Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Whew, Where to Start

I started writing this post almost a week ago. I'm just going to throw it out there before this gets even more embarrassing.

The past couple of weekends have been all about cooking. The weeks have been all about writing (and a crappy but necessary work project). There's no "where I've been" post in two weeks now because I haven't been anywhere; I've been writing. That's good. I hope. Though it is making me cranky when I get pulled away from it to do other things, and I am consumed with worry that I am going to finish my outline far shy of the wordcount I want. I am discarding a fair amount of the alpha text as I rewrite. We shall see.

On to the food. I still need to type up some recipes, but I can at least get the links out of the way. I did indeed make chicken vindaloo, and it was awesome, very close to restaurant quality. I think next time I will use thighs on the bone, and I suspect that will make them ever closer. To go with it were Penang Pickled Vegetables, or as close as I could get with what I had on hand. Those were also very good. So was the Salmon Chipotle Chowder (as you can see, it was a spicy weekend!). I would make all of these again without hesitating.

The soup project has gone off the rails a bit, even though I got some pretty new bowls from Crate & Barrel. I may get back on track this weekend, but we shall see.

And a few more photos, to catch me up. I am a bad 365er; I have missed many days now, but I'm trying.

365 #23 Yet another view of Boston. I wanted to get the shadows, but I was talking to a co-worker and missed the time.

365 #24 Buying spree at Harvard Book Store

365 #25 Cheddar-Chive Bread via Dorie Greenspan - it rocks

365 #26 Dinosaurs

365 #27 New C&B bowls

365 #28 Days getting longer

365 #29 Miriam 4 months

365 #29 The trees can tell

365 #30 Public discussion on art restoration in the Red Line

365 #31 Mussel shell in a snowbank on First St., Cambridge. I have no idea.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Core Characteristics and Emergent Properties

As usual, I have no idea how this train of thought came about, but a few weeks ago I started thinking about the core characteristic of each of my main characters, what it is that makes them uniquely themselves. For Brandon, it's duality--not just bisexuality, which is rather obvious, but his ability to move between the court and the lower city, to share foreign and home perspectives, to understand magic without being of it. Kevan took a lot longer to figure out, and the answer surprised me, because I'm pretty sure it's love. Not exactly something I planned to put into his character, but on examination, most of what he does can be traced back to that. For the new book, I'm not entirely sure yet.

That it takes a while to figure out struck me on reflection as a good thing. You want a character to be complex, to have if possible all of the inner confusions and contradictions of a real person. If you set out to write someone thinking, "this person is ambition" or whatever, you're going to wind up with cardboard, because real people don't act the same way all the time. Ask anyone to describe themselves in one word and they're likely to fidget a lot, come up with something, and then add "but" to whatever they said.

I think that this notion of a core characteristic is something that should emerge as you get to know the characters, and it's not likely to make itself known in the first draft. Once it comes out, you can shine it up in a few places if you want to, or leave it as an exercise to your future readers to argue about; if you can't come up with anything at all, though, after several drafts, that might mean that your character is not drawn clearly, or isn't being active enough to demonstrate their qualities.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We Live on Hope

And such slender threads of it, too. One can see why those involved with publishing can start to seem callous--if they gave wanna-be writers any thread of encouragement we would cling to them like strangler vines. I was privileged to receive such a thread of hope today, and even though it was part of a rejection it will likely power me for the rest of the week.

I owe this blog a lot of recipes and photographs.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Where I've (Virtually) Been

In between jabs at a dreadfully boring but necessary task, my RSS reader overflows with wisdom and laughter.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It Can Stop Snowing Now

Music: The Mollys, This Is My Round

I think there will be many a cup of tea drunk today. I made it to the office yesterday, but I didn't have much company there, and it was a long, cold wait for the bus home. I feel sad when it doesn't snow all winter, but this is officially ridiculous. Schools are closed, so I'll be working at the desk in the bedroom with my headphones in while D* plays Mario to entertain the kids. I thought the Wii would come in handy during snowy days, but I didn't expect it to get quite such a workout.

I have been looking around for a progress widget. This one comes from Inkalicious. It might do (not sure this will be a 100k book yet though - maybe 90k).


365 #21 Miriam 3 1/2 mo

365 #22 The view from my desk today