Posts Tagged With: frustration

Arc Two Chapter Eighteen

The Fall Festival, signaling the start of the season in Castellan, was also one of the great celebration days.  Their own Princess Keara celebrated her adulthood, and that lent a special air to the laughter and the shouts of the children as they played in the streets.  Riva prepared for her entrance into the hall, trying not to look as nervous as she felt.  She was probably lucky.  Keara’s cousins to the North had sent gifts only, not a representative.  The last thing she wanted was for war to break out on Keara’s special day.

Bastion entered the room where she was preparing and smiled at her.  “Are you ready?”

She blew a shaky breath.  “I don’t even know why I’m so nervous.  It isn’t like I haven’t done this sort of thing before.”  But then, she hadn’t performed alongside the man she had come to love as intensely as she had.  Oh, she’d done more frightening things, like facing down a dragon and the madman who commanded it to save the land which had become her home and using magic in the process that she hadn’t even realized that she’d had or understood in the least, like killing a man to keep him from harming her sister, like killing a brother she adored to keep him from destroying a whole world in his madness, like walking away from the man she loved, a man she knew was going to turn and walk to his death once she was gone.  Dancing with the man of her dreams should be easy.  “Should be” wasn’t always.

“It’ll be perfect.  Don’t worry.”

She made herself grin at him.  “Nothing in life is ever perfect.  But we should do well enough that we’re the only ones who know how we flub up.”

There was a knock at the door and Bastion answered it to see Princess Keara waiting for them.  “It’s time.”

They nodded to her and then hurried out to make their entrance.

— — —

Kodran and his fellow dwarves had outdone themselves in creating the techno-magical device that produced the music for them.  Not only was it functional, with interchangeable crystals that stored memories, in this case the memory of music, but it was a beautiful creation to look at.  And being the first of its kind in all of Castellan, it was being given to the Princess Keara for her celebration.

Riva had to give Kodran credit for excellent marketing sense.

In point of fact, even the tune for the dance was created especially for them.  One of Kodran’s contacts knew a songster who was a touch more adaptable than the rest, and he had leapt at the chance for a true challenge in composition.  Riva had gone to him with samples of all the styles of music that she knew and he had lit in fevered inspiration, and created a song for them that had the rhythm and the beat they needed and yet sounded native to this medieval fantasy world.

The performance itself went off without a problem.  Noblemen and their ladies sat up and took notice, and no few eyebrows rose curiously at the new style of dance, at the energy of it, and at the fact that both Riva and Bastion were genuinely having fun on the dance floor.

No, there wasn’t a problem with the performance.  The problem came in once the performance was over and the two of them were bowing to their audience with gratitude for a thunderous response.

From the back of the room, a young nobleman came forward, his clapping more measured and somehow insulting.  As the room quieted he approached, his manner mocking.  Riva recognized his face; he was the ringleader of the squires who had attacked Alban.

She started forward to challenge him when Bastion grabbed her arm and pulled her back around him, putting himself between the two of them.  He faced the squire fearlessly, though he didn’t like the possibilities if matters got ugly.

The squire looked at them, folding his arms over his chest.  “I have to give you credit, Captain Bastion.”  He made the title an insult.  “When you show your true colors, you really show them.  Not only is she street trash, she’s young street trash.”  He shrugged.  “But then, so are you.  Street trash, that is.”

From the back of the room, Prince Kian started forward, to be held back by his father.  Keara’s hands shook, balling into fists.  Several other nobles stood in sudden anger at the slur against the man who was widely called the best that the Order had to offer.  Bastion simply stood firm, only his eyes lighting with fire.

“Are you implying something, young Squire?”  He kept his voice as bland as possible.

“I certainly hope so.  But then I suppose someone of your common background wouldn’t be capable of understanding subtlety.  I’m calling you a cradle-robber, Captain.  Your ‘dance’ partner,” his tone indicated doubt that dance was all that they did, “isn’t even of age yet.  Does her mother know where she is?”

Riva couldn’t remain silent any longer.  She even managed to keep her voice steady.  “Yes.  My mother knows precisely where I am.”  She could feel where the bracelet she wore was hidden beneath her sleeve.  It would be nothing to shake it loose so that it dropped below her cuff and then raise her arm to show all of them.  She so wanted to make him eat his words.

But she didn’t want to have to tell Bastion that she was his Princess in front of a crowd of this size.  She knew that if she had to be the one to tell him, if he didn’t figure it out for himself, then she wanted to tell him privately, where no one else could see them.

A large woman stood, then, and approached them.  Bastion saw her and took a step back, bowing to Lady Olwyn.  She nodded to him before turning to face the squire.  “You misjudge the Captain, youngling.”  She didn’t even dignify him by calling him by name.  There were no few giggles hidden behind fans.  “Probably because your own skills on the dance floor are decidedly lacking.”  The giggles grew more pronounced and the squire’s face mottled in anger.  “He has done nothing improper here, any more than you did at last season’s Festival when you left her Highness’ feet so bruised from stepping on them that she had to sit out three sets.  He merely seems to be good at what he does.”

