Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Wanderings

I am not one of those writers who feels her characters are "real" and is subject to their whims.  (I do experience that sensation of "this action isn't right for this character," but I don't anthropomorphize it.  I have my theories about the source of this, but that's for another blog post.)  However, I do have some sense of story and world as independent entities - that they are, to some degree, outside of me.

Mostly, this tends to arise when an editor or reader makes a suggestion for a significant change to the story.  I'm human, of course:  I'll admit that occasionally, my initial reaction is due to laziness, "But I don't want to!"  However, other times I balk and can't even, necessarily, articulate why the alteration doesn't work for me.

But it boils down to certainty, a voice inside me that says:  "That's not how the story goes."  To me, the stories I've written have an existence of their own.  I can't change them any more than I could go out and add Elvis to Mount Rushmore.  Perhaps it's a subconscious sense of everything that doesn't reach the page, the words between the words.  Perhaps those lines are telling me things that an editor / reader can't see.  Perhaps it's something else.

I always feel a bit guilty when I turn down a rewrite request, as if I'm being a diva - that I don't have the status to contradict an editor, particularly when my reasoning is no more concrete than, "I don't think this is right for the story."  Sometimes it's as simple as, "That might be a valid interpretation, but it's not the story I want to tell."  Other times ... I can't even imagine that as the story's reality.

Sometimes, fiction is almost as much about finding as it is about creating.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

GoodReads Review: The Black Beast by Nancy Springer

The Black Beast (Book of the Isle, #4)The Black Beast by Nancy Springer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prince Tirell, heir to a legacy of madness and death, has his life torn apart when his true love is slain, and his younger brother, Frain, finds himself swept along. The story plays on multiple levels: the personal, where the most important value is family devotion; the global, where Tirell plans rebellion; and the divine, with a goddess, dragons, and a trip through the realm of the dead.

This volume is stronger than the last, for a few reasons. It relies less on the burden of prophecy to carry its plot and motivations. The goddess Shamarra claims that destiny connects her to Tirell, but is that really true? The worldbuilding is deeper, with a few particularly interesting quirks, such as the natives' deep and abiding fear of water - not just oceans, but rivers and streams. (As a side note, though the back of the last book makes it clear that story does occur in the same world, this book has no direct connection and stands alone.)

Another interesting aspect of the book is that it is told in first person perspective - not just one character but three, following in succession. Though it's well handled, I wasn't sure there was any point to using the perspective of Fabron, the smith-king; I would have been just as, if not more, happy with a fifty-fifty split between Frain and Tirell. And although leaving Tirell's perspective until last does a nice job of building a question in the reader's mind - why does he act the way he does? - the answer doesn't feel strong enough to be a valid payoff.

Still, we start the book with Frain, and that's the journey that matters: Frain's. The Black Beast ends with a tantalizing glimpse of his future ...

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wednesday Wanderings

Let's kick off 2015 (on my blog, at least) with the first edition of Wednesday Wanderings!  All right, so it's just my weekly post, renamed because my Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be whacky for the next few months, but it feels like there ought to be some kind of symbolic ... symbolism to the whole thing, so just go with me on this one.

No entrance into a new year would be complete without a quick look back into the last one, so here's mine:

Writing:  all was pretty quiet on the writing front for 2014.  I feel a bit stagnant, with no real milestones to report.  I'm currently working on editing one novel and about two-thirds of the way through another.  My present goal is to finish both processes by my birthday.  I also finished the following short stories:

Regret the Rain
She's Unable to Lunch Today
Wine and Chocolate
Untitled (... I know, I know, but I'm terrible with titles)

Harp:  gained a student, said farewell to another, and had my busiest holiday season in years.  Undertook a project to revive / practice / polish tunes in my repertoire that I had let fall into dust, disuse and ... dis-playable-ness ... and made a lot of progress with it.  I think I'm about saturated, though, so early 2015, at least, will be more focused upon finding new, shiny music to play.

Culinary:  most of life's changes have happened in this arena.  This time last year, I was a "Skills baby" (what the more senior students call those in the Fundamentals class).  Now, I'm a Baking & Pastry graduate with my diploma in hand and working on finishing up my Associates.  I've also been working at a local catering company since the beginning of August and growing by leaps and bounds.

Personal:  nothing to see here, folks.  Move along!