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The White Lily
25 September 2016 @ 01:58 pm
Yay, I have solved a major plot problem.

This is better, this is perfect, this makes sense of everything, both narratively and structurally, and this stupid scene that hasn't been working for me?  Poof!  It's awesome now!  AND I've got worldbuildy threads to pick up later for a couple of other bare scenes I know are coming up.  Things that make me build this world up more are veeery very good.

Of course, it means some rewriting but not actually that much, just tweaking a couple of mediocre scenes one chapter back in ways that should actually make them better, and maybe sliding a little more worldbuiding in earlier on my next pass.  The research I had to do to get to this point also meant I got to spend last night's approximately biannual date night debating awesome sci-fi concepts with Hubby, which was great fun since we're both massive geeks and... well, the way we get when we're talking about this kind of stuff?  Well, there are many, many reasons he's the love of my life, but this is definitely one of them.  :)

High five, Brain.
The White Lily
21 September 2016 @ 09:54 pm
I spent a few minutes this evening updating my word count spreadsheet, which had recently fallen by the wayside, and I'm very glad I did.

At a total of 6K words, posting The Wrong Kind of Snow has put me over two somewhat related milestones.  I'm now up to 104,823 words of fiction I've written this year, which is, like woah.

When people started talking about Get Your Words Out goals at the beginning of the year, I looked at the targets and I laughed and laughed.  And then I cried.  Even the 75K disability goal, if I counted anxiety and stress migraines and toddlers, seemed completely out of reach.  But hey, look at me!  Over 100K, it's September, and I'm still planning to do NaNoWriMo... I could have signed up for the 150K goal after all!

Possibly more importantly to me, I'm up to 101,916 words I've actually finished and posted this year.  (Yes, I started the year with about 12K words already written on things I've since posted, but that's possibly even harder for me than writing new stuff to post.)

Go.  Me.

I think I'm particularly proud of the ratio, because my real goal when I started the year--and the eventual reason I decided not to sign up for GYWO because writing more words was not actually what I wanted to focus on--was to stop half-writing things, stop hoarding and chewing on them forever, to finish writing them and to get them the fuck out of my head.  Because it's pretty damned crowded in here, what with the plot bunnies and the brain weasels and trying to remember my kids' names and all.

Discovering that I've passed such a massive milestone in both at exactly the same time makes me pretty bloody pleased. And I've been making progress on long term writing projects which are not postable as yet, so I'm totally chuffed.  If I can finish off Futureproof, keep up the flashworks, AND do NaNoWriMo, which is still my at least moderately realistic goal, the two might even finish the year not too far apart--but with words I've let go in the lead.  Now that's a goal to strive for.

So, now I'm finished the latest flashwork, it's time to put my nose back into Futureproof.  There are seriously only five scenes left that I am deeply unhappy with and/or are absent because I was deeply unhappy with them and in posession of a delete key.  Five.  A couple of them are big scenes, all are central to a dodgy point in some plot thread that runs through the whole story, but still. Five.

Move it, Lily.  Even if all you do is paste wallpaper over them and whistle loudly enough that nobody notices.
The White Lily
15 September 2016 @ 10:34 pm
I may not have said this recently, because I've been too busy panicking about the bits that didn't work, but Futureproof seriously kicks arse as a story.  Like, there are so many amazing moments.  So many wonderful characters, with amazing, human motivations.  So many awesome plot complications, little bits of worldbuilding that first seem tangential but after turning up a couple of times suddenly interconnect with a host of other things to drive everything onwards.  And this pass I'm doing is making everything so much better, too.

It's finally come alive in my mind again, and I love this story.  It's also just tipped over 70,000 words, which is awesome, and I'm getting great feedback from Pear which is even better.

