Writing Just Because…

I was getting fed-up. With politics, particularly the hypocrisy and incompetence of Opposition Parties ( hush now…not the time nor place) letting undeserving scallywags get away with things (I told ‘me’ to hush now...). Also with books whose blurbs tell me that yet another law officer with soul crushing personal problems is trying to catch another yet serial killer (what is it with the fascination with these monsters who do not deserve the glorification they get). And with cheap juvenile stuff (Colouring book for adults with swear words or men’s organs as the subjects….seriously????). Ah me, unless an effort is made this will turn into a rant. Be soft now and let your Muse turn you from the introduction into the true body of the post.

10th January this year. Something on the subject of writing was in my mind as I stared at the blank posting page, I forget the details now, daresay they will return another day. Anyway My Muse in a supreme bid to break free of all the simmerings spoiling her day, danced through those cloying thoughts in a joyous, determined, urge to be frivolous, took my imagination by the hand and led me away.

It is a work in progress Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Starting out as a simple piece of humorous whimsey using the fairy tale style and mixing in satire, farce with anything else which would fit into the pot. Originally it seemed to have a life of maybe three posts of about 1,600 words a piece. Of course I had forgotten about the will of the characters; once they had settled down and become familiar with my head, they would not leave and insisted on the whole story being told. So here I am with Part X completed, 18,000 + words accounted for and whereas there is an end in sight…. it is a long way off.

I don’t think the finished project will ever see the light of day as a book or novella. So what purpose does it have? There is an easy question to answer….. To write for its own sake. To write this piece because I can and I want to. There are opportunities to air some beliefs, to indulge in screwball humour, some British bawdiness, and as mentioned before some satire. In this tale folk who mean well or have a balanced sense of proportions thrive. Folk who deserve retribution for their careless or unpleasant behaviour and will not learn get justice heaped on them, sometimes in a callous way. Others who had blundered through Life become wiser. A world in whose ethical nature I would like to dwell.

A secondary purpose is the challenge to ensure the plot does not follow the same paths as my current Precipice Dominions project.

The Precipice Dominions

The Precipice Dominions

Therefore this current exercise is a refreshing drink and keeps matters ever active. This said, the two narratives might well take place in the same world, although not in the same locations and certainly not the same times.

Of course writing is an effort, and it is only a writer’s nature that they wish to record this effort, somewhere. So I place this on WP, to remain in its archives, to be chanced upon, for folk to read and above all to state ‘I was here and I wrote this. My Muse (an industrious quirky little pixie of whom I am very fond) I thank you,

And it is also on a Word doc. And hopefully on a cloud. The book may yet evolve.

So, fellow writers. You should not fret when the urge takes you to write another piece of work, removed from your current project. Sometimes you need the allegorical walk away from the habitation of your current book into a fresh air. Other times when you are feeling low because the plot will not flow or you seem to be writing for no one but yourself, another piece of work can revitalise, remind you of your nature; To Write because you can. And because you will. Write for the joy of letting the words flow out from thought and take form. You need no other’s approval, they are not above you. You are A Writer. It is enough.   

Seriously folks… The Joys of Writing

Understandably those who write and (A)  Hope to make some income from their efforts or (B) Have received more rejection slips than is Just or (C) Cannot get their characters to do exactly as they would wish or (D) Are presently engaged in yet another re-write or (E) Staring at the blank page or half-finished paragraph OR any combination of the aforementioned will have looked at this title either screamed……  ‘Are you insane!’ Overreacting

OR ‘Oooh !…You smug, complacent…..(deleted)…..

Big Raspberry….… to You!!

Which is understandable….(If I wasn’t writing this I know I would resort to such). And yet even the most tormented, frustrated and wretched of us have to admit that from time to time during our journey on putting words from mind into a readable format we must have felt a small secret thrill of joy when engaged in the whole tortuous exercise.

Why? Oh Evasive and Yet Persistent Muse Why?

Gefühle-Die-Leiden-des-jungen-Werthers-676x884

For art there not many more rewarding and easier tasks?

Whimsey 2

No, we will not turn away to these delightful pleasures. We will carry on writing….

Just…Because.

And there within us lies the unknown factor, irrespective of whatever may come of it. Therein lies the sheer joy of seeing thoughts coalesced into ideas which in turn settle down upon paper or the electronic equivalent. The bright warm thrill of witnessing the finished work. To know this is something ***I ***created of my own volition and effort. My art, my striving, this is a gift which lies there’s quietly whispering away even in the most fallow of times.

