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Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
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13th-Apr-2014 03:58 pm - Picking Apart the Privilege Test
“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

The above quote is one of many that live on the sidebar at Making Light. And it doesn't just apply to organizations. If anything, it seems to me to apply even more strongly to ideologies.

There's a Buzzfeed post that's ostensibly a privilege test but makes me wonder if it wasn't designed by someone who disagrees with the concept of social privilege and really wants to undermine people who actually try to use the concept in their discussions.

I do have some issues with the idea of privilege, and Nimue Brown here lists an entire set of ways it's overused and misused, many of which are worth discussing. As I say in a tl:dr comment to Nimue Brown's article, I find the problems with it to be balanced by the things the concept has allowed us to talk about that we previously couldn't address, but I did see where she was coming from.

But. This quiz.

So, I get about a 62/100, "yes you are somewhat privileged", which seems fair; I'm a bisexual woman, but I live in a country and a family and among subcultures where my sexuality is a serious non-issue, and on every other axis, I'm basically well off (White, in Canada, middle-classed now and always have been, cisgender, able-bodied, married to a man, in a Christian church, neurotypical, College degree.) If anything, I think my score ought to be higher (more privileged). The only things I could do to be more privileged are to be male (assigned so at birth, that is), be completely straight, and be outright rich.

But I know several people who got scores in the 30s and 40s that don't feel the test remotely accurately describes their actual level of privilege - they are in their own opinion and awareness much more privileged than that reflects. (One of them was a straight white male in a steady job who owns a home.)

In other words, the test is confirming the opinion of those opposed to the concept of privilege, and those who agree with the concept are finding it unsatisfying and inaccurate.

Just going through the test, I could see why.

1) It assumes, but does not say, that this test is skewed to the US first, to North America in general second, and to Europe and European Colonies/ex-Colonies overall.

Living in North America, with the probable exception of living on a First Nations Reserve, already adds a pile of privilege points. More in Canada with its vastly greater access to health care. I understand that no such test can cover all the world but failing to acknowledge that focus in the preamble is already a serious point against the test genuinely trying to show the variety of privilege.

2) All questions are weighted equally. Thus "I've never been raped" is counted the same amount of privilege as "I don't know what Sallie Mae is." or "I feel myself to be physically attractive." Really?

I can quite easily come up with two sets of five questions each out of this list which would reveal VASTLY different levels of privilege or lack thereof to the majority of readers. Weighting the questions as more than one point each out be tricky, as the exact severity of each is subjective, but not to the tune of a near thirty-point difference between me and someone who would look substantively similar in privilege to me from an external perspective.

3) it doesn't account for temporal change. Some of the privileges, such as weight, health, and money/class, can and have changed for some people over time. These leave scars, I grant you (Abuse even more so), but to the extent that a person who *ever* suffered them is forever and always counted as exactly the same level of privilege they were at *while* they were happening? A poor kid who is now as an adult working a well paying job with a good education is still counted as a poor kid who lacks money/class privilege. Sorry. I was sexually assaulted *once* when I was twelve. As a 37 year old woman, this is NOT something I think reduces my privilege to the same degree as it would someone to whom it was fresh.

4) Let's count.

Of the questions:
- 9 are about race, though you can count 2 or 3 of the ones about religion as having crossover here.
- 14 are about sexuality
- 3 are about transgender, genderqueer and fluid gender identity.
- 5 are clearly meant to be about sexism (Focused on male/female gender relations), but some also apply to more fluid gender identities.
- 2 are sexual harrassment/assault, and rape, which sorta fit with gender but should be their own thing.
- 23 are wealth/class.
- 8 are education related, but with a strong overlap with wealth. (I will note I put "I had my own car in High School" under wealth not education.)
- 3 are questions about one's parents.
- 12 are questions about mental and physical disabilities, if you count the one about *affording* a therapist as in this category and not yet another one about wealth, and if you count the "I've used prescription drugs recreationally", which, um, what? Also, NB, only TWO of these questions are about physical disability, and one is the ability to afford medication, which, again, yet more overlap with wealth-as-privilege.
- 4 are questions about weight and "attractiveness".
- 11 are questions about religion, though a couple of them cross over into the "Race" category above.
- 2 are about bullying, and
- 4 are about general comfort with one's own identity.

0 about age, and there are issues with how we treat the elderly. 0 about abuse outside the sections on rape and bullying. While I agree that "Not abused" really shouldn't be considered a "privilege" by the original definition of the word, once you're including bullying and sexual assault, that argument is long out the window.

Are we actually saying that a poor cis straight Christian white able-bodied person is seven times as oppressed as a transgendered person? Are we saying that being raped is twenty-three times less damaging than poverty? Does someone gay/lesbian get hit with four times as much prejudiice and phobia as someone transgendered?

NB: I am *NOT* doubting or dismissing poverty as a major source of prejudice, or a badly ignored injustice or something we should be doing our best to eradicate. It's BIG. Jesus was all about taking care of the poor, and so should we be. But this test literally spends more questions on poverty than it does on race and religion combined.

If this test is in fact designed by someone to mess with the idea of privilege, making sure that any white male who's counted pennies EVER (even if it was years ago) shows up as just as little privileged as a black lesbian is a sure way to stir up trouble.


5) Some specific questions feel painfully badly chosen or badly written:
- I have never been the only person of my race in a room.
This one is the THIRD question, and it's the most amazingly poorly phrased question. ANYONE who has ever been alone in a room is the only person of their race present. BY definition, I qualify right this instant. Even if one accounts for the need to have another person present for the question to be fair, well, I would only have to talk alone once with one person of another race to qualify. I could even be using racist language that would embarrass Vox Day while I harangued them and yet I could use it as an excuse for not having to check off this box and admit to being privileged.

