lenora_rose: (Default)
Yesterday, being my birthday, was pretty darn good as such things go. I got to sleep in and refuse to feel guilty about it, and spent my afternoon puttering on the internet catching up on many of my regular comics and stories guiltlessly. I also practiced mandolin quite happily - I'm regaining some of my calluses, but I need to keep it up.

Then we went and picked up Colin's birthday present - I'd got three of our pictures framed. particularly our print of this work by Chris Quilliams (for those who don't know, Colin and Élise were the original models, though Colin has more hair and less evil, and Élise has the usual number of eyes).

Also, another of Chris's works, this one, which, let's just say Colin didn't know we owned it until then.

After which we went to my dinner. It turned out [livejournal.com profile] bighairyviking couldn't make it due to illness, and Brannie couldn't for an abcessed tooth, but those of us who did mostly enjoyed it. We then went back to our place to show off the new floors, watch the first two episodes of the new Futurama series, and introduce [livejournal.com profile] vilashna and her fiance to the Middleman, which they'd never seen.

At which point, abacchus left us to change to go to a goth/vampire night at a local club. And I decided that, much as I like the Middleman, I've seen the pilot at least three previous times, and I felt like going dancing. So I dressed up in a slinky black outfit (velveteen top and floor length skirt) with a large silver cross and a nice choker, and left to a smattering of compliments (Yay).

We discovered that they'd pretty much JUST sprayed for mosquitoes, so I was rather glad that the club was a pretty short walk. We could still smell it on the way home, and on our brief foray to the patio to cool down adn get a bit less volume, but a lot less than we did on the walk there.

The club had two dance floors; small and loud, and large and HORRENDOUSLY loud. We stuck to the smaller one, which also had better DJs to my ear. I'm not much for most techno for listening, but it works pretty well for dancing, although I do prefer those who split it into distinctive song-stretches to those who just do what I think of as soundscaping, because with more distinct pieces, you can change styles of dance, or at least particular moves, more often.

We saw a few people one or both of us knew, and some very striking others; I rather liked the girl in what i think of as a goth pixie outfit (corset and very short pixie-like skirt - also long black hair and geek glasses.) who was playing with a baton on the end of an invisible wire, which she manipulated with some skill, so that it circled all around her as she danced. And a girl in a pair of tights with all the stitch-marks of a pair of jeans (Like mock pickets and seams) and the figure to pull of tight tights; wasp waisted but very curvaceous. Whoa. Colin would have been right with me in thinking she was the hottest one there, although there was eye candy of both genders.

Today was archery, which would have been better if the range were less humid, and a Heather Dale concert in the evening. Decadent Dave Clement was the opening act, and he shone very well himself. (He also had the brand new Dandelion Wine CD - which was at the time of recording him and Tom Jeffers, and is therefore probably their last CD together, as Tom is now in Toronto - available in Winnipeg for the first time. Colin was nice to me and let me pounce on it. It has versions of Crazy Man Michael, Merlin, and Solar Flare, among others, so I'm happy. The only way it would please me more is if it had the Highwayman, but the track list is pretty pleasing in every other way.)

Heather did as fabulously as ever; her live version of Gawain and the Green Knight has her doing a chameleon act and turning to every character in turn again. She has a strong command of her body as well as her voice, but because she hasn't done many songs with more than one character in them live for some time (Decadent Dave tried to ask for the Trial of Lancelot as an encore, but she said she wasn't sure she had the energy) it isn't as evident, if she's doing only one person per song. Though Joan came through clear.

Ben didn't speak up as much as he sometimes does, and the drummer didn't do much but drum, though he added some nice new touches to the arrangements.

Heather also described her new intended project, which is to collect her Arthurian material together and re-record new versions of the lot as one album. Since her arrangements of many of them have changed drastically since the originals (She does Mordred's Lullaby fully unaccompanied these days, and the last time I heard Prydwen, it was also very stripped) this could be delightful.

Then it was home, where Colin discovered the cork had half-popped from one of our bottles of mead (Ceddwyn's, not M's or Bearaich's). Half because it was on a very short shelf, and it hit the ceiling. certainly, the mead, which is champagne style, was still fizzy. It was also a bit dry, so we had it with a splash of grape juice, and OMG YUM.

So. Good weekend so far. Tomorrow is the choir party. All I still need to do tonight is get some writing in.
lenora_rose: (Default)
Yesterday, being my birthday, was pretty darn good as such things go. I got to sleep in and refuse to feel guilty about it, and spent my afternoon puttering on the internet catching up on many of my regular comics and stories guiltlessly. I also practiced mandolin quite happily - I'm regaining some of my calluses, but I need to keep it up.

Then we went and picked up Colin's birthday present - I'd got three of our pictures framed. particularly our print of this work by Chris Quilliams (for those who don't know, Colin and Élise were the original models, though Colin has more hair and less evil, and Élise has the usual number of eyes).

Also, another of Chris's works, this one, which, let's just say Colin didn't know we owned it until then.

After which we went to my dinner. It turned out [livejournal.com profile] bighairyviking couldn't make it due to illness, and Brannie couldn't for an abcessed tooth, but those of us who did mostly enjoyed it. We then went back to our place to show off the new floors, watch the first two episodes of the new Futurama series, and introduce [livejournal.com profile] vilashna and her fiance to the Middleman, which they'd never seen.

At which point, abacchus left us to change to go to a goth/vampire night at a local club. And I decided that, much as I like the Middleman, I've seen the pilot at least three previous times, and I felt like going dancing. So I dressed up in a slinky black outfit (velveteen top and floor length skirt) with a large silver cross and a nice choker, and left to a smattering of compliments (Yay).