Take it, embrace the warmth and the strength, let the feeling flow throughout you, see you through.

For you are a writer by choice or by design.

Uplifting

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part II

Foreword:

Due to the increasingly complex interplay between characters and the national stances both socio- economic and political from henceforth italics will be used in the summaries of the various characters, national stuff, etc.

Part II: The Jolly Wedding-Based Economy, The Geo-political Situation,The Arrangements Stuff and the Socio-Cultural Impact.  

Now that the wedding of Prince Frendlehanz (handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes) of Dingledong to Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and possessed of russet hair; kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer) of Trundlealong  had been verified by treaty, exchanges of  gifts, officially sanctioned plighting of troths (or trothes-depending on regional variations) and all the rest, a date had been set for the event. It was to take place on High Spring Observation Day. Dingledong and to a lesser extent Trundlealong’s economies geared up. This made The Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong quite satisfied; he tried to avoid being happy as it marred his judgement. The High Diplomat was more sanguine as he had to keep an eye on the three smaller kingdoms of Hasselduff, Moochenmuch and Grunzelpratz for any sustained rumblings on account of  various daughters, nieces etc not having made the cut in the marriage scene.

There was thus much wedding-based industry in creations of  catering, memorabilia celebratory songs, poems, woodcuts, suitable clothing etc. All this resulted in an even more jolly atmosphere, giving rise to a a slew of pre-wedding celebrations, parties and harmlessly boisterous events. The combination naturally increased the working populations and placed coin of various types into the economic infrastructure. The Chancellor of The Exchequer aided by his own para-military tax officials worked long hours to ensure inflation was kept under control by arranging for the imprisonment or disappearance of profiteers; this served to make the population even happier (and amazingly jolly)

To ensure maintenance of the high levels of joy and merriments and thus economic activity, Princess Aureyborealice( beauty beyond compare, long flowing blonde hair, was kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small furry creatures and danced) had been allowed out of her garden and set free to sing and dance at carefully organised official events at which socially acceptable children were selected to join in with her. Most folk thought she was even more incredibly lovely than they had heard tell and also the daughter they wished they had; in the case of younger males they were advised to keep their thoughts to themselves, younger daughters set upon to trying to look and act like Aureyborealice which when carried on in numbers did cause some social disfunction, but most of this was covered up under the guise of Celebration.  Anybody found making misanthropic comments about her was arrested on some knocked together charge,  thrown in prison for an unspecified duration and told they would not be let out until they could prove to a local committee that they had become very jolly and happy for the royal family. Most being tiresomely self-aware preferred to espouse martyrdom- no one cared, except for those charged with jailing accommodation.

And so the day of the wedding grew closer. Where there was absolutely no merriment was in Chilbin. There King Vilfahengo (The Iron) had to deal with his brooding son Hulstrum (The Fierce ) who was not displaying any enthusiasm about trying to woo Princess Aureyborealice (beautiful, kind, dancing etc) while many of his lords and ordinary folk were asking why they couldn’t invade the insufferably smug place like used to happen in the Good Old Days. King Vilfahengo (The Iron) resolved to have more schools in which the principal lessons would be Politics and Economic Strategy and so save him the bother of having to repeat himself explaining to what he realised was a kingdom of lunkheads.  As a short term policy he sent some of his more bellicose lords north to deal with a sudden outbreak of shaman(capering, gibbering and waving sticks with bones on) inspired revolts by the barbarians who, truth be known, didn’t need much encouragement. This had the unfortunate side-effect of making Hulstrum even more surly as he wasn’t allowed to go north with the armies because of The Wedding and Princess Aureyborealice, so he could not sneak off to tryst with Magnificalorin (flame haired and fiery, daughter of Gurt a barbarian of some standing ).

