May, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the major characters in my book, Tallulah. About 50% of my internal commentary while reading, writing and generally considering the mere existence of Tallulah is taken up with repeating this phrase to myself. May is quite possibly my greatest creation, in many ways the character of whom I am most proud out of all the characters I have invented over the years, because she is an embodiment of weaponised angst and neurosis to a level I have never experienced in fiction before. I love her, because she is the purest incarnation of the part of my writer persona that wants nothing more than to inflict pain upon his characters and readers alike – fun pain, mind you, the kind that makes you wince and squirm and enjoy it; not pain out of malice, but because it’s just so validating to elicit an earnest emotional response out of people. Mind you, I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in that attempt – I just know that that’s the exact effect that she has on me.
I’ve missed this.
I am revising Tallulah again. I said I wasn’t going to make notes unless I felt the need to; I felt the need to tonight, so I made some. Either taking a few months off has changed my mindset with regards to revising this book, or I misjudged the extent to which note-making was interfering with my ability to commit to this revision. Whatever the case, I have fulfilled my solemn oath to myself to return to this revision endeavour and get it moving again, and re-acquainting myself with May and the squirm-inducing suffering she still inflicts upon my psyche, I’m glad that I did. But for the next revision, I might make myself a printed copy and print it on something smaller than A4 pages so that I can read it in bed rather than having to sit at my laptop. And make it feel more like a real, published book.
As for Nanowrimo – you know what? I got something out of it. I don’t need to finish this year. I also can’t be fucked finishing this year, but that’s not the point. It got me moving again, and I’m grateful enough for that that I feel satisfied to not try and work myself up to go on a writing sprint. Then again, I have finished marking and have nothing left to do for the rest of the year except revision …
And reading. Lots of reading. I have taken the opportunity to punctuate my continuing-with-increasingly-diminishing-returns Urban Fantasy kick with a detour into Historical Fantasy Fiction, with Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series, this being the fourth book in the series, Valour and Vanity. This series belongs to a genre and tone I would quite comfortably say is “not really my thing”, and is also a series I will quite happily count among my very favourites. And it is rather a breath of fresh air after the grittiness and holier-than-thou sanctimony that pervades a fair portion of Urban Fantasy. It’s part of the charm, but a part that can very quickly become grating. I highly recommend it to anybody who – actually, I just highly recommend it, full-stop. It’s not my thing, and I really like it, so I encourage you to give it a go, whatever your readerly inclinations.
But I am glad that I made this decision to just read Tallulah without having to feel obligated to make notes, even though I’ve ended up doing it anyway. These are some of the more fully-developed characters that I have, characters I’ve spent years with not just in my head, but on the page. I’m familiar with these characters in ways I’m not with characters that I’ve had for longer, far longer in some cases. I still think of Tallulah as being a new story of mine, even though the initial concept was something I came up with in 2010 and I didn’t actually start writing it until 2012. I guess it’s a testament to how much your relationship with a story changes once you’ve actually written it, when you have something … literal to work with, something actual, instead of abstractions and hypotheticals sustained by however much memory you can devote to them. These characters exist beyond my imagination now, and that makes the relationship different. I see these characters and think of how much still need to change for this story to work, but it’s no longer a matter of just changing my mind; I have to physically delve into their inner workings and rearrange them. I am actually transforming them into something that they were not before every time I decide something has to change, rather than just thinking a different set of thoughts about them, because they are no longer just my thoughts. It’s more … consequential.
I had forgotten there was this much gravity in writing.
I’ve missed it. I’m glad I came back to it.