School's Out (for winter)
Finally a break from work since January and post-COVID school set-up - which makes focussing on writing a tad difficult while I unscramble my brain from Teams and Managebac and teacher training and support web sites and...However, all going well, I face a two week period to be a writer most of each day.
Chasse's Song draft is almost at 40,000 words, but writing this past week, despite the plans of mice, has been very slow. Currently I've been researching more survival in snow strategies, how thick ice has to be to walk on over water, how long ice on seawater takes to melt post-blizzard conditions, how to skin a bear (roughly - my character is not in a situation to skin it like a pro).
I've also taken a session to go through the first 35,000 words to check for inconsistencies in events, characters and so on, and adjusted accordingly. Retaining integrity and logic, especially when a character has been through trauma and is likely to have nightmares, flashbacks et al, is essential, although not always easy when progressing a story.
Coaxing a love story into Chasse's life is also a challenge in the environment and situation he faces, but I've sown the early seeds and look forward to growing this relationship. Although Tam is currently a background story, I've also introduced the first strong evidence of her growing magical power - no spoilers, sorry.
That's all for this entry. More detail next week when the next stage of the story takes its direction. Back to the task at hand.
Cold; damned cold
Chasse's Song reached 31,000 just before I started this post, so the project is growing steadily. My target is to have a first draft of around 100,00 words by the close of July, but that will take some serious writing commitment of 2-3000 words a day between now (after work hours).
The fun part is research as usual. My character lives in a sub-arctic environment, so I've been researching snow and animals and plants, particularly behaviours of wolves and human survival techniques in cold environments. It's been interesting comparing survival techniques I learned as a child/teenager growing up in country Australia while running trap lines and hunting with the professional advice for surviving in a very different climate. Exposure in any environment is the killer, and particularly hypothermia which led to a cousin's death when his boat capsized in Lake Albert in cold weather. Trapping concepts, building ad-hoc shelters and so on translate across situations, but understanding that it's safer to be under the snow than on it in a blizzard, avoiding sweat, that it's okay to drink snow (apparently a myth is that it's not okay), and so on have added depth and accuracy to the situation Chasse finds himself in.
As an 'apprentice' warrior in a patriarchal society, with a sister who has refused to accept the patriarchal expectations, 16 summers' old Chasse is beginning to struggle with the concept of manhood proposed by his father - its strengths and its weaknesses - as he begins to define himself by his ability to survive.
Writing about a character in a cold climate while I sit in a heated room seems anomalous - so occasional standing and sitting outside and dawn walking to work helps me associate a little with the discomfort of icy cheeks, cold, damp noses, tingling toes and fingers. Being a child of the edge of the Australian desert, I don't do cold easily, although I clearly remember those bitter mornings of country childhood when ice coated the cattle trough and puddles as we stamped our feet and created clouds with our breaths. I sincerely do not understand how or why people choose to live in colder climates.
Chasse has just survived a near-death experience, but only because his sister intervened. I've had the onerous research task of learning how long bodies take to lose heat after death as I deal with Chasse's survival. I have writing to get back to - sorry. A few more words to write to reach today's target.
First, all quiet on the publisher front - not how I like it, but part of a writer's fate.
I'm making good progress into the first draft of the second book in The Last Wizard trilogy, Chasse's Song and I'm enjoying where the story is going. Having spent considerable time reacquainting myself with Harbin and Tam's world and where her brother Chasse fitted, I finally feel I've moved into Chasse's space comfortably and we've passed 25,000 words this weekend.
Whereas the original book - now Tamesan's Song: The Last Wizard Book One in preparation for re-release - focussed on Tam's coming of age, Chasse's Song: The Last Wizard Book Two, focusses on his coming of age as explained in previous posts. This will mean a number of interesting and challenging issues emerge. Now that he is a dragon warrior and he was present when the Dragon Fang were ambushed while they were raiding a southern town, he has to resolve his role in Harbin as a young man, a warrior, a protector, and a son and brother, and potentially a husband. His father, Dragon Head Kevan, takes responsibility for leading Chasse through the Trial of the Second Winter, a time when the new dragon warriors of Harbin 'come-of-age' through testing and facing the truth of what they are required to do and be. This new stage brings increasing security and also dilemmas for Chasse who can see how his sister's choices place her at odds with village traditions and where this will potentially create a schism between her and him. And he is still dealing with PTSD from his first experience as a dragon warrior. And there is a growing love interest that will also challenge him. Tam is on the mountain, with the dragon's egg, the Herbal Man's library and goods, and little brother Jaysin, although her life is now momentarily offstage. Oh, and eventually the ones who abandoned Harbin when Claryssa the dragon emerged will return to search for the dragon treasure. But that's not written yet...
Kirsi has agreed to work on the cover illustrations and we've now signed a contract so that part is underway and I'm excited that she is involved.
I'm dedicating an hour or so each day to writing currently, and trying to nail several hours each weekend. When I started writing seriously way back in 1988, even before I won my first contract, I bought time by replacing my involvement with basketball. Back then, training and playing with Noarlunga City Tigers consumed close to 15 hours a week, spread across 6 days of commitments, so when I retired from the club and the game entirely I converted the basketball slabs of time to writing time. I coupled that with sometimes smashing multiple hours two-three times a week in exchange for sleep, working until 2 or 3am and sleeping briefly before heading to work, and that's pretty much how the Andrakis trilogy came to life from 1988-1993, but it wasn't a sustainable way to live. In contrast, the original The Last Wizard was fully drafted in three months in 1993 when I took a term's leave from teaching.
Okay, so Chasse wants me to take him further into the Trial of the Second Winter because he wants to become a man. A blizzard is brewing in the background and his father is about to engage him in trial by combat. A wolf pack is circling higher up the slope. I have to go...
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...