thanate: (whirlpool)
I have itty bitty caterpillars in three flavors, some of which have even deigned to eat maple leaves, which seems promising in terms of managing to keep them when I go off to Readercon. I also seem to be holding out at two naps a day ridiculously tired (which there may be a reasonable reason for, but it is still irritating) and spent much of the weekend actually finishing library books, which I've been really rather awful about recently, by which I mean the past six months or so.

But what I really want to know about is how other people handle the revision process. I mean, I know there are those of you out there who re-write whole chapters or books at a time, sometimes semi-compulsively, or make huge changes to character arcs or plotlines. What I mostly don't get is *how*? Maybe this is one of those rhetorical world-view questions to which the main answer is that that's just how some people's brains work, but if anyone is willing or interested in talking about either reasons or mechanics of re-drafting, I'd appreciate a variety of viewpoints. (I mean, up to and including whether you work with a previous draft in front of you, or work entirely from memory.)

I am a great tweaker of words & things, both while I'm writing and afterwards, but the only time I've re-written anything from scratch was the novel and a half that got thrown out with my old harddrive, where all I had was a few notes from the initial writing process to work from. And both endings came out pretty significantly different. I think. Not that I can go back and compare.

The thing I'm struggling with right now is actually not so much re-writing as a plot arc that didn't gel the first time, and doesn't want to do it now, either. I have enough "stuff" to cover to fill up most of the quarter book it's supposed to fill, but jig-sawing it all together and getting rid of the stupid bits without losing the useful parts of the stupid bits... anyway. I suspect the answer is just to set my timer and Do Something but I'm still trying to poke at my brain and find out what's likely to come out of it.

Anyway, thoughts on rewriting/revision, or even on why you don't revise much either, appreciated. (and you don't need to think if yourself as a "real" author to play.)

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
I have itty bitty caterpillars in three flavors, some of which have even deigned to eat maple leaves, which seems promising in terms of managing to keep them when I go off to Readercon. I also seem to be holding out at two naps a day ridiculously tired (which there may be a reasonable reason for, but it is still irritating) and spent much of the weekend actually finishing library books, which I've been really rather awful about recently, by which I mean the past six months or so.

But what I really want to know about is how other people handle the revision process. I mean, I know there are those of you out there who re-write whole chapters or books at a time, sometimes semi-compulsively, or make huge changes to character arcs or plotlines. What I mostly don't get is *how*? Maybe this is one of those rhetorical world-view questions to which the main answer is that that's just how some people's brains work, but if anyone is willing or interested in talking about either reasons or mechanics of re-drafting, I'd appreciate a variety of viewpoints. (I mean, up to and including whether you work with a previous draft in front of you, or work entirely from memory.)

I am a great tweaker of words & things, both while I'm writing and afterwards, but the only time I've re-written anything from scratch was the novel and a half that got thrown out with my old harddrive, where all I had was a few notes from the initial writing process to work from. And both endings came out pretty significantly different. I think. Not that I can go back and compare.

The thing I'm struggling with right now is actually not so much re-writing as a plot arc that didn't gel the first time, and doesn't want to do it now, either. I have enough "stuff" to cover to fill up most of the quarter book it's supposed to fill, but jig-sawing it all together and getting rid of the stupid bits without losing the useful parts of the stupid bits... anyway. I suspect the answer is just to set my timer and Do Something but I'm still trying to poke at my brain and find out what's likely to come out of it.

Anyway, thoughts on rewriting/revision, or even on why you don't revise much either, appreciated. (and you don't need to think if yourself as a "real" author to play.)
thanate: (whirlpool)
Working on second drafting some of these books, and I want to know what else is out there that I ought to be considering, contextually. Can you think of any books/short stories/AV media/etc that deal with the following topics? Works in English that I can get hold of preferred, of course:

*Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine, for you later scholars), preferably fantasy inspired thereby. I've been re-reading Gillian Bradshaw's historical versions, and have Guy Gavriel Kay's Sailing to Sarantium out from the library. The only other thing I think of is The Dragon Waiting, which is not at all useful to me.

