Clarion West Write-a-thon: Week Two

Week Two is over and sees me with work done on four chapters of my novel. That isn’t the same as four chapters done, but it’s definitely progress. The runaway royal bride has gotten to the running away part (political marriages can be so tricky, especially when you don’t actually want to marry the guy), the scheming assassin wannabe-prince is on his forced embassy to the wizards, our young wizard prodigy is about to have her life turned upside down, and a new schemer gets introduced.

Ayup, I like me some convolutions.

I use Scrivener as my writing software, and I have to say that I really enjoy how it facilitates me working in manageable chunks. Each scene is its own little file that I can view alone or as part of the whole manuscript. That really makes it easier for me to concentrate at just that part of the story that’s in front of me, and then to be able to see it as a whole with a click of a button. It certainly helps with the novel, as it is a braided story with multiple points of view. I can shift things around easily and at a glance, tell when So-and-So’s last chapter was, and when next they get another turn. I really quite love it as a tool.

I keep thinking about how to rewrite the two remaining stories from last summer. One I think mostly needs streamlining (I tend to preface when I’m better served by just starting 500 words later) and clarification of motives. It’s a sweet story, all mannered and arch, that I wrote my second week at Clarion West as an exercise in style and to play to what I knew at the time to be a strength:  I write pretty. I don’t think that there are any real surprises in the story–I don’t know that I mean there to be; it isn’t quite that kind of story–but I think it has a certain charm. Even so, dude:  the first draft telegraphs too much, too early, starting with the damn title! (Which my confrères deftly pointed out, thanks be.) So, fairly obvious issues, with fairly straightforward solutions. I’m thinking that I’ll get to it next week.

The other story is more complicated… as it stands, it’s too on-the-nose. That was a criticism that was made in very strong terms and for reasons that are very clear, and I completely agree. I mean, I’m taking on responding to the absence of God during a genocide, and I used an analog of the most notorious atrocity in modern history. Let’s just say that the story produced some strong reactions among my colleagues, yeah? I also know that I absolutely had to write the rough draft as I did in order to build the framework for what I wanted to say. I knew that I was going to have to layer and rework the story later. I needed–as my way of getting into the story–to get stuff down so uncomfortably close to the Shoah because, as our instructor that week, Minister Faust, pointed out in discussion with me:  it’s the Holocaust, and in Western society and discourse, it’s the genocide lens through which all other atrocities are viewed. Never mind the Conquista and Manifest Destiny, Rwanda, Armenia, slavery, Cambodia, and countless other horrors.

That never mind really pisses me off.

But having done that, I can now go ahead and finish writing the story that I want to tell. You know, the one that addresses the Shoah and the Conquista, the one that gives visibility to the millions of dead Natives as well the automated nightmares of the camps, the one that has a space–be it so much the fulfillment of a wish–for the agency of those whose who were consumed by fires too terrible to withstand.

And let me tell you:  it’s some hard work. I don’t know that I can succeed. And I really don’t know what market would publish it if I do. But I mean to try.

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