Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

She didn’t say it to be an accusation, and he didn’t flinch at it. He kept his hands on his knees, where she could see them, and his eyes open. He had a trustworthy face, although she wouldn’t have said that upon meeting him. Maybe it was the angles, the edge of his cheekbones, that kept lies from getting close. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hello, Spring

This has been, as a friend said yesterday, a week with too many feels. It has been a week with a lifetime tucked inside it. 

I took a couple days off work and went out to the country to stay with a friend. It's a reciprocal state of her having company and me being in a removed environment from my day to day distractions that results in big chunks of words going in my draft. It was magnificent, even if I did do half my words when I got home, because I met my somewhat ambitious word goal.

Very late Thursday—actually, it was very early Friday—I had a moment when the world shifted from one reality to another. It was a dear, little thing that caused it—really, kindness exchanged for kindness—but the reality I woke up to was not the reality I said good night to. I love simple moments charged with meaning, and how they reorientate the world.

Then something else happened on Friday that left me searching for a word that means both disappointed and relieved. The word that conveys those emotions are happening at the same time—that they're twisted and twined together. Is it closure?

Spent this weekend with friends while we wandered different neighbourhoods. I love this city in the spring and the whole world of possibilities coming out of hibernation. I've been thinking about the plans we make, and how we pretend we know what the future looks like. More than that, we pretend we know what our ideal future will look like. We make goals without understanding anything about them; they sound like the right direction, a good destination, so we decide we want something without considering how we'll grow from the person we are to the person we'll become. We think "I want to do this, so my life will look like this, and it will happen in this way."

A year ago disappointment was a sharp-edged word; I kept cutting my hands on it while I reached for things. And reached. And reached. And reached. This week someone dulled those edges and I can hold it, examine it, and then release it.

There is a difference between giving up and letting go. Especially if you're relinquishing something that might feel galaxy-sized, but you realize it will free up space for what is the whole of the universe to you.

Is this about work? Yes, it is. Is this about writing? Oh, absolutely. This is about life. It's finally spring, so let's go live it.

My friend took this picture because it's AWESOME and the world could always use more of that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

        "I’ve told you that there is no Lord Barrington in this forest,” he said. “Only me.”
       "You would be Lord Barrington if you left this place.”
       The lantern caught his jaw, the faint shadow of stubble growing on it. It was a jaw strong as any hunter’s, and it was held firm against her words. 
       “I wish you wouldn’t do that,” he said. “You can’t come here and exhume all my buried possibilities."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Last night I finished reading Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races. I had missed this book when it first released, and then just never gotten around to it. (And yes, several people have given me hell since finding out that I hadn't read it yet.) Most everyone would mention it and then ask me if I liked horses, to which I would conclude it was a book about horses and that didn't sound like something I wanted to read. Then someone clarified it was a book about horses that eat people, and I was like "whoa, I am all over that" because I love a monster story.

The Scorpio Races does have monsters in it, but it's not specifically a monster book. It's a story of people's wants, and the different ways that we grow up and move on. (It is also a book where horses eat people, and most certainly a book for people who love horses.) It's a book about myth and magic and tradition and how we live with them.  

More importantly, The Scorpio Races is beautifully atmospheric, it's a world built inside a book. Reading it reminded me of how to build a world—it's the details. The way characters think and feel and the food they eat and the words they use. World isn't just a town name or a map frontispiece, it permeates every scene. It is the way the air smells and how the birds sound and the color of the mud clinging to a character's shoes.

Sometimes I read a book, and the author has a talent for place... but they do nothing with the place. They create it and it's there, but it's all background. It never moves from atmosphere to solid ground beneath a reader's feet.

While I love Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly, the main character of The Scorpio Races is Thisby, with its awful weather and hungry capaill uisce. It was so real, transcending mood and tone to become the only place where this book could have happened.

There was something beautifully Diana Wynne Jones-like about the story, from the subtle and perfect weaving of magic throughout to George Holly, who is basically the Chrestomanci. Seriously. He shows up and he's all "hello, I am a friendly and oddly well-dressed foreigner, so let me subtly comment on how you should fix your life then go make nice with this lady off camera." Ok, maybe he's the Doctor of the book. Either way, George Holly was an unending source of amusement. I don't know if I could've finished the book without him, because there were dark times in those pages and this was not the best week to be reading something with such a weight to it.

I could talk myself into relatively certainty that Sean and Puck would be alive by the end of the story, but I was always on the edge of horror that something awful might happen to Finn. (Maybe I've read too many Cassandra Clare books.) This is information I would share with people when I told them I was reading the book. "I'm very concerned for Finn." I supposed being an older sister, I could relate to Finn and Puck's relationship more than Gabe and Puck's.

But I'm glad I gave this book a chance and that I finished it, so I could feel that same sense I get after I read David Mitchell—the knowing that I've just put something of literary merit, something that I can learn from, into my head. Because now I want to take what I've learned and applied it to how I tell my own stories.

Now if I could just convince someone to make me November Cakes....

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Never Wanted Your Love

If I were to search this blog, I could likely find several posts of how I loathe writing The Middle of a draft. I'm not going to search the blog, but I'm fairly certain they're there. The Middle is the part where I am convinced that nothing I've written makes any sense, but it's not the point where I throw it out and start all over again. (Which have done twice, and it was around 53,000-56,000 words in.)

Beginnings are easy, because I don't start writing a book until I know how it starts. Endings are easy because I know when I've gotten to the end. It's instinct. But The Middle? The Middle is a flashlight beam in the woods that only reveals a portion of the path at the time. Made worse by suspicious sounds coming from an ambiguously located but obviously nearby location.

I know when I'm in The Middle, because I started grumbling about how awful this was. I looked at my wordcount and judged it against what books by me usually total and went "oh, it's not the story. It's just The Middle." Then I remembered that there's a light novel sitting on my shelf and several finished manuscripts that each did their tour of duty in The Middle, and each came out the other side and found the end. This one will, too, and how ever awful it may be now... I'll just need to finish it. I can do something with a finished thing.

Surviving The Middle is learning to love the story, despite that it's not what I thought it was. It's when the story becomes the beginning of what—after significant revision—it's going to be.