The long shadow of SHADOWS
I am very close to sending SHADOWS* in to Merrilee and my editor. Very close. VERY close. So you’ll perhaps forgive me if I’m a little . . . distracted.**
And to give my wandering brain something to adhere to . . . KES. It’s funny about KES. It’s real work, it’s real brain energy, it’s yet one more frelling thing that I do. But it gives back more than it takes away—to me. So I hope you lot go on liking it so I go on having the excuse to write it.***
Okay, thirty seconds to freak out. It wasn’t like I wanted to keep the van. But . . .coming to the end of my rental and having it go away, was breaking one more link with my old life. I’d had that life for nearly twenty years.
For some reason this part of the story really hit me….
I can’t imagine having a consistent type of life for 20 years . . . that was suddenly and without any say-so from me gone. Impossible. No longer any breed of option anywhere. And I sort of think that getting the Lovecraftian Utopia makes up for it, but… Somehow the story hadn’t felt dark (or really, really REAL) to me until I had that flash.
Those, wow! Contact!, moments really interest me—well, they have to, since if my writing didn’t provoke a certain number of them in my readers I probably couldn’t go on doing this for a living. Most of my book mail says some variation on a theme of ‘really like your books’†; and while most of them cite favourite books, often favourite characters, only relatively occasionally will someone confess to a favourite scene or a Contact! moment. One of the things that makes KES interesting to me is the immediacy of your responses: I am, for example, fully in agreement with the ‘axe murderers don’t trip. That’s okay then’ response to the dark shadowy figure at the end of episode 33.
When you’re writing a story . . . okay, when I’m writing a story . . . as I keep telling you The Story Is The Story and I’m mostly just frelling trying to keep up. Yo! Wait! What did you say again? Speak slower. But this means I essentially have reader reactions to stuff sometimes: She what? He what? They’re going to what? Which also sometimes makes it easier to recognise a bit that I should stop and spend some extra time over: not necessarily to make it longer †† but to try to make sure—or at least make it likelier—that it has the effect on other humans that it had on First Reader, me.
And when you’ve been kind of cruising through your life, ticking off boxes in the to-do list, and then suddenly something makes you pay attention . . . yeah. Although poor Kes, she’s off the stress chart at the moment: divorce, moving house, moving town, financial worries caused by the above and she’s behind on her income-producing deadlines. Nor is she exactly a relaxed personality to begin with.†††
So this isn’t her first yeeep moment since episode one.‡ But it’s interesting that this is one of the yeeep moments that caught some of you too.
But . . . Lovecraftian Utopia? Oh dear . . .
I’m already wondering how to translate the 800-900 word ‘chapters’ with their frequent recourse to cliffhangers into something that doesn’t look dumb on a page.
Probably a very silly thought but: What about doodles? Cliffhanger – break off for a doodle – turn to new page. I realise that Doodle is still probably a Bad Word but I was thinking there might be a stash of Done Doodles?‡‡ Presumably Kes is also a doodler . . . ‡‡‡
Ah, great (possibly silly) minds. I’d been thinking about this when I wrote that post. It would take some experimenting because while the KES eps are all roughly the same length, it does vary up to about 150 words which is, uh, nearly one-seventh?, or so of the whole, which is going to be pretty conspicuous, page to page, if it was one ep per page. I think I wouldn’t like the way this looked, although I wouldn’t/won’t know till I’ve tried it. So I’m thinking just run the eps with breaks between and never mind where the page turns fall. And then doodles between eps? Yesssss. Or, just possibly, reverting to the one-ep-per-page idea, the size/complexity of the doodle might vary depending on the length of the individual ep. After I get SHADOWS finished and the doodle backlog from the auction CLEARED OFF I will investigate this further.
But first I have to finish SHADOWS. And something has to happen in KES.
* * *
* aka MONGO THE WONDER DOG AND SOME RANDOM HUMANS.
** We also went to Tabitha, the Bowen-massage lady, today. This is an excellent thing to have done for the 29 out of 30 days following (approximately) till we see her again. On the day, we’re toast.^
^ ALSO. CHAOS DID NOT EAT HIS LUNCH. ARRRRRGH. It’s muggy and horrible, he says. Yes, we went for a lovely walk in the fields around Tabitha’s house + but that was then and afterward we were in the car too long even though we were parked in the shade and it was cooler there than it was on our walk but we’re home now and you’re trying to work and it is my job to distract you and I’m tired of chicken and my bowl is the wrong colour and besides I am basically a furry four-legged varlet. With food issues.
Mongo is a very good eater.
+ A trifle longer than it might have been, since in the process of fleeing an aggressive off lead dog with a tool so dull accompanying it I don’t think we can even call her a tool, more a mashed potato or a glob of congealed gazpacho, whom I would not have recognised as anything to do with anything# except for the useless lead dangling around her neck, we lit out across a field that proved to have no exit. We eventually found our way to the wrong side of a gate declaring Private Property and proceeded to climb over/through it. Or Chaos and I did. Darkness, who is the bigger dog, couldn’t quite fit between the bars. I had horrible visions of having to CLIMB OVER A FIVE BAR GATE CARRYING AN UNHAPPY FORTY-FIVE POUND DOG but before I faced this evil fate I took Darkness’ lead and harness off and tried to persuade him to try again. No, no! I’m too BIG! he said, starting to run back and forth behind the gate in a betrayed and despairing manner. COME! I thundered, in my best dog-trainer, she-who-must-be-obeyed voice, which generally has no effect on hellhounds whatsoever, Hmmm? they say, rolling an eye vaguely in my direction.##
Darkness stopped, looked at me in surprise, and . . . squeezed through the bars. Maybe he heard the ‘climbing over five-bar gate carrying dog’ echo in my voice.
# Except possibly something at the back of the fridge that you should throw out.
## You want an obedience dog . . . get a border collie. Not a sighthound. Mind you the great thing about sighthounds is the way they sleep. They sleep a lot. Border collies do tend to want to be out there. Awake. Herding things.
*** AND ANY MINUTE NOW SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN. Although I’m saying ‘any minute now’ from where I am, writing. Not from where you are, reading. Sigh.
† Thank you.
Occasionally they say, You Are a Giant Rat Turd From Another Reality. I delete those.
†† Although in my case . . . probably.
††† My alter ego would not be a relaxed personality.
‡ ‘Any idiot can face a crisis. It’s day-to-day living that wears you out.’ —Anton Chekov
‡‡ Sigh. If there had ever been a stash of Done Doodles, fewer of you would be waiting for yours now.
‡‡‡ Probably. I don’t know yet, although I’d be surprised if she weren’t. I think she’s also a lapsed knitter^. . . .
^ Yes, I am worrying about bell ringing.
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