i am a murderer

“Fin was lost. She pulled the trigger.”

i’m rereading A.S. Peterson’s The Fiddler’s Gun, and it’s hurting me. The first time, i read it aloud with my husband. This time, i am sinking into it alone. But the things that hurt most about this book are not the things i expected.

i know already the losses and lostness in this story. i know who dies, who wishes they did, who should have but didn’t. i know Fin’s loneliness and i know where it comes from. i know her sin. i know the sins against her. i know who’s to blame.

What hurts me about this story is the idea that someone i respect and trust created a person, utterly dependent upon himself, and then he hurt her. He spent ten years hurting her.

This hurts me because i also have created a girl, one who is utterly dependent upon me, and i am hurting her. i’m not done hurting her.

When Fin pulls the trigger, my chest opens up, and one thought pounds in my heart: i am a murderer.

i am a murderer.

i too am a murderer.

i hurt for Fin as she loses herself, but i do not identify with her. i identify with her maker. We are responsible for these lives we’ve made, and we have dealt falsely with them. We are unjust.

Whatever sin is in them, we put there. They act on it—neither of them are innocent. They make their own choices—a mystery i can never hope to explain, one that wonders me as often as it grieves me. They act on their impulses in their own volitional ways. But we are responsible.

It is glory for us to create, to make beings in our image as our Creator has made us. But our image is marred by sin that we cannot wash away. We, like they, need a redeemer.

i know that Fin’s maker means to redeem her. i know my own heart toward my girl; i long to redeem her. Redemption requires death. i know this. We never hurt these people because we don’t love them. We hurt them because there’s no way to make them beautiful, glorious, righteous, without bringing them to the end of themselves. i know Fin’s maker wept over her. i have wept over Rixi as well. Am i justified by my tears? When we are finished, will she understand?

For Rixi’s sake as well as my own, i need for Fin to be redeemed. i know where the story will take her and how her hurts and losses and sins will be addressed. But it is excruciating to get her there.

Rixi, no power in Nirth or in all of creation—nothing but your own will—will prevent me from turning all your pain to beautiful. Please let me redeem you.

Thank G-d i am but a subcreator.

Nirthian ontology

This is an excerpt from Nirth’s seminal work on ontology, by the philosopher Hissalion.


“It is folly to say we have not known that which cannot be named. We have known it, and even without naming it we have interacted with it and with many such things. Yet it is also folly to say that we do know it, for how can we know that of which we cannot speak to one another? So we both know and do not know that which is unnamable. All things, however, are unnamable until they are named. Is it not the very duty of language to form the unknown into syllables so that understanding may lighten our ignorance? Is it not the duty of elves to build language so that we can know one another, so that we can know our own thoughts? For even our thoughts are dark to us until we can speak them aloud and give them form. In this way we are like the Ainur, who think and then speak and then see what has sprung up, which then has form and life (although not all manner of life are the same; a tree has one form, an elf another; a stone can also be said to have life, but not life in the manner of trees or elves. Likewise, ideas and feelings have life, but a different manner of life than anything visible). We who are made by the Ainur do not have the power to create; what we speak does not rise up out of the earth as an elf does when an Ainu speaks it to life. Yet we also give life to our thoughts when we speak them aloud for our fellows to see, even if they see only with their minds. Yet seeing with the mind what another sees in his or her mind indicates that the thing seen has form and substance, if the speaker and hearer see alike. In this way, language is creation.

“Yet it remains that the life of all things visible and invisible is not knowable until we name it. It is folly to call a stone alive, yet how can we refer to its likeness to a tree or an elf or a feeling such as wind or hunger or loyalty? How can hunger be alive? We can say that it is like an animal prowling, and we know an animal to be alive, but this picture of hunger as an animal is only a picture. How then do we differentiate between a picture that represents and a picture that only suggests?

“Our language is insufficient to this task of delineating between life and life and life, between types of life, between pictures that represent and pictures that suggest. Our language, which is the creative function of elves, must grow up to include such thoughts.

“i speak now a thought: Návë.