I took a couple of bus routes to work for a while that, going through a neighbourhood that's predominantly First Nations and new immigrants, occasionally meant I really was the only white person in the space for the duration of a stop or two. I still checked this off, because I knew what the question *meant*, and there was nothing about taking that particular bus or those particular couple of minutes that threatened me or isolated me racially in a way that was meaningful to my life. Not the way being the *one* black person in a college class, or the one Asian in a company staff meeting does.

- I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.
I know white people who would count any request to leave a "Blacks only" or "First nations meeting" immediately as discrimination and check this off. Question as written feeds the trolls.

- I have never been called a racial slur.
I call *myself* a honky. Does that count? Obviously not, but again, those who want to bend the definitions of the test can, quite easily... the guy who sneered at the burlesque fundraiser for a women's shelter as "Do-good white people" was an ignorant jerk, but I don't call that set of words, even with their acknowledgement of the race of the majority, a racial slur the same way the n-word is.

Moreover, under the sexuality part of the questionnaire, they ask three questions about sexuality based slurs. Which immediately treats being called a "fag" *and* a "fairy" once each as twice as bad as a black person being called the n-word on multiple occasions. Which, pardon me, but note which one I don't feel I'm able to WRITE without crossing a line.

- I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
These are not ONE question. This is two questions. The difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault is not small. Someone who HAS suffered both should damn well be granted two points against privilege. (I say that having been assaulted but *not* harassed.)

- I don’t know what “Sallie Mae” is.
I didn't, but not because I didn't get student loans... wrong country, dude.

- I’ve used prescription drugs recreationally.
Maybe this is a marker of privilege because it's something only more well off people can do? I mostly just don't get its relation to the actual concepts of privilege.

- I have never worked as a waiter, barista, bartender, or salesperson.
Because these are the only minimum wage or near options out there? Or maybe working an "unskilled" job in a factory doesn't count because... ? This could have so easily been fixed with "I have never worked for an income below a living wage" or some equivalent.

- There is a place of worship for my religion in my town.
I wouldn't have seen a problem with this one, but at least one person said that as an agnostic, they still felt they didn't have a place of worship. Which I think is "Spirit vs. letter" fuss - but then again, it does fit into "Only member of your race in a room" level of poor phrasing to even allow for that kind of misinterpretation.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
10th-Apr-2014 05:35 pm - A Ramble on Worldbuilding.
This is purely self indulgence, written because it interests me. It's the first time I've had to do this much intensive almost ground-up worldbuilding since Labyrinth was first started (Because Labyrinth is set in a wholly different world). Every other story I've had to *refine* extant worldbuilding, do further discovery, but the basic sketches were MUCH more firmly set.

Cut because seriously this goes on a long while.Collapse )

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9th-Apr-2014 04:39 pm(no subject)

I'd been working pretty steadily on the Blood Rose, until I hit a point where, as I put it to Colin, the characters are trying to do the sensible adult thing and I have to figure out why they can't. (This feels like the opposite of my usual problem these days, where I have to remind myself when writing that teenagers aren't always sensible and often do give in to their first impulses. In this case, though, it's grown-ups who ahve to be stopped by some circumstance from doing the best possible action in their situation and the "But really secretly I want to just give up and do the wrong thing" while present, isn't remotely sufficient even if it does mean they'll breathe easier at an excuse.

Into that pause a brand new story idea started poking itself.

It's a portal fantasy and a sea voyage, and at least partly the fault of reading Ana Mardoll's often-excellent Narnia Deconstruction posts. but it's also not just "Let's fix the Voyage of the Dawn Treader with Liberal Feminist politics" which sounds like a recipe for a pretty awful story to ME - it may have started sprung by an idea in those deconstructions but it's wandering all kinds of places.

See, on my map of my fictional world, there's an ocean which takes up pretty much all of one hemisphere (Like the Pacific, but possibly even more so, as the land masses on the other side don't add up to the size of all Earth's continents). And it's canon that NOBODY goes there. Well, you know, there's ocean trade to some close-by islands and the like, but the heart of it? Is a big no-no. All that's really known or suspected is that what's there is part of why most selkie cultures are pathologically against the acquisition of gold or wealth. And that sometimes boats come back, but when they do, nobody on board can remember their own names or families, much less anything they saw there.

And of course, even I, the maker of the world, who has at least a couple of paragraphs sketching out pretty much every other land, even the ones I have no stories to write about (The whole southern continent - which unlike our Antarctica goes far enough north to have sapient-habitable places) didn't really know what was up with it.

And now a God is sending one poor vessel right in there, on what even He isn't pretending is anything but a suicide mission - and he's going to be dropping some people from our world into it (For as it happens sensible and relevant reasons other than 'they need to learn some big Moral Lesson' - that IS one of the few Lewis-things that is even at this stage being beaten into a small pulp). And I already have some ideas what they're going to find. It's really weird, having the big empty blotch on the map start to fill itself out so thoroughly and so fast.

Of course, I live in the centre of a continent and have approximately zero experience with sailing ships. And it's definitely age of sail - though with what minuscule bit of initial reading I've done, I think I may be basing the main ship(s) on something more like junks or other not-as-recognizeable-to-fans-of-Patrick-O'Brien vessels. (Which leads to the question how many of the most familiar nautical terms are essential to the ships themselves and how many are out of European tradition, which is a messy can of worms...*)

And the mother of a toddler isn't going to be able to take off for a random set of how-to-sail-a-sailboat lessons, as Amy Raby did before writing some of her current books.

So. Lots of reading in my near future. And I think I'm going to have to start with Jim Macdonald's quick-and-dirty research method of beginning with books aimed at kids, not just because it's quick and dirty but because my knowledge is THAT far behind.

*For instance, why would a ship from another world with different traditions use port and starboard? Would they necessarily have historically put the steering oar to the right and thus dock at a port on the left? Would they be using the differing colours of lights or some other means to signal side, and would they have the same tradition of who gives way when to avoid a collision?