I'm almost half way through what I'm callling my 'second draft', although it's a bit nebulous how many times I've edited it, really, given how sporadic my efforts have been over the last ten years.  It's probably at least third.  It's much, much more than that for some sections, because I love to polish my shiny objects, but also the occasional difficult scene which has been ripped out and rewritten and needs to be ripped out again is barely more than an outline.  This pass is about sharpening characters and plots and foreshadowing and filling in those continuity gaps to make it smooth, so everything come together all inevitable and shiny.  Next pass after this will be focussing on incidental worldbuilding and visuals.  Then the final one is the spelling/grammar check.  No, there's no way I'm going to hit my ten year deadline for those two - but hope I can make it to the end of this edit in time.  Maybe even the one after that, and have it be my deadline to send the whole thing off to a couple of people who can give me final-draft style feedback.

But... I'm about to strike the next unhappy valley where what I've written gets a bit dodgy.  Where the plot has changed since I first wrote the section and doesn't quite fit any more, or sections where I've never quite managed to write something I felt entirely pleased with.  Where I'm not entirely certain how I can make point A flow to point B.

It'll be okay, as long as I can keep a handle on the fact that it doesn't have to be perfect.  Done is better than perfect.  Done gets it out the door, so the golden moments can light up for people, so the characters can walk into their hearts, and the sly incidentals that turn out to be not so much so can blow their minds.  Occasionally, hands can be waved.  This is a story, not a mathematical proof.

All I have to do is a little bit of plumbing to connect it all up, and it will be golden.  These dodgy scenes don't have to be amazing.  The story is not only as good as its worst scene; quite the reverse.  Of course every scene won't be as amazing as the most amazing ones that carry their own freaking spotlight with them.  That's not every scene's job.  Some scenes are backstage workers, their jobs simply to say what they're there for, set everything up, and then get out of the way so we can move on to the payoff.  Not just for the reader, but for the writer too.

Futureproof is an amazing story, and it's not the incredible scenes that wrote themselves that will get it out the door.  It's the other ones.  The difficult ones.  The unsung heroes of any story: the bits that didn't feel quite right, but got written anyway.

They're not going to feel quite right, no matter what I do.  But I need to write them anyway.
The White Lily
03 September 2016 @ 09:10 pm
1) I am now officially up to date in MCU. YAAAAAY! It's been a long time coming
Spoilers! Because now I"m the one with the spoilers HAHA!Collapse ) Anyway, I'm up to date now, so I can safely read the shoobies' snippets without my head exploding.

2) I have finally, finally managed to open Futureproof to resume my second draft editing. Chapter 3 and I have been having an epic mexican standoff in my brain for... wow, is it only four weeks? It seems longer! ... which has in any case at last, like in the last few hours, spilled into shots fired in an actual word processor. I'm officially done with listening to its excuses, and this afternoon I made a first edit through to the end of the chapter. I'm going to stop trying to cram in things that don't go there. If I'm having this much trouble, now is clearly not the time for those revelations. I'm drawing a line. Moving on. It'll be off to Pear for review tomorrow night, and the next stop is editing Chapter 4. In which Gary is woobie and put upon, and we're back to the other plot arcs with the character who doesn't drive me nuts, so that should be easier, right? Right?

3) Also, we have no milk. I think Sherlock's done something to it. My only other theory is that the kids drank it all, and that just doesn't seem plausible. I have, however, discovered that cream is not half bad in tea. Much better than powdered milk. And substantially better for the putting-on-weight campaign, because if I have a couple of spoons of cream in every cup of tea throughout the day, that adds up to quite a bit of cream--surely eventually some of it will stick to my bones. I might keep up the cream even when we have milk again.

Speaking of Sherlock: My fanvid. Which I am pimping all over the place because I am so damn proud of it, but it's my livejournal and I'll pimp if I want to. :)

The White Lily
21 August 2016 @ 09:49 pm
So I've just got to the end of the crazy business that has been the last couple of months of my life.

There was July Writing Prompts, of course, and the associated burned-out mental exhaustion.  Mr. Two Years Old's birthday party.  And then today was Mr. Four Years Old's birthday party.  Attempt two, because as our first date approached it became clear that our house and our family were a biological contamination hazard, and we would all require worming tablets and a week's worth of conjunctivitis medication before we were fit to recieve company.  Yeuch.  In any case, all better now, so that's a relief.  And we got to have a Zoo Party!  I did an amazing cake, as usual, and also carved a watermelon to look like a hippopotomus, which I've never tried anything similar before, and went down a treat.