Návë is what is meant by the life of an elf, the life of a tree, the life of a stone, the life of a feeling, the life of a picture whether representative or suggestive. It is folly to say that these types of life are all alike; so rather than say they are all life we say that they all have their own návë. When we speak an idea, we acknowledge its návë. We do not give it návë; once an idea springs to our minds, that springing up is proof already of its návë. Návë is what is in all things; it is not life, although things both living and nonliving have návë. Návë is the quality of a person or animal or thought or feeling that tells us that it is separate from us. We each also have návë. And although it seems folly, impossible things, insofar as they can be conceived by elves, have návë as well.”


The word návë is the Sindarin gerund of na, which means “is” or “to be.” In gerund form, it means “being.”

The word Ainu(r) means “holy one(s);” in modern times (that is, since the beginning of the epoch called the age of Nirth, when the sea peoples became vassals of the elves) it has been replaced with the word Abina(i), which carries the same meaning in a root language from which descended both the elven language represented here by Sindarin and that tongue which the sea peoples brought with them into Nirth.

Writer’s retreat

Next week, i’ll keep a regular 9-5 writing schedule, holed up in a cafe 1200 miles from here. About two years ago, we made this same trek—Jonathan for work, and me along for the ride—and i spent the entire week at the same table in a particular coffee shop, writing and writing and writing. At the time, i felt like every word was taking me another step away from Rixi’s heart, and when we got home i called the entire week a waste—a miserable, expensive waste; i could have sat in our hotel room and read book after book or even watched TV instead of paying rent at a coffee shop. After some emotional and temporal distance, and a few hard editorial choices, i have come to love that week’s work. Rixi and i have been through a lot together, and what at first felt like betrayal has turned into a much-needed lull between storms. She needed that time, and i needed it, but we were both so caught up in heartbreak that we couldn’t see it then.

Now Jonathan’s job is sending us forth again, but this time, i am not just along for the ride. i am looking forward to spending another week in that blessed cafe which, even in the midst of the angst, felt like a sanctuary. Since that time two years ago, Rixi and i have taken many steps on this journey—some tiny, some lurching, some leaping, some backward, some sideways, and not a few that traced circles—and now we will sit in that cafe again and write her life, and do so together.

My list of writing tasks for this trip:

  • Comprehensive structuring of the “little e” plotline
  • At least two narrative snippets from Liedend’s POV
  • Re-writes on two other narrative snippets
  • Letters from home

Time permitting, i also have a few non-Rixi writing projects in mind:

  • Essays: One on Peet the Sock Man; one on a pre-Christian treatment of sin and redemption; two on creativity
  • Library blog posts: National Library Week, the new Christ Center Reads program, our next quarterly theme (faith and arts)

This trip can’t come soon enough! i can already feel the sunlight coming through the cafe’s huge windows, dust motes dancing through the wide open space like laughter in motion.

Yes.

Professional musicianship research

i have spent the better part of the afternoon deciding how much money a professional vocal ensemblist should make in Galadven (the capital of Nirth).

The answer: It depends.

The particular ensemble that interests me is called Linnor (a Sindarin word which means, simply, “Singer”). i have decided that in order to keep my character at a reasonable level of wealth considering his age and other pursuits (schooling), i will have a two-tiered pay scale. The lower end of the scale is for junior or “visiting” vocalists, and the higher end is for senior or “permanent members.” That way i can balance the sense of prestige associated with this ensemble with the need for not making this kid extra rich out of nowhere. It is a really good opportunity—but there’s no real reason for everyone to make the same amount of money anyway. (Actually, it only occurred to me this morning that this would be a paid gig, despite having decided to invite said character to join about, oh, a year and a half or more ago. How prestigious can it be if members must hold day jobs?)

i think that the majority of the ensemblists will likely hold day jobs, though, because as i was researching orchestra rehearsal schedules it looks like they won’t be required to rehearse daily until the week leading up to each concert, and much of the time they won’t have more than one rehearsal a week. So this might stop making sense after awhile. On the other hand, according to the Handbook on Nirthian Wealth, characters earning either salary amount will fall somewhere between “average” and “wealthy,” so they won’t need to find another job, and their own private rehearsal time will certainly take up a chunk of each day regardless of group rehearsals. So this might make sense again.