The squire glared at Riva, somehow he blamed her specifically for this humiliation, and then stalked out of the room, to an almost audible exhale of relief.  Lady Olwyn turned to Bastion and Riva.  “May I congratulate you on a remarkable demonstration?”

Bastion bowed again to her.  “Thank you, Lady Olwyn, both for the compliment and for the timely intervention.”

She smiled.  “As entertaining as a duel would have been, this is not the time or the place for such.”  She paused.  “Though matters are quickly reaching the point where such might become necessary.  Those ruffians are an annoyance and a danger.”  She nodded to each of them and returned to her seat as dancers formed up for one of the latest sets.

Bastion led Riva over to the side so that she could watch while he walked up to Princess Keara to offer his arm and a chance to dance at her own celebration.  The musicians started up the music and Riva remembered all the celebrations that she and Illian had shared, even the one that had led to Jules’ death.  She felt a presence at her side and looked up at Kian.  For a moment she was scared.  She started to back away from him and he held up a hand to stop her.

“Wait, please, it’s alright.  I just wanted to talk with you…” he paused for a moment before lowering his voice, “Cousin.”

She leaned against the wall.  “I’m not going back to Pallantia.”

“I won’t tell if you don’t.  I just wanted to know why you didn’t stand up to that…  that churl.”  Riva was surprised at the genuine heat in Kian’s voice.  “You could have declared yourself.”

She shook her head slightly.  “And place Castellan at risk?  No, my brother must not hear that I am here.  He probably knows well enough where I have gone, and why I am here.  As long as he does not receive confirmation then he is likely to leave Castellan alone for the time being.”

“You will have to declare yourself eventually.  Not even your brother would allow you to remain absent from his court forever.”

“I know, but I’m hoping he figures out who I am on his own before I have to tell him.”

Kian was briefly confused, until he followed her gaze over to Captain Bastion, dancing beside Keara.  “He doesn’t know yet?”

“He is decidedly clueless.  I’m trying to drop hints as strongly as I dare, but he seems to keep missing them.  Maybe he’s like I was, afraid to admit that dreams could come true.”  She paused for a moment.  “I will remain a streetling of Castellan for the rest of my life if that is what it takes to stay near him.”

“And eventually your brother will send agents to either steal you back again or to cause the war you fear so that he may ride here at the head of an army and take you back himself.  You cannot hide forever.”

She sighed.  “I know.  Believe me, I know.”

— — —

Out of the corner of his eye, Bastion saw Kian speaking with Riva and his heart sank.  It wouldn’t be an improbable romance, such things had happened before.  After all, Lord Gryphon had been a streetling before he won the heart of the Ruling Princess of Castellan.  And what girl didn’t grow up dreaming of a handsome prince to sweep her off her feet?

Especially one who had gained the ability to travel to worlds where such things truly could happen?

Bastion came to a decision on that dance floor.  If his Prince sought the hand of a streetling maid then he would not come between them and he would wish them all the joy in the world.  So why did the thought hurt him so much?

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My Rotten Excuse for a Life

Okay… so I know that I rank very low on the scale of successful writers.  I’m arguably worse than that monstrosity that wrote “My Immortal” because THAT person at least has infamy.  If you don’t know what “My Immortal” is, first fall to your knees and thank whatever cosmic/deific being you prefer for sheltering you from that abomination.  Then, if you really must know, and are willing to sign a waiver that acknowledges that you are about to lose time which you will never get back, look up the title in just about any fanfiction database, in the Harry Potter section.

And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In any event, at least that monstrosity of a writer has infamy.  I can’t even shake this depression enough to finish Chapter Twelve of The Firebird’s Daughter.  I’m trying, but it’s taking a while.

I didn’t even participate in NaNoWriMo this past November.  At all.  Which I find incredibly shameful.  I’ve always participated in NaNo.

The fact of the matter is that the depression is getting worse and it’s sapping my ability to accomplish anything.  I look at all my unfinished projects and I just sit down and cry because I want so much to do something worthwhile and there’s simply too much to do.  I love my characters.  I love their stories.  I want so very much to share those stories and those characters with the world so that others can love them too that it’s a physical ache sometimes.

I’ve got so many stories on so many different worlds… I’ve got the adventures of the Firebird through all her incarnations; I’ve got the other Dreamsails as they wander the universe trying to make worlds better for having been there; I’ve even got a School setting to play with, where students from a number of worlds gather to study Magic and Battle… and that doesn’t even include my unfinished fanfiction pieces, some of which are pretty darn promising, even if I do say so myself.

The first version of The Firebird’s Daughter, where the tale was centered around the Firebird herself, managed to go seventy-five chapters and I wasn’t even a full halfway through my intended plot.  Here I am with a much better character arrangement for the tale and I can’t seem to get past Chapter Twelve… I know what needs to happen, in general terms, it’s just that writing it is a struggle.