In her tall, sombre palace and tower which many a thoughtful observer had wondered how she’d managed to get built so quickly up the windiest side of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng  Lady Frastreiayal (sister of Domesticia, wife of King Genially of Dingledong and not invited to family events due to suspicions surrounding their father being made their Late Father years before his time  ) continued with her elaborate scheming . For most of the time, of late, she had studied long and hard on Weathers and The Metrological Implications of Doing Things With Weathers. When not involved in scientific research she reviewed the geo-political and socio-economic situation of the region. For mild amusement she had journeyed (on a flying horse called ThunderMane) to the barbaric north and  appeared in slightly hideous disguise amongst the previously pacified shamanic class (see Part I – King Vilfahengo-Iron & Son Hulstrum- The Fierce currently converting to The Brooding) in the guise of Frizgrunstar Wydle Wyfe, Spouse of  Thugnnorran The God of a Thousand Peaks)- (she in barbaric folklore and affiliated beliefs being the one who encouraged folk to get killed in battle, her old man being responsible for delegating out deity-oriented jobs to their children and the relatives). In the guise of flowing and ragged blood stained clothe-tastefully covering up most of her body she had chastised (verbally) the menfolk for being so supine and the womenfolk not shoving their idle men out to war.  With everything moving along at a goodly pace she just hoped her sister Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of Dingledong and of many happy years marriage to King Genially) would not suddenly spoil everything with a fit of sisterly reconciliation and invite her to the wedding. She need not have worried.

Queen Domesticia had had her own challenges. Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One; (The Church of the Supreme One being the region’s acceptable religion), had taken a specific interest in the wedding. Normally he left his bishops to get nobles married to each other but one involving Dingledong and Trundlealong’s most eligible youngsters obviously required The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One. Since he had been The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One for thirty and three years and could, without invitation or warning  recite whole chunks the Ten Holy Books while concerning footling points of theology argue anyone into stultifying insensibility, the two royal families could see no way out of the matter. Thus Domesticia was obliged to make sure the journey from his small but highly independent city state of Turgidan was free of any travel problems, unseemly heretics, herds of animals to market and pot holes. She then had to arrange the very best of accommodation for him and his travelling retinue while mollifying the injured egos of the five and ten bishops of both kingdoms. Her opposite number in Trundlealong, Queen Fashionelle (always well dressed and ever sociable)   ducked out of the whole business citing arranging her daughter Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and possessed of russet hair; kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer) and the six and twenty bridesmaids into presentable order. Princess Whinsome was no problem, the six and twenty bridesmaids, their mothers and a few aunts who’d managed in stick their noses in were. By mutual consent of both Queens their husbands were deemed of no use whatsoever in either matter and the men were left to get entangled in the political, diplomatic and economic ramifications.

Thus came the Tenth Day before the wedding and four days following the settling in of Doctrindoss The Arch-High Elect Supervisor for The Supreme One and his indifferent but unavoidable retinue. At this stage both King and Queen of Dingledong and most of their governmental staff still had to shoe-horn all the guests and their own crowds into suitable lodgings, therefore they left the escorting of Princess Whinsome to the joint efforts of her brother Prince Hanselfrendlesten (an adventuresome warrior prince) and her betrothed Prince Frendlehanz ( handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes,). Despite his best efforts Hanselfrendlesten could not convince Frendlehanz to go on a post-honeymoon military campaign; it was possible his failure to literally map out an exact location for said campaign might have been a contributory factor. Likewise Frendlehanz had not made a strong case on the joys of garden landscaping. However those two small points aside the two young fellows got on quite well, could discuss hunting, horses and also share many a young manly jest on their respective experiences with women who under no circumstance could be considered as having wife-potential, the latter comments were best not overheard by folk of delicate sensibilities.

Amongst all the comings and few goings, celebrations, catering arrangements, scantily attended gatherings of local religious folk and parading of military units who had been lucky enough to be selected out of usual patrolling, cleaning barracks, tax collecting escorts, guarding in remote and unsanitary keeps and chasing evasive malcontents duties no one noticed the arrival of an unescorted middle-aged woman of unprepossessing dress and polite but little conversation. Most folk who bothered to witness her assumed her old man must be about somewhere and she’d been arriving late because of the securing of recalcitrant children with other relatives.

No one ever, ever thought, not even The Chancellor of the Exchequer that Lady Frastreiayal of The Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng was in their midst, her plans of mischief all in place.

Meanwhile Princess Aureyborealice ( beautiful etc… you should know the rest by now) despite the concerns of some of the fussier of her ladies in waiting and her two physicians in attendance as to her general physical state of health, she still maintained her eager good-hearted joy at the coming celebrations while her feet showed no signs of any injury or even abrasion or her voice wear and tear on the vocal chords. For so pure was her dear, honest heart, she was somewhat exempt from the depredations caused by the commonly shared less pleasant emotions and ill-humours of the usual human set-up.