At any rate, here’s what Linnor members will make:

Junior vocalist: 5 hammer (about $5) per rehearsal, 3 horn (about $30) per smaller concert, and 9 horn (about $90) for the year-end concert.

Senior vocalist: Exactly double that—so, 1 horn (about $1) per rehearsal, 6 horn (about $60) per smaller concert, and 18 horn (about $180) for the year-end concert.

There are three of these smaller concerts, and 17 rehearsals leading up to each. There are 33 rehearsals leading up to the year-end concert. The ensemble gets a week off prior to beginning each new concert cycle, and an extra week off at the end of the year. For the first 4 (8) weeks, there is a single rehearsal each week; this is increased to 3/week for the next 2 (6) weeks, and then the ensemble rehearses each weeknight (7/week) for the final week leading up to the concert.

Concert tickets: Unlike traveling musicians, whose tickets are available without cost to community members based on a lottery system, Linnor and other such groups in Galadven charge for admittance and anyone is welcome to attend assuming they can afford to do so. Prior to each concert, there is one open rehearsal (or two before the year-end concert), and tickets for those are half off. Smaller concerts cost 3 horn ($30) and the year-end concert costs 6-10 horn ($60-100) depending on the seat (tickets are much more in demand for the year-end concert, and additional seating is opened to accommodate this).

While researching, i also ran across a tidbit of orchestra member contract policy that hadn’t occurred to me before: Missed rehearsals. The one page i saw that mentioned this allowed for up to two excused absences per concert cycle or five per year, and some rehearsals are of course mandatory. Something like that would have to be in place for Linnor as well, but i don’t know how best to map the guideline above with the Linnor concert cycle. And it doesn’t really matter, because that’ll be one of the fine details that Rixi hears about but which doesn’t affect her. If it came up at all it’d be an offhand comment acknowledging that one could “only get so many” absences or something like that, and who knows if it’d even come up.

The grand total of all of this is that, assuming no missed rehearsals, a junior vocalist would earn exactly 60 horn per year ($600), and a senior vocalist would earn double that. Assuming the arrangement i have in mind persists for the next few years, this character will have acquired some wealth beyond what the average 16-year-old deteer would have amassed while in school, but not nearly so much as he will in full-time patrolling (spoils of war yield a nice profit), and chances are good he’ll have given some to his parents and otherwise spread much of it around. i’m thinking it might be a good idea to have the bulk of his income go into a trust which he receives upon graduation. He has next to zero living expenses while at Duathos. It’ll cost him more than his first year’s salary to buy a beautiful, world-class mandolin, which sounds like a worthy expense that won’t unbalance things  at all. (He splits his time between mandolin and singing, and although this particular appointment is for voice, a grown-up or even fancy instrument to replace his student-use one would be really nice.)

This is the sort minutia that i really enjoy despite it not furthering the story one iota. (Although i was considering again the description that this ensemble is given in the letters already written, and wondering if i needed to rethink it. i think i overdid the rethinking, but i do feel much better when my details are in place and i don’t have to worry as much about whether i’ve forgotten something that will turn out to be crucial later on.)

So, there. This is the financial accounting and concert/rehearsal schedule of the Linnor Ensemble of Galadven, Nirth. Details aside, you really want to hear them sing… they are incredible.

***Addendum***

After i told Jonathan all about the above research and conclusions, he made a great suggestion: Cut that junior rate in half and call it an internship. It’s honestly an amazing experience for him. He will learn and grow a lot, and he doesn’t have any living expenses. Plus, if he’s receiving an internship salary rather than a regular salary (junior or senior), i don’t have to worry at all about whether his income will be out of balance with what he should be able to afford as a new Black Robe in a few years. If he is paid a junior salary his first year in Linnor, i will have to wrassle with the question of when he becomes a permanent member and starts receiving the higher salary, which i just don’t want to give him, but if there is a pay band specifically for students, i will never have to worry about that. He’ll make 30 horn ($300) each year, and will therefore have made 120 horn total ($1200) by the end of his last year, and that is not unreasonable. He will have made a little money adventuring, too, as will his classmates, so having a job while in school will result in more money at the outset—but not nearly as much as if he had been receiving a junior or senior salary with Linnor.

