19 August 2013

100 Day Challenge Conclusion

Hey imaginaries,

Just a quick update to let you know the upshot of my 100 day challenge (which I completed in 97 days):

Started May 15th, completed August 19th.  11 chapters, 170 pages, and 53,920 words.

I have written a book.  I am gobsmacked.

However, the journey is far from over, as the second draft period will likely be long and intensive.  I'd like to writte a series of short stories based on the world I created for my novel (which I still need to think of a name for), but that will necessarily take less precedence than editing the novel and schoolwork.  school started again today, so... waaah.

04 August 2013

Here There Be Monsters: A Worldbuilder Essay

One of the endlessly fascinating things about writing to me is creating the world in which your characters live; the rules by which they bargain with their reality.  Of course, writers do this all the time, but when not writing in the fantasy genre, I think it has to be a lot more subtle, because there are a lot more rules that we would be familiar with and more able to call on a mistake. 

My story is a fantasy story, and the cultures, regions and countries involved took a long time to solidify in my mind.  But it was really a labor of love, because once you create your own world, you want to imagine it as vividly as possible.  I read somewhere that creativity is nothing more than a person's ability to synthesize and collate all their previous experiences and everything they know into something new.  This is why it's so important for writers to not only do, but read.  Anything and everything. 

Non-fiction is especially helpful to me.  In the beginning (of my writing attempts), my worlds were huge masses of loose particled ephemera, waiting for my own personal big bang.  While this set of questions by one of my all-time favorite authors, Patricia C. Wrede, helped me train my world particles, like dancing fleas, it wasn't until a friend pointed me to this blog, about the psychological aspects of world building, that things really coalesced for me.  Stray Feathers pointed me toward Eliade's Patterns in Comparative Religion, at almost the same time that another source, unrelated to writing, pointed me to Joseph Campbell's magnum opus, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

Now, I'm human.  I'm not only human, I'm a college student human.  I have read neither of these books cover to cover.  But I have read between a third and a half of both of them, and even that gave me some serious tools to whip out and begin shaping my worlds in ways that even I didn't expect.

An example is that today, I invented a demon bull.  This demon bull is a servant of the Moon Goddess of a culture whose patriarchal deity is the Sky God, or more often, the God.  The Moon Goddess in this culture is the keeper of prophecy and the underworld, and the demon bull is more or less her Cerberus.  This is relevant because, wait for it, according to Eliade, the Moon is linked with either horns or horned bulls in multiple religions!

It was also a bit of a quandary, though, because at the same time, I invented a random bit of street culture for the capitol city of the set of characters I was currently working with.  I can't decide whether to use:

Practically dancing, the Vizier jabbed both index fingers in the air like a street urchin flashing a thief-clan sign.

Practically dancing, the Vizier jabbed both index fingers in the air like a street urchin imitating the Moon Goddess’ demon bull.

I think the first is a bit sharper, and takes less of a leap of understanding on the reader's part, but it's awfully hard to give up the symmetry of echoing a real-life folkloric trend with my fictional religion.

31 July 2013

WiP Wednesday: Writing

So, as I've mentioned, I am writing a book this summer.  It's my first, and I'm a little insecure about it.  I thought I'd do a post on my writing process to hopefully solidify a few things in my own mind and start thinking about ways I can improve.

Things I've learned since May 15th:

1.  I need to write first thing in the morning.  Of.  EVERY.  DAY.
2.  I need a space away from home, preferably outside, to write.
3.  On average, I can write between 600 and 800 words in two hours.

Things I've noticed about my writing:

1.  I don't do plot very well..... (more on this later)
2.  I have a tendancy to repeat patterns and formulas in the structures of my scenes
3.  I tend to get bogged down in the minutiae of movements; I'm not good at deciding when a movement/action can safely be cut out and when it needs to be there for clarity's sake.

Now, about plot.  I really didn't sit down and plot my book out.  At all.  I had a cast of characters and a series of epic events that I wanted to put them through, barely escaping with their lives.  How they got there?  The motivations and reasoning behind certain key actions that set the whole cluster-- in motion?  Nada.  See, I was supposed to start a lot earlier than May 15th.  But I thought I should sit down and plot everything out, but every time I tried, I ended up... not getting anything done.  And so I'd say to myself, "Oh, well, I can't start writing yet, I don't have my plot worked out!"  And that became an excuse not to write. 

I decided I should just jump right in and worry about plot later.  And while that means I have gotten a lot of writing done, I'm headed for a pretty hard edit at the end of the summer.  Hopefully, I'll be able to shape it into a coherent story. 