*Ancient river/desert cultures that aren't Egypt, real or fictional. I have a lead on something Southwestern American, but haven't tracked down the book yet.

*Normal-ish people who become gods & have to deal with that. I have NK Jemison's Inheritance Trilogy, but that's all I think of at the moment.

*Tree of life/wisdom and/or magic apple myths besides Eden, Freya's tree, and the greek stuff (Atlanta, apple of discord)... fruits that grant magical whatever from tropical cultures particularly appreciated, invented cultures also ok.

Any suggestions appreciated-- thanks!

Xposty from dreamwidth.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Working on second drafting some of these books, and I want to know what else is out there that I ought to be considering, contextually. Can you think of any books/short stories/AV media/etc that deal with the following topics? Works in English that I can get hold of preferred, of course:

*Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine, for you later scholars), preferably fantasy inspired thereby. I've been re-reading Gillian Bradshaw's historical versions, and have Guy Gavriel Kay's Sailing to Sarantium out from the library. The only other thing I think of is The Dragon Waiting, which is not at all useful to me.

*Ancient river/desert cultures that aren't Egypt, real or fictional. I have a lead on something Southwestern American, but haven't tracked down the book yet.

*Normal-ish people who become gods & have to deal with that. I have NK Jemison's Inheritance Trilogy, but that's all I think of at the moment.

*Tree of life/wisdom and/or magic apple myths besides Eden, Freya's tree, and the greek stuff (Atlanta, apple of discord)... fruits that grant magical whatever from tropical cultures particularly appreciated, invented cultures also ok.

Any suggestions appreciated-- thanks!
thanate: (whirlpool)
The book I have been mostly not-at-present writing since the end of November is partly not presently being written because of a research issue. The culture I started out with is labeled in my head "pseudo-medieval-France," which is entirely misleading given that it seems thus far to be a relatively peaceful kingdom with a landed peasantry, a church that provides education to everyone, and none of the villages we've thus far heard bits about seemed to have a lord attached to them. Now, there are magical excuses for the peace and prosperity, and most of the action thus far has been confined to the middle of the generally impassible woods, but the real reason it's peaceful is that I don't care for wars, particularly, and the only reason it's France rather than England is that it's not an island. No matter, particularly; I can butcher generic european fantasy settings with the best of them, and at least my heroines will know that it's respectable to keep your head covered.

Long spoilery ramble/brainstorm about culture concerns while writing things you will probably never get to read. Thoughts welcome if you have any, but I'll be a bit surprised if most of you bother reading... )

Meanwhile, what we also find is that in reading Gillian Bradshaw books, I am once again susceptible to interesting food in fiction-- now I wish to dine upon a supper of eggs, goat cheese, cumin bread, and honey cakes, although perhaps I could do without the flagon of delicate white wine to wash it down. I have found goat cheese at the Amish-Market-Coming-Soon (which is, obviously, now actually open), and a recipe for cumin bread (basic flour/water/salt/yeast bread, plus ground cumin-- who'd have thought?), but I still need to look into the honey cakes. We shall see.
thanate: (whirlpool)
The 50k slump hit hard, and it appears that while I am entirely capable of writing 50k in twenty days, doing 75k in thirty is not about to happen. Excepting a scene or two that I'm still contemplating, I've finished a rough first draft of the book I was working on, but I ought properly to go right into the sequel before I forget where all I was going. Once I figure out the *rest* of where I was going, it'll be possible to sort out which bits of part B were actually useful. On the other hand, we've been watching action movies, and they make me feel a lot better about my somewhat vague and mystical magic systems, and loose ends that don't tie up at all.

Other things:

*Curtains part 2 for the bedroom are close to half done (because of course I didn't have enough fabric of the same color to do full panels for both windows the same, so I'm doing 4 panels per window...)