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

Part I: A Happy Kingdom and Plans for a Jolly Wedding

Preface: I like writing Fantasy and do try to keep it serious. I also have a generally censorious view of the events in the News but try never assume one side is all good and the other all bad (only certain groups and individuals). Sometimes the strain of keeping perspective on the latter has a tectonic shift into the former creating an urge to write something less than serious….. Hence the following.

Once upon a time there was the land of Dingledong ruled by King Genially (of late middle aged years) who was a jolly and generous fellow as long as things were uncomplicated

Everything in the kingdom was happy and the peasants didn’t have to pay much in taxes. This was because Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong was a crook; who juggled the books while keeping everything looking fine, for he knew the dark magic secret that Economics was not based on facts but on what folk thought and so far no one had out-thought him. In this venture he was aided by King Genially’s High Diplomat to whom he channelled much gold to pass out to important folk in the neighbouring kingdoms. This made them so happy they did not stop to think they had been channelling gold to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong in the first place. The whole process was known as Trade Agreements and Tax Unions.

As the jolly king (of late middle aged years) relied on his Chancellor of Exchequer and his High Diplomat he didn’t worry at all and remained very, very jolly. 

Now jolly king Genially (of late middle aged years) and his beloved Domesticia (gracefully aging queen  of many happy years marriage) had two children. The elder was Prince Frendlehanz who was handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes; he liked to ride, hunt and design gardens, the former two being requisites of his status, the latter a side-source of income to the royal household as everyone who was anyone in the kingdom wanted a garden designed by Prince Frendlehanz. The younger child was his sister Princess Aureyborealice, her beauty was the necessary beyond compare; she had long flowing blonde hair, was kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small furry creatures, danced barefoot in gardens and since she was the younger of the two no one worried about her possible mental state. Both children were very happy and dutiful to their parents who in return loved them both equally.

Whereas Everyone in the kingdom was so happy the said joy, unlike the trade agreements and tax unions, did not translate into everyone in neighbouring kingdoms. More than one royal (and dysfunctional to varying degrees) household found the whole thing rather grating on the nerves, if not downright insufferable but since the kingdom of Dingledong was seen to be so durn wealthy and necessary in the complex regional matrix of politics every other royal family had to put up with it and allow the kingdom to be the senior partner in all economic arrangements.

Of all who was most miffed was King Vilfahengo (The Iron) who ruled the most northern and wintery land of Chiblin. He, had spent long years subduing the barbaric tribes of the even farther north all of whom wore unsanitary furs and had lacked any social graces. The survivors now paid tribute to Vilfahengo (The Iron) and had been made to cease to scratch under their armpits at the dining table. Vilfahengo (The Iron) thought after all this effort the other kingdoms should look to him in the north even if Chilbin had no discernibly strong economic base other than tribute from those even more northern and also still socially awkward folk. He wished have his son Hulstrum (The Fierce ) to marry Princess Aureyborealice and thus gain politic transaction. Hulstrum (The Fierce)  although strong, brave but ruthless feared his father and supposed he would have to marry Aureyborealice, even if he was secretly unsettled by the thought of a wife who never mind if she was beautiful beyond compare and had long flowing blonde hair she was blasted well kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures AND danced barefoot in gardens. After all how could he maintain societal standing amongst his friends and carry out his task of cowing those very northern barbarians with such a bride? He supposed he would have to  bend her to his husbandly will, which truth be known was a distraction from cowing barbarians. Actually, the true reason why he kept on going north was to tryst with the flame haired and fiery Magnificalorin; daughter of Gurt a barbarian of some standing (and scratching of armpits when with his own folk).

