Shy, Pale-Lit Things

I challenged myself to reach 100,000 words on Plenilune this week.  I did it, with time and impetus to spare, but it got me wondering: where does that place me in the plot of Adamantine?  Every now and then I like to compare and see how quick or slow the two plots move inside themselves.  On a whim I thought I would grab the text from the corresponding pages in both stories and show them to you.  (Is it only my bizarre, twisted perception, or does 100,000 not seem like a lot?)


Eikin got up off the balls of his feet.  “Come close to the hearth.  I will have a look round for dry wood and get a fire going.  I don’t reckon anyone will see us in this murk, and we should be safe enough.”
She crossed stiffly to the hearth and knelt down on the slate flags, shivering with her arms around her damp knees while Eikin poked about the long room, breaking apart old chairs and testing fallen beams for any dry soundness.  She watched him in a kind of daze as he returned, knelt, and began to build a little fire.  The tiny spark which caught the dry tinder-moss was the only clear thing to her: a small and shining, golden thing, a perfect petal of light.  How many memories were trapped in a single petal of flame? she wondered.  How many memories were made around fires, and caught in fires, and lay silent and secret in fires forever…
“Mind the fire.”  She was aware of Eikin getting up and standing over her, looking down at the uncertain flame that was licking along the moss and twigs.  “It will be cold for a while, until it can be built up.  Mind it.”
“Where are you going?” she asked mechanically.
“To the wood,” he replied, “to look for dry bracken, to make a bed for you.  Be quiet and mind the fire.”
He went, making no more noise than a shadow, and left her alone in the long low room that had once been the centre of a farmhouse, alone in the quiet and the drip-drip of water that came through the thin patches of thatch, and the rush of wind and rain overhead.  The noises, she felt, only added to the depth of the quiet, and to her aching lonesomeness.  She was almost too tired to remember to tend the little flame in front of her, except that it was the only thing to do to stave off the last sharp thrust of loneliness that threatened to break her breastbone.


Margaret took the book, then, but she took Julianna’s hand as well, hard in the grip of her long fingers.  “I will take it, but I will not let you go until you tell me what you mean.  Too often people have slipped by me, leaving me without answers.  Not this time.”
She expected Julianna to spook and bolt, and for a moment the girl looked completely abashed by the powerful fingers locking over her wrist.  Julius, linked to her, also started, drawing in a swift breath of surprise or pain.  But she held the beautiful things and would not let them go, no matter how frightened they looked, no matter how beautiful.  Finally Julius moved toward his sister, his hands going out gingerly, steadily, toward the captured hand.
“Everything makes a sound,” he said patiently, as if he was speaking to a wild animal.  “And all sound makes a pattern.  Did God not speak, and did not his voice makes the form of things?  The sound of your soul and the sound of the soul of this book make a pattern together.”  His fingertips touched the back of her hand, cold, pressing, begging her to let Julianna go.  “So we know that you are meant to go together.”
“You can see that?” Margaret whispered.  She was not sure if she believed him or not.
Black-spangled, flushed with lilac-colour, Julius’ eyes turned her.  The fingers worked around hers.  “No, but we can feel it.  We can’t often hear it, but we can often feel it.  Madam—”  His voice grew audibly pained, and Margaret suddenly let fly her fingers, letting go of the brittle wrist. 
Margaret took a step back, feeling the wings of the darkness fold about her shoulders.  Concerned, shy, pale-lit things, the twins watched her from the doorways of their bedrooms. 
“My world is flat,” she said at last.  “My world is flat like a pan overtop of hell.  We don’t believe such things.”
“You are only blind,” said Julianna, as if that was a comfort.  “Those who have eyes to see can see.”
Where had she heard those words before…?  “But I am not blind.  I keep waiting for the end of your world to come up but it keeps curving on toward the sunrise and I do not know if I can take the roundness of it, nor what the sun keeps showing up.  You live in an awful world,” she said huskily.  “How can you bear the spice of it?”
“It runs in our veins,” said Julius simply.  Then he added, “Yours will empty into ours.”
She stared at him, almost beyond wanting to understand, yet that tenacious germ of human spirit drove her inexorably on, on toward the blinding sunrise.  “I think yours must empty into mine, young sir, but either way I will die.”  

8 ripostes:

  1. Those twins are something altogether uncanny. I don't know what it is, Jenny, but you seem to have a way of making characters that chill while at the same time allure. I want to know more about Julianna and Julius both, but I cannot reconcile myself to their other-worldliness. Do you find most of your characters possessing this strange quality? Or perhaps it is merely my dim perspective of their place in the tale. Probably that, after all.

  2. I think there are different sorts of writers. Writers who can be flamboyant and funny, writers who can be serious and detail-ridden, and writers who simply make every word beautiful. Alas, I am not good at making things beautiful - I tend toward sarcasm and disrespect - but tis a great comfort to me to read your snippets and know that there is at least one person who can write with words like rainbows.

