Updates and Anticipatory Ramblings, v2

Image of a wooden sign with the word "updates" written in brown fantasy-style handdrawn type. The sign sits on a grassy rise surrounded by scrubby bushes and low trees with twisted branches, looking something like tea-tree or paperbarks. The image is surrounded by a tan brown wooden frame.

This is the “periodic whenever I remember to do it” ramble about what I’m working on, just to give folks some indication of where I’m going and what I hope to be producing. Right now, I’m pretty much neck-deep in The King of Gears and Bone, but I really should switch to the next Kit March chapter for a bit. I also have daydreams of getting All the Trees in the Sky done for a sometime-in-April publication date, as it would be cool to have a story that is so bound up in what it means to be the autistic shape of human to publish in Autism Acceptance Month. We’ll see what my chronic pain has to say about this, since it’s generally quite loud on this sort of subject!

I also want to write a personal essay about my experiences last year with regards running a daily-updating blog, conversations on accessibility in disability spaces, how the pressures to be as accessible as possible have resulted in my becoming more disabled, and why I think we need to change how we talk accessibility when talking to other disabled people. The truth is that I stopped having the spoons for doing something I love–fiction writing–by throwing all my spoons into trying to make my blog accessible for others, and I’ve gained new chronic pain sites in the attempt. I’m not sure when I’ll have the spoons for this, but it is something I very desperately wish to explore and articulate.

Kit March

It has become obvious to me that this story is going to be long. I’ve drafted five chapters ahead of what I’m posting, and I have four or five more planned out in my head. Those chapters will being us to a couple of concluding character arc moments for Darius and Tes, so my thinking is that I’ll stop there, go back and redraft/edit with the whole of that section in mind, and then format and self-publish as its own book, Arrival. (There’s a few continuity things in need of fixing and a few things that I thought needed to exist plot-wise that ended up being overtaken by better plot elements, so they can just be cut. Some of the things that seem like a lack of continuity are just examples of the way any information provided by Kit has a high chance of being unreliable.) My pain is pretty obnoxious when it comes to setting goals, but it would be nice if this year I can post the entirety of the remaining chapters (both those drafted and those yet to write) so that next year I can publish the first book and then start on the second.

It’s not really a trilogy as opposed to one story chopped into three bits, but when I’ve already written 150k words with four or five chapters to go, it just seems sensible to break it up. I am not happy with how little work I did on it last year thanks to my severe pain flare ups, so I would quite like to get at least this first book rough-finished this year.

I am thinking that the second book may be called Descent and the third Sojourn, but as always with me, that is absolutely subject to change. Perhaps there’s a hint or two about where I’m going, though!

Editing

Curiosity (Kit March chapter) – This is the chapter where Tes gets hirself deeper into trouble by doing magic out of hir depth, but it showcases a connection that is later very important, so it’s stealth plot. I think it needs one more read-through before I start on the pronoun checking and the polishing. I’m mostly happy with it, which means that I’ll probably read it through once more and rewrite it from scratch, which is what I usually end up doing even when I swear that I have no need of doing so. I’m slightly unsure about the start, because it goes over content that didn’t exist in “Maker” until the very final edit, so chances are good that I’ll decide it is wrong. It would be nice if I could post this next month!

Redrafting

Longevity (Kit March chapter) – Third-draft finished. I like the conversation here, as it’s where we get to see that Amelia and Darius actually have a fair bit in common when it comes to magic and their opinion on Kit, and Darius starts to loosen up a little. He doesn’t realise it yet, but this is the beginning of his learning again the difference between talking with a friend and the If You Don’t Talk You Won’t Recover approach of the Greensward. (What makes you think this is based on real life experience?) But I still can’t seem to hack this down to readable lengths, because there’s so much talking and plot-significant events, and while there’s a section that isn’t plot important, taking it out leaves those that are awkwardly shoved together in ways that don’t read well to me. Sigh. I don’t know. At least I’m a couple of months away from having to seriously figure this one out.

Exsanguination (Kit March chapter) – Second-draft finished, but also way, way too long. Fortunately, I know exactly what piece I have to cut, and as much as I really like the scene with Darius realising that the College is full of magical creatures that can provide him the support he needs for various self-care jobs, it’s easy to cut. Although I realised that I wrote a bit that clashes with his earlier claim that he didn’t grok the full importance of Eren Adalet’s teaching until afterwards, so I’ll have to rework that slightly. But other than that, I think most of it is good for line editing, actually.

Lesson (Kit March chapter) – Second draft finished. This is basically where we get to see Darius handle his first class in an awkward-ish autistic kind of way (he spends most of the time stimming by clutching and petting a cat) and I get to throw in a few ways in which I’d love to have seen a teacher teach. It’s also too long, but the extra part is right at the end and easy to cut, as much as I want the class to have a conversation on the ways magic can aid some forms of transitioning. (I have hopes it can go somewhere else. Trans characters being openly trans is an important thing.) Aside from the cut at the end, though, I think this is ready for line editing, no further drafting. I really like this chapter, because it’s something we don’t get to see very often generally, and it’s the first glimpse of a College class in action.

