caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
(Disclaimer: This poem is a work of fiction. Any actual or fancied resemblances to real people, products, events, phenomena, or yawning voids in the very fabric of customer service are purely coincidental. I WISH!)

Waiting for Download

I buy a game, or just a tool
From someone on the internet -
And very shortly, you can bet
That I'll be flustered like a fool.

There's first the purchase to get through.
Because the checkout from the site
Is modelled on an all-in fight
With hordes of monkeys throwing poo.

At last to take my cash they deign,
And then I have to verify
That I am not a Russian spy
And promise never to complain

In case their download steals my stash
Before my promised bits arrive.
"I do!" The wires have come alive!
I'll have my program in a flash!

A big downloader! Whoop-di-do!
It upsells me the Brooklyn Bridge!
"Fuck off!" I cry - and hit the fridge
For pizza while the bits crawl through

The lines, like ants on treacle trails.
I eat the pizza, read a book,
Write twenty sonnets, catch a crook,
And fall asleep. The download fails.

I talk to umpteen helpline drones,
And do it all again, upon
The chance I knew not "Off" from "On".
Their best advice is "Roll the bones

Until by lucky chance you win!
Our server runs on MS-DOS,
And no-one knows, or gives a toss,
What kind of state it's gotten in.

"Thank you for calling!" "Thanks a lot!"
I write a script to roll the dice,
And come back home, to this advice:
"Get stuffed. We know you're just a bot!"

I take a month's vacation time,
And type in captchas all day long,
Until - this hour shall live in song! -
THE DOWNLOAD ENDS!!! And so, my rhyme

Shall end! ELEVENTY, IN LIGHTS!!111!!!!
I've got it! - Oy! What's this? "Please wait:
Godot.com needs to update.
Downloading: Ninety terabytes...."

Envoi:

My avatar called from the Moon
To say my app is starting soon.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)

The Gardener's Rubaiyat

The garden's getting brambleful again.
The Rat Command has launched its Spring campaign.
I bring out my machete and my cat -
And then the clouds deliver this month's rain.

Where once were roses, now their rambling kin
Rise up to hug me, kissing cheek and chin
And leaving bloody lip-prints, which my wife
Is wont to cite as evidence of sin.

These doghouse days deserve a manly shed,
To keep my tools, and (at a pinch) my bed.
Alas! It's been co-opted for a lair
By That from which the Fighting Rats have fled.

The floods flash past, and leave but dust and drouth,
And memories of moisture in the mouth.
The Shed-Thing humps my building on its back,
And shambles off to seek the shady South.

My corky cactus tells me what to do,
And sails to seek the deserts, where it knew
A kind of loving in those five-year storms -
I storm, "Screw this!", and build a barbecue.

The slugs have found the Stella. Kenny Brown
Is chucking drunk. The Rat-King wins renown
By rustling all the grill-steaks while we row.
The cat applauds. The heavens burst. We drown.

The garden's full of brambles, bine and all.
My wife and I discuss our plans for Fall.
What beds we work on won't be out of doors!
The careful toads build ramparts on the wall.

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)

The Bridge to the End of the Night: 475 words of, eh, bridging passage, summarizing a long and often hair-raising afternoon's conversation, whose details I don't want to dump upon the reader beyond giving the general context and flavor.

The voice of this story, like many others in the Kateverse, comes out rather more archaizing in the first draft than it probably ought to be on completion. There's a quote with Katy talking overly like Katy-from-her-own-legend, and I'll want to amend that on the first-pass revision I'll perform on the Prologue once I've finished it.

The theme of the uttermost bridge pervades this tale in various guises, and I think the climactic scene I'm leading up to here is going to contain its first appearance, or at least its strong foreshadowing.



caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
The Bridge to the End of the Night: 750 words, and the second scene finished. Prologue is now three scenes. Selkish politics has been talked. Katy giving advice to people determinedly loyal to their lords is always going to be the skunk at the picnic.

