May 07, 2011

May Writing Update

April turned out to be a pretty crazy month for me. The best parts were 1. my host sister from when I was in Kyoto, Japan during college coming to visit me, and 2. my novel starting to take over my brain.

It's been a lot of years since I last felt so immersed in my Varin world, and this time I'm going a lot deeper than I ever did before. I'm very excited about it, discovering things about the characters, about the ecosystems, and even about the society and how all of its details play out on the level of infrastructure. One of the things I was always struggling with when I first worked with the society was the problem of undercaste - it's very, very hard to work with seriously oppressed populations from an insider's perspective. Easy enough to talk about how other groups think about them, but much harder to figure out what they consider normal, especially on the institutional level. I realized just a week or two ago that the Varin undercaste (Akrabitti) are not expected ever to show their faces in a shop, but to access the shops through the back doors where they are responsible for picking up waste and recycling. They have no shelves of merchandise to look through, but must deal directly with the shopkeepers who make sure they see the money before they bring anything back. That is the kind of institutionalized discrimination that I was never able to get working right until now.

I just finished Chapter 16 and started Chapter 17 of For Love, For Power. That means I've gotten through half of the plot! I can feel the difference. Starting Chapter 17 is much different from starting any of the previous chapters, because the whole game has changed and the level of danger and intensity is much higher. I'm especially aware at this point of how much the level of intensity in text depends on previous context rather than being inherent to the text at this point. Blogging has become harder, but I'm trying to keep it up nonetheless. I think I'm going to have to concentrate more on the local issues I'm dealing with in my writing process for the next few months. That will allow me to keep my mind in the place it needs to be for novel progress even while I'm keeping up with the blog.

I'm still on target for getting the novel done this year. I'll be trying to add in the short stories soon, but for now the intense focus on my novel is what's getting the words written.