We discovered that they'd pretty much JUST sprayed for mosquitoes, so I was rather glad that the club was a pretty short walk. We could still smell it on the way home, and on our brief foray to the patio to cool down adn get a bit less volume, but a lot less than we did on the walk there.

The club had two dance floors; small and loud, and large and HORRENDOUSLY loud. We stuck to the smaller one, which also had better DJs to my ear. I'm not much for most techno for listening, but it works pretty well for dancing, although I do prefer those who split it into distinctive song-stretches to those who just do what I think of as soundscaping, because with more distinct pieces, you can change styles of dance, or at least particular moves, more often.

We saw a few people one or both of us knew, and some very striking others; I rather liked the girl in what i think of as a goth pixie outfit (corset and very short pixie-like skirt - also long black hair and geek glasses.) who was playing with a baton on the end of an invisible wire, which she manipulated with some skill, so that it circled all around her as she danced. And a girl in a pair of tights with all the stitch-marks of a pair of jeans (Like mock pickets and seams) and the figure to pull of tight tights; wasp waisted but very curvaceous. Whoa. Colin would have been right with me in thinking she was the hottest one there, although there was eye candy of both genders.

Today was archery, which would have been better if the range were less humid, and a Heather Dale concert in the evening. Decadent Dave Clement was the opening act, and he shone very well himself. (He also had the brand new Dandelion Wine CD - which was at the time of recording him and Tom Jeffers, and is therefore probably their last CD together, as Tom is now in Toronto - available in Winnipeg for the first time. Colin was nice to me and let me pounce on it. It has versions of Crazy Man Michael, Merlin, and Solar Flare, among others, so I'm happy. The only way it would please me more is if it had the Highwayman, but the track list is pretty pleasing in every other way.)

Heather did as fabulously as ever; her live version of Gawain and the Green Knight has her doing a chameleon act and turning to every character in turn again. She has a strong command of her body as well as her voice, but because she hasn't done many songs with more than one character in them live for some time (Decadent Dave tried to ask for the Trial of Lancelot as an encore, but she said she wasn't sure she had the energy) it isn't as evident, if she's doing only one person per song. Though Joan came through clear.

Ben didn't speak up as much as he sometimes does, and the drummer didn't do much but drum, though he added some nice new touches to the arrangements.

Heather also described her new intended project, which is to collect her Arthurian material together and re-record new versions of the lot as one album. Since her arrangements of many of them have changed drastically since the originals (She does Mordred's Lullaby fully unaccompanied these days, and the last time I heard Prydwen, it was also very stripped) this could be delightful.

Then it was home, where Colin discovered the cork had half-popped from one of our bottles of mead (Ceddwyn's, not M's or Bearaich's). Half because it was on a very short shelf, and it hit the ceiling. certainly, the mead, which is champagne style, was still fizzy. It was also a bit dry, so we had it with a splash of grape juice, and OMG YUM.

So. Good weekend so far. Tomorrow is the choir party. All I still need to do tonight is get some writing in.
lenora_rose: (Wheee!)
I opted to go only to the Sunday of Keycon, since I wasn't in the art show and I don't have that much money (I did, however, buy my pass in advance for next year, so i wouldn't have this issue.)

This may have been a slight mistake; Keycon isn't usually a guest heavy con (usually 2 authors, 1 artist, 1 fan guest. I count six authors, one editor, one artist, two fan guests, one media guest, and a toastmistress. That's THREE TIMES as many...) and moreover, doesn't generally get people from the business end of writing in the non-guest listings (well, Canadian SF magazine editors sometimes). So I'd thought my main interest in the guests would be getting the lovely Nalo Hopkinson's autograph on books, and hearing authors talk in panels.

This year, they had Sheila Gilbert of DAW as a major guest. Also, Virginia O'Dine of Bundoran Press (A legit Canadian small press, but so new that their entire line-up is four novels by three authors, and one anthology). And what looked like at least two other small novel presses represented mainly in the dealer's room. Saturday, there was a pitch session, which netted at least one friend of mine genuine interest, albeit in a project she hasn't finished. (Huzzah, anyhow, [livejournal.com profile] crowdog66. I guess the next cheer is, "Now write!")

I got to the autograph session, and as well as talking to Nalo and another mostly-aspiring writer, I got into a conversation with the also charming Julie E. Czerneda, starting with my comment that the cover and title of her first book sold me on it completely (Which is true; the book was a decent read, albeit too much in the amnesia trope, but not one that caused me to want to own it or make me seek out her next ones. I've periodically considered the latter based on others' remarks about being her fans.) It continued into somewhat more writerly talk. When she asked me if I'd sold anything recently and I got to say yes, she asked me to e-mail her so she could let me know the next time she's editing an anthology. (Small squee - I admitted that i can't often write short stories to order - If I could, the Disco Dracula thing would be done - but that I've had luck sometimes matching theme with something already done, which is true; my first ever sale back in 2000 (This one) was from doing just that. So were some of the more polite and useful rejections.

I also made it to a kaffeeklatcsh with Ms. Gilbert, though, who was friendly and open to the lot of people, and I don't think I said anything dumb (Well, I TOTALLY pimped Jim C. Hines' recent first novels poll for the other aspiring writers as a source of fact vs. fiction info on what you "should" do. But the one other person who'd looked at it was right with me. I also ended up pimping Goblin Quest to someone else afterwards, with the utterly true statement that it's a book I've pushed on several of my friends, to the point where I still haven't my copy back.) However, I didn't put myself forward to her. MY friend Chris Q., an artist looking for more cover work, did so at the end of the kaffeeklatsch, since in the kaffeeklatsch, he was slightly outnumbered by writers :). It sounds like results were fabulous for him.