And of course, what's *worth* changing to say "Different world, dudes" versus worth leaving alone to say "I like you to be able to read the meat of the adventure and not get confused by trivialities"?

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
I'm not pregnant, again.

No miscarriage, unless it's the kind you can't tell from a regular period. Just not pregnant. But I'm more depressed about it than usual.

And yet, it, and some coincidental reading, and some stuff about Joseph, all have me thinking again about the hard world of child raising, and trying to have kids, and choosing not to try to have kids. Then I ran into these (Because I've been reading her Narnia Deconstructions, but a few months behind, and slipped into the Storify one, and linked back to the older one from there...)

And in some ways, even though our situations as regards EVERYTHING (fertility, cause of failed pregnancies, efforts to get pregnant, even feelings about wanting children ahead of time) are different - I felt like I had seen a strong mirror of my own feelings. (Also, some serious WTF??? about the Grown Babies in Heaven from every lost zygote. Like, nuclear explosion degrees of WTF???)

The miscarriages were alive enough to me to have possible names, if only after the fact (Names I would never have applied to an extant child and names that are no-one's business but mine and Colin's), but they were mourned as she says; as potential, not actual children. It was losing a whole attachment of dreams (Dreams that didn't cover half the reality I already face, but she talks about that, too) -- but it was not half of what losing Joseph on the day of his birth, when he was a real and whole and solid BABY, would have been. And it is NOTHING, and I repeat that with huge emphasis, to what losing him now would do.

Potential, not Person

Storify: Infertility and Abortion

I wonder what it is about having faced the consequences of our own reproductive efforts (None of which actually WERE abortion in either my case or Mardoll's) that makes it so very clear why reproductive choice, including abortion, is so very important? Maybe it's because it's us, not some abstract woman, and our zygotes and fetuses and babies, not some abstract "Fetuses are babies" platonic ideal. (I held and touched one of those fetuses, an inch or so long at the time, and I knew exactly hat I was holding, and it was devastating -- but it was not a baby.)

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
3rd-Mar-2014 11:30 pm(no subject)
It says something about me and my ego* that i only just discovered another review for Illusion of Steel from last October. I think her complaints, if "complaints" is even the right word for a wish to have more story, are a fair cop - but the question of whether I ever write the other parts of these specific characters' stories is complicated.

And a nice, but other than one sentence and a general tone of approval, review free, signal boost from Black Gate Magazine.

Having seen my fourth quarter royalty statement, though, I think this deserves a small signal boost.

* On the one hand, yes, I just ego-surfed. On the other, first time since at least October?

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
- So far, I'm convinced this was a good idea. I may not be happy with all the details, but the gist is going the right way. Sort of the way I feel about a first draft, actually...

- I seem too often to have sacrificed sleep to mandolin practice instead of more sensible things like computer time. Some of this was the added complication of my mother-in-law being here (The room she stays in during winter visits is directly connected to my study, so I "had to"* wait until she was in bed and the kitchen was clear. But it's not just that, I just put it off to too late at night too often.

- I got my calluses back in record time (Now, if only I could not *lose them* in record time should I take another extended pause... I still have my pottery pin-tool bump on another finger, which is older, so I shouldn't lose callusses that fast, but I do.)

- Both hands occasionally threaten to cramp on fast songs. And once in a while have. Which means WARM UP BEFOREHAND, STRETCH WHEN DONE, and DRINK SOMETHING (Which I should be doing for the voice). This is EXERCISE, albeit for fine hand muscles and a handful of gross arm muscles, nt the way you think of a workout. Some of those muscles are growing back. Setting them back by not stretching is as bad as for all other exercise.

- I was also dealing with unexpected elbow pains for a few days, and not just muscle ache pains. That seems to have faded.

- I feel like I'm doing worse on some of the trickier songs now than i was when I restarted. Probably this is more of the effect of getting my ear for how it should sound back quicker than I am the finger-training. I hope.

- Some of the easier songs feel noticeably better, though.

- Switching between the instruments seems to do me no favours. But there are genuinely songs which are MUCH better on one than the other, and not the same one.

- My mandolin is a much better quality instrument than my octave mandolin. (Neither is Bad, mind you, but the Silly Goose is much quirkier than the Angry Chicken). I like the idea and sound of working with an octave mandolin better. But I am not getting another instrument THIS soon.

- I would do much better, not on the individual songs, but on arrangement and figuring out chords I haven't already played / have written down, if my music theory knowledge had not rusted in the back of my head during much of the intervening 19 years.

- It's a LOT easier to practice when you have a voice. It's not just figuring out how to strum/pick/finger-pick, it's also getting the voice to meld, producing both at the necessary power and feel, and not losing the mandolin parts the moment you open your mouth and ahve to do two things simultaneously. Getting a cold that strongly affected my ability to sing for over a week made practice a lot harder than it had to be. (Throat doesn't seem to be wholly clear even yet, but I can sing)

- The 2 new songs I'm trying to arrange are both 3/4 time. There's not a large variety of strumming patterns for 3 beats, so making them sound decent with my current skill set is... daunting.

- I HAVE TO replace the deeper of the two octave mandolin's strings-that-hit-the-note-above-F# (I tried to post about a problem with these on Facebook and had at least two people misread which Kind of G-string until they got to the bit about the mandolin). Really, the whole set, but I can only conclude that the string the guy who repaired it used that he thought was a good match.... wasn't. Tune it right (Which is a tough process even with the right string) and by two frets down it's sounding noticeably flat. It also feels a bit less taut than the other strings. I think it's adding to the buzz of its up-an-octave neighbour on the course, too.

