Milestones

Sep. 21st, 2016 09:54 pm
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I spent a few minutes this evening updating my word count spreadsheet, which had recently fallen by the wayside, and I'm very glad I did.

At a total of 6K words, posting The Wrong Kind of Snow has put me over two somewhat related milestones.  I'm now up to 104,823 words of fiction I've written this year, which is, like woah.

When people started talking about Get Your Words Out goals at the beginning of the year, I looked at the targets and I laughed and laughed.  And then I cried.  Even the 75K disability goal, if I counted anxiety and stress migraines and toddlers, seemed completely out of reach.  But hey, look at me!  Over 100K, it's September, and I'm still planning to do NaNoWriMo... I could have signed up for the 150K goal after all!

Possibly more importantly to me, I'm up to 101,916 words I've actually finished and posted this year.  (Yes, I started the year with about 12K words already written on things I've since posted, but that's possibly even harder for me than writing new stuff to post.)

Go.  Me.

I think I'm particularly proud of the ratio, because my real goal when I started the year--and the eventual reason I decided not to sign up for GYWO because writing more words was not actually what I wanted to focus on--was to stop half-writing things, stop hoarding and chewing on them forever, to finish writing them and to get them the fuck out of my head.  Because it's pretty damned crowded in here, what with the plot bunnies and the brain weasels and trying to remember my kids' names and all.

Discovering that I've passed such a massive milestone in both at exactly the same time makes me pretty bloody pleased. And I've been making progress on long term writing projects which are not postable as yet, so I'm totally chuffed.  If I can finish off Futureproof, keep up the flashworks, AND do NaNoWriMo, which is still my at least moderately realistic goal, the two might even finish the year not too far apart--but with words I've let go in the lead.  Now that's a goal to strive for.

So, now I'm finished the latest flashwork, it's time to put my nose back into Futureproof.  There are seriously only five scenes left that I am deeply unhappy with and/or are absent because I was deeply unhappy with them and in posession of a delete key.  Five.  A couple of them are big scenes, all are central to a dodgy point in some plot thread that runs through the whole story, but still. Five.

Move it, Lily.  Even if all you do is paste wallpaper over them and whistle loudly enough that nobody notices.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I'm trying to take a quick break from Futureproof to work on the second in my Transport series, tentatively titled "The Wrong Kind of Snow", in which an asexual Sherlock takes the next step in a sexual relationship with John.  It's a series that's close to my heart, because reasons, and it's frustrating me that it keeps diving off in a direction I don't want.

It's not supposed to be a talky fic.  I don't want vast long relationship negotiations that fix things, because (1) it's not in character and (2) it doesn't fit with the source material I'm transforming.  But I do very much want to convey the complexity and the nontraditional joy of the relationship. It's the same tug of war between narrative causality and truth that I had to put up with while writing Carpooling, the first fic in the series.  Only now I've got a third player in the tug of war which is the 'feeling' that's been laid down by the first story.

In my source, the way the relationship progresses between someone who doesn't really understand that they're asexual and someone who's assuming everything is normal, there's a lot of miscommunication.  And some messiness, and confusion and shame and accidental button pressing and all those things, and there's some dysfunctional unsatisfying sexual encounters, but also an increasing propertion that might seem dysfunctional but are satisfying on all sides in their various ways.  And there's some communication which lights things up, but not much because everyone's just guessing what the answers might be.  Mostly, it's two people struggling along in the dark, trying to understand themselves and each other, making each other's lives better in all sorts of myriad ways, because they want to and they can.

Aces can and do have satisfying sexual relationships, because they experience what's called secondary sexual desire.  They can desire to have sex with someone for a reason other than their own sexual pleasure.  And that?  Is totally okay.  But I guess I'm finding it hard to convey the okayness of that.  I guess that's why I started writing the story, because that's the okayness of that is the story I wanted to tell.

The first story is pretty firmly show-not-tell, very close POV, and it's left a little ambiguous.  There's very few lines of dialogue, and I like it that way.  And Sherlock is a faintly unreliable narrator, disconnected enough from his own experience that no one including him is quite certain what he feels, which I love.

This story's not like that.  It's getting looooong, particularly for a 'quick' flashwork before I get back to what I'm supposed to be working on.  It's over 5K words so far of the stuff I'm fairly certain I'm keeping, which is... a lot of writing in a fairly short time, for me.  Which is good.  And annoying.  For some reason, despite what I set out to write, in this story my keyboard wants them to talk talk talk talk talk.  And John's doing a lot of being patient and understanding and mildly horrified, and Sherlock's alternating between petulant sulking and making frustratedly awkward romantic declarations.  Except when he's being passive.

I'm tearing out my hair.  I've written the same conversation at least four different ways, and there's a lot of great lines and great interactions to cherry-pick, but I'm not sure I want any of them in the story.  Because... the whole point was the not talking.  This is going to fall out differently to my source, because you know what?  The people involved are different to the characters in this story.  And that's okay too.

Now I think about it, I've had this very same happen before, when I was writing Ring Truly.  The problem there wasn't about the story not being true enough, but I guess I had similarly fixed ideas about forcing characters to follow a storyline that didn't come easily, forcing them to be happy when the ideas felt a bit angsty.  All Lex and Clark wanted to do was talk it out, which while it immediately fixed all the problems, did not work for their characters or the story.  The solution then was to kill Lois, which sent them straight back into a deep and not-talky connection, and to ruthlessly kill all the explainy OOC dialogue.  No Lois here to kill, although it occurs to me I've disappeared Mary by unspecified hurtful means, I could lean further into that..

The OOC dialogue has to go.  And I have to find a way to do it all through body language and experiencial incidents.  Sherlock needs some fire.  So does John.  And apparently I have to find a way to let myself write happy sex scenes.  Me.  Writing sex where no one's crying on the inside.  /o\  I don't think I'll ever be able to write sexy sex.  But I guess if I'm ever going to be able to write at least happyish sex, it'll be this story.  I've got most of two scenes, I don't know how they play for other people, but they're fine for me.  I think I need a third, too, but okay.

You know the other thing I need to do?  Stop obsessing about what's wrong with this story, and just write it.  Even if it's wrong.  Leave the dialogue.  Fill in the gaps, tidy it up, get it done.  Not perfect; out the door.  Enough with the pointless, euphemistic excuses for why it's not right.  Do the thing.

Yeah, yeah, I already knew that.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I may not have said this recently, because I've been too busy panicking about the bits that didn't work, but Futureproof seriously kicks arse as a story.  Like, there are so many amazing moments.  So many wonderful characters, with amazing, human motivations.  So many awesome plot complications, little bits of worldbuilding that first seem tangential but after turning up a couple of times suddenly interconnect with a host of other things to drive everything onwards.  And this pass I'm doing is making everything so much better, too.

It's finally come alive in my mind again, and I love this story.  It's also just tipped over 70,000 words, which is awesome, and I'm getting great feedback from Pear which is even better.

