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Not in total review - but in terms of fannishness and writing. 

From January to May, more or less, I wrote the last seven chapters of The Ivory Merchants - that took about 36,000 words.Then I wrote two Narnia Fic Exchange 2014 stories - a "real" one, "the marks of that which once hath been", which was about quasi-sisterly relationships, and the possibility of redemption (or of a fresh start, rather) and the damage good people can do -
and a pinch-hit, To hold back the night ,which was an Everybody Lives, Last Battle AU. They were about 19,000 words between them,
and I later added a chapter to a pre-existing Doctor Whoish story, Give and Take, which was about the relationship which Donna Noble and Mercy Hartigan build for themselves - that added a further  couple of thousand words... so all up, I posted about 57,000 words through the year.
Oh, and I posted a poem!  A Narnian re-imagining of an Horatian ode about how the return of Spring implies the inevitability of death.

I very much missed the NarniaFanFictionRevolution community on Livejournal, which melted away somewhere around the end of 2013.  I miss the sense of community there, and the fun of the weekly challenges.  Songsmith valiantly opened up a separate forum to fill the gap left by the NFFR's passing, and I've enjoyed the discussion there so far, especially the meta,and the mutual support about writing - and it's pushed me to consider what things I might possibly tackle in 2015, which is cheerful! 

And I've tried to expand the base from which I can write fanfiction.  (Lots of the stories I know well don't feel like they lend themselves to fanfic, for various reasons.)  So I've been watching Classic Who (very enjoyable!) and Farscape (possible) and Firefly (too many unbending archetypes) and reading Vorkosigan (great worldbuilding and premises; loved Ethan of Athos, especially, so far; was deeply startled and saddened by [redacted]'s death). Oh, and I'm looking forward to some deep Tolkiening early in the year, sitting at the feet of more learned others!  :)

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I went to the British Museum - almost the building itself is worth going to see (imperial pomp! nineteenth-century civic duty!) let alone the wonders inside - oh! Assyrian bas-reliefs! the actual Rosetta Stone! what more needs to be said?
But it was the Vikings we went to see, and they - the exhibition is flabbergasting (though there were some excruciatingly bad design faults with the layout, and even some problems with text. (I quibbled with the translation of "völva/völur" as "sorceress", for example.  And some labels were not helpful at all, or had typos.)

But rivetting stuff - of course there were hoards and astonishingly beautiful gold pieces (talk about clothing as statement! :D  there was some jewellery as Major Major Statement, including brooches and torques and chains too big to be worn (as it seemed, but I suppose they were worn, for all that.) and swords as you've probably seen on the posters, with the iron all corroded away and the silver hilt still strong, and relics of warboats, including a steering-oar - just the size of it made my shoulders feel how great was the strength which would be needed to haul against it in a strong sea, and how - oh, you'd need three men hauling on it, I think.  So much - the amount of economic resources that were needed for such a warship, too.... oh, stacks of stuff (but bad layout, British Museum! bottle-necking guaranteed!)

Well, so much for the general impression.  What I really, really liked was the scraps of text, with all they showed about the crossings of the world by the vikings and others, especially from the Islamic world.  From a 1000AD runestone:
They journeyed boldly
Went for gold
fed the eagle
out in the east
and died in the South
in Saracen land...

And that the Arab writers called the Vikings (with whom they had trade and diplomatic dealings) the Rus, linking up to the people later called Russians - and there were such enticing sources for the snippets of text, too!  Meadows of Gold and Mines of Precious Gems, by the trader and traveller Mas Mas'udi  So much that I haven't yet even tasted!

And also, as an added treat - surely this is a source for a scene in Prince Caspian:
The gods played board games in the meadows
they made merry.
Afterwards there will be found
wondrous golden gaming pieces in the grass
those which in ancient days they had owned...

from the Völuspá , c.1270.

One more for my collection of Narnian source-scenes!  :D

Also... just by chance, this project is seeking crowd-funding, and it reminded me of 'The Ivory Merchants'; not only does it deal with elephants pressed into use for war,any monies to spare after expenses etc will go to an "elephant orphanage project in Zambia that rescues parentless elephants and prepares them for a return into the wild."  So I couldn't resist linking to it.  :)

... and now time is up, here in a borrowed library, and I have no time for attaching photographs, and I won't be back online for days, so if anyone comments, please forgive my silence over the weekend, at least.  :)

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The next chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants' will happen, though I'm starting to see that I won't be able to meet my planned deadline of Sunday night, and that means not for ages, because Monday and Tuesday will be crammed full.  But still it'll happen, just not as soon as I'd hoped, because life got full-on, the way it does, from time to time. :(  

So... it's not the chapter that's not going to happen, it's this scrap, which I wrote months ago.  Since I wrote it, the story has moved on past where it would have fitted; the right place and time just didn't ever seem to present themselves.  So... here's something that's now not part of 'The Ivory Merchants':  Edmund meets Aslan in Telmar )

But now, it just doesn't fit.  Edmund's come as close to an encounter with Aslan as he's likely to (in this story) so this will have to stay  as an orphaned scrap.  And if I'm lucky I might get up to about a third of the way through writing the chapter today.

