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Heavens, it's been nearly a week since last I posted! For shame! But really, I've been rather shockingly busy, in, yes, the offline world, what with writing a Hire Me letter and composing my first proper resume ever (it's very short and not terribly impressive, but the fonts are lovely!) for the job at the local paper, and then accidentally spending the night at the Meholicks', which has become such a tradition -- with the Nielsons, too, when they still lived here -- that I really ought to put together an emergency survival kit consisting largely of pyjamas and spare underthings and leave it in a convenient corner. You see, [livejournal.com profile] burningstarsxe was coming home from three months in Maine, and when she arrived at last, there was such a riot of conversation and general jubileeing that I kept not leaving, and then it was eleven thirty at night... The next day was Friday, which was also Season Premiere of Dollhouse Day, so Sarah and Hannah came back in the evening, and we had a drawer of inappropriate starches (a real drawer, too), only someone neglected to tell me that none of the normal channels work anymore. We have bloomin' satellite, so this really oughtn't be a problem, but apparently it is. So here we are, panicking, staring at the grey screen, frantically eating cookies and squeaking... oh, it was dreadful. Eventually we gave up, took the drawer upstairs, and cosied up on my bed to show Hannah the Supernatural pilot, while I refreshed downloady sites to no avail. (A link finally surfaced about ten minutes after their father collected them, of course.)

Saturday was spent at Hershey Park, to which we acquired free passes from buying certain products at Martin's. Dad took Heidi and Timmy and I in the shiny new car, while Mum stayed home with Leandra (who would be no fun at an amusement park, as she would climb everything and be impossible to keep track of and she'd probably try to jump into a roller coaster or kidnap a duck or something). Ah, new car, how marvellously you glide along! And how exquisite it is finally to listen to CDs in the car again, instead of ancient tapes! (Okay, that often meant that we listened to a lot of Steeleye Span, but after two years it begins to be tiring when road trip music always consists solely of the surviving remnants of what Dad listened to twenty-five years ago. A lot of it is modern jazz, which I'm not especially keen on, and even Dad isn't that interested in anymore, and some of the singer-songwriter stuff is too eightiesified, and there isn't any of Dad's awesome psych folk stuff from the seventies besides Steeleye Span.)

Anyway, I'm not the largest fan of amusement parks in general, especially when I think about them too much ("this would be a really rubbish way to die, in the service of something so frivolous", I occasionally think on roller coasters or even swing rides, where a line might suddenly break; and then I think about how ridiculously much money goes into building these town-sized clusters of sheer entertainment, when people are, well, yes, starving in India and being murdered in the Sudan, and I am well aware that this sort of thing makes me the epicest of wet blankets), but I enjoyed myself rather -- they had an excellent carousel that actually went around quite fast, and tearing down an old wooden roller coaster is fantastic, and those spinning swing rides I adore because they're exhilarating and relaxing at the same time. Also there's something peculiarly sordid and fascinating about amusement parks and fairgrounds and circuses, something I can't quite put my finger on -- something about the colours and the sticky-sweet smell and the odd music and the mechanisms and the peculiar names of things and the way so many things seem strangely frozen in time. I do so want to put Mr Caruthers and Evy onto a carousel or something. (I have also always wanted an old carousel horse, a real one, on a golden pole, to keep in my bedroom and try to know the stories of it.)

And then it began to rain. Bah. It was cold and wet and we braved it for several hours, but then they started closing the roller coasters because they weren't safe anymore, and the rain wasn't letting up at all, and we were soaked and shivering and finally toured the Hershey not-factory -- mostly it was an array of Yay Capitalism Buy Our Overpriced Stuff, but it was very interesting to learn all of the different processes involved in making a simple chocolate bar, and when we finally wrenched the siblings away from the piles and piles of obscenely expensive mass-produced chocolates we decided to just go home. Ah, warm car warm car warm car.

Sunday I woke to rain, and when one is under the covers and indoors, grey rainy wet days are cosy and wonderful. Alack, I had to get up for church, and was rather cross, but at least it was chilly enough that I could wear my little black and grey double-buttoned schoolmistress dress, and people left quickly, and at home again there was magnificent chili for dinner, the first of the season, and then I ran off to finally watch Dollhouse with Sarah and Hannah at their house, and there was much conversation, merry and thinky and both, and I do so like people (and having Sarah back). Also Mr Joss Whedon is rather a meany-pants, but I expect you knew that. (Also JAMIE BAMBER IN HIS REAL ACCENT IS SO GORGEOUS AND WIBBLE-INDUCING AND ALSO CONFUSING. WHY DID YOU HIDE THIS BEAUTIFUL ACCENT FROM ME FOR SO MANY SEASONS OF BSG, MR BAMBER? WHY? THIS IS CRIMINAL. And, oh yes, there was also Alexis Denisof with his real accent, which is, alas, American, but his voice is still quite splendid and I am afraid that Sarah and Hannah and I could not possibly be prevailed upon to tell you a word of what he said in his little speech, as we simpered like very silly girls all the way through it.) 

Today, there was leftover chili and rain and coffee and a little autumn-coloured cat in the morning, and a library run in my new favourite purple sweater and my elegant pashmina scarf flowing around me in the brisk belligerent wind, and I am really quite enjoying it all. Except for these silly advertisements all over my LJ and being reduced to fifteen usericons. Pah!
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A conversation just occurred between myself and my two-year-old sister, Leandra.

She had been put in her crib to sleep, and I asked her for a goodnight hug, a kiss, a nuzzle... She finally got exasperated and said, "No! I'm reading a book!" and proceeded to do exactly that. Her crib is pretty much carpeted with books, kind of like, um, the floor next to my bed. (A few of them stay on the bed itself, but end up getting pushed off by sleep-flailing me, or the cats.) 

When she finished reading, she proceeded to pick up all of the books and catalogue them: "a book, and another book, and another book, and another book, and another book, and a two book, and a three book, and a li-berry book" -- then she corrected herself, "--and a kitty li-berry book, and a little panda book, and a spider book..." She looked at the spider book, then opened my hand and firmly placed the book therein. "Nini, read it."

However, when I opened the book -- which contains photographs of spiders named after objects, the object, and then names the spider (for example wolf and wolf spider) -- she proceeded to read it to me -- entirely correctly.

And when we were finished, she turned to Heidi, our other sister, who was getting ready for bed nearby, handed her a new book, and ordered her to read that one.