I'm almost half way through what I'm callling my 'second draft', although it's a bit nebulous how many times I've edited it, really, given how sporadic my efforts have been over the last ten years.  It's probably at least third.  It's much, much more than that for some sections, because I love to polish my shiny objects, but also the occasional difficult scene which has been ripped out and rewritten and needs to be ripped out again is barely more than an outline.  This pass is about sharpening characters and plots and foreshadowing and filling in those continuity gaps to make it smooth, so everything come together all inevitable and shiny.  Next pass after this will be focussing on incidental worldbuilding and visuals.  Then the final one is the spelling/grammar check.  No, there's no way I'm going to hit my ten year deadline for those two - but hope I can make it to the end of this edit in time.  Maybe even the one after that, and have it be my deadline to send the whole thing off to a couple of people who can give me final-draft style feedback.

But... I'm about to strike the next unhappy valley where what I've written gets a bit dodgy.  Where the plot has changed since I first wrote the section and doesn't quite fit any more, or sections where I've never quite managed to write something I felt entirely pleased with.  Where I'm not entirely certain how I can make point A flow to point B.

It'll be okay, as long as I can keep a handle on the fact that it doesn't have to be perfect.  Done is better than perfect.  Done gets it out the door, so the golden moments can light up for people, so the characters can walk into their hearts, and the sly incidentals that turn out to be not so much so can blow their minds.  Occasionally, hands can be waved.  This is a story, not a mathematical proof.

All I have to do is a little bit of plumbing to connect it all up, and it will be golden.  These dodgy scenes don't have to be amazing.  The story is not only as good as its worst scene; quite the reverse.  Of course every scene won't be as amazing as the most amazing ones that carry their own freaking spotlight with them.  That's not every scene's job.  Some scenes are backstage workers, their jobs simply to say what they're there for, set everything up, and then get out of the way so we can move on to the payoff.  Not just for the reader, but for the writer too.

Futureproof is an amazing story, and it's not the incredible scenes that wrote themselves that will get it out the door.  It's the other ones.  The difficult ones.  The unsung heroes of any story: the bits that didn't feel quite right, but got written anyway.

They're not going to feel quite right, no matter what I do.  But I need to write them anyway.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
1) I am now officially up to date in MCU. YAAAAAY! It's been a long time coming
Spoilers! Because now I'm the one with the spoilers HAHA! ) Anyway, I'm up to date now, so I can safely read the shoobies' snippets without my head exploding.

2) I have finally, finally managed to open Futureproof to resume my second draft editing. Chapter 3 and I have been having an epic mexican standoff in my brain for... wow, is it only four weeks? It seems longer! ... which has in any case at last, like in the last few hours, spilled into shots fired in an actual word processor. I'm officially done with listening to its excuses, and this afternoon I made a first edit through to the end of the chapter. I'm going to stop trying to cram in things that don't go there. If I'm having this much trouble, now is clearly not the time for those revelations. I'm drawing a line. Moving on. It'll be off to Pear for review tomorrow night, and the next stop is editing Chapter 4. In which Gary is woobie and put upon, and we're back to the other plot arcs with the character who doesn't drive me nuts, so that should be easier, right? Right?

3) Also, we have no milk. I think Sherlock's done something to it. My only other theory is that the kids drank it all, and that just doesn't seem plausible. I have, however, discovered that cream is not half bad in tea. Much better than powdered milk. And substantially better for the putting-on-weight campaign, because if I have a couple of spoons of cream in every cup of tea throughout the day, that adds up to quite a bit of cream--surely eventually some of it will stick to my bones. I might keep up the cream even when we have milk again.

Speaking of Sherlock: My fanvid. Which I am pimping all over the place because I am so damn proud of it, but it's my livejournal and I'll pimp if I want to. :)

thewhitelily: (Lily)
So I've just got to the end of the crazy business that has been the last couple of months of my life.

There was July Writing Prompts, of course, and the associated burned-out mental exhaustion.  Mr. Two Years Old's birthday party.  And then today was Mr. Four Years Old's birthday party.  Attempt two, because as our first date approached it became clear that our house and our family were a biological contamination hazard, and we would all require worming tablets and a week's worth of conjunctivitis medication before we were fit to recieve company.  Yeuch.  In any case, all better now, so that's a relief.  And we got to have a Zoo Party!  I did an amazing cake, as usual, and also carved a watermelon to look like a hippopotomus, which I've never tried anything similar before, and went down a treat.

In the meantime, I had to do a whole lot of terrible, horrible, parent homework in videoing and editing Mr. Nearly Six's oral presentation for school about the construction of his house.  It took a long time, but apparently went down well with the class.  He was the only kid in school who did part of his video from on the roof of his house, which earned him lots of cred in school (and coincidentally made him forget to be a grumpy teenager-before-his-time for long enough to make at least *some* eye contact with the camera for that part).  So yay.

Same child went a bit scissor mad a month or two ago and cut 1) some bedsheets (actually, that was a while previously), 2) an electrical cable, and 3) one of the seatbelts in the car. Not happy, Jan.  Consequences have had to happen, which has been making him very grumpy, but we are now we are out the other side of that and he's got his scissor privileges and his iPad priveileges and his lap-sash belt privileges back again, the car is roadworthy again, and things are more settled with him.  Then of course I discovered Mr. Two Years Old running through the house while attempting to give himself a haircut with some pilfered scissors ("Nip! Nip! Nip!"  "OMG GIVE ME THOSE!!!") so....  Scissors are good for development of fine motor control.  Yes, yes they are.

I've made a couple of new online friends I've been getting to know, which has proved interesting, as it always is.  I think the thing I love most about online friendships is the way they go deep so quickly.  You don't know how the other person looks, but you know how they feel about the things that matter to them the very most, in words they've had time to consider.  It's cool to make that connection with something real rather than, you know, just mums in the schoolyard commiserating about how tough life is with kids and day to day trivialities, oh I know, etc.  Which, yeah, but it's different online.  Maybe that's just for me.

I've been keeping up with fan_flashworks, and now I've done eight challenges in a row.  Loving the way the urge to keep my streak going is forcing me to keep up the flashwork momentum, making writing and finishing little things just another part of life rather than a Big Deal.  Thinking of trying something a bit different for this one, an idea I've had niggling for a while, so an amnesty's perfect to actually do it.

And I've partnered up with Wild Pear to work on Futureproof.  She's both acting as my arbitrary deadline to get chapters finished, and looking at chapters as I send them to her, reflecting back what she gets from my characters, telling me where it gets a little bogged down or confused... and omg, it's so good. So reassuring.  So affirming.  And so inspirational to hear those little edges of things she doesn't see in the characters and the things that resonated with her that she does.  *loves*  If I'm actually going to get this thing done by my self-imposed deadline, I really need to focus on drawing lines and getting it out the door.  But there's so many distractions and other things I can just get done first, there's always a good reason not to do anything on it today.  New rule: my ten minutes writing per day isn't ten minutes in general, I know I can do that: it's ten minutes of Futureproof.