*I've already collected far too many potential christmas present projects for various people, mostly [livejournal.com profile] grauwulf, and am currently making repeated mistakes in a simple basket weave cable knit pattern on something for my father. Probably the fault of the movies, but still irritating.

*the weather is beautiful, but we still haven't mown up all the leaves yet because the lawn mower is evil and popped its carburetor. This seems to be a trend with [livejournal.com profile] grauwulf's devices, so it may be fortunate that the cars don't have those anymore. Tomorrow, of course, it's supposed to start raining again.

*I have legitimate excuses to go to the fabric store tomorrow.

*Earl Gray tea has suddenly become the flavor of the moment. I think I may have underappreciated it previously.

*grr. There's been a lot of that recently, which is sad. Thanksgiving was fine though, and it was nice to see my parents again; reminds me I should clean the place up so we can invite people over for dinner.

*armored cats & mice (or at least the armor...)
thanate: (Default)
I appear to be uncharitable and anti-social, or at any rate, I have failed to be talked into "reserving" any sort of copy of the Oberlin alumnae directory, let alone including any actual contact information in my entry. I did finally call them, after the second "urgent" post card (delivered at monthly intervals), but I have not yet been able to think of anyone I might wish to track down who couldn't be found through someone I already have contact info for.

Meanwhile, I am a slacker and not only didn't write all weekend, but only wrote about 1k yesterday, and another 1 so far today, so I'm still at 52.5k total. (What is it about reaching the Nano goal that sucks all the motivation out of one? Grr!) I am within about two chapters of the end of this document, more or less, although that's leaving both the beginning and several parts of the middle in a complete muddle (but I will not quote mud puddle poetry at you.) I think I need to go on and write the last part before I know what's important in this one, though. And I do want to find out what sort of god it is in the sealed jar, among other things...

But I have been fencing (as those of you who've listened to the new rapier podcast will have heard) and I took the aquarium volunteer test and while I probably ought to have done better on it, I don't believe I did too horribly, and I've been indulging in things like vacuuming, and trying to buy a real ironing board. (Unfortunately, Target let me down on that one; all they had in stock were $60 ones with glamorous iron rests, and I was really not that desperate.) Also, I've been suffering from irritating headaches, and thus ignoring all the people I'm supposed to e-mail and things.

So I present you with pictures, instead:

thanate: (darkkerrigan)
I have just finished reading Last Chance to See, which (if you’re not familiar with it) was the write-up of Douglas Adams’s trips around the world in the late 80s in search of species on the edge of extinction. I picked up the book, incidentally, on the shelf at the Linthicum branch of the Anne Arundel County library system while looking for books about rain forests; it is stamped “Crofton” and the computer seemed to think that the only copy in the system belonged to Sterling Park. I just returned it a day overdue because someone else had placed a hold on it. Had I the space for more shelf space, I would consider adding a segment to our personal library on zoology and animal behavior.

At any rate, I’ve been going through aquarium volunteer training, which includes some rather high emphasis on conservation, as the National Aquarium is in the process of shifting their focus as an institution from being entertainment based to being conservation based with the visitor aquarium as their main outreach tool. I’m all in favor of this, although I’m faintly horrified at the ignorance amongst some of my fellow trainees (and in some cases the lecturers as well.) [livejournal.com profile] grauwulf reminds me that I hold the world to too high a standard; I say that I just expect other people to know the things I knew in elementary school, such as the difference between “impetus” and “impetuous,” and not to throw their trash out the window or try to pet the coral reefs.

