. . . forever? Bad me. House move, worrying about husband’s health and well-being, Samaritan training, hellhounds giving up eating etc . . . are NO EXCUSE. And now it’s been so long I can’t find/remember where I left off. ARRRGH. Well, if I miss/repeat anything . . . I’LL BLAME YOU.* YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID, HEY, YOU HAVEN’T DONE A KES COMMENT ROUND UP IN TOO LONG.
Random thoughts: I like Watermelon Shoulders much better than Torpedo Shoulders.
I would guess so do we all. I do anyway. I will say that Torpedo Shoulders will prove to be a little more okay than you think. Like Murac, drat him. I had no intention of Murac becoming anything like either an important character or almost a hero sort of person. Or, you know, attractive, other than in a ramshackle sort of way that would appeal to deranged 11-to-15-year-olds. Arrrrrrgh. You see here an author hoist by her own petard. This happens regularly—right, EMoon?—in my case pretty much every frelling story about something or someone**, but it doesn’t usually happen in public. By the time the story hits print I’m kind of over my crisis about it/him/her/them and can pretend, or at least pretend to pretend or make a good story out of it, that this was the plan all along.***
I’m very glad we had so much time to get to know Kes in the ordinary, everyday world before she got tossed into the Defender role. It’s not that her personality doesn’t come through in the battle & just-before-or-after-battle sequences, but I like knowing that she likes muffins & is fairly good at making friends with good ordinary people. (I’m not sure I’m expressing myself well here.)
Well, you’re expressing well enough for me to agree with you and to say I’m glad that this is how you’re reading what I’m writing. Yes. It depends on the story, of course, but in this case Kes needed to be really clearly and emphatically a more or less normal modern woman—okay, a New Yorker and a fantasy writer, not absolutely normal†—for the high fantasy stuff to work the way I wanted it to work. It’s not like what I’m doing is original—LEST DARKNESS FALL is the book that pops first into my head, and probably a lot of other people’s heads for modern people dropped in ye olde time††, and you could go back another generation or two to THE TIME MACHINE if you wanted to, and there have been gazillions since—and Kes isn’t trying to invent a printing press or alter any courses of history††† or make sweeping political statements in allegorical form‡ she’s just having an adventure. But for the adventure to go ping whap YIPE in the way I hoped the two worlds have to be vividly incompatible.
At least Flowerhair was still alive. Yes. I was keeping her alive. What—or who—was keeping me alive? Hello?
::giggle:: And suddenly the story gets a bit meta.
This is me having some fun. There’s a lot in KES, starting with Kes herself as a fantasy writer, that I would NEVER EVER have put in a book that started life as something I was expecting a publisher to pay me for.
. . . SOMEWHERE someone asked me if the colonel of the Falcons might by any chance be Flowerhair. Have I answered this? I can’t remember/find answering this. If I did, this is what I would already have said: What a great idea. No. Rats. The thing is, Flowerhair has stayed alive partly by keeping a low profile. I’ve told you, haven’t I, that I’m going to give you the first chapter of the first FLOWERHAIR book, one of these days? I know what happens‡‡ and I know how she got started on this mercenary thing, and why, and also why she distrusts the formal military. She’d also hate being in command although privately, as her author’s author, I think she’d be good at it. She’s put temporary gangs together occasionally to bring off some feat she couldn’t pull alone. Eh. Maybe while Kes is resting up after Part One finally comes to an end I’ll mess with Flowerhair a little more.‡‡‡
I’m glad Silverheart seems to be determined to help Kes out both with being Defender & convincing other people that Kes has some small right to inhabit her heroic role.
Well . . . this is also just McKinley’s preoccupation with ordinary people rising to extraordinary occasions. Kes is a bit more tongue in cheek than, say, Harry, but it’s the same story arc, from MEEEEEEEP, to . . . Oh, well, if I have to. . . .
Eowyn had never been a satisfactory heroine because of that whole seeking-death-because-of-unrequited-love thing to which I had had a strong ‘spare me’ reaction
But Eowyn faced the ring wraith lord when all around her had fallen and for that I loved her. Besides, there was really only her and Galadriel who could possibly be role models for a 10 year old girl reading LOTR, and Galadriel did a lot of standing around looking stately while doing not a lot, which had no appeal at all. Get out there and DO something woman!