So here’s to hoping.  I’ve got the Word document open for Chapter Twelve and I’m already to over a thousand words in it.  Maybe I’ll be able to get it done today.  Maybe.

I need more coffee.

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(Not) Working America

It’s not often that I feel that something I write is far more important than I am.  I’m not usually one to get involved in the whole pseudo-metaverse that is American Politics or Current Events.  I’m just not that kind of writer.  I’m a philosopher and a storyteller and, for all that I believe myself to be highly intelligent, I’m not one of the “great American minds” out there.

For one, I don’t have the contacts to be.  Which is part of the damn problem.

But here I go, trusting in the Great Equalizer, the Internet, and the ability to reach people I normally wouldn’t through the magic of word-of-fingertips.

This isn’t working, America.  None of it is.  Not the government, not the culture, not the society, none of it.  And it’s not working because none of us are actually valued as human beings anymore.  We’ve all been reduced to inhuman chattel through the most insidious, evil, and dehumanizing process known to man since the invention of slavery.

The Work Search Process.

No longer can a person support themselves and their family through the sweat of their brow and the willingness to actually work to produce a product, either by raising produce, raising animals, creating some useful thing with their own hands and the brilliance of their mind, or something else creative and unconventional.  There are no more “cash crops” and you can’t even raise anything without miles of regulations designed to strangle out all but the biggest of suppliers.  A single artisan, or even a team of them, can’t hope to compete with the mega-stores for cost and availability, for all that their products are better, stronger, and simply more aesthetically pleasing.

Not without a huge outlay of cost and who knows how many miles of red tape and regulation of their own.

All this is designed, infernally designed, to force the population into the most abominable slavery every conceived, Working For Someone Else.  And God help you if you’ve been unemployed for more than six months.  You have absolutely no value whatsoever even if there are jobs to be found.

Think about it.  You want to be independent.  You want to stand on your own feet so your parents aren’t controlling every facet of your life anymore.  So what do you have to do?  Go around town like a beggar Oliver pleading, “Please, sir, might I have a job?”  It’s a virtual auction block where more are passed on then are chosen.  So if you’re lucky, (incredibly so because you’re not likely to get paid enough to support yourself, much less anyone else), you surrender your freedom and your independence to depending on someone else for employment, for a paycheck, for the “opportunity” to be taken flagrant advantage of because they, employers, only want those who will give more than they get.  And the “good” employers, the ones who can pay a living wage and who actually value their employees as something more than chattel, are so rare as to be mythical.

And if you fight back for the respect that should be your due, even if you win, you’re a pariah and condemned to the Hell of the Do Not Hire list that holds the experienced but “too old”, the intelligent but “long-term unemployed”, and those with quirks that bosses would have to work around.

Because people are fundamentally lazy and the overseers don’t want to put more effort into controlling their slaves… I mean, the “workforce” than they absolutely have to.

Let’s be honest.  Growing a crop, raising animals, creating something useful… none of these are easy tasks.  They aren’t quick tasks.  And they’re all regulated out of the reach of the common man.  I could get into the whys of the whole damn thing, but I simply don’t care Why anymore.  I don’t give a damn anymore why this abomination exists.  I just want an end to it.  I want to be human again.  I want to have my God-given value back that exists in the very things that make me different from everyone else.

I’m a writer.  I’m a storyteller and I have been since I was six years old.  I’m a natural philosopher and I have insights that others don’t even realize are true until I say them.  I’m freaking brilliant at times, even if I do say so myself.  I’m excellent with charts and lists and organizing information.  I’m even better at pointing out how a given plan can go Horribly Wrong, which is a necessary ability if you’re wanting to avoid unnecessary costs and/or Unintended Consequences.  I have Major Depression and I have Attention Deficit.  I have issues in social settings and I can’t always interpret social signals correctly.  Sometimes I say inappropriate things and I can’t stop myself, don’t even realize what I’ve said until it’s said.  I’ve been unemployed for more than four years now and I can’t work in a conventional environment.

But because of the way things are, nothing that I can do outweighs what I cannot.  I’m not a cookie-cutter person.  I’m a human being, and I’m not the only one.

So what gives, America?  How can we justify just throwing away so many people?  This isn’t working, America.  This isn’t working at all and it needs to change, now.

Please, for the sake of all of us, I abase myself before you, the virtual community.  I beg you with tears in my eyes and concern for all of us in my heart.  Please, share these words with others.  Nothing will change if we don’t first realize that something has gone wrong in the first place.

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A Set Point in Time

A Set Point, that’s what I’ve needed for a rather long time for the whole of the Grizzyverse.

