it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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more questions:

copperwise: overworked, underslept, and travelling too fucking much, but generally happier than I have been in years.

tamnonlinear: Yes.

rachel_swirsky: Well, the entire three and a half years of this journal to date is pretty much about just that. I'm not sure I can boil it down any more than that--other than, I read a lot, I talk a lot, and I try to keep my eyes peeled. When something strikes me as interesting, I stick it in the back of my head, keep thinking about it, and wait for it to click in with other things.

Ray Bradbury recommended stuffing your head with everything--fiction, nonfiction, pop culture, long walks down city streets. Everything. It all comes in handy. Notice things. Observe. Scribble.

The story idea generator is like any muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Creativity can be trained.

handworn: the peregrine falcon. Or is that off earth? I mean, do you mean terrestrial animal, or terran animal?

razorsmile: Unfortunately, I never know much about the plot of a book before I write it.  And this one hasn't even generated a protagonist yet; just a setting.

Ideally, though, to adhere to its antecedents,. it should have one protagonist, and maybe a single-POV narrative. Which would make a change from the ensemble books I've been writing, recently.

I can post a couple of quotations I'm looking at for the flavor of it, though, and two or three snippets that I wrote to give myself the flavor of it, though--although I doubt very much that this will make it into the final book.

"To know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody."

-- Quentin Crisp

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.

--John 8:44 KJV

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

--John 14:2 KJV

Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

--Shakespeare, CYMBELINE 4.2.259-282


At the sound of footsteps, Roger backed into the shadows of the portrait hall, wringing a rag of soft leather between his hands. It was slightly greasy, aromatic of lemon oil.

If he closed his eyes and crowded the wall, he could convince himself that he smelled that, and not the acrid machine-oil scent of blood. He could convince himself that the burled gold-and-black ironwood frame of the king's portrait--of the old king's portrait--was deep enough to hide him, even as it shadowed the image of Alasdair I within.

There was no black sash across the old man's portrait yet. Roger had it looped through the back of his belt, freshly pressed. Eight of the other eighteen portraits in the hall were already crossed by mementos of mortality: those of the Princes Royal Tristen, Seth, Finn, Niall, Gunther, and Barnhard, and the Princesses Royal Aefre and Avia. Nine smiled or frowned from the wall, unmarked: Benedick, Ardath, Dylan, Edmund, Ariane, Geoffrey, Allan, Chelsea, Oliver.

And three were turned to the wall and nailed down. Roger had never heard their names.

The blood smell wasn't fading, not really. No matter what lies he recited. And the footsteps were growing closer. Crisp footsteps, a woman's hard small boots. And the shimmering of silver spurs. He forced his eyes open, untwisted the rag in his hands, and began rubbing the scrolled edge of the frame, work smoothing the tremble from his fingers.

No gilt to concern him, just oil-finished wood from which a deep luster developed under his polishing rag. He wouldn't look up, wouldn't pause, wouldn't seek notice. Not until the jingling spurs drew closer. Then he put his back to the painting, lowered his eyes--closed his eyes, truth told--twisted that sorry rag in his hands again and bowed so low he felt it in his knees.

The footsteps paused.

Roger held his breath, so he wouldn't sneeze on the savor of gardenias and death.


"My Lady?"

"Your rag," the Princess Ariane said, her spurs ringing like dropped coins at the slight shift of her weight. Roger knew she was extending her hand. He risked a peek to find it, and laid his greasy yellow chamois across her callused palm.

Her hair was black-auburn, her eyes peridot. Her collarbone made a lovely line over the curve of her velveted mail, and her cheek would have been smooth as buttermilk had the plum-dark outline of a gauntlet's fingers not been haloed in yellow chartreuse upon it, pricks of scab maroon against the bruising where sharp edges had caught her. The scabs writhed as she repaired herself.

Ariane laid the flat of her sword on Roger's chamois and wiped first one side, then the other. She scrubbed a bit where blade joined hilt, angled it into the light for inspection, picked with a thumbnail and scrubbed again. At last satisfied, she returned the rag to Roger and sheathed her blade almost without steadying the scabbard.

"Will there be anything else, my Lady?"

Her lips pursed, and then she smiled. It closed her more swollen eye, but she did not wince. "The King is dead," she answered. "Stop polishing the old bastard's picture and hang the crape, already."


Dust closed his eyes and listened to the downpour flooding the battlements. It rushed over crystal-paned windows and poured out the rough-beaked snouts of raingutters, beaded on mossy outcrops and thundered down the ragged shoulders of his house.

Somewhere, overhead, the sky creaked. A conduit had broken, somewhere deep in the bowels of the world. The unseasonable rain would continue until the world's blood healed the wound; Dust's Anchore would be washed with water needed, no doubt, in far Holdes and Domaines.