I agree, except for the fact that it’s not enough. I went through the tortures of the damned as only an introverted book-mad ten, or, in my case, eleven-year-old girl who WANTS HER OWN ADVENTURES can go through if she’s of a Previous Generation and when she was eleven years old LOTR was what there was, full stop. Robin McKinley, Elizabeth Moon, Patricia McKillip, Tamora Pierce, Diane Duane, Patricia Wrede etc hadn’t been invented yet. Eowyn does beg to accompany Aragorn into battle because she’s a shield maiden not a wet nurse, and in fact that scene rings very true to me and it interests me that Tolkien—manifestly not a bloke who gets it about women—could write it. But he then, as if horrified at his own ability to understand a woman’s desire for action, undermines the flapdoodle out of her for that famous scene with the Nazgul captain: she doesn’t kill him. Merry does. Which is probably why, when my eleven-year-old mind had to have a GIRL in there somewhere, decided that Merry was a girl really.
And Galadriel is a wet. Just by the way. The most interesting thing about her is that she’s a bigger deal than her husband, which is another of those oopsies from Tolkien the Bloke. Hey, pack her off to the Grey Havens before she spreads. And for utter iconic girlie uselessness I give you Galadriel’s granddaughter . . . Arwen.§
* * *
* Readers are great. I love my readers.^
^ Mostly. Except the ones who think they and I are twin souls and/or want me to collaborate with them on their great novel.
** NOOO. NOOOOOOOOOO. —Author.
Oh, do shut up and write. —Story.
*** ::muffled gurgling noises::
† All my New York friends are going HEY!
†† Anyone wants to suggest there’s no magic in LEST DARKNESS FALL . . . um. No overt magic. But one dorky little guy TOTALLY TOTALLY TOTALLY CHANGES HISTORY I MEAN TOTALLY? Uh huh. De Camp just decided not to mention the magic wand.
††† And since 1939 when LEST came out they’ve kind of decided the Dark Ages weren’t all that dark after all.
‡ Uggh. The Story Council sends me one of those and after I set fire to it I’ll start lobbing plastic bags of dog crap through their windows.
‡‡ I think I know what happens.^
^ Murac. Grrrrrrrrrrr.
‡‡‡ Mainly I have to get on with PEG II a little more briskly.^
^ Although, speaking of messing around, I’d like to know a little more about Aldetruda. And Kes, in a bit of wish fulfilment, writes a lot faster than I do and has at least one other serial heroine and some one offs lurking, any of which might make an interesting digression or digressions.
§ And no, I cut Peter Jackson no slack for trying to jazz her up a little.
Samaritans training was Tuesday this week* so I made it to Aloysius’ Wednesday afternoon silent prayer for the first time since . . . the last time Sams training was on a Tuesday. And Aloysius wasn’t there. Feh. I knew this, and I’d said I’d come hold the floor down in his absence. There were actually a few other people there—slight gleep from yours truly—but I lit the tea-light, read out a bit of psalm and hit my temple-bell timer.**
I’ve found, myself, that it’s not that I’m not praying when I lead/ sing for services, it’s just that I’m praying differently. I’ve always felt that prayer has to be a verb — for me, it’s prayer when I set up the sanctuary . . . it’s prayer when I’m whispering directions to those joining me in front of the congregation. . . . It’s even prayer when I’m singing the Mi Chamocha by rote and trying to figure out who would be moved by the next reading . . . don’t give this one to that person, because it always makes her cry, which is best done if you’re not trying to read aloud . . . it’s just not the Mi Chamocha that I’m, you know, praying. Occasionally, when it’s a solo, and there’s nothing left to coordinate, and everything goes right, I get to lose myself in the actual prayer that I’m actually praying, which is holy in a different way. But it’s all prayer to me…
Thank you for this, and for your previous on the same subject. It’s a mindfulness thing, isn’t it? I think part of what has helped me about the headspace for performing worship is that I got put on the prayer chain at St Margaret’s really quickly*** and floundered rather trying to figure out how to cope with all this praying for people when I was new to praying at all. I’ve told the blog that I ‘sat’ at a [Buddhist] zendo back in Maine during a year I was finding very rough, and the silent mindful daily sitting made a huge difference in my ability to cope. I fell out of the habit of daily mindful sitting when I moved over here but I didn’t forget that that space existed and was accessible. And then hey-presto I became a Christian and . . . gleep. The silent-sitting space is both utterly transformed by the presence of God and also strangely—reassuringly—familiar.
