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Running on the beach and making peace with the water gods

By on Jul 19, 2013 in watcher of the skies, writing | 2 comments

I’ve spent the last week here at the coast, the lovely North Carolina coast. When I first came here a decade ago, I was shocked that such a place existed. In my experience, the ocean had only been cold and unforgiving, full of rocks and churning waves (I’d had two near drownings before 12, and let’s just say we had a tenuous relationship at best). But here is a calmer, gentler, warmer side of Neptune. The white sands, the blooming yucca, the magnificent dunes covered in cactus and Gaillardia and sea oats. The waves that come up to my knees and don’t tower overhead. The blue-green waters, the dolphins, the sweet breeze. When I’m  here, I achieve a certain kind of mental zen, an odd white noise of thought brought about by the landscape that’s unlike any other place. I’m not a beach person. I should point that out. Sand, sunscreen, and beach bumming are just generally not on my list of faves. But after ten years of visiting this same beach, in those rare moments of quiet and freedom from childrens’ requests and the hustle and bustle, I still tap into that sense of peace. I usually find it on a boat, but I found it somewhere else this year. For those of you who follow my Twitter feed, you’ll notice that I’ve been starting to run. In the hectic life I lead, I needed something that was mine, something that got me out of the house and away from all the noise of life. But this is highly amusing on a number of levels. First, I’ve never been a runner. In high school and elementary school, there were few words I feared more than “the mile run.” It was a yearly horror. I’m not really built for running. Aside from the physical limitations (mitigated through surgery) I’ve never managed to do more than sputter and gasp my way for a few minutes and give up. Some people can look back to times in their lives where they managed great feats of athleticism, but that’s never been me. There’s nothing to reclaim. Still, I love my neighborhood (even though it’s seriously hilly) and my puppy kept looking at me with his big eyes. So I started. And I didn’t use an app, other than to track my runs, and I just moved. Right shoes. Right clothes. Great canine motivation. My first few “runs” were really more like stumbles down the hill. But I noticed something new. I’ve been doing yoga for years, and instead of slipping into gasping and sputtering, I started falling into a breathing pattern. In (2, 3, 4), out (2, 3, 4). I became a machine. Oxygen my fuel, my lungs the engine. And it wasn’t exactly easy, but it was somehow… satisfying. Then I got here to the beach. The week previous, I’d managed to run for 10 minutes straight. Then, my first night here, I decided to run in the dark for a mile. I tapped in to that stillness. Instead of rugged hills, it was all flat going. Ocean breeze. Stars above. All thought vanished, and I became the machine. In (2, 3, 4), out (2, 3, 4). I hit that point where I was no longer in my body, I was sort of floating above everything else and just going, going, going… And I ran a mile. No, it’s not your mile. Yes, I’m aware that people run ultra marathons, which make my mile look like a lap around a kiddie pool in comparison. I’m not in it for the stickers on the back of my car. I’m in it to keep the Blerch away. I’m in it to find some zen. Just like writing books, it has nothing to do with what everyone else is doing and everything to do with me. It’s a selfish act, sure. But it’s an essential solace. Every step is another word in a sentence, every breath punctuation. I haven’t written much in the novel, at least not on paper. But this is Joss’s world, out there. And while I’ve always had a fear of the waves, I feel like this year I made some peace with them. On foot, or in the waves, I’ve achieved some kind of understanding. And, in spite of the craziness of a full-out family vacation, I’ll take that as a considerable...

Look into my brain, why don’t you?

By on Jun 22, 2013 in watcher of the skies, writing | 0 comments

I’m almost finished with Watcher of the Skies. Hitting that point where I feel it all whooshing to the conclusion. And rather than show you a snippet, I thought I’d just let you take a look. I’ve been busy at the Pinterest board, and it’s got a lot of spoilers in it. Or, at least, to me, it does. It might not to you. A bit Regency, a bit Classical, a bit Victorian… and lots and lots of water. Joss’s story is sad. Sadder than I thought it was going to be when I started. It’s still got a lot of light moments, including a pair of cats named Puke and Shit. As you do. Last, from the poem that inspired the title:   On first looking into Chapman’s Homer, by John Keats   MUCH have I travell’d in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 5 That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; 10 Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men Look’d at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in...

I didn’t have much to tell him

By on Mar 13, 2013 in writing | 0 comments

I didn’t have much to tell him.

“I fought in the war,” I said. “I had a child. Though I have not watched him grow, for I was not well acquainted with his mother. Not properly, anyway. I fear I have disappointed you in not living a truly upright existence.”