Speaking of Futureproof, I've spent the last week battling brain weasels again.  I've been alternately super busy or super exhausted by it, and I guess I've been caught up in my own brain researching... stuff.  Things I'm questioning about myself that don't really matter in the scheme of things, but that have activated the must-research-and-question-absolutely-everything mode, so I haven't managed to get the downtime I need to keep a lid on my anxiety and I haven't been sleeping well, and it's all just been snowballing.

I managed to write it out with the last flashwork--despite the fact that my writer's brain insisted the story should go a different direction to what I felt would be truthful and real.  It was an interesting conflict to deal with, usually the only battle I have to fight is 'this is wonderful, but am I really comfortable revealing that?' rather than 'this is something that I want to explore, but it is narratively unsatisfying'.  It made the final few lines very difficult for me, that battle between true and right, because unlike anxious wibbling which must be crushed, both of them are good reasons in their own right.  If the story doesn't... come full circle, to a satisfying ending, then is it really a story? How can I stop writing it if it doesn't end?  But if it doesn't tell the story I want to tell... is it really doing its job?  And I was super busy with party preparation and just needed to post it and stop obsessing, which I did.  *pats self on back* Apart from a couple of nods to narrative causality, I ended up making it the story I needed to write for me, even though the ending felt weak. I'm pretty sure the catharsis it made me feel doesn't come across in the same way to a reader who doesn't live in my brain, but ambiguity is part of the joy of an unreliable narrator anyway.  It reminds me a little of On Becoming an Axiom, which people seemed to think was a sad story, when to me it was a shiningly glorious truth.  I might end up tweaking the end a little when I crosspost, if I can think of something that unites the trueness and the rightness a little better.  And I've also left it open for a sequel if I need to do any more soulsearching along the same lines, so... good enough is good enough.  Out the door and posted, and out of my brain, for now at least.

I've got a couple of emails and a couple of comment replies still waiting on my to do list, which I need to just do rather than continuing to find them daunting.  Someone asked an insightful question on one of my stories which I am trying to to write an epic essay in response to the fact that I'm intrigued and not really sure of the answer myself.  The comments on my stories that give me most joy are always the hardest to respond to, but I'm working on just doing it without trying to do it justice.  And hopefully with a few of the real-life jobs out of the way, and with Pear backing me up, I can get things back under control and focus properly on Futureproof again.

Worms.

Aug. 12th, 2016 11:56 pm
thewhitelily: (Lily)
That is all I have to say, apart from do not have children.

Worms. Apparently, they crawl out and wave at you.

There's not enough disinfectant in the world.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
My masterlist of the stories I've written for [livejournal.com profile] watsons_woes July Writing Prompts.  I'm amazingly pleased with most of these given they all ran the gamut from idea to completion within 24 hours, but I've bolded my top favourites.  All are in the BBC Sherlock fandom.

The Stratford Stabber - a single, prompt-guided story, where each chapter is semi-standalone [drama, action, (b)romance, h/c]
  1. Just Winded (’Tis But a Scratch) [100w]
  2. It's how you get your kicks (Roll The Dice) [100w]
  3. One deduction too late (A cardboard box) [221w]
  3b. Physician Heal Thyself (A cardboard box) [221w]
  4. The Surgeon's Knife (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) [442w]
5. Oh Better Far to Live and Die (A False Moustache) [728w]
  6. The Least of These My Bretheren (Food, Glorious Food) [559w]
  7. Penicillin for a Crime Wave (Epidemic) [887w]
  8. The Wonder of Our Age (The Wonder of the Age) [500w]
  9. Rationality and Rationalisation ("Please stop petting the test subjects.") [394w]
  10. Turning in their Foxholes (A higher power) [337w]

And on to the individual stories:
11. There's Three of Us (Threesome) [drama, angst, h/c 1114w]
12. Pirates of the Faroe Islands (Image) [humour, (b)romance, 221w]
13. The Science of Decomposition (Nature is red in tooth and claw) [humour, 622w]
14. Five ways to look after your injured flatmate (Rehabilitation/Recovery) [friendship, humour, h/c 2650w]
15. The Boxing Builder from Islington (Make a literary reference) [humour, casefic, 1290w]
16. Faithful Companions and Tellers of Tales (Include another great British character) [character, friendship, 1019w]
17. Coordinated Action (Teamwork) [friendship, 473w]
18. Love Letters for the 21st Century (Handwritten) [character, (b)romance, angst, 1842w]
19. Predators and Prey (Great Minds Think Alike: AU with Creatures of the Night) [friendship, action, 2303w]
20. Trouble in Paradise (There are tides in the affairs of men.) [character, casefic, 1548w]
21. Conduct Me a Rainbow (21 song salute: Make Me Rainbows) [character, casefic, 372w]
22. How to Win Friends and Influence Goldfish (Child POV) [drama, 1020w]
23. The Game is Afoot! (Use a pun) [humour, 1089w]
24. And Baby Makes Four ("Nothing shocks me, I'm a scientist.") [drama, 1151w]
25. Finding an Anchor (Trope Trainwreck) [drama, friendship, 3213w]
26. To Do: Strangle Flatmate, Buy Glass Kettle (Elementally, my dear Watson) [humour, 83w]
27. We're all fine here, how are you? (Thx 4 Nothing) [drama, action, 617w]
28. Midnight Sunlight (In July the sun is hot.  Is it shining?  No, it's not.) [character, 444w]
29. Storming the Ship (Arr!) [action, 1811w]
30. The Adventure of the Cloth Covered Face ("Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2am?") [casefic, 1350w]
31. Playing at Detection (Once more with feeling) [casefic, character, 1233w]
Bonus: That's a Crack Shot You're Looking For Written for fan_flashworks, but mostly written on day 9 and partially inspired by prompt 5 (A False Moustache) [character, friendship, action, (b)romance, 3815w]

Statistics and Discussion )

Update

Jul. 14th, 2016 11:44 pm
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So, I haven't posted for a while.

A few things:
1) I am writing like the blazing blazes, doing [livejournal.com profile] watsons_woes July Writing Prompts month, one fill for every day. Seriously. I don't think I've ever written like this, and I won NaNoWriMo one year. It's not so much word count output I mean, but idea-execution output. Not saying I'm posting Shakespeare every day, but completing, writing things good enough to be happy with them without skipping over some bits and obsessing over others, and some things have been surprisingly good. This is working. It's awesome. Writing 90% decent stuff is getting faster--and easier--and while I'm still working on the not-obsessing over it part, I'm hoping that'll get easier too. There's only so much it's possible to obsess when you're posting every day. Isn't it? Please? In some ways it actually makes it harder to let go, because I know that last line or that title could be better, but time limitations meant I didn't have the time to think of what it should be instead. Of course I'm obsessing over making them better. At least I've only really got room for one obsession at a time, so once I've completed the next 24 hrs story, I move on to obsessing over that one.

