Interfictions #2 is out! Including my most personal piece so far…

This wasn’t intended to be a two-post day, but I just checked the Interfictions webpage and noticed that Issue #2 is up!

Thus, I am extremely proud and happy to say that you can now read my piece ‘Orthography: A Personal History’ here.

You can also listen to me read it – God, it was terrifying to do a reading of this poem, but I managed it, and hopefully did not entirely mangle the piece.

Why was it terrifying? Well, even submitting the whole piece in the first place was terrifying. As I mentioned in this post, it’s the most personal piece I’ve submitted and had accepted so far. To have it online now is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking.

What the hell, I’ll just quote myself:

‘Orthography: A Personal History’ is a mixture of things. It consists of poetic prose and verse “lectures”. It deals with palaeography, orthography, multilingualism, language history, and (surprise!) my personal history.

It’s the most personal piece I’ve submitted so far, delving into my childhood history through writing and my relationship with my two languages, Finnish and English. Fictionalised, of course, but still: me, my deepest self. It’s scary and exhilarating to think that other people will read such a thing.

The fictional cover is so much thinner in this piece than in most of my others. Did I mention this is terrifying? But that’s part of what writing is about: having the guts to put your soul out there for others to see.

So, dear readers. Go forth and read a piece of my soul.

(And read the rest of the issue too! It looks amazing. I am in love with this magazine.)

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Nanowrimo: Preparing for the editing process

Firstly, let’s reveal the working title of the novel I’ll be editing this Nanowrimo: Dim Vanities. The name is from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ‘Tamerlane’:

Dim, vanities of dreams by night —
And dimmer nothings which were real —
(Shadows — and a more shadowy light!)

Dim Vanities is the name I randomly came up with while Nano-prepping in 2008, and it’s stuck. The title will most probably change eventually once I think of a better one. Yes, there are shadows in my novel, but it’s still not the most relevant or awesome title.

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Anyway! Back to business (i.e. more babbling)!

The stats:
DIM VANITIES
word count: ~134,000
chapters: 31

Yesterday I read a 15-page chapter-by-chapter synopsis of Dim Vanities that I’d written last year when I was editing the messy zero draft into a somewhat coherent first draft. The plot still needs some tightening to make it more coherent – there’s some weird magicky stuff that I worry is too vague. Will have to work on that. But mostly, the synopsis seemed decent. I tinkered a lot with the plot last year, so I hope there won’t be a need for too many major changes now.

I’ll really have to work on making the characters alive and their relationships believable, though.

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I’ve been preparing for this editing process by reading a lot of posts on editing, and doing a lot of thinking with regard to what my strategy will be.

I just read this entertaining post on editing a novel by Chuck Wendig. Some sound advice there! Such as:

Writing is editing. Editing is writing.

Writing is rewriting. And rewriting. And rewriting.

So damn true. Good thing I actually like editing… Although I have to say that tackling a whole novel is overwhelming. But hey, this is how we learn: by digging into it and getting shit done.

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Lastly: good luck to everyone doing Nanowrimo the traditional 50K way! *waves pom-poms*

Nanowrimo: The Rebellion

So, it’s nearing the end of October, and we all know what that means: Nanowrimo is right around the corner!

This will be my sixth year of doing Nano – even though this year, I’m not going to do it the traditional way. But November would feel empty without a big writing project! Thus, I’ve figured out a way to do a Nano-ish thing in November despite my stupidly busy schedules.

My Nanowrimo history
So, I’ve done Nanowrimo every November since 2008. I loved it from the start – as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Nano totally revolutionalised the way I write. I used to be a bit of an edit-as-you-go writer, but Nano 2008 taught me that the way I write best is if I just pound out a shitty zero draft first, and save the editing for later.

Little did I know that I’d still be editing that 2008 novel now in 2013…

This is what I’ve done each Nano (so far, I’ve succeeded at the 50K challenge every year):
2008: Urban fantasy inspired by Beauty and the Beast.
2009: Steampunk-meets-Ancient-Rome fantasy about trains and a woman finding herself.
2010: Urban fantasy set in Helsinki – written in Finnish! I wanted to prove to myself that I can do 50,000 words in a month even in Finnish, a language that relies on suffixes and complex conjugation rather than handy short words like prepositions. It was tough to meet the word count, but I did it.
2011: Continuation of 2008 Nano – all-new text, plot continued from 2008 because I really didn’t get very far plot-wise in 2008 despite having 50K words.
2012: Started out as a fantasy travel story starring a woman from a secondary-world religious community going out to find her true path; I ended up abandoning this story halfway through because it was too difficult emotionally, and made up the rest of the 50K with a lighter-hearted novella about a fiddler and a giant-killer’s daughter.