While Vilfahengo (The Iron)  brooded and plotted in the north, Genially the jolly king (of late middle aged years) with the aid of his High Diplomat did make overtures to King Doodle (Unofficially known as The Inconsequential)  of neighbouring  Trundlealong that Prince Frendlehanz ( handsome, noble and fayre to the lesser classes,) should marry Doodle’s daughter, Princess Whinsome (The reasonably beautiful and posssed of russet hair) who was of kindly and compassionate nature, wonderful at sewing and dutiful at prayer. Neither Frendlehanz nor Whinsome felt they ought to have any opinion in the matter and on meeting three formal times thought things could be worse and resolved to be obeyful to their parents. As did everyone else. Three other kings were disappointed one of their daughters or nieces had not made the cut but there again a new resultant trade treaty and formally mutually binding security pact would ensure the two largish kingdom of Dingledong and Trundlealong would be willing to assist the three smaller kingdoms to make sure everything continued in a conservative manner. Princess Whinsome’s slightly elder brother Prince Hanselfrendlesten (an adventuresome warrior prince) was giving the task of being her formal escort to the marriage ceremony so he could get a look at Princess Aureyborealice and hopefully take his mind off of small adventuresome wars in far away places. He was not very enthusiastic about local weddings as unlike in far away places they did not lead to wars,  but having run out of small adventuresome wars in far away places agreed because Dingledong bordered Chiblin and for some time he had been trying to find a reason to square off against Hulstrum (The Fierce)  who he had met once and didn’t like.

The feeling was mutual.

Both The Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong and The High Diplomat knew Hulstrum (The Fierce)  was bound to turn up at the wedding as the official representative of Chiblin and there could be trouble with Prince Hanselfrendlesten (the adventuresome warrior prince)  or at least unwanted attentions to Aureyborealice (beauty beyond compare, long flowing blonde hair, kind to everyone, sang with birds, talked to small fury creatures, and danced barefoot in gardens) . So to various noble families who, previously, had been secretly financially embarrassed by Chancellor of the Exchequer of Dingledong, were sent smallish bags of gold on the understanding they ensured their daughters attended the wedding and heave their bosoms at Hulstrum (The Fierce) 

But everyone had forgotten about or just plain overlooked Lady Frastreiayal  of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng.

Lady Frastreiayal, practitioner of magiks and nurser of grudges.

And sister of Domesticia (gracefully aging queen of Dingledong and of many happy years marriage to King Genially).

Now they had been daughters to Grand Duke Snork  (nervous and mean spirited) and Granduchess Dutiful(placid and fatalistic) of the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven. Snork though was worried at not having a legally presentable son so divorced Dutiful on Taxhaven’s law of Grounds of Conduct Unbecoming (in this case, not having sons) and packed her off to a remote religious retreat for Noble Women Deemed Unsuitable (by their husbands, that is). He then married a fluffy curvy little schemer. Both daughters had loved their mother Dutiful and were very unhappy. To stop the elder one moping about the place Snork had  Domesticia quickly married off to Genially who in those days was very lively as well as jolly so she didn’t get a chance to mope.

Frastreiayal was the younger. Now because of her age it was assumed she would mope anyway so she was left to her own devices. She, however, had always been studious and intense which meant she’d been reading stuff everyone else, being more interested in tax laws, had forgotten about. Now these books of hers were the genuine books about hard magics and not just ones describing card tricks or how to get flags of all nations to appear out of the left ear. Thus without having to resort to reading crushingly dull tomes on Economics she learned of other dark powers which could twist realties.

One day while Grand Duke Snork ( at the time only- not so mean spirited) was taking his fluffy curvy little schemer of a bride for a walk in the ornamental garden he had had built for her and with a view to slipping into the summer house when along came a freak wind which deposited a large and understandably ill-tempered bull upon the couple, one of whom may have survived had not the bull ill-temperedly rolled all over them both before getting up and rushing off, adding to the tragedy by on the way demolishing the summer house.

As there were no legally and thus presentable male heirs the usefully independent Duchy of Taxhaven was absorbed into the benevolent suzerainty of Dingledong by virtue of Domesticia being there already, although its unique regional financial status (who pays taxes?) was maintained.

Several astute folk including Domesticia  (who had begun to feel a certain sisterly queasiness) had noticed the normally solemn face of Frastreiayal  was betraying the faintest of grins, thus she was told she now ruled the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng and please go there. Since the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng was devoid of any permanent population and those who passed by were wont not to stay long, she recognised she had been rumbled but fortunately for everyone involved decided she would take up the career of brooding and studying more magics. Thus taking up a with serving staff of specially selected malcontents and misanthropes she left for her new home, there to spy on everyone and nurse grudges against those who led happy lives.  

Upon hearing of the news of the wedding of her irritatingly affable nephew Prince Frendlehanz she decided it was time everyone south of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng sampled her magics. She had been practicing on those north of the Grim Northern Mountain of Urnnnng who being barbarians hadn’t counted much, unless you were one of them and she felt pretty confident she could finally bring the whole shebang into chaos.

