May 26, 2014

'twere well it were done quickly

pinterest
"You noticed that I said I was going to put this project through tomorrow, and no doubt you wondered why I said tomorrow. Why did I, Jeeves?" 
"Because you feel that if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly, sir?" 
"Partly, Jeeves, but not altogether."

- right ho, jeeves (p.g. wodehouse)

When I sat down to (finally) write a blog post, my ideas for a topic were mixed up and convoluted: I thought of doing a post on historical research and historical story-telling (a subject which has come up several times recently); I thought of doing one semi-related to a book I am working my slow way through, The Divine Challenge; I considered doing one on Wordcrafter.  I still intend to do all of those at some point, but it came to my mind that having been away from Scribbles for a month (more, really, if you consider that my last post was in fact by the inimitable Elisabeth Grace Foley), it might be well to lead into all that jazz with an update. Jenny did one of her own this morning, which you should also read, because her news is rather more ground-breaking than mine.

university

Early this month I sent in the last essay of my freshman year, so now I'm in a kind of upperclassman-limbo as I wait for the beginning of Fall semester sometime in late August.  The 2013 Fall semester seems ages ago, and yet at the same time, I can hardly believe a whole year has gone by since I crawled, terrified, into my first college class.  I fully recognize that college is not for everyone, but for my own part, I'm enjoying it immensely.  It is teaching me a great deal besides the rudiments of string theory and the identifying marks of a mature landscape; it's teaching me how to work with and around my natural shyness, to be more outgoing and friendly, to - get this - interact with people.  Social awkwardness is stereotypically a trait of homeschoolers (though I'm beginning to think it's actually a trait of Millennials as an entire generation), so I try very hard to defy expectations in the hopes that, when it does at last come out that no, I didn't attend any of the local high schools, the asker will be impressed.  I may sit in my car alone and eat the food that I brought, but I do not wear pyjamas to class, thank you so much.  You're welcome, Blimey Cow.

But more on that later, I think.

reading

I am currently in the home stretch of a Maymester on Elizabeth I of England and Philip II of Spain, which, ironically, has meant that I've had to put With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation's Soul and Crown on hold.  Instead, I have been puffing through a book on Philip's grand strategy (which may have been grand, but was certainly not effective in the end).  It's quite a doorstop, but thankfully the last hundred pages or so are taken up by endnotes.

On a personal level, I've been working away at John Byl's helpful The Divine Challenge in ridiculously small increments.  Also, I meant to read something serious after Miss Buncle's Book, but then the Maymester happened and I turned instead to that wonderful fellow Wodehouse.  Very Good, Jeeves! is a cure for just about every kind of ill under the sun.  Can I get an amen?  Eh?

writing

Having written what I think will remain the first chapter of Tempus Regina (it's gone through several versions already, so don't carve that in stone), I now continue to chip away at Wordcrafter.  I cannot swear to its being any good, but it is at the very least giving me renewed respect for all those who can breezily dash off a novel in first-person: I find it deuced difficult.  It blows my mind how even a good, subjective third-person - that is to say, not omniscient - is immensely wider in scope.  Wodehouse, being comedy, is not overly helpful in this regard; I should reread Rebecca, but I went and loaned my copy to Jenny for Lamblight inspiration, so never mind that.

It is also strange to go back over old territory and, in effect, make it new.  I don't think the characters - particularly Justin, Ethan, and Jamie - are fundamentally different; they are their own people, so I think they are essentially the same as they have always been.  On the other hand, I am approaching this rewrite with a fuller knowledge of the story and thus of the characters, and, again, writing solely from Justin's perspective alters the playing field.  Additionally, more characters have been introduced and more ideas are forming, so nothing is quite the same.  The plan, though, is for it to be better, so hopefully those of you who have read the original will like the revision more (assuming I finish the blasted thing).

She did not look like Fairbairn, but she had something of his enormous personality. Pricked by a sudden thought, I asked, “You’re not stalking me for your father, are you?” 
 “Oh, no,” she said, deadpan. “For MI-6.” 

- wordcrafter

Despite the difficulties this new venture presents, I am, for the moment, enjoying myself.  After all, there's generally inspiration to be got from Pinterest, and Fleetwood Mac has been most helpful.  Nothing more is necessary.

10 comments:

  1. Amen. To Wodehouse, in case that wasn't clear.

    I've only tried first-person for two significant projects, and found it comparatively fun and easy, but then both of those were on the shorter side and written in a relaxed, conversational sort of style (one was a comedy). Writing first person for a serious full-length novel is no doubt another whole kettle of fish. I'd agree that Rebecca is one of the best examples I've read so far.

    (On a minor note, I think that's the first time I've ever been called inimitable. We arrive, Hastings, decidedly we arrive.)

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    1. This parenthetical statement. I like it. ^_^

      Is that why you were so curious to know if I was actually reading Rebecca...? I'm reading it; at least, I'm not reading anything else. When I feel well enough, I try to get some writing done, of course; if I'm not feeling up to that, I'm usually not feeling up to reading either. I don't understand those lucky girls who can sit on the couch through the first trimester and just read. I would go out of my head and then fall asleep.