I might have to go fanfiction cold turkey at the end of this month, though, if I'm going to get Futureproof done in the following couple of months, which I am determined to do. It is not going to make it a full ten years without completing the final draft. And hopefully, all my practice in drawing lines, saying 'good e-freaking-nough' and letting things go will come into play there, and let me draw some lines and say 'good e-freaking-nough' to the good old albatross around my neck.

2) I've been getting involved in the Holmes fandoms, over at JWP month. It's been cool, meeting people, getting to know a few different people's writing styles, reading ten or so different responses to the same prompt with the same characters and it's... just intriguing. Too see how different all the ideas are, and the executions. How many wonderful interpretations there can be. Because when I've had eight different ideas and discarded seven of them for being too obvious, you'd think one of those 'obvious' ones would have been done by someone else, right? One? Apparently not.

3) I have lost too much weight again. I weighed in the other morning at 47.5kg, which is the lightest I've been I think since... ooh, actually, I do think I hit that when I was wasted with morning sickness on my third child! But before that it was probably pre-adulthood. My current BMI 16.2, which is way, way underweight. I generally try to stay above 50kg, which is still technically underweight but is about all I can manage to keep on no matter what I do. I knew I was down to 48kg for most of this year, because I never really put it back on after writing Living Conditions--and I was thinking I'd bottomed out, but apparently if I keep writing I can keep losing more weight, and another 500g is enough to make me worried. I don't want to stop writing. We're only talking 2.5kg under my goal, but... when you're on the pointy end of the scales, that's the difference between acceptably thin and skeletal. Time to do something about it anyway.

Perhaps I should move away from writing in a fandom where the character I personally identify with doesn't eat when he's working. :P I'd say I should get some more exercise to try to stimulate appetite, but my fitbit says I'm doing 10K+ steps per day just running around after the children, so it's not exactly like I'm sedentary. More likely, if I'm trying to dedicate some time to doing something about my weight every day, I should dedicate it to eating. Instead of, you know, skipping breakfast because I'm in a rush and skipping lunch because kids nap/TV time is the only time each day I get to spend by myself and who wants to waste that time eating?!

I've never had a big appetite. And hunger's never been a strong motivator, particularly when I'm busy or stressed. Unless there's incredibly delicious food right in front of me, I'd just rather do other things. But we're getting to the point where I either have to start making myself eat things, or start putting weights in my undies when I get on the scales. At the moment, my solution is stocking my writing chair with museli bars, and also making a conscious effort to get myself something to eat whenever I get the kids something. That should make a difference, hopefully. But I'll keep the weights in the undies in mind.

4) I was going to do a minor arsehole update, but this is an unlocked post. So, I'll just say things are stable and looking like they're heading in the right direction, and I am stable and managing to keep the boundaries in my head in the right places. Yay.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So my eldest said to me last night: I can't believe you're actually a writer of stories, mummy! I told him anyone could write a story, maybe he would like to write one. What would it be called? He said he needed to think about it, and then told me, that's the title! I need to think about it! And then he wandered off to do something else, so...

Well, flash fic happened on the whiteboard, for him to see next time he passed.  Reading primer is quite a restrictive style, but I think I rocked it.  :D

 photo 13434690_10208362006680410_7877530915834426806_n_zpss3vahjbr.jpg
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I've had that song in my head all day, because it's still New Frontiers month over at [livejournal.com profile] ushobwri, and there's been an... idea, niggling away in the back of my mind for the last month, about something that is a really new frontier for me.

I made a throwaway comparison in an LJ post a while ago, between Sherlock and, well, we'll get to that, but the thing is it gave me a really vivid mental image.  As usual, it was the concept of a junction point where a whole lot of plot arcs intersect to provide an amazing payoff, but... it came in the form of a mental image.  And I know how the characters get there, and I know what they're saying, but the thing is that this is a visual gag.  And while I could have written a story, and it would have been good, it doesn't actually work nearly as well in words as that image in my mind.

I left high school after thirteen years of compulsary art utterly convinced that I was hopeless at drawing and in fact any kind of visual arts.  But... as it turned out, it wasn't entirely true.  Because when we moved into our current house some five years after that, it had a clear glass shower screen, and I started sketching with my finger in the fog in the shower, every morning.  Transient thoughts, either written or sketched and then washed away moments later.  It's really cleansing, actually.  In more ways than one.  :P  When I went on a nine week backpacking trip in Europe, I hadn't even realised how much I missed that until I got home and stepped in the shower, saw the fog and... just relaxed, as I started sketching.

Now, I have three little kids.  I'm constantly being asked to draw something for them.  A dinosaur, or a pirate ship, or whatever.  And I do, and they look, you know, recognisable.  With a possible bonus of being an age appropriate outline for cutting out.  And a year or so ago, when our eldest was inappropriately resistant to doing any kind of drawing/writing, I decided to start sitting with him and sketching my own pictures on a piece of paper.  I write best on a computer, but if that's all the kids see of what I do for myself, it's not exactly modelling writing/creative behaviour in a medium they understand, right?  And maybe I didn't do it every day, or even every week--I'm a busy woman--but it happened sometimes.  And whether it was partially seeing me doing it, or whether it was simply that was when the lightbulb went on in his head, he started drawing, and then writing.  As a byproduct, some of the things I created where unexpectedly awesome.

I also left high school convinced I couldn't write prose, and in fact that all humanities were for the birds.  But we all know how that worked out.  So, inspired by the epic efforts of various Shoobies in New Frontiers month, and the solid persistence of this image in my mind, I decided to give it a go.  It took me two days.  Three, including scanning it in and cleaning up the smudges on the background.  It is far beyond anything I've ever attempted before.  It bugs me that it's not perfect, but nothing short of photorealism would ever be perfect to me because, well, my brain, and it is definitely perfect to the limits of my skill.  It was that after about an hour, because it is far, far, far beyond where I thought the limits of my skill were.

I give you: The Baker Street Boys Lose a Bet

I think I need to stop saying I can't draw, right?  Yeah, that's what I thought.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Terry Pratchett is and will always be sorely missed, and his mind would have been taken from us too soon if he had lived to be razor-sharp one hundred and fifty.  But in honour of Lilac Day, in rememberence of The Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May and the far too short-lived People's Republic of Treacle Mine Road, I have written a Discworld fic: Where's My Bath?

Expect none of Pterry's intelligence, or humour, or the skill of his writing, or his unexpectedly poignant insight.  My assignment for the [livejournal.com profile] ushobwri New Frontiers challenge was a piece of unapologetic fluff, something involving a heaving bosom and a baby duck.  I crossed a few new frontiers with this story: new genre, new fandom, new fandom-familiarity, new writing process.