Now I've set up what's about to happen, all I have to worry about is writing the pay-off.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
The Bridge to the End of the Night:  1,150 words.  It seems the Prologue is two scenes, not one - problem propounded, problem resolved, or at least problem resolved to be attacked from a newly promising angle.  Well into the second scene now.  The long summer evening is paling over smoky-tenemented Sellawick, and Katy's partner is showing us his mettle.  Even I sometimes forget just what he is and can be: I've seen him in no such mood since that day on Maltby Edge, two dozen years in his future, and two years ago for me.  I do believe I've missed him.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
The Bridge to the End of the Night: 590 words.  Katy is annoyed by astrology, and we get our first hint of how much even the 'happy' part of her genuinely happy 'ending' cost her.  There are reasons she is so adamantly defending the fairly nice life she has against the fairy-tale fulfilment she walked out on at the end of her Deed.  And I'm beginning to see another reason she is going to do the decisive thing she does at the end of this Prologue.  It's not in her nature to refuse this particular call for help - but she can't afford to get sucked back into any of this ichor-and-starfire nonsense, either.

Which is why she is going to set up this story - and ultimately be more affected by it than she can now imagine - without actually being a part of it, beyond this section and the Epilogue.

Hard set-up is hard.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
The Bridge to the End of the Night: 500 more words last night, of the bookend-story which comprises the Prologue and Epilogue. A respectable merchant's wife of Sellawick finds out what two uninvited visitors want from her. It is not exactly insignificant. There may be no rest for the wicked, but there seems to be even less leisure for the good. A rough draft of a tense and dangerous conversation, which I shall certainly redraft as soon as it's finished. At the moment I just need to get it all out onto the page. It's good to be working with old friends again!

caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
In Elder Days, in years of yore, I was revising this set of cuneiform tablets collectively titled Three Katherines of Allingdale, and posting the odd shard about it to this journal.  At the beginning of this year, I was comprehensively stuck, and turning to other projects until some idea or other worked loose.  My life then performed several unscheduled triple back somersaults before landing in a marvellous better place (waves to [personal profile] green_knight across table).  And now the long-awaited missing clue to the Kateverse has finally turned up, and I'm writing in it again...

Okay.  Three Katherines in its first draft presently consists of The Deed of Katy Elflocks, a fairy-tale novella with which I'm almost wholly satisfied; and Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, a chunky low-fantasy novel which brings all the chickens home to roost thirty years later, and with which I'm not satisfied at all.  I'm unsatisfied although, or more likely because, I think Killer-Kate has the elements of being the best story I've ever told.  The issue is that there turns out to be far too much backstory essential to its unfolding. 

A grand epic fantasy driven by timeless destinies and history-mastering heroes might get away with skating lightly over a generation or two, even if great matters and dreadful reversals have occurred in the interval.  This is not such a story - although it is partly about its greatest hero's lifelong struggle to keep stories like that from happening anywhere around her, for much the same reason that she works to keep  plague, famine, and other similar disasters from the door.  In the first draft, I put the history into the story as it touched it, and the resulting datadumps proved both unlovely and hard to redact.  In the abortive second, I tried to wrap the true story artfully around the tale not directly told, somewhat as Tolkien did to The Lord of the Rings and the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.  I got some myriad words in and bounced hard, either because I'm no Tolkien, or because Three Katherines and the untold 'Tale of Foxfires' are no such a pair of stories, or I don't know what else.  That left telling the Tale of Foxfires in full.  I've attempted this several times in the past, and broken every time upon the undeniable fact that it is a messy history rather than a proper story of its own.  What to do?  I was out of ideas I hadn't tried, so I let it lie fallow for a bit.  Now again, I think I've got it.

I've identified the actual stories I think need telling in the gap.  The real key was discovering that some of them have no direction to the Foxfires matter at all, and that Katy Elflocks as a character spends far too long completely out of scope.  So my new, improved, revised version of Three Katherines should end up looking something like this:

1) The Deed of Katy Elflocks - Novella; essentially complete for many years.
2) The Bridge to the End of the Night - Novella; set several years later, telling of a border-quarrel and what came of it.  Work in progress.
3) The Wain of Winter Stars - Novel; set immediately afterwards, following an exodus from slavery and war into regions dubious and uncanny.  Not yet written.
4) Crown of Foxfires - Novel; set ten years after the Deed, telling of the fall from grace of two heroes, and a contention for a kingdom.  Exists in scraps and many incompatible versions.  Will have to be completely rethought, now that the extraneous matter has been hived off into its own tales, or else placed in question.
5) Roger Rock Candy - Long novella or short novel, set about eight years later, telling of an ill-fated peasant uprising and what lay behind it.  Not yet written.
6) Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - Long novel set twelve years later, telling the last great deeds of all three Katherines and their comrades, and how a new popular rising changed the days of the Northdales, and brought all ever-afters home.  First draft finished; in need of much revision, and probably no little shortening.