There’s also the huge divide that nearly everyone writes about, between the first world semi-educated tourists or naturalists who go out into the distant parts of the world trying to save animals and habitat and those who actually live there, and in general have very different priorities. And admittedly, when your subsistence income comes from growing sugarcane or other one harvest crops, or you only get meat by hunting in places where you might catch something there aren’t a lot of left, then I don’t really expect you to have the same kind of perspective on it as someone from the sort of country where a 10% unemployment rate is considered a national crisis. Sometimes it’s hard to draw the lines between what counts as going into other people’s countries and telling them what they can’t do about things, and what is our job because we’ve got (as a society) the leisure and resources to try to do a little bit about it. It’s also hard, being raised in an ecologically-conscious mindset in an era that’s growing increasingly aware of these things, to see anything other than trying to do something about it all as a reasonable course of action. Even if doing something is just donating some of your pocket change to an organization you can trust to do something for you.

I’m writing a book with two forests in it. One is the mythical enchanted Northern Woodland that was never actually found in Europe or America, virtually untenanted, full of vast old-growth trees, moss and ferns, and peopled by deer and boar and smaller woodland creatures, but not by any huge predators, because the people from outside have done away with them. Maybe the pigs have learned to hunt the deer population to keep it in check... The other is a thriving but densely (human-) populated tropical rain forest. My rather vague understanding is that many of the SE Asian forests (on which I’m loosely basing the ecology) have always tended to have rice fields and villages carved out of them, rather than the current amazonian approach of living mainly under the canopy. The Americas have done a great deal of this as well, of course, particularly in the more northern areas with the great temple cities you’ve heard so much about, but the most recent theories I’ve heard say that there’s a great deal of evidence that Amazonia was crawling with people like crazy, all settled and improving their soil with centuries of charcoal and fish heads and broken crockery (which works amazingly well, as it happens) right up until the diseases ran through and killed everybody off.

And because it’s YA fantasy (and looking like a trilogy, of increasing complexity and possible irrelevance to anything) I am coming to the realization that aside from setting up both my poor heroines to fall madly in love with princes they can’t possibly marry, I have somehow made it so that they are going to have to save the world. Possibly from problems stemming from a variant on God’s actions in Genesis, although I might be able to wiggle out of that one. But while the actions of their pseudo-medieval and relatively primitive societies are not currently endangering either of their forests, each forest contains one particularly special tree, of which there is only one in existence anywhere, and from which all the magic, or possibly all the life, in the world emanates. And one of them is in serious trouble, and has been for probably thousands of years.

I’ve always been rather put off by the descriptions of authors who write things with a “purpose,” or whose books are a constant argument for their personal issues with the world. I don’t read fiction to be lectured, and I don’t really believe that the majority of writers have the great literary plans made in advance that are later attributed to them. Some do, of course; I was horrified to read bits of Poe’s essay on how he wrote “The Raven,” starting with the length of poem he wanted to write, and the meter he thought would suit it and filling in the subject later on. I find that my novels tend to come together more or less as I would read them, although sometimes with a back cover sort of outline to them, and a few scenes planned ahead in the way I’d remember them as I re-read a book I’d liked before. But I do think that most if not all art is a definite window on how the author views the world; I have trouble watching the performance of actors I know personally, because where other people see clever acting, I just see the person behind the performance: “Oh, yes, that’s just Emily being Emily. She always has that tone when she’s in that mood...” or whatever. So I’m probably giving revealing clues about how my mind works, writing about teenage girls and enchanted forests and talking animals and princes and trees that grant you interesting powers when you eat their fruit and strange twists on religion. So far I haven’t got any labyrinths in, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