End of Part I

Plots and Things That Might Be Plots…or Not

I suppose the basic idea of a plot is broadly linear. A narrative starts at A with an intention to end up at at, shall we say D with diversions at B & C and there it does end at D. Fine, because so much can happen in between those four points of juncture. If however I were to continue along this thread and assert this is basically what all writers should strive for if they want to be succesful in their art then I might as well suggest we have a National Let’s Be Mean To Children day for the amount of rage and controversery resulting.

Basically ‘What is a Plot?’ is a question no one is ever going to answer successfully. If someone not a writer were to ask that question in a room of say six writers, the said person would end up (A) Having to break up at least one fist fight (B) Pick up the chair when one writer stormed out asserting everyone else was a twit before slamming an innocent door (C) Make a cup of tea or coffee to soothe the one who was having existential crisis because they couldn’t answer the question (D) having listened to the remaining two come away with the idea there were at least ten different answers (E) Wished they’d never asked the stupid question in the first place and (F) Wondering if they will ever be able to read fiction again without twitching.

And that’s before we reached that most volatile and dangerous of statements

‘It is the melding of words which matters. Who needs a plot?‘ (NB. An Innocent to the world of writers should never ask this question. It’s like starting a discussion on Religion, Politics or Sport; it never ends well., Even if the said Innocent does try keep the assemblage supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits and cookies)

Basically I would suggest one answer (out of an infinite number of answers and permutations of answers with or without qualifiers; ipso facto, quid pro quo-one should always try and throw some Latin into a debate it looks good) is:

The plot is what the reader discerns it is.

Any quick sift through books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc about other books, articles, reviews, criticism etc will reveal that there are inventive folk out there having tremendous fun (and making a living) out of telling you what the author of aforementioned books, articles, reviews, criticism etc was actually saying in the first place AND are not they (ie the inventive folk) very clever was discerning this. Such a statement will be followed by other inventive folk saying in books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc  how wrong the first inventive folk was/were and actually the message/theme etc of the orginally cited books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc was….

This unsettles some folk who just wanted to sit down and read a book, etc and not have their worlds upset by strident assertions. This is why you should never read any review on any books, articles, reviews, criticisms etc, without your ‘Oh Yeah. Says You,’ monitors and response metres tuned to full strength. I proclaim this in advance of the next part of this post which I, (only me, that is) look at some works from the perspective of plots, or not as it were….

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 

mrs-dalloway-virginia-woolf-9781781398197 Now it could be excusable on a first brief glance to think ‘A day in the life British upper class woman organising a party for that night. So? Is it going to be a comedy like P G Wodehouse with things going wrong. It’s not? Huh! That’s going to be dull’ Where in actual fact the party is but a backdrop to varied interactions between people, none of whom do run off with each, even if there is a subtext some want to. At this stage it can be argued there is no particular linear plot. However it is what it is; which as I see it is a view of the complexity of people’s lives, the appeal lying in the use of language and juxtapositions of past and present. You will have another view. We could discuss…hopefully not argue on the subject. Anyway just bear with me, I’m not done yet.

Moby Dick (or The Whale) by Herman Melville

Moby Dick Entire literary or academic careers have probably been built around this novel. ‘Ahab a sea-captain has had his leg bitten off by a whale, Moby Dick and wants to seek revenge on the said whale. But consumed by this obsession ends up being bested by said whale’. Is that the plot then?’ Well not really because, Melville fills up the book with all sorts of information about whales and the history of whaling, it’s told from the point of view of Ishmael the only survivor, Ahab the captain doesn’t turn up for quite a while and Moby Dick in terms of wordage nearly at the end. So who or what is the book about? And does it have a plot or is it a commentary about things deeper? Personally I don’t know, it overwhelms me, like a huge whale rising out of the deep. One thing is certain the whole work has and will continue to intrigue and captivate. No doubt there are legion of opinions are to what the actual plot is (or not as the case may be)

Having thus skirted around the dangerous area of whether one may or may not need a plot, or part of a plot I will comment on safer ground for me anyway….. Fantasy novels. Most of the best selling having plots. In these following examples Plots are strong factors, but the telling of how they work out are the most important features.