This child? Whom you may also remember loves Rupa & the April Fishes, the Paper Raincoat (especially "Sympathetic Vibrations", which she calls "oh-oh"), joyously roudy Newfoundland band Great Big Sea (she can sing half of their songs), the Sparrow Quartet, and Benny Goodman? Is me, 2.0. (When I was two, story has it that I walked into my father's office while he was burrowed in innumerable graduate school studies, asked him to read me a book, and when he refused several times, I reached up, closed his clearly boring schoolbook, said, "the end", and handed him my book again: "Read it!") 
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Sigh. It's a bad week for my brain. Bad bad bad bad. I guess the minor panic attack level of Off My Meds wore off and gave way to the more subtle insidious low-level not-sane-ness*, and then there's this stupid cold, and for the last couple of days it's been this fun party game of Which Part Of My Body Is Going To Stop Working Right Next? Yesterday was miserable -- my sinuses hurt, I can't breathe, my own voice comes out wrong, my throat hurts, I'm cramping mysteriously and can't find the ibuprofen, my eyes hurt, there's an edge of nausea, and also my face hurts a lot, because apparently I am never going to stop breaking out like a thirteen-year-old and gorram it, acne can hurt like the dickens. Today and yesterday, of course, the skin on my lower face was so dry it was flaking off my face and I looked like I had milk crusted all over my mouth, and it hurt, and finally I just scrubbed my face raw with a pumice stone and slathered it in Eucerin about eighty times until most of the dead skin was gone, and hey, my face almost feels like a face again!

I am well aware of, er, the word insanity -- but there's a line between actual insanity and simply... not being very sane. Which is what I am when depressed. I find myself speaking and acting and reacting in ways that don't make any sense, even to me... and they're all ugly. Dear people who think my depression rehabilitation should consist of stabilising on drugs and then slowly weaning off them: shut up.

On the brighter side, my appointment with the free clinic is somehow tomorrow (I know the lady at the desk told me October, more than once, so I'm choosing to believe miraculous forces intervened to preserve my well-being), and today I picked up some sample other medication from my doctor's office, so we'll see how that goes. I also have two more job leads -- a new coffee shop (!!!) just opened up, and the newspaper's advertising for someone to write obituaries and police blotter stuff and possibly the occasional article, which sounds like a pretty excellent deal, actually, especially for resumes in the future, although as an application I have to write an essay letter to the managing editor on Why I Would Be Good For This Job and... I don't know what to write. Although considering that I am clever, eager to learn, and know my way around a semi-colon, I might actually qualify for this job more than quite a lot of applicants, living as I do in a very uneducated area. Not even bragging here, it's the most depressing thing about this corner of North-western Pennsylvania -- nobody's curious about anything. (Also they mention in their advertisement that they're looking for accuracy and attention to detail... except they mysteriously capitalise Accuracy all of the five or so times it appears. GAH. Here's attention to detail for you!)

And: we bought a new car. It's a bright blue Ford Focus and the first twenty-first century car we have ever owned. Um... and all that that implies? Anyway, it's a lovely car, feels as though it's rather fun to drive, has a CD player and a working cigarette lighter (look, this is a big deal, considering the technology levels of our previous cars) and the sound system is fantastic, omg. Seriously. I want to go on a road trip or learn to drive this very minute so I can soar down the highway blaring things. Irritatingly it is also a better sound system than anything we've got in the house... Ought to be running off to fetch my learner's permit in the near future, although schedules still have to be finangled to make room for that. (Could have gone today, but the DMV is closed on Mondays. Well... thanks.) 

While we're still on the subject of Things Which Do Not Suck (...it's been a bad, bad, awful week), a package from [profile] lady_moriel arrived for me this morning! Now, Kyra has a habit of sending ridiculously awesome packages, although these smorgasbords of win usually appear around Christmas and my birthday. She mentioned she'd picked me up a copy of Ender's Game at a yard sale, and also -- hello, this is an example of how Kyra is made of win -- she remembered me wistfully admiring some stunning but expensive silk scarves at Woolies (is Woolies an Alaska-only place? because I can't find them on Google -- just references to Woolworths, which does not sell lovely organic hippie folk festival clothes for sadly exorbitant prices -- and a few directory references to stores in Alaska) and had her sister pick one up for me when she was on a school trip to Turkey, because they are very cheap there. And it is so gorgeous I cannot even deal. Photographs do not do it justice, but they can try.


(this is my favourite Little White Dress. it is perfect for every time I need to feel airy
and romantic and fey, and can be worn simply for a lost little girl sort of look, or be made
interestinger with things like stockings and vests and jackets. and pretty scarves!)

But Kyra, being also sneaky and awesome, did not mention that the package headed my way also contained an Iron & Wine postcard and pin and the Goblet of Fire DVD (in widescreen, even!). Sneaky sneaky.

And now I've nearly managed to make myself feel a mite better, although I still feel as though almost the entire day has been wasted, and my novel is still stalling on the sixty-fourth page, and my head doesn't quite belong to me, and there are an awful lot of failures and things left undone and things I can't do looming in my future... sigh. Fie upon thee.
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Mum and I have been enjoying some excellent Goodwill windfalls lately. For the record, approximately eighty percent of my wardrobe was purchased at Goodwill. Goodwill is brilliant. Our area has a sub-chain of Goodwills, I guess, all under the same management, and they have deals with department stores and things, which means brand-new-with-tags things for a few dollars. Also they have sales. Thrift store sales! Best ever! Every other weekend or so they have an Everything In The Store Is Half Off sale. Which is what my mother and I were taking advantage of when we found... The Coat.

I have actually been sorely in need of a winter coat. One would surmise that a north-eastern town subject to cold and occasionally bitter winters would be rife with warm coats. Not so. Oh, coats aplenty, but they're all fashion coats with no decent wool content at all. Except for the ones that are hideously expensive and/or just hideous in general. So I wore this beige courderoy thing with fuzz on the inside most of the winter, but the buttons kept falling off, and eventually I gave up, wore several sweaters, my trenchcoat, and my giant wool Ravenclaw scarf every time I had to bicycle to work.

So, I've already looked through the racks of coats at Goodwill. I don't remember seeing this one at all, but we're getting ready to leave and Mum's sweeping through it once more and pulls this thing out, and omg, it is made of (real?) fur and it's cosy and magnificent and looks brand new. And I try it on and it's really comfortable and also gorgeous and warm and, um, also four dollars. So we buy it, and I am well pleased. Later, Mum Googles the information on the tag, and apparently it is a vintage coat from the sixties from some designer who was fairly popular, but I guess they went out of business? And apparently their coats ended up in warehouses or something because a lot of sites like eBay and Etsy are selling virtually new ones. So: my coat is made of... either real fur or really quality fake fur, because the tag says that if we need to clean it we take it to a furrier, and it's silk lined. Also someone is selling the exact same coat in brown for two hundred dollars.

Probably our best Goodwill find ever.


 

Something you may or may not know is that I have a gothic streak a mile wide, and it really comes out in the autumn.



