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Working through some age-old questions


I tried to read A Game of Thrones. Really, really. Three deaths in the first twenty pages gave a clear sign that this was not a book for me, but I persevered. I thought that, once Mr. Martin had established that both sides had serious moral flaws, he would let up on the ugliest parts of his political and social "realism." I was pretty sure that he was going to continue killing off well-liked characters, so I read with emotional detachment: why invest in characters to watch them be brutally killed? Still, I've heard a lot of people talking about the series, so I pushed on. By about page 200 it became clear that rape and the murder of children and animals was going to be SOP. 

            The reading experience left me with a number of nagging questions. Is there something wrong with me that I can not endure such violence? Thousands and thousands of people enjoy these books. Is there something wrong with a society that needs the graphic depictions of violence and cruelty to feel that they are reading something “real?”  Is it okay to watch modern-day gladiatorial contests if we are only killing people in our minds? Does Mr. Martin think that these depictions will shock people into working to curb the worst aspects of human nature?  

Because I know that terrible things like this (and worse) do exist in the world. And I know that some people, who have experienced these terrible things, can find comfort in reading about shared experience.

            Which leads me to my next two questions: First, is this what I want to read about? No, because I already see enough suffering in the world. There are enough real people who need my emotional, spiritual and monetary support. No, because I have already fought people who wanted to kill my son, and I do not want to relive those emotions for “fun.”

Secondly, is there value for me to write about such things?

            This is important as I consider final revisions to my WIP. VH is, mostly, a gentle book. It tries to deal with social bullying, self-imposed poverty and hunger, and the search for personal purpose and independence. I’m hoping to address the problems that I see in day to day life: things that I’ve experienced for myself.

             In a culture that values A Game of Thrones, is there still a place for hopeful stories about everyday troubles?

Beta time


My WIP - Vartaren's Heir - just went out to beta. I'm praying that I did a reasonable job in presenting my Sara-Not-a-Princess story.

It will be nice to take a break, read some of the betas that have been waiting for me, and start amusing my Beast with thoughts of book 2.

I think my brain is officially fried.

Deadline


The deadline to have VH beta-ready was pushed back from Christmas -- for some very good reasons. That little push-back was not, however, supposed to be so long! BUT I am almost done, and I am bound and determined to be finished by March 7.

I am also hoping that saying that publicly will keep me true to my word!

Part of the problem has been learning how to work with my Beast -- lately she has been more interested in exploring the second book than improving the first. Bah.

Viable Paradise XV -- Decompression


               Have you ever seen a kid stuff so much food in his mouth that he can't chew anymore? (We grown-ups never do this, of course.) That is how my brain feels right now. Viable Paradise XV has stuffed my head so full that my ability to parse it has slowed to a crawl. As @waynsdeepkimchi said, it was like summer camp for grown ups. It was also a graduate-level seminar. Oh yeah, and it was a writing workshop: a mind-bending look at my work, and a romp through the work of twenty-seven other amazing writers.
               I feel like I've jumped home while still handcuffed to VP. The Andrea-shaped hole that I left at home does not quite fit me anymore, and I am not strong enough to lift the VP experience and bring it back with me in one piece. So, first, I have to let my aching arm heal a bit (it hurts to jump while handcuffed). Then I need to start bringing VP into my life a little at a time.
               As I prepped for the workshop, I searched the web for the advice of previous VPs. Here is my contribution to that store of knowledge:
 
Don't be Afraid.
 
Don't be afraid to apply -- you are worth it.
Don't be afraid to say hi to the interesting person on the ferry or plane -- they may be on their way to VP too, and they may become a great friend.
Don't be afraid of the instructors -- they do not think your work is awful or you would not be on the island.
Don't be afraid of your fellow students -- they are in the same boat, and they want to help you.
Take a deep breath and say, "Just because someone else's writing is brilliant does not mean that my writing stinks."
 
It may take me months or years to synthesize all that I learned this past week, but I am making myself a promise: Vartaren's Heir will be ready for beta reading by Christmas. Hold me to that, ok guys?

First Draft Complete Day


I completed the first draft of my novel today. YAY! Of course, lest I be overcome by how wonderful I am, I had a reality check, too. There are two missing conversations, and I decided to work on the first one this afternoon. Reading the lead-in chapter was a lesson in humility. My main thought throughout was, "Did I lose all sense of how to write basic prose??"


So, I've got some [read: a lot of] rewriting to do. But, for now, it is time to devote some serious attention to reading for VP.

Busy


Two things (that probably no one except me cares about!). First is that I am making a vow to myself to not even *look* at my VP submission until I arrive on Martha's Vineyard.  I will be much too tempted to tweak, and that would be bad.  So I will put some nice distance between it and myself.

Secondly, I have learned that I cannot read other books while I am trying to write. If the book is good enough my head goes into that world, and I have a heck of a time getting it back into my world.  For instance, Jumper ruined my writing for four days.

Viable Paradise


YAY! I was accepted to Viable Paradise XV!  Now all I have to do is finish at least the first draft of my novel, finish reading at least one work by each of the instructors, at least try to skim most of the suggested reading list...

That's not too much to do in 3 months, is it? Along with home-schooling the kids, and maintaining my house and sanity... Sanity is over-rated, right?

In short, I'm super busy and super jazzed.

-Aa

Happy Birthday, Me!


Ha! Just had to say that. =)

Last night I finished my first draft of chapter 9. It has been really interesting to watch how my characters are growing. One more chapter until I get to the parts of the story that I developed last year.

-cheers herself on-

I don't normally write fanfic.  It seems, however, that the Sebastian Vael romance in Dragon Age II frustrated me enough to overcome my personal rules. Please consider this an homage to Jennifer Brandes Hepler's amazing character. -- Edit -- I have taken this story down until I can get some edit done.




              The Seeker raised an eyebrow.

               “What now?” Varric asked.

               “Why suddenly treat me like a fool? You can’t possible expect me to believe that the Champion devoted the rest of her life to the Chantry.”

               “And why not? Choir Boy was very attached to his vows. And even you must have heard about their relationship. What more natural choice than for them both to devote the rest of their lives to chastity for the Maker’s sake?”

               Cassandra’s eyebrow managed to rise farther.

               “Ok, ok. But remember, I wasn’t there, so this is strictly on Hawke’s word.”

               “I’m willing to accept that.”

               “It began when Choir Boy got up the courage to propose…”

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