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I posted another chapter last night on my long story 'The Ivory Merchants', and happened to glance at the publication dates and so on, and saw to my staggerment that I have been writing it for a year!  Or actually, for a year and a day, as in fairy tales, and as set out in TVtropes.  By rights (as understood in the fairy-tales) I should have won my true love by this time, or broken the enchantment, or something.  But no... I haven't even been able to sign off with a flourish to finish the story -- two chapters to go, I think. But soon, soon... by the end of April, I think.  :) 

But speaking of years, I started this year, 2014, as far as AO3 goes, by going a bit wild, and posting a play-poem, but a gloomy one. )

I wonder is it that I've been really pushing to sign off on 'The Ivory Merchants' which has given me this yearning to write more non-stories?  Things no-one but me will enjoy playing with, like more Narnian poems, or collections of Calormene maxims for how to govern - yes!  very, very dry!  Maybe I go and draw maps. 

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So there was this wild elephant, which is an intriguing, heartening story,

and this paper elephant, which is astonishing in terms of origami,

but as far as fic goes... total deadlock, and nothing happening.  :(

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This is very irksome!  I have the opening part of the next chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants' set to go, and I can't open ffnet.  [Now I can! :D ] For the two chapter stories I've done on ffnet (well, one done and a second in process) I've kept the drafts on ffnet as I write each part, keeping a document in Word as well - that way, it feels like a measurable advance every time I update the draft on ffnet, and those markers of measurable advances ... I like feeling them!!
But now,with ffnet down, as I suppose it is, I'm missing [So now I do have] that minuscule glow of satisfaction, of feeling that I'm getting somewhere.  [And I do mean minuscule!  This is about four hundred words, but at least it's a start.]

(Speaking of minuscule glow - how's this for young-woman-brilliance?  Not such a small glow!  And here 's where she explains that it was her contact with her Filipina friend that sparked (heh!) the invention.)

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I managed to post the twelfth chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants', and am hoping that if I can post one more by about Lunar New Year, I'll be able to think I'm back in the swing of it.  Just about two-thirds through now, I think. (What? Don't you know?  No.)

And in between making a total disaster of the Eggplant Dip and making at-least-edible hummous, I made a double drabble, as a seasonal gift for all those who come this way, and feel like reading about what was happening one Christmas....

And may whatever festival you are celebrating at this time - for me it's Christmas - be a time of renewal, reconciliation, joy and hope.

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Just one more scene... just one, and I can post the chapter.  But it is steadfastly refusing to be written. 
And life is being a monument to non-achievement in other ways, too, with the least Christmas carding, presenting, cooking etc that I've ever done in my whole (conscious) life!

On the other hand, I expect to be ransacking some good bookshops in between Christmas and New Year, including second-hand bookshops, which is a lot to look forward to, though I haven't actually made up a list of things to look for. 

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Today I really want to make a serious push to get a good first draft of the story I'm writing for fandomaid.  So far it's proving to be a fascinating business, and taking me right out of my comfort zone, since I gave up Doctor Who at the end of Season Six, and the request calls for Clara - intense research has been happening.  :D

And then as soon as that's done, the fandomaid story, I'll be into the next chapter of 'Ivory'. (I posted Chapter Eleven, by the way, last weekend.  It's here.)

But this morning, so far, I haven't been writing, I have been mulling more about Shakespeare - still thinking through the Joss Whedon version of Much Ado About Nothing.  I'm now thinking he didn't go far enough in the sleaziness of the Messina world.  There's very light touches of it (the concealed guns, the private guards, the strange semi-military structure of things, the non-stop lies and manipulation - by everyone except Beatrice and Benedick?  I must think that through.  Oh, and not the Dogberry gang, either, of course) but it's all still the bright comedy, where we're meant to see the ending as happy. 
But if this were played as a real view of the underworld, with a gangster family all in the know about what  horrible trade their party-money comes from, it would make "Kill Claudio" absolutely straight, grim and believable - i.e. Beatrice as the child of a gang hanger-on calling on another hanger-on to cut down a member of the gang - which would be a huge thing to ask, probably fatal for Benedick as well as Claudio.  And Hero's "happy-ever-after" gaining of the man she's obsessive about (but a gangland leader's daughter gets to have the man she wants, to meet the gang-leader's "honour") would at least acknowledge how really ambivalent and edgy the ending is,with Hero and Claudio affirming their membership of an ultimately destructive organisation.  And Beatrice and Benedick as the two who at least try at the end to get right out of that world - whether they can succeed left undetermined. 

