Pondering Robert Jordan

You have to respect a man who does what he says he’s going to do.

I have been re-reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, now that the whole thing is complete.  Most of the library copies I’ve picked up were published after Jordan passed away, so they had the posthumous “About the Author” in them.  This one (Crown of Swords, in case you were curious) has the earlier author description, which got me thinking.

The last line of the bio is “He has been writing since 1977 and intends to continue until they nail shut his coffin.”  Which he did, in a way.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the Wheel of Time series was incomplete when Jordan passed away in 2007.  (I recall a very dismayed lunch conversation with several colleagues at the time, all of us wondering what would become of the characters we had come to know.)  However, he knew he was ill and prepared for it, writing as much as he could and telling his wife how he intended the epic to end.  Another author was recruited by Jordan’s publisher, with input from his widow, and that author completed the final three books of the series.

If that’s not writing “until they nail shut [the] coffin,” I don’t know what is.  As an author, it’s both amazing to think about someone working that hard for both his characters and his readers, and also totally understandable.  We all get invested in our characters, even for just one novel, so after eleven books I’m sure Jordan was just as eager as his readers to have everything play out and come to a resolution.

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Priorities

I realized today that I’ve been reading the wrong book.

Perhaps wrong is too strong of a term – the book itself is quite interesting, in fact, which is why I’ve been reading it.

Here’s the problem: I currently have a (fiction) library book with a firm due date, a borrowed (non-fiction) book with a relaxed due date, and a non-fiction e-book that I purchased.  Guess which one I’ve been reading for the past few days?  That’s right, the one I own and can read any time.

Somewhat reluctantly, I set aside my Nook and picked up the library book.  Once the Wheel of Time pulls me back in, I won’t be glancing longingly at my Nook, but for right now my brain wants to know what happens next in TR’s presidency.   (Honestly, I can look up the facts, but the way the book is written I find myself enthralled.)

I just have to keep reminding myself that I own that book, and can read it any time I want.  Except right now, apparently. 🙂

A Reading Dilemma

When you request an item from the library, especially through interlibrary loan, there is no way of knowing when it will arrive.  This can set you up for some potential dilemmas.

I have found myself facing one of those dilemmas.

I finished my current National Geographic on Wednesday.  (Okay, I didn’t finish it, but I only have part of one article left.  I need to be in the right frame of mind to finish that article, as it is about the slaughter of songbirds on the Mediterranean.)  I had no idea when my requested Wheel of Time would arrive, so I decided to go to the library and find an interesting non-fiction book.  I started reading the book I picked up shortly after I got it.  It’s very interesting, and I want to finish it, but being non-fiction it will probably take me a little while to finish it.

Of course, since I already started reading something, my requested book came in today.  It is also a large book, so even if I read it voraciously, it might take a bit to read.  This leaves me with a dilemma – should I finish the non-fiction, or should I set it aside while I read the fiction?  This also adds other considerations.  If I read the fiction, do I pause before book 5 to finish the non-fiction?  Which book is easier to renew, if I run out of time?

I’m probably putting way too much thought into this decision.  The reality is that I’ll read them both, in some order, unless the non-fiction gets boring and I give up on it.

A Preference for Books

My local library does not have the fourth book of Wheel of Time in book form.

The audiobook is available, as is an electronic book.  There just isn’t a physical, actual book available for check out.

I really want to read it as a book.  I like holding them, I like the physical feel of having them in my hand, and I like the act of turning pages.  (You can also read a book during takeoff on a plane!)  To be honest, I haven’t tried an e-reader, which means I technically can’t say that I like books more than e-books.  This could have been the moment that encouraged me to give it a shot – in fact, a friend offered to loan me her Kindle for book four – but my library offers inter-library loan.  I opted to wait for the book, at least for now, although if I get really impatient I may take her up on the loan offer.

Do you prefer books or e-reader?

Finishing a Series

I just finished reading the Harry Potter series.  It was an interesting experience, because I hadn’t read them all back-to-back before.  It was also fun because I knew what was going to happen, and as an author it was intriguing to watch Rowling set things up from the beginning.

Series are interesting animals.  For authors who write the long, epic fantasy series, they must know where they’re going before they start.  Robert Jordan died before he finished The Wheel of Time, but he made sure that someone knew how it was supposed to end.

This is different from an episodic series, like The Boxcar Children.  (I loved the original series as a child.)  You could read book four, and while you wouldn’t know all of the back story, you’d still be able to follow the plot of the book you were reading.  These series show up in lots of different genres, while the 12-book, linked saga is more common in fantasy and science fiction.

So far my stories are one-book, or at the very least trilogy, ideas.; perhaps some day I’ll come up with a concept for a giant series, but for now I’m happy to write my stand alone novels.