He breathed in the chill air, and smiled. The rain washing his house tickled his skin, the memory of a caress. All that occurred here, he felt. He retained that, though he was not what he had been.

His ring caught on the placket as he tucked one hand into a white-and-silver brocaded waistcoat and felt for his watch. The chain fell cold and silver between his fingers, as if the rain ran through them too.

He raised it to his eye, neither lifting his eyelid nor exposing the crystal.

"Nearing midnight," he said to an empty chamber, voice ringing on stone walls and hushed by hand-knotted carpets. "So soon?" Dust sat upright, opening his eyes, tucking his watch away. White sleeves billowed as he stood and walked to the window, where a watery light struggled: the sun's doomed but valiant attempt to part the clouds. "All but midnight already," he said, and streaked the condensation on the glass with a casual finger. The house rubbed into his caress. "And so much to be done."

He plucked a glass of brandy from the air, swirling the liquor under his nose. It smelled sharply of rain and chocolate, atomized molecules tickling his receptors, and he smiled when he tasted it.

He spoke to the storm. "By the elements, by the ten directions. I have not forgotten. My name is Jacob Dust, Father. And I have not forgotten."

He raised his right hand to his mouth and neatly, with snaggled white teeth, began to nibble the flesh from the bone, chasing each dainty tidbit with a sip of liquor, wincing a bit when he had to tug, and skin tore.



Foucaulte Kallikos smiled to see her sister high above, uncertain on one balcony among thousands of their Great House, the seat of the Kallikos Domaine. Kallikos hung like a carven ivory ball over the lands she held sovereign, silver banners snapping from every extension, the pale spined shape of the House's Warden wound between her ridges.

Beneath the unfamiliar weight of the circlet binding her storm-colored hair, Garmangabis blinked and frowned. Too far to see, but Foucaulte knew it from the way her twin's gesture dropped a wing of hair across her brow, and cheered louder--the only support she could now give. Too young to be Kallikos, she thought as Garmangabis raised a hand out of her ermine cloak, the other tightening on the alabaster rail. But now she will be Kallikos, or she will be dead. The cheering of her household hushed. Foucaulte glanced from face to face, recording looks of awe and malcontent, moving through the crowd of retainers and distant cousins until she came up behind Arianrhod. "She looks the part," Foucaulte said in her mother's sister's ear. It could have been me. It could be me, still.

The older woman's hair was cropped short and not in a warmaid braid like Foucaulte's. Shot streaks of char and silver twisted through its paleness, and Arianrhod's goat-pupiled eyes were green as beryls. Arianrhod pursed her lips, unspeaking, and touched the hilt of her blade, grey Innocence. Beyond her, Garmangabis mirrored the gesture and amplified it, bringing the terrible black sword Mercy into the light.

"She'll be fine," Arianrhod lied. "Twins are strongest."

The would-be Kallikos brandished her weapon. Foucaulte, caught in the moment, felt a wild cheer tear free of her throat even as her hand found Arianrhod's; they held tight, squeezing until fingers callused with swordplay creaked.


Viradectis thought her sister's face went whiter than ashes under the pale splendor of her circlet. Garmangabis opened her mouth to speak and thrust black Mercy at the sky. "By the Blood of my mothers and the grace of King Yrnbend," she shouted to the streaky sky. Arianrhod's fingernails bit blood from Foucaulte' palm. Foucaulte felt it writhing in the wound. "I proclaim myself Kallikos of Kallikos, subject to the rightful judgement of the Wyrm!"

Let her be worthy, Foucaulte thought, and closed her eyes in relief as the sky hissed blue and cloudless over Garmangabis' gesturing sword. She had just opened them again when lightning rifted that blue with a peal like a mountain falling.

Garmangabis hadn't time to shriek before she fell, so much smoking char under the ruin of her crown. Foucaulte did her shrieking for her.

The black sword, blasted from her hand, somersaulted through the air like a second thunderbolt and buried herself in the pavement at Foucaulte's feet.

"Sister!" She broke her flesh again, hauling against Arianrhod's grip until her aunt tripped her to the ground, a hard boot across the back of her knees, a hard hand on her shoulder holding her there.

There was a snake molded into the hilt of the black sword. Its eyes were red jewels; Foucaulte thought they stared at her. She spat blood; it squirmed on the stone, silver threaded red.

"Kallikos," Arianrhod said, her voice weirdly steady, like a spine set under a strain. "Your sister was found unworthy to lead our Domaine. Pick up your sword."

That's all quite rough and terrible; I'm just getting a feel for my options. *g*

dsgood: I think almost exclusively in words or physical sensations. I can't remember, for example, the image of a person's face or the sound of her voice; what I remember is a description of it.

Sometimes I think in emotions, which to me are the same as physical sensations.
Tags: jacob's ladder, narcissism

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