In the meantime, I had to do a whole lot of terrible, horrible, parent homework in videoing and editing Mr. Nearly Six's oral presentation for school about the construction of his house.  It took a long time, but apparently went down well with the class.  He was the only kid in school who did part of his video from on the roof of his house, which earned him lots of cred in school (and coincidentally made him forget to be a grumpy teenager-before-his-time for long enough to make at least *some* eye contact with the camera for that part).  So yay.

Same child went a bit scissor mad a month or two ago and cut 1) some bedsheets (actually, that was a while previously), 2) an electrical cable, and 3) one of the seatbelts in the car. Not happy, Jan.  Consequences have had to happen, which has been making him very grumpy, but we are now we are out the other side of that and he's got his scissor privileges and his iPad priveileges and his lap-sash belt privileges back again, the car is roadworthy again, and things are more settled with him.  Then of course I discovered Mr. Two Years Old running through the house while attempting to give himself a haircut with some pilfered scissors ("Nip! Nip! Nip!"  "OMG GIVE ME THOSE!!!") so....  Scissors are good for development of fine motor control.  Yes, yes they are.

I've made a couple of new online friends I've been getting to know, which has proved interesting, as it always is.  I think the thing I love most about online friendships is the way they go deep so quickly.  You don't know how the other person looks, but you know how they feel about the things that matter to them the very most, in words they've had time to consider.  It's cool to make that connection with something real rather than, you know, just mums in the schoolyard commiserating about how tough life is with kids and day to day trivialities, oh I know, etc.  Which, yeah, but it's different online.  Maybe that's just for me.

I've been keeping up with fan_flashworks, and now I've done eight challenges in a row.  Loving the way the urge to keep my streak going is forcing me to keep up the flashwork momentum, making writing and finishing little things just another part of life rather than a Big Deal.  Thinking of trying something a bit different for this one, an idea I've had niggling for a while, so an amnesty's perfect to actually do it.

And I've partnered up with Wild Pear to work on Futureproof.  She's both acting as my arbitrary deadline to get chapters finished, and looking at chapters as I send them to her, reflecting back what she gets from my characters, telling me where it gets a little bogged down or confused... and omg, it's so good. So reassuring.  So affirming.  And so inspirational to hear those little edges of things she doesn't see in the characters and the things that resonated with her that she does.  *loves*  If I'm actually going to get this thing done by my self-imposed deadline, I really need to focus on drawing lines and getting it out the door.  But there's so many distractions and other things I can just get done first, there's always a good reason not to do anything on it today.  New rule: my ten minutes writing per day isn't ten minutes in general, I know I can do that: it's ten minutes of Futureproof.

Speaking of Futureproof, I've spent the last week battling brain weasels again.  I've been alternately super busy or super exhausted by it, and I guess I've been caught up in my own brain researching... stuff.  Things I'm questioning about myself that don't really matter in the scheme of things, but that have activated the must-research-and-question-absolutely-everything mode, so I haven't managed to get the downtime I need to keep a lid on my anxiety and I haven't been sleeping well, and it's all just been snowballing.