  3. 100,000? Oh I feel small. I feel very very small. My 57,000 something words seem very small also. Once again I know why they call you the Penslayer.

  4. Huzzah for reaching 100,000 words! I knew you could do it, but seeing your announcement at the top of this post, so glad, so triumphant, still gave me a shiver of excitement. 100,000 words. There's a sense of reality about reaching such a number, is there not? 100,000 words sounds so nice and official.

    I have to say that while both excerpts are fantastic, I really enjoyed the first one especially. Eikin seems so steadfast and calm — I love him already. The way he warns Adamant (?) to mind the fire, and then goes off to get bracken to make her a bed . . . so sweet. That's a true gentleman you have there, Jenny. (Of course, I could be perfectly wrong about his character, being that I haven't read the book in its entirety . . . )

  5. Elizabeth Rose - you're sharp! I was puzzled by your question mark until I realized that, daft as I am, I never actually put Adamant's name in the excerpt. I do try to tweak the excerpts if I have to in order to clarify. Unfortunately I suffer from the malady that assumes that, if I understand it, of course you are all crowded in my brain and can understand it too. So sorry! But yes, that is Adamant. You say that Eikin seems so steadfast and calm: this is true, though not always true, and there is humour in the fact that he is calm and steadfast in that particular section but I'm not allowed to tell you why... He has a gruff sort of gentleness that takes Adamant some time to understand. Yeah, he's a cool guy. ^.^

    Anne-girl - I think I find 100,000 to be small because I am looking down the long corridor of my plot and know that I'm only halfway, to give a charitable guesstimate. Adamantine is well over half that. My plots are just big. o_O

    Poet of Elven Madness - I'm peeved sometimes (most times) that I can't spin a laugh as Anna or Abigail can. I'm pretty serious. Even when, say, the fox is jamming his tongue in his cheek, he is always dead serious about his joking. And I'm not like that really. I'm kind of a joke-cracking person. But oh my word I've got a serious soul, and oh my word does that come out of my writing. I wish I could make people laugh out loud over my prose, but it just doesn't happen. I find beauty to be terribly serious - even the lightest feather, caught in the merest sunbeam (stab me through the heart, Mark of the Horse Lord) fills my heart with an aching sense of seriousness. The worlds I find myself wandering in are full of a blazing, awful beauty - "are these just some words that I say aloud? is that just the sun breaking through the clouds? no, I know it's more and I know somehow that heaven is breaking through." I think that is what you must find in my writing. For all my sister-in-law calls me a free spirit, if you tried to pick up my soul, you would probably find it rather heavy.

    Rachel - when I look hard at the characters, yes, I find they usually possess a thinness of skin, a shiningness of spirit. Even characters like Rupert, or the Raven-king of Adamantine, wear mortality lightly and cloak themselves in a sort of electric power. Not many of them are merely alluring: the charge of blood beneath the surface of their words, the feeling that here there are no "mere mortals" gives them that sense of chill which you feel.

  6. And now my excitement about making the first 20,000 (of probably around 80,000) words in my little book seem very modest. ;) But cheers to you! 100,000 is quite a landmark. And my-oh-my, those excerpts...
    By the way, did I mention to you that I finished Shadow Things yesterday? I thought perhaps you'd like to know. You might also like to know that I enjoyed it immensely, read it during study hall (and consequentially blocked out the rest of the world for an hour), proceeded to read more of it at a nearby park, and then couldn't sit down to eat my dinner until I had read the last page. ;) Oh, and I'm going to review it on my blog, too. Because that's how much I liked it.


  7. May I offer my humble congratulations on your having reached 100,000 words? I see you have "gone forth and done it" ;). Well done indeed! I do not have sooo much to write to reach 100,000 words in The Crown of Life, but most of the story demands some serious reform and transformation which I determine to execute as soon as possible so it isn't quite the same...

    I have to ask you, Jenny, how long do you expect Plenilune to be and how big is Adamantine's word-count? Another question that has been swirling around my brain for ever so long but now I feel like I can ask is: are your tales (...Adamantine and Plenilune) Christian in their essence and is faith an important aspect of the stories or not (i.e. are any of the characters Christians)? I would be quite fascinated to know!

    By the way, those two snippets just squeezed my heart out with their beauty and sparkling brilliance. Julius and Juliana are so elusive, so other-worldly and terrifyingly beautiful... I liked Julius' words a lot. "Did God not speak, and did not his voice makes the form of things? The sound of your soul and the sound of the soul of this book make a pattern together."

    And the Adamantine snippet with Adamant and her "petals of fire" left me feeling quite struck... wounded. Need I say more? I think not!!

  8. Oh, wow. Those excerpts made me stop in my (mental) tracks. Amazing writing, in both stories. I'm very intrigued. :)