And that is where things stand at the moment.


caper_est: Sharpening the quill (writing)
The challenges of redrafting Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland's Yuletide arc over the real-world Yuletide seemed about as tempting as going five rounds with Rudolph and the gang atop the roof-tree, so I didn't.  Back home today, and back to the need to make it make sense.

As a diversion I've been working on a short fast attack novel, provisionally titled The Land of Lemonade, and set in a contemporary extended London in which William Hope Hodgson was a journalist, Princess Louise's legacy is more significant than Queen Victoria's, and the No Tail Paal Pail is food*.  Current wordcount: 5,400.  This yarn shares a world with Carbonek (see previous post), and explores the hyper-liberal urban counterpart to the arch-conservative cosmic defence employed by Sabrina Cottislowe and her countryfolk in Least Britain.  I came up with Carbonek first, but Uncle Jim Harries of Lemonade is so much more dynamic a protagonist than Sabrina's friend Blogger Bill, he's carrying it away by a mile, even now while he's still stuck in pure reactive mode. 

This would be a good one to finish.  I even think I understand the plot.

*  But these are SECRETS.  You didn't hear them from me!


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
"The Tree, the Sheen, the Bridal-Cake:
These thy soul shall surely take.
The Angled Rune, the Bags, the Plough
Find thy flesh a feast enow.
The Banner, Breeze, and World-on-Fire
To deliver thee desire.
The Pig, the Pipe, the Little-Lost,
Fight but at forever’s cost.
The Lane That Lifts, the Squirm, the Spice,
Thee may aid – nor ask the price.
Should thou gain the Doorless Door,
Pass it once, and come no more."
 
To which my protagonist's not-unreasonable reaction is, "That's it?  Mind out in case we get our souls eaten by the Wedding-Cake of Evil and the fucking Pig and Whistle?  Who even comes up with this stuff?"

And the measured response is something like, "'hem.  The kind of people who met one of the nice things there, so they more or less got home to scribble about it.  It's not a healthy interest, I'm afraid.  Coming?"

This jingle jangle  may or may not get into the final yarn, when it comes together.  The ambience and a few of the Things mentioned might hint at one of the literary influences on the developing story.

caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
The silence, it has been long, and I list not rehearse all the reasons at this time. Suffice to say that I've been having something of a simultaneous crisis in art, politics, and lifestyle, and quite possibly a few other things of which I may have lost track in the fog of war. As to the art, however, that is mostly straightforward, and this is where I am:

Where I am: )

Hello again!
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Did you know that sentences like this violate the laws of grammar, art, and manners, and make people want to punch you in the word processor.

Why not upgrade to courteous and stylish for only a few extra pixels.

*shakes fists at sky*

WHAT IMBECILE WEASELWAXER IS TRAINING PEOPLE TO DO THIS??????????
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Back from America, back to work, and shall be back to posting shortly.  I'm going to be trying a few new things on the blogging front: more to follow.

I've got my new computer, and am breaking it in.  The Great Changeover is about a week in the future, and I'm ironing out all the problems I can before I big-bang it.

Finished In Dreamshredder's Hall, the first all-new chapter (now 8 of ~38) of Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland.  Some new characterization, tension, and plot clues for Katy Elflocks, Luke, and indirectly the Big Bad.  Long-standing but previously implicit episodes from the Untold Backstory make their first appearance.  Now I'm back to revising existing chapters for a bit, with Scene 19 my next target.

Kith and kin descending in all-conquering hordes this afternoon.  Nearly ready, but last-minute foraging remains.  Posting and running... NOW!


caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
 Visiting family in Ohio just now, so little time to write, and less to post.  But I did just finish revising Scene17/Chapter Seven of the book.  Hard replotting is hard but is feeling really worthwhile.

