Branches

Well, another chapter finished, and another 1400 words written–wowza… but… I’m getting a bit nervous. A few things have dropped into place that are taking me off the path I thought I was headed down. I originally thought I was walking down the same plot as in my original take on the ending of this novel–just at a slower pace. I could still be, but right now, I’m not sure. I may not get to reuse all those dropped scenes after all! Before, I figured I’d get to put them back in, just at a more “proper time.”

Oh, if only I could make myself use–and stick to–outlines! But I seem to just prefer to write. When I write outlines, I wander away from them and all over and I still end up writing organically. And though I keep trying to use more structured tools–like, I briefly tried Scrivener–I can’t take all that fussing.

In the end I seem to want it to be just me and the word file and all the agony that follows. And I guess if it means I write 30,000 of the wrong words… I guess sometimes that’s just what happens.

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Ye Olde Word Count

Tonight I wrote roughly a thousand words! I’m now on Chapter Seventeen, where, last week, I was stuck on Chapter Fourteen. The past few times I’ve sat down to write I’ve been doing all right. I’m not sure what’s making the difference. Well–one thing that does help is that I’m trying really hard to make sure that I stop with some idea of what happens next, and write that as a sentence at the end of the document. I’m also trying really hard to resist the constant whisper of “that sucks.” I’m leaving dialogue untagged knowing I’ll come back and tag it later (I know I actually WILL do that, unlike some things that I say I’ll do later and then never do). I don’t feel like I am plunging ahead blindly, even though I do feel a little blind, it’s not the wreckless, I-really-have-no-clue feeling of before. It’s more a slight uncertainty that I might not be doing exactly the right thing yet.

I’ve been fighting against the tendency of my brain to judge “lack of something potential” as “failure.” Ie., just because I’ve not yet gotten something that COULD happen, doesn’t mean that I won’t ever.

I also wrote a rambling, fun thing for Re-Vamp, which I look forward to continuing at some point.

[dream scene] The Girl Who Climbed

She can feel Isadore’s eyes on her back, expecting her to hang back and wait for them–for Isaac–but she doesn’t stop. She leaps onto the first obstacle and she climbs, feels the demand on her muscles, the cold iron bars pressed hard under her fingers, the pounding of her heart. She is soon dizzyingly high but she never stops moving, crossing over the top of the barrier. She’s not oblivious: she can feel the eyes of her friend still on her, still burning, demanding she stop.

But she can’t stop, and she won’t. She wishes a little that Isaac would hurry up and catch up with her, call her name, but even then, she wouldn’t stop.

She likes him well enough, but her heart truly comes alive as she is doing this, as she trains and fights and moves on.

Still later, when she is alone with her mother, she cries to know she has lost him. She asks her mother why she couldn’t have been born a boy: were she a boy, and Isaac a girl, she says, Isaac would expect to be left behind. He would be proud of her skill and happy to wait any sign of her affection.

“If Isaac were that sort of girl,” her mother says, “You wouldn’t like him.”

“I’d still rather be a boy,” she says fiercely.

Her mother hugs her tight. “Oh my love,” her mother says, and then is quiet.

A hard lesson

This seems to be the theme of the day, as I’ve seen no less than three blog posts touching on the subject, but it’s certainly something I need to get into my thick skull:

You can’t please everybody.

I think this is why I seem to be on an endless quest to find an Ideal Reader. Someone to keep in mind as I write, to write “for” in a way. I guess really ideally, it’d be wonderful if *I* could be my own ideal reader, but I’m not sure my basement-low self-esteem is really conducive to such a thing. I’m working on that, but it could be a long time before I work that out, if ever, so in the meantime I have to figure out how to work around it. I also realize because of how I write I will probably have different Ideal Readers for different stories–though I look on a few of my friends with envy, knowing they have one person who is always there as their reader and cheerleader, I am not sure the same thing will work for me as I violently go from soppy drama to violent horror. 😛

This is an old post by John Scalzi, but I think my favorite on this theme.

***

On a related but tangential note: I feel like I’ve struggled for a long time to find my Ideal Audience as well. My friend Noel Blue, who has a very solid following, often reassures me that my real problem is just that I need to find the right audience, that the mutual misery I found while attempting to court the “romantica” crowd was due to a lack of speaking the same literary language. Now, I certainly want to believe that–it would make it Not My Fault!–but who knows if it’s true!

