Monday, March 26, 2007

Writerly Update

Current wordcount: 34,100 words. Making progress, albeit at the speed of a striking snail. It's just not the same as November. I'm hoping for a productivity boost next month, though, when I'm acting as accountability for a friend who's staging an April version of NaNoWriMo. The main thing for me is to get back in the groove of writing something every day. I've let myself slip quite a bit over the last couple months.

Current feeling: I'm really liking the way this is turning out. Actually, a better way to put that is: I feel like I'm getting back to my roots. I've always been an avid reader of fantasy. From C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia in the second grade, at least nine out of every ten books I've read has had something markedly fantastic about it, from the not-really-magic unusualities of The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer (which is really more sci-fi, I suppose) to the all-out, amazingly inventive, not one but two magic systems in Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy, Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen (complete with magic bells). The only thing I'm slightly worried about is that I'm rereading said trilogy at the moment (I finished Lirael earlier today and am about to start Abhorsen) and quite a bit of the musical aspect of Nix's magic seems to be seeping into mine.

But back to what I was actually saying. Lately I've been focusing on the political aspects of my story, the more mundane problems of plot and characterization, and leaving little time for the magic that I think will make it really shine, the truly fantastic element that I grew up loving. Somehow, I conveniently left myself little clues that I can expound on when I go back through, to make it more apparent that the magic exists before it actually comes out in the open (a problem of mine that was especially marked in the first rough draft I ever finished, from NaNo 2005, which I sadly still have not been able to pull out and revise), but it is going to require a lot of reworking to make all fit like I want it to. Ah well. A worry for another day.

Happy Monday to everyone. I hope your writing and other pursuits are going well.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Truth vs. Fiction (Truth's stranger. Who knew?)

I recently finished reading The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. My immediate impression of the book is a good one - it's the extremely well-woven tales of three women in Tudor England, the three women involved in Henry VIII's court about whom we know the least (Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Boleyn). I've always been interested in the era, but this particular book, so much richer than other's I've read, has strengthened my desire to know more about each individual character. It's funny how that happens - the first Tudor England book I bought was a YA called Nine Days a Queen by Ann Rinaldi. I loved the writing, but the story was what really took my breath away - because, save for the details, it was true. From there it went on to Carolyn Meyer's Beware, Princess Elizabeth, and later her other books in that set - Patience, Princess Catherine, Mary, Bloody Mary, and Doomed Queen Anne. When I found The Boleyn Inheritance, I knew (by the page count alone) that it would be a more complete look at what is believed to be these women's lives, but I wasn't prepared for the depth of characterization, the intricacy of the story.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that the character of Jane Boleyn just would not have worked if she hadn't been real.

Jane Boleyn was not, in fact, a Boleyn. She was born Jane Parker, daughter of Henry Parker, Lord Morley and married George Boleyn, the brother of Anne Boleyn, who became King Henry VIII's second wife in 1533, before the anullment of his first marriage. Nice folks. Jane benefitted from Anne's ascension as queen, but only just escaped the scaffold after Anne and George's rather spectacular fall in 1536, pulled from the flames of the court by her uncle-by-marriage Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (another nice guy). Thus she got to keep her title, the Lady Rochford, and her head (until her execution following the fall of Queen Katherine Howard in 1542. For the record, historians are fairly sure that Katherine was guilty of the adultery that sent her to the block, but Anne almost definitely wasn't) .

That's all background. Historical evidence leads us to believe that Jane was very much in love with her husband George, and found his strong relationship with his sister (thus excluding her) too much to bear. It was her evidence that sent the two Boleyns to the scaffold, for no other reasons that jealousy, malice, and spite, tempered with a desire to preserve the Boleyn inheritance rather than the Boleyns themselves.

If I read a novel in which the villain acted out of nothing but jealousy, malice, and spite, with such disastrous and personal results, I'd be a little skeptical. The inheritance is a big deal, but in that day and age, when your head wasn't securely attached to your neck if you were too close to the king, I'd think that allies would be a tad bit better. Especially allies in high places, never mind the Queen of England.

But you see, in historical fiction (and I'm not taking potshots at authors of historical fiction, either, because I absolutely adore what I've read of it, and I'm definitely not saying it's any easier to write than, say, fantasy), there's that shred of a shield you can hide behind, because this person was real, and this motivation was true to them.

This brings me back to Philippa Gregory's superb writing, because, though I can think about how unbelievable Jane Boleyn is now, while I was reading the book it seemed entirely believable. I'm impressed.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Back to the writing board...

Any observant readers will noticed a distinct lack of writing-related posts lately. (Acutally, you don't have to be observant. Literate, maybe, but not observant.) That's because there hasn't been much writing going on.

But I intend to change that. Now that the production I was stage-managing is over (and it went very well, too), I'm less wound up, more creative, and have more time. It's a very nice situation.

Now I just have to get back on the shtick. I believe I was in the middle of one of my characters turning into a sociopath...or possibly revealing that she has always, in fact, been a sociopath. We'll just have to see. Let's just say, the sooner I get past this scene, the better. Gossipy scenes are an absolute necessity in my WiP, but sometimes they just aren't too fun.

Do you have any kinds of scenes that you find yourself just pushing through, working on the happy assumption that you can go back and fix it later?

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Printer Conspiracy, Part One of Many (I'm sure)

I've had trouble with printers before, but this morning was singularly frustrating. By some weird twist of fate, I did not smash it to bits. I wanted to. Oh, did I want to. But it's a nice printer with a nice scanner and copier and I'd rather like to not have to shell out money for a new one.

That does not change the fact that this printer is evil. EVIL.

So, I've needed to print out blank sheet music for the piano for quite awhile now. I've been putting it off, mostly because other people were using the Printer of Doom or because I knew I could do it later.

Well, yesterday I finally got around to it, didn't work. I click the stupid "Print" button on (which has worked just fine for me in the past) many, many times before I finally realized that the printer just wasn't listening to me. So I went out looking for another good blank sheet music site. I tried with two others. No dice. I called a friend of mine who's very music-oriented. She didn't have any suggestions either. So I dropped it, hoping the site or my printer would decide to cooperate in the morning.

Nope. Again, clicked the "Print" button far too many times. Nothing. Nada. I tried from a different computer. Nope. I tried turning on the third computer (the one that, we think, is most directly hooked up to the printer) and printing from each of the others. (I don't dare print from that third computer. It doesn't like me.)

I've still got nothing.

After slapping the printer on the side a few times (not hard) and yelling at it a little bit, I turned off the other two computers and stomped downstairs. I went to the piano, probably to play something dark and militant, and what do I see on top but a sheet of blank sheet music?

At this point I could tear my hair out. I rummage over the top of the piano, but there's only the one sheet, and there's no way I can fit what I need to on sheet.

So, in a fit of total desperation, I went back upstairs, put the music on the copier glass, prayed, considered offering a sacrifice to the printer, decided that would be overkill, and hit "Start Copy."

One sheet of perfect blank sheet music came out of the printer with no trouble at all.

I set it for three more copies and hit "Start Copy" again. One after another, the printer spit them out at me, no questions asked.

And, just as I was going to wrap up this post, it made one of those random noises that printers will make after doing a job, only this one sounded kind of like a laugh.

My printer is laughing at me.

Bring on the sledgehammer.