Friday, November 25, 2011

Words Cannot Describe

If there is one thing I become ceaselessly, brilliantly good at during the month of November, it is procrastination. I do wonder if some of it isn't burn-out, because I do try to write almost every day and I tend to start at nine in the morning and not stop until I go to bed at one the following morning, but it's not constant writing. I stop and start and while some days I will produce words upon words, several days this month I just...haven't.

Still, the official wordcount of NaNo is well over 130k, and Kaverlen Falls is just slightly under 30k, so if I keep on keeping on I should hit the 50k for that alone before the 30th. I've produced a lot this month, even if it's not entirely what I wanted it to be. (The Juniper Bones just isn't going to be finished this year either. ...balls.) I finally finished the story I was arsing about with as a prequel to Kaverlen Falls, too; it hasn't got a proper name but I call it Blood Still For Blood and it's about 7k. It was intended just as a Lovecraftian mockery of sparkly vampires, but it's...a bit more interesting than that, now. And naturally I wrote the disturbing end of it to the tune of the Amnesia OST. I am pure class, of course.

I've written somewhere near 5k so far today and once I finish this entry I really am going to go and sort out the writing for today, because it's been patchy as all get out. Mostly this is just because the other day I was hunting something out in my terribly disordered Documents folder, and I was reminded again of a sprawling story an old friend and I were writing in various forms from the age of sixteen until we were both about twenty-two (which was about the point we stopped speaking to each other). As you can imagine, characters who have been in your head that long...just don't ever go away. The air you breathe is full of ghosts, as one of my favourite song-titles puts it, and when I started watching/reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic I was pushed right back into the waiting arms of these ghosts. My co-author was very, very influenced by Martin in her writing of our story; having never read any of his work, I didn't realise how deeply until I myself starting reading A Game of Thrones. And...while I am enjoying Martin's story on its own merits, it reminds me terribly of the story I had been writing all those years ago with my friend, and the last couple of days I've been procrastinating by rereading it.

It's a huge amount of text -- the story itself, which wasn't even a third done when we quit, is well over 300k. This does not include the files filled with character sketches and half-written snippets; those would be somewhere in the region of 200k, I would imagine. And again, this doesn't account for the story this was all based upon; I wouldn't be surprised to find that was about another 500k of text in the form of the main story (which was further along before we switched it with the new version) and a huge collection of supplementary material. I also have a good deal of pictures both by myself and by some talented friends who shared in our world, and...yeah. It's wonderful and nostalgic and sad, and I just can't help myself right at the moment. While my friend was a very plot-driven writer and revelled in the politics of our story, I am and always will be the character author.  I loved these characters. I still do. This is why I write; it's for the people who live the stories. And it's been so long since I really thought about this incredibly diverse cast of characters for any length of time. And believe me, there were a lot of them. I can't even hazard a guess at how many major characters there were, but fifty would be a ballpark figure. I just...yeah.

There are likely worse ways to procrastinate, as I am learning one thing -- I have vastly improved as a writer since I worked on this novel with my dear friend. In fact, working with her vastly improved me as a writer anyway, but even now I can see how I've moved on from some of my worst habits. I've also learned the difference between trope and beloved cliché, and it's all...well. I don't know. I have all sorts of FEELINGS about this that I'm not really up for articulating. Maybe once I get to the end of what she wrote I'll be better able to explain it, but for now...I think I've spent enough time reading today. I should be writing.

Still. As I was flipping through various files, I found a drabble collection. I felt like sharing one, jsut because these two characters...I always did wonder what would happen to them. I have the vague niggling feeling I might just write something about them in the weeks before Christmas, once I am done with the insanity of NaNoWriMo. But they always fascinated me. In the novel, Gaia is the eleven year old daughter of a recently widowed and deposed emperor, wheras Lais is the thirty-five year old son of the Regent in the North, a cold and pitiless Old Monster who has lived well beyond his alloted lifespan because he is waiting for his beloved to be reborn to him (she's being contrary about it, and rightly so; in the slightly misappropriated words of Tyrion Lannister about his own sire: "Everyone everywhere always has to do exactly what my father says...he's always been a cunt."). Lais is originally at the imperial palace as an envoy of his father, and is unusually gregarious considering his dread family; Gaia is a very reserved and retiring girl who lives in the shadow of her elder and more highly-born half-sister. There springs up a very unusual and rather sweet friendship between the two of them which was destined to be sorely tried by the opposing agendas of their respective families, and somehow we ended up thinking they were meant to be together despite the huge age difference. With that said Lais comes of a stock with deeply unusual longevity -- I don't know how old his father is, but let's say at least two hundred; I also think one of Lais's younger nephews is about twenty years his senior alone -- and it could have worked. Perhaps. But they were just so sweet together, when the world wasn't being a bastard at them, and when I found this drabble I wrote back in 2003 or 2004 or brought it back.

I so very rarely write fluff. So, let's have some fluff before I go back to making life hell for some other poor characters, shall we? ^_~

Precious Things


“Yes, darling?” she replied, raising dark eyes from her needlepoint; her surprise caused the needle to slip from the fabric and into her finger, but she removed it near-absently as she focused on her daughter alone. She barely noticed the blood as she pressed on the small wound, smiling easily at the small figure standing uncertainly in the doorway.

The dark-haired little girl promptly barrelled into the room; Gaia only just managed to remove the embroidery from her lap before Priya took up the entire space in a ball of limbs and big grey eyes. Accepting the glomp-greeting easily, she dropped a kiss across the girl’s browmark. “Did your nurse send you in to say goodnight?”

“Yes, mama,” she said; her heart was both glad to have this time with her mother and then sad. It would end all too soon, the way it always did. She ignored this fact for a brief snugglesome moment, then suddenly popped her head up and looked around with wide eyes. “But where’s papa?”