Back to substantial posts and comments when I've made my way back over Lost Atlantis again.


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
A short scene that didn't require many drastic changes, except to correct some of my worst goofs about the practicalities of pre-modern cooking.  Introducing two of my major secondary characters.  I didn't notice much need for change, but I was surprised to see how far they'd both developed over the course of the story from my original (and mostly static) conception of them.  I think that works, and I also think that following it consciously through the redraft is going to make it work a lot better.  The extra year ought to help there, too.

Next scene is another of the big difficult revisions, as I have to deal with THE major secondary character now.  I didn't handle her at all well in this arc of the story last time, because I had such an imperfect understanding of what was happening, and of what she would end up doing.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
Finished the first scene in the revised Fairfields Arc.  It was at least 50% erase-and-start-again.  I gave Luke's hosts better sense in how to deal with obviously traumatized and very very dangerous patients, and I gave Luke a better apple than he got last time.  Also, Makepeace Hall and its bit of land now have an actual - if very crude - map in my workbook, and an approximate daily routine against which everything else takes place.

Chief credit for helping me make sense of the Hall's domestic economy goes to:

- my mother, Jean Woodland, for many nerding sessions and pointed questions that have rendered many previously invisible things visible;

- that invaluable sourcebook, overview, and jumping-off point, Life in a Medieval Village, by Frances and Joseph Gies;

- [personal profile] green_knight and her many thoughtful postings on the writing process, for persuading me into the following excellent habit: When in doubt, map it out!

Oh, and the apple?  Here is the apple of awesome which I found out about while messing around, and immediately scrumped for my own use because it is such a perfect fit for this setting.  Read 'em and drool!


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
Back from Wales - where there has been much herb-lore of the fields we know, and much design of more dubious countries and their wisdoms - and now beginning the actual, word-and-sentence revision of the Fairfields Arc.  A bigger job than I'd expected, with more new or completely rewritten scenes (such as this first one is turning out to be).  Still, I expect it'll be worth it.
caper_est: caper_est, the billy goat (Default)
Chugging along here restructuring the Fairfields Arc, with several new scenes in prospect, and a much stronger rôle for Katy Elflocks herself.   Fixing of plotting and pacing continues.  I have two alternative timelines on the go, one of which is going to have to be eliminated before I know just what the whole plot and flavour will turn out like.  More work on hand before it's clear which version works best.
caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
The great climactic scene of the arc, slightly revised for physical feasibility of the parts that are supposed to be physically feasible.  The Big Bad revealed in all its chaotic terror. 

A running challenge through the rest of the story has been to avoid making every future encounter with BB into a relative damp squib.  I still have work to do on those others.  Power-ups are not an option because this is not that kind of story.  I'm counting heavily on the unwritten "Triona's Way" arclet to bridge the gap between the obvious reasons to be scared of the Bad, and the right reasons to be scared of it.  That aspect is all developed in the text already: unfortunately, it's developed as I discovered it, rather than as I want the reader to meet it. 

This completes the revision of the Last Quest arc.  I certainly haven't finalized every last dot and comma, but every part of this first section now describes exactly what happens, in pretty much exactly the way it's to be told.  I have some standard polishing routines which I'll be running in parallel with the rewriting of the next arc, which have been so generally useful to me that I'll probably give them their own post in the fairly near future. 

But they're almost mechanical.  The big job of the revision is next: the sprawling, exploratory, and curate's-eggy mess that is the Fairfields Arc.  It will be hard work - the scene correspondence isn't going to be one-to-one between drafts in this section, I know that much already! - and also it ought to be a lot of fun.  Fairfields is, almost by definition, a place I love to visit.

For now I'm knocking off with one of the four big arcs completed, only three days behind schedule.  Off to shop for a big bunch of travel I have coming up - and then to celebrate!


caper_est: The grey wolf in the red gloaming. (three katherines of allingdale)
The closing scene to the Last Quest arc, while I work on the sense of the climactic scene.  I think that will hold: my map-let is strangely acceptable.  Here I had only to tweak some dialogue, and make the movements part of a consistent topography.

Fairfields at last!

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