* In quotes for good reason. There's no purely logical reason I couldn't practice at other better times or other places, including ones she probably wouldn't hear much. But I have a bit of a thing about knowing people are in hearing, or could walk in, while I'm practicing. Because if they are in hearing I'd rather practice only the bits that already sound good.... and when you're rusty, nothing sounds good. I can do more practice less privately if the someone is Colin.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
Lennie Gallant is someone whose music I fell in love with when he came here for Folk fest many years back. He's a maritime artist with the musical roots that implies, and an Acadian family, so he sings English and French (But not Acadian, alas), and he's a fairly individual songwriter, with an upbeat attitude and a bit of a rock edge. Before the concert I had 4 of his English CDs and one in French.

I posted a mention of this concert to my various friends, saying I was going definitely but wondered if I could get company. I was not really expecting a lot of interest; my usual concert-going person was going to be out of town.

[personal profile] haasiophis pretty much pounced on the spot, reminding me that her family is from PEI, even if her parents and herself did a lot of moving-about and never actually lived there {Edit based on the DW conversation: Her mom did in fact live on PI. My mistake}. She also knew his music from having heard his first CD via family, but didn't own it.

So Yay! we went Sunday night, when it was warm for winter, but snowy, and threatening to blow.

So, good, Yes. Worth it, yes. As well as song good energy in the songs he also had a few entertaining stories, a couple of running jokes, and a reasonably friendly way with an audience.

His backing band consisted of two nephews, Jonathon sitting on an interesting percussion instrument whose name I did not get, and Jeremy on some really excellent keyboard. And later a third nephew, I think Calvin, joined him first with a military drum (To close off Wounded, a song about injuries visible and invisible garnered on the front lines) then on guitar and vocals (All of them did backing, but C. did some of the verses.) Said nephew is apparently now a Winnipeg native, so this may have been a special treat for us, I'm not sure.

My favourite story of the night, and one that can be appreciated without need to discuss the music itself. Now, it's been mentioned that one of his CDs got into space (Julie Payette took a copy of "When We Get There" with her to the ISS. He said he was just about done recording his next album and considered offering her an advance copy, bud thought that the album she chose had a rather more optimistic title, since the new Cd was "If We Had a Fire"), but he said that the Gallant family in general seems to be ending up hobnobbing with the literally higher ups.

See, it seems a couple of years back, one of his brothers (Whose name I've lost) was told by a friend, "You're having a ceilidh tonight."

"I am?" said the brother. "Okay. Why am I having a ceilidh tonight?"

"Because Chris Hadfield is in town and he was looking for a place where he could jam with some musicians, and I told him you were having a ceilidh."

"I'm having a ceilidh tonight!"

And at said ceilidh, the other brother (Mark, I think he said) played David Bowie's Space oddity. And Chris Hadfield says, "I love that song. I have to learn to play that song. Can you teach me the chords for that song?"


Anyhow, the concert. He started up with Which Way does the River Run? Which is mellow but beautiful. (I'd say overall the first set was a bit more mellow than the second, though anything with Tell Me a Ghost Story and 47 Angels on Her Front Lawn in it is NOT mellow). Things seemed to go up from there. he included two wholly new songs and a couple of which I was unfamiliar (2 Francophone and one from the first album, which I didn't have before the concert).

I held off on getting up until 47 Angels, because it was very much a sit down audience, but then I got up and boogied. I did so only twice before the break, I think, but I was up about every second song in the second set, if I wasn't up for more than one at a time. I was only joined by one person once. I suspect if I'd gone to the front I could have tipped the balance, but if my only choice was to dance where everybody might see me, I'm not doing it. At the back, I could pretend I was all invisible. (Haasiophis was dealing with meds that make her dizzy, so she sat.)

His only stumble was an unexpected and quite loud and clear request for Extraordinary Ordinary Life, which was not on his set list and he hadn't played in a while. I was actually rather impressed, as he worked through the opening chords, then his nephew figured out and remembered the keyboard, and he picked up the lyrics easily enough ... well, until the last verse, where he blanked on the first six words (It's not a short song, this is a very small percentage.)

I was THIS close to running from our spot near the back with the lyric sheet from the CD. But he just finally filled it in with "La la" and kept on.

I think as well as the obvious picks (I like Peter's Dream but not to the degree it's popular: It's #4 on the "top 10 maritime songs of all time" and high up on a number of other such lists) he hit all the songs I personally was most hoping he would hit. He ended the concert officially with "The Band's Still Playing", but the two encore songs (Does anyone ever not play an encore? OTOH, it was a small audience, but many stood) were the Open Window, which I like and had to dance to but wasn't pining for, and Lifeline, which was the main song I really wanted to hear and the one I was this close to hollering at the stage, and was trying to tell myself he'd done everything else I could ask for. Then he introduced it and I just about melted of the happy.

Amusing side note. Haasiophis and I each brought in one CD and left with three. But of a 9 CD repertoire, we both ended up with the same three CDs on hand. (In total, I'm only missing 2 now...)

Lifeline (Embedding disabled, but if you watch one, watch this.)

And this is why this is the one got me dancing.

And this seems sort of wryly appropriate to sneak in. And if you don't know why, you really didn't read the review above...

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
15th-Feb-2014 10:46 am - First lInes, decisions
While It's obviously the most *practical* to try and work on the Serpent Prince, which is *this* close to done, I don't currently want to do revision and rewrites.

(This WILL change if I win either of the con-or-bust novel critiques, but since I'm up against Kate Elliott for one and Andrea K. Höst for the other - among other writers - that's.... unlikely. But if I do, I can have Serpent Prince's current rewrites done in less than a week, and since it would be months at best to have Labyrinth even to half-decent, that's the way to go).

All considerations aside, my impulse is also to keep going in the raw text vein and save the revision itch for the critique and the labyrinth rewrite.

But I don't know on what.

So. Let me know if any lines especially sound intriguing.

