It’s October! The season of Hallowe’en, spookiness, short days, pumpkin-flavored everything and, eventually, cooler weather. It’s time to get my post-autumnal equinox party on!
Last question for 30 Days of writing:
30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!
I’m not a fan of "tagging," but I am going to give a shout-out to a writer that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit: Valerie Valdes. Her poetry is sublime, her short works are lovely and witty and her Broommates serial is a hell of a lot of fun. And a barghest! Who else uses a barghest in fiction??? Valerie’s fiction is definitely worth some reading time.
Em of Merit Badger fame has put together Book or Treat, a fundraiser for UNICEF and a general opportunity to celebrate the season in a bloggish fashion. I’m planning on spending the month reading horror fiction, watching spooky movies, and even throwing some posts about appropriate music, food, etc. Which means I’m putting aside the current books that I’ve been reading. For some reason, the time that I put aside for reading earlier in the year has dissolved. I’m floundering around in a couple of books and not "catching up" with the reading goals I had for them. Time to reload by declaring a mulligan, as it were and starting a new book: Beware! by Richard Laymon.
Had a good weekend. Birthday party for Betsy Saturday night, which included an interesting overlap of people from the Who Knows Whom social Venn diagram. Tried sweet tea vodka. It is too tasty. Spent the rest of the weekend gaming with Eric in a slow meandering way.
Dreamt last night of playing golf. I’ve never played golf before. I wasn’t good at it.
29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?
I think about writing every day. Even when I don’t sit down and write, I think about what stories I’m working on. Even when I’m not consciously thinking about writing, my brain is working on what I should be writing. It’s the thing I do. Often, it feels like a cloud that hangs over me because there is no division between "work" and "irl." I don’t "go home" at the end of the day and put "work" aside. Writing *is* real life for me.
That might sound a little desperate and isn’t the whole truth. Writing is the thing I want to do (even when I don’t want to do it). I’m not sure there are too many professions that can totally subsume a life. It’s more of a calling than a job. And I can forget about writing when doing something half-minded like playing ultimate frisbee or an MMO or working with HTML. The necessary effort for those things is very different from storytelling. To some degree, that’s why I like those things.
Further, real life informs fiction. But it’s more like my stories and characters remind me of real life, rather than the other way around. For example, in Weordan, Eric started putting together a political-economic situation based on a small area of the world being rich in certain resources. It didn’t take long to see how this would play out like the political-economic situations in the Middle East. There are causes for everything, and if you build a good enough model (Eric’s job) the causes and effects looks much the same in fiction as they do "in real life" even if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction.
28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there’s nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.
In Weordan, there are the facere who are pretty firmly on the autistic end of the thought spectrum. They are a linchpin in the fuel eater society. I have a minor character in Model Species that is a facere and a major character, Ysenof, in Fuel Eaters. (This assumes that one considers autism spectrum disorders to be disabilities. Where one falls on the spectrum might be the difference between "difference" and "disability," I suppose.)
It’s the end of September, but it doesn’t feel like the end of September. The temps haven’t significantly dipped below 100. I have Halloween decorations up, but my candles are melting. And my orange marshmallow pumpkins too.
Played a decent game of disc today. Nearly half the players were from my league team, including Paul, one of our new guys. Fun. Sweaty fun since it was probably in the high 90s, but still some good play.
The current scene of Luck for Hire would work better if I actually…uh…wrote it. Tomorrow I take a look at the third quarter.
27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.
A big role? Not overall, but situationally. Weordan is a different world, so a reader might notice that the people of Weordan look differently, skin-color-wise. Since the stories are told within the context of the world, I never expressly comment as an author on the differences. Joanne of Pas de Chat has a "condition" that gives her skin splotches. She also has a scar from a childhood accident. Otherwise, my characters kind of follow my lack of fashion awareness. I’m also a little face-blind and I wonder if that plays into my non-description of characters.