The_Lord_of_the_Rings  Now this one needs no introduction or detailed explanation does it? Very simple outline- throw the evil ring down the volcano, good defeats evil. Tolkien doesn’t just go from A to D via B & C though, he goes through the entire alphabet upper and lower case for good measure. Small wonder many folk say ‘This year I shall I read Lord of the Rings, properly and in depth’, because it will need that length of time to appreciate all the histories, nuances and colours. Simple premise while allowing whole swathes of detail, proving you don’t need a complex plot.

Best Served Cold by Joe Ambercrombie

Best served cold Joe Ambercrombie does not write subtle, nor simple, nor good over coming evil. But he does write plots. This book set in a world familiar to his readers is one of basic revenge. Monza Murcatto a ruthless mercenary is betrayed and left for dead, she gets up and seeks revenge; there is a conclusion. On the way though there are many characters some of whom people other books in the series. Monza is not nice at all, in fact you might think considering her background she had this coming and you might also feel sorry for some of the folk tagging along with her. In fact it is very hard not to get engaged, if bloody, unsentimental, colourful alternate worlds (approx. 15/16th Century Italy) are to your taste. One with twists to the plot which are not of Monza’s plan or even foresight. Plot figures strongly, fleshed out though with strong characters. No particular moral other than in this one Survival is Everything.

The preceding four books were taken as random examples of just a few of the facets encountered when talking about The Plot (or not). You will have your own examples and permutations. I tried to steer clear of the issue of Complex, Tangled or Obscure plots as these tend to be a matter of perception and some folk get quite upset, nay even insulted if you suggest one is, or isn’t when they have an opposite view and we are back in the world of heated arguments.

Basically to underline the issue it would seem we must always consider this.

It is how the piece is written which counts.

A Volume Completed. A Re-Write Commences.

Many folk do not like re-writes. For those of you who do not and for those of you on your first work and have heard nightmare stories about re-writes, please read on.

And for some a chance to say ‘Hah! Not Just Me Then’ 

Well I did it by Jove! On the 31st December 2019 at 6.37pm UK GMT I completed Volume 3 of the Precipice Dominions  Working Title ‘Daughters of the Hard Road‘. The work comprises some 200,000+ words.

And did I feel a sense of fulfillment? One of joy and completion?

Of course not! It’s the first draft. A collection of words redolent with plot-holes, inconsistencies and swerves in direction. Something which had started as escapade of rescuing someone from somewhere  then escorting them to somewhere else while battling all sort of assailants and treacheries against a backdrop of a fragmenting empire, ’round about word 75,000 lurched. Or maybe gently slid. I am not sure. Anyway suddenly one major character Karlyn is kidnapped by her own family, her now spouse Arketre is thrown into a military setting which became based on the Battle of Stalingrad with a smattering of betrayals and Trelli is pivoted into something which might have been based on a Greek or Nordic or Celtic adventure saga with attendant message. By word 125,000 (or so) all the attendant supporting cast are engaged in a Game of Thrones; Apocalypse Now; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy mash-up.

Throughout this Karlyn has to deal with a dual identity, Trelli seems to spend most of her time trying to patch up everyone else’s mistakes while Arketre gathers her own devoted following and is complicit in a lot of deaths. Eventually a conclusion is reached with some measures of justice being dispensed here and there and our trio although safe and reasonably sound definitely not being hailed by a grateful empire, as it’s falling apart. And the whole thing is far too messy.

Yes, I know. 200, 000 words to say that???? Small wonder you say it is messy. Of course the re-write beckons. The re-write was positively screaming to be let lose, even with 30,000 words to go. That was not the time to undo things though. I would assert a writer can re-start a work too many times, eventually they will become discouraged and give up. Far better I reckon to forge ahead to a sort of conclusion, trying out ideas along the way and then….Yes! The re-write!! The blessed, long awaited re-write!!