I managed to write it out with the last flashwork--despite the fact that my writer's brain insisted the story should go a different direction to what I felt would be truthful and real.  It was an interesting conflict to deal with, usually the only battle I have to fight is 'this is wonderful, but am I really comfortable revealing that?' rather than 'this is something that I want to explore, but it is narratively unsatisfying'.  It made the final few lines very difficult for me, that battle between true and right, because unlike anxious wibbling which must be crushed, both of them are good reasons in their own right.  If the story doesn't... come full circle, to a satisfying ending, then is it really a story? How can I stop writing it if it doesn't end?  But if it doesn't tell the story I want to tell... is it really doing its job?  And I was super busy with party preparation and just needed to post it and stop obsessing, which I did.  *pats self on back* Apart from a couple of nods to narrative causality, I ended up making it the story I needed to write for me, even though the ending felt weak. I'm pretty sure the catharsis it made me feel doesn't come across in the same way to a reader who doesn't live in my brain, but ambiguity is part of the joy of an unreliable narrator anyway.  It reminds me a little of On Becoming an Axiom, which people seemed to think was a sad story, when to me it was a shiningly glorious truth.  I might end up tweaking the end a little when I crosspost, if I can think of something that unites the trueness and the rightness a little better.  And I've also left it open for a sequel if I need to do any more soulsearching along the same lines, so... good enough is good enough.  Out the door and posted, and out of my brain, for now at least.

I've got a couple of emails and a couple of comment replies still waiting on my to do list, which I need to just do rather than continuing to find them daunting.  Someone asked an insightful question on one of my stories which I am trying to to write an epic essay in response to the fact that I'm intrigued and not really sure of the answer myself.  The comments on my stories that give me most joy are always the hardest to respond to, but I'm working on just doing it without trying to do it justice.  And hopefully with a few of the real-life jobs out of the way, and with Pear backing me up, I can get things back under control and focus properly on Futureproof again.
The White Lily
12 August 2016 @ 11:56 pm
That is all I have to say, apart from do not have children.

Worms. Apparently, they crawl out and wave at you.

There's not enough disinfectant in the world.
The White Lily
01 August 2016 @ 10:47 am
My masterlist of the stories I've written for watsons_woes July Writing Prompts.  I'm amazingly pleased with most of these given they all ran the gamut from idea to completion within 24 hours, but I've bolded my top favourites.  All are in the BBC Sherlock fandom.

The Stratford Stabber - a single, prompt-guided story, where each chapter is semi-standalone [drama, action, (b)romance, h/c]
  1. Just Winded (’Tis But a Scratch) [100w]
  2. It's how you get your kicks (Roll The Dice) [100w]
  3. One deduction too late (A cardboard box) [221w]
  3b. Physician Heal Thyself (A cardboard box) [221w]
  4. The Surgeon's Knife (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) [442w]
5. Oh Better Far to Live and Die (A False Moustache) [728w]
  6. The Least of These My Bretheren (Food, Glorious Food) [559w]
  7. Penicillin for a Crime Wave (Epidemic) [887w]
  8. The Wonder of Our Age (The Wonder of the Age) [500w]
  9. Rationality and Rationalisation ("Please stop petting the test subjects.") [394w]
  10. Turning in their Foxholes (A higher power) [337w]

And on to the individual stories:
11. There's Three of Us (Threesome) [drama, angst, h/c 1114w]
12. Pirates of the Faroe Islands (Image) [humour, (b)romance, 221w]
13. The Science of Decomposition (Nature is red in tooth and claw) [humour, 622w]
14. Five ways to look after your injured flatmate (Rehabilitation/Recovery) [friendship, humour, h/c 2650w]
15. The Boxing Builder from Islington (Make a literary reference) [humour, casefic, 1290w]
16. Faithful Companions and Tellers of Tales (Include another great British character) [character, friendship, 1019w]
17. Coordinated Action (Teamwork) [friendship, 473w]
18. Love Letters for the 21st Century (Handwritten) [character, (b)romance, angst, 1842w]
19. Predators and Prey (Great Minds Think Alike: AU with Creatures of the Night) [friendship, action, 2303w]
20. Trouble in Paradise (There are tides in the affairs of men.) [character, casefic, 1548w]
21. Conduct Me a Rainbow (21 song salute: Make Me Rainbows) [character, casefic, 372w]
22. How to Win Friends and Influence Goldfish (Child POV) [drama, 1020w]
23. The Game is Afoot! (Use a pun) [humour, 1089w]
24. And Baby Makes Four ("Nothing shocks me, I'm a scientist.") [drama, 1151w]
25. Finding an Anchor (Trope Trainwreck) [drama, friendship, 3213w]
26. To Do: Strangle Flatmate, Buy Glass Kettle (Elementally, my dear Watson) [humour, 83w]
27. We're all fine here, how are you? (Thx 4 Nothing) [drama, action, 617w]
28. Midnight Sunlight (In July the sun is hot.  Is it shining?  No, it's not.) [character, 444w]
29. Storming the Ship (Arr!) [action, 1811w]
30. The Adventure of the Cloth Covered Face ("Why exactly do you need chloroform at 2am?") [casefic, 1350w]
31. Playing at Detection (Once more with feeling) [casefic, character, 1233w]
Bonus: That's a Crack Shot You're Looking For Written for fan_flashworks, but mostly written on day 9 and partially inspired by prompt 5 (A False Moustache) [character, friendship, action, (b)romance, 3815w]

