Thursday, November 15, 2007

interlude: what's your story about?

The Willow Knot: As mentioned previously, I've been bunging the Willow Knot file out to my Deeply Appreciated beta-readers. In the course of making sure that the file hadn't undergone some strange transmogrification while being transferred (the Star Trek transporter beam cock-ups are nothing compared to what I can do pushing a file through three different OSs), I did a bit of a read-through before sending it out. Then I had to stop, because I'd be wanting to tweak and smooth, and fix some of the problems I know are in there.
But since the point of this exercise is to get feedback on what needs to be in the story and what doesn't, doing cosmetic repairs would be a waste of time.
It would be helpful, of course, if I knew from the start what needed to be in the story. To do that, I'd need to know what the story is about. This may be what's called 'theme'. I'm not sure. Theme is sometimes stated as a sort of moral lesson--"possessive love leads to loss" for instance--that reminds me inescapably of the Snakes and Ladders board we had when I was a kid, which was all moral lessons. Sometimes theme is stated in a single word, like 'courage' or 'endurance'. Some writers have their themes in place before they start writing, others find out partway through. And I suppose some wait for the critics to tell them what it was.

If I have a theme, and my body of work may not be sufficient a body of evidence to argue for that, I think it might be: It's more complicated than you think. And messier.
One of the ideas (I hesitate to consider it a theme) that I seem to be working with in Willow Knot is the idea of one's own story, or of how stories intersect.
Myl is in the Maerchenwald, the Folkloric Woods, the Enchanted Forest where the stories live, where they begin and often end. She doesn't know whether she's in her own story or someone else's. After all, she's the older sister, and stories usually belong to the youngest child. Maybe she's a walk-on in someone else's story, and she does seem to play that part. She's even the Supernatural Helper in one, or seen as such. Other characters pass through, having their own stories to follow to the end, touching the edges of her story.
Which is a concept that appeals to me, and ties in with one of the Viable Paradise lessons, that every piece on the chessboard thinks it's a queen. But that concept fights with another one, that everything that stays in the story needs to be necessary to the story in a clear and straightforward way. Which would mean that only those scenes that belong to Myl's storyline should stay. The scenes that belong to the idea of 'the forest harbours strangeness', for instance, don't need to be there.
It depends what the story is really about. At this point, I'm going to ask the readers what it's about for them.

Nanowrimo: pretty darned slow. The weekend was not as productive as I'd hoped, and this weekend I'll be in transit for some part of it, and at an SCA event for part of it. Saturday will be booked, at least. However, I'm taking the laptop, and hopefully I can get some use out of the travel time, and afterwards be able to pry the text out of the laptop again and push it into my desktop.
And perhaps those circs will allow me to recapture the panic and urgency of the 3-day. Man, it's hard to have the longer time stretching out, and the foolish confidence that one can catch up, by just oh, doubling or tripling one's wordcount. Well, difficult for me. Other people, I see, finished their 50k last week.
The event I'm attending is the Tir Righ Investiture, and the reason I'm going is that it's the Principality Arts & Sciences Championship, and supposedly I'll be doing some judging, though the details seem to be a bit up in the air.

Palindromic rheumatism: hands, particularly the left hand, stiff for the last couple of days. No difficulty in moving them, no problem typing, just discomfort. It takes conscious effort to close my left hand into a fist. My guess is that if I weren't on the meds, this would be a flare-up. On the Monday the knuckles of my left hand were a bit swollen, but not painful.
Hm. In December it will be a year since I figured out that there was something going on with my joints that wasn't a rotator cuff injury. Happy anniversary, mm?

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