Holding Pattern

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Well, I finished my book.

Actually, I finished it about a month ago.

Yup.

Yeah, I know, I’m not exactly jumping up and down with joy. If anything, I’ve been rather subdued about it. Not sure why. I mean, Courting the Moon is the culmination of two years of work. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But while I feel a certain amount of satisfaction, I’m not experiencing anything close to “joy.”  Maybe it’s because the worry about not finishing was gone by the time April rolled around, and without that tension, it was a forgone conclusion. Maybe it’s because I know I still have plenty of other projects waiting in the wings, namely Ravens and Roses. Or maybe I’m mentally burnt out and just don’t want to think about it anymore.

I haven’t written anything for weeks.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. I reread my draft of Ravens and Roses, which pleased me because what I had still held up after being neglected for so long, but it also made me sigh because now I can see just how far I have to go for it to be finished. And I suppose I have been writing a little bit. I’ve started writing down scenes for the Star Wars fanfic that’s been circulating in my head literally since I was thirteen. But that’s about it.

Some random news pieces:

–  I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and liked it.
–  I got to go to Free Comic Book Day for the first time, albeit in the evening so most of the events were over, but that was fine with me; I don’t care much for crowds.
–  But these days, most of my brain has been consumed with watching The Clone Wars in chronological order in the hopes of actually finishing the series this time. (When I started watching it a year or two ago, I stopped midway through Season 3, and for some inexplicable reason never went back to it until now.)

While part of me feels a little guilty for not working on the synopsis for Courting the Moon, or researching agents, or continuing work on Ravens and Roses… another part of me says, “To hell with it; I’m going to veg.” (Being stricken with allergies doesn’t help with the brain-fog either.) Of course, a writer’s mind is never truly still. Even when we seem to be passively engaged with something like television or a movie, we are absorbing more story ideas and elements, adding them to the primordial ooze that is our brains.

So I think for now I will go ahead and gorge myself on Star Wars until I feel ready to tackle writing again.

The Wellspring

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Some time ago, I read an article in The Guardian that Neil Gaiman wrote about his friend, Terry Pratchett.  In the article, Mr. Gaiman said that fury was what fueled Terry Pratchett’s writing.  I was reminded of this when I came across a more recent article posted by the Los Angeles Times, which held an interesting addition:

“Terry [Pratchett] was many things, but he was not a jolly old elf. I think each of us tends to take something and use that as the place where you begin making your art. If you’re going to make good art, it’s likely that you’re going to go to the place where things are dark, and use that to shine light into your life and, if you’re doing it right, into other people’s lives as well. For Terry, it was always anger. There was a deep rage in him that allowed him to create. For me, it tends to be sorrow or loneliness or confusion.

The pat answer that I’ve often seen given by writers, either in person or via books of advice, is that their art comes from joy or curiosity or wonder or passion.  The emotions referenced are often positive or at least neutral.  This seems to be the more socially acceptable answer.  It’s a little more unusual, even slightly morbid, to hear someone say that their art, regardless of the tone of the end product, stems from a darker source.  Usually we think that your emotional state should match the emotions evoked by your creation.  I mean, really, would you have guessed that the hilarious absurdity of Discworld stemmed from a man’s rage?  It certainly surprised me.

That surprise made me stop and reflect on what emotional core drives my own creativity.  While all emotions are necessary to craft a convincing piece of fiction, I was curious to know what the wellspring consisted of.  Did my writing come from joy, sorrow, anger, loneliness, despair, amusement, fear, cynicism, or some other emotional core?  Was this consistent or did it vary from project to project?

I’ve turned the question over in my mind, and as I trace down the central emotional motivation for characters in my various works-in-progress, I think that the answer might be fear.  The main characters in Ravens and Roses, All’s Fair, Astral Rain, Rinamathair, Jewel and the Skyrunners, Moon’s Fire/Moon’s Water… almost all of them are all driven by fear of something.   For many of them this fear is about losing something or someone, and almost all of them are in denial about it.  Some of them manifest this by being shy and adverse to risk while others become bold and abrasive in an attempt to hide what they see as a weakness.  A good portion of their narrative journey is spent recognizing that fear, admitting it to themselves or to others, and then working to overcome it.  Some succeed; others don’t, at least not completely.

I don’t generally share the same specific fears as my characters, but the sensation is the same.  Even though I prefer to write while feeling happy or content rather than angry or depressed, the underlying motivation is fear.  It’s a little weird, since I’ve never run into anything truly dangerous in my life so far.  But the sensation, be it a small, niggling sense of unease or full-blown panic, is always there.  And as I think about what Neil Gaiman said in these two articles, I think that might be my fuel, the part that gives the stories and characters I create that little extra push into realism.  The soul-spark that makes them come alive.  Because fear, like anger or loneliness, is a universal human emotion.

amuria_contest_entry_2_by_starsister12

Original artwork is by Amuria on DeviantART

 

Draft Completed!

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Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin.  I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel!  Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one.  While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such.  But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!

I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015.  As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading.  Wow.  That’s 170 pages written in 92 days.  There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written.  Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end.  I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction.  (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”)  And those took me years to complete!  The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete.  Not like All’s Fair.

