've owned the books in this shop leave little clues between the pages, and not just love notes or pressed flowers. You might come upon an unused Amtrak ticket tucked between the pages of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes or a sprinkling of crumbs along the gutter inside The Complete Engravings, Etchings, and Drypoints of Albrecht De¼rer. Makes you wonder what kind of person noshes on a salami sandwich over The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
I guess you can call me "old fashioned". I prefer the book with the pages that you can actually turn. Sure, I may have to lick the tip of my fingers so that the pages don't stick together when I'm enraptured in a story that I can't wait to get to the next page. But nothing beats the sound that an actual, physical book makes when you first crack it open or the smell of new, fresh printed words on the creamy white paper of a page turner.
I might spend 100 pages trying to get to know the world I'm writing about: its contours, who are my main characters, what are their relationships to each other, and just trying to get a sense of what and who this book is about. Usually around that point of 100 pages, I start to feel like I'm lost, I have too much material, it's time to start making some choices. It's typically at that point that I sit down and try to make a formal outline and winnow out what's not working and what I'm most interested in, where the story seems to be going.
Simon's walls were covered in what looked like pages ripped from a comic book, but when I squinted, I realized they were hand drawn. Some were black-and-white, but most were in full color, everything from character sketches to splash panels to full pages, done in a style that wasn't quite manga, wasn't quite comic book.
Since I don't know what execrable means, I though I should look it up so I'll be better equipped to deal with whatever I'm about to see." Ignoring the ladies' tottering Millie continued perusing the pages until she found the word she was looking for. Lifting her head after she read the definition, she glanced around. "Begging your pardon Mrs. Cutling, but I don't see anything out here of a wretched or"- she returned her attention to the dictionary- "abominable nature. Although" -she flipped the pages to the A's -" I don't know what that means either.
Even a paperback printed on acidic paper, whose pages have yellowed ten years on, can still be read, no matter how badly the spine is cracked or how inflated it's become from being dropped in the bathtub. The pages might separate from the spine, but a rubber band can keep them together. You may loan a book to your circle of closest friends, but shoes are another matter. A great book will never go out of style - books go with every outfit.
I'm tempted to say, 'Writing treatments is like designing a film by hiring six million monkeys to tear out pages of an encyclopedia, then you put the pages through a paper-shredder, randomly grab whatever intact lines are left, sing them in Italian to a Spanish deaf-mute, and then make story decisions with the guy via conference call.' But no... compared to writing treatments, that makes sense, too.
She opened her sketchbook, carefully tore out several pages and handed them to Nasser-three detailed color sketches of three flowers. Leafing through the pages, he translated the message. A petunia: Your presence soothes me. A peppermint flower: warmth of feeling. And heartsease, the flower he'd given her so many times before. You occupy my thoughts. "I've been doing a lot of reading, " Lee said quietly, setting her sketchbook aside. "You're not the only one who knows what flowers mean.