Done.

But that’s just the bookkeeping. Aside from that, a Linnor concert is breathtaking. You might want to buy your tickets early!

Year 4 is done!

Today i finalized the letters of 568 Nirth. Thank goodness. It has been a long, arduous, crazy-making two years.

You know how last week i posted that i had come up with a solution, which required an outline but it would probably be worth it? Well, later the same day i discarded that idea entirely.

If i knew where ideas came from i would probably be a billionaire. i don’t. Sometimes, beneath the roiling ocean of conscious thought, an idea forms. Sometimes, all it takes is a little nudge, a random stimulus—a sight, a sound, a smell, an unrelated concept—to kick that idea to the surface of said roiling ocean. Such a thing happened to me on Wednesday. My husband and i went to see Ender’s Game (which i loved), and partway through the movie (i don’t even remember now what was happening onscreen at the time), i just had this quiet thought: i can do this.

i had been blathering to my poor patient husband off and on while the previews were playing. You know the quote from Winston Churchill: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” Well, i must confess that we writers are fanatics of the worst kind, purely obsessed with worlds that exist only in our heads. i for one have a hard time shutting off this constant stream of thought about my people and the world they live in, the stories, the backstories, the minutia, the grand sweeping narratives, their hearts. Everything comes back to my writing. So it is only natural that as we settle down to watch a movie, i am still in Nirth, trying to throw off the reality of one world in order to enter another. i had been working on Rixi all afternoon, and was still neck-deep in her dramas (and the related continuity errors and multiple versions). Thankfully, the theatre we were in was inhabited by exactly and only the two of us. i’m sure i was very obnoxious. But somehow, i settled down.

And then, having engaged the movie, having allowed myself to be transported into another world, this knowledge came to me: i can do this.

The answer was simple: Go back to the beginning. Accept year 4 as it stands. Accept the beginning of year 5 as it stands. Insert little e at the proper time, the end of Menkul, and let the swirling madness that follows do its work. Thirteenth time’s the charm, as they say.

So year 4 is done. i have about a week and a half’s worth of letters to finish to catch Rixi up with “present day” in a related parallel story. Then, swirling madness, and the end, and beginning, of everything.

i can do this.

And, surprisingly, i believe it.

Two sisters, their cousin, and the Art of War

Today is a writing day—thank goodness, and much-needed it is! i had a solution come to my mind yesterday while making cookies (sometimes a different task is the best way to open up the brain and solve a problem), but i wanted to let that simmer for awhile, and talk to Jonathan about it, before jumping right in and putting it in motion. (Also, the kitchen was a wreck after yesterday’s bakesplosion—three batches of cookies.)

So, the plan for today:
1) Start the dishwasher
2) Read a little bit of something i didn’t write—a chapter or so
3) Find a likely writing challenge and complete it (half-hour)
4) Write out yesterday’s solution, and ask J what he thinks of it
5) Implement the solution, or at least get moving on it (it’ll be a many-sessions-long implementation).

So far, i have done 1, 2, and 4. The dishwasher is churning merrily away, and J thinks that my solution is narratively sound, so that’s what i’ll be working on today. It is a variant on the little-e-in-year-four model, for those who have heard me whine about little e and its multitudinous variants.

My preferred method of writing is what is called, in the NaNoWriMo world, “pantsing,” or writing by the seat of one’s pants. i like to make a person, give them a background and discover their personality, and then plop them down and watch them go. Give them some stimuli, some relationships, some conflict, and see how they manage. What solutions do they come up with? What decisions do they make? How do they surprise me, and what does it mean? Then repeat.

This isn’t working for Rixi right now. i got into a terrible muddle about two years ago with a nasty nest of continuity errors, and now i have about a dozen partially-written versions of the events in my head, and they are all simultaneously true. It’s like a forked universe; all possibilities are actually happening in one parallel reality or another, but i am omniscient and am hyper-aware of all of them. They blend together. It’s like a terrible dream, where realities that are unrelated in waking life collide and conspire and conflagrate. So my preferred method—Just Write—isn’t working.