In Last Chance to See, there’s a bit about how the dodo is important, not just for the reasons it was important to the island ecology, but because it made people (“western civilization” people, anyway) see that yes, you really can kill something until there just aren’t any more of them. And they won’t magically come back, and it will have been your fault. In the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose (in the gardens of which [livejournal.com profile] kittymaru recently took some lovely doll pictures) there is a little twig of Lebanon Cedar with a couple of cones on it, and a plaque beside it to tell you that this tree has not grown anywhere in more than two thousand years. (here, at the bottom of the page) The ancient people of Lebanon had great forests of them, which they became quite rich cutting down and selling, right up until the deforestation changed the water table and climate from temperate into desert, and now even were there any viable seeds to plant, the trees could no longer grow there. I have no idea what else once lived in the cedar forests of Lebanon, but whatever it was certainly doesn’t live there now, and I find it sad that the supposedly educated europeans of the 19th century needed the dodo to tell them what the once-fertile lands of the bible could have done, if they hadn’t needed a century or two of archaeology to dig up the lesson for them again. And then... where does that leave us, with all these lessons and more?
thanate: (whirlpool)
dodging 37.5k (I'm about 500 words away, but stalling, and I can't decide if Mara's voice is dreamy-nice or boring and annoying) and I paused to write an "outline" of the other things that I'm currently thinking need to happen. Given how the first half went, this is entirely subject to change.

It might also help you to know that I am indulging my fascination with Genesis 3:22 (the reason that man was driven from the Garden, after all the whining and blame games part), although I have not quite squared this with what we already know of Caroline's church doctrine.

spoilers, even completely irrelevant ones, go under cuts )

Meanwhile, I have begun the list of Things I Will Do in December, although thus far it only contains one item. (besides "sit down and read a book," which goes without saying.)
thanate: (whirlpool)
Or at least, it's no particular help to my wordcount. At any rate, I'm just above 30k, which is slightly behind my target still/again... I don't seem to manage to get back on track after Wednesdays. Also I spent more of today that might have been ideal wandering around in search of cat food that wasn't half starch and full of veggies.

cryptic ramblings )

Today, there will be more soup. Possibly with stew bits in.
thanate: (bluehair)
Craftster is full of soup recipes, which seem like an excellent idea on a rainy late fall postal holiday such as today. I need to get to the grocery store, as I am running out of important soup things such as potatoes and cubed chicken. Still plenty of winter squash, and we keep the house cool enough that I hope it will be good for another month or two at least in the pantry, but more of it wouldn't be bad to have either. Also, I need to break out the pumpkin saw and see if it does a better job of rendering large squash into manageable pieces than the carving knife.

One of the somewhat distressing side-effects of NaNo is an increased tendency to hit "apple-S" on auto-pilot while typing, which is less helpful in, say, a web situation than a text document.

The honey-eaters at the aquarium seem to be thriving in the Kookaburra cage, and I am now approved to wash down the floors and balconies without supervision. We also re-potted a plant whose pot was full of cockroaches; that was a bit interesting... I posit a war between the roaches and the mice (both of whom infest the backs of the immersive terrestrial exhibits; this is an unavoidable difficulty with having to feed the free-range animals) in which the roaches appear to be winning.

My novel has gotten tangled up in too much history: carved stone blocks (which one may not copy, for fear of rearranging the world) in the Jungle, and a mainly very dull travel narrative, enlivened by our ex-snake prince's commentary, and perhaps the fact that the writer is about to get himself nearly killed. Unfortunately, I can't kill him off entirely, as he needs to write the rest of the book.
thanate: (Default)
*what worked for writing yesterday may not work today
*is it bad that Mara now wants her own sequel, in which she gives birth to a tropical jungle version of world-destroyer?
*How to sum up the backstory of "Well, Caroline's father's mother killed her mother's father... well, and her husband, too, but that was later and not really important." Oy.
*the cat, who will not sit on laps, will happily sit on laptops on laps. Or step on them. But I have stolen his pillow, so there, ha.
*brain requires focus, not laziness. Sleep is also helpful.
*don't forget the curtains

Notes for others:

***where to find elf policies for those who have not already seen them linked in three or four places (#2 is in comments)
*the Dutch as drawn by the Japanese, early 1800s, and a few other miscellaneous westerners
thanate: (whirlpool)
Caroline talks to an irreverent raven, and Mara is walking through the Jungle. Walk, walk, walk, bother these vines, oh look, I'm not dead. How nice... I hope.