The new process was probably the most interesting of those, as far as what I might choose to repeat.  I wrote in order, or as much as that makes sense for me: keeping the future in the front of my mind and a consistent complete narrative 'behind the cursor' even though I continually ducked (haha) back to fine tune the story I had so far.  I think doing it this way might have made the ending more difficult, although it's hard to tell whether a story like this would have refused to end even if I'd written the ending first.  But it definitely made the process of writing faster--I don't think I've ever completed a story longer than a drabble in less than a week before.  Whether it would work for something longer?  Or something more compilicated?  Not sure.  But it's been an interesting experiment, and certainly something I might try again.

May Goals

May. 2nd, 2016 09:42 am
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So, I had a few March goals for Futureproof, but... well, I didn't quite get there for several reasons.

I mostly mucked around with character charts and trying a single crucial scene a few different ways, to sort out a particular character relationship issue which has a huge impact on the plot.  I still wrote about 5K words on it this month, but... yeah, I'm still trying to work out how much to change it to improve things down the line--and what to change, because it's all a complex thing where I pull one string and the whole thing warps in one direction or the other.  I feel like if I find the right string or set thereof, it should just all fall into place, but... to be honest, I probably just need to force it through.  I'm not very good at doing that.  But I'm giving it a rest for the moment because...

I'm currently working on the BBC Sherlock Rehabilitation fic, which I've written 6K on in the last couple of weeks.  I'm still expecting to end up around 10k total by the time I'm finished fiddling with it, and I reckon I should be able to finish it and get it off to beta before the end of this week, because I'm really not that far off complete framework.  I've only got a few bits to fill in left, really, and my aim is to get *that* done by the end of today, finish the framework, and then spend the rest of the week polishing and bouncing it off my beta.  Possibly not realistic to have it posted by the end of the week, but hopefully no more than another week after that - then I want to get back onto my March goals for Futureproof.

The other distraction, in addition to what's going on with my mum, who has about until the end of the month before she's allowed to weight bear on her leg again, Hubby and I are having Big Serious Discussions about the Future.  Or mainly, Hubby stressed out of his mind and hiding under a big rock pretending it isn't happening while I draw up charts on the whiteboard and try to analyse the unanalysable.  There's a... decision coming up, a fork in the road.  And one way means a lot of stress on him and probably less time to write for me and basically taking the risk on our family of wiping out everything we've built--but seems to really be the better decision financially and with family politics, and it's mainly the fear holding us back.  And the other way means disappointing a lot of people, and... isn't necessarily safer or lower stress, but... it does mean we wouldn't have to take on the weight of a very, very large loan.

Do we want to buy out the family business when Hubby's parents retire, that is the question? Which is two parts, really: do we want the business at all or should they sell it to a third party, and if so... do we want to buy it for lots and lots of money.  Being as it's a family business, we could possibly also officially take over without the very, very large loan.  But taking the very, very large loan has major financial advantages for tax minimisation for the family clan as a whole, and leaves us at an excellent tax advantage for the future, no matter how the business tracks long term.  But... all the risk is on us.  And, it's not like it's a big risk, because we know the business is sound and long-term viable, but... we're talking big, big dollar figures here, figures that dwarf all the equity we've worked hard to build up over the last fifteen years since back when I was working five jobs at once while I was at uni. At least, for the first time, it's being presented as a decision we need to make, rather than an assumption that we will.  Did I mention that the loan would be large?  *sigh*

Okay, back to writing proper.  This is my least favourite stage of writing any story, but if I can get my head into gear and complete the framework today, it'll be done.  And done with it will be a good place to be
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So, looks like I'm currently writing a murder mystery.  Sort of.  And it's an interesting beast.  I tend to have small casts of multi-dimensional, living and breathing characters, but for this I need to be able to sketch a large cast of flatter characters.  I know why the murderer is doing it, and I know why the victim draws their attention.  The victim is also a suspect, and I have at least three more characters.  Maybe one more red herring character.  Which means at least five or six disposable, one dimensional OCs in addition to my main characters, who are the basic BBC Sherlock crew.  This is not a long story (are you listening, Brain?!), I'm currently estimating about 10K words, and to be honest I don't care that much about the mystery itself, it's more of a subplot than a primary plot.  Five plus new characters for a subplot of a 10K word story means that these characters need to be caricatures.  They need to be so incredibly one dimensional that people will 'know' them within a single line of description and then anything on top of that is gravy.  That's a difficult prospect for me.  But probably very good for my characterisation soul.

It's also an AU beginning, which is always interesting in the way that a lot of the dialogue tends to be directly taken from the original.  And I love that about AU beginnings, I love playing 'spot the original line', and seeing the way the more things change, the more they stay the same.  (Not entirely related: I remember reading an amazing Harry-goes-back-in-time-to-fix-everything story where as a minor side frustration to Harry, Lockhart was so self involved that his lines were practically identical, no matter how much Harry tried to redirect the conversation.  It was absolutely hysterical.)  But there's a delicate balance to walk between changing too much and changing too little.  No one wants to reread a lazy copy-paste job, even when the original dialogue is brilliant.  On the other hand, the original lines are the canonical character moments, that are by definition precisely what the characters would say--so in the same situation, it is wrong to have them say anything else.  So sometimes it's hard to make them change direction.

In particular, I'm rewriting Sherlock's initial deducing-everything-about-John monologue in a situation where he hasn't had access to John's mobile, so he's focussing on other things.  I like writing Sherlock's deductions, and I've had people tell me I'm good at them.  I'm super pleased with how far this one has developed over the past 24 hours I've been working on it.

But I'm finding it difficult giving something for him to be wrong about, because the single misconception of Harry's gender is perhaps the heart of John's rock-solid belief that Sherlock has to be for real; how very many logical reasons he had to get to a point that was essentially true in all its intricate detail but technically false because of a mistake he wouldn't have made if he'd found out any other way but the one he'd described.  It was great for a number of reasons, but not least because Sherlock was so repeatedly wrong about it - he refers to John's brother at least three times before he mentions Harry by name, absolutely sets it up as a given to the audience, who also haven't yet been introduced to the idea that Sherlock might be wrong, and John is beautifully blandly noncommital about it.  "Then there's your brother," he says.   "Hmm?" says John.  Gold.  Very much sets up his dry, sly, enjoyment of poking fun at Sherlock's rare missteps.  And then there's the fact that when it comes out that Harry is a woman, it is a humorous misconception. Brother rather than gay sister with masculine name is a totally obvious assumption to have made but Sherlock is so professionally annoyed with himself for making it, or perhaps with the world for being lumpy and occasionally falling ridiculously outside the bounds of standard distribution on something that he hadn't been even a little unsure about.