I then - thanks to my husband having managed with last-minute notice to get me a printed copy of the darn thing - entered the opening page to Bird of Dusk in the Writing Idol, with three editors (not Sheila Gilbert, alas - she commented that while she'd been asked to appear, it has been very last minute) and Robert J. Sawyer. The reader (author Hayden Trenholm, also a voice actor) was to read the first 250 words of a project, and the panel was to raise their hands where they'd stop reading if it came in through the slush (It would stop dead early if three people did), and discuss why they did so (Or didn't, as the case may be). This included seeded openings to novels by Ursula K. le Guin, China Mieville, George R.R. Martin (Sawyer raised his hand instantly on this one, on the basis that the first line, "The Dead man was coming", could be read two very different ways.), Stephanie Meyer (People will be glad, no doubt, to hear that it got voted down very fast), and Danielle Steele, whose opening line was actually decent, though it got awful very quickly. (One person said it was better than the le Guin one, which was rambling about jellyfish).

I don't think it was remotely a true slush-off; all the entries were in grammatical English, and the worst contenders were mainly a case of overuse of cliches.

Bird of Dusk made it to the end, with two hands eventually raised against it. There were two major critiques - one which would have been answered if the reader had read just two words into the next paragraph, which forced me to practice the all important lesson about biting my tongue and arguing with the editor. (I'm amused to note, doing a word count, that he stopped reading at word 243, not word 250).

The other, too many characters in the room, was legit, but I thought I couldn't do much about it based on the rest of the novel, and it wasn't a dealbreaker for most of them anyhow.

This morning, I woke up knowing how to fix it. Yay!

(Now that we're done with flooring for today, that's my next project)

Anyhow, I did another panel (On living with a writer, by the spouses of writers, which made me appreciate my husband yet again; though almost everyone there *currently* had a spouse/SO who was supportive in some way.) Then hung around and talked with some friends upstairs in the consuites. Then walked home for dinner, and back afterwards, to find and hang out with friends until the filking could start.

Well, actually, since the Aurora Awards ceremony ran even later than expected, I ended up after a time working on the synopsis for Bird of Dusk, and at least making some progress. Then congratulating the artist who won and chatting with a photographer from Calgary I met at World Fantasy.

But we eventually sang and played the rest of the night away. I heard a lot of work, familiar and new, that was quite worth lingering until 3 AM. Dave Clement is always a treat, Lana was in good form, and Wolfgang, who I last saw in a music circle at Folk Fest 2008, has made huge strides of improvement.

I also had two moments that felt positively triumphant: First, I got through Death on Hennepin with mandolin without faceplanting - that song, as I admitted, can't be sung, at least well, without getting right into a particularly powerful headspace. As in, my hands were shaking a bit and I had to take a couple of minutes to 'come down' from it afterward.

But I also sang the Three Wolfen Sisters for the second time in front of an audience, and had someone request either the music (which I haven't ever written down, and is mostly a case of taking a Swedish folk song and warping the melody enough to fit a new scansion) or a recording, audio or video (we don't have the equipment. I'd actually like sometimes to do a recording of what i sound like, so that I can hear the mistakes I'm making as they sound from the outside.)

I also had a couple of weaker moments, mostly due to breath control not being what it should (Missed too much choir), but I generally felt I wasn't making a fool of myself, and the company was altogether worth it.

Overall, definitely worth being there for the day, and I mildly regret not being there Saturday, too.
lenora_rose: (Wheee!)
I opted to go only to the Sunday of Keycon, since I wasn't in the art show and I don't have that much money (I did, however, buy my pass in advance for next year, so i wouldn't have this issue.)

This may have been a slight mistake; Keycon isn't usually a guest heavy con (usually 2 authors, 1 artist, 1 fan guest. I count six authors, one editor, one artist, two fan guests, one media guest, and a toastmistress. That's THREE TIMES as many...) and moreover, doesn't generally get people from the business end of writing in the non-guest listings (well, Canadian SF magazine editors sometimes). So I'd thought my main interest in the guests would be getting the lovely Nalo Hopkinson's autograph on books, and hearing authors talk in panels.

This year, they had Sheila Gilbert of DAW as a major guest. Also, Virginia O'Dine of Bundoran Press (A legit Canadian small press, but so new that their entire line-up is four novels by three authors, and one anthology). And what looked like at least two other small novel presses represented mainly in the dealer's room. Saturday, there was a pitch session, which netted at least one friend of mine genuine interest, albeit in a project she hasn't finished. (Huzzah, anyhow, [livejournal.com profile] crowdog66. I guess the next cheer is, "Now write!")

I got to the autograph session, and as well as talking to Nalo and another mostly-aspiring writer, I got into a conversation with the also charming Julie E. Czerneda, starting with my comment that the cover and title of her first book sold me on it completely (Which is true; the book was a decent read, albeit too much in the amnesia trope, but not one that caused me to want to own it or make me seek out her next ones. I've periodically considered the latter based on others' remarks about being her fans.) It continued into somewhat more writerly talk. When she asked me if I'd sold anything recently and I got to say yes, she asked me to e-mail her so she could let me know the next time she's editing an anthology. (Small squee - I admitted that i can't often write short stories to order - If I could, the Disco Dracula thing would be done - but that I've had luck sometimes matching theme with something already done, which is true; my first ever sale back in 2000 (This one) was from doing just that. So were some of the more polite and useful rejections.