What I hope is that this latter is not as boring as I'm currently afraid it is. Perhaps she'll either have to meet someone (human), or get where she's going so we can have more conversation. However, I have had an excellent hot chocolate, gotten enough groceries to survive another few days, and remembered that there are brownies in the freezer downstairs. Currently, there is also a cat sitting on the floor under my skirt.

I got a jungle tree of my own in the mail today, along with some other neat swap stuff. Some days, I think this swap thing is worth it...

thanate: (whirlpool)
I contemplate the absurdity of the phrase, "If it weren't for the bugs, I would love to visit a rainforest." The bugs own the rainforest. I am still trying to keep the ants out of my kitchen. (It would help, of course, if the back door actually sealed completely.)

Caroline has discovered Strange and Disturbing Developments related to the mysteriously appearing man-with-ravens. In the unwritten-story-cloud, I also posit hypothetical men with wolves and horses, but it may go some other direction. (It is more like spinning than knitting, at this point, to use [livejournal.com profile] zagzagael's metaphor, where the roving isn't even all colored & collected yet...) Mara is too softhearted, or possibly heartbroken, to take proper care of her own safety, and tries to rescue trapped young elephants. She fails. Elephants, even yearling jungle-dwellers, are far too large to lift from the mud, even magically.

[livejournal.com profile] grauwulf is Brilliant (which I knew already) but this time in ways that involve him having to spend vast quantities of time at work, which would be more upsetting to me if I weren't busy writing. He has promised to come home for dinner tonight, however, so there should be some actual time to sit down and talk and things, and with luck things will be less crazy in a week or two. Possibly even for both of us.

I am fascinated to discover (among other things) that banyan trees are in fact a subset of strangler fig; I had not been aware of the connection. Possibly this is because most of my knowledge of banyans is from seeing them in Hawai'i, which occurred when I was six.

And (because I suppose I ought to give some justification of the subject line) I have acquired cheap-but-not-horrifying khaki pants to wear with my aquarium shirts, since my old field pants are not remotely presentable anymore. While looking, I discovered that walmart still had quite a few of the candy filled plastic "hallowe'en beakers" that I was quite taken with earlier, and so I got a couple on half off. I am eating a candy skull as I type. Soon, I will have cute plastic containers to put beads&things in.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Since nobody (including me) has given me anything good to work with from the previous brainstorming post, I ended up creating bizarre soul-eating mushrooms on the fly. They were almost carnivorous plants, but it was too early in the season. Must come up with better things next time. Also, what is now the beginning is probably much too slow and back-story to be the actual beginning, and may have to be rearranged to a slightly later bit. We shall see.

Aside from that: Panera is cold by 6 pm, the aquarium training is mostly being done by people that I don't find irritating to listen to, and I could still stand around and watch jelly exhibit tanks for hours. Although ideally, not so much with the invasive NAm coast jellies taking over the black sea. Ugh. Also, pomegranates are good, and (as I was taught) should always be shared, because if you eat them in secret you end up stuck in the underworld. (I think that was how that went...)

Somewhere, on the tip of my brain, are brilliant ideas of strange enchantments and what to do about the mysteriously appearing Raven Man, but now I must go pay attention to [livejournal.com profile] grauwulf, since he's stopped being distracted by football.
thanate: (darkkerrigan)
Posit an enchanted forest that hasn't had a good caretaker for a while. Odd enchantments begin to build up in little tangles of strange and often hazardous magic. So far we've seen a harp of bone that drowns people and a possessed sacrifical tree, as well as various talking animals (particularly wild pig sisters), a witch with a house on chicken legs, and a weaver of fates.

What else would you find that ought to be dealt with or neutralized to make the place safe for passers-by? All suggestions welcome.

(and next year... I totally want to start a tradition of having a hallowe'en party/NaNo kick off. Also, if anybody else is on the NaNo forums who I haven't got on my "buddies" list yet, do let me know who you are!)

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