I like re-writes. Aside from giving me a chance to repair the damage caused by a frenetic churning out of ideas which have nothing to do with the supposed continuity and also do something about the mischievous cyber-pixies who insert typos when you know for certain you typed it correctly…..’cause Microsoft Word is never wrong and always alert to help you out….yeah….write (sic). Then are also these important reasons:

  1. The Plot: Yes, it’s in there somewhere, I can definitely remember seeing somewhere around word 90,000, and it did surface again, briefly around 140,000. Once I find it, straighten it out check for plausibility (even in a fantasy novel some measure is required) then nuance everything around, it should not be too difficult to keep The Plot above water
  2. The Saga Continuity: As anyone writing vast sweeping fantasy series will tell you there is  nothing so embarrassing as finding a great big grating, grinding screech as when something from one book clashes with an interlude from a previous book. And I found one when innocently looking for the name of a very minor character. It is horrendous, like not just a whole princedom but affects an entire region. A veritable seismic event, but noted before publication….ah the blessed re-write.
  3. Opportunities knocks: When repairing other damage or ironing out kinks allows the introduction of little bits I forgot to put in when forging through from one event to another.
  4.  Writing When Not Concentrating:  Those ‘What was I thinking of when  wrote… thatinterludes. I find a great deal of satisfaction in removing those. Mind you, some of the larger ‘chunks’ might have a passage or two worth using later one. Thus before deleting I Copy & Paste them into a folder for future plundering.
  5.  Over use of one word/phrase:. You’ve met it haven’t you? In a book one author I admire had habit of having a principal character ‘chuckle’…..every chapter; since the character was a grim and hard-nosed type his ‘chuckle’ became irritating and I wondered whether it was a nervous thing. In my own work I am aware too many of my folk ‘know’ something or are wont to smile in various ways. There will be a need to Ctrl & F  then type in either ‘know’ or ‘smile’ and see how many entries can be removed and replaced.
  6.  Yessssss!: My wife has become used to me suddenly clutching my left fist and hissing out the word; signifying something worked really well. It has a cousin which is ‘Wow! Did I write that?’. Discovering these interludes are good for the writer’s soul. You all have them, they are sweet to encounter and serve to keep a writer going through those ‘other’ patches.

So, there is much to be done. I started on the 1st January and have been deleting, amended, copying and pasting, shifting chunks of dialogue about and all associated notions. It’s a Necessary, and it’s rather cool. Of course there is a problem, treating those important but very dull bits with the care and attention of all the exciting stuff.

Ahh, writing. Would we have it any other way?

Christmas, Writing and Community

Nativity by Gari Melchser

Julius Garibaldi Melchers (August 11, 1860 – November 30, 1932)… commonly known as Gari Melchers. One artist who managed to capture the Humanity and the Spirituality of the Nativity in one amazing work of art. I will leave you to study the details here and take your own journey through the picture.

So not everyone will be celebrating Christmas. Maybe because they do not believe in the event either the religious or secular versions. Maybe they are going through one of the hard episodes we will all encounter. Maybe they just have not been given the opportunity to take part in any sort of celebration. Maybe in their part of the world it’s a struggle for survival and they don’t see things that way anymore.

Maybe even through one or all of the above, they will still find some space to make some sort of celebration.

It’s not for me to comment and try and bring words of cheer, that would not work. ‘Words of Cheer’ can irritate (Ask anyone with leaky shoes and wondering how they can get just one little gift for their child, while Paul McCartney’s ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’ blares out from somewhere)

What shall we The Writers do then?

Maybe not today or tomorrow. Maybe we are currently weary and have run out of words? Maybe we’ve just received a rejection for our latest project? Maybe our blog likes and followers are in single or low double figures? Maybe we are wondering (yet again) what is the point of it all?

In the days and nights ahead though.

We will return. For we are writers and we never truly rest or give up and we will take up the challenge to play our own part in keeping the light in the world.

We will weave tales for perhaps only one person to enjoy; it is will be sufficient

We will bring accounts and pictures of places we have been to share with those who cannot make those journeys.

We will reach out to share our experiences with others and they will feel a measure better by thinking ‘Oh. Not just me then. I am not alone,’

We will not give up on our causes even when all seems hopeless, because no Human empire ever lasts.

We will shed light upon those places where injustice and violence looms over the people.

We will bring our humour and our lyricism for folk to enjoy.

We will talk of the natural wonders of the world and beyond that others may be in awe and realise these bombasts who would be rulers are small transitory beings.

Some writers will meld a few or all of the above.

We, the writers have been given this gift, sometimes an onerous one which will not let us rest and gives us scant material reward. We should not care, for it is a Gift and we must fulfil its blessings upon us.

And as I write it occurs to me

In the Christian pantheon….The Nativity commenced with one young woman accepting a joy, a burden and a fate to bring a Light into The World.

Lest I offend anyone by any clumsy words I will leave the reader to ponder.

And Writer never give up on their writing.

My best wishes to all of you.

Candle lights