I'll do the fashion blogger thing here --

blouse - Rue 21
skirt - thrifted
stockings - after-Halloween clearance at, like, Kmart or something
shoes - thrifted, originally from Rue 21
cross choker - Claire's
cameo - Blue Moon Beads at Michael's, chain appropriated from another necklace

 
On the subject of fashion blogging, and so that this isn't All About How Cool My Stuff Is, any favourite fashion bloggers? I particularly like reading blogs that aren't all about The Fashion Industry, and What's In, but show ways to reimagine outfits, make things of your own, and aren't afraid to be a little eccentric. [livejournal.com profile] bornofstars linked me to Wish Wish Wish ages ago, and I've gleaned loads of inspiration in regards to putting together outfits that are both quirky and professional. (And I really, really want to make something like this... only I need more lace and ribbons.) Miss Thumbelina posts all kinds of whimsical and otherworldly outfits and her own paintings. And Some Girls Wander is brimming with the kinds of quirky, rich vintage fashions I covet like mad. Also I should like to have her hair.
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Bah. Have come to least favourite part of writing: when the gaps in the plot catch up with me. I've been writing wonderfully over the last week! Three pages two days in a row! Some of what came out was a bit awful, but it got the story where it needed to go and can always be helped later. And I've got three chapters written now, which is lovely. But alack alack, after five or six pages of Chapter IV, I no longer know what I am doing. Evy's dealt with post-traumatic stress, avoided the press, talked to the Ministry, had Mr Caruthers over for dinner, furtively admired his coat, bantered, had weird dreams, helped to repair things at the library, and now... I need MOAR PLOT. I need 1. Mr Caruthers to do something rather startlingly badass and hastily pass it off as, er, good reflexes? (um, can you kill a vampire with an umbrella? especially if that umbrella is tipped with oak or iron?), and 2. for the Ministry to come back and say, by the way, we want you now. Trouble is, so far she's only accidentally killed a lot of vampires with some sunlight, and while sunlight isn't exactly commonly conjured, I'm also not seeing anything that would scream to the Ministry "LOOK LOOK HERE IS A TOOL YOU CAN SHAPE". Also cos I don't really know what the vampires are up to and maybe it's not even the government that pulls Evy into all of this, it's the vampires themselves, because Something Is Going On, and all I know is that it probably involves the Germans?

WRITING A NOVEL IS HARD.

I'm also not exactly sure how the pre-WWI vampires-and-politics plotline ties in with the Tam-Lin plotline, except that Mr Caruthers is somehow in the middle of both of them. And has a coat. Of awesomeness.
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I've been meaning to do this meme for some time (nicked from [personal profile] last_archangel), but I wanted to fill the empty slots in my icons first. I am currently a bit stuck in the Novel -- started the fourth chapter and realised I have no idea what to do with it -- so perhaps a little fictionplay will reconnect the wires in my head? I hope so. 

1. Pick one of my icons.
2. I will write you at least one sentence of something vaguely resembling fiction based on said icon (and keywords and comments).
 
P.S. I am faintly disturbed -- or is it amused? -- by the fact that all of my fictional relationships seem to have their roots in Remus/Tonks. I mean, first off, there's Ian Braddock, reclusive teacher, in love with cheerful, clumsy, neon-haired Tuesday Aiken; and then we have Mr Caruthers, who probably would argue that he is too old, too poor, and too dangerous for Evy (I almost want to make him say at at some point, for the in-joke hilarity of it all), plus there's this whole awkward mess in the sequel (AAAARGH) in which there is a War, and he has to go do dangerous undercover stuff probably with vampires, which makes him distance himself from Evy -- For Her Own Good!, and nearly has a nervous breakdown, and someone probably has to operate on him to remove his nobility gland or something. (Of course by this time they are married, so it's more like a cross between Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, except they don't die at the end. Or look like they died but totally didn't I mean look JKR wrote that they looked as though they were sleeping she definitely did not use the word "dead" I MEAN COME ON.)

That's not even counting that I have two-thirds of an idea for a story (mostly images and snatches) about John and Emily Lewis and how they manage their marriage and his lycanthropy...
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Oh, how lovely; the incense twine of woodsmoke is coming in through the open window, and today it is autumn. I finally realised that sitting in my bedroom all day ruining my eyes on screens, not getting any air or exercise, and only seeing the exact same things I see every day was doing my psyche no good, and on a whim took up my iPod and my embroidered bag and betook me to my bicycle, and to the hill.

The hill is behind my old house, where Sarah and Hannah now live (again: it was theirs before it was mine), and when I lived in the Rectory I would steal up there often, especially last August and September, before we moved. It's a large hill, and if you look in exactly the right directions, the long waving grass and clusters of trees hide all the signs of civilisation and you can pretend you are Nowhere. I mean, there's the statue of the Founder of Our Town and the grave of his horse, but they're sufficiently worn-down to be interesting. There's a path up the side to the top, and if you skirt off the path to the right there's a marvellous little grove of trees, very fey and out-of-the-world feeling. I've always wanted to string candle-jars around it and have a mad tea party at dusk. It was here that I lay myself down in the old leaves and listened to a lovely new album by Thistletown -- pretty, jingley, multi-voice freak folk with the occasional jazzy horn riff reminiscent of Nick Drake -- and then the Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree, because lying on my bed did not do them justice. (I posted them on [livejournal.com profile] musicyardsale yesterday; go join and/or have a look!) Sometimes I wandered over the hill and picked an autumnal bouquet of leaves and late flowers, but mostly I lay in the leaves and twigs listening to lovely music and watching the sky change and the orange-edged leaves flicker in the wind, and great flocks of birds fly hither and thither overhead -- the shadows of birds, skirting over and through leaves in the sun, is an image I will never forget.


Of course, while I was sitting in my woodland grove with leaves in my hair (and purple earbuds incongruously in my ears), a herd of college students suddenly flowed into my hidden paradise. Funny how this never happened, ever, when I actually lived in the neighbourhood. Apparently they were on some sort of botany mission? I stayed where I was as they trooped past me and smiled and felt very peculiar. I wonder what they must have thought of me? We sort of grinned at each other amicably and nervously and they went off to do their botany things and I went back to my music, but it was very amusing. (Fortunately they had left by the time "Here's a Health to All True Lovers" came on, because I had to dance to that, and I wasn't ready to stop after that, so I queued up old favourite Steeleye Span song "All Around My Hat" and kicked off my shoes and shouted somewhat tunefully along with the chorus. I can sing well, but not usually so well when dancing.)


And then I had boundless energy! Well, not really, and I think I swallowed an insect, bleah. But I did feel a great deal more motivated and brain-working-y and went home and made chocolate chip cookies and had debates with the radio again.
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An excerpt from the Novel, mostly for [profile] lady_moriel, who suggested -- nay, begged -- that I include it somehow.

   [Mr Caruthers] flung his scarf around his neck, donned his hat, and nodded. “Good night,” he said, and swept out the door and down the stairs.
   “I like his coat,” said Briony approvingly. Evangeline turned round to see her sister peering round the doorjamb with a thoughtful expression. “It’s a bit magnificent, don’t you think? Swirling about as it does.”
    “I… had never thought about it,” said Evangeline.