It doesn't help that I've got all sorts od ideas about the prequal I want to write next.  Not to mention the story of the first werewolf.  Who is actually a sheepdog. 


24 July 2013

WiP Wednesday: (HOLIDAY!) Knitting

My brother doesn't always watch anime...........

 But when he does, he watches Natsume Yuujinchou.  I watch it, too. It is HILARIOUS.  So when I ran across this knitting pattern, saved to my hardrive years and years ago, before I ever started watching anime, well I just got my Grinch smile on, didn't I?

 Yes, I did.  I'll have to work out the intarsia stuff to cross between the white, brown and... mousse?  Anyway.
  I think this will actually be the first time I knit specifically for someone else.  It's kind of a mile marker, I suppose.  Hopefully I can get it done (in secret, sh!) in time for Christmas.  Updates as they come, I guess.

18 July 2013

Seascape La Bohème Scarf

This is what I've been doing:

 it's completely made of yarn I spun myself. 
The lightest yarn is undyed corriedale that I received as a birthday present last month from a yarncrafting friend. 
The light blue is dyed BFL from FibroFibers
And the blue/green is from some BFL top dyed by Mountain Colors. 
I added semi-asymetrical wooden beads, which I think work quite well.  My knitting group say it looks very bohemian, and the colors reminded me of the ocean, so I shall christen it...
Seascape La Bohème Scarf

10 July 2013

I Am

I Am

I am the cutting scent of cold water after
snowfall, falling with a silence so chill it
cracks mountain stones

I am the desolate cry of the unknown marsh
 bird, weeping my sorrow in the wild
wetlands marooned

I am the gnarled, twisty hands of bracken
that rise clutching at the edges of your
patchwork fields of wheat & corn & barley & rye

I am the little weed who cracks the
foundation of your very civilization and tells
of your coming destruction

For I will reclaim.

- Do you hear it? Do you hear the dust of all
your endeavor swirling in my wake?

But yes.

I am also the palette of the universe
contained in a single drop of dew with the
sunlight shining through it

I am the tumbling breeze that whistles
sweetly through the grasses & the leaves

I am the taste of frost-crisped apples,
splitting from streaked red skin to ivory
center with the teardrop seeds of future

I am the summer-collected dandelion fluff
sticking to the warmth of your child's tiny


27 June 2013

Doctor Who Fan Art

I drew River Song last night and worked Gallifreyan symbols into the curls of her fabulous hair.  It's not my best portrait, but not my worst, and I'm kinda out of practice.  I'm thinking of touching it up on the computer because I need practice using my wacom plug in tablet and my computer drawing software.  If it turns out, I'll post it :)

22 May 2013

The 100 Day 500 Word Count Challenge

I've started a summer challenge for myself in order not only to encourage the practice of creative writing, but also with the goal of having a completed book by the time I start my final semester at UNC.  Counting from the 15th of this month, if I write at least 500 words a day, I'll end up with a 50,000 word novel by the time I go back to school.  I thought about doing 1,000 words for 50 days instead, so that I'd have more time to edit and revise, but... baby steps.  Anyway, here is the first sentence of my work in progress:

The sun rose on the city of Spierglass, and spilled down from the Sky God’s temple at the top of the mount, down to the courts of the palaces and then further, across the inns and markets and slums of the lower city, where stone gave way and the courtyards were made of beaten dirt. 

18 May 2013

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts

Two stands of ornamental grass
Dried and rattling
Thin, hollow, like tiny bird bones,
Sit at the north- and southwest corners

Gray decaying lavender, like a beached whale,
Quietly dies in the southwest corner
Its once blue-green leaves balding
To show the gnarled, leafless interior

Opposite sits an octopus rosemary,
Splayed and raunchy, the evergreen fronds,
The old growth, ready to spiral out green tissue
As soon as the shearer’s back is turned

Purple-blue blossoms browning,
Seeds dropping rosemary’s babies
Spider-made sails once stretched between the branches
Now even rags and tatters gone

Quince buds untwist into leaves and flowers
Variegated pink and white
Tapered, aristocratic thorns stand sentry
But snap at barest pressure
Christmas-day planted garlic
Reaches with narrow green fingers
Through near frozen soil
In that sunny spot beneath the bird feeder

In the center, beside the tiny three by three
Textured cement paver courtyard
The branches of the weeping willow
Make shepherd crooks for the birds to loiter

Mint, damned mint
Crowds along the west border
Through the grasses, under the quince
And tickles the corpse of lavender

I will have mint until the day I die
And when I’m buried, I will have
“She should have put down a root barrier”
Engraved on my headstone