Neither is Just Write’s better-behaved sister, What About, who starts with a specific idea or solution rather than a blank slate. Often, if Just Write doesn’t work, What About will come up with an idea, and that will jump-start a similar organic approach, but from (or to) a particular concept or event. i can plan, and lead up to, or develop away from, something specific, rather than just explore and see what happens. But What About is not working either; that’s where i got the dozen versions that are now all simultaneously true.

What’s left? The sisters’ rigid cousin, Outline. Oh, i hate her. She is uppity and legalistic and joyless. She refuses spontaneity, scowls at discovery. But her cousins are flitting about at random, and i can’t make them behave. Entre Outline, bane of first drafts, and the muse who brought me yesterday’s solution.

Now i have not only a concrete place to start, but a concrete place to go, and sign-posts along the way. Will this steal my joy in the writing? Hardly. i am well beyond first drafts; i am in deep, tempestuous waters. Outline, rigid and demanding though she is, will see me to shore. She will provide a heading. She will, in the final analysis, restore my joy, as i begin to see land ahead through the fog and the lashing rain.

So that is 4 on my list for today.

For Thing 2, i debated for a moment whether i should read something fiction or something nonfiction. i decided on nonfiction, primarily because if i start fiction i will never stop, and because i received a bundle of writing books in the mail yesterday and i am eager to dive into them. They are all by James Scott Bell, who is the Writer’s Digest‘s Instructor of the Month right now. (There was a sale.) The books are Conflict & Suspense, Plot & Structure, Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, and The Art of War for Writers. i didn’t feel quite ready to dive into something specific and heavy, so i picked up The Art of War. So far, four maxims in, i can already see that this book will benefit me. Most of what i have read at this point is about diligence and hard work and discipline. Here is one bit that particularly stood out.

Know the difference between a hero and a fool, … and aspire to the heroic. If you want to be a writer, know this: A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he’s a hero already.—The Art of War for Writers, 3 (p 16)

(There were many other insightful contrasts between heroes and fools as well.)

So, i go on to my writing craft—a half-hour challenge to exercise languishing muscles, and then a deep, deep dive into those tempestuous waters. Outline, come to my aid!

How the writer avoids writing by writing

i very nearly gave up this week. And then i didn’t.

In order to keep myself going on the Twiry stories, i finally sat down and mapped out which story ideas would make the cut and then put them in order. Then i wrote a story and a half. i’m now on number seven.

i’m still stuck on the eponymous chapter, however. Part of my problem with Twiry Glitterwing and the Moss Palace has been that i’m not sure i’m getting the tone right—it doesn’t feel like i imagined it would. And part of the problem is that i don’t know for the life of me what the moss palace should be like—where it is or how it looks. i decided that that story should be the last chapter, to sort of end at a high point, where there isn’t anywhere else to go. But if i can’t figure out the moss palace in the next few days i’ll probably be forced to insert another story in the middle somewhere and end with what i meant to be the penultimate chapter—the tea party, where all Twiry’s forest friends are in attendance. i think either story would work as the last in the book (if i could figure out the moss palace itself, that is), and i think the tea party would work either as last or as second to last. So it’ll work out. But if i scrap the moss palace, i’ll have to come up with another story idea and change the name of the book. No big deal, but still, things that’ll need doing.

Meanwhile, since i don’t particularly want to be writing Twiry, i’ve been spending unnecessary mental energy on another book that i have no intention of writing anytime soon and which hadn’t really occurred to me as a real option until halfway through October. i didn’t have time to think out an outline before Nano at that point, and i wasn’t sure which time period it would cover, so i couldn’t get started writing it, but now that i am stuck writing something else, ideas for this other novel keep coming to me.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The other novel that i’m considering writing is centered on Alandros. He’s Rixi’s best friend’s magic tutor. i really like him as a character. The original reason i thought of him as an option at all, though, was the simple fact that he’s in his late 30s and it would give me a chance to write someone closer to my own age. But that he’s also a powerful Deteer in a well-positioned town with a lord who’s very politically important also gives me an opportunity to write a story with high-level intrigue and action. Of course, therein lies one facet of the rub (if that’s a valid metaphor, mixed as it is): i don’t really pay attention to fight choreography in the shows and movies i watch. i know when it looks cool, but i don’t analyze the moves. And i don’t tend to pay very much attention when reading that stuff, either. i get the gist, but i’m not a strategist. So it would be a challenge to learn to write the battle scenes well.