(Currently writing my fifty-second page! \o/)
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Autumn is coming; I can smell it and taste it. Today is fey and wet and windy, and the tree I can see from my window is half orange already. The apple tree is heavy with fruit (and occasionally with cats, as Willow loves to settle on one of the top branches and smirk down at the world), the geese are flying, and I am lighting more candles than is usual even for me, enjoying the urge to pull my gothiest clothes out of the closet (to church yesterday I wore an ankle-length black lace skirt, and a very Edwardian black-with-cream-pattern blouse with black pearl buttons and lace edges, and my black and white stockings, of course), and craving even more psych folk than usual, which is pretty startling, but, you know. Last year the band that defined my autumn was Dark Dark Dark (also Nancy Elizabeth!); this year I suspect The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree might be important, rather. (Don't let the name fool you -- while they are very odd-sounding psych folk, they are also quite straightforward and gloriously listenable and accessible; no rambling lyrics that even T.S. Eliot would have trouble figuring out, weird droning melodies that take a lot of getting used to, or anything of that sort. Also, even their record label doesn't seem to know anything about them. I'm posting them on [livejournal.com profile] musicyardsale tomorrow.)

And with autumn, my folklore loving self roars to full strength; I am listening to Tam-Lin on repeat and realising tenfold how and why I love it so very much. It's got one of the best narratives of any ballad, I think -- the story is weird, but clear, and the characters are awfully well-defined for only occupying a few verses. (Okay, a lot of verses. It's a pretty long ballad.) And Janet. I love Janet so much. I love Janet so much that I think I've got to write a full Tam-Lin retelling someday, about Janet, and not Evangeline-in-the-Janet-role. Janet is the precedent for centuries of Awesome Women In Literature. She's like the godmother to girls like Robin McKinley's Harry Crewe and Sherwood Smith's Meliara and Emma Bull's Eddi McCandry -- fierce girls who fight for the people they love without losing their lovingness. One of my favourite things is that Janet saves Tam-Lin, not by grabbing a sword of iron and driving it through the Faerie Queen's heart, but by loving, by not letting the Faerie Queen's illusions fool her, by stubbornly loving Tam-Lin and holding onto him until he's become himself again. Considering that he turned into a snake and a lion and, in some versions, red-hot iron, that takes some hardcore fierceness. (Huh. When I'm doing the Novel climax, I wonder if I could attempt to represent the various aspects of Mr Caruthers' present and former personality as the traditional things Tam-Lin was transformed into in the ballad.) And I love that it takes place on Halloween, and I love the faeries, and the atmosphere of it, no matter the version.

Now, of course, I am no longer terribly irritated with my subconscious for insisting upon turning the Novel into a Tam-Lin retelling, among other things of course. It puts the pieces together ever so much more neatly. It helps to form the circumstances of Mr Caruthers' captivity amongst the vampires, and also leads me to understand that his in-thrall-ness isn't really finished just because the government got him away from the vampires and he's a librarian now. There's something that's keeping him in thrall until he or Evangeline figures out how to break it. That also explains how and why he's the tithe, whatever that means. The vampire woman who originally led him into this mess must be the Faerie Queen role, and maybe she isn't dead (in a manner of speaking... you know what I mean), I don't know. (Related note: what would you lot think of Reynardine as a taken-name by a female vampire?) I am also pursuing the idea that after his several years of dealing with the vampires and messing in dark things far beyond his ken, Mr Caruthers, like Sunshine* -- like Tam-Lin -- is no longer quite human. Maybe he gained some extra senses when he was learning magics from the vampires. He's probably a little harder to kill, anyway. I'm not giving him Sunshine's night-vision because it always made me sad when she has trouble reading and stuff, like Giles' nightmare-come-to-life when he can't read anymore that makes me really, really sad (and unleashes a flood of OMG GILES YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND I LOVE YOU), but maybe some vampire-like ability similar to that? Not the urge to eat incredibly raw steaks though, ew. I suppose he could have a little of that ability to appear and disappear suddenly and quietly, cos I've always loved that. Maybe some enhanced hearing/smelling/seeing? ("Didn't anybody ever tell you the whole smelling people thing's a little gross?") I don't know, but that explains why the government really wants him on hand.

* Blimey, every time I read that top blurb I shake my head in consternation. If they described Con as "Dracula's hunky Byronic cousin" they clearly did not actually read the book. What part of "skin the colour of rotting mushrooms" and the bit where his laugh is still spine-unhinging terrifying even when he and Sunshine are friends do you not understand? And Sunshine's narration is bloody well not in "the idiom of Britney, J.Lo, and the Spice Girls", for heaven's sake. (Actually, after having read Robin McKinley's blog, I'd say Sunshine sounds an awful lot like a younger, less British McKinley -- biting and clever and well-read and not just intelligent but interested.) Sorry, I get awfully defensive on the subject of one of my favourite novels.

I don't know; looks like I've got to keep writing. Blah, this is hard. But... I've never got so deep into a novel before. I understand the story far better than I have any of my previous tries, and I have fifty pages of in-order story, and an actual half-idea of where it's going to end up. And the research, oh joy, what I swore would never happen to me.
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It's one of those days where I can't soothe myself -- I'm jumpy and panicky and close to nauseated for no apparent reason and can't concentrate. Usually this means I spent most of the day faffing around and making myself feel worse. I wouldn't say that this sort of thing happens all the time, but it happens frequently enough that I need to find a coping stratagem. So... how do you calm yourself? Especially when you're jittery and uncomfortable purely as the result of chemicals doing silly things in your head? Trying to work on something productive but low-stress, like reading some of my more interesting research books, maybe working on icons or photography, organising thoughts and/or inspiration on the Novel if I'm not in a state to actually write, tends to alleviate the urgent sense of guilt (yep, I get purely chemical guilt, too, in addition to the guilt-as-default-response I already deal with! fun stuff), but that's not much use if I can't make myself concentrate on it. Sometimes eating helps, because when I'm depressed or have a cold my eating schedule goes way off balance, but that's usually just because some of the nausea or jitters are from not having eaten properly. I have a relaxing Lush bath bomb from [livejournal.com profile] barefoottomboy that, um, I still haven't used, cos when I use it, it will be gone, but it's lavender-scented and if I crumble a wee bit off it's rather soothing. Actually, if I just unwrap it and inhale, it's pretty gorram soothing. (When I have money again: purchase more Lush products. This is not frivolity.) 