But these are thoughts I need to set right aside, and get down to Doctor  Who!

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Writing:  I've made absolutely no advance on actual writing all week, but (as part of my continuing quest to learn from how other writers do it) I put together four pages of background about the Telmarines in 'The Ivory Merchants'  - their history, religion, culture, social structure, economy, geography, and current political situation.  It was all stuff I've had vaguely in my head, but not written down; none of it was new (except for how one already-dead-in-the-story character died).  Still it feels good to have it straight and in writing.  And I've whittled down, considerably, the forty-five pages of "bits and pieces that might come in handy", discovering in the process that almost all of it won't.  So now there's nothing standing between me and the need to actually sort out the plot - which is daunting.  :)

Reading: I have lost track of how I came to see this article on DNA research - via jjhunter's reading page, I think.  But I thought it was a huge new understanding of DNA or how it works.  For a start, it'll call into question a whole lot of criminal convictions (or acquittals), I would think. But also, I'm pondering how it might broaden out the idea of male and femaleness, at the DNA level.  Even the detail of the woman with two blood-types... fascinating!  Who (or what) we are can't be pinned down as easily as hard science seemed to say.  And what might it mean (I have no idea!) for the idea of patenting DNA?

My linking skills are not up to scratch!  So here it is in plain errr... English?  Plain letters, anyway.  :)



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Good news for Senegal.  :)   This woman has a long history of doing really good work! 

Apropos of recent talk about women being labelled as "strong" in fiction (to which I'll post a link as soon as I remember where I was reading it  done!  :D ), the article says:

"Touré is known as the Iron Lady. Every woman who rises to a certain level of government becomes an Iron Lady in the press. The men are, well, just guys."

I did manage my weekend goal of catching up with all the latest postings in the wonderful NFE... but now a new story is up, so I'm uncaught again.

And I also... well, to be frank, I don't know if I finished the new chapter of The Ivory Merchants, but I posted what I had, anyway.  I would have liked that day (in the chapter) to have got further than midday, but there it is, such as it is.

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It's been two months since I last posted a chapter of The Ivory Merchants, and I'm feeling horrendously out of touch with it, but I've got to post a chapter soon, or I'll end up losing the story altogether. 

I've got most of one roughed out, but to get to where I wanted the chapter to get is going to be thousands more words, and I just don't know that I can do that.  Also I just don't feel it humming; it's sitting there like a... I can't even think of a metaphor!  I'll give it one more try tomorrow, to see if I can get to the point where I wanted to stop.

But no matter what, I will post a chapter this weekend.  And I'll catch up with the latest NFEs as well. :)
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Phew!  What with the new work, and a pending visit and the NFE and all... it's been actually a scramble to get out another chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants'.  But I really wanted to, largely so I could put a note down the bottom, saying that updates would be sporadic over July (and probably over part of August as well).

And now I have it written, note and all - shorter than maybe it might have been, and later than I'd hoped, but written, at least.... and what is stopping me posting it?  Lack of a title! Bah, humbug!

(Editing to add: Got one!  :)  )
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Oh my! How do you people manage it all?  I know several of you work on multiple stories at once, but I'm finding it's extremely tricky just to juggle two.  :)

But there you go! NFE has started,and what can you do?  I have huge distractions coming up in mid-July, which will stop me writing anything at all, I expect, for a fortnight, so I'm trying to get a good start on the NFE story now.  'Ivory' though, is likely to go v-e-r-y slowly for the time being.  If I can just manage one more chapter this weekend, then I'll feel I can with honour declare an intermission.

In other news, the new work is going well. :)  And I opened a Dreamwidth account just now,  mostly because I so much didn't like the recent change on LJ.  Haven't set up the journal yet,though.  :)
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Well, posted another chapter, more or less, of 'The Ivory Merchants'. I say 'more or less', because it's about half of what I wanted to put into Chapter Five; I'm getting impatient to have those who are going to go, go, and be on their way to meet the Elephants.   But there's a lot of talking and setting up to be done first, about half of which I managed to get done and posted, but about half of which is still needing to be actually written.  :( So, one more talky chapter before I can get to action. Bother!