Statistics and DiscussionCollapse )
The White Lily
14 July 2016 @ 11:44 pm
So, I haven't posted for a while.

A few things:
1) I am writing like the blazing blazes, doing watsons_woes July Writing Prompts month, one fill for every day. Seriously. I don't think I've ever written like this, and I won NaNoWriMo one year. It's not so much word count output I mean, but idea-execution output. Not saying I'm posting Shakespeare every day, but completing, writing things good enough to be happy with them without skipping over some bits and obsessing over others, and some things have been surprisingly good. This is working. It's awesome. Writing 90% decent stuff is getting faster--and easier--and while I'm still working on the not-obsessing over it part, I'm hoping that'll get easier too. There's only so much it's possible to obsess when you're posting every day. Isn't it? Please? In some ways it actually makes it harder to let go, because I know that last line or that title could be better, but time limitations meant I didn't have the time to think of what it should be instead. Of course I'm obsessing over making them better. At least I've only really got room for one obsession at a time, so once I've completed the next 24 hrs story, I move on to obsessing over that one.

I might have to go fanfiction cold turkey at the end of this month, though, if I'm going to get Futureproof done in the following couple of months, which I am determined to do. It is not going to make it a full ten years without completing the final draft. And hopefully, all my practice in drawing lines, saying 'good e-freaking-nough' and letting things go will come into play there, and let me draw some lines and say 'good e-freaking-nough' to the good old albatross around my neck.

2) I've been getting involved in the Holmes fandoms, over at JWP month. It's been cool, meeting people, getting to know a few different people's writing styles, reading ten or so different responses to the same prompt with the same characters and it's... just intriguing. Too see how different all the ideas are, and the executions. How many wonderful interpretations there can be. Because when I've had eight different ideas and discarded seven of them for being too obvious, you'd think one of those 'obvious' ones would have been done by someone else, right? One? Apparently not.

3) I have lost too much weight again. I weighed in the other morning at 47.5kg, which is the lightest I've been I think since... ooh, actually, I do think I hit that when I was wasted with morning sickness on my third child! But before that it was probably pre-adulthood. My current BMI 16.2, which is way, way underweight. I generally try to stay above 50kg, which is still technically underweight but is about all I can manage to keep on no matter what I do. I knew I was down to 48kg for most of this year, because I never really put it back on after writing Living Conditions--and I was thinking I'd bottomed out, but apparently if I keep writing I can keep losing more weight, and another 500g is enough to make me worried. I don't want to stop writing. We're only talking 2.5kg under my goal, but... when you're on the pointy end of the scales, that's the difference between acceptably thin and skeletal. Time to do something about it anyway.

Perhaps I should move away from writing in a fandom where the character I personally identify with doesn't eat when he's working. :P I'd say I should get some more exercise to try to stimulate appetite, but my fitbit says I'm doing 10K+ steps per day just running around after the children, so it's not exactly like I'm sedentary. More likely, if I'm trying to dedicate some time to doing something about my weight every day, I should dedicate it to eating. Instead of, you know, skipping breakfast because I'm in a rush and skipping lunch because kids nap/TV time is the only time each day I get to spend by myself and who wants to waste that time eating?!