I work with a very fluid sense of time’s passage for the stories and worlds that comprise this universe, in part because my own sense of time is so odd and in part because I take flagrant advantage of a phenomena which I call time distortion, or the Narnia Effect.  The simplest answer is that time does not flow equally between worlds.  One year on one world may equate to a thousand years on another one, or fifteen minutes on a third world.  It makes some plot twists somewhat legitimate in terms of allowing a newborn character to be a viable participant in events not long after their birth… or allowing a character to remain in childhood for far longer than should be possible.

Of course, rampant healing-based magic that manipulates physical age helps with that, too.

I had a set point, once upon a time.  That was the death of the Oldverse before Goldeneyes’ arrival in the worlds of the Grizzyverse.  But events after that point became so chaotic that I had no way to anchor them so that I could maintain coherency between the various timelines.  I needed a way to pinpoint where everyone is relative to each other at a single point in time.

The Grizzyverse spans so many thousands of years that there are actually several Ages in terms of the development of the story.  Some of the details of those Ages are still in development, but the Oldverse ended with the Collapse and the Newverse began with the surviving refugees from that catastrophe arriving in the worlds which had been prepared for them, and that’s where all these stories currently take place.

I found a set point, though, not that long ago and it puts several things into solid place, making a coherent telling of the Grizzyverse possible.  It’s a beginning point, a point where things change.  In terms of The Firebird’s Daughter, that point hasn’t taken place yet, but it will very soon, provided I can finally get Chapter Eleven done.  There’s a timeskip coming up in the story, probably in Chapter Twelve or between Chapters Twelve and Thirteen, depending on whether or not I have scenes that decide they want to be included.

So yes, I’m doing my best to make progress in writing the story, and in developing the foundational Universe.  These things take time, sometimes, and it’s frustrating as heck when life gets in the way of doing what I enjoy.  But at least any progress is progress, and a Set Point is definitely progress.

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Been a while… sorry

It’s been a long while since I took the time to write anything for here… and I hate it.  I really don’t like the fact that I have so many unfinished projects, so many ideas that never went anywhere, so many incomplete stories.  I’d started to make progress on the next chapter of The Firebird’s Daughter and then it stalled out again, and then I started working on figuring out the whole backstory for my assorted worlds and I’ve got part of one chapter written and it’s stalled out.

Somehow I’m going to get back to writing regularly again.  I feel better when I’m writing regularly, when things are falling into place.  It’s just difficult to break loose of the strain that has me blocked and struggling.  I really don’t like this feeling of confusion, of not being able to do what I want to do.

As an aside, I’m considering changing how things are set up here… mostly ’cause I can tell that trying to do the stories the way I’m doing them now would eventually become unwieldy since I’m looking at lots of chapters.  I just don’t know yet how to set things up the way I want to do them.  I’m still considering posting my microheroes and other pixel art… but that’s something of a long-term project ’cause I’m in the middle of rebuilding most of the characters and there’s a bunch that I still need to build at all.

Mostly I’m in a holding pattern at the moment, trying to find a way to get some momentum built up.  I have an incredible problem with inertia.

So here’s to hoping I can get some progress made, and an apology for being so silent.  Life stinks sometimes and all that.

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Plot we’ve got, but not a lot…

(Note: Brownie Points if you get the title.)

Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that not everyone has the same instinctive understanding of the art of storytelling that I do.  I’ve studied it, either consciously or unconsciously, for pretty much my entire life and there’s a great deal that I know without knowing exactly where or when or how I came to know it.  I am flabbergasted when someone has grammatical errors that aren’t excusable as being part of the spoken language… because I’ve instinctively understood grammar, at least in the conversational style, for so long that it’s not even knowledge anymore.  It’s instinct.  I’m the same way with spelling to a large degree.  There are a few words that give me issues, and I was very nearly grown before I finally figured out how to spell “business” properly.  (Trivia note: it was because our code phrase for the family dog’s outdoor jaunts was “Rocky be busy!”)  By and large, though, spelling has never really been a problem for me.

But to be honest, I have been reading, and writing, and crafting stories from the time that I was old enough to stand beside my mother at the typewriter and dictate.  It got a whole lot easier once I could write them down myself, though.  When you do something long enough it becomes something you don’t even have to think about anymore.

Some of my knowledge, I know that I got in a classroom at some point, but which classroom at which point is a mystery to me.  For instance, there’s some dramatic differences between the answers you’ll get if you ask storytellers how many plots there are in existence.  The oldest answer is that there are exactly two.  Comedy and Tragedy, in the Classical sense.  For those of us in the modern age, that equates to “Happy Ending” and “Downer Ending”.  Does the protagonist succeed or fail?

As a contrast, it’s generally accepted that there is, indeed, a finite and limited list of actual, viable plots and it works kinda like Tropes.  There’s the “Love Story”.  There’s the “Revenge Story”.  There’s the “Hero’s Journey”.  I think, and I could very well be mistaken on this because I haven’t actually done any research to look this stuff up in the past twenty some odd years, that there are about sixteen of them.  They have set events that need to take place, and those events need to take place in a certain order… though in literature, like in the Matrix, the rules can be bent… or even broken if you know what you’re doing.

