Were you able to reach and finish your July writing goal?
Yes, I was. It was a little bit of a squeak-by, which I was not expecting: my progress was such that I anticipated finishing early, and I probably could have, but July was very busy in other ways and myself very tired in other ways as well, so in the end I finished Actually Finishing Something July only a day or two before the dead-line.
What was the most difficult part of finishing something this July?
I would say it was a combination of work, which, of all the months of the year, is always most demanding in July, and the dialogue of the scene. I had to juggle, weave, and interconnect the minds, opinions, and comments of quite a number of characters in what was, for them, a tense and awkward atmosphere. This is not conducive for lucidity and it made progress halting at best sometimes.
Did you maintain a writing schedule? How often did you write to meet your goal? Did you write into the wee hours of the morning or did you wake up extra early to write?
I did not have a writing schedule. I probably ought to because life isn't all pony-rides in May sunshine, but I don't. To be honest, I wrote whenever I wrote. Let me not be accused of being predictable...
List the three musical tracks that most inspired your writing this July. Tell us why they inspired you and how they fit your story.
The three songs that probably most inspired me were "You As You Were" by Shearwater, "Show Me" by Audrey Assad, and "Sherwood" by Heather Dale. None of them really have anything to do with my July assignment. "You As You Were" is an almost unbelievably good fit for another scene in Plenilune, a scene which I have not reached yet; but I think the fact that it does connect with Plenilune at all helped me write while I listened to it. "Show Me" is a helpful song because it echoes, beautifully, the same appreciation of victory and thorough sense of weariness that Margaret herself is experiencing. And "Sherwood" is simply a gorgeous, evocative instrumental, soothing and silvan, that matched with my scene perfectly.
when you fell in the rocks at the bend in the river
with the blood from your nose running hard on your fingers
and through the rest of your life
the electric charge of a change in the weather
you were touching my arm, you were holding a feather
and then I opened my eyes
shearwater, you as you were
As you wrote, did you come across any component of your story that surprised you? Plot-twists, Grand-New-Ideas!, new characters?
You know that feeling you get when you drop a glass on tile and it shatters, and all the bright pieces are lying all around you tiny, bright, impossibly beautiful shards, more beautiful than the whole glass could ever be? That is what my mind did with this scene. I dropped it, and countless beautiful shards of ideas splintered out of it. And that feeling you get, that wonder at the beauty and the despair of ever cleaning it all up and putting it back together again? I felt that too.
Choose and share three favourite pieces of descriptive writing you penned for the challenge.
Latimer whined softly; she had a brief, confused sense of coming out into a small clearing before the world became a riot of gold and jewel-black and an upward rush of white and surf-sound. Goldfinches burst upward from the uncut turf in a whirling cloud, circling and chittering, filling the air with a thin, fine filigree of splendour.
It was beautiful, clean and clear with a light dusting of snow everywhere, and Margaret’s spirits could not help being lifted a little on a tenuous upward draught of pleasure: for they were a merry, handsome group in a fiercely bright, handsome land: a flicker-flame of a party, trimmed in gold and ermine riding among the snow-laden pine-boughs, dressed in scarlets and greens, and blues as clear as Lord Gro’s aquamarine ring.
To Margaret it was a strange, shining experience, at once awful and enjoyable, for the cold sharpened her senses and the quick, flashing wit of her companions, like kingfishers, darted by her and seemed to weave the circle of their hunting party with brilliance.
Share the meanest, most unfeeling line said by one of your characters from your July writing.
Skander sidestepped the remarked deftly and rushed on before Rupert could say anything else. With a little outward flick of his hand, as though to indicate her—his ring glinting in the sunlight—he remarked, “Woodbird Swan-neck, I hear, comes also. So then Margaret will not be the only lady in our train.”
“Nay, but I protest she is.” Rupert’s tone was soft, but laced with that quiet, almost inaudible laughter which, when mocking, hurts the most.
