I am, demonstrably, already late with my week 1 progress report. Life has been so busy lately that my time has been carved into three categories: write, work, edit.
Thank god for holiday weekends that allow me to catch up!
Anyways, the final edits for “Ill Met in Tanivar” are turned in, and I should have a cover soon. As promised, I’ve successfully written every morning. Well… I’ve written every morning. Some of the writing this week went in a wrong direction, so it might get scrapped. However, other writing yielded a character pairing that I love so much, they may end up getting their own spin-off series.
So that’s 6.5k words on “To Kill a Queen” (tentative title), plus another 2k-ish that I still have to transcribe. I transcribe things I might dump because otherwise they are lost forever in the bowels of my journal pile.
The snippet of the week actually fits in near the climactic finale of the novelette. I’ve got this one plotted out fairly heavily, so this is likely to make it into the story in one form or another:
“Do you know what Tanivar means in the old tongue? Tân Yfwyr. Fire drinkers. We are the land of the fire drinkers. We built our kingdom on the strength of Summerwen brandy.” Queen Morwen held out a cut crystal glass filled with amber flame. “Drink. Or you insult my land and line.”
Admiral Jardun’s jaw tensed. His shoulders straightened. He didn’t take the glass.
“No? Not to your taste?” The Queen swirled the brandy once before downing it. “Fancy that. Arrest him.”
See there? Those two years of Welsh are paying off. What, you were hoping for something spicier? Okay, how’s this:
It was so like the fastidious Asamir to skirt death, only to grumble about smelling bad. Sinjin’s irritation broke. He leaned over and kissed Asamir’s brow, staying just a moment too long, appreciating that Asamir could still stink and complain and totter out of bed before he was supposed to. “There’s some spare nightshirts in the clothes press.”
“I’ll still smell like a sack of sweaty balls.”
“Some of us like the smell of–Ow!” Sinjin rubbed his side where Asamir had pinched him. “Fine. Sponge bath it is.”
Edits to Chiaroscuro go slowly. I printed out Act III and I’m trying to sink into it, but after the crit session I had a few weeks ago, my brain is torn in two directions. Part of me knows I need to fix the last act before I can go back and start working through the issues that came up in the crit, but another part of me just wants to FIX ALL THE THINGS at once.
Day by day, the work gets done.
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Speaking of work, back to it!
Some friends have been posting this article on Facebook, and I realized I had more to say than a simple share warranted.
A few years ago, my dad advised me not to call myself a feminist. He said the word turns people off, turns them away from listening to what I might have to say. I spent a long time explaining to him the road I took to calling myself a feminist, how I resisted it for a long time, how I had to dismantle my own prejudices against the word, my own fear of being ignored and dismissed because of the label. I explained how I had to learn that there isn’t one feminism, but as many views as there are feminists (although these views can be loosely categorized into movements and sub-sets). I explained how using the word was my way of acknowledging the work that has already been done by people before me, how it is my refusal to be a nice girl, a good girl, a friendly girl. To be silenced by what is essentially an ad hominem attack.
I’ve had friends call me out because they found my anger, even when it wasn’t directed at them, uncomfortable. The question tends to be ‘why are you so angry.’ The more crap I see every day in big and little ways, the more my response has drifted into the realm of ‘why aren’t you?’
[Edit to note: this reaction of mine isn't in response to people who are burned out/tired/can't get angry anymore. Spoons. I get it. You have to do the self-care thing first. But then, those people never ask why I'm angry. They know. It's to the people who honestly don't see what I'm so worked up about. To them, I just kind of want to gesticulate wildly at the giant TYRANNOSAUR OF DOOM and be all "Don't You SEE It?!"]
I missed a lot of this weekend’s news about the shootings in California and the #YesAllWomen response because I was enjoying myself in a safe, feminist space at WisCon, surrounded by wonderful people of all sorts of genders. I was too busy to check my usual news sources or Twitter. I even, in a rare moment of candidness, talked publicly about how I don’t perceive myself as a gendered being until I come into conflict–often traumatically–with social expectations and societally-imposed norms. In these moments, I become hyper-aware of how I’m perceived and will be perceived, and in those moments I cease to be an Alyc doing Alyc things, and I become a peg that has to shape myself to a variety of holes that don’t fit: do I push against the expectations? Do I engage in a behavior that I’m aware will conform to and confirm a gender identity I don’t actually experience myself as having, even if my own motivation is expedience or preference rather than gender performance?