He laughed. “As if I could tame you, Joss! You, creature of lightning and water and energy. Gods, if I could ever bottle but a fraction of your essence, or whatever it makes you what you are, I would be a king among men. You never have fit into my understanding of the world. Nor by Diana’s nor Mary’s law. You are utterly unique, and you opened my mind and understanding in a way I have never managed since. I will be forever mystified and grateful for that chance meeting we had, and the short time I counted you among my dearest.”

William Wordsworth to Joss Raddick, 1818. Watcher of the Skies

It’s not fun until someone loses an eye.

By on Jun 29, 2010 in fantasy, indigo and ink, weird, WIP, writing | 2 comments

I grossed myself out today during writing. I don’t know if it’s because the AC is broken and it’s 90 degrees up here and the humidity is through the roof, but I apparently needed to outdo myself in fiction. It was one of those weird moments where I’d planned for the scene to go one way and it took a sharp, brutal detour in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. Like the title says, someone literally loses an eye in the process. Of his own volition. I can get away with a bit that I normally couldn’t in Dev’s narrative, because he’s on this Dante-esque journey. I’ve got to hit some of those high notes. But I realize whenever I talk about these chapters (which together work almost like a novella in the middle of the novel) I sound a bit daft. Anyway, I wanted to start recapping my writing progress with a little more panache, so I’m trying a new format. Two Things I Loved: I finally got to write another Dev chapter, and his character arc is coming to a close. The appearance of Cai in human form (she/he’s a god/goddess) was pretty unexpected, and I linked the mythology of Ardesia up with the mythology of the rest of the realm pretty well. Two Things I Loathed: The description of the beast Dev fights in this chapter got under my skin a bit, but I’ll redo it later. It’s called draft zero for a reason. Also, still not 100% convinced of Dev’s devotion to Marna… which I’m realizing is okay, in the grand scheme of things, but may need to become more apparent to readers. Or something. This ain’t no romance, but I can’t be cruel about it. Best* Quote of the Day: It was an easy place to get lost, an easy place to want to get lost. The trees had a cadence of their own, a whispering and seductive rhythm. “So,” the knight said, “listen. Listen to the trees, and you will see where this poisonous beast is, this creature who is slowly killing my realm and claiming it for Her.” “Her? Another goddess, then? I’m not sure I want to meet another. The last one I fell in with tried to eat me.” *see? I spared you from the eye scene. Really, really you should thank me. Worst* Quote of the Day: This beast—this creature you want me to find,” Dev said. “It could kill me.” “It could. But you were well on your way to killing yourself when you came to me… I am not asking much more than to risk what you were prepared to throw away.” *worst because Cai, the god/goddess knight here, sounds a bit like Gandalf.  Or something. I hate when I lapse into Tolkien. And for some reason, whenever deities start talking in what I write, they go all Shakespearean. Thoughts of the Day: Been thinking a lot about the concept of passion in writing. Drafted a post on it, even. Passion is the single driving factor in what I do; I lost it for a while, but it came back. Also, came around to the realization that this novel is certainly not steampunk. I mean, it’s got steampunk elements… but the more I write the more I realize this is Gothic fantasy, really. As if the squids weren’t a dead giveaway. Around the Bend: Squid extraction from our heroine’s husband, slightly admirable villain reveal, wind-up to the big-time boss fight with the Mother Squid. Also, this whole draft is going to be significantly shorter than I planned; I’ll be surprised if I crest 90K. Which actually makes my job easier, as that has never happened before. I’m always hacking away at a draft, rather than enhancing it. Onward,...

Movin’ right along… footloose and fancy free…

By on May 4, 2010 in indigo and ink, WIP, writing | 6 comments

Finally had a chance to do a little bit of writing today. The weekend was horrible, and writing was not an option. I had an epically bad reaction to medication on Saturday (I am a lightweight of unparalleled proportions) and was in no shape to be writing. I mean, I do have a drug addict in the book, and maybe (just maybe) I could have mustered something insightful or interesting. But honestly, just looking at the computer made me feel ill. So, none of that. However, progress is continuing. Not a huge day for output, but just under 4K for the day and I’m not complaining at all. I had a lot to catch up on. Oddly, this was one of those times where I was finishing a scene (gun shopping!) and had no real idea how I was going to get to point B when, literally, it dawned on me. Plot twist + something more at stake = win. Happy writer. So, guns were bought, blood was spilled, insults were flung, and the stakes got higher. Not a bad day for Dustman. Tomorrow is my son’s first day at daycare. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do with two full days a week for writing (and blogging). Hopefully I’ll be moving the meter up and up and up! (Paradoxically while moving my characters further and further down into Underally, and closer toward the thing that lies in wait...