Hello hello and happy November! It's been a hot minute since I've posted directly to this blog (I'm much more active on tumblr and send monthly updates via newsletter, which you can sign up for here), but I wanted to share a few things in longer form here.
Firstly, I'm doing NaNoWriMo! Or rather, my version of it, as per usual. What that means is, I'm not aiming for any specific wordcount and I'm not even aiming to write for any specific amount of time. Rather, I'm aiming to just write daily and to work specifically on LofM before I work on anything else.
Initially, I'd had the highly aspirational (and highly unachievable) goal of focusing solely on LofM from the beginning of October to the end of December, in the hopes of finishing the second 1/3 of this novel. That...didn't pan out. But I'm happy to say that my 'chill NaNo' goals are mostly being met. There have been two or three days so far where I haven't written, but those days coincided with a pet emergency, family obligations, and getting sick, so I'm taking it easy on myself.
Speaking of LofM though - on November third I had a crisis about it brought on by 1) being sick 2) being stressed and 3) being stuck on the WIP. I am now 1/3 of the way through the manuscript, and I was not liking how it was panning out, for reasons that have nothing to do with it being a first draft and therefore understandably rough.
It just wasn't feeling like the story I'd re-imagined in 2022. It felt, instead, a lot more like the messy, stale, original plot I'd been struggling with for the past decade. And that's because I wasn't accepting the issues this latest draft has, not really. I was trying to fix those issues when there wasn't any fixing them; I needed to kill my darlings. So I sat down with myself, a pen, and a notebook, and wrote out my problems:
Issue #1: I have too many characters.
I've known this for a while, but I refused to accept it and cut one of my characters out, because writing a large cast is one of my writerly weaknesses, and cutting a character felt like admitting that I couldn't handle it all. But in this case, trying to overcome this weakness and develop my skills as a writer is not what needs to happen right now. My character-to-be-cut is taking up space that stymies the character and relationship development of other characters and occupies reader attention for no good reason. Crucially, she doesn't have any impact on the plot. Much as I love her, she has to go.
So Nilam, my Wayfarer and Ilyas's twin sister, is to be removed from the manuscript. And though a minor character, she really does occupy a lot of space, so cutting her out means I have a lot of holes to patch. Still, this means Halah and Ilyas's interactions are going to be what I want them to be, so this is a good thing. I wish I'd accepted this issue way earlier so I'd have less work to do now, but ah, well.
Issue #2: The plot is overcomplicated / has too many elements
This is another issue I've known for a while; just like Issue #2, my ego was getting in the way of me properly dealing with it. I am not a writer capable of writing huge, complex, politically-rife plots. It's not my strength and not even really my interest as a writer (as a reader, that's a different story). In fact, it's the whole reason I revamped LofM's plot. Sometimes I really irritate myself. In my defense, I got used to writing and thinking of LofM a certain way for a whole ten years, so it's taking some effort to rejig my process with it.
I had actually begun to think the whole plot and/or various major elements would need to be scrapped and go in a completely different direction, but happily, that's not the case. I am completely satisfied with the '22 revamped plot. I just need to guide the current manuscript so that it evokes the folklore/fairytale tone I intended, and this means that while my original prologue did that pretty well--telling the story of a famous in-universe poet, referencing fantastical creatures, and introducing the djinn--I need to rewrite it entirely to narrow the focus down and nail the tone down even more.
This led me to writing a prologue I like even more, where I finally get to showcase my Arabian Nights retelling! All in all, a great success.
Issue #3: The latest scene is not working
While my other two problems are big, structural issues, this one is comparatively minor, and actually might be sorted out organically by the time I even get to it, if I deal with Issues 1 and 2. No spoilers, but the current portion of my manuscript has a conflict scene that's...just not working. And I need to stop trying to make it work and just throw it out. Literally no harm done if I do!
Issue #4: I need to adjust some worldbuilding
One of my goals with LofM was to write a Muslim-themed fantasy book. Somehow, that turned into me writing characters that are functionally Muslim and writing them ascribing to certain rules and lifestyle choices. But! This is not what I wanted to do! I don't want to fictionalize my own religion (which is what I'd be doing, since LofM takes place in a fantasy world). I don't feel comfortable doing so.
So now I'm changing some worldbuilding elements so that my main characters have their own distinct beliefs and practices that are still recognizably inspired by Islam but are also their own, fictional construction. This has the bonus of making it easier for me to write my romance subplot too.
...Which is not to say that you can't write Muslim characters or that you can't write a Muslim romance, but I don't want to try and tackle either of these things in LofM.
Once I got unstuck with LofM, my writerly gears started turning like a well-oiled machine...which means, of course, that I got struck with a new story idea and started scribbling it down immediately. Inspired by this art, this absolutely stunning poem, and my long-fixation with Greek myths, I thought: what if Pasiphaë saves the Minotaur?
And then I couldn't stop thinking about it, so enjoy the opening scene!
[[ content warnings: implied/referenced non-con, implied mind manipulation, non-graphic birth scene, mentioned blood ]]
It would be kind to say that Pasiphaë doesn’t remember the bull. It would be kind, but the gods are not, and she remembers every obscene, ruinous, bestial moment of it. As though she had not been cursed with madness. As though she had been herself, had chosen for herself.
I hope to submit this as a short story somewhere once it's done! I'll update this blog if and when I do, but if you want to get sneak peeks on it all, check out the tag on tumblr.
That's all for this post! Until next time, happy reading and writing!
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.