Believe That When I See It

I find I work badly under deadlines and pressure.  I do wonder if I was named "Jenny" for a reason: I get down and lean on my heels and refuse to move when people try to enforce deadlines on me.  I prefer freedom of movement.  My sister-in-law calls me (complimentary, I think) a "free spirit."  Which means I don't function very well in the normal world.  But sometimes even I get fed up with my procrastination and have to ply the whip.  So, thanks to Katiebug, I'm going to make an attempt to join "Actually Finishing Something July."  Like Howl I'll probably tell myself I'm not doing it so that I won't scare myself, and I actually will do it.  It's uncanny how alike Howl and I are...  But here we go.  I'm biting the proverbial bullet. Or arrow, as the case may be.

week one questions

What is your writing goal?

The scene I have ahead of me chronologically in the story is one of a boar-hunt, which is going to take a lot of maneuvering characters and some skill to keep the initial moments from being dull.  (Once you've got a boar, of course, things are never dull.)  But I'm balking on getting through those first social scenes in getting the party together and out into the blasted cold of the early November morning.  Social scenes are always daunting.  This is what I want to push through and finish by the end of July.  Which will come faster than I know.

Tell us about this project.  Give us a small synopsis.

"When a young Victorian lady is shipped off to Naples to catch a suitor, she wasn't expecting a suitor to catch her. Kidnapped and a world away from home, Margaret Coventry finds herself fighting for her life and the life of the strange world she is beginning to call home."  And there is the groundwork for my third novel and work-in-progress Plenilune.  This novel is a lot "heavier" than its companion Adamantine, in large part because the world of Adamantine was not the main point, though it was undeniably an important one.  Adamantine dealt with more intangible, metaphysical aspects whereas in Plenilune the physical place Plenilune is almost as important and grand a character as the people who populate her.  Plenilune is consequently very "heavy" in feel and I often have the impression of biting off more than I can chew.  But then that's really nothing new.

How long have you been working on this project?

I started Plenilune last September (2011) but I didn't announce it on The Penslayer until October when I was sure the story was serious and was actually going to go somewhere.

Introduce us to three of your favourite characters in this project.

Only two of the three show up in my scene here, but I think so far my favourite characters are the fox, Skander Rime, and a grim tie between Aikin Ironside and FitzDraco.  I really love them all and they are a lot of fun to work with (as I'm doing this post I'm actually beginning to look forward more to attending a boar-hunt with them, but those three-to-four characters form a kind of core among the characters and Margaret (and incidentally myself) interact more with them and come to like and know them better than anyone else.  In this scene I will be dealing with Skander and Aikin (and FitzDraco), but not the fox.  So sorry.  Skander and Aikin are both young bucks, in their late twenties, but level-headed and good at both administration and warfare.  While Skander is unsociable by nature you are like to feel more comfortable around him than around Aikin, who, while more engaging, shares through his mother the uncanny elemental aura of the nomadic people.  They are both splendid young men, but Skander simply feels more familiar, and consequently more comfortable, than Aikin.  As for FitzDraco (who, for the purpose of this scene, might as well be my third favourite character), I know I've done a Beautiful People post for him.  I don't know as I would call him fun to write; he is a tough nut, reserved, with an atmosphere of Puritan grey, but the contrast of his Puritan grey demeanour and flaming soul on the inside is always good to write.  He is definitely a great character.

How often do you intend to write in order to reach your goal by August first?

As often as it takes.  I have no clear idea how large this scene might need to be and, once I get started, my thoughts tend to flow contiguously from beginning to end (which makes going back and inserting pieces very difficult).  I will write whenever I have time and until I finish.  The real incentive is the promise that I will finish it by August first.

How will you make your characters behave long enough to finish this goal?

This is not a funny question.  I am locked tine in tine with Rupert at the moment and that is probably my biggest hurtle and why I've been balking on this piece.  On occasion I will gloss over difficulties like this and move on, to come back and fill out later, but my typical approach is to hurl myself headlong into writing, attaining that perfect level of momentum that keeps me moving forward without falling on my face.  I may very well end up taking that approach again.

Go to page 16 (or 6 or 26 or 66!) of your writing project.  Pick your favourite line or snippet on the page.

After that the silence that settled was aching. Margaret stared unseeing into the new fire, trapped in an odd stillness that was not calming. Why did all the silences of this place sound like the silence before a scream? Why did the stillness of this house feel like the stillness before a storm?

Tea or coffee?

Tea, always, but probably not absurd amounts of it.  I love tea, but I don't think I'm tea-dependent.  I'm not sure it has enough caffeine to addict me.

11 ripostes:

  1. I don't know if you know of the movie Pendragon: Sword of His Father.(Maybe I showed it too you?) It has a winter boar hunt in it.