So I'm setting down to read London: A Biography and trying to take deep breaths, but I know this isn't going to do half as much as I'd like. Any suggestions, for now and for the future? 
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Oh for heaven's sake. I am trying to write the Novel and have stuck on the most ridiculous of details, which has rather unleashed a lot of pent-up frustration. Why did I have to set my novel in 1912-1913? Ten years earlier and I'd have more information than I could ever hope to use, but apparently nobody cares about the Edwardians. And if they do, it's all about the hedonistic upper class and the aristocracy, or, because sordid is always fun to be shocked about, the most abject poverty of the London slums, all twenty people to a tenement and children losing their limbs in factories. I am quite sure that the middle class wasn't all pretending to be wealthy, because that's not how people work. Every time I try to find information on the homes people would have lived in, normal everyday ordinary people, in London, I get all of this nonsense about either manor houses or squalid tenements. NOT HELPFUL. I got a book out from the library, Domestic Life in England, and it devoted at least a chapter to the Victorians, with lots of very pertinent information -- but anything about the Edwardians was scant, mixed up with details from later years, solely about rationing and bomb scares (and zeppelins? is it callous that my first thought was OMG THERE WERE ZEPPELINS OVER LONDON THAT IS SO COOL?), or to the '20s, lots more fun, with the hair shingling and the make-up and the very short skirts. GAH. I want to know about houseguests, particularly in apartments, and if they come up to the door of the flat they want and knock there, or if they ring something down below, as one often does nowadays, and who answers the door, and I am Googling ridiculous things like "history of the doorbell" and "doorbells in edwardian england" and not getting anything remotely helpful.

I wonder how eccentric it is that the Noxes haven't got any servants, but they don't really need them, and would one still have servants if one lived in a flat, anyway? Am I completely wrong in thinking that a family of four would live in a flat? But London was huge and urban even then and it seems as though an actual by-itself house would be hideously expensive whether or not it was even very nice, and nobody would have one. Uh, kind of like Boston.

It's all of the weird little details that are tripping me up, like, how exactly does Mr Caruthers get himself to the Noxes for dinner and who lets him in and where does he go afterwards and are there doorbells involved at all? How large would a decent flat be, with how many rooms? What are the floors made of? What sorts of dances do people attend? Are there places where there's always some music thing going on and anyone can show up to dance if they have the desire? Which ones are respectable and which aren't? (Like today people go clubbing, or to bars or pubs, and all sorts of things.) If a man is trying to conceal Evidence of Vampire Attack, what sort of neck-covering things are at his disposal? Where does one park one's motorbike? 

Every few paragraphs I run into a new problem, and the more I read, the more it seems I don't know, especially since everyone is much more interested in talking about the aristocracy or the Victorians or the slums or the War, except that they'd actually rather talk about the Second World War, so seeing the domestic information one wants getting passed up for a war which is mostly passed up for a different war is enormously frustrating. Hasn't somebody written books specifically for historical fiction writers? "Everything You'd Never Think To Ask About The 1910s", say. How to use the toilet and what to feed your cat and what sorts of sweets one might have on hand. How to get to and from work. How to let your hosts know you've arrived for dinner after they've bleeding invited you. (How to greet a woman you've been secretly in love with for several years when you recently saved her from a mysteriously burning room with vampires in, she's been unconscious for the last several days, and you have probably done nothing but pace around your office and clean up vampire damage and fend off the government, and now you are at her house for dinner but it is 1912 and embracing is scandalous and you are deliberately repressed anyway for what you think are extremely good reasons. Okay, maybe that one I have to figure out myself...)

At this point, the vampire stuff and the underground city stuff and the scientific application of magic is the easiest part.
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Today I was attacked by my own bedroom.

Sometimes I have these really stupid impulsive ideas. At about eleven thirty tonight, the stupid idea was: My glasses have been missing for a couple of weeks. I am sure they slipped into the terrible jungle that is under-the-bed and I will find them in two minutes if I actually look instead of shoving my hand down there and waggling it back and forth for a few seconds.

Learned Thing I: Under The Bed is a very, very terrifying place, far more terrifying than I had previously imagined. It is a place of death and I am never going down there again if I can help it. I am afraid to clean under there now because I think it might eat me. 

Learned Thing II: When I was eleven, I fit rather comfortably under the bed. I am nineteen now, have a slightly different bedframe setup, and, more importantly, have acquired copious amounts of bosom. I can no longer get more than my head and shoulders under the bed. At all.

Learned Thing III: Mattresses are really heavy. Boxsprings are even heavier and they hurt when they fall on you. You should not attempt to move them off the bedframe on a whim in the middle of the night, especially when you wear contacts and have done just fine without your glasses for weeks now. (I mostly wear my glasses when I am very headachey, when I am very lazy, when I am in between sets of contacts because I never remember to order them on time, or at night when I am reading in bed, because slipping off glasses is easy and slipping off contacts is not when you are sleepy.)

Learned Thing IV: I have more muscles in more places than I even knew. I do not feel so bad now about not having exercised today.

Learned Thing V: I should listen to my mother sometimes. Here is a conversation that probably happened more than once.

ME: "All of the plastic cups have mysteriously vanished! This is very irritating. Where could they have gone?"
MY MOTHER: "...Are they in your bedroom again?"
ME: "I HAVE NOT DONE THAT IN MONTHS WHY DO YOU DOUBT ME also I can't find any cereal bowls."
MY MOTHER: "Didn't I see one on your desk?"
ME: "YOU ARE SO SUSPICIOUS AND ACCUSING"

Under my bed, nested amongst the mangled remains of many newspapers, magazines, guitar chord printouts, candy wrappers, and scribbled-on pages, were approximately two hundred plastic cups. Fortunately none of them had rotting milk in them. There were also some cereal bowls. I am duly ashamed. But I also blame my bed. It was probably hungry.

Learned Thing VI: It is very hot under the bed. Also, it is far easier to get under than it is to extract oneself. I don't even know how that works. At one point, when I was mostly stuck, the radio went on (whenever it gets unplugged, the alarm resets itself to go off at midnight) and Ominious Monk-like Chanting followed me beneath the mattresses. It was a little disturbing. (It was actually a sort of New Age music programme public radio has on late at night -- and it happened to be mostly the very, very nice, relaxing, and musically interesting sort, not the really lame elevator music sort. And then BBC News came on. Yay!)

Learned Thing VII: Somehow, lifting up the mattress and the boxspring makes the entire room explode. My bedroom was reasonably neat. I spent half an hour or longer trying to make it look mostly the way it had before I pulled up the mattress.

Learned Thing VIII: My glasses were behind the dresser.

I am going to get an ice cream bar out of the freezer downstairs. It is nearly two in the morning. I do not care. I need it.

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Reading [livejournal.com profile] sarahtales' fantastic essay Ladies Please (Carry On Being Awesome) and writing the Novel at nearly the same time has birthed a lot of swarming thinky thoughts. For one thing, yesyesyesyesyes, and a large side helping of "huh?" because, you know, I read these fictional girls who apparently have friends only so they can complain about them and compete with them and/or talk about Boys with them, and I guess those people exist (I started running into them a lot more in later youth groups) but that is so not the world I grew up in. Okay, the world I grew up in also didn't have schmaltzy Christmas music, kids embarrassed by their parents for no reason other than that they are Grown-Ups, people who don't like books, or public school, so non-fantasy YA fiction frequently depresses, irritates, or confuses me. But still. If I could exist, at least temporarily, in a world where being female is not some kind of contest, fictional characters can do this, too!