As Sam Vimes puts it:
He instinctively distrusted [Clues]. They got in the way. And he distrusted the kind of person who’d take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, “Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fallen on hard times,” and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man’s boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he’d been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

That, I think, is what the 'there's always something' moment with Harry adds to BBC Sherlock, because that's part of the suspension of disbelief with Sherlock Holmes that BBC Sherlock didn't require us to indulge in. Sherlock Holmes isn't magic; he's science. The way many of his deductions work is by playing the probabilities, and the thing about playing the probabilities is that--while most of the time, you are right--sometimes you are wrong. ACD Holmes knows this and while he gives some mysterious hints, he doesn't like to say much until he's certain, so by the time he speaks he has accrued enough evidence and narrowed down the pathways enough that when he explains what just happened he's always right.  But BBC Sherlock draws us inside the deductions straight away, shows off and struts like a peacock and drip feeds us his arrogant brilliance throughout the show rather than saving the explanations for the end.  I like it this way; it brings in the suspense, knowing that sometimes Sherlock can and will be wrong.

The thing in my story that's naturally falling out for Sherlock to be wrong about is... not like that.  It's good, character building stuff, but it's not in any way able to poke fun at, and neither is it something compellingly obvious.  It's possible I can fix the second one with some more references to set it up; I'm good at red herrings.  It's difficult, though, because it's not a funny thing, it's a bittersweet tugs-the-heartstrings thing.  In my writing.  What a surprise.  But that means even with Sherlock's lack of social graces, he's not going to be as obnoxiously I-know-something-you-don't-know-how-I-know about it as he was about John's brother.  So maybe I need to find something else.  But then... I wouldn't get to put in my cute little tugs the heartstrings bit that I've worked out how to make John say, as long as he's correcting Sherlock.  So maybe I just need to find a way to alter this bit that I've already got, that I love, to do the job that's in front of it.

So yeah, that's... today's thing to pointlessly agonise over.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Brain: Hey, this rehab hospital... it's kinda, interesting, isn't it?  Really sensory.  The smell, the sounds, the pattern on the carpet.  The sound of the divider curtain rings sliding on their rail.  The nurse, coughing onto the back of her glove as she walks past.
Me: Brain...
Brain: I mean, I know we're just here visiting Mum, and I know you're going to say it doesn't remind us of anyone in particular that she is a BAMF who went through orthopedic surgery on only panadol, that she's having to get around using a walking frame, do gruelling physio, and is being treated like an idiot by the attending nurses because her tremor makes people underestimate her...
Me: Brain, last BBC Sherlock story we wrote you told me she was basically Sherlock, and wasn't that the creepiest creative connection I've ever made, now you want her to be John Watson?
Brain: Not, really John, not really.  No more than she was really Sherlock, just because he happened to share a few personality traits and was getting brainwashed.  She's just... in a place where John is.  Sort of.  You know that's enough.  And, you know, it's not like we're not stuck at the moment, working on Futureproof.  Maybe, working on something else for a little bit would loosen up those creative muscles a little, get a different perspective on things.
Me: You know it doesn't really work like that.  You're just trying to distract me, because you don't like being stuck and having even less time than usual to write.
Brain: But if we don't write this one now, Mum'll be out of hospital, and you won't get to top up that inspiration every time you go to visit...  And you promised to respect the bunnies, remember?  I took the bunnies away, for five long years, and I can do it again.
Me: Brain!  Okay, okay.  Flash fic.  One night only, then we press post.
Brain: Weeeeelll...  I was thinking...
Me: One night, Brain!  That's my final offer! This sounds like a depressing story.  You know we decided not to do those anymore.
Brain: That was because they're too easy.  Tragedies are lazy writing--we can make it not depressing, if we try.
Me: We're not trying, it's a flash fic!
Brain: We're still not going to be lazy, are we?  Even a six word story needs a twist.  Look, if we start John down in the dumps, he's guaranteed to cheer up.  It's a psychosomatic limp!  He got better!

Me: Later!  It's the rehab hospital, Brain.  He doesn't get better.  Not until later.
Brain: But, but... here you go, that's why this is different!  Because what if Sherlock's here too!  On an investigation, maybe there's a Dr Death at the hospital, oooh, I know that's been done to death--haha--but I know who the killer is, and it's not the usual! And I know how Sherlock's going to find them, too, and why he...
Me: *facepalm*  Fine. Okay, Brain.  We'll do it your way.  I don't know why I bother arguing. Or why I didn't just start writing the fic in the first place.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
"No, no, you haven't seen the system. I put the plate--"
"But look, then it interferes with this plate here!"
"You haven't seen the system!"
"Oh, I've seen the system, many times, and had to deal with the consequences!
"I put the plate here, and the chopping board here, and then the next plate goes here."
"And look, none of these get water on them, and you can't fit plates on the other side and it takes twice as long to sort the all out when you unload it."
"But look!  If you have a saucepan like, say, oh look, a saucepan!  You can fit it right here!"
"But not all the dinner plates."
"Minor detail."

"What is this?  Where is the box?!  It's like you and the oil bottle!  I mean, how hard is it, you use the oil, you put the cap back on, then we never have this problem!"

"But that section is always full by the end of the day!  The only thing loading the bread and butter plates like that in the morning means, is that I can't grab a stack of plates and load them with one hand going (machine gun sound)."
"Well, I never do that, I just put them in one by one."
"I know."
"Otherwise, you couldn't thoroughly rinse each one before you--"
"I know!"
"Look, I'm not saying we don't end up at the same place, I'm just denying it's--"
"You're dragging me down to your level!"
"Well, it gives us something in common!"
"... what, like, Breakfast at Tiffany's? *singing*
Well, I said, what about, loading-the-dishwasher-incredibly-slowly?
She said, I think I, remember-how-annoying-that-was!
Well, I dunno, I said, I always kinda liked it,
She said, well that's why, we ended here!!!"
"That is why we ended up here!"

"I don't like to complain, is all I'm saying.  I'd rather you put plates in the dishwasher at all, despite--"
"Well, there's no danger of that stopping."
"--so don't hold back is what you're saying?--despite your completely insane packing system!"

"You know, if it weren't for this physical metaphor of our entire relationship, people might imagine we were alarmingly compatible."
"Crazy, isn't it?"

NB: I don't think either of us stopped laughing about how much it really didn't matter the whole time.  The fact is, we have a kickarse dishwasher that will wash things pretty much any way.  But there's ways and ways, okay?  Right ways.  And wrong ways.  Guess which way is Hubby's.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
When I woke up this morning, my whiplash injury was playing up, but I decided to go on an outing with my mother and my kids despite being barely able to turn my head.  While at the playground, my healthy, very active Mum had a fall: three bones broken and dislocated in her ankle.  She's 76, currently expected to spend up to a week in hospital before they can operate to pin things back together, and she will need a lot of help to get back on her feet.  And another family member has just been diagnosed with cancer.  His prognosis is extremely good, but there will be unwelcome side effects to treatment.