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2015: The Year in Review

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Okay, seriously, who keeps making off with all this time?  Feels like the year just got started and we’re already on the cusp of 2016!  (And from what I’ve heard, this sense of time distortion only gets worse… ugh.)

I am definitely in a better place at the end of 2015 than I was last year.  Many of my 2014 goals have been reached, and it feels like I’ve got a better handle on life in general, which is a massive relief!  I want to give a huge thank-you to all of my friends, readers, subscribers, and followers.  You make this all worth-while.

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I’m Still Alive!

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Hey.

Do you know what day it is?

Yes, it’s a Tuesday.  What else?

Okay, the date is October 13th.  What happens on October 13th?

Why, the birthday of one of my favorite fictional characters:

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Long time, no see

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Um… hi?

*waves*

Wow.  I… haven’t written an entry in a while.  In fact, I haven’t really posted anything online for at least a month.  No blog entries, no Audio Editions, no #ThrowbackThursdays, no new fanfic chapters… I regret that last one, especially since I’d made a point to say I wouldn’t make my readers wait years for the completion of a fanfic.

But, obviously, I haven’t kept up with much of anything online.  Because reasons:

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Slouching Towards Despondency

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Hi all.

I’m sorry that I’ve been so bad about keeping up with The Cat’s Cradle, the Audio Editions, the #ThrowbackThursdays, the fanfiction chapters… pretty much everything that I somehow managed to do in the depths of depression but now find almost impossible to focus on.  Part of this is because I have been doing a lot of editing work on Ravens and Roses.  Any free creative time I have goes towards that.  The other part is because of a lot of tension at home which I find difficult to mentally detach from.  So pretty much anything creative has fallen by the wayside, and I apologize for that.

I don’t know how long this funk will last.  I really want to get back into the groove and get all these things done, plus transcribing my dad’s stories for publication and writing more short stories of my own…  I think music by David Arkenstone is the only thing keeping my muse around at all.  (Absolutely gorgeous.)

Anyway, yeah.  Updates will be sporadic, if they happen at all.  I will make every effort to keep up, but Ravens and Roses has top priority.

I hope to have better news and more inspiration soon.  Thank you very much for your patience.

Updates On The Fly

Greetings all!

My apologies, but the Audio Editions of The Cat’s Cradle, including #ThrowbackThursday, must be put on hold for a while.  I’ve (finally) started taking anti-depressants, and a pernicious side effect is not being able to read text, any kind of text, for more than a half hour without getting a nasty headache.  (Sometimes I can’t even manage five minutes.  So far painkillers don’t touch it.)  And even though I am ecstatic about the arrival of spring, the changing season wreaks havoc on my sinuses.  I tend to be out of commission for a week or two, trying to keep my head from exploding.

As a result, I must be very careful with my time, and finishing Ravens and Roses is more important to me than anything else.  So, it may be a while before I write another substantial blog entry or record an Audio Edition.  Depending on whether or not this side effect diminishes, I may not do another month of LeNoWriCha for a while either.

The upside is, having a limited amount of time to write has really focused my attention.  A scene that has been eluding me for over a year has finally been written!  (I knew what needed to happen, I just… hadn’t bothered to actually write out the scene.)  Less really can be more.  I am more motivated to do things, so I feel like life is starting the long, slow slog towards improvement.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Stay awesome, read often, and keep writing!

Gender Neutral Pronouns in Fantasy

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To put it quite bluntly, they don’t seem to exist.

Very little fantasy or even science fiction seems to address or even acknowledge the idea of gender-neutral pronouns or terms of address.  I have seen a few instances in stories that present angels as masculine, feminine, or neuter, using “he” “she” or “se” (pronounced “SEH”).  However, in most speculative fiction, the gender binary of male/female or masculine/feminine predominates.  I understand why; English just doesn’t have a good system for addressing neutral genders.  The only thing we have is “it” which is dehumanizing when applied in a social context.  People I know who identify as gender neutral refer to themselves as “they” (which is a little awkward and confusing to me) or they use masculine pronouns because in English, when a gender is unknown, the masculine tends to be the default.  I love Japanese honorifics because they can convey titles and respect without being tied to gender most of the time.  I can also understand why a lot of older fantasy doesn’t go beyond two genders because authors and audiences either didn’t know about it or didn’t accept it; anything outside heterosexual relationships or traditional gender roles wasn’t readily acknowledged.  (The first time I saw a homosexual character featured in print was in 2005 when I read the short story “Lord John and the Succubus” by Diana Gabaldon.  I have yet to read a story featuring a gender neutral, asexual, or trans character,)

Luckily, we’re growing up a bit as a society and it would be nice to see the spectrum of gender and sexual identity recognized in fiction.

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Editing Woes

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I’ve got good news and bad news.

The good news is, I have definitely reached the point with my novel, Ravens and Roses, where I have very little writing left to do.  There are still a few missing scenes, some background information that needs to be hammered out, and a bunch of scene revisions… but for the most part, it’s ready for the next step.  I have a manuscript ready to be edited.  Go me!

The bad news is… I have no idea what I’m doing.

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