Why am I rebelling?
NOTE: If you’ve never done Nanowrimo before, I absolutely recommend doing it the way it’s meant to be done – plan beforehand if you like, but don’t start writing till Nov 1st. It’s so much fun to get excited for your story, and then start writing in a frenzy!

Strictly speaking, I was a Nano rebel already in 2011, because I was continuing a previously started story. But that didn’t truly feel like rebellion, because all the scenes I was writing were new, and I did the full 50K words.

But now I’m going the actual rebellion route. Reasons: the aforementioned busyness. I’m all too good at trying to do too much stuff at once (I haven’t fallen over in exhaustion yet…!), so this year, with all my duties and planning the future etc., I don’t think I have the energy to plan and write a whole new 50K-long story.

However: what I do want is to get a proper second draft out of my 2008/2011 Nano novel. I blogged about rewriting this novel last year in August-October, when I was unemployed. That was great – I managed to get a messy zero draft into a readable first draft.

Now, my challenge will be to start off a second draft of this thing. I’m using the impetus and excitement of Nanowrimo as leverage to make myself start editing. I like the group support of Nanowrimo, and I need to have a creative project in November! So, editing it is.

My plan
This is pretty much me thinking out loud, but here are some things I’d like to get into shape during November (we’ll see how it goes):

  • Plot – I want to iron out any inconsistencies and make sure the whole thing makes sense
  • Characterisation – do my characters behave consistently? Do I have enough character development?
  • Narration – are my two narrators distinctive enough?
  • Scenes – do the individual scenes work? Are they dynamic enough? Where to add a scene, where to cut or combine?
  • Language – does the prose flow well? Does the dialogue sound natural?

I’ve never got this far in the novel-revising process before, so this is scary and exciting. I expect I’ll post more Nanowrimo-related stuff as November approaches and during the month itself, so keep an eye out for my ramblings.

Stimuli

Today I wrote a poem for the first time since mid-September. It was inspired by the manuscripts & codicology course that I’m on right now: two days of getting back into the groove of manuscript studies. I’m so glad I was allowed leave from work. History is a precious thing and being around medieval stuff makes me feel awed and curious. I really need to get into academia – studying manuscripts just makes me so happy.

Also, when my brain gets new stimuli instead of being bogged down in too little sleep and the same old routines, words start stirring again. I hate it when I’m too busy/stressed out to write poetry, so this tiny eight-line poem feels like a promise that I won’t be too high-strung and sleep-deprived forever.

Speaking of sleep-deprived, I think I need to get to bed. It’s always so damn late. Have I mentioned I hate being a night owl in an early-bird world?

Knights and snails

I had a glass of white wine with my dinner (mushroom burger, very tasty), and I feel ridiculously fuzzy now. I’m going to post nonetheless, dammit, because I’ve been meaning to ever since I came across this link in my RSS reader:

Knight v Snail, from the British Library medieval manuscripts blog. I think this quote from the post sums it all up:

one of our post-medieval colleagues noticed a painting of a knight engaging in combat with a snail. […] This struck him as odd, which struck the medievalists in the group as odd; surely everyone has seen this sort of thing before, right?

That, my friends, is medieval marginal art for ya. Knights versus snails is only a part of the awesomely weird shit going on in the borders of Serious Medieval Works. (See Got Medieval’s post on knights and snails, and check out his marginalia category for some amazing entertainment.)

Anyway, what does all this manuscript geekery have to do with writing? Currently, this: one of the stories I’m currently working on is inspired by medieval knight-v-snail marginalia. So, of course I had to link the BL blog post, since I think everyone should be educated on this intriguing phenomenon.

Sadly, I’ve been too busy and stressed out to work on the snail story for the past week or so – but this weekend will bring with it some free time for editing. Huzzah! I’d also like to get some poems submitted.

(I need to get back into the writing loop properly, but a chronic lack of sleep is gnawing at my energy resources rather too persistently to let writing happen. Thus, I will now finish off this blog post and go to bed early.)

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PS: If you haven’t donated to the Strange Horizons fund drive, there’s still five days to go! Help SH get another year of awesome stuff.

SH really is one of the most diverse I’ve come across – for instance, the current issue is an Indian/diaspora SF special! I haven’t had the chance to read the issue yet, but it looks really interesting.