I also made it to a kaffeeklatcsh with Ms. Gilbert, though, who was friendly and open to the lot of people, and I don't think I said anything dumb (Well, I TOTALLY pimped Jim C. Hines' recent first novels poll for the other aspiring writers as a source of fact vs. fiction info on what you "should" do. But the one other person who'd looked at it was right with me. I also ended up pimping Goblin Quest to someone else afterwards, with the utterly true statement that it's a book I've pushed on several of my friends, to the point where I still haven't my copy back.) However, I didn't put myself forward to her. MY friend Chris Q., an artist looking for more cover work, did so at the end of the kaffeeklatsch, since in the kaffeeklatsch, he was slightly outnumbered by writers :). It sounds like results were fabulous for him.

I then - thanks to my husband having managed with last-minute notice to get me a printed copy of the darn thing - entered the opening page to Bird of Dusk in the Writing Idol, with three editors (not Sheila Gilbert, alas - she commented that while she'd been asked to appear, it has been very last minute) and Robert J. Sawyer. The reader (author Hayden Trenholm, also a voice actor) was to read the first 250 words of a project, and the panel was to raise their hands where they'd stop reading if it came in through the slush (It would stop dead early if three people did), and discuss why they did so (Or didn't, as the case may be). This included seeded openings to novels by Ursula K. le Guin, China Mieville, George R.R. Martin (Sawyer raised his hand instantly on this one, on the basis that the first line, "The Dead man was coming", could be read two very different ways.), Stephanie Meyer (People will be glad, no doubt, to hear that it got voted down very fast), and Danielle Steele, whose opening line was actually decent, though it got awful very quickly. (One person said it was better than the le Guin one, which was rambling about jellyfish).

I don't think it was remotely a true slush-off; all the entries were in grammatical English, and the worst contenders were mainly a case of overuse of cliches.

Bird of Dusk made it to the end, with two hands eventually raised against it. There were two major critiques - one which would have been answered if the reader had read just two words into the next paragraph, which forced me to practice the all important lesson about biting my tongue and arguing with the editor. (I'm amused to note, doing a word count, that he stopped reading at word 243, not word 250).

The other, too many characters in the room, was legit, but I thought I couldn't do much about it based on the rest of the novel, and it wasn't a dealbreaker for most of them anyhow.

This morning, I woke up knowing how to fix it. Yay!

(Now that we're done with flooring for today, that's my next project)

Anyhow, I did another panel (On living with a writer, by the spouses of writers, which made me appreciate my husband yet again; though almost everyone there *currently* had a spouse/SO who was supportive in some way.) Then hung around and talked with some friends upstairs in the consuites. Then walked home for dinner, and back afterwards, to find and hang out with friends until the filking could start.

Well, actually, since the Aurora Awards ceremony ran even later than expected, I ended up after a time working on the synopsis for Bird of Dusk, and at least making some progress. Then congratulating the artist who won and chatting with a photographer from Calgary I met at World Fantasy.

But we eventually sang and played the rest of the night away. I heard a lot of work, familiar and new, that was quite worth lingering until 3 AM. Dave Clement is always a treat, Lana was in good form, and Wolfgang, who I last saw in a music circle at Folk Fest 2008, has made huge strides of improvement.

I also had two moments that felt positively triumphant: First, I got through Death on Hennepin with mandolin without faceplanting - that song, as I admitted, can't be sung, at least well, without getting right into a particularly powerful headspace. As in, my hands were shaking a bit and I had to take a couple of minutes to 'come down' from it afterward.

But I also sang the Three Wolfen Sisters for the second time in front of an audience, and had someone request either the music (which I haven't ever written down, and is mostly a case of taking a Swedish folk song and warping the melody enough to fit a new scansion) or a recording, audio or video (we don't have the equipment. I'd actually like sometimes to do a recording of what i sound like, so that I can hear the mistakes I'm making as they sound from the outside.)

I also had a couple of weaker moments, mostly due to breath control not being what it should (Missed too much choir), but I generally felt I wasn't making a fool of myself, and the company was altogether worth it.

Overall, definitely worth being there for the day, and I mildly regret not being there Saturday, too.
lenora_rose: (Gryphon)
On a whim, i asked [livejournal.com profile] vilashna to peg with with 5 things she wanted me to talk about that she associates with me. Here goes.

Creating art in its many forms.

I honestly believe there isn't a human being in the world who doesn't have at least the potential for some kind of outlet for imagination or art. For some it's subsumed into something they have to do anyhow: cooking for the kids, for instance, or making ad copy, or interior design. And they then claim they don't have any kind of imagination or any of that frivolous stuff. For others, it's a hobby whose higher artistry isn't often recognized, or even necessarily practiced: sewing or knitting, carpentry. My grandmother has been sewing most of her life, but never without a pattern, and rarely anything other than practical clothes. But she's done decorative touches that showed imagination, and even her choices of fabric reflected imagination and ideas beyond strict necessity. Or, an old favourite of mine, doodling in the corners of pages. In the right circumstances, playing in a role-playing game definitely does fill the same need (Though that partly depends on the people involved, the synergy between them and you/their characters and yours, and the GM's own bent), and creating or adapting rules for one even more so.

I create art in at least four forms, with at least five different levels of skill: I write fantasy stories, little published yet because of my love for length, but I think of a reasonably high quality. I do pottery I have sold in quantity enough to be fairly confident I have some skill; journeyman level, at least, though I know I'm far from master at any skill. And I do music, mostly by singing, though the mandolin is coming along, at a clumsy amateur level, the singing to a degree that has given others some enjoyment, though I am far from even music student levels. I also do renaissance dance (And English country, most of which is slightly post-renaissance but has been adopted by the SCA as close-enough and documentable both), which involved following a strong pattern of steps, and I do reasonably well when I keep in practice. I'd like to do more art by way of sewing (costuming), illumination/painting, and dancing freeform, as these are all things I used to do. (I guess I also still draw/doodle, but mostly either to keep my hands busy, or copying pattern and plans for future clay-work.)