Those who Choose Option C, though, say that the number of plots is limitless in number… but what they’re actually talking about at that point isn’t Trope-like “Plots”, but the way those Tropic (long “o”, not short one, it’s a variation on “trope”, not a description of a climate or one of the geographical areas on maps) outlines are woven and twisted into what forms an individual story.  That’s when things start getting complicated as all hell and the proverbial excrement can hit the proverbial air circulating device if a storyteller loses control or miscalculates somehow.

I have built some complicated plot webs in my life, and they can be fun as all heck if I’m able to keep things going like I’d want.  It’s part of the reason that the mammoth project that became The Firebird’s Daughter went a whole 76 chapters before it finally crashed and burned because of backstory revisions.  I’d like to do it again, but heck… that’s the undertaking of a lifetime, to be honest.

Once, I actually made conscious use of a specific variation on one of those sixteen plots (I *think* it was… Revenge Story with a Downer Ending, otherwise known as the Blood Tragedy, or more commonly, the plot that Hamlet uses).  In any event, I have the outline for it still sitting in my documents files, five Acts with all the bases covered.  I probably won’t actually *write* that story because it’s there for reference more than anything else.  It’s actually used as… well, as background filler for a massive world setting that I’ve been building for a number of years.  It’s that world’s version of the play Hamlet, in fact.  Maybe someday I’ll clean up the outline and put some more details into it and simply make it available as a summary.

Part of the reason I’m rambling about Plot at the moment is because I’m struggling with some severe frustration in my life, along with a massive sense of my own inability to accomplish anything.  I’m trying to distract myself long enough so that I can calm down and move forward.  And then there’s the fact that I have this brain full of random trivia and encyclopaedic knowledge that I feel like it’ll just burst if I don’t share it with someone, anyone.

I think it’s my heritage to a degree… I’ve got educators and scholars on both sides of my bloodline going back at least three generations… including me.  I don’t know about my paternal grandparents’ parents.  My mother is an archivist and a scholar.  Her mother was a college professor and an incredibly accomplished scholar.  My mother’s father taught high school science.  My father was a professor at Notre Dame until the day he died.  His father was a Professor Emeritus at Brigham Young University and sadly he has passed as well.  My father’s mother taught Home Economics… if I remember correctly.  One of my father’s sisters and my mother’s sister were a teachers as well.  I grew up with the assumption that I would follow the family tradition.

I guess this is as close as I’ll ever get to teaching, though.  Still, the fundamental drive is there, the need to share knowledge and to cultivate learning.

My father studied Dinosaurs; I write about Dragons.  My mother archives historical documents; I fabricate them for worlds of my own creation.  My grandmother was a linguist and a scholar of languages and a genealogist; I study languages so that I can create unique ones for worlds of my own devising and I populate those worlds with bloodlines that I carefully document in family trees.

Sometimes the same drives and instincts don’t present in the same way as they pass from generation to generation, but I look at what I do and I look at what those who came before me did… and there is no doubt in my mind that I am the product of their ambitions.  Their work continues through me… I just go about it in a different way.

I know what I am, though.  I know what makes my relatives do what they do and why I do it as well.  I’m a Bard.  I might not sing, and my attempts at learning to play various instruments were doomed to utter failure, but I follow the Bardic Tradition.  Language and storytelling; entertainment and education.  These are the things that Bards do because they cannot help it.  It’s what they are.  It’s who they are.

And it’s who and what I am.

As a culture, we suck HARD at deciphering where a child is most strongly gifted.  Everyone has areas where they are more gifted than others.  Ways of looking at things that make them better suited for some endeavors and not others.  I am not made for science, nor am I made for construction, though I dabble in those areas as needed for my true work, the creation of worlds and the characters and stories to inhabit those worlds.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I realized early where I wanted to guide my steps and I approached the entirety of my education from that standpoint.

It left me with fewer options in some ways, but what I do, I know that I’m good at.

Not everyone can do what I do, just like I can’t do what others can.  It’s one of the glorious things about individuality.  We aren’t the same.  We’re different.  And that’s a good thing.  I just wish that more people could find their paths early in life, secure in the knowledge that they’re doing what they’re gifted at doing and can freely dream of reaching for the stars because they’ve got the foundation to make it possible.

I need to write more.  I start falling apart emotionally when I’m not writing, and I haven’t been writing well for far, far too long.  I need to do something with this stalled chapter of The Firebird’s Daughter.  I need to introduce what readers I have to some of the other worlds that have been spinning in the back of my head.  I need to do what it is that I do, what it is that I know so well that I don’t even know how I know it anymore, so that I can feel that accomplishment, that fulfillment that comes from following my true purpose in life.

And I have a feeling that means going back to the building blocks of any story.  Characters.  Setting.  And Plot.

Edit Note: In case you missed it, for the season I added a story to the Short Stories section.  It’s an old one, but part of a long-running concept in the back of my mind given my father’s physique and facial adornment… and immortalized in stories lovingly retold at his memorial.