And awesomeness comes in many different flavours! Female characters do not have to have big weapons and fight everything to be awesome. Though they totally can. (C.f. Zoe Washburne, Kara Thrace, Sarah Walker, Buffy bleeding Summers.) I love that Fred Burkle gets to fight evil with Science, and Willow Rosenberg gets to fight evil with computers and magic, and Kaylee Frye gets to fight evil by being a mechanic (and with optimism!), and Hermione Granger gets to fight evil by being clever and a know-it-all, and Martha Jones gets to fight evil by telling stories*. I love that Lydia Asher gets to be a medical scientist at the turn of the century, but she's vain about her glasses and she likes pretty clothes and she's happily married, and she bloody travels across the world with a vampire and plunges into complicated spy politics to save her husband. I love that Meg Murry gets to fight evil by loving her brother. I love that Emily Starr and Anna Grazinsky and Cassandra Mortmain and Anne Steele and Molly Weasley and Jo March and Joyce Summers and Arwen don't even have to save the world to be awesome.

* Note: I still don't like that episode, or Tenkerbelle, but Martha walking the world and telling stories? Completely fantastic anyway.

Thinking about my own story in this context pleases me, because while I didn't set out to write Awesome Mutli-Faceted Female Characters, I am pleasantly surprised at how everyone turned out, and it's fun to play with them in that respect. Evangeline, the contentedly introverted but friendly older sister, is the one who gets to fight vampires; Camilla, the bossy, loyal, loving mother-of-the-family middle sister is, personality-wise, the more stereotypically ass-kicking one, but she gets to be awesome by being supportive and keeping the family together and making everyone food and knocking sense into them. Briony mostly gets to be awesome by growing up and being loving and optimistic at this point, but I really want her to do some amazing stuff in the second book that I am pretty much resigned to writing now. Lottie gets to be, well, crazy, alas, and I don't actually know how that's going to play out at all, so I can't really comment on that. I am, however, increasingly bothered by the fact that the girls' mother is completely non-existent, not only in the present but in the past. I've dropped mentions to her a couple of times, but I still have no idea who she was or why and why she isn't here anymore. And then that bothers me because what this novel and quite a lot of other stories in the universe at large are really lacking are Awesome Women Over Thirty. (Immortals do not count.) I mean, okay, at the moment I don't even know who many of the characters are besides the occupants of Evangeline's two homes -- her family flat and the library -- because the story hasn't ventured out into the wider world yet. Maybe women's roles are a little different in this 1912. Maybe there are some other awesome women in the Ministry of the Paranormal, or at the Noxes' church, or at Briony's school, or all of the other places I haven't explored yet.

I also had the brief weird thought of gender-switching Evangeline's father and having her mother be the reclusive, eccentric, but intensely loving dealer in rare books and magical miscellany, except that kind of turns a lot of things on their heads -- like, the colleague relationship between Evangeline's Parent and Mr Caruthers would be entirely different, and the Nox family would be entirely female, and I'm not really sure I want to do that, and then I'm still stuck on the question of Where Did The Other Parent Go Anyway. Not to mention the fact that Edwin Nox is, you know, in my head of his own right, even if he never seems to do anything. (You're all saying, It's obvious! BOTH PARENTS COULD BE ALIVE AND WELL and I say, Absolutely! Except I keep trying it and the story soundly rejects it, which annoys me a lot! Especially because stories really need more awesome married couples who love each other. Maybe the girls' mother is just Off Being Plot Pointy Somewhere? Only I cannot think of anything for her to do. But I also hate the Importantly Dead Mother stereotype...)

And now, dear f-list, an excellent example of How I Suck At Essays. Note the lack of coherence, the digressions, the change in topic, the total lack of cogent point... and now I have to go do the dishes write about Briony crushing on Mr Caruthers' coat, just for [profile] lady_moriel.
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I have discovered a marvellous thing. It is called morning coffee.

(Picture here, if you will, my parents laughing uproariously at me, as they have been trying to get me to drink coffee most of my life, it seems.)

Somehow in the last few weeks it has gone from a bitter, unfriendly, if glorious-smelling, concoction to the epitome of deliciousness. I think I must have gone for it again out of sheer desperation on one of the mornings I was trying to turn back into a person who sleeps normally by not fumbling through sleeping and awake-but-dizzy until four in the afternoon or so, and dumped loads of milk and sugar in it, and lo! It was very nearly palatable. Very nearly. (On New Year's Day, when I downed a cup to get me through an afternoon of work at the deathly boring kiosk after staying up very very late with the usual lot, I spent the entire cup stalking through the house, gulping it down and shouting bleah!) And then I tried it again the next morning. Before I knew what had happened to my unsuspecting tastebuds, I was in love.

It helps that I have my own very pretty Art Nouveau mug in which to drink it every morning. But aside from the fetching mug, the flavour! It is so wonderful and cosy! The caffeine! It is so fantastic and day-starting and inspiration-bringing

I do not have a morning newspaper, and I prefer to read novels on my stomach, so what I am trying out now, after the ten minutes it usually takes me to read my email and all of the Twitter that happened during the night, is writing. By "trying", I mean "I've done it a couple of times this week", but it is working out rather all right. And the jump of caffeine has my brain all energised and ready to think of interesting things. I am on my forty-second page! It took me three months once to write a nine-page short story! I am improving! (Meanwhile, Catherynne M. Valente Twitters that she has finished writing her splendiferous online serial novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, which she started a mere couple of months ago. I flush emerald.) 

And my last gulp of coffee has gone cold, Evangeline needs to finish being unconscious, and a large black cat has made himself comfortable in my lap. It's a fey, misty morning -- you can smell Autumn coming, even when you don't hear it in the farewell calls of nightflying geese and the wuthering of the wind, or glimpse it in the brief glimmer of red and gold hidden in the furthest branches of the trees.
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Reading Robert K. Massie's 900+ page Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War (which totally has an Oxford comma: win!), which is omghuge and terrifying and daunting, and this is me we're talking about. I eat giant books for afternoon tea. BUT ARGH SO HUGE and so very full of exactly the information I need. And it's really interesting and everything, and I love Massie -- he wrote Nicholas and Alexandra, which I have read three times. But it is MADE OF HUGENESS and so much politics and argh. I am quite busy just trying to keep everything straight. However, I am incredibly thrilled to have found exactly the sort of book I needed, although I am a little bitter at the library, and publishing in general, because while the World War II section takes up an entire bookcase, World War I gets a little less than two shelves. And far too much of the WWI literature is centred on America's role in the war, which... come on, we were in it for eleven months. The rest of the world fought for four years.