On the bright side, I found the lid to my special happiness teapot, which I had feared lost.  The boys got to see grandma being loaded into a real, live ambulance, and I and everyone around got to see what an epic BAMF my mother and personal hero is. My one and a half year old son demonstrated to me his incredible bravery, in getting onto a train without complaint despite literally shaking with fear at the noise it was making.  It's the first time that he's been on a train since he started talking about them all the time, and I'm so proud and happy for him that he managed to relax and enjoy soaking in the close encounter.

My family--from the eldest right down to the youngest of all, and everyone in between--is filled with people who face things and deal with them and pull together, not only in times of trouble, but all the time.

And tomorrow will be another day.  With happy tea.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So far, working on Futureproof, I mostly seem to be mindmapping and charting and researching.  That's cool.  I'm developing and elucidating a lot more mental depth in both my protagonist and my main antagonist, and that's all going to come out when I get back to writing properly again.  I've been deliberately developing them as mirrors of each other, because that's one of the things I feel strongly about; every protagonist/antagonist pair should have deep similarities which draw them together--and a few tweaked circumstances that totally oppose their ways of expressing those similarities.

I don't usually do it on paper.  I don't usually do it so explicitly.  But you know what?  Usually--when I write successfully--I write fanfiction.  I have a whole body of canon for the characters I love to draw on, and fandom, and meta, and I can't expect creating a character from scratch to be as easy as fitting an existing character into a new situation.  Even constructing Erica--who I consider to be really my first published OC, even if she's kind of canon-based--for Ring Truly, I had a lot of stuff to start with, to try to make fit with what I needed from her.

Despite my paranoia of pinning things down wrongly, I actually work at my best when I'm trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.  So I need my characters to develop some bits that don't fit, all on their own.  It's too easy when I'm writing my own story to write exactly the character who belongs in the situation, and it just ends up... flat.

I'm also really enjoying using the new character thesauruses I bought on a recommendation.  They are amazing: each trait is listed with similar traits, possible causes, associated behaviours, thoughts, emotions, and positive and negative aspects, examples, as well as conflicting character traits and challenging scenarios for a character with the trait.

I didn't pull them out at all while I was writing Ring Truly; I guess I thought since I bought the books thinking about creating original characters, they wouldn't be useful for characters I already had.  But while flicking through searching out things for Futureproof, I looked up Clark and Lex's defining negative traits for the story, the ones they had to grow through to reach their happy endings, and... wow, it's like the authors were in my head, describing the characters that had grown there.  Even some of the minor things that I hadn't thought related, are apparently characteristics they consider related to those major traits.  It would have been SO incredibly useful back when I was at the banging head against the wall stage, trying to approach finding a happy ending from the plot angle!  It's also a bit of a boost that I'm obviously creating consistent characters instinctively, that the listed charateristics for a trait I've identified can light up in my mind like that as yes, yes, yes, not so much, but oh YES!

Here's me, learning from experience.  Character drives plot.  Yes, I tend to be a plot driven writer, but the more you understand the characters, the more you understand the plot.  And if I'm not writing fanfiction?  I'm gonna need to put more effort into understanding the characters.  Living them.  Being them.  And it doesn't matter if they develop in a way that doesn't necessarially serve the final direction of the plot; I'm a problem-solver at heart, and that's the situation where I thrive.

These characters are still missing... something.  They haven't properly woken up.  I don't love them, not the kind of love that would make me put down a book and go straight onto AO3 to check out the fandom.  Or straight to my word processor to write that scene that's shining vividly in my head despite having being left out of the official story.

So, I'm not writing words right now.  I'm (not entirely successfully) trying to still check in for ten minutes or so of actual writing per day, because personally, even thought I do tend to work a lot at a high level on a story, I also need to work at prose level to properly come to grips with how a character feels, and whether they're awake, or still just notes on a piece of paper.  But I'm enjoying the planning.  And Futureproof's characters are that little bit richer for it.  Hopefully soon, they'll be a lot richer.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Seriously, Lily. No need to freak out. I know you're invested in this story, but it's just writing. You can do writing.  Break it down.  Write out a list, if you're getting overwhelmed.  Breathe.  And then start.

Speaking of nincompoops: Conservation is up.  That's four this year, suckaahs.  And that's the entirety of my Smallville unfinished folder, which has been hanging around for years, out the door.  I'm done.  At last.  Great work!  Now, ten minutes writing, starting... now.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So this is it.  The big one.  Only actually not, because that's the whole point.

This year was going to be all about finishing things and booting them out the door, perfect or not.  I've made a fantastic start.  I've been tracking my writing this year, which is really interesting.  I've written almost 30,000 words in three months, and it's about to be nearly 40,000 that I've posted.  I'm about to release my fourth fic for this year.  This is... seriously amazing, for me.  (Objectively, 3/4 of the posted words being newly written is not exactly a high hit rate for 'getting previously unposted words off my hard drive'.  But that's how my process works; all the words come in the editing phase.)  Three of those fics weren't finished when the year started.  One was, but I'd been having some significant problems with letting it go, so I'm counting it.  And one fic wasn't even started.  I've got five more fics lined up for posting after that, all ready to go, which takes me through to September on my Fic Per Month schedule that I'd set myself.  Some of them are pretty wimpy little fics: one's 2000 words, but the rest are under 500, and one's only a drabble.  So if I feel inspired to upgrade to finishing one of my other WIPs instead, I can do that.  But given the energy I've expended on the big three, and in combination with cross-posting some of my older works I've already posted around the place, I'm happy to consider that they satisfy my goal.

I'm also planning to do NaNoWriMo again this year, so I'd like to have enough fic to see out the year before I hit November.  Preferably some more Sherlock, because it's a great fandom and I'd love finish off my expansions to the Living Conditions universe.  Or maybe some Imperial Radch, because those books sucked me in liek woah.  But I've got plenty of time to think of that, because we're only about to hit April.  I don't feel like surely it must still be January, like I usually would at this time of year--I feel like it must be at least June, because I've already done so much.  I'm way ahead of the game.  Which is good.  Because the other thing I'd like out of the way before November, so I can focus properly, is... Futureproof.  Oh, man, I'm sure anyone who's been following me since 2006 NaNoWriMo is bored of me trying to finish Futureproof, because... only, no... wait... That's right: I have no ongoing followers from back then.  Or if I do, you are lurkers who never post or comment and have only yourselves to blame.  And I love you anyway.  :)

So here I go.  Finishing Futureproof was the ultimate goal of this year.  Finishing it, and getting on with my next novel. This story has been dogging my steps for nearly ten years.  It's not going to make it to ten, do you hear me!  Before November, it will be gone.  Off to a publisher, or posted online, or something.  Out of my brainspace.  It doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to be out of the way so I can get on with writing the next thing with a clear conscience, learning and getting better all the time.  I can't throw it away.  It doesn't deserve that, and I ended up literally needing psychological help after I tried.  Yes, literally.  I'm a writer, I don't misuse that word.  Also, Futureproof's good.  It's actually really good.  And it's come a long way from the NaNovel I tried to walk away from.  But it's got some major flaws in it that have made it difficult for me to deal with.  Maybe I can fix them; maybe I can't.  But if I can't, I think I need to learn to live with them and sign off on it anyway.  It doesn't have to be the best thing I've ever written.  It just has to be done.