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Looking Back…

… on an unsuccessful November.

My instinct is to say “failed”, as in “I’m such a freaking failure in life, the universe, and everything”.  But I don’t know that I would be being honest.

For the second year in a row, I have been unsuccessful (Internal Editor Imp says “You have FAILED!!”) in reaching the 50k word goal for NaNoWriMo.  This was an incredibly difficult year for me, in terms of any sort of creativity.  November started for me without a clear story, and I commenced attempting to write a makeshift tale that was the result of several die rolls and a coin toss.  In retrospect… maybe this wasn’t the year for that sort of challenge.

As a writing exercise, forming a story from random choice between possibilities is not unrealistic.  In fact, it can be amazingly funny, if done in the right atmosphere and with a somewhat more realistic word count.  Sometimes things just work and a story can take off from such beginnings.  This… wasn’t one of those times.

And because I had nothing else, I had nothing to fall back on when it crashed and burned… which it did within the first week, and boy did it ever crash and burn.  My two primary characters refused to cooperate with me.  One because he was just damned stubborn (no idea where he got it from, it couldn’t be because he was a Canon Cutout Character, now could it?) and refused to take a stance one way or the damned other on a potential romantic attachment.  The other simply made things worse when the first one finally got assigned a negative to the attachment for lack of decision (it works like that in real life, too, avoid making a decision and one gets made for you and it’s almost always the one with the most negative impact on your life) and she simply stopped.

That might be complicated to explain.  The character simply stopped.  She didn’t say anything; she didn’t want anything; she didn’t seek anything; she simply accepted the most empty life possible and did not do a damned thing.  It’s like… on the Hero’s Journey, there’s a moment when the Hero refuses the Quest and turns back, only to be forced into accepting it again because of circumstances.  She not only Refused the Quest… there was nothing to use to push her back onto it.  Absolutely not a damned thing.

You might think I’m joking with that, or at least exaggerating… but I’m not.  Seriously, any tragedies would not push her onto the path, they’d simply push her further into the emptiness.  She was going to go “home” and never emerge again… and if that home was destroyed… well, she’d stay there any-damn-way as a recluse.  I could seriously see it all play out inside my head as I desperately searched for options.

And so, a week into the challenge… NaNoWriMo was dead in the water for me, and potentially my entire future as a writer.

Okay, that might have been me being more than a little melodramatic, but November was NOT my best month for a variety of reasons, including a very devastating depressive relapse in that first week and a half.  I can’t say that I’m better.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a position to feel like I’ve “beaten” the depression.  But I’ve got my distractions and at least I’m not sitting in a corner with my hands in my lap just staring at the walls and doing my mannikin impression.

Desperation, though, is the Mother of Inspiration (sometimes), and another Canon Character (this one not as much a CutOut as the other) raised his hand to volunteer to do what the supposed Hero was not, and his intervention brought the Heroine back to life… somewhat.  What he ultimately did, though, is why I simply cannot say that this November was a complete and utter failure.  (Internal Editor Imp says, “Oh hell yes, you can, you failure!”)

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Elliot.

A small yellow and black creature with very large eyes on a disproportionately large head with spade-like ears tipped in black hops onto the stage and bows gallantly to his audience, chittering in greeting much in the manner of a small rodent, like a squirrel or some such.

Elliot is a Pichu.  For those who don’t know about Pokemon, Pichu are the immature “baby” form of the Pikachu breed, which is possibly the most well known Pokemon breed in existence.  If you’ve heard about Pokemon, and even if you’re only vaguely aware of it, you likely would be able to identify a Pikachu by silhouette alone.  They are Electric Type, which means that they tend to use a lot of moves powered by Electricity and Lightning and are known for their speed… if not their stamina and durability…

Elliot chitters angrily, looking very much like a teenager expressing “sass” at his writer.

Yes, yes, Elliot, I know how exceptional you are, but I’m talking in terms of generalities.  You simply do not have the durability of, say, a Snorlax. (Huge teddy-bear-like Pokemon with Hit Points to spare and then some.  Slow as molasses in January, but a Mack Truck couldn’t knock this guy down.  Somewhat similar to the Chansey and/or Blissey breeds who exemplify the “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down” family of Pokemon.)  In any event, my readers can obviously tell that Elliot is somewhat opinionated about his own ability.  In point of fact, “opinionated” doesn’t tell half this little guy’s story.

The Heroine I’d created had no self-confidence.  She was literally certain that she was the weakest Trainer in all existence.  She was terrified of Pokemon in general and traumatized on several levels by them.  Elliot, though, is the progeny of the most famous Pokemon of all (and the most Mary Sue God-Moddy one too boot) and he, like his sire, is possessed of an astounding amount of sheer personality.  Elliot, you see, has all his own natural confidence and the confidence that his Trainer lacks.

