Sunday, July 17, 2011

"It's like being in charge of a special school on a day out!"

When I went to the Millbrook a couple months ago, I had dinner at the Millhouse -- and as I had gone away for some peace and quiet, I had taken a good chunk of the manuscript of The Neverboy in order to do some editing. At dinner, I entertained myself between courses with said manuscript. For the last three weeks, I've relived that dinner by having Saturday's lunch at a restaurant while reading and scribbling with my big red pen. I also did this in Wellington three weeks ago. It's actually really lovely, despite my ongoing problems with food and weight and whatnot. One place, too, is actually somewhere I regularly walk past on my weekend wanderings, so incorporating a stopover there into my walk -- and lengthening it afterwards -- was really very, very lovely, especially as I usually spend my walks mulling over characters and storylines.

So, this Saturday I toted the prologue of the forevergirl along to a pseudo-English pub and worked through that. It was an interesting exercise in that I knew the prologue really didn't make a lot of sense in the new context of the novel. When I wrote it last December, I had assumed I wouldn't be writing the actual novel for a long long time and was doing it mainly because it took place during Winter's Heart, which is sort of the closest Sarinian equivalent to Christmas (although it's more just a mid-winter festival of food and gifts; it's not strictly religious, but then for a lot of people these days Christmas is fairly damn secular anyway). Things have changed since then, of course -- not only did Arosek and Ryenn shoehorn themselves and their damnably complicated friendship into the novel, but the Dragon and its drug-fuelled dream-devouring dramas turned up out of bloomin' nowhere, and Alara recently informed me that Nan is going to be in this novel too. Nan. I'm terrified of Nan. I'll have to introduce you to her someday. When I'm not terrified of her. Which might be never, come to think of it. (...oh, God, iTunes is, like, reading my mind and playing me Gay Bar as I write about Nan. Shit. She's totally going to start that nuclear war, isn't she...?) But...yes. I had to rework the introduction before I could consider writing the first chapter, which I really need to do if I'm to stop Arosek and Ryenn running off with the whole damn book.


So, yes, that was lovely -- but then I came home and realised that I had two short stories that I really had to finish this weekend. One's something for a local short story competition, the other is part of a trade, which is something really quite interesting I'll talk about in a minute. But I have to mention the competition first. I always have incredible trouble writing for competitions -- partly it's because I have great trouble writing to order, but it's really the wordcount that tends to trip me the hell up. I'm still surprised Tea For Two didn't get banhammered for its incredible length, but then I think it got through on the strength of its atmosphere anyway. But yeah, this competition was for four thousand words; the current first draft is closer to 4.1k, but I can knock that down. I think. Ha. It's really very funny, though, how long it took me to write this story. It's not actually something I dreamed up for the competition, it's more that the competition finally gave me an excuse to write it. Even though I am riding very close to the deadline. (Which is Friday...) It was directly inspired by a song, actually, and when the competition is all over I think I'll go over the genesis and the development of the story. It'll be fun! (...I swear.) But the fact that I actually have something to enter is achievement enough, as I originally thought entries were due at the end of June and I was far too wrapped up in my zombie headstate to do a damn thing about it then.

...which reminds me, in a roundabout way, that I am still far too intrigued by one Kaworu Nagisa, which has led to the discovery of a tumblr that gives me ridiculous pleasure. I just couldn't resist something that included the description of "My hobbies are cooking and being sad." Oh, Shinji. I am a Bad Person, honest. But I just love this thing to pieces. For all it is obviously parody and satire, they really do nail Shinji's character.

But to get back on topic (topic? what topic?) I'll speak a bit about the other story I wrote this weekend -- I just finished the first draft, actually, and with any luck I'll be able to give it a decent edit tomorrow night and send it off to Neme-chan. It's my half of the trade I mentioned above, and it's experience! Neme-chan is an artist over at deviantart I met via a friend from IRG (which is basically My Happy Place); I commissioned her a few times, and I've posted the results of those here a few times. She's really very, very talented and I adore her style. Because she was doing original characters for me, I ended up sending her snippets of stories involving said characters, and she enjoyed my writing style enough to offer up a trade idea -- she would draw something for me, and in return I would write something for her. We decided to do this quite a few weeks ago, but between her exams and holiday and my own wallowing in Cooking And Being Sad, we hadn't really got started on it until a couple of weeks back.