The sitting-space became the prayer-space and having God to orient myself toward makes me feel as if I have an idea where I’m going, even if I don’t always fully arrive. You have to leave your stuff at the door and sometimes I . . . can’t. But I take my prayer-list there—or as close to there as I can get—and I go to Aloysius’ Wednesday afternoon silent prayer when Samaritans’ training doesn’t get in the way, and the high point of my practising-Christian week is half an hour sitting silently in the dark with some monks, Saturday evening, during the ‘Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament’, before night prayer starts. The more often you go to the prayer-space the plainer the track becomes.†
I can gather a few little wisps of prayer-space when I stumble†† up on stage to sing for service. I’m not much of a singer or a musician—I have to work at making what I hope is a half-decent noise—I have to focus. It is, at this point in my dubious development, relatively straightforward to focus on the prayer side rather than the music side. The less kind way of putting it is to say it rates as prayer because intentionality counts. It does not rate as music because intentionality only gets you a pat on the head and a bellow of NEXT from the bloke running the auditions.†††
But . . . where we came in. If you can hold your feeble, wavering, mortal focus on prayer . . . what you’re doing is praying. It’s a bit like deciding to run a marathon when you’re over sixty and have bad knees, but hey.
* * *
* Last night was writing emails and texts. I was expecting this to be shocking and dislocating, like a watercolourist being handed a block of granite and a chisel, but in fact it was a whole lot like . . . writing. In this case, emails and texts. The texting was funny. I’ve told you that I’m older by a good fifteen years than the next-oldest of the trainees, and probably thirty-five years older than the youngest.^ And I’m like, texting, fine, okay, I can do texting, and all these kiddies were saying TEXTING? We have to TEXT as Samaritans? And we’re supposed to understand all those nasty text abbreviations?^^ And I’m going, oh, cool. Txtspk! <3 !^^^ The Samaritans’ text software limits texts to 160 characters, so my fellow trainees were saying, we’re supposed to compose something EMPATHETIC and SUBSTANTIVE in 160 characters?? And I’m saying, oh, it’s like a slightly stretched tweet—you know, Twitter. Sure, I can do that. And they all recoiled as if from a slavering Rottweiler and said, TWITTER? We have nothing to do with Twitter. —Snicker. Us do-gooders are so straight.#
^ How did I get this OLD? I was supposed to just kind of stay forty.
^^ Which we’re allowed to use, cautiously, trying to take our cue from the texter. We get a lot of texts and emails from overseas and from people whose first language is not English and we do have to communicate.
^^^ Which, not very long ago, when, I think it was Jodi, used it, I had to ask her for a translation.
# I’m talking to Merrilee tomorrow night and I will have to remember to tell her, since she’s the one dragged me kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, including both this blog and Twitter.+
+ I don’t count Facebook, which I don’t use. I post the blog links there and if FB is in a good mood and lets me, I read any comments. But about the seven millionth throw-it-all-up-in-the-air-and-stick-the-bits-to-the-wall-as-they-fall-down-again revision, I mean upgrade, I lost the will to live about all of it.
** And went home with Eleanor after and spent an hour and a half wringing our hands and rending our garments over an incomprehensible political situation that has recently arisen in St Margaret’s. THIS IS WHY I HATE GROUPS. THEY’RE FULL OF CRAZY PEOPLE BY DEFINITION.
*** ref comments about saying ‘yes’ to things you think you can do so you don’t get ploughed under with things you can’t, it being the function of a community, including a religious one, to extract as much practical value out of its members as it can.^ St Margaret’s is thriving in a general society where a lot of churches are struggling, and I’m sure one of the reasons why is the bloodhound look in the eyes of the admin as soon as a fresh victim crosses the threshold. When you sign up to be an official mailing-list member you are doomed.
^ See previous footnote. Sigh.
† More or less. Some frelling day I will be able to sit properly at home. The old Zen-Buddhist, and Zen-Christian, thing is just that every time you’re distracted you bring your mind gently back to your breath, or whatever you’re using as a focus. If I’m sitting with monks I need to bring my mind back, oh, no more often than thirty-seven times a minute. At home alone, relying solely on my own resources . . . it’s like trying to whack a manic fly with a flyswatter. LAND SOMEWHERE YOU DEVILSPAWN SO I CAN NAIL YOU. Sigh.
†† FRELLING CABLES EVERYWHERE. MICROPHONES, KEYBOARDS, GUITARS, BASS GUITARS, DRUMS^. I DON’T THINK THE FLUTE IS ELECTRIC YET BUT I’M SURE IT WILL BE.
^ Or drum accessories. I don’t think the drums themselves are electrified (? Like I have any idea), but there are certainly cables running (perilously) to the drum kit.
††† This is aside from questions of the quality of the actual music we’re attempting to perform.