He stares down a Miltank (cow-like Pokemon with a nanny tendency and close to Snorlax’s durability) and simply says “I dare you!”  He gets knocked into the wall with a lazy swipe and stumbles to his feet again with “I dare you to do it again!”.  He gets a Brick Break (uhm… it’s a move-name… think Karate/Martial Arts, Miltanks are vulnerable to such moves) off and then dances on the Miltank’s passed out body.  “I’m so fresh you can…”

Enough, Elliot.  I’m certain the audience does not need to hear you sing that particular song.

Elliot pouts adorably and sits in a chair with his arms crossed over his chest.

Matters with Elliot took an even more dramatic turn as I started searching desperately for something, anything, to type as the story continued to fight me tooth and nail.  I considered including various “gaiden”-style scenes, stories and mini-stories that had nothing to do with the main sequence of events but which took place either in the Meta environment or in other environments entirely.  Ultimately, I did include some, just… I was unable to type up most of what I actually had come to mind.

I made the mistake of introducing Elliot to television.  Specifically, Japanese television.  That was when he started showing just how incredibly developed his personality already was.

Elliot stands on the back of a couch, a pair of swimming goggles over his eyes and a scarf tied around his waist with a brooch pinned to it like a belt-buckle.  MrsGrizzley walks by, unaware, carrying an armful of laundry that needs to be folded when the little creature lets out an unearthy yell.  “PIIIIIIIICHUUUUUUUUU KIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!!!!!”  He leaps for her, one foot leading, and she shrieks in surprised reaction, throwing her arms up to defend herself which sends laundry flying everywhere.  Elliot lands with a self-satisfied hop and actually giggles at the way Grizzy is holding her chest because her heart is pounding so hard from shock.  Then she glares at him and he squeals and takes off running just before she starts to give chase, declaring that she was going to give him such a noogie…

So yeah, Elliot discovered Kamen Rider, the cousin/sibling to the Super Sentai series that became Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the United States.  In case anyone is curious, I highly recommend starting with Kamen Rider Den-O, which is available on YouTube… or was last time I checked.  The humor in that series makes it the most approachable version of the franchise to date.  It’s also the only series in the franchise for which I have actually seen any of the episodes.

Elliot exemplifies all that “little boys” truly are.  Wild, unruly, distractable, adorable, overconfident and curious, and at the same time needy and childish.  He is one of the most unforgettable characters that I have been blessed with in a long time.  When he burst into the story, I knew that I had found something special.  And he is most definitely special.  He redeems my November.

(Internal Editor Imp cackles with laughter, “But he’s a PICHU, you idiot woman!  By definition he exists only in fanfiction!  What use is a character that can never see the light of Original Fiction?!!”  Elliot bursts into the Imp’s cave and knocks him upside the head with an electrically charged Pichu Kick, ie, Volt Tackle applied foot-first.  Elliot chitters, “What part of SHUT UP did you not get???”)

As much as I hate to admit it, the Imp has something of a point.  Elliot is a matchless character, one I desperately need to find other uses for… but to do so, I would have to reshape him into something other than a Pichu/Pikachu/Raichu… and that is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.  I’ll manage it eventually, though.  Ultimately all my good fanfiction ends up repurposed into Original Fiction.

Heck, that’s where the Castellan Dreams story got its start, after all.

So maybe this unsuccessful November won’t end up being a complete loss after all.  If I include this post in the word count… I think my total would be just over 20k.  I’ve still got a day and a half, technically… but not even I can manage 30k in a single day.

There’s always next year, though, and hope springs eternal.  Especially for idiots like myself who keep charging the brick wall with the idea that it can be leapt over.

Thank you for the honor of your attention.

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NaNoWriMo 2012…

… is underway, finally… at the last possible moment (okay, it was past the starting point when things finally went this far) a set of dice and a coin toss decided what I was going to do.  I kid you not.  My November project was decided by dice and a coin toss.

When did my life turn into a situation comedy without my permission??

So I’m doing fanfiction this year, which I have never done for NaNoWriMo before.  It’s allowed within the rules and guidelines, I’ve just never been one to do my fanfic for the November project.  Go figure.

In any event, the characters are fighting me, the story is fighting me, I’m about ready to tear my hair out and start the hell over and it’s only day 5!!!  I’m sooooo far behind on word count that it’s unbelievable and I’m going nuts. This is, astonishingly enough, par for the course for NaNoWriMo, which is why I describe it as complete insanity.

So I was talking with my husband about this mess (yes, the Mrs in the MrsGrizzley is honestly earned) and he made a suggestion.  “The Family Meal”.  Basically, put a bunch of characters together around a table, it works better if there are kids and/or animals in the mix, and just let them be themselves.  It’s an interesting idea.  Granted, the story isn’t at a place where this can happen, one character is setting off on a journey to deliver an Egg to another character who’s going to be absolutely exhausted when she gets there… but this is where NaNo Brilliance applies.

