I’m getting used to the tiny increments I’m doing for SEA. Part of me is chomping at the bit, wanting to start working on the computer and really getting big word counts on it. But I don’t have time for that right now. But it’s nice to just do a bit each day and feel like I’m still connected to the story.
I have such an archive of unfinished stories and I know that, no matter how good or bad they might be, how much I enjoyed the world when I made it, I won’t go back to them. Too much time has passed. I’m not the person who created those stories in the first place and I don’t know how to bring them up to speed with me. Mostly, that’s okay, because my old projects (I’m talking back in high school) were awful and should be abandoned. But there are a few that still call to me. Maybe some day.
But I definitely don’t want to create any more abandoned projects. So the small daily work lets me stay in it enough that it feels like it still belongs to me. And when I get through some of the big work I have coming up (NaNoWriMo, anyone?), I can create some time to really dive into SEA.
On the subject of big work, HoC is coming along well. I’m working on a combination of character development and plotting for the season. I have a strong sense of my beginning and ending points, which means that I can write the first episode even as I’m still developing. But once I get into the meat of the plot, I’ll need to have at least the core story points pinned down. I have space set aside for side stories, though, so I’ll still have room to play as I go.
I am also spending a painful quantity of time looking up only marginally helpful information about cats. Coat and body genetics are a big time sink at the moment. But the research about cat culture is generating many useful ideas. This, if you will indulge me for one gorgeous Stephen Fry-esque moment, is when the brain makes fantastic leaps of logic, irrational brilliance coalesces in a corner, and a story starts to spin itself together from moist and fluffy goodness.
I do love my job.
P.S. Before I forget for the third time, there is, obviously, no Working Review this week. I’ll be posting them every other week, so the next one will be out Sept. 23. Good night.
Kept my promise to myself and wrote for SEA first thing this morning. Not a lot of words, but some pretty interesting ones. NK is calling the shots in her own scene. The sentence I wrote for this scene was cryptic from the beginning; then I forgot what I had meant. But instead of fussing with it, I just started writing. And NK came through with some breaking and entering and snooping. I have a vague idea of what she’s after and why, but she’s keeping pretty mum about it.
House of Cats is coming together well. Almost more so than I’m comfortable with. Having said that I specifically did not want to write a novel and serialize it as I go, that’s more or less what I will be doing. I’m working out a schedule for it and plotting it out. I have to give myself very firm guidelines since I won’t be able to backtrack through published pieces if I go astray. I have not yet decided on a length for each section; I may not know for sure until the first one is finished. The first installment will come out September 27 and new parts will come out every other week. According to my current plans, it will take me until June 20, 2010 to complete the story.
I am scaring myself. I have never attempted something this ambitious. Nor have I ever made my work available to readers as it is being written. I feel a bit sick thinking about this. I really love the idea of House of Cats. But the sensible part of me is somewhere in the back of my mind with its claws digging into the carpet, kicking and screaming, certain that I’m going to fall on my face. It might be right. But for the life of me, I can’t find the will to walk away from the idea.
I keep meaning to start writing SEA earlier in the day so I don’t do this to myself. It gets late enough that I just can’t, or won’t, write that day. Tomorrow, first thing when I wake up, I’m writing. Enough of this dicking around.
On the other hand, I did get some decent work done on what will be the Sunday column for a while. I am proud to introduce the House of Cats. I don’t want to say too much about it, since I’m still working out the details and I don’t want to commit to anything prematurely. But I put together a working blurb:
At the House of Cats, those felines who are cursed to become humans when the moon enters Leo find a safe haven between two worlds. But the House has fallen into disrepair; the cat who should be leading them has run away. She dreams of being a chef, of living as a human all the time or at least six days a week. Meanwhile, a battle-scarred tom has stepped into the power vacuum left when the old queen died and the new queen disappeared. But he has been running too, using drugs to remain a cat always and cutting the denizens of the House off from the outside world. Can these two opposites band together and unite the cats to restore the House to its former glory? Or will a greedy developer and a bunch of nosy neighbors drive the cats from their home?
Oh, god, am I tired. Touched base with the story, but not much more. We met another main character for the first time. Maybe it’s all the years of dealing with certain family members with a penchant for mild racism, but I am a little too good at writing subtly (or not so subtly) prejudiced characters. It’s something of a guilty pleasure, as well, to say all the rude things we all think at times (oh, come on, admit it) through a character who thinks these are the only correct views. I may not admire her attitude, but she’s very easy to write. Started hinting at some of the big background conflicts my world is facing too.
Also, I have a possible lead on the Sunday column issue. Clearly, there won’t be one today and there mightn’t be one next Sunday either, while I get things planned out. But I feel like there is a strong chance this idea will pan out. The only problem I have: I think it’s going to turn into a novel on me. This fills me with dread. I am trying to think of a way to structure it like a season of a television show. Each episode, a complete story, collectively building the larger narrative of the season. This is more ambitious than I can bear to think about. So I think I’ll go to sleep and think about it tomorrow.
Finally got something from S.E.A. that I liked, that I felt did some sort of justice to the idea I was attempting to capture. Have a snippet. As a note, the Far Shore is what our world is called by the denizens of the magical territory in the story. Ours is the world of the mundane, the material, the quantifiable. Theirs is the world of the mystical, the spiritual, the unknowable. And Teg is the codename for the female character around whom the secondary plot revolves. She can summon water and is using it to travel from the shore to a passing freighter ship.
Dark, many-tentacled things drifted almost out of sight in the murky water. The Far Shore had driven away the sea monsters and the dragons and the wishing fish. They came here instead. The deeper the water Teg swam in, the more dangerous it became. She broke the surface and skimmed the water long enough to take a breath. As she did, she checked the course of the ship and adjusted her own. Back underwater, she scattered a school of rainbow-scaled somethings that emitted mournful hoots and coos.
Another jump, another breath, another correction.
Then she gets attacked by a baby kraken. :)
The scene I had planned revolved mainly around her misgivings about leaving home to seek her fortune and a little demonstration with my world-building. I thought it would be fun, but not twisty at all. What I got instead was a nice little adventure, some great use of my world-building, and an opportunity to make her circumstances even more unpleasant than they had been. Which was just what I needed.
I had a pointlessly hideous day. And I was going to write this whole long post about the crushing weight of my mother’s legacy, as imagined by other people. About my love and respect for and friendship with her as a person and my hatred and terror of her as a mythic hero in the horse world as we know it. About the constant pressure to follow in her footsteps and the constant reminders that I could never possibly live up to her near-magical ability with horses (which is a load of shit anyway; a life of hard work and intelligent attention should not be confused with magic).
Then I realized it just does not matter. In trying to make it as a professional writer, I’ve got her to back my play. The people who actually matter to me do not expect me to do anything with my life but write. I’ve got the means, slim though they may be, to pursue that dream. And if I help with the horses, that’s cool too. It doesn’t have to mean anything more significant than that.
So I deleted the whole thing and spent an hour lost in my writing. So never mind.
To quote Monty Python: sorry; this isn’t a very good announcement. Sorry.