Third House has shrunk. I should have realised that the shiver in the aether when Peter said ‘okay’ Saturday afternoon was reality contracting. Oh, and the books on Third House’s shelves have all reproduced. In fact I think most of them have had litters. Arrrgh. I didn’t notice immediately, I was too busy dancing the fandango* and telling Third House we’re finally going to live in it.**
The red-shifted or Dopplered or whatever mystery of physics describes what happens to a house you’re about to start living in*** became dreadfully clear, however, when Fiona† showed up Tuesday morning†† and we tackled the surprising amount of stuff left over from last autumn when I was clearing out toward handing it over to the letting agent.††† ARRRGH. Fiona‡ had already agreed to come for a day and make me by her presence GET THE FRELLING FRELL ON WITH IT, when I still thought I was going to be letting it. But we’ve been haemorrhaging money on storage since last autumn: get your butt in gear, McKinley. So I told Fiona that she was to keep repeating: NEVER MIND. NEVER MIND. JUST PUT IT IN A BOX AND PICK UP THE NEXT THING.
The angle of approach to the eventual goal has altered, but the merciless bottom line is still that it’s Too Much Stuff and Too Little Space. But at least it’s our too little space again.
And you know the most amazing thing? Fiona the B is coming back next Tuesday.‡‡ To do it all over again. Which includes the fact that doing it all over again is necessary, sigh. Now if only I could figure out a way to sic her on BT. . .
* * *
* If houses can shrink, I can be two people and dance a fandango
** It’s a nice house. It should be lived in. Aside from housing shortages^ I have felt bad for however many years I’ve owned it that I’m/we’re not doing it justice. At the same time I was pretty discouraged about the prospect of letting it—very sensible, should have done it years ago, but it’s my house. I want my books on the shelves (and the floor) and my drawing table in the attic.
^ Which I don’t in fact feel very guilty about since one of the many governmental scandals that resurface when there’s nothing newer and hotter to develop migraines over is the number of council houses that stand empty because the local council can’t get its act together to have them set to rights. This would be less of a scandal if a lot of those local councils didn’t prefer to build new ones . . . which will need repairs shortly.
*** Usually they wait till you start unpacking your 1,000,000,000 boxes, but the situation here is unusual.
† Hereinafter to be known as Fiona the Blessed or possibly Fiona the B.
†† Well . . . um . . . it was still nearly Tuesday morning. Fiona the B had some silly story about a flat tyre. I had my usual silly story about non-eating hellhounds and going to bed so wound up I was humming like a gyroscope.
††† Unfortunately the need to do stuff like find out why the toilet tank erratically leaks^ and finally placate the ratblasted TV licensing mob who have suspected me of malfeasance for nearly a decade now^^ and enter into *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! negotiations with *&^%$£”!”!!!!!!!! BT^^^ has not evolved in the slightest.
^ and all you DIYers out there, no, it’s not that you just have to difflegag the dorgummer, because if it were the obvious thing(s) Atlas would have done it.
^^ She owns TWO houses and she doesn’t have TV in EITHER of them?? A likely story.
Yeah for Peter moving closer! Does this mean you’ll have to resume discussions with BT about the phone line?
Snork. The things you people remember. Yes. BT claims there is no phone line to the house despite the fact that it’s an eighty-year-old cottage in the middle of a several-hundred-year-old village+ and there’s a phone jack in the kitchen. And that if I want a phone line put in for the first time in eight hundred and fifteen years (approximately) it’s going to cost me a lot of money because they have to start with the Roman aqueduct.++ But Peter has said diffidently that he really does feel he would be happier with a landline . . . and I need my internet. And even Peter uses email+++.
I’m sure the hellterror will be happy- another pair of hands to pet her all day long.
??? The hellpack and I are at Peter’s mews more than we’re at the cottage. We sleep at the cottage# and the hellgoddess imbibes her morning caffeine at the cottage. Then we schlep down to the mews—pausing to pick Peter up in front of the grocery store because post-stroke he can walk one way into town, not both ways. I usually try to hurtle critters back to the cottage for a spell in the afternoon to garden, do the laundry, shovel the accumulation of whatever off the stairs, etc. I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO NOT HAVING TO COMMUTE ANY MORE. As real commutes go it’s piffle, but it’s just far enough that you can’t nip back for something you’ve forgotten, and whatever you want is probably at the other house. Hence the whole gruesome business of two knapsacks, three hellcritters and Wolfgang, every frelling day, no weekends and no holidays. And you’ve still brought the wrong coat.
I love it when procrastinating on something big like renting out Third House turns out to be a huge blessing.