Also, Germany and Britain were on pretty tense terms for decades before the war. And Austria-Hungary was allied with Germany. And everybody was preparing for war, for when it inevitably broke out. So. Having some thinky thoughts, storywise; namely that Germany or Austria-Hungary or both are looking into how they could use vampires; maybe they get an ambitious vampire who wants them to do something for him, and they bargain with him for, like, vampire soldiers or something, I don't know. (That sounds incredibly lame now that I've typed it out.) Or they're trying to work out how to control the vampires. Plus, Austria-Hungary was in control of Transylvania until the end of the war, and I have to wonder -- sure, vampires are real in my storyworld, but Transylvania and Romania in general are so tied into the vampire mythos that maybe in this world there's something to it -- larger population, concentration of magic, something? 

And all of this is causing unrest in the vampire community, blah blah we've heard all of this already, so this is in part what Evangeline is supposed to prevent? How does that tie into the vampires trying to Tam-Linify Mr Caruthers at the end? And while she has to succeed at some level for the story not to be completely depressing and pointless, seeing as I can't escape the sequel that takes place during the war, there still needs to be tension and... stuff. I become increasingly eloquent as the night wears on, as you see.

Asdojhghg. That's enough of that. I need to actually write a few paragraphs before bed.
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HEY YOU GUYS NEW SWELL SEASON SONG. \o/

in these arms - the swell season
maybe i was born to hold you in these arms

OH GLEN AND MAR I HAVE MISSED YOU SO. ♥

(New album Strict Joy due out 29 September!)
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I am beginning to feel as though I have done Evy's vampire wrong, because he isn't doing anything, either in what I've written thus far or in my head. I mean, except for this one flight of fancy, wherein I wondered if maybe Mr Caruthers gets misguidedly jealous of the vampire cos he and Evy are kind of secretive and she trusts him and stuff, and Evy's like "are you kidding me? VAMPIRE? EW." and Mr Caruthers is like "LOOK, VAMPIRES ARE PREDATORS AND SEDUCTION IS ONE OF THE TOOLS THEY USE TO ATTRACT PREY AND IT'S NOT COMPLETELY INSANE IF ONE WERE TO SUCCUMB, SO TO SPEAK, AS IT IS A PRETTY STRONG GLAMOUR. NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW." and Evy's like, "Um. I have to go home now." 

Anyway, I think he might actually step back into the story if he had a name -- I've been magnificently unsuccessful in locating one thus far; all I know is that it's long. (I'm also toying with the idea that vampires frequently take new names, especially after they've been vampires for a while, and their old human personality is so worn away that there doesn't seem a reason to keep a name that belongs to someone long dead.) Latin seems a little, um, predictable, and actually I'm kind of hoping for Welsh? Because a Welsh vampire would be awesome. Gaelic could be pretty neat, too, and can get very long: the problem with Gaelic is that pronunciation seems impossible to predict. (And Welsh isn't hard to pronounce?, you ask. Well, it is a bit, but the rules are much simpler, and letters correspond to sounds that make sense, once you learn the few variants and how to pronounce them, like ll, w, and f. Whereas Gaelic, I look at it and there are all these letters, and they could be anything, and half the time it looks like an impossibly long word, but it's pronounced in one syllable. It's a little dizzying.)

But anyway again! Today I became a dark redhead again, after spending far, far too long with already somewhat light red hair fading to the brassy peroxide blonde underneath, not at all attractively I might add. I have been trying to achieve this particular dark rusty colour for a year, as my Very First Dye Job was rust and blonde, and yet when I used the exact same dye back in the spring it did not come out remotely the same, and I was sad. But this time, with a different brand, it worked; heaven knows why. And as I was taking photographs anyway, my outfit happened to be rather nice and simple and casually neo-Victorian and made me happy.


I took this outfit and this hair down the block to Luigi's Ristorante, who are hiring servers, filled out an application, had a pre-interview, apparently shook hands with the owner, and was actually assured of a phone call for once. I made certain to mention pointedly the fact that I live a block away and would be available to fill in and such things at extremely short notice. I daresay I should rather like working there; the atmosphere is very nice, tips ought to be lovely as it is one of the nicer restaurants in town, and I have always wanted to waitress. Also it is a block from my house. Very convenient, that.
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I've been thinking about this for several days, especially since I've been digging through colleges again and trying to understand how I can fit the things I want so badly to study into one interconnected whole. So, here it is:

I want to major in Story.

Watching this beautiful, beautiful video from Ukraine's Got Talent clinched it for me -- because this is a kind of storytelling that I have never seen before and don't really know how to describe. But I know that it's powerful. I know that it hurts and sings like steel and banners in the wind. And I love that. I love that there are so many ways to tell stories to one another, so many different ways to communicate our experiences, our ideas, or hopes, our imaginations. I've thought a lot about Story lately, because when you take all of the things that I love and set them together, that is what they are. Film, mythology, music, dance, novels, graphic novels, folklore, television, poetry, fanfiction, journalism, history, psychology, philosophy, urban legends, photography, drawing with brushes and pencils and chalk and sand, sociology, education. Everything. Story. Whether it's how you tell a story, how you listen to someone else's story, or how you learn to understand a story -- that's what they are. This is why I love public radio -- because they tell me stories, which is better and more real and more human than any of CNN's or Fox News' scandal-mongering. (I remember, after the earthquakes in China, an NPR journalist trying to describe the things she was seeing, and finally sobbing so hard she couldn't even speak. That was empathy and love, and it hurt. It got to the heart of things far better than the endless barrage of cold photographs on television, spoken over by comfortable, coiffed newscasters. This journalist cared about the story, about the people. And she cried. So I did, too.) 

So this is what I want to study. I want to study different kinds of storytelling, and I want to study different kinds of stories, and how to understand them and transform them and combine them. I want to study how to work with people and teach them to tell their stories, and how to listen to their stories when they tell them, and how to help them understand their own stories. I want to study how different kinds of stories affect each other. How mythology affects history. How poetry makes us brave. How stories and truth get all tangled up. How sometimes Story goes deeper than truth, illuminates it, is it. I want to understand how stories give us -- everybody us -- a voice. I want to study how different kinds of stories can bridge each other, how to find the best format for the kind of story you want to tell and who you want to tell it to and why. How to use stories to facillitate change, to show love, to further understanding. This is why I want to be a librarian (and a writer and a filmmaker and a musician and an artist and a scholar) -- because it's all about every kind of story and leading people to the stories they need and teaching them how to tell their own, both to other people and to themselves.

 
"Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith — faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically."
- Madeleine L'Engle

 
And there it is. Dear Emerson/Harvard/Hampshire (my current triumvirate of Schools I Want To Be A Part Of), this is why I want to be in university. I may have sucky math scores, but maybe this helps? (...can you send cover-letters to colleges? do they do much of anything?)
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Of all the things I thought research might accomplish, forcing me to write a sequel to the ever-present Novel that isn't even half-finished yet was not really something that crossed my mind.

