The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Despite the lightened workload of between-semesters life, I am still behind. I'm supposed to be--I want to be--writing like a bat out of h#ll right now, but my thyroid has conked out again (second time in as many months) and that means my ability to process the larger picture of scenes and novels has shut down. It's like I'm trying to think through mud. So not only am I unable to do much but sit and stare at my own WIP, I'm also unable to do much but sit and stare at the VT-related replies I still need/want to make for the semester--more than a week after the semester is over.

There are no words to describe my level of annoyance and frustration. Well, there are, but they would be overly dramatic and scare people. For example: "If I had a dog I would kick it. No, wait--I have two dogs. Lemme go get my boots on."

The weird thing is, the back of my writing mind is unaffected--I can tell, because a couple of times I've had one of those unexpected flashes, the kind where your writing subconscious is a container of simmering water, and a bubble suddenly rises and pops. Both of my flashes had to do with structure/format, which has been on my mind a lot this term.

And oddly, one was a sudden epiphany about the former GN, of all things. I haven't even thought about that in ages. But suddenly I know what I want to do with it, structure-wise.

Hmm, let me see if I can explain this.

First of all, it's all in third person present.

It's in my voice, from my POV rather than that of any of the characters, because my burning drive is the engine for the story, rather than the characters' particular desires.

It's going to start with wee centered boxes of prose set in present day, in "Sparta."

Then there's going to be a reader cue in the form of a heading that flat out says something like: "Nine years earlier," or however long it is.

From there the format shifts to regular margins as the story jumps back in time--but is still in "Sparta."

Then it's going to stay in the past time frame and in regular margins, but another heading will cue the reader to a, er, continent change. In other words, the setting moves across an ocean, but takes place at the same general time in the past.

Then it switches back to present day, cued by the format going back to the wee centered boxes of prose.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Three revolving stories: Helen in the present, Helen in the past, "Paris" in the past. And the past will gradually move close to the future with each set.

Now, later this will pose a problem as the three sections start to meet up. But the immediate problem at hand is this: I've done a ton of research on the details of domestic home and palace life in the Mycenaean age--and almost none on daily life for regular people or outside the house. Bringing in the second character ("Paris") is going to be a royal pain in the @ss, because he goes through a whole gamut of roles in Bronze Age Turkey: a village peasant, a shepherd...

Hmm. As I write this, I think I can skip the towns, fairs, and cattle-judging, and take him straight to the royal city ("Troy"--which I have a lot of detailed books on, thank goodness), and then on to war.

Okay, now I'm working this out as I type. What I need to do is get the peasant-thing set and grounded, then move him to the city so he can experience life with his royal family, and I think he does need to go to Bronze-Age battle--which might be fun, if I can find time to reread all the good parts of the Iliad. He also needs to be on a ship, which will be hard to write because I know squat about being on a Bronze-Age ship, or any ship for that matter.

Now I've lost my thyroid-deficient train of thought. I'm like Dory from Finding Nemo.

But I've actually talked myself into a less annoyed state, because the nature of this ms is that it's in snippets. It always has been. That is what it wants to be. So the trick of it isn't to build one long snowballing plot, but to weave snippets and storylines together.

So...since it's snippets, for now, if I work on this new part, I don't need to be able to follow a long train of thought. I can just focus on snippet grounding and immersion.

None of this helps my dystopian WIP (which my agent is waiting for, and which my bankbook is waiting for) or the people whose stuff is sitting on my desk ready to be answered. But it does help Hobo and Tyson, who may now avoid a kicking.*

*That's a joke. A JOKE!