Ha. Indeed. Although I wish I’d merely procrastinated about turning the CLEAN SHINY EMPTY FULLY MOD-CONNED### HOUSE over to the nice rental agent rather than having stalled at the gee, wasn’t this supposed to have gone into storage/what about ALL OF THESE BLASTED BOOKS? phase. Not to mention the overflowing toilet cistern.
That sounds better! So does that mean you will sell your place, too, and move into Third House with Peter?
Good golly no. Third House is LITTLE. And littler than it was a week ago too, before Peter said ‘okay’, see above. It only had two bedrooms to begin with and one of them is now mostly staircase on account of the No You Can’t Do What You Want to Do with Your Own House building-reg disaster of putting a weight-bearing floor in the attic for the 1,000,000,000,000,000 boxes of backlist. Couldn’t one of us have been a chef or a horse trainer or something? My idea was an attic like at the cottage, which is finished, with a Velux window and a fitted carpet and everything, but you get in and out by something more like a ladder than a stair, and removable. That would No Longer Be Allowed### Because Building Regulations Have Decreed That a Weight-Bearing Floor Means Living Space and You Can’t Live in Something You Can Only Reach By Ladder.~ As I found out when I hired my architect. So I now have Living Space I can’t stand up in (it’s still an attic) and a second bedroom that you could maybe get a single bed in. Maybe. If you don’t mind rappelling in from the doorway.
Or, if you and the hellhounds are staying put (although the hellhounds will have lots more garden to roam in, which means lots more lovely photos!!!), is it a lot nearer and more convenient?
Yes. In the first place it’s a BUNGALOW so the only stairs are to the backlist and Peter has staff (that would be me) to fetch and carry. In the second place it’s across the churchyard from my cottage instead of at the other end of town and in the third place it’s a short level walk to the shops instead of half a mile and a hill.
I am SO LOOKING FORWARD to having that garden again. I stopped letting the hellpack play there when I decided to let the house so I’d be used to the loss by the time I gave it over to the agent. But I was really dreading walking past it—and it’s slap on one of the basic hurtles from the cottage, there’s no way I could not go that way some of the time—and seeing other people and, probably, other people’s dogs in it.
We haven’t started using the garden again because I’m a bit preoccupied with getting on with the house.~~
Less stress for everyone, I hope, and YOU GET TO KEEP THIRD HOUSE!
No bothering with renters! You could put the backlist back in the attic! …Well. If it doesn’t immediately fill up with Peter’s things.
The backlist has to go into the attic. WE ARE GOING TO GET ALL OUR STUFF OUT OF STORAGE. I was staring at the walls at the cottage this afternoon and thinking, okay, I can put another bookshelf up there. There’s still a terrifying amount of stuff to deal with, one way or another. The only reason I haven’t just run away from home and joined the space programme~~~ is because I keep reminding myself that the mews, while it has the most floor space of our three little houses it has the least storage. It pretty much has no storage aside from some unsatisfactory crawl spaces. What you see is what there is. Which is bad enough.
Great news … It would seem your life will be much less complicated and Peter’s much safer.
That’s the plan, yes, thanks.
+ Granted that telephones were rare in 1200.
++ Start what with the Roman aqueduct?
+++ And google at least twice a year.
# Theoretically we sleep at the cottage. We at least assume a recumbent position at the cottage. The hellpack, by the snoring, sleep pretty well. Me, not so much.
## Including a frelling landline phone and broadband at a speed not less than that attained by a dead muskrat.
### The attic in the cottage was done up by my predecessor. I’ve been there a decade (!) and it was a few years old when I bought the cottage.
~ Tell that to Lothlorien’s elves.
~~ But I did buy an extra tray of snapdragons today.
~~~ Aside from there being no space programme to join, and that they don’t take clueless retirement-age-approaching women whose only degrees are BAs in English lit.
‡ the B
‡‡ I’ve told her the cattle prod is optional
Speaking of excellent stories, you’re all Octavia E Butler readers, I hope?* Well, looky here: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4976-0137-6
And now let the frivolity roll. . . .
I hope Kes gets home soon, poor soul. I’m beginning to get quite concerned that she’ll catch a chill out there in her nightie.
