31 March 2014

Work & Play

The two diverge and intersect for me in strange ways.  Writing is my work.  I want to write; I think about writing all the time, and when I'm not, I'm writing in my head, going over key scenes that I can so vividly picture I can sometimes smell them.  And yet, in an odd, cringing sort of way... I don't. 

Gardening is also my work.  It's not so much that gardening brings me joy as that I need it simply to maintain my baseline - to ward off unhappiness.  I just arranged two ornamental Boston Ferns around the yard, transplanted a blackberry root, three herbs, and bean and pea seeds, then gave everything a good drink of water.  All this after working the morning shift, which entails multiple hours on my feet and constant lifting.

Next I'll probably tinker with a flashcard app I found and am using to memorize the meanings of Tarot cards.  I want to be able to do a reading without flipping through the little booklet.  This is a course of study, a form of work, and yet I am as willing to do it as if it were play. 

Perhaps it's the mental props I developed last summer that are tripping me up and draining my confidence when confronted with a blank page that is supposed to form into story.  But perhaps those frameworks are just a shield for my ego.  Perhaps I don't truly believe that my writing will hold any importance to anyone but me, and who am I to count? 

Perhaps I should just stop thinking about it and do it, but that's so much more easily said than done.

14 March 2014

Lake Corriher Wildlife Area

There's a little park across from one of my favorite libraries in Rowan county, next to my home county Cabarrus.  Up until today, I've never had the time and/or, I don't know - nerve? -  to cross the road and go explore; but with bright sunshine, cloudless blue overhead, a stiff (sometimes biting) breeze, and temps in the mid-forties, today I just couldn't resist.  It's a lovely little place, with streams and a bridge and with hiking trails around the man-made titular Lake Corriher if you head left from the parking lot, and some nice sporting facilities if you head the other way.  I don't care much about that, but, whatever.  Full disclosure.  And they'd still make for a nice walk.  I think I'll take Cutty there sometime.

*Sigh* I tried putting in a clever little slideshow with html text, buuuuuut no.  So it'll just have to look all low-tech and dorky.  Here are the other pictures:
*HEAVY sigh* Ok, the format is doing something.  Really. Wonky, and I don't know why and I can't seem to fix it.  So Whatever.  I fail at technology.


04 March 2014

Redirected Efforts

In my efforts to begin (yes begin) my second daft process, I've made some fairly major theoretical decisions, about boy the plot and the protagonists, not to mention some world building adjustments. I haven't quite got a handle on the first things, but I have written a new first paragraph, dealing with the changes in the world around the characters. The original first paragraph focused sharply on one of the main characters and her immediate surroundings. It went like this:
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. 
The Macroura was in the temple.  Standing on the inlaid floor of the altar room which held no altar, she looked out across the city from the southern facing arched, floor-length window.  She rested one hand against the archway, and the fingerless gauntlets, plated she always wore scraped against the rose colored stone.  The ever present birdsong, echoing across the small bowl of the open air temple, paused briefly, then resumed.  The Macroura, Ranwhey Longtail, fifth queen and twelfth ruler of Endellion, turned back toward the mosaic of precious and semi-precious stones on the East Wall, the only wall without a window.  With the sun still behind it, the colors were muted, and the figure depicted receded into the background, almost disappearing.  Which was exactly why the Macroura chose this time of day to discharge her obligatory period of meditation.  The bitter satisfaction she took in the symbolism of it all was that of the very young.
The new opening (which is by no way final, I'm just playing around) is much more detached from the characters, and focuses on a larger geographical and cultural arena; this is because one of the changes I've decided to make is to add the POV of a character who, though a major force in the direction of the story, previously had no voice, and I thought comparing their two cultures at the beginning would shed some light on their interactions later on. The new opening, in its rough draft form, is this:
 The sister cities of Speirglass and Bruemdyke [I'm really not sold on this name; I'll think of something better later] were allies in ancient times, but, as siblings do, they came to quarrel. It was quite the rift, and it never healed. Generations passed, and eventually the cultures diverged so much that the one city could hardly recognize, and barely acknowledge, the other.  Yet they still shared a certain cultural familiarity; their religions drew on the same basic myths, the same archetypal heroes, their societies were similar in structure, although governments and crowns differed in their responsibilities and attitudes.  
Over time, Speirglass became more than just a city; it became the capital of a loose network of cities that, more or less, became a nation. On the other side of the Earthcrown mountains, Bruemdyke bloomed like a living jewel, establishing itself as the center of the world as far as the inhabitants if the Steppes were concerned. And then, spectacularly, it bled out. It became, in the course of only a few decades, a ruin, a blight, and a legend. There formed no nation in the Steppes. No other formalized city stepped up to rule the Steppes, and everyone dissolved into tribes and clans according to their nature.
     Like I said: rough draft.  I'm not even sure I'll go this way, but I have to start somewhere.  Another reason I decided to change things up as far as writing style is that I've also been toying with the idea of shifting the tone from straight up fantasy to something lighter and snarkier in places while still packing a serious and hefty emotional punch when it counts. In creative writing circles, they always tell you to read and emulate writers that you admire, so I've been rereading - well, re-listening to - some of my favorite Terry Pratchett books, paying particular attention to the openings.  I won't excerpt them here, because most of my copies are audiobooks, and my dictation skills just aren't that good.  But the ones I'm particularly looking at are Going Postal, The Truth, and Men at Arms.  Each of these stories begin with one or more almost-prologues that seem nebulous and unconnected, but which both set the tone and become extremely important to the story.