Something I noticed when doing my urban fantasy "tasting" was that so many of the writers gave very vivid descriptions of characters’ clothes. For my taste, too vivid. As a reader, I don’t really care that much about what characters are wearing unless it has some bearing on the character’s ability to do things, or if it’s the kind of detail that *really* tells me something that I need to know about the character.
My back is a little sore today, but in a good way. I wonder if running barefoot on grass engages my core more than running in shoes on a treadmill. When the weather finally cools down, I might start running in the baseball outfield once a week or so.
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
Not really. In some incarnation, Marie probably has a horse she’s fond of, but she’s provincial. Her horse isn’t exactly her pet. There are sentient moths in the Weordan books, but nobody would be dumb enough to consider one a pet.
26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!
While I play around with art occasionally, my abilities don’t hold up to my mental vision. (My OCs? OC? er…)
Chris was in town this weekend between training. We went to dinner with him and his family and Brittany (Chris’s girlfriend) and her family on Saturday and lunch with the two of them today. And in between we talked Brittany into playing two on two ultimate frisbee with us. Chris and I on one team; Eric and Britt on the other. She has good catching ability, but Chris and I were victorious today due to my being in "ultimate" shape and being semi-used to playing in the heat. Played most of the time barefoot. Made my ankles feel like they were actually working. I’ll see what kind of soreness I experience tomorrow.
I have not gotten anything done yet today…
24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?
Very willing. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering my philosophy about characters being the drivers of plot. Death makes good drama. Would Hamlet be as good if it didn’t end the way it does? Or Se7en? Sometimes an author has to show that he/she means business, that no one is safe. I have to give Joss Wheadon that; killing off a good-guy in the ninth episode of a series is gutsy. (I’m talking Angel here. Usually Wheadon saves death for the end of the series.) That doesn’t mean I don’t get a little misty-eyed when it has to be done. Writing is playing god. Shouldn’t a god be a sad when she has to destroy a creation, even if it’s for the the good of the story?
I’ve done some interesting deaths, but telling about them is pretty spoilery. Then again, one of my favorite deaths is in Lucinda at the Window and it’s available for download: Chapter 1 (pdf).
No usual piece of #FridayFlash or Luck for Hire this week, but I do have a short, very non-canon Luck piece up at 52|250. I wrote it in the plane last week. Otherwise, I’m working slowly on Luck. Summer is over. I need to start kicking some literary butt.
During the past week I’ve done a minor survey of urban fantasy. I’ll admit it, and this opinion may not make me popular: this isn’t a genre I particularly care to read. At least not in it’s paranormal kick-ass chick incarnation. It’s just…not my thing. Of course, this once again makes me wonder about my relationship with works authored by women (since six of the eight books I looked at were by women). Only three of the 20+ books I’ve read this year are by women. Surely, there have to be books by women that I’d like. linked to two 2011 books clubs with female authors. Maybe I should give them a try.
23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?
Every project is a bit different, and I don’t exactly keep track. Lucinda at the Window took about a year, though I was still putting polish on it in 2000 (after starting it in 1998). I worked on the Two Sprawling Fantasy Novels from sometime in 2000 until about mid 2004. The idea for the character of Marie originated in 1998. Pas de Chat was drafted in 4-5 months. It was also based on a character from 1998 and a short story that I wrote in 2000 (which took me a couple of months to write, I think). And then there’s Weordan. I started working on Weordan as a project in 2004 for NaNoWriMo. Model Species didn’t start taking shape until the next year. In the five years since then, Model Species is done and pretty polished. Divine Fire (started in 2007?) was finally finished last summer. Fuel Eaters, NaNoWriMo 2006, was restarted as NaNoWriMo 2008. We have a very rough first draft that isn’t near done. With short stories, it’s sort of a do or die thing. If I get rolling on one, it takes a week or two, maybe as much as a month. Flash fiction? Again, if I get going on an idea, a couple hours. This doesn’t mean that "finished" is ever really finished. Editing is on-going. And this doesn’t take into account how long Eric spends on the "planning" phase.