      For my own part, I've noticed that the first person allows me a lot more room to point out the absurdities in life, and while the plot can get quite serious, there is more opportunity for a tongue-in-cheek atmosphere - case in point, Wodehouse.

      (I never thought I would be saying "case in point, Wodehouse." I wonder if I should not rethink my life choices.)

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    2. I do enjoy the way parenthetical comments about Life & the World slide smoothly into a first-person point-of-view. That is something I've enjoyed with Wordcrafter - allowing a little more of Justin's wry outlook to show through. Somehow, though, the syntax seems harder. But I suspect that has as much to do with my being rusty altogether as it does with the new perspective.

      Rebecca is fantastically written (although it's stream-of-consciousness, which is not what I'm going for), and exemplary on many levels. It's one of those that ought to be read even if you don't agree with how it turns out or particularly like the ending, because dang it, du Maurier knew how to write.

      And Jenny, mostly I was asking out of curiosity. I have to know what progress you're making so that I can rave about it without spoilerizing, and so that I can push you forward if you've gotten hung up. XD

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    3. Hmm, the point is well made: third person is for "this is how the world is;" first person is for "this is how someone sees the world." Inversion of the tropes is left as an exercise for the reader (see also The Sound and the Fury, Infinite Jest.

      Can we really call Rebecca stream-of-consciousness? There seem to be far too many hard stops. Dat song tho!

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  2. I have to write in first person for my Oyan novel, and even though it's hard, I know it's good practice. Later I may rewrite it to be in third person.

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    1. Practice is usually hard, but they say it makes perfect. Don't know as I agree, but they say, they say...

      "No wonder they say, 'O Woman, Woman!'"
      "Who says?"
      "Well, chaps, mostly."

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  3. I feel the same about Psithurism. I worked that first draft so hard that to begin at the beginning again feels very odd. But, as you said, it's also refreshing: knowing the story and being able to drop more hints, and subtle ones, to the coming end is wonderful. :)

    It's lovely to have you posting a bit again! I've missed reading your blog. ^.^

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    1. Foreshadowing is the charm - perhaps the single charm - of editing, but it is magnified about ten times in a total rewrite. I don't think I originally did much editing of Wordcrafter, except the dreadful work of overhauling the first chapter. I know you've done a lot of work with Psithurism already, but I hope the rewriting process is still enjoyable! I have only just recently reached the stage of feeling like I can take this seriously as a project, that I have moved past mere dabbling. We're in deep now!

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  4. University. I am really glad you're enjoying studying at uni, Abigail =). It sure is a change of ways, isn't it? But, exactly, you put it so well. . . I think university-studying does more than teach you the thing on this or that assignment; it really expands your mind and makes you learn things about life in general as well. I know what you mean about the social awkwardness we homeschoolers seem to carry as baggage when we encounter the outside world (but believe me, non-homeschoolers come off as more anti-social to me at times!). It isn't that we aren't able to communicate with others, but perhaps we grow so used to talking to the wall, interacting with humans is... almost strange? I know, I know, I am not in university yet, but I speak from the seasoned experience of living with two university veteran sisters ;). Today I went with Mary to her university-campus (one that I am interested in studying in one day, maybe), and it was so cool watching her interact with her friends, see all those "actual live people" who seem just as eager as you and me to learn and be better educated human beings - and the grounds were absolutely gorgeous. Yeah, that is the candy, but there is a lot of a gruel, I know ;).

    Books you are reading. I wanna read P. G. Wodehouse.

    And Wordcrafter - oh yes, I do know this feeling, slightly. It happened to me, when I was still reworking my "Crown of Life" novel. I think there is something very special about coming back to a story you are so familiar with, and rewriting it like patchwork, like pieces from a jigsaw puzzle, and just fitting them all in together into a beautiful picture. It is thrilling, but so awful tricksy.

    So happy you're back blogging, Abigail dear - it is in my mind, I shall try to email you soon :). On the note of first-person narrative, Prosper's story springs to mind as a really well-written intimate point of view. The Shining Company has stolen a bit of me I think. . . :')

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    1. Socializing is a learned skill for all young people - except that many young people never seem to learn it. Even those who are naturally outgoing still need to learn how to out-go with charm and tact, or they grate, while "introverts" too often hide behind that label as an excuse for rudeness. Homeschoolers are by no means the only ones at fault. Poor social skills are a universal symptom of immaturity.

      Wodehouse is a brick. Very easy to overdose on, but good when balanced with more serious things. He was also a deceptively skilful writer: I love how, despite the apparent idiocy of Bertie Wooster, the intelligence of the author comes through. I suppose it takes an intelligent author to write a great stupid character.

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meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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Published Writings
The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
Finished Writings
The White Sail's Shaking & The Running Tide: Follow a midshipman in the young U.S. Navy during the First Barbary War and a Syracusan woman who accidentally finds herself tumbled into the harsh world of life at sea.
Both Novels Complete
Currently Writing
Tempus Regina: Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era.
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