In no special order:

Long Stories (Novellas, novels)

Gods in Flight:
To explain why I ended up where I did, at the right hand of the Bastard, of all Gods, I think I'd better start with a sum-up where I'm coming from.

I was born in nowhere-town in the county of nowhere in the province of nowhere in the farthest back corner of the most nowhere country on the whole planet.

Fantasy world but rather more modern than most of the settings. Gods versus fey, and a young human sharpshooter in the middle. This would be a true pantser exercise. Probably needs some research and worldbuilding help.

Gods in Flight: Armageddon
Geordie Kerr had resigned himself to heading up the mountain trail alone when the last car he had expected to see this weekend pulled into the lot.
In spite of the temporary moniker, not a direct sequel to the above. (The GiF stories are set well after the time periods of the others and involve Tovay the Bastard, that's the common thread). Portal fantasy into a post-apocalypse.

The Poisoned Tongue
It began, for me, when two of my ladies-in-waiting found themselves pregnant.
Traditional fantasy, third of a trilogy.
Still feeling a bit burned out on the project.
I'm actually thinking if I don't get to this before November, it might be best finished via another NANO charge.

The Blood Rose
Alcestos feigned continued unconsciousness, building an idea of the weight of his limbs and their position without daring to move.
High fantasy built around a tragic curse. This is somewhere between rewrite and new text. I have finished drafts, but I think it needs more than just a rewrite.
Novella length; good to submit to Eggplant if I get it back into shape.

Blood of the Woods
Zhared watched the camp from his meagre shelter, and wished they had settled themselves nearer the brink of the woods. The grain was ripe with summer's end, but the oaks were a much more certain escape, and grain could not stop a gunshot.
high fantasy if slightly more modern than usual, about a forest god, a group of selkies, and a demon-lord. Some of the gender stuff is both more relevant and needs a more thoughtful hand than in previous drafts.

Sophonisba and Tourmalina (Not actual title):
The page cried, "All do honour to the flower of the court!"
High fantasy court drama; politics and poisonous words. I have short story-ish versions of both womens' stories, but later realised that not only do the short stories not entirely work but the two happen simultaneously, and might work together as a novel. While I have about 3 pages of genuinely ancient draft (thus a first line, however weak, at all), this is one of the few that essentially starts from complete scratch. And would be another pantser.

Meri had been wed a bare three weeks before, in a tight-throated mixture of joy and pain.
High fantasy. Girl vs. Fey. Poor Fey. The one complete draft of this extant is, um, painfully old. (1995 old). I won't even reread it to start writing. This opening comes from a handful of pages I tried in 2006.

There are two extant drafts, in third and first person respectively. So, two possible opening lines:
I think I was born weak.
Biadei sat just off the beach, because however much the sun had warmed his chosen rock, it had warmed the sand more, and he had no desire to hop graceless from burning foot to burning foot to reach the water.
High fantasy. But this is the story that goes really dark places, and not in a good way. AND is chock full of plot relevant BDSM erotica - which is only part of where the dark comes from and not the bit I fear. But it haunts me. It's also VERY laden with backstory. Difficult terrain in almost every way.

Dark Water:
Hahleph-Ailce was not, by her own admission, a forest fox at all.
High fantasy about my fox people. While I Really want to get to write about my fox-people on their own at some point, some aspects of this story seem to have been stolen by other stories that do them better. I'm debating whether that means strip it down for parts entirely, or build it up with new ones to replace what are obviously personal tics.

(excluding stage directions that ramble, rather)
VULPE: You can go on in, ELLERA. There's nothing to fear.
As mentioned before, a screenplay attempt. The title is a giveaway if you know your Grimm.

Merlin's Dive:
Colleen Dukas arrived at the television studio after a weekend of significantly more drinking than she had assayed even in college.
I figured out a new opening scene for this one last night. So clearly it's on my mind, and clearly that won't be the opening line if I do it, though it might be of chapter 2. A slightly kinky modern-day story: Woman tries to keep a man alive after an attempt on his life by the fey. She's also trying to figure out how to explain to him that the reason she won't admit her feelings for him is because in about three weeks, at her 28th birthday, she's going to do what she does every seven years, and change gender.

The Secret Visits:
16th, Sheola Ascending, the Amnan year 247
It's past the setting of the first moon; possibly past the second; I have not been watching the skies too closely. I'm shaking

High fantasy, a major culture clash. This is an idea I want to play with eventually, but it doesn't feel like its time has come. There's another kernel needs to pop, or something.

Short stories

Rustle and the Beanstalk:
There were two things everyone knew about Rustle, once they met him. The first was that Rustle liked being small.
I have NO idea where this is going. But I suspect it will be fun. Rustle is a critter on the narrow balance between cute and silly and way too twee and he said he wanted his own story, please please please. And I thought the thing someone so little needs is giants.

Titanic story: Apparently I managed to only put the current first line in the last first lines meme. Which i cannot find this moment, oh dear. Yup, this snippet is still around. Needs research but not daunting research.

So Far From the Clyde: Clementi had felt the scales under her hand growing cold, and as the storm faded, felt them shrinking, compacting. Zegielnichka had of course made herself larger to carry them all, thinning her substance as dragons were wont, but when the magic began to falter, she began to return to the size of nature.

Wizard in the Wilderness: I'd been travelling the wilderness for a good many weeks when my walking stick grumbled at me, "If you're not going anywhere in particular, Huw, you might veer westward. That's where I'd like to go."

Bristol Harbour: Conalio thought much of their new steam ships, based on models twenty years old or more as far as we Fauconarans were concerned.
The song is only backstory. (Said song is about almost-cannibalism). A piece of weird with some erotic elements, but mostly about broken people finding each other even if they can't fix each other.

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I've been fighting a cold the last week, mostly just coughs and explosively runny nose and not being much able to sing. And extra care for Joseph, who has all of the same but less comprehension that this is a temporary state, and has needed a few more middle of the night snuggles than usual.

