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In Which There Are Many Stories

I sent in Warrior and Witch today, following a marathon of revision that turned my brain to mush. (It would have been nice if my brain had had all those good ideas about how to rewrite it earlier than the last minute — though I suppose it’s nicer than not having any good ideas at all.) My plan for the next few days involves lying around like a dead thing and doing as little work as I can get away with, but after that, what next?

First of all, I have five stories or so that have been awaiting revision — some of them for more than a year. I’ll probably ramble about them more in another post, but for posterity’s sake, on this list are “The Memories Rise to Hunt,” “Sciatha Reborn,” “On the Feast of the Firewife,” “Games in the Dark,” and “Apply Now,” which really needs a better title. I should do something with those.

I should also do something with the stories sitting around in various states of progress. “A Mask of Flesh” is probably the most likely to get itself finished soon, at which point I can think about turning the abortive mess of “Ink, Like Blood” into a related story for that one. There’s also “Even in Decline,” if I can figure out just where it’s going, though I refuse to work on that one until I get “Sciatha Reborn” out there (again, a related story — I like working in a setting multiple times). Then I blame for getting my brain back onto “The Deaths of Christopher Marlowe,” though that will certainly have to wait until I can do some reasearch for it. Similarly research-intensive will be “Hannibal of the Rockies” — I need to get back in touch with the relevant people on that one. (Hi, .) The Goddess Triumphant story to go along with “On the Feast of the Firewife” and its friends has a title now (“Kingspeaker”), but I’m not sure what exactly it thinks it’s about. Then there are older bits: “Once a Goddess” (I refuse to give up on that one), two different Driftwood story openings, another Twilight story, the “faerie trouble” story . . . .

Here’s the plan. Every two weeks, I’ll aim to get one of my completed stories revised and out the door. (Discussion of just what kind of effort that will take can wait for that other post.) Also, every week, I’ll aim to finish writing something. Not necessarily a short story; I know I don’t have the kind of time for that at the moment. It can be an essay for my website, or my ICFA paper, or my Pushing Boundaries paper if it gets accepted. But something. Every week.

And, in the meantime — yes, I’m delusional; why do you ask? — playing around with the next novel project. Which means revision of SotS-that-needs-a-new-title, and noodling with its sequel, which frankly I can’t wait to get started on. We’ll see what kind of schedule I put myself on for those.

But first, lying around like a dead thing. I feel I’ve earned it.

Criminy. The last time I flexed my mythology muscles this much was . . . .

. . . um . . .

Let’s start that one over.

Criminy, I’ve never flexed my mythology muscles that much before. From trying to dredge up enough underworld/death/destruction/evil gods to cast a 40-person LARP, to remembering what all their stories are, to figuring out what kinds of plot they might have with each other, and then crowning it all by gear-shifting continuously throughout the game itself — do you have any idea how brain-breaking it is to explain Sumerian me to someone, turn around, decide what to do about Odin’s eyeball getting passed to a mortal, turn around, and answer a question on Hindu metaphysics? (Hindu metaphysics can melt your brain all on their own; they don’t need help.)

But the Parliament of the Apocalypse game appears to have gone well. At least, everybody who came to Chili’s seemed reasonably happy ranging up to giddy with residual glee. Costuming was fan-frickin-tastic — as usual, which is one of the reasons I love LARPing with this group. With the high-dress Concordia game just two weeks ago, people still managed to show up with some truly phenomenal stuff. I was pleased by such depictions as the Thoroughly Modern Morrigan (think Irish war goddess as IRA extremist), but I gotta admit, my anthropological snobbery pretty much drooled itself into oblivion over tour de forces like our seaweedy Sedna, Mictlantecuhtli’s regalia, the 11-layer Heian-period junihitoe of Izanami, and more.

What, you want pictures? You may find some here and some here. The former are more posed shots that show costumes clearly, while many of the latter are in-game shots that show the atmosphere of the game. Oh yeah, and though you can’t see it clearly, set crew blew us away, turning the IMU Kiva into our cavern setting, with black tablecloths covering the walls and roots dangling from the ceiling. It’s just a pity that I don’t think anyone got a photo of the anchor of reality that was sitting in the middle.

I’ll stop burbling now. It was my Very First LARP that I’ve co-run, and while putting it together in what functionally speaking was about three weeks was really not the smartest thing I’ve ever agreed to, it was too tempting of a mythology challenge to turn down.


A scruffy old guy in a van did indeed show up yesterday with my bag, so all’s well on that front.

In other news, I have a new icon, courtesy of my friendly not-so-neighborhood Singaporean assassin cook. (I just couldn’t resist calling him that.) As with my Long Room academic icon, I’m not sure it looks quite as cool when shrunk down to LJ icon-size, but it will certainly do for now.

Inspiration Has Its Own Timetable

Ah, the beloved and detested tendency of inspiration to strike when I really don’t have time for it.