On the other hand, i’m going to have to write scenes like that for the next book in the Lily Cycle, also, so practicing on Alandros may not be a bad idea.

Other facets of the rub are the fact that he’s male, and he is closer to my age than my other characters—and his age would mature the book’s tone significantly. Durom Falls works well as a book about a sixteen year old adult. The tone will have to change (and hopefully not in a histrionic way) as Lily matures and starts dealing with harder things, but Durom Falls itself felt very much like a YA novel to me. That wasn’t what i was going for, but as i said, it works for a sixteen-year-old protagonist. It won’t work when the protagonist is 37. And can i write older prose? i guess we’ll find out. (It’s not like i don’t read enough of it. i just don’t have any characters older than 17 right now.) And the fact that he’s male just puts me outside my comfort zone. i’ve written some snippets with him in them, but not from his perspective, and i’m not used to writing for a male lead. i’m just not sure if i can pull it off believably. (Tana French says that people are just people, and i’ll buy that, but i can’t ignore gender altogether. Men and women just aren’t the same, internally or externally, and while i buy that individuals do not act as stereotypical representations of their class, they do carry at least part of a set of characteristics, even if other parts of the set don’t seem to correspond.)

Anyway: The brilliant idea i got this afternoon was to tell the Alandros story as two parallel stories. One, a present-day struggle (siege or civil war), and the other, his first year or so as a black robe (graduate) Deteer. That would allow me to develop his character more fully—we’ll see what makes him tick and why he ticks that way. It’ll also give me the chance to use my YA voice, while contrasting it with an adult voice for the same character—a fascinating study, and a good writing challenge.

i was talking this over with Jonathan at dinner, and thought up another twist on this idea. i could write the parallel stories as Alandros’ youth and the siege (i understand this might be a very opaque reference), and then write a second book as his experience in the civil war (another opaque reference). The siege is a very simple thing, much easier to do in half a book than it would be to delve into the strained relationships and the morass of motives between the bevy of political players that exists in any civil war. The civil war can hardly be told in half a novel, but it could certainly be told in a full novel (if kept to a single perspective). You know, depending on how things turn out. i am writing living history, after all; not all details are clear yet. And that’s another reason to use the siege, rather than the civil war, for the parallel stories: The siege has already happened. The civil war is only just heating up. So if i used the siege, i could pretty much start writing this book anytime. No waiting, just outlining.

i sort of like the idea of having a book plot in mind for a year before writing it, however. It might be well-formed by next November. Neither Durom Falls nor Twiry were well-formed before i began writing. It’s not a work’s death knell, but “measure twice and cut once” can be applied to any project.

Summary: i made no progress on Twiry today. But i have a lot of great ideas for a completely unrelated project.

Four stories and faltering

 

 

When i first came across this quote, my immediate thought was writing. Honestly, stories in general, including many i have not written, but writing in particular. i love storytelling, making people, watching them grow and unravel and grow again. The process, however, is often painful or simply frustrating.

The Twiry stories are not working out like i’d wanted them to. They aren’t bad at all—they just don’t feel like what i’d imagined. And this is the problem with writing in-world artifacts. The stories have a life of their own in Nirth already. i am not trying to write something new, but to find something already well-loved by people in another world.

The concept of sehnsuct is behind much of my love of story, as is the theme of redemption. Haunting beauty. All things made right. The world as it should be, but isn’t. Incarnation: the deep longings of every heart, given form.

i don’t know how to do that, but i desire it deeply. And it kills me. It kills me to read it, it kills me to attempt it, it kills me to achieve it, and—much more often—it kills me to close my hand on air, over and over again, thinking i’m close but finding i’m not.