How a mom, or at least this mom, feels about mid-night child cuddles is probably the definition of ambivalent. When I drag myself from the bed, and he's howling and won't stop, or wriggling and flailing and refusing to settle, it's all bad, some of the worst mom-stuff that doesn't involve diapers at *their* worst. But when he settles and is lying on you because it's the one thing that makes all the sickness feel okay, and he's dropping off to sleep, warm and trusting... well. There's times you want it to linger just a bit more after he's sound asleep before tucking him back in his bed and sneaking off to get your own desperately needed sleep.

This is complicated by the fact that he can get out of his crib entirely, and has at least once found a way over the baby gate (We now have a knob cover on the door, so the latter part is solved. That it's almost the only door in the house that can *use* a knob cover was lucky, though.)

Dealing with the colds in the daytime is helped somewhat by the fact that my mother in law is here visiting her grandson (Oh, and the rest of us). Though I feel badly, because when we were at their place in November, we arrived with colds, too. The timing is coincidence, but we really didn't invite her to come to be a nurse.

Dealing with not being able to sing has complicated a second project of mine, though, which is my current pledge to practice mandolin at least 1/2 hour for every day for 55 days (Ends March 28th. As I explained, it's a purely arbitrary number based on a vaguely remembered and probably equally wrong thing about 55 days being what it takes in ingrain a daily habit (And 3 months for a habit that is not purely daily). But hey, pledging to do NaNoWriMo is arbitrary. And pledging to have to write 5000 words to allow myself a coffee flavoured drink until such time as my draft of Labyrinth was done was also successful in producing a finished draft. As of yesterday.

My last three days therefore, have been me being up past midnight to respectively:
- Finish the whole of the book besides the epilogue.
- write what I thought was the full epilogue, though I had a nagging feeling some loose end of the dissatisfying kind was straggling
- write the piece of Epilogue that I had figured out I needed to add.

AFTER which i finally scrambled to get in the mandolin practice. (I kept telling myself to get the mandolin work in firs,t and kept going, "But I just need a few more words...". I actually the think the chosen order might have got me to bed marginally sooner, because doing the mandolin practice last, I tended to stay much closer to the 1/2 hour minimum, where I might have lingered if I'd done it the other way. I'm still regaining practice and callusses both, and I'm not making my elbow explode, so I think I'm not doing the mandolin wrong by it.)

SO. I have a complete draft.

It's 150,272 words. It's much more drafty than a lot of finished drafts of mine, and oddly, most of the bits that I already know need the most revision are prior to the NaNoWriMo rush.

What the NaNo rush did on that front is prevent me from going back to do the small revisions I always do during a draft when I hit a later point that makes me change my mind about a previous one. Or where I realise there's a plot hole. Instead I just inserted notes for the most part. (There were monsters in the way a few minutes ago. What happened to them?).

There's also a LOT of dross wordage. Partly due to those not-revisions, but also when I was failing for the key plot or figuring out world-building on paper through the NaNo and post NaNo bits. (These characters stand around and TALK so damn much, and a lot of it is "As you know Bob"s I needed to write but nobody but me should ever be forced to suffer through reading.)

AND there are some plot twists on paper I'm debating dropping and possible others I'm considering slipping in. (One ends up fucking with gender. Also making one character more consistently reliable in spite of having their brain played with, and another much more bitchy and antagonistic even though they're decidedly a victim not an antagonist. Whether these are plusses remains to be seen, but it's all in character for the villain's fondness for mind games.)

I anticipate being able to make this a 120k book.

Final verdict? I think it's a solid story under all the first draft baggage. I mean, I would and should think so. But I have done a bit more attempt to pick apart the viability than just "Well, I liked it or I wouldn't have wrote it." I liked and wrote books whose immediate commercial viability I doubt, after all (Looks sadly at Raising the Storm).

It's much less bog-standard fantasy than the Serpent Prince books but in a way that might be pitchable as "fresh" not "Look, it's weird". (It's a portal fantasy - though one in which the word "Unsustainable" is directly relevant) It's MUCH less depressing than Bird of Dusk, but has some of the same urban fantasy audience accessibility with the modern world protagonists. It has a non standard heroine (or two). I think it can become a less unwieldy and unsalable length than Raising the Storm. Unlike Bird and RtS, some of the ways it's less traditional feel like things I can point to as selling points, not forces working against it. It's easier to sum up the gist of the story for a blurb, which always helps. (The fact that the heroines are lesbian and bi of course can count against it for some publishers and readers, but for it for others.)

It's also at least one significant revision from even a beta reader call, which probably means a year or even two to sales pitch time, especially as I need some time to clear my head of it (And do some relevant research) before I dive into revisions. So I'm not stopping shopping around Bird (or Serpent Prince if I get the rewrite of THAT down pat). But I think it's more likely than either to get more positive attention.

I could be wrong, but I'm content with it until the betas destroy it.

So... what's the next project? Well, #1 is actually a beta reading for a friend with a relatively short deadline. So, not writing per se, but analysis of someone else's writing is always good for the editorial muscles.

#2 is some of the research I need for Labyrinth itself. (It's all character background stuff, and I could probably leave it as fudged as I have. But could and should aren't the same.) That can be relatively ongoing until i decide it's time to do the revision though.

#3 is that I have a small hope of scraping together a working short story for one of the Eggplant anthologies, but the deadline being in March, it's a slim hope.

#4: I don't know. Back to revising Serpent Prince. Back to writing The Poisoned Tongue. Off to try another of my various partly finished projects. I was after all looking at the old OLD OLD draft of the Allerleirauh screenplay, and thinking how to make it A) a stage play rather than screen play, B) less cringe-worthy when it comes to a few racial tropes I was doing my then-best on but are horrid now C) More selkie-y, if that can even be a word and D) both better and finished. And I was thinking about Meri's tale because a story about a girl saving a god from the Fae has to have some appeal. And there's the apocalyptic one. Or ones.

