Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Tell me we both matter, don't we?"

I've been quite lax with this journal the last few weeks, partially because my brain's all over the show whenever it comes to doing much between feeding my face, going for long walks around Koombana Bay, reading trashy novels or writing my own. I think it's because I did feel guilty about not being about to keep up with Rule of Three, especially as I had an email today that made me all excited about it again. Oh, well, I should go and catch up on some stories and get involved in voting with those that were shortlisted. I also think the avoidance is helped by the fact that this journal is tired to a gmail account I don't use for anything else but this sort of malarkey, but while I was in the UK my smartphone picked up on the account and was always chirping to tell me when I had new comments. Usually I wouldn't notice until I came specifically to check, and since I've been in Australia I've been off the 3G network I was on and I haven't been often by, so...yes. Head in the sand, that's me. I'm rather good at it, too.

Still, I've been writing. It's almost NaNoWriMo time again, too -- and I am taking part, although I'm not doing it properly. I want to finish the first drafts of at least Greywater and Hibernaculum, and if things are going really well I might just have to give The Juniper Bones an all-mighty kick to go with it. I've been working on Greywater since Monday night or so, and currently it's slightly less than 140k and I just got to the end of chapter sixteen. Which isn't to say it's 140k to 16; there's probably fifty or sixty pages of text beyond what I've been writing up to, simply because I habitually write out of sequence. But when I get into this kind of mood I go right back to the beginning and write chronologically so that I can pull the threads into a proper weave. This was particularly important with this novel, as the first chapter existed while the next two didn't, and I really needed a better sense of the beginning to make the middle come together. And it is coming together, often in ways I didn't quite imagine. The characters are very alive to me right now, which I suppose can only be for the best. They're off doing things and behaving in ways I didn't expect -- I'm looking at you, Leylea and Sabin, and you know it -- and I can't complain because it just makes me feel as if the story is about real people...because real people often do things we don't expect, even when we later realise their behaviour is perfectly in line with their personality.

Still, Deniz left a comment on my last entry asking for snips, and as I am still quite pleased with this little (little?!) story, I thought I'd share some of what I've been up to. These two characters aren't a large part of Greywater -- in fact only Nan makes an appearance in that novel -- but they're a part of the larger story and they're becoming dearer to my heart by the day. Even though Nan told me the other day she wants guinea pigs because her parents farm them and then she climbed in a box with the First Lord Consul and the Ice Maiden of Aran Nomese and started a sing-along to the tune of I'm On A Boat. But I have to love her. Even if she seems to be turning into a female Bret McKenzie more and more with every passing day...

So, we have two little bits here -- the very beginning of the story, which doesn't actually have a proper title. I refer to it as Keep Calm (And Carry On) while the file is tea,dammit.docx, but it probably doesn't matter. I think the UK put tea on my brain and it's just not going away.

It was silly, she thought sourly, that they would think a mere cup of tea would settle anyone after what had happened, least of all a MydaraĆ«n. Not that she’d been shy about pointing that out – yet her suggestion of a rousing band and enough alcohol to sink seven ships had been summarily shot down and she had been installed in the little bedchamber far from the rest of the delegation.

With a pot of tea.

She did wonder if Alara would have been more amenable to her suggestions – for all Alara Feronza would generally appear to be the least amenable of the priggish lot of them, Nan knew that the woman would at least pretend to listen to her. But then she recalled how she had last seen her – covered in blood, her face that same perfect porcelain mask even as she meticulously cleansed her sword of all gore – and shuddered. She did not know the true Alara. She was beginning to doubt that even Alara herself knew.


The next part comes much further in the story; though the story is from Nan's POV, it's really Alara's tale -- but it's about them both, because this is where knight and magian, forced to close proximity by the one they refer to as the grey wolf of Kerdenet, begin to realise they're quite comfortable where they are.


“He told you that?” She cursed, loud and long, in the harsh-vowelled dialect of the far north-east. Only when she realised Alara had no idea of the exact meaning of what she said did she finally spit out: “Son of a whoremaster! Tell me his name, Al. I mean it. I’ll kill him myself.”

As you killed those men for me. Those words hung unspoken between them. But Alara simply shook her head, though Nan knew now she could not be as unmoved by her passion as she appeared to be. “Not now, Nan. Or at least, not yet. But yes, he came to me that night, said I could do the right thing and tell Rolande about us. My husband-to-be might then have been kind enough to simply break the contract and leave the dowry with my father. It would be harder, the Red Dog said, if I left it until the inevitable discovery in the bridal chamber.”

“I hope you told him where to shove it.”

“I punched him in the face, actually.”

“You…Alara.” Nan had no idea whether to laugh or cry. She settled on something between both. “Oh, gods, Al.”

Both of Alara’s hands wrapped around her now and she actually smiled, though it was tainted with sadness. “He told everyone it had been an accident. But several people knew he’d been speaking with me, and most people were aware that I was my twin’s equal in all ways. In the end I suppose I played into his hands, for if it had gone the way he wanted, Rolande could have pointed towards it as evidence of our previous association.”

“I still want to kill the bastard,” she seethed, linking her fingers tightly through the other woman’s. Her head still ached, but it seemed more important than maintaining the wards. “Tell me his name, honestly, I’ll tear him a new arsehole tomorrow. And again the next day, too.”

“Let me finish the story, Nan, please,” Alara chided, but though her smile had long gone Nan could hear faint amusement that faded only as she went on. “So, Rolande and I were married the next day with all the pomp and circumstance required.”

Nan’s eyes dropped downwards. She’d always noticed that Alara still wore her wedding rings. She’d never really looked at them, but Alara allowed her to turn the leftmost hand over, let her raise it to the light. The ruby in the ring closest to her heart was deep and bloody, the birthstone of her husband. The one on the outside held an amethyst in a delicate leaf setting. That was Alara’s own birthstone, deep violet with rainbows of every colour concealed within.

“That night, he came to me in the bridal chamber.” As she sighed Nan lowered her hand, pressed it close between the palms of both of her own. “He was very gentle. But I laid there like a rock, unmoving, and afterwards he said to me: was it so very bad, then?” She bowed her head. “And I cried.”

The admission, so utterly at odds with everything Nan had been taught of this peculiar woman, hung on the air like a condemned criminal kicking the gallows air. When she spoke again, Nan found her own voice strange, higher-pitched than normal. “He’d been with a woman before?” She swallowed hard, half-choked on her own fear. “Did he…know?”

“He knew. He never went into details – he was too much a gentleman to be as crass as all that. But he’d known women in his travels, and could be sure I was no virgin. But he also knew that my lack of response came not from a longing for a man I would no longer know, but from a fear that he would know me again.”


Now, I probably ought to go back to working on Greywater, as tomorrow I should properly get out of the house and go for a drive to Margaret River or somthing. Even though I'm here to write, I suppose I need a proper break sometime...? 


  1. Ooh, unexpected snips! Love the emotion in these two.
    Better take your breaks when you can before NaNo starts :-)

  2. Ha ha, I seemed determined to take my breaks AFTER NaNo started -- getting anything done today was like pulling teeth! Oh, well, I can but hope tomorrow is a more productive day...