Yes I’ve been worrying about that too. It’s the sort of thing I won’t know till I get there. Of course I often know things that still turn out to be wrong when I get there.** But so far as I know she isn’t sneezing at the end of Part One. Whether or not she wakes up the next morning (?) at the beginning of Part Two with a major fever that is trying to convince her she imagined most of Part One. . . . There will be one or two momentos of her experiences which will lobby rather forcefully against this ridiculous enterprise however.*** Aside from the dead guy in the front hall. I imagine Mr WS, being a gentleman, will do something about the body when the mayhem level subsides a bit† but I don’t think bloodstains on wooden floors is within his remit. Maybe the hob will have some ideas. ††
I’m reminded of certain scenes in Sunshine which I reread recently…
I think this is a good thing . . . †††
. . . for the scripturally inclined: the second verse of Genesis, part of which is commonly translated “And darkness covered over the land,” could be trying to convey the sensation you’re describing [when Kes locates the Gate]. If you go back to the Hebrew, the word translated as ‘darkness’ could be translated as ‘seething unfathomable chaos.’
Darkness and Chaos being my natural state, of course. This does give me the edge for certain descriptive passages.‡
|You didn’t know who shouted, only that it sounded like it came from someone standing with you, some Falcon, and that the voice was rough with both joy and terror. “Defender!”|
Wait. Are these soldiers allies? Or enemies? Who are they fighting against? Who’s the Lady?
I realise you are expressing impatience, but if they were enemies, would the voice be rough with joy?
I take back what I said about wanting this story to go on forever. I want some answers.
You do? Gee. That’s too bad.
The twisted strap on the saddle–I’ve had big nasty blisters from that. One of which got infected and…oh, wait, nobody wants to know about that. It’s just that I was taking a microbiology class at the time and I recognized…NO. (Smacks self on head, several times.)
Any time you want to write a guest blog on the interesting real-life applications of taking a microbiology class . . . we can just put a GROSS ALERT at the beginning. And yeah, about blisters. It is AMAZING how quickly a stupid little rubbing thing turns into a MAJOR WEEPING WOUND. It’s why I’m so paranoid about shoes, since I spend so much of my time walking. All Stars Rule.
But I miss Sid. I really, really want to know that Sid is OK back where Sid is (wherever that is…) and that the hob is dealing with the home invasion, and so on.
Well, I miss Sid too. I can hear the barking. You will too soon, I promise. I don’t even think ‘soon’ is very relative in this instance.
I love that the guards are still ordinary people with mundane concerns. I think that’s one of your greatest strengths, building solid ground under the fantasy so that it’s even more real.
Thank you. THANK YOU. As I’ve said before when I’m doing a comment-answering post, I tend to cut out the compliments‡‡ because leaving them in makes me look like such a prat, but since this is one of my major preoccupations about the writing of fantasy, my own and everyone else’s, I’m leaving it in. Yes. Grounding is crucial. People are people, even if they’re nine feet tall and have seven arm-like appendages, and if they live in a landscape with purple trees I want to know what the trees look like, what the shape of the leaves is, what the flowers smell like in spring and what alcoholic beverages you can make from the fruit. As I keep saying, the great thing about fantasy is that you can make up your own rules . . . the ratbag about fantasy is that you then have to stick to the rules you made up. And sometimes your rules are less great than you thought, and sometimes you’re so far into the story when you realise you made a mistake there’s nothing you can do but live with it.‡‡‡ But as soon as you think, okay, what’s it like for these guys, whoever they are, whether they’re human or not, they’re going to have upkeep issues, whether that means sewing on buttons and boiling water for tea, or gliffermying the vrumpetty and doogling the brezzer. And if the latter you need to explain for your presumably mostly human audience so that the human reader totally feels the zogle pressing into the mrilf and kind of wants to have a go at gliffermying themselves, and when they close the book§ are startled to discover they’re short and have only two arms.
Oooh. Not that I don’t enjoy Kes’ narration and her ties to the ordinary world, but there’s something about the mix of fairy tale and ordinary people (who get nervous and drop things and such) that I love.
::Beams:: This is part of the grounding thing I’m talking about. Denouements between super-wizards tend to be kinda boring. Denouements between more or less ordinary people who may fumble the universe-commanding wand at a critical moment are much more interesting. Also super-wizards are already out there because of their superness. There’s a steep climb for an ordinary Jo(e) to get to the super-level where the universe-commanding wand needs to be wielded. This is more interesting and also a lot more sympathetic for ordinary-Jo(e) readers. Say I.
It amuses me that their first sight of Kes isn’t much like what Kes herself has been thinking.
Well of course not. That’s the deal. Yes.§§
They see “a pale slender woman, with long tangled hair, riding bare-legged and barefoot.” Whereas Kes has been thinking things like “How did I get in this story?”, “Why didn’t I wear pajamas with pants?” and “Oh gods I’m going to cut my own leg off.” I find myself wondering what the Falcons will think when she gets closer.