#5: After whatever I choose comes the revision of the Labyrinth story.

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25th-Jan-2014 12:30 am - More Mural pics
Under cut because pics of pretty little horses may yet be too big for others' screensCollapse )

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Just posted on FB, but relevant here.

In spite of his newfound ability to get out of the crib, Joseph has actually stayed in it every night at bedtime (It's middle of the night wake-ups that have differed.)

Until tonight.

When he will not stay.

He went to bed at 8:00.

He was last seen at the baby gate on the door at 10:45.

I am (at midnight) about to check on him so I can put him in his crib instead of the high non-toddler-railed bed where he was lying the one time around 10:00 that he looked like he was trying to sleep. (I put him in the crib. he lay there until the music ran out on the bassinet. then got out to turn it back on.)

Long night already...

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20th-Jan-2014 02:49 pm - Random Catchup via facebook comments.
Since I have been so behind on posting. These, for those who don't read my facebook or who missed some, probably sum up several things I don't feel like discussing at length.

On the Desolation of Smaug:

I liked expanding Bard's story so he doesn't just appear at the end of the Dragon thing. I liked the dwarves in the mountain attempting to do something other than just wait for Bilbo and actually confronting Smaug, up to the point where it turned into more video game antics. (Also, you'd think they'd have, you know, some dwarf sized corridors....). Most of the other changes I think could have been dropped in favour of more time with Beorn and more of Smaug and Bilbo's banter, both from the book.

(Re: Someone's comment that Legolas was there for the women....)

Legolas was indeed unnecessary (And I say that as a woman). He made a little sense being there as the son of the King, but only a little.

But what he really made me do is long for the Legolas of Lord of the Rings.

Jackson seems to have decided that he wasn't badass enough -- but *this* Legolas has me wondering why he let all those annoying humans and Hobbits slow him down in the Lord of the Rings. As he was shown in Smaug, he'd have been all the way to Mount Doom with the Ring before it even had time to tempt him, hopped over the giant black gate in a couple of Parkour tricks, killing all the guards in the process, chucked it in, surfed away from the lava explosion on a piece of debris, and wouldn't have even mussed his hair.

My son:
Dec 19: As I just mentioned to Colin, I was just re-watching "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances". And, hearing it so often on screen, Joseph starts repeating "Mummy. Mummy."

Not sure whether to giggle or shudder. #WhoHumour

Mid December Photos, including the Christmas Tree I made for JoJo.Collapse )

December 27 (The first not miserably freezing day in a while at that point, and only a day or two before a cold snap that lasted distressingly long. We're talking vicinity of -40 for DAYS cold snap... and when it wasn't that, it snowed...)
photos behind cutCollapse )

Jan 2: JoJo has sung along to music a few times now. He's had some rhythm (Not enough, but some) for a while, and has seemed less random in his choice of notes and sounds, if not harmonizing at least clashing less and less.

But today, he found the actual melody for London Bridge.

Toddler progress is progress after all.

Jan 9: It's official. Joseph can climb out of his crib on his own.

He got out of his playpen (Used as a travel crib) twice on New Year's Eve, so it's not like we didn't know it was coming.... but still, sigh.



Jan 4: We got to archery today! Current plan is to keep going on all Saturdays we can. (Though Not Imbolc, obviously, but I did reserve babysitting for the Friday night shoot)

(ED: we have kept this up. Shooting regularly again feels GOOD.)

Jan 8: First day of work since Before our trip to AB and BC! Finished the horse, other than the bits under and around water.
photo behind cutCollapse )

Jan 15: Sigh. Mom was sick (Get well soon - and not for my sake) so no chance to mural paint because no babysitter. Then ploughed through the snow with a stroller to get JoJo and myself flu shots. Sigh. Well... on the plus side, the new orthotic insoles I slipped into my boots WORK LIKE AWESOME. A lot less pain now...

(ED: Plantar fasciitis. Had it before, but this last bout was BAD. Days of barely being able to walk bad. I still galloped around daily with Joseph on my shoulders, though, because awesome.)


"Imagination is a little white light, waiting for a chance to grow
bigger and bigger till it glows so bright it eliminates all you know..."

Wait, what?


Enunciate, Fred.

#FredPenner #mondegreen

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9th-Jan-2014 04:00 pm - On Recent Doctor Who
Now that The Moffat/Matt Smith combination run is over, and after looking back at a couple of episodes in the past while, I think I can come to my final conclusions about the Doctor we were calling eleven (Whatever his actual number be). And I think this is my ultimate judgement.

While I'm looking forward to seeing what Peter Capaldi does with an older looking Doctor, we didn't actually need a new Doctor. We need to get rid of Steven Moffat as head writer.

Moffat is brilliant in short stretches but also has some tics and habits that have hampered his run as Head writer.

You can see them even in his first appearance in the new series: The story the Empty Child starts in Media Res, at rapid pace, and continues the pace wherever possible. It has some stunning visual moments and an undeniably creepy "ordinary thing turned dark" in the child himself. Also, child. Moffat has a thing about children who aren't quite children. It has a "Throw in everything we possibly can and blend" plot. It also has a relatively casual breaking of the rules of time travel -- in this case, it's only "Don't tell anyone what happens in the future" -- but feels odd after the "You can't do that" power and punch of Father's Day.

It also has the people who don't actually just sit down and discuss things which people who truly trusted one another would discuss -- which works fine with a newly introduced character with no reason to trust, but less well when he does it to Amy Pond in her second season, for instance. ("You're fine with going and telling people about a future you're not supposed to discuss but not fine with, 'Um, about your pregnancy? Your bodily autonomy? There's something weird going on...' ").