I also believe that most art is unsatisfactory without an audience, even if that audience is, for most hobbyists, little more than family and friends. Doodles in the corner of a paper don't fulfill anyone. A few pleasant landscape watercolours gifted to family, or needlepoint projects hung on one's own wall, or hung on one's own walls, however, do fill a need.

I also think that every art or talent needs practice. But that many people don't recognize the time they put into it as practice, if they do it in their spare time, or for fun. I do think many people make a jump in skill the moment they realise that even the boring parts they hate and go through as fast as possible need that extra practice (For example, in medieval and English country dance, drilling posture or stepping on the precise beat, rather than just spinning through the rough steps.)

I can think of exactly one person I think I know pretty well who has not, and does not, do something creative that I can identify. And I suspect I'm wrong about him and just don't know how he hides it. I often don't know about co-workers and the like, but I don't know their private lives.

I'd like to say that, barring medical conditions that mess up the brain chemicals, I do see a correlation between a greater number of creative hobbies and a greater contentedness with life, but I don't. It's very possible to be creative and miserable (Though, NO thank you, Romantics, it is NOT prefereable, or better for Art, to suffer.) However, I do suspect a correlation between one particular kind of stress - job dissatisfaction, where job can include home-making/house-spousery - and a lack of creative outlet in either job or other parts of life. Office work rarely calls on me to be creative, but you know? I don't mind. I have outlets.


The importance of music in your life.

(ETA: This entire entry started with me listening to Vitas, continued through Blackmore's Night, then Beethoven.)

Hmmm. Can I even sum this up? If I'm at the computer or otherwise engaged in an activity that doesn't involve its own sound, I'm playing music, or wishing music were playing. I love to sing along, or just sing.

One of my extra temp jobs one summer involved filing in a back room of a business. Being little interrupted, I decided to go through my musical repertoire. As the days progressed, I decided to challenge myself, by trying to come up with songs I had Not previously sung, as often as possible.

I eventually repeated a thing or two, when I was stuck, but even on the last day, I was calling to mind new-to-that-place material. Though I did lose lyrics halfway a few times. (June Tabor's Shameless Love sticks in my brain for that, mostly because it's not intuitive.)

I use songs memorized to pieces as concentration tricks in archery, when I feel like I'm losing focus and/or technique. I haven't been doing this often enough. It generally does help, though, like every other technique, it's not perfect in itself.

One of the things irking me about this latest throat cold (If it isn't an infection, a discussion I've already had with mom, as I think I caught it the same night I started showing symptoms, which is a Bad Sign.) is, after the last one, it's meant I've had very little time lately where I have been remotely able to sing. Which makes mandolin practice tricky, too. (Learning how to play mandolin is at least as much learning how to accompany one's singing with simultaneous strumming/plucking as it is learning the strumming/plucking itself.)

I have far from excellent musical taste. It's mine, and I like it, and I own it. And I'm not as ashamed as I pretend to be that it includes *some* more commercial things, though i like to think of those as creative people who made it commercially, not commercial people who happened on the right combo to sucker me, because my priorities favour "this is what I do" over "this is what sells" (This is part of my beef with Gowan, actually, who, after saying "Find a good thing and hang on to it for dear life", and writing a song that sure sounded like ti was about beign dedicated to one's own work, kept - by his own admission - changing his sound in hopes for more Commercial recognition {especially from the US}, until the creative, individual bits of his sound, the stuff I listened to him *for* got swallowed in the pop pap.)

But I have, simultaneously, great terror that if I admit my favourites, people will laugh, disagree, or sneer (Borne out by my brother's behaviour more than once, and even my mom's on much rarer occasions), and great enthusiasm for sharing groups I like with other people I think will like them. This has caused some great evenings of music nights, even with my brother, who feels the same enthusiasm about sharing, but whose tastes and mine do not completely overlap. (I have more appreciation for simple and bare-bones and immediately graspable even by musical morons; he has more taste for complexity, in writing, arrangement, and accessibility. Not that either of us *can't* see the appeal, or don't have groups or songs that fit the other's categories better.)

This is also why I take such great offense at the prevalence of something as tepid as James Blunt. Because simple isn't simplistic, and accessible doesn't mean moronic. But it makes me want to apologize for liking simple straightforward singer-songwriters. Although Billy Bragg already made the apology for Blunt's existence, so maybe I'm off the hook.


Gaming.

Gaming, for me, is group storytelling, a drama where someone else is in charge, a chance to flesh out a character who wouldn't fit in any story I wrote alone. I know other people who are more interested in the play of the mechanics than the play of the people, or in puzzle-solving rather than character interaction, or even in planning, and I do believe in munchkins, who just want to game the rules so they can amass everything. (Actually, my husband has some borderline munchkin tendencies. But he also puts points into his characters' hobbies, the ones that virtually never come out as important in game.)

Gaming only works with the right GM and the right group of gamers. There's one person I love to play with if he's GM, but found to take over the game far too much when he played as a character - so much so that he felt like a secondary GM some of the time, which was NOT his proper role. There are people I'd love to see run a game, or write an RPG, I'd hesitate to game with. There are always people in games who seem to get left out, because the players are quieter people, or because they aren't as interested in developing someone else's personality. The current game isn't bad for this, actually, but we're a smallish group (Five players) so everyone *has* to step up, even if it's against their nature. I sometimes think there is a main protagonist, however, (Someone the game would be about, if we were a tv show) and in spite of meta-commentary saying so, I don't think it's my Magda. I have yet to decide if this is good or bad.