In less than twenty-four hours, I’ve gone from revisiting the thought that I should rip out the Changeling-specific and Earth-specific aspects of the Central American stuff I cooked up for the Changeling game and use it as the basis for some kind of fiction, straight to two hundred some-odd words of a story that really, really wants to get out of my head RIGHT NOW. Nevermind, of course, that I’m working on Warrior and Witch, and really need to be focusing on that, not questions like how many Nahuatl terms I can get away with before my readers will quit in despair. The point is, having passed very rapidly through the stage of “well, I’ve got a setting, sure, but no particular story ideas,” I’m having to push at this bitchy little tz’ite in my head (huh, should I go on using the term tz’ite, or find something else? NO NO NOT TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW) to get her to shut up.

This will only encourage her, but I figured I’d share the beginning of the story.

Sitting alone in the green heat of the forest, far from the road and any observing eyes, Neniza began to craft her mask of flesh.

She began with her toes, for the face would be the hardest part. She would have dearly loved to shape herself into the slender, delicate form of an amanatl, but it would never work. Oh, she could take the form easy enough, but the amanah were not common caste, and she could never hope to mimic the ways of court folk well enough to pass. Instead she crafted for herself the petite, pretty form of a young alux peasant. The lord took his amusements often enough with such. It would suffice.

Her father had taught her this work, their art, after her horrified mother saw what she had birthed and left it in the woods. He would have preferred a son, Neniza knew. Daughters were dangerous things. She had not told him where she was going, what she intended to do. He believed they should stay out of sight, accept their exile to the forests — nevermind that he himself went to town all too often, to court the women of other castes and sire more children for them to fear. It was all right for him.

But not for her. She was too dangerous.

That means I’m powerful, Neniza thought, and began to work on her face.

Now I’m going to put her away and go back to work on the novel at hand.

Revision Thoughts

As I trundle along on the revision of Warrior and Witch, I find myself reflecting in certain ways that I was less inclined to, back when I wasn’t actually paid to do this stuff.

It’s easier to get scared, these days. I know people are going to read this. In the past, if I botched a work (and yes, I did, more than once, the most painful example being the first draft of Sunlight and Storm), then I could shelve it for a while until I knew how to make it better. More to the point, I was more willing to gamble in those days, because if I aimed high and missed, no one had to know.

To put it quite bluntly, I got very ambitious with certain aspects of Warrior and Witch, and a few of them blew up in my face. Now I’m sorting through the pieces, deciding which ones I can attack again and thereby make work, and which ones need to be excised as failed experiments, things I’m not ready to pull off just yet. I’m learning many valuable lessons in the process, of course. Spent some time tonight doing statistical analysis, since one of the gripes was that a particular character was getting too much screen time over another. Turns out to not be true, not by a long shot (the supposedly neglected character’s getting more than half again as much wordage, in terms of pov scenes, than the supposedly excessive character), but from this I learn that (duh) wordcount isn’t everything. So now I’m experimenting whether I can, through jiggery-pokery, bump up the prominence of the “neglected” character without actually ripping out half the “excessive” character’s scenes. I might have been better off agreeing to a third book, and splitting the plot of this one so it spanned two volumes, but I’m still glad of the decision I made; I fear my enthusiasm for this project wouldn’t have sustained me through a third book.

The problem is, there’s an easy way out of the problem: stop being so ambitious. I wouldn’t be in this situation if I hadn’t tried to write a sequel that would be noticeably larger in scope and complexity than its predecessor. And honestly, there are plenty of authors who do exactly that, and sell well, and have fans, and sometimes I myself am on of those fans. I can enjoy more of the same, if it’s competently done.

But I wasn’t willing to take that way out. And let me state here and now — since, in my own personal psychological calendar, January is the month I dedicate to ambition (in place of New Year’s Resolutions) — that I vow never to give up on ambition. Even if it means I find myself choking on indigestible tangles of political intrigue the day I decide finally to tackle The Iron Rose, I’ll still give it a shot.

Because I refuse to settle for just treading water, however comfortable it may be.

Photography Envy

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve just been turned green with photography envy. The Coyote’s pictures from the Concordia game remind me just how much difference there is between the kind of photography I do (quick shots snapped off, sometimes with thought given to composition, but little to no understanding of light and other such matters) and the kind of photography you get with a good camera and knowledge of how to work it to the best advantage in the circumstances.

Case in point, three pictures of me from the Concordia game.

I’d link to the whole album of pictures if the Coyote hadn’t requested we keep the password private. Suffice to say that the compositions he directed his subjects into go a long way towards capturing us-as-characters, rather than us-as-players-in-funny-clothes, and that the colors come through with wonderful richness. Coyote, I may hire you someday as my photographer for research purposes, since once of my recurring questions has been, how the hell can I show photos of what I’m working on, without them looking flat to an outside eye?

And yes, that would be the dress which ate my life lately. I’ll have to find other excuses to wear it. (Once I replace the now-destroyed sleeves. And either get a new crinoline, or widen the waistband of mine so it stops pinching a nerve in my back.) ) You can see more detail of the fabrics, and also what I did to my hair, in this shot, but watch out for the blinding glare of flash off satin — I was shiny that day.

Methinks I might photoshop these shots a bit — with permission, Coyote — to get rid of the scars and weirdnesses like that inexplicable patch of red on my neck. They’re fantastic pictures, and I’m thrilled to have them.