I've taken the last week of March off writing, because otherwise after Ring Truly I was starting to look down the barrel of burning out.  I hope Conservation plays well when I post it, and gives me the boost I need, because as of April 1st--yeah, I know, hello irony, but I'm not actually kidding--my main focus is going to be on getting Futureproof finished.  Not getting overwhelmed or depressed or convinced that this is the only idea for a novel I'll ever have so it'd better be absolutely perfect, because my hard drive is overflowing with proof to the contrary.  Like The Unknown Clone, and Cloud Castles, and Shifting Sands, and even The Enchanted Cello, all of which deserve to be finished.  Wow, I don't think I've ever listed them out like that; I honestly hadn't realised that I have five original novels lying around waiting to be finished.  I'd mainly thought about my finishing problem being one original novel and a stack of fanfic, but... five original novels! Shifting Sands has over 75,000 words!

I just need to get them done, one by one, because each one will teach me something new I need to learn so that the next one will be better.  And easier.  If there's one thing I've learned about getting things finished in the past few months, it's that with my work?  I don't need to worry about the polish; that comes on its own, all I need to do is make myself sit down and work on the problems I see. Futureproof is first, because it's by far the closest to being there.

Current problems I see with the manuscript:
1) A very few minor holes in the narrative.  No problem, I should be able to nix them now I've buffed up my filling-in-holes muscles, and I can definitely use a combo of the following four points to fill the gaps.
2) Protagonist problems.  Gary's kind of limp, actually.  Reactive.  And cowardly.  Which is in some ways how he's meant to be, because those are his main character flaws.  But he does believe in things, and passionately--it's just the way that I've set up the plot, for the majority of the time, the only actual actions he takes in pursuit of his beliefs are passively waiting it out in the conviction things will turn out for the best, studiedly doing nothing when presented with a decision, and manfully not wetting himself in terror when presented with a consequence.  He really needs some brainstorming to work out how to bring the reader investment into him.
3) Antagonist problems.  My three minor villians are brilliant and deep, but the Big Bad is... absent.  He's got motivations and actions and history and so on, what he's missing is a character that promotes any reader investment at all.
4) Tension issues.  This is a big one actually, and relates to problems 2 and 3--particularly 2--and also a poor mystery/suspense writing.  I wrote this while I was in my keep-everything-secret-for-as-long-as-possible mode, and I was ending up writing stuff that was not so much 'wow, what a twist' but 'what's going on, why am I reading this, and by the way what just happened and why was I supposed to care?!'  Okay, so it's not that bad, but I'm much much better at handling tension than I was when I originally wrote this thing, so I should be able to fix it easily.
5) Worldbuilding emptiness.  This is mostly a problem for later.  I can deal with this when I've got the whole thing complete.  Or not.  Because it's really not that bad.  But in the meantime, if I'm having trouble writing anything else, I can start writing behind-the-scenes vignettes to wake up the little grace notes that make a universe sing in the reader's mind.  Writing that sort of thing is usually pretty good at waking up uninspiring plot/characters, too.

Looking at all that, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed.  Some of those things sound pretty fundamental.  But no really, there's plenty of good story that's actually there, I just haven't talked about those bits.  And I think the foundation I've got should mean most of those things are more in the realm of elaboration and tweaking than major rewriting.  I'm going to need to do some drawing and charting, but that's good, because the next couple of weeks are school holidays and I'll have the boys at home with me.  Messing around on big bits of paper with them is always better than trying to hide away in my room on my laptop.  I think it's realistic--if assuming some level of tenacity--to think I should be able to deal with problems 1-3 in April, with possible opportunistic forays into 4 and 5, although I intend to mostly leave them until May.  I can do this thing.  If not perfectly, then at least... successfully.

And that's all I need to ask of myself.  Tomorrow will be here soon.  This isn't a big deal, it's just writing.  One word in front of the other.  I'm rested and ready.  Bring it on.

LOVE ME!!!

Mar. 26th, 2016 10:43 pm
thewhitelily: (Lily)
I'm a little bit devastated right now.  And stressed.  And generally not feeling so good.

So... I've posted Ring Truly.  At last.

The history of this is...longwinded. )

And the response has been... well, I'm hearing a lot of crickets chirping.  I'm getting kudos, if not huge quantities of it, but... no comments.  And I *know* I'm overthinking this.  Based on the usual average comment ratio for the number of hits, I should have approximately two or three comments by now.  Two or three.  Possibly more like one, based on the kudos rate.  Seriously, I am way overthinking this.



In floods the anxiety.  Are people hating it?  Are they just completley unmoved by it?  Is it terrible?  Is it inexplicable?  Is it just plain confusing?  What?  Why does no one like my twist?  Does no one understand my concept, and how cool it is? Do they understand it, and just not think it's as cool as I do?  Or have I, again, wrecked another story which could have been amazing, but this time because of the way I've forced the characters to comply, it simply doesn't--excuse the pun--ring truly?

I know I need to write for myself.  I know I need to write for what I want to happen to the characters, for the cool concepts that are amazing to me.  Screw what other people think; writing is about me.  But... also, it's not.  Writing is about translating parts of me into something other people can see.  Something other people can understand, something they can read and make their very own connection with the story that's ultimately a connection with me.  Writing is, for me, the most intimate and satisfying interpersonal contact I can get, because it's the direct public exposure of my heart and soul.

I don't need everyone to be telling me how wonderful I am all the time.  That's not what this is about.  That's not... entirely what this is about.  Of course I love being told I'm wonderful, who doesn't?  But it's hard enough letting myself do things less than perfectly, let alone worrying that I haven't even done them successfully.  Worrying that I haven't managed to make this work at all is making me second-guess everything I know about myself and the fact that I can write at all.

Writing something amazing wasn't what this was about--this year of writing is about getting things out the door and making my peace with the fact that getting things done is actually better than getting them not-quite-perfect-yet.  This feeling?  Growing into this feeling is what it's all about.  If I'm going to write original, I won't be in the ego-stroking environment of ready-made fans with a convenient kudos button and comment textbox.  The real world is cruel, and mostly silent.  And there'll be rejection letters and critical reviews on goodreads that will break my heart.  If I can't even cope with 36 hours of no one saying anything, then I'm not going to do so well at publishing original novels.

This is fine.  It's okay to speak, even when what you say isn't going to amaze the whole room.

But it's still awful to feel that after all the effort, all the blood and tears I've put into this story, that my heart and soul are sitting out there, exposed, with people looking at them and thinking... meh.

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The White Lily

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