Michaeline: Happy Half-Year!

Gibson girl writing on piece of paper.

Writing is a series of decisions. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I swear, I’ve only had time to turn around three times, and already, we’ve gone from the depths of winter into the abundance of summer (at least here in the northern hemisphere). “What have I accomplished?” makes me want to crawl back into bed and sleep for the rest of the month.

But the ever-hopeful “What will I work on?” makes me think of breakfast in bed, and planning checklists with colored markers and beautiful paper, all while dressed in a beautiful negligee.

(Note: this is all in “writer-space” – that place in our imagination where anything is possible and everything is as easy as we want to make it. It’s kind of like “cyber-space” but much more ancient. In real life, I’m at the kitchen table in a quick-trick skirt, pounding away at the computer keyboard. My hair is in an unravelling braid, but . . . BUT, I did manage to pull a pineapple/lime water from my imagination, and I’m drinking it as I compose my dream for the next six months.)

So, here’s a status report.

I’ve got five episodes of Porky-pie and Katie under my belt, and I’m looking at about 3,000 or 4,000 more words. It could be revised in the future (smooth out some of the dead-ends that come from serial writing) and sold as a short story, or put into a self-published collection.

I’ve still got Bunny Blavatsky simmering in the background. Remember her? She’s the 1899 photographer whose camera captures spirits. She’s up against a South African heiress who has come to New York to catch a husband . . . possibly Bunny’s editor. I think about her quite often, and sometimes (such as just now, when I was trying to find a good adjective to describe the editor), I’ll spend an hour on google, looking up some turn-of-the-century point that intersects with her world.

But my real passion project these days is getting back to Jack and Olivia. Jack is a frost god whose day job is art, and Olivia is a horticulture professor who comes from a long line of hedge witches and garage wizards. Jack, as a semi-immortal, has learned to live in the moment as a way to distract from the horrible things the future could bring. It’s hard for him to treat love as anything but a game, and for centuries, that’s worked for him. But he falls in love with Olivia, and with his powers curtailed, he has to think about the future for the first time in decades. Olivia is delighted to finally meet a man who she doesn’t need to keep secrets from . . . but her ego has taken a serious blow. She’s gone from the most magical girl on her block to a very small fish in an awfully big pond of monsters, and she’s determined not to be eaten.

I’ve read most of what I’ve written about Jack and Olivia, and there’s a lot of good stuff there. I’m going to have to rewrite a lot, and chuck a lot of good stuff into the virtual trash.

The biggest problem I have is disappointment. I can see from my notes that I had planned a big summer camp story – Olivia will learn to wield her powers and more than that, leverage her powers. During the course of that, she comes up against a rival (Nixie Voss) who both teaches her magic, and tries to manipulate her as a tool against Jack. (Jack and Nixie have a very long history.) There’s a subplot with a precocious boy camper/magician that has gone by the wayside, along with Nixie’s niece, who is also learning magic while promoting family goals.

I imagined boating, and crafts, and special menus at the dining lodge, and loads of fights and sexy make-ups.

What I have, if I’m lucky, is another novella of about 30,000 words. And it simply won’t all fit in! So, I’m very disappointed.

The second problem is that the set-up is one book without a point or climax but lots of fizz, and the active part of the story — the camp scenes — has both plot and a (n unwritten) climax, but the fizz is of another nature. I have to smooth and streamline the story.

Oh, well. I think my job is to stop trying to make the story into something it’s not. It’s perfectly OK if it turns into a novella instead of a book-length work. And, I have to give up the words on the page in order to concentrate on the bones of the story. It’ll take time, but that’s what everyone says it will take. Time and effort.

I can see it’s a good story, though. I just have to be brave enough to do the work to bring it out of the morass of chaos.

10 thoughts on “Michaeline: Happy Half-Year!

  1. Happy half year, Michaeline! And where did the first half go? I’m feeling in serious need of a little staycation / reading week. Maybe next month.

    I’d love to read more of any of those stories! Choose the one that calls to you, and please share the results with your friends 😉

    • (-: Everything is in the messy stage right now, but as soon as I get things ready for public consumption, I’ll be asking for betas.

      I also need to completely re-write Jack and Olivia’s meet story (Blizzard Bae). Thank god, the story is still topical, and I believe even more plausible in 2019 (and winter 2020) than it was when I wrote it. But, after writing Jack in Berlin, my conception of Jack changed a bit.

      I think I’ll try to write the summer camp novella first, though — because my conception of both Jack and Olivia will evolve, and I’ll be able to “backdate” (retcon?) the earlier story.

      I’m still very happy with the Jack-in-Berlin story, though. Even though it’s NOT a romance and is totally amoral. That’s immortals for you; they lose sight of right and wrong in pursuit of The Game.

        • (-: Made my day! But after getting to know Jack and Olivia better, I feel the characterizations are not as deep as they should be. Jack is a little too alpha and angry in weird ways, and Olivia has a little more of a backstory that shouldn’t be dumped on the page, but woven into her character in hints and phrases. And after knowing Nixie Voss, I have a bit more sympathy and understanding for the Snow Queen in Blizzard Bae.

          But I think I’ll wait until after I get Summer Bae done, because there’s still more dirt to dig on these characters.

  2. If you’re planning an indie career, novellas are great marketing tools. They let readers get a taste of your writing without committing to a book-length work.

    I’m actually thinking about taking a short story/novella class to see if I can figure out to write something that’s shorter than 100,000 words for a change!

    • (-: My big fear (well, one of my Top Ten Big Fears) is that I can’t write longer. I’m worried about being a Dorothy Parker (hah! some worry! But she managed, at least, to do some work for Hollywood that kept her afloat) who can write short, ephemeral (and again, that’s not really been the case for Dorothy) stories, but not something classic and traditional.

      IDK what to tell you about length. Your writing is slim and lean, even though it is full-length. I don’t see where you can cut the fat, because there isn’t any. Maybe play around with some flash fiction. What short fiction are you reading? Gotta give the Girls in the Basement good examples.

      But, let’s keep our eyes open for short-story class opportunities. If I see something, I’ll let you know.

  3. I also cannot believe the year is half gone, Michaeline. Where does the time go? And why don’t I have more to show for it? When I get out from underneath this recuperation—well I was going to vow to do more but I think that’s probably unrealistic if not downright silly. But it will feel good to get back to work. Progress. It is a slow thing.

    • Hugs. First, get the body in shape and the mind should follow. (LOLOL! Thunk. Just laughed my head off there. #AdviceI’dNeverFollow.) What I mean to say is, recuperation is understandably your first priority. It seems like you are already doing more than you thought you would!

      Also, you get things done, and are an inspiration. Writer POV, and Everyone-Else POV . . . it’s one of those seven-samurai-perspectives things, I think. From my POV, it looks like you are doing pretty darn well!

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