I've never had a big appetite. And hunger's never been a strong motivator, particularly when I'm busy or stressed. Unless there's incredibly delicious food right in front of me, I'd just rather do other things. But we're getting to the point where I either have to start making myself eat things, or start putting weights in my undies when I get on the scales. At the moment, my solution is stocking my writing chair with museli bars, and also making a conscious effort to get myself something to eat whenever I get the kids something. That should make a difference, hopefully. But I'll keep the weights in the undies in mind.

4) I was going to do a minor arsehole update, but this is an unlocked post. So, I'll just say things are stable and looking like they're heading in the right direction, and I am stable and managing to keep the boundaries in my head in the right places. Yay.
The White Lily
13 June 2016 @ 10:09 am
So my eldest said to me last night: I can't believe you're actually a writer of stories, mummy! I told him anyone could write a story, maybe he would like to write one. What would it be called? He said he needed to think about it, and then told me, that's the title! I need to think about it! And then he wandered off to do something else, so...

Well, flash fic happened on the whiteboard, for him to see next time he passed.  Reading primer is quite a restrictive style, but I think I rocked it.  :D

 photo 13434690_10208362006680410_7877530915834426806_n_zpss3vahjbr.jpg
The White Lily
I've had that song in my head all day, because it's still New Frontiers month over at ushobwri, and there's been an... idea, niggling away in the back of my mind for the last month, about something that is a really new frontier for me.

I made a throwaway comparison in an LJ post a while ago, between Sherlock and, well, we'll get to that, but the thing is it gave me a really vivid mental image.  As usual, it was the concept of a junction point where a whole lot of plot arcs intersect to provide an amazing payoff, but... it came in the form of a mental image.  And I know how the characters get there, and I know what they're saying, but the thing is that this is a visual gag.  And while I could have written a story, and it would have been good, it doesn't actually work nearly as well in words as that image in my mind.

I left high school after thirteen years of compulsary art utterly convinced that I was hopeless at drawing and in fact any kind of visual arts.  But... as it turned out, it wasn't entirely true.  Because when we moved into our current house some five years after that, it had a clear glass shower screen, and I started sketching with my finger in the fog in the shower, every morning.  Transient thoughts, either written or sketched and then washed away moments later.  It's really cleansing, actually.  In more ways than one.  :P  When I went on a nine week backpacking trip in Europe, I hadn't even realised how much I missed that until I got home and stepped in the shower, saw the fog and... just relaxed, as I started sketching.

Now, I have three little kids.  I'm constantly being asked to draw something for them.  A dinosaur, or a pirate ship, or whatever.  And I do, and they look, you know, recognisable.  With a possible bonus of being an age appropriate outline for cutting out.  And a year or so ago, when our eldest was inappropriately resistant to doing any kind of drawing/writing, I decided to start sitting with him and sketching my own pictures on a piece of paper.  I write best on a computer, but if that's all the kids see of what I do for myself, it's not exactly modelling writing/creative behaviour in a medium they understand, right?  And maybe I didn't do it every day, or even every week--I'm a busy woman--but it happened sometimes.  And whether it was partially seeing me doing it, or whether it was simply that was when the lightbulb went on in his head, he started drawing, and then writing.  As a byproduct, some of the things I created where unexpectedly awesome.

I also left high school convinced I couldn't write prose, and in fact that all humanities were for the birds.  But we all know how that worked out.  So, inspired by the epic efforts of various Shoobies in New Frontiers month, and the solid persistence of this image in my mind, I decided to give it a go.  It took me two days.  Three, including scanning it in and cleaning up the smudges on the background.  It is far beyond anything I've ever attempted before.  It bugs me that it's not perfect, but nothing short of photorealism would ever be perfect to me because, well, my brain, and it is definitely perfect to the limits of my skill.  It was that after about an hour, because it is far, far, far beyond where I thought the limits of my skill were.

I give you: The Baker Street Boys Lose a Bet

I think I need to stop saying I can't draw, right?  Yeah, that's what I thought.