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July 2012

Arts, Charts, and Blueberry Tarts II

You'd think for all that I fight with it and harp about it, I'd have written a novel that was about time. But I didn't. I didn't want to spend the fourth dimension of my existence writing about something I struggle against the majority of my days. I kept a log one week just to see where those all-important minutes go during the day, and discovered that I'm neither lazy nor insane - it really is gobbled up by stuff I'd rather not be doing. Like sleep. Can we just get over that already? Sheesh. However, I was actually amazed that with what little of it is left, I'm able to accomplish what I do. At least there was a pleasant "attaboy" surprise at the end of the exercise!

But now, time is slowing down. I'm about to go on summer vacation, a whole week off to be filled by things other than work. And with that in mind, it's time to take stock at the halfway point for the year, based on my January blog Arts, Charts, and Blueberry Tarts.

First up: no, I haven't learned to cartoon yet. Precious few are my little drawings to accompany blog posts. That's not to say I haven't played around a bit, I'm just not ready to illustrate my thoughts. It ate up way too much time that could have been put to better use. I am, however, looking at purchasing a cartooning book so I can learn to sketch quicker. Gotta start somewhere, eh?

Second up: The latest example of the kind of art that I can do well is finished. That portrait of Eric Stoltz that was supposed to take a few weeks? Well, it ended up taking a little longer than that. But it's completed, and it does "look better than this" if I do say so myself. You can see it in all its enlarged and detailed glory on Eric Stoltz: A Tribute By a Fan. Ta-dah! Ta-done.

Third up: my novel, Fate's Apology. Wow. This monstrous task is finally coming into focus, and I'm happy to announce that not only did I make it through an entire outline, but am several chapters into my second-and-a-half draft, and thrilled with the results. Every few days my desk looked like this, covered in hastily scribbled notes, ideas, and scenes that came to me while on-the-job. (Don't look at me like that. My super knows I do this, and he's cool with it, m'kay?) Still, it's going to be more work than I had anticipated, as I am using precious little of the first draft other than the basic scenes and ideas. Instead, I'm reviewing them and then writing everything from scratch, and trying to severely reduce wordy-word-wordy-wordness. Is it working? Well, right now I'm up to 7,172 words. Same place in the story last draft? 18,516 words. You tell me.

Fourth up: No, I don't want or need any blueberry tarts. However, my musical tart of a band gig - playing bass guitar with Hélène Engel - has, with an incredible amount of work, come together behind the scenes of all this other stuff going on, and our first gig went very well. The story, pics, and video behind that project? That's a blog for after vacation!

So now I relax and ask: what were your goals up until now in this year of 2012? Did you meet them? Exceed them? Precede them? Concede them? Or did they do something unexpected and change? I'd love to read about your experiences whilst I bake in the Arizona sun!

Short Snippet Saturday: Enter Sandman

It's been a while since I posted a snippet. Sorry about that. Been too busy writing Fate's Apology to share it. Here's my introduction of the arch-villian, which is very different from my last draft. I like it much better, and was initially going to make it part of the proIogue, but decided against that. I think it will work better somewhere at the beginning of one of the first several chapters, after the opening action has died down.

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            A lone man descended the ramp of a small, golden craft, his gleaming white cape flapping in the breeze like the wings of a giant bird. Shielding his violet-colored eyes, he gazed at the majestic vista before him. Snow reflected brilliantly in the blinding sun, and shimmering clouds of it billowed off saw-toothed mountaintops, picked up by icy, gale-force winds. On one particularly lofty pinnacle shone a mirror of glacier making its way into the jagged valley below. The man closed his eyes and breathed deeply, then spoke in a meditative tone.
            "As I have ascended to the highest peak among the crystalline clouds, so too shall Driva'Ri ascend to the Crown of the Galaxy. And I will be its brightest gem."

When Characters Surprise and Defy

I went to the Star Wars Identities exhibition yesterday, then kicked back with a beer as hubby fired up his brand new Star Wars Kinect game. Yeah, it was a Star Wars kind of day, which is to be expected around here when it's hubby's birthday. The Star Wars geekism is strong in this one. Well, it is in me too, but it wasn't my birthday to celebrate that fact so, y'know. Anyway, with both incidents, something weird happened.
 
Neither of our 'characters' turned out the way we either planned or expected them to be.
 
I would have thought when playing a game as awesome as Star Wars that you could at least choose what character will represent you in the game. After all, if you're going to be Jedi-ing around the living room, Force-throwing rocks and light-sabering enemies to bits, it would be cool to craft a representative that's, well, representative of you. Alas, that seemed not to be the case, at least not this time around. Maybe he just hadn't figured out the nuances of the interface, but Norman ended up with a Padawan whose appearance was about as opposite of him as one could get: tall, black, and female. Not that it matters in game land, but it was just weird to watch a POV character that didn't look anything like him.
 
The man I'll never be.A similar thing happened to me at the Star Wars Identities exhibition. Here you get a wristband that lets you interact with the show, where along the way you choose a species, skin color, name, home world, experiences, and take a ten-question personality test. In the end you get to see a visual representation of your creation, and can even have the verbal profile emailed to you. Imagine my surprise when I swiped my wristband over the sensor and waited to view my personal Star Wars character, only to be confronted by this guy. --->

Huh?

Twileks rule, Hutts drool.Clearly there was an issue with the kiosk where I entered my character's vital statistics, as that's definitely not what I chose. I was quite disappointed, to be honest. Fortunately, someone who's also a musician with a penchant for Lethen Twileks was there, and when her image appeared on the wall, I took a photo.
 <--- This is the woman I was expecting to see, and I consoled myself with the fact that at least she didn't remain a mystery.
 
Anyway, these incidents got me thinking about something that's happened during the writing of my second draft Fate's Apology. My main protagonist is turning out to be a completely different character than she was the first time around. Why has that happened? I have no idea. I only know that she refuses to stay in the box I tried to put her in, where she could have uncanny insight, special powers, and an ability to, despite her lowly station in life, be more, see more and know more than anyone else around her what is really going on in the galaxy. She is not turning out to be the character I thought I was creating.
 
At first, it was frustrating. If she cannot be this superior awesome creature, that means scrapping a great many scenes altogether, as well as part of the overall plot. Wringing my hands in frustration, I begged, pleaded and cajoled, but still she defied me. So I conceded and began writing her the way she wants to be. Oh, she's still an exceptional person, but now she must overcome her conflicts without any help from super-human, err, Tendaran abilities.
 
And I've discovered that that's okay, because you know what? She's more interesting now. And a lot more fun, because this way it's more of a challenge to have her do the things I need her to do. In the end, I think that's going to make for a much better story. So I'm letting her out of the box and dealing with both her snippy attitude and her desire not to be made a fuss of. I hope she'll repay me with an ability to engage the reader on a more personal level, and still be able to gain the upper hand on the conflicts I've laid out for her.
 
Have you ever had a character take a left turn and zip off into uncharted territory, leaving you wondering how you were now going to write these great scenes you had in store for them? How did you deal with it?