Give me a few months and i might like Twiry better. i feel fairly desolate right now. But i will press on, because Nano demands it, and because i have made promises. Next time i write a picture book, however, remind me to write it with pictures.

The second thing i’ll be writing this month is part of a longer saga of heartache-in-writing: Rixi, in a critical and wrenching moment that won’t end. Oh, Rixi, why do we hurt each other?

For now, though, i am only 5830 words and four stories behind schedule. And tonight is a write-in. And i will make it, somehow. If writing kills me (and let’s be honest; it won’t), it’ll be because i let it, not because i can’t get up again.

The beginning of a new adventure

National Novel Writing Month starts in two days. This year, i am writing two pieces which together should total fifty thousand words. The first is a series of short fairy stories for children. The second is a piece meant to fit into a larger narrative. They are both being written from scratch, but neither on its own qualifies as a novel, so i am participating as a rebel.

My plan is to do a little blogging here during the month of November. Obviously, my posts won’t be long or deep, as i’ll be spending my writing time actually writing my stories, but i will be using this space to chronicle the writing itself (and perhaps to post excerpts). i need to keep my best reader in the dark during November, so posting publicly isn’t the best option, but this blog will work as a compromise between silence and indiscretion. After November, i’ll try to keep it going with more posts about the writing process, snippets of my writing, and perhaps a few writing exercises. It’s been awhile since i’ve kept a blog, so bear with me—i’m out of habit.

Now then, since my amanuensis isn’t listening, i can tell you about my projects.

Both pieces are written for Nirth, a feudal medieval-plus fantasy world that my husband created. i love living and writing in his world, and have several projects going in it. One is a cooperative storytelling group, in which my character is a young woman named Rocket. Her younger sister, Rixi, is arguably my main character. Rixi’s narrative is expressed primarily through letters between Rixi and her aunt, although several narrative snippets punctuate the letters, allowing me to step outside of Rixi’s head at times. These snippets may be written from Rixi’s perspective, or from her best friend’s, or her aunt’s or uncle’s, and they enrich the story while not infringing upon the letters as the main vehicle for the unfolding drama. Another thread in this world began as last year’s Nano novel, Durom Falls. The main character in that book is Lily, who began life as a friend of Rocket’s but will require a full three-book cycle to complete her journey. i am not yet ready to move past the first book in that cycle, so i am left without a plot that will require 50K words to complete. Thus, my rebel status.

This year’s projects are both part of the Rixi narrative. The children’s book is actually intended to be an artifact in the world—a book Rixi finds in the school library. i’ve never written in-world literature before this, and i am looking forward to the challenge. It’ll be completely different from everything i’ve written before—innocent, beautiful, simple. The second project is a longer piece of narrative that will chronicle an adventure of Rixi’s during one of her field assignments in school. It is also a departure from my usual writing, as i haven’t yet written anything this long in the Rixi narrative, nor have i written a full descriptive account of one of her adventures before. Her adventures, before this, have mostly been told in the form of letters to her aunt or brief accounts in a snippet which isn’t meant to explore the adventure itself, but her reaction to it. This one will necessarily explore her reactions as well, but it will be much more action-driven than anything else i’ve written for her. Rixi tends to live in her head, and doesn’t relish adventure, so her stories have always been more about schoolwork and relationships and growing up—her own personal journey—than they are about adventures. The full story is already written down in note form as a very robust outline, so this is another departure for me—i tend to let the story tell itself as i go, without an outline at all or with only a very vague idea of where the story should end up and one or two things that might happen in the middle.

i am still struggling with an appropriate word count for the fairy stories. Depending on which existing children’s books i take for a model, it might be appropriate to set it at 13K or 23K. (My models are Beatrix Potter and Winnie-the-Pooh.) Either way, the remainder of the 50K can easily be taken up by the adventure story, as the notes already come to a bit more than 21K.

The children’s book is titled Twiry Glitterwing and the Moss Palace. The adventure story has a working title of The Call South.

i am beginning to be very eager for November and the beginning of another adventure! If you’d like to follow along with me, here is my Nano profile and this year’s project page, including my word count tracker. And of course, i’ll be posting here.