Monthly Archives: August 2010

Literary Masturbation

I’ve never been a fan of those character spreadsheets. For the most part, I don’t particularly care if my character has super-purple eyes and waist-length golden hair, except for purposes of continuity throughout the story (little facts like that escape me all the time; in Burning Eden, I had a town change its name from Newtown to Newton to Newburg and back again over the course of the story, and at least one character obviously had corneal replacements). Anyway, I feel like all they do is focus on the most trivial aspects of character; I don’t give a damn what their favorite pizza topping is; more important to me is how they’d react if someone handed them the crown and said, “Go have fun.” Or how they behave in public as opposed to private; those are the interesting things that make characters real and not just words on a piece of paper (or computer screen, fwiw).

I’m 20,000 words into my latest project, a renaissance-ish fantasy where science and religion are just starting to come up against each other. I hit a snag when I realized that I’d just filled a council room full of blah people who all sounded and acted the same, and even though the story wasn’t from any of their POVs, I still had no idea what they wanted, or why they wanted it.

So I thought I’d try a little exercise to see if I couldn’t give some of my bit-players a bit of personality. I picked six of them (six seemed a good number, and allowed me to get a reasonable cross-section of them), and then five situations for them to be (dinner in public, dinner in private, when approached by a supplicant, when receiving good news, and when receiving bad news), and then set out to write little scenelets for each of them, a thousand words per scenario. It’s been decent fun, to be perfectly honest. I now know a lot more about these six men, definitely far more than I’d learn from filling out one of those character sheets.

But it occurred to me that what I’m doing really isn’t much better than literary masturbation – none of these words are actually going to be useful in a WIP sense. They’re not going to be included in any form, because they’re written pretty rough. This was just an opportunity for me to test them out and see what kinds of things I could think of. So, in sum, I will shortly have 30,000 words of text whose only purpose was for me to play with my characters. Really, isn’t that almost the definition of masturbation (substituting some words here and there, of course).

Oh well. Now that they’re written, I can hardly unwrite them, or get back the time spent doing it. All I can hope is that turns out to be worth it and the WIP is the better for me knowing that the head of the Senate is gay, the high priest is dying of stomach cancer, and the heir’s best friend is a woman-beater.


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On February 14thish, 2009, my IBM died. It was very sad. It was the middle of my last semester at college, and necessitated a quick replacement laptop – my new Dell. The IBM lasted about 17.5 months. Granted, its short lifespan was due entirely to my having spilled pepsi on it about six-eight months after I got it. It never properly recovered.

So, on February 15th, my new laptop was purchased. It has now made it about 17.5 months, and there’s almost nothing wrong with it. Okay, nothing physically wrong. I know there are bits and pieces wrong with…stuff and shit, like how it doesn’t like updates anymore (but it hasn’t liked them since last November, and my computer hasn’t yet blown up or being taken over by a mega-virus, so I’m not too bothered by that anymore). Worst comes to worst with this computer, I just wipe the hard drive and everything, and restart the lot. I’ve got all the backup CDs and stuff, so that wouldn’t be a problem. Right now, this laptop shows every sign of making it to its second birthday.

(Yeah, yeah. I’m hard on laptops. I know that. ‘Snot my fault that they hate me! But this is officially, really and truly the last laptop that my parents will buy for me. And it’s not *that* bad; I got my first laptop in the summer of 2004. So 3 laptops in six years. And it’s not all technology; just laptops. My iPod, Bob, has been around since 2005)

Also, I’ll be hearing back about another job this week. This one in D.C., which would necessitate a quick upheaval of my life and everything. But while I’d like to think that they liked me and so on, and I’ll say more about that if I actually get the job, I’ve pretty much given up hope that I’m at all employable.

Anyway, peace out, lurkers!


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Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog, Don’t I?

Hi there! Remember me?

Yeah, didn’t think so. I’ve been gone nearly a month and everyone knows the blogowebs has the memory span of a goldfish. (Interesting story, that).

Anyway, I’m here. I can’t promise I’ll be an active blogger, or anything, but I can try to get back into some sort of rhythm. You know, a constant in an otherwise dreary, unemployed existence. Yes, dear lurkers, against all odds, Kate is still unemployed. I had an interview on Friday, and learned later that afternoon I didn’t get the job. I’ve another interview in D.C. tomorrow (whee for 4 hours on the train!).  I fear I’m soon going to get to that point where I’ve been unemployed for so long that no one will even think of employing me. (On the other hand, I’ve got it down pat when they ask me what I’ve been doing for the past 15 months – taking time to pursue my creative passions and write a novel, which is wholly true. Thank goodness for that).

As for the writing front, I wasted most of July trying to rewrite something. It ended up being even more of a mess than the first time around, and so that’s been shelved indefinitely until I figure out how to write something coherent with so many characters and subplots. Right now, I’m working on a renaissance-ish story, doing some character sketches (writing short stories involving a bunch of the characters in different situations, as opposed to filling out character sheets) as I try to pin down exactly what the plot will be.

I’ve also been getting an astonishing number of new ideas lately, and I’m not sure where they’re all coming from. I suspect it’s because I’ve not really fallen in love with any project since I finished writing Burning Eden and so my mind is furiously churning, trying to come up with something that will interest me. But I’m adamantly sticking to this renaissance story, at least until I get the character sketches done.

(Of interest, I did send out a query regarding Burning Eden last week or so, but haven’t heard anything back about it yet).

Well, that’s all that my tired little brain has to say right now; back to prepping for the interview tomorrow!

Peace out, lurkers

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