“Did I hear the sweet voice of reason calling out my most august name?”

Priya promptly burst into a gale of giggles to see Lais pop up his head from behind one of the couches; he was absolutely drenched in dust with his hair beginning to spring free in wild snarls from his tight braid. “Papa, you’re silly!”

“Saving each and every one of the pretty hairs on your head from the dust bunnies under the couch is not silly,” and the words were spoken with great dignity as he climbed to his feet and brushed off his equally-dusty trousers. “What if they multiply? We’ll be pulling them out of our ears and noses for weeks after the exterminator has been!”

Gaia spared her husband a long-suffering smile, and began to stroke her daughter’s dark-hair. “Ignore your father, darling. I think he hit his head again.”

“Well!” Lais returned, hands promptly moving to sit akimbo upon his hips as he beetled his brows. “Is this really what I get for playing at being a hero, your one and only knight in shining armour with a sword that would bring down all the stars in heaven if you’d but ask for a necklace of them to hang about your lovely neck?”

Priya blinked up at him; for a young child she was developing a precocious vocabulary and understanding of language, and everyone knew it was just because her father was pathologically incapable of being able to shut his nonsense up. “You have a sword, papa?”

“Well, I did have a sword once. But it happened to be made of sticky candy and had a hilt of the finest fudge, and it rather inexplicably disappeared one sunny, lazy afternoon. But surely we both haven’t the time for mourning my suspiciously-lost sword.” He came over to both wife and daughter, folding his long body onto the arm of the chair; while one arm draped itself easily about Gaia’s small shoulders the other joined her hand in stroking Priya’s soft, still-babyish hair. “You have a big day tomorrow and if you’re going to be big enough to fit into it without the seamstress making any of those tiresome last-second adjustments, it’s time you ran off to dream-land to play with the sleep-fairies.”

“May I ask a question before I go?”

“Only one, sweetling,” he granted generously, twirling a dark curl about one pale finger. “The fairies are waiting and they get grumpy. You know how it is. Their magic dust gets dull so quickly when the little girls are late to the land of dreams.”

She grinned up at her father, leaning up to plant a kiss on his cheek to show she understood. After doing so, Priya actually turned her attention to her mother and asked: “Mama? Was daddy your daddy, too?”

Gaia blinked, met Lais’s own blink for a brief moment, and then returned her surprise to Priya. “What do you mean, darling?”

“It was something Dasha said…I said I wanted a brother or sister, and she kind of laughed and said the only other children my papa had were you and Uncle Michael. I don’t get it. Was daddy your daddy too, then?”

“No,” Gaia said slowly, feeling Lais’s arm tighten about her as if in silent apology. “Your daddy was only my foster father, once.”

“Foster father?” Even with a father as vocal as Lais, it appeared the little girl had not heard the term before. “What does that mean?”

“It means he gave me all of his sweets and lied to me a lot.”

Lais’s jaw dropped promptly around his well-shoed ankles. “Dora!”

Still, Gaia was grinning as she absently tugged on her daughter’s nose and made her laugh. “I forgave him for it all a long time ago,” she confided in a low voice with a soft smile, pushing a strand of her own long hair back behind one ear.

“He gave you all his sweets?” Priya asked, craning her neck to look at him as she focused on what her mind saw as the most important thing her mother had just revealed. “Daddy never gives me all his sweets.”

“Oh, yes,” Gaia returned, and then dropped a wink at her dumbstruck husband. It was always so amusing to her, seeing Lais in his most unnatural state. “He always gave me all of his favourites, too.”

“…then I want daddy to be MY foster father, too!” Priya decided abruptly, a determined glint coming into eyes very much like those of her father’s family. She promptly turned on her mother’s lap and demanded of her stunned father: “I want you to treat me just like you treated mama!”

“Er…” he returned, Gaia already shaking with laughter at his continued and complete loss of his silver tongue.

“What?” the little girl asked, words resounding with the form of total innocence that was designed only for the very young to possess.

“We’ll tell you when you’re older, sweetheart,” Gaia chuckled, and carefully took a hold of Priya as she stood up. Before she got halfway up Lais had to claim the small girl; she was simply growing up too fast, was already too heavy for Gaia’s slight strength. “Now, isn’t time for bed?”

As she later shut the door to their private study, Priya returned to her nursemaid Dasha and her warm bed, Gaia shook her head and crossed the floor back to her armchair and needlework. “Lais, don’t look at me like that,” she murmured without even needing to look to her husband to read his expression. “I will let you tell her when she grows up.”

Lais trailed her in silence, but in a burst of elegant movement then overtook her slower form; by the time she reached her chair he was ready for her, reaching out with a quick hand to tumble her onto his lap. “But what if I simply can’t wait that long to share all my great wisdom and vast knowledge with my darling daughter?” he asked mournfully, barely acknowledging his wife’s token struggles.

“You waited until I was all grown up before sharing all your great wisdom and vast knowledge with me,” she pointed out as she gave up, setting about finding herself the most comfortable way to burrow into her husband’s lap.

“Yes, but my darling il’Gaia,” Lais pointed out as he dipped his head lower, brushing smiling lips against her ticklish ear, “I had extra special things to share with you.”

She shivered as his breath skipped across sensitive skin, heart jumping a beat in warm anticipation. “Your real favourite sweets, perhaps?”

“It’s no sacrifice,” Lais said, and kissed her long and sweetly. She was laughing even as he told her seriously: “They are, after all, precisely the kind that taste better when they are shared.”


Incidentally, from the song title I can but assume I was listening to this song as I wrote it. There are so many memories to be found in music. I think it's time to go back to the old playlists.

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