Because the only thing that matters is Word Count… I can take this Meta!

So the characters can end up at a table with my characters from other stories and even with the author herself and can quite openly discuss story and/or plot developments amidst the insanity of creatures and small children everywhere!  Dear gak, I love Meta some days!  Maybe some day I’ll do a NaNo project that is JUST the meta-story insanity of what goes on in the back rooms of my brain, also called the “Memory Warehouse and Boarding Facility”… ooooh… why is it the best ideas always show up LATE!!???

Be back later, I have writing to do!!!

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Gosh Darnit!!!!

… Reversioning’s a pain in my hind end.

Perhaps I should explain… The Mysterious Co-Writer and I have been working on a series of stories featuring a cast of characters we affectionately dub “The Kids”.  We started working with these characters some three years ago and have been fairly consistently trying to hammer their story together ever since then.  We got some… 80 or 100k words into a rough draft through email that first year (and that wasn’t exactly easy, let me tell you) and then the first of the reversions started.

I’m not entirely certain how many variations we’ve been through, but the shipping charts alone would cover a wall.  (That’s “shipping” as is “I’m shipping these characters as a couple” not “I’d like to ship this package to Taiwan”)  We have literally explored just about every single pairing option possible with a primary cast of three girls and three boys plus assorted other hangers-on.  The main cast has had some changes over time as characters were moved in and then moved out again and the setting has never wanted to settle down either.

To say that both of us get intense delight out of the idea of “Alternaverse” wouldn’t be overstating the matter, but this is getting friggin’ ridiculous.  We both have issues with “busy minds” (and someday I really need to explain that) and we’ve got Real Life matters and relationships on both sides of the equation.  The longer this goes on the more difficult it gets.

It started out as a potential Young Adult/Teen series, and I still very much want to write one of those.  I read the Twilight books (please don’t kill me) and I just know that I can do better than that.  Heck, I could write *those* books better than they were written, in part because I actually know enough of the old stories and the old legends to make something believable.  Tolkien didn’t come up with Middle Earth just out of the top of his head, it was founded and grounded in the cultural heritage of the Anglo-Saxons and assorted other ancient peoples.  You can’t really go far wrong if you’re looking at doing right by a heritage that strong and that rich.  And I took up researching old stories just for the fun of it in elementary school or junior high when I knew the subject matter of my mother’s Mythology class better than she did.

So yeah, we tried and we tried and we tried like you wouldn’t believe to get a solid plot pieced together and then keep the characters from wandering off to explore other options… which they kept doing again, and again, and again, and friggin again!

So the decision has been made, reluctantly I might add, to reversion just one more time and age the characters out of the Teen category to aim for an older audience, simply because of some of what they face and the fact that most of them are like Destiny and Aleister from “The Firebird’s Daughter”, that is, far older than they look and they will not keep from acting like it.

This is more complicated than just saying “Okay, they’re not fifteen, they’re 18 or 20 and older…” because the setting has to change and the plot has to shift and just give some of them the idea of another reversion and they’re off and running with new options for abilities and skill sets…  I swear, they’re trying to drive the authors crazy.

It doesn’t help that I still don’t have any idea what I’m going to do for November, either.  I do this every year, I swear.  I have so many really good ideas that I simply can’t settle on one to focus on and see through to completion.  Every time I log in to the NaNoWriMo site I see that little tag at the top that reminds me that I haven’t settled on my book subject for this year and I just feel this crushing panic of not enough time and too much to do.  And November hasn’t even started yet!

So please have patience with me.  I’ve got 500 some odd words written for Chapter Eleven of “The Firebird’s Daughter” and I’m trying to settle on something for November and I’m reversioning The Kids, who will need a new working title because they aren’t kids anymore… so yeah… I’m more than a little frantic these days.  Sorry.

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At last, Chapter Eight!

Okay, so I’ve been a LOT slower than I intended to be.  There are lots of reasons, not all of which relate to the Pokemon addiction, which is finally calming down, and none of which would really do a lot of good to get into here.

Everyone has their problems, after all, and writers have them more than most I would guess.  All that creativity almost requires that there be something going on unseen that makes for a difficult life.  But since the only creative types I know have these problems in one form or another, I might be getting skewed data.

In any event, Chapter Eight of Castellan Dreams has finally been posted and I think that I’ve made the edits to it that I needed to.  I had originally intended to do more in the way of showing the funeral of Prince Jules, but as I was unable to write any new scenes relating to that… well, I round-filed the intention in favor of getting something posted.

I hope to get Chapter Nine ready soon.  I’m getting a lot of preliminary work done on some chapters that are going to be a ways down the line, closer to Chapter 13 or so, I think, and I’m going to have to start writing chapters from a clean page at that point because events are not going to play out like they did in the previous version.  I’d like to get there as soon as I can because I’ve got the interest right now and I don’t want to lose momentum again.

It takes far too long to get momentum going once I’ve lost it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my work.  Thank you so very much.

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