Last week, I posted a link to music composed by my oldest son.
This week, I am posted a link to music composed by my youngest son. They are very different, both as people and as musicians. I used to say, when they were much younger, that the only way the could be more different would be if one had been born female.
This is Herald of Dragons, my favorite piece. I have been asked to also link to Usurper of Dragons. They’re paired, in theory; one is the first half and one is the second. I admit that it’s not a link I would have made had I not been told. My first response was: But I like Herald better and I’m posting what I like. But… then I realized there’s at least one musician here, and he may hear what I don’t in terms of the thematic or structural ties.
One of the (very minor) downsides of the shutdown is the lack of immediate structure. I hadn’t realized how much I depended on leaving the house in order to have a sense of things like day of week. I spent an hour in a panic cursing because I couldn’t find the reddit thread for the Urban Fantasy panel.
In my mind, the panel was on Saturday. It’s actually on the 26th of April, which in this reality, and not the internal mess of Michelle’s fractured sense of what day of the week it is, is SUNDAY. T_T. There were tears. And swearing.
I thought Thursday was Friday. I thought Friday was Friday (I got one right!). But I know Monday is Monday because on Monday I’ll post another short story. So: lacking any sense of structure, I’ve messed up weekends; long suffering spouse has been telecommuting. And, as so often happens, day work bleeds into evening or weekends for my husband because… he can, and it’s just one last thing. So it’s not: Oh, husband is home, it must be Sunday. Or alternately, it must be a civic holiday.
It’s not that I didn’t occasionally lose track of which day I happen to be living in – I’m an over-focused creative. I did. But… this has been pretty constant.
So now I’m considering how I track days of the week when things are, or were, the old normal. Saturday and Monday were bookstore days. Day after bookstore was obviously Tuesday. Dinner with Chews (which of course have been put on hold) were Sundays and Thursdays. It wasn’t so much that I was aware of actual days, but that events required awareness.
Does everyone else know what day it is?
So, I have a question: how do you keep track of your storylines/storyboards? I love to read authors who do continuation stories, those that keep threads running through multiple books.
I have nothing at all as complicated as storyboarding. I have a sense of key events that unfold in the future (in the West novels), and in some ways, writing a book is reaching on all levels – emotional and structural – for those events. I have plans for how the events unfold, but — that’s not the way my writer brain works. Skirmish was not, in any way, the book I had planned. It turned left in chapter four, and never came back. And I knew, viscerally, that Skirmish was the book it had to be, given everything that came before it – but it wasn’t my intent. Intellectually what I thought I would write… was not, in the end, Jewel’s story.
Because this is the way my brain works, because it accretes small details and those details, like seeds, grow, my subconscious and my conscious do not always speak to each other well. Either that or my subconscious is an oppositional jerk. One of the two.
This is why I gave up on the lovely and complex, complicated charts of events. I did try with my first books. I constantly had to nuke whatever it was I’d intellectually decided because… it wasn’t the book. I’m not sure if this makes sense. Characters tend to do what they do, even if what they do is not what I’d planned. Things go off the rails, unless I force the characters to do what I’d planned. And… I can’t. It’s possibly true to say that for me-as-writer the ultimate truth of story is determined by the characters. And if they do something that feels entirely in character but that isn’t what I wanted or needed to hold the external structure in place, I ditch the externals.
With the Cast novels, it’s more amorphous. I know where the ending lies, but there are elements that the story requires to even reach that ending, and those, I’ve been building, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the foreground. I understand the shape of the ending, the shape of the conflict, and the necessary elements that prevent that ending from being bleak and terrible. But the characters still decide, on some level, the shape of each book and the path toward the end. The cohort, for instance, were part of Teela’s story.
I didn’t really think about what it would mean to have them as part of her life. I understood the emotional history. I wrote the past and the present. But… I wanted Cast in Flame to be a mundane book about living in a city for a mortal Hawk. So: finding a home. Dealing with landlords, etc.
But… Annarion and Mandoran were going to Elantra. I realized that at the end of Sorrow. I realized that this was trouble at the beginning of Flame. Because Annarion and Mandoran were there, my little urban novel about real life for Kaylin became… much less mundane. It didn’t occur to me to leave them in the West March, because they were now part of the character fabric, the emotional sense of necessity, of Kaylin’s life.
(ETA: While writing Cast novels, there’s a lot of: Why did you think twelve people were a good idea? WHY? Why couldn’t you have stuck with three? What were you thinking?)