Kitties!

Something I feel people talk about enough, really. In fact, that seems to be one of their chief uses; if there is any awkward silence, or need to start a conversation or change a conversation, cats are almost always a safe topic among people with cats, or people who like cats, even if they are cat free themselves.

I love my cats dearly. I do feel the house seems empty without animals in. I recognize their multifarious (and nefarious - Tuffles still gets talked about the most!) personalities. And I do believe at least some of the therapeutic benefits that have been seen in keeping animals, or interacting with animals, when it comes to teaching social skills, empathy, keeping the elderly interested in thew world, etc. However, I also acknowledge that this may not always have been to the domestic animal's benefit. House cats are longer-lived and healthier than wild counterparts. They're also dumber, and more bored. We do it to ourselves, too, and there are advantages to not having to scramble every day to feed oneself (Hopefully counteracting the distance some people feel between, say, meat and the animal it comes from, or grocery veggies and the act of farming) -- but humans can turn that hunt-and-gather-free time to other, sometimes even creative or otherwise brain-expanding pursuits. Cats often can't. Especially cooped up indoors. Not that people don't have stories about what their cats do because they're feeling bored or neglected.

I understand that people who have the time to do so can train their cats to do tricks to keep their brains more active and expand their horizons. I'm not home enough, or free to play with them, or take time with them, enough. (I do love it when other people *want* to spend some time filling that gap for me, but I also sometimes wish I had a little more home time. Except when i do, I rarely spend it with or on the cats.)


Helping others.

I'm not even sure how I got tagged with this. I don't do this enough. Not in real, substantial ways. (And [livejournal.com profile] vilashna will promptly point out that we let her stay as a houseguest while she went house-hunting in our city. Which is why I said "enough", not "I don't".)

I like to be there for people when they call on me, but the truth is, these days, I haven't had people call on me much. And sometimes I do fail when I try, or say I'll try. But I like to try, and I hope people forgive me for not being terribly good at it.
lenora_rose: (Gryphon)
On a whim, i asked [livejournal.com profile] vilashna to peg with with 5 things she wanted me to talk about that she associates with me. Here goes.

Creating art in its many forms.

I honestly believe there isn't a human being in the world who doesn't have at least the potential for some kind of outlet for imagination or art. For some it's subsumed into something they have to do anyhow: cooking for the kids, for instance, or making ad copy, or interior design. And they then claim they don't have any kind of imagination or any of that frivolous stuff. For others, it's a hobby whose higher artistry isn't often recognized, or even necessarily practiced: sewing or knitting, carpentry. My grandmother has been sewing most of her life, but never without a pattern, and rarely anything other than practical clothes. But she's done decorative touches that showed imagination, and even her choices of fabric reflected imagination and ideas beyond strict necessity. Or, an old favourite of mine, doodling in the corners of pages. In the right circumstances, playing in a role-playing game definitely does fill the same need (Though that partly depends on the people involved, the synergy between them and you/their characters and yours, and the GM's own bent), and creating or adapting rules for one even more so.

I create art in at least four forms, with at least five different levels of skill: I write fantasy stories, little published yet because of my love for length, but I think of a reasonably high quality. I do pottery I have sold in quantity enough to be fairly confident I have some skill; journeyman level, at least, though I know I'm far from master at any skill. And I do music, mostly by singing, though the mandolin is coming along, at a clumsy amateur level, the singing to a degree that has given others some enjoyment, though I am far from even music student levels. I also do renaissance dance (And English country, most of which is slightly post-renaissance but has been adopted by the SCA as close-enough and documentable both), which involved following a strong pattern of steps, and I do reasonably well when I keep in practice. I'd like to do more art by way of sewing (costuming), illumination/painting, and dancing freeform, as these are all things I used to do. (I guess I also still draw/doodle, but mostly either to keep my hands busy, or copying pattern and plans for future clay-work.)

I also believe that most art is unsatisfactory without an audience, even if that audience is, for most hobbyists, little more than family and friends. Doodles in the corner of a paper don't fulfill anyone. A few pleasant landscape watercolours gifted to family, or needlepoint projects hung on one's own wall, or hung on one's own walls, however, do fill a need.

I also think that every art or talent needs practice. But that many people don't recognize the time they put into it as practice, if they do it in their spare time, or for fun. I do think many people make a jump in skill the moment they realise that even the boring parts they hate and go through as fast as possible need that extra practice (For example, in medieval and English country dance, drilling posture or stepping on the precise beat, rather than just spinning through the rough steps.)

I can think of exactly one person I think I know pretty well who has not, and does not, do something creative that I can identify. And I suspect I'm wrong about him and just don't know how he hides it. I often don't know about co-workers and the like, but I don't know their private lives.

I'd like to say that, barring medical conditions that mess up the brain chemicals, I do see a correlation between a greater number of creative hobbies and a greater contentedness with life, but I don't. It's very possible to be creative and miserable (Though, NO thank you, Romantics, it is NOT prefereable, or better for Art, to suffer.) However, I do suspect a correlation between one particular kind of stress - job dissatisfaction, where job can include home-making/house-spousery - and a lack of creative outlet in either job or other parts of life. Office work rarely calls on me to be creative, but you know? I don't mind. I have outlets.


The importance of music in your life.

(ETA: This entire entry started with me listening to Vitas, continued through Blackmore's Night, then Beethoven.)

Hmmm. Can I even sum this up? If I'm at the computer or otherwise engaged in an activity that doesn't involve its own sound, I'm playing music, or wishing music were playing. I love to sing along, or just sing.