There are three answers to this: (a) Mwa hahahahahahaha (b) I wonder too (c) There’s going to be some Hayley action: ohmigod it’s the Defender she’s real that’s not really a tatty pink nightgown is it? All three of these answers are true. Stories and writing are often confusing. It’s why writers are often nuts. Or that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
* * *
* And that she died way too young several years ago?
** I wasn’t expecting Sid to show up nearly so soon, for example, when Kes sticks her pin in a map in Manhattan and contemplates the possibility of getting a dog.
*** Mwa hahahahahaha
† Or bodies, as the case may be
†† Mrrrrmph. ::Not giving anything away. Not.::
††† I’m extremely fond of SUNSHINE. Just so you know.
‡ Snoring optional. Darkness, who has disdained his dinner^, in his efforts to elude the nasty thing, has buried his head under a blanket from which posture he is having some trouble breathing.
‡‡ Having read them over slowly and carefully several times first
‡‡‡ This may be less true for people who rewrite better than I do. I certainly do a lot of rewriting, but the basic shape of the thing has to be more or less right the first time or I lose it, I lose my ability to hear the story. Rewriting is more about expanding, tidying up and pursuing implications^ than deciding in the second draft that the heroine is nine feet tall and has seven arms and likes hot spiced blurdge from the purple yikyak trees’ bojally fruit, although she was human in the first draft and liked maple syrup on her blueberry pancakes.
^ Which do, I admit, cause collision disasters upon occasion. NOOOOOOO. JUST BECAUSE SHE WAS ON THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN TALKING TO A DRAGON DOESN’T MEAN SHE ISN’T AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA TALKING TO A MERMAID. Wait, wait, I’m inventing teleportation . . . or cloning . . . give me a minute I’LL THINK OF SOMETHING.
§ Or click the ereader off
§§ Also, most of my major characters think less well of themselves than perhaps they should. Ahem. The Story Council does usually try to send you stuff you can feel your way into. Writing is hard enough work without making it harder.
APOLOGIES. I have a lovely guest blog series waiting in the wings . . . which I managed not to send to Blogmom to set up in hangable form. ::Beats head against wall:: All right, it’s the day after KES: let’s catch up on a few comments. Whimper.
Okay, I would feel slightly abashed that my first question after this post has to do with Kes’s choice of sleepwear, but since it’s obviously an issue which intrudes quite frequently into her own thoughts I don’t feel too bad about asking:
Can we expect Kes* to make it a priority to adopt sleeping attire more appropriate for the occasional nocturnal interruption of sword-wielding, thing-hacking, horseback-riding adventure**?
No. She’s going to get home (finally) and TRY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY* HARD TO PRETEND THAT EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Since you posted this question I’m pretty sure Kes has made some remarks about sleeping in black leather and Kevlar but she’s joking. She’s trying, somewhat urgently, to keep her spirits up in a situation rather designed to smash those suckers flat.
*Assuming that she makes it out of this alive and sane^
^This is a McKinley story, after all, and the Hellgoddess, while a lover of cliffhangers, nonetheless would never hang her heroine out to dry
Well, not for very long anyway. This is a McKinley story. I have every intention of bringing Kes safe home**, although she’s going to have to get used to the lack of normal and the disturbing existence of change. I don’t know if the bloodstain in the front room is permanent or not, but Kes is going to have a major problem with funny creaky-old-house noises, you know the kind that you and I say ‘mice’ or ‘hellcritters’ or ‘dream’ and put a pillow over our heads or turn the music up in response to? Kes won’t be able to. Or anyway she probably better not. . . .
**Kes might prefer the term “horror”
And she can start by learning to say ‘adventure’ rather than ‘horror’. Poor woman. I’m so with the hiding-under-the-bed impulse.
. . . the thing that I am MOST enjoying about Kes is that it’s episodic. I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities, my first Dickens, and wishing for that possibility to read something in installments. . . . given that I can, if I want to, read whole new books all in (roughly) one go — the 800-900 word nature of Kes is exciting. . . .
Are you too young to remember the . . . uh oh, this is not an easy google search so we’re going to have to rely on my memory. BAAAAAAAD. Well, when I was a young lass, ANALOG used to run serials. This would have been in the ‘60s, because I was introduced to both ANALOG and their serials by my First Boyfriend in junior high. And they made me crazy.*** I don’t know if ANALOG still runs them—I was just looking at the table of contents of the current issue†—and I don’t see anything that overtly says serial but that’s not definitive. And I can’t remember if F&SF did (or do) serials too? I can’t begin to keep up with my book TBR piles, I stopped subscribing to fiction mags decades ago, the idea of a steady, relentless additional few hundred pages arriving every month makes me cry, although I’m perfectly capable of buying or ordering several hundred more specific-book pages every month, and usually do. And if I’d been alive back when Dickens was publishing HOUSEHOLD WORDS I would totally have had a subscription.