The King of Gears and Bone (Eagle Court 3) – I trashed the first draft halfway through and started rewriting it because I wanted to change how and why Ein came into the story, and I’m now onto the third draft–the stage where I’m happy with the plot and character arc, so now it’s time to make the sentences sound better and work on developing symbolic elements. (This is about the time I start preliminary cover design, too.) It’s now more about Ein’s dealing with the pressures of monarchy while autistic along with a little disabled familial bonding between Paide and Ein. Ein’s suffering chronic hand pain more akin to mine is something I’ve wanted to write into a story.

Drafting

Midnight (Kit March chapter) – I realised that the timeline for this makes much better sense if it follows Exsanguination, so I’m now having to seriously draft on this one so it has time to bake (for me to let it sit before I come back to it with a head cleared of my in-writing preconceptions) before I start editing. It’s a fun chapter, though, as it involves more nighttime exploration (seriously, everyone in the College has adventures after dark, but this adventure involves a secret tunnel under the College) and we get to see little bits of Darius making a space personal, like a shrine with a lock of Efe’s hair and a few other mementos. We’ve seen some of Tes and how ze makes hir world from hir objects, and now it’s time to get that from Darius as well. I also love the way Tes is super pragmatic and organised, to the limits of hir knowledge, when it comes to exploring, and that shows again here. It’s going to be so important for hir later on!

Royalty (Kit March chapter) – This is where we get to see the crossovers between stories because I need a necromancer, and Kit and Amelia already appeared in A Prince of the Dead so there’s really no reason not to bring Zaishne and Paide in. (Also, since I’m writing Ein as autistic, he needs an autistic mentor or two, and since the College exists, there’s no reason for a lack of contact and all the reason for it.) Tes, Holly and Iris are awkward around royal visitors and Darius realises that today was not the right day to turn his hair aqua as a spell demonstration for his class. The fun for me is writing all the ways in which Paide is subtly hitting on Darius, because Paide is too polite to be obnoxious about it but in every way inclined to try, which may result in getting to explore Darius’s polyamoury and open relationships a little more.

Truth of the Eyrie (Eagle Court 4) – This is about a new character, Switch, a working-class agender person who has a few words to say to Ein and Thereva about the reality of being trans in Ihrne when you’re not a prince or a general–in other words, the work needed to take a proclamation and law into something that actually protects the multiply marginalised. The story is largely about Switch’s trying to get past the guards in order to deliver their speech, playing a little with the “cis girl disguised as a cis boy” fictional trope and how that impacts trans people. As a working-class agender person myself, I am rather enjoying writing a character whose experience is so much closer to mine. It feels very necessary to me to get the voice of someone who is not privileged by wealth, status, magic or title in these stories.

Birds of a Feather (Eagle Court 5, extremely working title) – This one is odd, because it’s actually three shorter short stories that, thematically, go together. The first story is about Paide speaking with Zaishne, based on the end of A Prince of the Dead and the revelations of The King of Gears and Bone. The second story is about Ein and Thereva talking with the Marches, based on the end of The King of Gears and Bone. (Let me just say that there’s a little something about the nature of how Paide is undead, aside from trans and/or autistic people forming relationships with other trans and/or autistic people, that is in need of discussion.) The third story is about Switch’s trying to cross paths with Paide, Ein and Thereva. All three stories end in the same place, finally bringing Switch’s plot in line with the others: here is where we see the beginnings of a most unconventional government.

All the Trees in the Sky – After a conversation about how stereotypes of autism are commonly used to indicate a lack of humanity in android and robot characters, I started to write a short SF story about an autistic space adventurer, Jaim, meeting an android at a tree-focused theme park–discovering their shared frustration with the incomprehensibility of allistics, revelling in mutual feelings of otherness in an allistic-dominated world, pondering why it is humans made androids that express autistic humanity and launching a plan to take over the galaxy together. I’m only just over a thousand words in, but so far I’ve got a semi-verbal, agender, aro-ace, autistic protagonist who uses a computer program to speak and is a ship pilot travelling the known galaxy when off duty to see all the trees accessible to someone not allowed to venture planetside (for setting-based reasons). My thinking here is that ze spends hir life staring at the stars, so ze is entranced by something ze so seldom sees–trees and forests.

(I’ve purposefully gone for a human character with no feelings of gender or attraction, as these too are often seen as robot, android or alien/non-human characteristics, and I want to reinforce that these experiences of the android character, Cas, are what make them more human, not less. Aside from the fact that I am an agender aro-ace autistic in want of more representation than just Tes.)

Ideas

A Census of Dragons (Kit March short story) – This is about Master Faiza’s previous life as a princess who serves their kingdom by counting dragons and ends up in a life-changing conversation with a curious dragon and an annoying prince who (like Faiza’s parents, who sent Faiza on this task in the hope they would interact with people who aren’t librarians) sees the habit of dragons acquiring young royals as a prime networking opportunity. I should finish at least one of the pieces above first, but as it explains the beginning of why Faiza ended up in Greenstone, I really want to start. And dragons. Every time I’ve had Darius mention that he spent a few months organising a dragon’s hoard during his year of travel, I’ve had to cut it for length. I’m longing to show how, in the Marchverse, autistics get along really well with dragons, to the extent that a good many former students of the College seek them out as a post-graduation career opportunity.

(Why, yes, I am operating on a theme of intentionally writing non-human characters with autistic characteristics alongside human autistic characters.)

Thanks for reading, and I hope there’s something here to which you can look forward.

 

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