In other news, I've been continuing on the Great Doctor Who Catch-up, and am now well into Amy Pond, and not very impressed with the scriptwriters (or overall concept makers?  how much say do the scriptwriters actually have?).
I got very fed up with the David Tennant-era Doctor, who thought shouting and brow-beating was the best way to convince any problem at all to go away, and also fed up with the repeated, very transparent, teenaged boy fantasies of simultaneously saving the world and having every woman you meet fall in love with you. Catherine Tate's arrival and heavily stressed refusal to do that made me think I wasn't the only one who had noticed there was a total overdose of the Irresistibleness delusion -- that someone in the management team had said "give us a break,will you?"

But what the scriptwriters did to her in the end was despicable.Cut for spoilers and ranting )

On the other hand, having seen these means I can now read cheerfully all those wonderful fics and crossovers which are set in Ninth and Tenth Doctor time, and those are wonderful! Case in point: by intriKate,  'That Blackbird Grief' a story which made me, as crabby and cynical as I am, want to go back and watch all of Doctors Nine and Ten again, and is a wonderful, wonderful story anyway.  (Did I say "wonderful" more than once?  Will somebody please hand that woman a thesaurus?)
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Well, there was writing, and thinking (but not nearly enough) and in all I guess that was a mildly productive week of writing.  I've posted a third chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants', on ffnet, with two (two!) new characters, and managed four more three-sentence fictions, just squeaking in at the nearly-last minute with one fill.  That's been a lot of fun (thank you, Ruth!) and has also opened up to me lots of fandoms and stories I didn't know anything about, to be chased down eventually.

I'm storing away possible prompts for next time, too; does anyone know the television series Last Tango in Halifax?  I've only just come across it, and I would have posted a prompt, but wasn't sure that enough people would know it to want to fill it.  It's a UK series, kicking off as a late-in-life reunion of childhood sweethearts, but opening out to take in much more; some terrific acting. Has anyone seen it?


Mar. 30th, 2013 12:07 pm
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I've been having fun with names for Chapter Two of The Ivory Merchants.  Chapter One had just three new names (Windseer, Hoom and Gul) but in Chapter Two I really launch out, with:
Crimtwing, Pryclaw, Quick-in-all, Sootfeather, Diamond, Brightbeak and Koreek.
Planned for future chapters are Ginrish, Sudaraht, Garaht. Visareth. Faunus, Atrementus (to be fair, those last two are pseudonyms in the story), Nerrina, Edret, Sharpscry and Mnaerundunda.

And... good heavens!  see the benefits of an idle post on LJ!  I had just written that list of names (and was going to ask if you could tell from the names who was what), when I saw that one of them (besides Diamond) had not shown up on the spellcheck, and when I went and googled it, lo! it was a real name, which ran the risk of leading to the Calormen/Arab identification (and was also, it seems, the name of a character in (on?) World of Warcraft).  So I have taken it off the list, and now I'll have to find another name for that character.

In other news:  I watched Lizzie Bennet's Diary and was disappointed that they bowdlerised the ending, deeming it not fit for delicate modern ears to hear that Lydia escaped the bosom of her uncaring family, and ended up managing her own life, in  a scrappy sort of way. Jane Austen's sardonic grittiness revamped into Little Pemberley on the Prairie
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I decided I was over-thinking things, and I'm just about to post the first chapter of 'The Ivory Merchants' on ffnet.  :(  Why don't they have a genre category for "political/economic"?  I've called it "suspense/adventure", which is probably going to see me done in for misleading advertising.

I still don't exactly know where the story's going, but I have roughed out four chapters anyway (it's chapter two which is giving me the most trouble right now) and I thought "Hang it! I've spent too long trembling on the brink."  So... here goes.

* * * *

And it's now at:   http://www.fanfiction.net/s/9129129/1/The-Ivory-Merchants
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I have tried a dozen times to see how to structure 'The Ivory Merchants', with no luck yet; hence a rambly post on background.  The story itself is bouncing off Avia Scott Tantella's sad and beautiful story, 'What the Elephants Forgot' (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6373192/1/What-the-Elephants-Forgot), though from the Narnian and Telmarine side of things rather than the Elephants' own POV.  But before I could get to the much later trade in ivory, I felt I needed to revisit the first Council set up by Aslan in 'The Magician's Nephew', and also a successor Council some five generations later.Rambly background re the Council )


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