One of my extra temp jobs one summer involved filing in a back room of a business. Being little interrupted, I decided to go through my musical repertoire. As the days progressed, I decided to challenge myself, by trying to come up with songs I had Not previously sung, as often as possible.

I eventually repeated a thing or two, when I was stuck, but even on the last day, I was calling to mind new-to-that-place material. Though I did lose lyrics halfway a few times. (June Tabor's Shameless Love sticks in my brain for that, mostly because it's not intuitive.)

I use songs memorized to pieces as concentration tricks in archery, when I feel like I'm losing focus and/or technique. I haven't been doing this often enough. It generally does help, though, like every other technique, it's not perfect in itself.

One of the things irking me about this latest throat cold (If it isn't an infection, a discussion I've already had with mom, as I think I caught it the same night I started showing symptoms, which is a Bad Sign.) is, after the last one, it's meant I've had very little time lately where I have been remotely able to sing. Which makes mandolin practice tricky, too. (Learning how to play mandolin is at least as much learning how to accompany one's singing with simultaneous strumming/plucking as it is learning the strumming/plucking itself.)

I have far from excellent musical taste. It's mine, and I like it, and I own it. And I'm not as ashamed as I pretend to be that it includes *some* more commercial things, though i like to think of those as creative people who made it commercially, not commercial people who happened on the right combo to sucker me, because my priorities favour "this is what I do" over "this is what sells" (This is part of my beef with Gowan, actually, who, after saying "Find a good thing and hang on to it for dear life", and writing a song that sure sounded like ti was about beign dedicated to one's own work, kept - by his own admission - changing his sound in hopes for more Commercial recognition {especially from the US}, until the creative, individual bits of his sound, the stuff I listened to him *for* got swallowed in the pop pap.)

But I have, simultaneously, great terror that if I admit my favourites, people will laugh, disagree, or sneer (Borne out by my brother's behaviour more than once, and even my mom's on much rarer occasions), and great enthusiasm for sharing groups I like with other people I think will like them. This has caused some great evenings of music nights, even with my brother, who feels the same enthusiasm about sharing, but whose tastes and mine do not completely overlap. (I have more appreciation for simple and bare-bones and immediately graspable even by musical morons; he has more taste for complexity, in writing, arrangement, and accessibility. Not that either of us *can't* see the appeal, or don't have groups or songs that fit the other's categories better.)

This is also why I take such great offense at the prevalence of something as tepid as James Blunt. Because simple isn't simplistic, and accessible doesn't mean moronic. But it makes me want to apologize for liking simple straightforward singer-songwriters. Although Billy Bragg already made the apology for Blunt's existence, so maybe I'm off the hook.


Gaming.

Gaming, for me, is group storytelling, a drama where someone else is in charge, a chance to flesh out a character who wouldn't fit in any story I wrote alone. I know other people who are more interested in the play of the mechanics than the play of the people, or in puzzle-solving rather than character interaction, or even in planning, and I do believe in munchkins, who just want to game the rules so they can amass everything. (Actually, my husband has some borderline munchkin tendencies. But he also puts points into his characters' hobbies, the ones that virtually never come out as important in game.)

Gaming only works with the right GM and the right group of gamers. There's one person I love to play with if he's GM, but found to take over the game far too much when he played as a character - so much so that he felt like a secondary GM some of the time, which was NOT his proper role. There are people I'd love to see run a game, or write an RPG, I'd hesitate to game with. There are always people in games who seem to get left out, because the players are quieter people, or because they aren't as interested in developing someone else's personality. The current game isn't bad for this, actually, but we're a smallish group (Five players) so everyone *has* to step up, even if it's against their nature. I sometimes think there is a main protagonist, however, (Someone the game would be about, if we were a tv show) and in spite of meta-commentary saying so, I don't think it's my Magda. I have yet to decide if this is good or bad.


Kitties!

Something I feel people talk about enough, really. In fact, that seems to be one of their chief uses; if there is any awkward silence, or need to start a conversation or change a conversation, cats are almost always a safe topic among people with cats, or people who like cats, even if they are cat free themselves.

I love my cats dearly. I do feel the house seems empty without animals in. I recognize their multifarious (and nefarious - Tuffles still gets talked about the most!) personalities. And I do believe at least some of the therapeutic benefits that have been seen in keeping animals, or interacting with animals, when it comes to teaching social skills, empathy, keeping the elderly interested in thew world, etc. However, I also acknowledge that this may not always have been to the domestic animal's benefit. House cats are longer-lived and healthier than wild counterparts. They're also dumber, and more bored. We do it to ourselves, too, and there are advantages to not having to scramble every day to feed oneself (Hopefully counteracting the distance some people feel between, say, meat and the animal it comes from, or grocery veggies and the act of farming) -- but humans can turn that hunt-and-gather-free time to other, sometimes even creative or otherwise brain-expanding pursuits. Cats often can't. Especially cooped up indoors. Not that people don't have stories about what their cats do because they're feeling bored or neglected.

I understand that people who have the time to do so can train their cats to do tricks to keep their brains more active and expand their horizons. I'm not home enough, or free to play with them, or take time with them, enough. (I do love it when other people *want* to spend some time filling that gap for me, but I also sometimes wish I had a little more home time. Except when i do, I rarely spend it with or on the cats.)


Helping others.

I'm not even sure how I got tagged with this. I don't do this enough. Not in real, substantial ways. (And [livejournal.com profile] vilashna will promptly point out that we let her stay as a houseguest while she went house-hunting in our city. Which is why I said "enough", not "I don't".)