Despite my internal perception-of-self, I realize that I will never pass as anything but a woman, and because of this, I get to enjoy all the dangers that women and people who society reads as women experience (however, I am unlikely to experience any of the dangers that trans people experience in addition to this).
I had such a good weekend not being angry, not encountering all the crap I usually encounter, that I almost wanted to let this whole thing pass by without comment. But I can’t, because safe spaces are a rarity, and the only way to make them more common is to not be silent.
I’m sad that the camera doesn’t pick up all the gradients of blue and purple. In real life, it looks like octopus tentacles sprouted from my head. Also, my timing is totally off. It’ll be faded by the Nebulas, and I’ll need to redo for Wiscon.
Still… DEEPSEA DARK SPACE UNICORN HAIR!!!
Dear Author, First and foremost, thank you thank you thank you for volunteering to write for me. I will try to give you sparks for ideas, but I’m a pretty easy cookie to please, so if you had a fic you really wanted to write that doesn’t quite fit with any of my suggestions, please write the fic you wanted to write. That tends to work out better for everyone in the end.
Last night I dreamed I was a space rock star. I had a sleek, silver space shuttle and a lovable group of misfits that I collected to make up my band. There was an androgynous J-Pop star, a German Death-Metal lady (they had a romance sub-plot), an android made of glowing blue nanobots who was trying to understand the connection between math, music, and love (guess who I had a romance sub-plot with), an adorable Latina urchin girl who was an undocumented immigrant – lots of hijinks around sneaking her aboard my shuttle, because once she was on the shuttle, it was considered inter-galactic space-space, and she couldn’t be deported. Rounding out the group was my shady agent/manager, who knew how to get awesome stuff done on the cheap. He was either Kenyan or Nigerian. That confusion was a plot point for some reason, but I can’t recall what the reason was.
We flew around a lot in my spiffy shuttle, though I was not a very good pilot. We caused a lot of chaos that seemed to be a problem at first, but it ended up improving people’s days — like when I crash-flew my shuttle through the space-port, which caused it to close down and give everyone a much-needed day off.
I don’t recall that my space rock band ever got around to playing any music. And I have no clue why my brain decided to dream in the genre of Saturday Morning Cartoon.
I spent a chunk of last night and all my morning lie-in-bed time trying to compose my recommendation for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. I finally gave up because the more enthusiastic I am about something, the more I lose any ability for persuasive language and just want to pound my ‘this is fucking awesome’ into other people’s skulls.
Language. What’s up with that? Where’s my telepathic rail gun?
So I just want to say… Orange is the New Black. Fucking amazing. Ignore the horrible trailers. They are horrible. The actual show is brilliant in so many ways that it renders me as incoherent as if I was trying to describe all the elephant parts at once. It tackles race, class, gender, and queer issues. It explores over a dozen complicated character arcs and interweaves them brilliantly.
At its core, it breaks down the false categories of criminal and not-criminal in a way that effectively critiques our entire notion of criminality (in kind of a Black Helicopters way that doesn’t flinch from looking at how terrible and inevitable and yet internally-logical the process of criminalization is. Blythe could totally write for this show). At one point late in the season, one of the (newer) guards tells an inmate that the only difference between them is that the inmate got caught. Nobody in the show is entirely horrible, and nobody in the show is entirely noble. the show manages to lay bare the flaws in our current system of incarceration in a way that doesn’t come across as just liberal hand-wringing.
But most importantly, the show manages to do something I don’t think I’ve ever seen a major media product pull off (or even attempt), and I think a large part of the success of the characters and the critique comes down to this: it uses a female gaze.
Only one of the actresses fits the Hollywood standard (the main character, which is a deliberate choice that I’ll get to in a moment). The rest are all shapes, all sizes, all ages. And because of the way they are stripped down and put in the same khaki-and-grey shapeless clothes, the audience is forced to look at them as subjects rather than objects. We follow these characters through (pretty complex) arcs, and by just a few episodes in, every one of them is sexy as fuck because we’re invited to encounter them as compelling, fully-rounded subjects rather than as objects that fail to meet the standards of the male gaze.
Watching this show was like my first time at WisCon.
The only hard point I had in watching this show was the main character. For several episodes, I felt like they failed with her, that she was the result of some studio exec’s opinion that we needed a pretty, blonde white woman to serve as our entry into the world of the show.
I was wrong. Stick with her. Her character arc is such a surprise, and so worth it by the time you get to the end of the first season.
So… yeah. That’s my spoiler-free, probably completely unpersuasive pitch for why everyone needs to watch this show, and why it should win all the Emmys ever handed out, and why it can teach us all a lot about writing complex, compelling characters.