Skander flung up his head, nostrils widened like an insulted stallion, and his face, so often amiable, sometimes darkened by disquiet thought, was stark-pale with rage and a quick sense of fury lashed out from him, only a moment from being clenched in both fists and made kinetic by a blow to Rupert’s cheek. They stood a moment so, both gone pale—Rupert’s left fist closed very, very slowly—and Margaret waited tensely, her heart in the throat, expecting after each throb for one of them to raise a hand. But neither moved, and after half a minute Skander said tersely,
“I go down now to the stables. You’ll find your horses there.”
Pick one of your favourite character from your July writing. Describe his wardrobe. Share how this character would dress if he were living in the year 2012.
Oh dear. It is struggle between Skander Rime and Aikin Ironside. Aikin has a chance to shine in this scene and his existence in the social sphere is stamped deeply on Margaret's awareness, but I think my favourite is still Skander, so we will stick with Skander. His wardrobe in 692 ranges all the way from grubby trousers and doggied shirt that he wears when watching over the sick hounds in the kennels to his buff, gold, and silver silk doublet he wears on most formal occasions. His day-to-day clothing tends to be rich but subtle and medieval in as sleek a way as is possible for his six-foot-plus, broad frame. If he lived in our time he would be most comfortable in a pair of blue jeans and collared shirt. I have the bizarrest image of him sitting next to Sam and Abe at a church luncheon, chatting pleasantly away... Well, we authors dream, anyway.
Pick your all-time favourite bit of July writing and share it with us. Tell us why the passage is your favourite.
“And you wonder,” said Margaret, when they were alone, “that people do not like you!”
“I never asked for them to like me,” Rupert said. “Liking is a small, dear door out which you pass in the night, unseen—but should any see you go out by it, anyone desirous of seizing your house knows by which little secret postern to come in and catch you unawares. I never asked for them to like me. I like, as to that, none of them.”
She looked hard into his cool, unblinking eyes. “Really? Not even Malbrey? not even Bloodburn?”
“Them less than most, because they will do what I ask—and yet for that very reason I strangely loathe them.” He pulled down his brows and his smile, which had been bitter and mirthless, ran from his face as he turned to look about him at the people in the room. “They are all little to me, silver- and sanguine-coloured, petty in their finery like chanticleers in their barnyard runs. They have little thought for aught else. They have their pride. They have their stubborn self-wills which I will break—”
“But you will loathe them all the more because they break,” Margaret finished, finding, with a curious mingled horror and pity, that she understood.
“Yes,” he said, a sudden melancholy catching at his brows. “I will loathe them because of that.”
I love this passage for several reasons. In a broad sense it sets the playing field. It gives me a clear aerial view of where everyone is, where everyone stands, albeit seen through Rupert's twisted vision. For now Rupert's twisted vision is what matters. Along with that, it gives me insight into Rupert himself and, through Margaret's sudden appreciation of him, it gives me more than ever a connection to him. He is a brilliant man who sees and thinks and loves and hates and counts the cost and gambles everything to strike a blow and win a battle in a constant clash of kingdoms. He does not often allow such clear views into his soul: this was quite a gem for me. And unexpectedly it was part of the glass I broke: I dropped this piece and found that it exploded into more depth, meaning, and continuity for the story.
What was your favourite part of the Actually Finishing Something July challenge?
It was actually agony. It was like pulling teeth to get the story to come sometimes, it was like pulling teeth to get myself to sit down and focus even though nothing was coming. My favourite part was the glass that I dropped; my second favourite part is the fact that I finished it. I got through it, and now I can move on, reelingly, blindly, toward some sense of plot... Thank you so much, Katie! Your support has been invaluable. I am very much indebted to you for helping so many of us buckle down to what we should be sensible and mature enough to force ourselves to do anyway.
"You ought not to be," she replied tersely. "I did not do it for you."plenilune