Ah well, I'm a young writer yet. Eventually I'll learn there are Things To Watch Out For.

So: I've been reading as much about the Edwardians and the Great War as I can manage to find in the house -- I'll start to go spare if I can't pay off my library fines before much longer -- and the deeper I go, the more the blasted sequel talks to me. Okay, so "in the house" means "my siblings' history books" and "the internet", because for some reason I don't seem to have anything much on the First World War myself. Or the Edwardian era. A brief glance through the Book Closet brings me... uh... well, Barbara Hambly's duo of awesome and political-situation-foreshadowing Edwardian vampire novels (starring James Asher, motorbiking philologist ex-spy professor! and Lydia, his doctor wife of much win), and... Nicholas and Alexandra, okay, and the Emily of New Moon trilogy (Emily's diary entries are always dated 19--, which leads me to a bit of private fanon in which Emily's Quest ends just before the war begins, and there's all this stuff about Dean Priest in, like, Cairo or Japan or somewhere doing espionage, I don't know), and Peter Pan, a couple of my Ibbotsons -- A Countess Below Stairs is, rather plot-pointedly, right after both the Great War and the Russian Revolution, and A Company of Swans is London and the Amazon in, oh hey, 1912! -- um, is that it? Seriously? Argh.

Novels are excellent for research, too, especially novels written either during the era, or afterwards by people who were alive then -- one reason I love Eva Ibbotson's historicals so much: she has this really fresh perspective on the World Wars and writes about them so naturally, because she was there, and she sees them from both an English and an Austrian perspective, which is also neat -- because that gives you a better idea of how and what people were thinking and reacting to everything around them, instead of being told by a history book what was on everyone's minds. History books are well-meaning, and immensely live-in-able and helpful in most areas, but understanding how people thought and felt and reacted... you need to be in there. I'd like to write a historical novel that feels more like Eva Ibbotson's, in which she's just writing about what happened in her childhood, knowledge that comes naturally to her, so she's not shoehorning in Historical Perspectives or This Event or painstakingly describing everything you might not be quite familiar with (hint: people pick up on stuff fast, writers). I want to understand what it was like to wear those clothes and eat that food and read those newspapers. And then I can put in the vampires...

Anyway, I'm just reading a pretty basic World Wars history book -- I don't want to say textbook, cos the curriculumn my mother used for me and is now teaching my siblings with doesn't tend to hurl textbooks at you unless it's maths and there's nothing else for it. It's a book about history, and it's got a lot of pictures and things, but it's really well-done and readable and interesting. I mean, readable until something hits you straight in the stomach and you kind of have to put the book down for a while. Today I read about the Christmas Truce of 1914, and I kept thinking, blimey, these men didn't even want to be killing each other. Ugh. Screw this war.

Which is probably what Mr Caruthers would be saying, honestly, only with some rather choicer words learnt on the streets of London... Which brings me back to the bleeding sequel for a novel that's only three-quarters plotted and doesn't even have a real name yet, but here I am, thinking about Briony growing up in the war and bobbing her hair, and Camilla as a battlefield nurse, and how Mr Caruthers would be a staunch conscientious objector, but as the war got more and more desperate and the government got more and more pushy, he'd get dragged into espionage or something, given his Special Areas of Knowledge, and some other Exciting Novelly Stuff I should talk about soon. (I bet if I were a professional novelist I'd have a Do Not Talk About Your Blasted Novel So Much On Your LiveJournal Clause, because there are noooo secrets here, are there? Only I need someone to bounce all of this off. Actually, there is one secret. Just a little one. And I don't want to tell you about it because it's just a little weird brainquirk that is much, much more powerful in inference and in context.) And how Evangeline's Special Skills might get her pulled into the War, and how much things would be different with the addition of vampires and magic...

I was just trying to understand the political situation before the war, you know? Curses.
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The most glorious mess of a thunderstorm just roared over the hills -- all blinding rain and howls of thunder and the thick scent of sweat and dust rising, expelled, from the earth. The sky's been green. I had to light all the candles I could and shrug into my white lace skirt (to go with, you know, my folkloretastic Vampires Beware t-shirt...), and now I feel rather compelled to share with you the music I was listening to when the brunt of the storm hit, which happens to be this crazy raucous Victorian street punkfolk, with lots of group shouting and singing saw and accordion and stuff. "Honey in the Hair" by Blackbird Raum. This is totally research for my novel. Totally. In, um, a frame-of-mind sort of way? I have to get into young Rue Caruthers*' mind somehow, yes? And this is exactly what he would have listened to. No really. (Also wondering, really, how close might street music have got to this back then? Research topic three hundred and nine: London musical culture, high and low, at the turn of the century.) Also, er, apparently Stuff Mr Caruthers Would Have Listened To As A Young Victorian Punk is my new musical kink (see also: Arcade Fire, Rose Kemp, Pale Young Gentlemen, Patrick Wolf, Dark Dark Dark... are you kidding, of course I'm making a mix).

On the subject of the ever-present Novel, I wrote this bit late last night, and upon waking it seemed awfully anachronistic. Thoughts?

 
   “Your hair,” he said, making a vague gesture with his pen, “is sort of… exploding.”
   “Brilliant,” hissed Evangeline, and she stalked – really stalked – towards the lavatory.

Context: thunderstorm of doom, Evy comes into work soaked and cranky. I think my subconscious is trying to show that Evy and Mr Caruthers have a fairly comfortable, bantering relationship (which they do). But is this a believable exchange between a thirty-five-year-old man and a twenty-two-year-old woman (who works for him, though they are good friends) in 1912? For one thing, brilliant wasn't slang for fantastic the way it is now, yes? (Also, good slang terms for "shut up", both in a friendly bantering way as between Evy and her sisters, and a rather intensely rude way as between Mr Caruthers and Some Buearucrat who's all "so, yeah, Miss Nox, he kind of has this Shady Dark Past which I would be delighted to misinform you about"? I can go to [livejournal.com profile] hp_britglish or [livejournal.com profile] little_details if I have to.) 
 
* I CANNOT ESCAPE RUPERT. I SHOULD HAVE GIVEN IN LONG AGO. also his youthful nickname is so not ironic slightly bad-punly foreshadowing shut up I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY OF THIS ANYWAY.

Er, on the subject of music and also vampires... this is the first song that's properly mine that I've properly recorded. Black is the Colour of My True Love's Heart, in which, as usual, I hear a traditional ballad and just know there's an alternate version out there in which he's a vampire and she has to kill him what is wrong with me. Anyway, there's a flaily first attempt at music production in here, too, consisting of me making weird noises with my mother's African thumb piano and then manipulating and repeating them in two different ways. I don't even know if it works, I've been messing with this song for so long.

September 2009

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