. . . [Kes] doesn’t want her life to go High Forsoothly. YES. In spite of my fondness for fantasy and fae and all that . . . I don’t really believe any of it exists. And I do have a way deep-down fear that someday it will show up and prove me wrong.
I have a deep-down fear that it won’t show up and prove me . . . um . . . right? Although if it involves wielding a sword—which I know as little about as Kes does††—and riding to battle in my nightgown I’ll pass. So would Kes, of course, if she didn’t have a mean author jerking her around. I’m sitting here wondering what I can safely wish for, in terms of some manifestation of magic in this our real world, you know? Be careful what you wish for. Is there anything that is both undeniable and harmless?
I can totally understand the act of closing eyes to force reality to come back. . . . . But I’ve also dealt with GMs before, and I know full well that you never break in the middle of a mind-frelling (and/or battle) bit.
I’m really worrying about ‘GMs’. Gastric Mucosa? Grandiloquent Mayhems? Giant Metatarsals? Gorblimey Maelstroms?
Plus which, like TheWoobDog, I’m assuming this will not end with Kes a smear and Murac saying ‘Gah, wenches’
::falls down laughing::
or something of the sort.
I think ‘gah, wenches’ will do nicely.
I *am* worried about Sid. I’m getting close to pulling an entitled reader moment
Hee hee hee hee hee hee. Try it. Go on, try it. Hee hee hee.
and demanding to know where she is! Too many episodes without Sid!!!
Mwa hahahahahaha. Hint: there may be barking soon.
And that twisted strap thing? If Kes doesn’t fix it, it’ll turn into a nasty. I’ve been there, and I know.
While I am a partisan of Murac . . . I would like to point out that “A man who takes good care of his horse can’t be all bad.” is kind of a bad way to judge him. As a fantasy style mercenary his horse is his very close to his life, livelihood, and continued good health. Taking good care of his horse is an important business/survival practice and (possibly) has nothing to do with goodness or badness.
We-ell. Point taken, but I don’t think really effective partnerships between Person and Horse are made if the person solely looks at the horse as a means to an end. I don’t think the horse is going to put itself out for the person without some kind of, you know, relationship bond, even if the feeding regime and stable management are sound—which as a mercenary’s horse they won’t always be. So you have to be the kind of dude who can fulfill this charge. Which means you have some spark of positive emotional connectedness behind that leathery exterior. Whether or not this has any effect on your attitude toward other human beings is, however . . . unpredictable.
But I can understand how Kes is grasping at straws here after that “at least they’re not going to rape me” moment. (Although I think Flowerhair would not be undecided on the Good vs. Bad issue if Murac were a known rapist there still remains the unknown.)
If Flowerhair knew him to be a rapist she would (excuse me) have cut some salient bits off. But, you know, The McKinley Story thing can be relied on here too. If Murac were that kind of total scumbag, he wouldn’t be getting the air time. Remember that KES is for fun. I don’t say there won’t be some genuine thorough-going villains . . . but Murac isn’t one. Although personally I don’t want to invite him over for a cup of tea and a chat about world politics either.
Somehow the comment about Kes’ younger self “She might even have thought Murac was romantic in a ramshackle sort of way.” made me think of her as an Agatha Christie heroine momentarily.
Snork. Well, I read a lot of Agatha Christie in a very short space of time when I was young and impressionable. Possibly these things Will Out.
So, on another topic, tangential to Katsheare’s comment… I’ve been wondering if there’s a new kinship with serialized authors such as Alexandre Dumas (and others) developing?
Elizabeth Gaskell maybe. Or Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Or Frances Hodgson Burnett. Or George Eliot, if you will allow SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE to count as serialised. Or as a novel.
TO BE CONTINUED. . . .
* * *
* Very to the ten to the whatsit power. Very to the max.
** And if the Story Council should be so indiscreet as to attempt to get in my way I will WHACK THEM.
*** So did he, but that’s another story.
† The internet really is amazing.
†† I took some fencing lessons, but with a modern sabre—nothing like the practical hacking-and-hewing items that Murac and his lot carry, or that Silverheart, for all her superior breeding, is also built for.