In the meantime, I think, I’ve figured out two Ideal Readers for Red Box, the people I want the story to please most. And I’ll listen to everyone else, certainly. But I think they both enjoy the story very much for what it is, and have been supportive throughout its development without being unwilling to point out what isn’t working, and I’d love them to love the story more than anything else.

Story beginnings

So I started considering that dream idea I had a while back. I don’t know if I’ll actually pursue this idea further, but hey! And if the idea or anything inspires you, feel free to write your own stories. Just be sure to share!

He complains, of course, when he gets the girl.

“But,” Adam says, in the gravelly voice of the massive ogre-warrior he’s pulled, “She’s hot. You get to look at her hot ass the whole time. What’s so bad about that?”

“She’s totally weak. Look at her stats,” Mark says, calling them up with a double-flick of his fingers. “And she’s short. Her reach doesn’t match mine at all.” He levels an imaginary punch at the thick grey jaw of the ogre. His character, the infuriatingly compact brunette, comes a full inch from landing the punch. He might’ve pulled a little short to begin with, but he’d never tell Adam that. “Besides. She’s not that hot. She’s got barely any–”

He hears a hollow thud to his right. Adam must be really annoyed; he’s cracked his pod to kick Mark’s. The ogre warrior goes momentarily limp as Adam disconnects, then reconnects.

“Fine,” the ogre grumbles. “We can trade.”

“No, if you take the girl you’ll just spend all your time in social!”

“Then we can re-roll! Jesus, Mark. You’re turning that hot ass into a whiny bitch!”

Mark scowls. “I’ve only got half an hour. I don’t have time to re-roll. Ugh, let’s just go. This fucking sucks.”

He stomps off in unlikely high-heeled animal-skin boots, grumbling.

But she grows on him. She’s fast, got good healing, and stamina. Adam’s ogre–Grrrumble is what Adam’s named him–has a long, dramatic and stupid injury reaction, and Mark’s girl doesn’t. (He called her “Carla,” after a hated ex-girlfriend, expecting her to die uselessly and multiple times.) He likes the way her shoulders shift as she walks, even more than the slight, exaggerated swing of her hips. The way she grunts as she hoists herself up ledges and squirrels into places that Grrrumble has no hope of getting. She earns him enough to buy a nice leather jerkin by the end of his half hour, and he gets to gloat while Adam envies.

“We can re-roll tomorrow,” Adam says, as they get ready to log off, and Mark says,

“No way.”

And he waves goodbye to his compact girl, furtively, of course.

Aliens and attempts to relax

I haven’t been feeling much like a stellar shining star lately, and my writing output has been very minimal. A huge part is a confidence problem and when I mentioned it to some friends, a few suggested I try to relax and just find enjoyment in things again, and then come back when my attitude is more balanced and less negative.

So I have been trying. I really thought, once I stepped away from demanding I finish some project or another in some timeframe or another, that I would once again have a million little short story or other ideas pop up. I know little world glimpses have come and gone.

But the only world that seems to be in my head is the Red Box’s world.

My brain likes to undermine me. I can tell already.

***

I haven’t been TRULY afraid, like, crossing-over-into-real-world-fear, of the aliens from Alien(s) in a long time. But the other night I had a dream–well, really more of a nightmare–about them and it was scary. I woke up (I think… or maybe I dreamed that I woke up) really afraid that the Aliens were waiting for me should I get up out of bed. In one part, there was a weird Alien-hybrid creature; well, more like, as if a fully grown Alien had exploded a human being and was still covered in the fatty glops and skin and fragments of the person. I suppose I’ve probably been playing too much Dead Space.

Any way it did give me this craving to write a story that paid homage to, well, Terminator and Alien, to that heroine that doesn’t seem to exist much any more, not exactly–both Ripley and Sarah Connor started out pretty ordinary, and then were forced by crisis to show the real toughness underneath. In Sarah Connor’s case, she even seemed fragile at first. And in both cases, there was no heavy obsession (I felt, anyway) with the sexiness or prettiness of the heroines. Ripley I especially love because she didn’t need excuses for why she fought so hard. She wasn’t in love or (in the first movie) protecting a child. She was surviving and she was awesome.

I think that is awesome. I kind of miss it.

But the story I want to write has no plot right now, just a vague desire to bring back a Ripley-style heroine, or maybe a pair of heroines.