So, I got about fifteen hundred words done last weekend and figured I would plot out the rest properly this weekend, but then Neme-chan sent me my completed half and I freaked out completely. I was determined to stop dragging my heels and just write, no matter my mood, we are. I can be really slow, you see, for all I am by nature a prolific writer. I mean, I wrote over a hundred thousand words last November. I could have written more. I just...have a bitch of an inner editor and therefore find it very hard to write at all some times. Or most times. But I was writing for someone, and I knew it was time to stop listening to the Inner Editor and just go for it.

It was a really interesting experience, as I've said. The characters I wrote for are original creations, and I am also unfamiliar with the world they were created for. Essentially I worried that I was totally God Moding the whole thing, but after a positive response to the opening I've totally let loose on the rest of it. I can but hope she likes it as much as I do the picture she sent me in return. give you a visual, this is basically what I did when I opened the attachment in my email:

Daaaaaaw. No, honestly, I was gobsmacked. The two characters in question have been in my mind since I was twelve or thirteen or something, and though I never quite seem to finish their story, I am trying. Hibernaculum, the latest incarnation, is OH SO CLOSE. ...of course it needs to be edited the hell out of, but never mind. Having a draft is the first damn step, and it's further than I usually get, so...yes. But I figure I might as well close this entry with a little snippet of my bbz, and then you can see for yourself how talented Neme-chan really is. ...and while you do that, I will go hold myself to my end of the bargain. And pray that my dribble will make me as happy as did her scribble. <3

When she chanced a glance sideways she found him smiling, tremulous and quiet. He then reached forward, the touch of his fingertips light upon her cheek. “He said you weren’t beautiful, didn’t he?” Zurin mused, and though Luchandra thought she should have blushed, to hear him acknowledge so the fact he had seen the dance of the gods, she pushed it aside. She’d always known. He’d given her the lullaby. And then his smile deepened, sad and yet tinged with the faintest hope; it stirred her own even as he leaned back, shook his head. “But you are. You are so beautiful.”

“And you have more power than you know,” she whispered in return. “You saved me, then.”

“Did I?”

“Yes. You did.”

“If only we’d met under other circumstances.” Zurin tightened his hands on his knees, gave a short laugh. “Then I suppose under other circumstances, we never would have met.”

“Maybe not.” Luchandra looked again to the butterflies, wondered what warding power they had; surely they were from the East, the land of the air-goddess. She was not their patron. But then, their earth-god cared much for their protection any longer. “I wonder if it even matters, though.”

“It matters.” She turned, surprised by the sudden ferocity of his words – but the kiss shook her deeper. Though it felt very different to the pressure of the earth-god’s kiss when the fire-lady had blazed within her, lacked the taste of metal and snow, she still shuddered beneath it. Zurin drew back as if stung, eyes wide.

“I’m sorry.” And she could see he was, could see he was just as surprised by his actions as she. “I didn’t…I didn’t mean…!”

“I don’t mind,” she said softly. “I was just…surprised.”

“I still shouldn’t have.”

“Why not?” Bitterly she spoke, even as the memory of his swan-song sent a shiver down her spine. “They took their comfort. Why shouldn’t we have ours?”

Zurin stared at her, so long that she felt as though the world had stopped. “Do you really mean that?”

“Maybe we would have met no matter what.” She bit her lip, and then laughed, wild and careless. “Maybe this is what they talk about, in the stories, when they speak of destiny. It’s the world bending to the path of love and desire.”

He shook his head, but there was clear wonder in his gaze. “You can’t love me. We’ve only just met.”

She smiled. “And perhaps we’ll never meet again. Isn’t that why we should do this?”

For a moment, she thought he would draw back. Then he laughed, too, and for the first time she heard genuine joy in his voice.

“You’re mad, you know that?”

“I just like a good story,” she said, and reached for him. “You know…the kind with a happy ending?”

“This isn’t the ending.”

“We can still be happy,” she said against his lips. “If only for a little while.”

Words by me, picture by Neme-chan. <3

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