  2. I loved the questions though! It was a really awesome post.

  3. Yes! "Actually Finishing Something July" is absolutely inspired. And inspiring - so much so that I am going to do it. While I have a number of projects languishing in the hot summer torpor, I think only one can conceivably by finished in a month; that being the comic script that Tim will eventually draw. The dialogue is all but written, leaving the art direction, which is not something I've ever done and may take a while - I don't really have any visual instinct. But I think I can do it.

    Also, I find it absurd that anyone is drinking tea or coffee in July (save perhaps our antipodean cohorts). I can guarantee that Something that will be Actually Finished in July will be a large number of Cold Ones.

    But, I have a question. You said: "Adamantine dealt with more intangible, metaphysical aspects whereas in Plenilune the physical place Plenilune is almost as important and grand a character as the people who populate her. Plenilune is consequently very "heavy" in feel and I often have the impression of biting off more than I can chew." Granted my own writing experience is rather limited, but I find wrestling with the metaphysical - the deep questions and tenuous, ephemeral connections - to be more tiring than physical description. It could be because I tend to pour my concentration into the former while glossing over the latter, but I'm curious as to why you feel this way.

    Well, that was quite a bit of words, but it's been a while and I guess I was due. Several Cold Ones were harmed in the making of this comment.

  4. The silence before a scream-- wow. I loved that.

  5. Ditto here. I also find social scenes a bit difficult. I tend to avoid them and give the characters mostly one on one time.

  6. Yeah, well, we keep the house pretty cool, it takes less time to pop the kettle on, and I drink tea early in the morning, so the heat of it doesn't bother me. And cold stomachs are just nasty business.

    Okay, let's get down to real business. Let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that I'm a natural philosopher and that it isn't the twenty-first century. My writing has been described as "elemental," and I think that's pretty accurate from my own vantage point: my tones can fall into one, several, or all of the original four "elements." It is possibly a quirk of my own mind: I tend to see philosophy, the metaphysical, etc., as possessing the qualities of the elements wind, fire, and air. I don't put a great deal of serious stock in dividing the world up that way, or that any of those "elements" naturally possess or represent qualities of the psyche, but their natural otherly natures, permeable, malleable, mysterious and strong, are very easy images and sensations to which I relate when I'm thinking about otherly things. They all give. They can resist (they can burn you or drown you or blow you away) but their almost matterlessness gives way to a serious push to get through them.

    Hence my own mental conception of Adamantine is a lot lighter than that of Plenilune, because Plenilune is very much of the fourth element. It's physical. It's solid. It's earthy. The place strongly exhibits the old genius loci, but as I'm working through the text, especially since many of the dwellings are in the dale country between the high fells, I always feel as though Plenilune herself is looming over me. There is the fourth element in Adamantine and there are the other three in Plenilune (it would be really dully without serious thought and riddle-making), but the real main character of the story, the one which is always, unavoidably, importantly present, is Plenilune herself. That is what makes it so heavy.

    Anne-girl, I can't avoid social scenes in this story. I have upwards of twenty-eight important people, and counting. You wonder - you wonder that "we are all mad here"!

  7. Hmm, I'm still not sure I understand, but I can see how the solid and immovable might give rise to the term "heavy." To me, the "heavy," the difficult and mind-wrenching, is rather the malleable - those things upon which it is much more strenuous to impose order. I suppose I feel that the physical things must, of ontological necessity, have a defined status, though deciding what that status should be might take some reasoning. But like I said, I haven't done much world-building. I do like writing social scenes, though; lets me channel my inner Wilde.

  8. I've always had to fight uphill against a superior and fully armed ambiguity... It may be possible (it's probably likely) that our views of which is heavy and which is more ethereal are due to our personalities. And I don't think I've read much of your writing, but I imagine you would be good at social scenes, very good at social scenes. I like watching them myself, I don't like engaging in them; you're good at getting into the thick of them and enjoying yourself while you're there.

  9. Much as it pains me to suggest this, are there not times when swatting at that ambiguity might be futile at best? Even dangerous? Oh, to shatter this glass that I see through...

    Your characterization amused me to no end. Apt, even; most times. I do so love the attention - unless I don't. If you were interested, however, there's my little NaNo thing from a couple years ago. I think Tim has the document, if you don't. Nothing spectacular, really, but there's a few bits of brilliance of which I'm rather proud.

  10. I see that you have struggles with "social scenes" too; that makes two of us, at least! I hope all goes well with your writing goal!!

  11. It was so good to see you doing Actually Finishing Something July too! This boar-hunt sounds intriguing. And so is the short snippet you shared. I'll be looking forward to more of these snippets along the way!