It even has the confusing as hell to a feminist double whammy that seems to be Moffat's trademark: Create a powerful, interesting, independant, and fascinating female character, then reduce most of her importance to either how she matters to the Doctor or to her relations as Mother or Wife.

It also ends with "Everybody lives!": A rare bright moment of triumph after multiple episodes where victory has come at a cost, be it emotional or physical. Usually, in the Christopher Eccleston season in particular, but also through most of Tennant, the idea that there can be serious costs and deep emotional scars carries through.

But it's a rare episode in Moffat's era that has the same depth of sacrifice. The most memorable tragic ending in the last three seasons is probably Vincent and the Doctor, which was (Surprise) NOT WRITTEN by Moffat (But By Richard Curtis, who hadn't written Doctor Who before but does have an absurdly long list of prior projects to his credit). Similarly for the Gaiman-penned The Doctor's Wife, which gives - then takes away - a chance for the Tardis to speak and breathe and live. Generally, you can pretty much assume that if a companion or one-shot character dies tragically and doesn't have some special "Rescue" at the last moment, it's because it wasn't written by Moffat.

Moffat, instead, will raise the stakes to grandiose and ridiculous levels (They destroy the universe! The Doctor DEFINITELY for reals dies, no regeneration, this time here. Etc.) and somehow magically reset everything without obvious consequence. Saving one man's life in Father's Day" Nearly destroys the world. But sparing the Doctor from his fixed point in time death? Not a peep. Oh, and the "But I can't tell people I'm alive" consequence vanishes in as long as it takes to pen the Christmas Special.

And of course the Christmas Specials. The Christmas Special at least are the obvious PLACE for "everybody lives" brightness.

"Everybody lives!" stopped being a moment of triumph and turned into an Eyeroll. Of COURSE everybody lives. That's what you do.

(Had your baby stolen again? It's okay, we already know how she grows up... never mind that that wouldn't be anything like my reaction.)

Can't we sometimes have a PRICE for all that? One that doesn't go away?

Thing is, given the chance to really focus on one story or two a season, and not on a huge complicated crazy arc, he can write a story that works. The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances worked. Blink worked. And the 50th Anniversary special worked like blazes for me and many others (Even though it has the ultimate in "Everybody lives" implanted into it -- a fact I could easily pardon without every one of Moffat's prior season-enders undermining the rarity and power of "Everybody Lives"). A rapid fire story starting in media res and going through an absurd number of details and loops backward and time tricks and all that can be great... if it isn't the only meal we're served.

Honestly? The only Moffat penned episode I can currently think of that involves a genuine loss that lingers is the Girl in the Fireplace.

And as for his final episode for Matt Smith? This Last Christmas Special? No. Just, no.

Where I can use his start with the Empty Child to exemplify what happens when he does things right, I could as easily pick apart the Time of the Doctor as everything he does wrong encapsulated in one. "Let's throw everything we can at the wall and see what sticks." craziness, "Let's just break the rules of space/time", "Let's introduce an awesome seeming woman who is ALL ABOUT THE DOCTOR not herself", plus "Let's try to tie together ALL MY SEASONS AT ONCE". Et fucking cetera. (I'm also fairly sure that the Davies-era "Regeneration" during Journey's End was meant to Not Count, in big flashing letters. Retroactively saying "Yes it does" is ... awkward?)

I want a new head writer.

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2nd-Jan-2014 01:59 pm - Fanfic Again
So Lots of December to post about. So what do I do instead?

Link to a piece of Firefly Fanfic.

I started this mostly intending it for forodwaith, back in 2012, around the tiem I started Imaginary Colours. I jammed because of the longer story, and because I couldn't edit it to my satisfaction. I'm still not satisfied, but hey, it's a fanfic of less than a thousand words. It might as well go live.

A Name To Believe In (764 words) by Lenora_Rose
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Jayne Cobb/Minor Series Character (Unnamed)

After Jayne Cobb leaves, Canton tries to reconcile itself.

Sadly, it doesn't count towards my current Coffee Words.

Which, since I don't think it made it to LJ/DW, my pledge, started in mid-December and whose deadline is basically when I finish Labyrinth, however long that is (And whether or not I turn to another project meantime, and I'm thinking about a short fiction...) is I'm allowed one coffee style drink - lattes, etc - per 5k words of new fiction, and I made this pledge while drinking the one I decided counted *for* the 5k mark, so I get my first real one at 10k. I'm at 7670 words right now since I made the pledge, a lot slower than my NaNoWriMo rate, but in spite of all the other seasonal sweets recently nommed and the absurd number and flavour of teas I recently acquired or will soon, I'm also rather getting a craving. I fully intend to be able to get a coffee by somewhere in the weekend.

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27th-Nov-2013 11:50 pm - Made it!
Got to Kamloops safely and are having an excellent time with friends here. (Saw Pacific Rim. Awesome movie made of big explody stuff. But with real like plot and thinking. Played PAndemic twice and won twice.) But this is what I did on the bus on the way here:

50916 words. I have a ways to go on the book itself (I'm on the downhill slide and advancing on the climax... I think), but that is a whole lot closer than I was a month ago.

And I totally need an updated happy Joseph picture. He doesn't look like that one much now, a year on....

(He just had his third ever haircut. Boy did he need it. But he looked so different. I say looked because he's still in Abbotsford with grandparents.We\re away from him to Friday evening.)

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19th-Nov-2013 10:36 pm(no subject)
On another subject: Our trip to Edmonton involved much snow, pretty much everyone getting a cold, and a number of necessarily cancelled plans. And JoJo was a bit stir crazy and a bit unsettled and therefore was not showing his best self.

It was still a great time overall, mroe than it was a disappointment. I'm glad we got to make the visit. I almost wish for another couple of days before we headed off to Abbotsford.

Not, note, enough to hope the snow cancels our flight, or anything like that nonsense. (Glowers at snow gods).

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