I like to be there for people when they call on me, but the truth is, these days, I haven't had people call on me much. And sometimes I do fail when I try, or say I'll try. But I like to try, and I hope people forgive me for not being terribly good at it.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
Initial, and, at the rate I've been posting lately, likely to be only posted thoughts on World Fantasy Convention in Calgary.

- the people we were staying with (SCA names Morrigan and Dalton) are LOVELY. I liked them before, when we met them at their archery event and at Quad Wars, but they were excellent hosts, excellent people, etc.

- I've been told that people mind the whole issue of getting to and from a convention if not on site. I guess it's easier when you're a 20-30 minute walk away. Admittedly, the one night I wasn't going home earlier in the evening or getting picked up, I had to taxi it, but the fare was pretty cheap. Had I been doing less visiting with relatives or arching, I might see the issue. But the morning walk was a good start to the day.

- I want to go back to the Calgary archery range. Muchly. Even though when I went I was insufficiently fed, tired, stressed, self-conscious about my poor showing in archery lately, and more self-conscious when I proved it. (I did eventually relax into the shooting somewhat.)

- [livejournal.com profile] vilashna, EVERYBODY says hi. I may pass on more news and comments when we see each other next.

- WHAT WAS I THINKING, bringing three books to read for the trip? True enough, I might have needed one for the way there (Though I ended up reading for none of the travel time and not much of the hotel). But grabbing two more for during and the trip back is kind of.... forgetting the giant bag of swag, never mind the fact that i near doubled it with purchases. (More of the purchases were paperback, or used. i even got one book for 25 cents, though that was at a cafe in the neighbourhood, not a WFC vendor).

- It was decidedly odd going to a convention and realising I was almost entirely there in my capacity as artist. True enough, I went to readings as a fan and panels as an aspiring writer, sort of, though I drew through several of them. But I mostly ended up talking to artists, made most of my new acquaintances among the artists (Hardly a complaint, as this included some exceedingly nice people), talking about art, etc. I was explicitly invited to at least one convention, in Surrey, as an artist. Even though Colin and I agree that SFF cons are not the best (Or at least should not be the exclusive) places for me to sell my style of art.

- I sold ten pieces total. Not too bad. It may pay for the fees to get in. One of them was even an undecorated, non fantasy-related bowl.

- I spent considerably more than that. There is a disadvantage to not having to spend on hotel fees, even as there is an advantage. I went a little overboard on my intended budget on book-buying, but not badly, pounced on one cd in my single wander through the mall (Killing time until the awards Sunday, as I was not in the banquet). And then I bought waaay too much art (Two pieces, but the price tag of the second was about my total intended budget for frivolous purchases. Shaun Tan's art practically made me swoon.) But I was saddened, as nobody had Ink and Steel.

- I amused Minister Faust (after his fabulous, dynamic reading) and some other Edmontonians with my observation that Winnipeg is a crow city, while Edmonton (and Calgary) are magpie cities.

- Patricia McKillip is a lovely person, as far as I could tell, as well as a lovely writer, but not a terribly interesting panelist.

- Of people I've known online, I met Patrice Sarath and Lucy A. Snyder ([livejournal.com profile] las). Of people I've met at prior events, Guy Gavriel Kay seemed to have no idea who I was (But I said directly that I expected him not to.)

- One thing that irritated me that i saw in at least two panels. If people are attempting to discuss a general trend in fantasy books (or, presumably, sf books, horror books, fantasy art, sf art, etc.) which you feel you are personally an exception to? DO NOT DISMISS THE ENTIRE TREND AS THEREFORE NONEXISTANT OR A NON-ISSUE. You are not the be-all and end-all of Fantasy. No matter who you are. (And while George R.R. Martin once did this to a degree, I wouldn't have noticed as much had I not been sensitized to it by seeing it in others. The author who made the most blatant example of this was... not in that league for sales or reputation. Not a nobody, either, a decent-selling author with multiple books, but even so.)

- Not much real music: The one music related thing started off with a number of people doing Lord of the Rings filks to "Once More, with Feeling" tunes (The first "I'll never tell" variant, with Legolas and Gimli, was at least funny, and the girl Maja who sang Gollum's bit had a pretty good soprano, though she wobbled a bit without accompaniment. Then Martin Springett did a few songs, starting Lord of the Rings and wandering off into other territory. He's a truly talented guitarist, a decent singer, and a songwriter of some skill, though I have to admit, his style is not to my personal taste, so I'm not likely to buy a cd. But it broke up without ever opening up.

- I didn't practice nearly enough on the Angry Chicken, though I did get some practice time in. And I won't do much tonight, either, as I am tired and it is time to sleep. Sorry, Abacchus.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
Initial, and, at the rate I've been posting lately, likely to be only posted thoughts on World Fantasy Convention in Calgary.

- the people we were staying with (SCA names Morrigan and Dalton) are LOVELY. I liked them before, when we met them at their archery event and at Quad Wars, but they were excellent hosts, excellent people, etc.

- I've been told that people mind the whole issue of getting to and from a convention if not on site. I guess it's easier when you're a 20-30 minute walk away. Admittedly, the one night I wasn't going home earlier in the evening or getting picked up, I had to taxi it, but the fare was pretty cheap. Had I been doing less visiting with relatives or arching, I might see the issue. But the morning walk was a good start to the day.

- I want to go back to the Calgary archery range. Muchly. Even though when I went I was insufficiently fed, tired, stressed, self-conscious about my poor showing in archery lately, and more self-conscious when I proved it. (I did eventually relax into the shooting somewhat.)

- [livejournal.com profile] vilashna, EVERYBODY says hi. I may pass on more news and comments when we see each other next.

- WHAT WAS I THINKING, bringing three books to read for the trip? True enough, I might have needed one for the way there (Though I ended up reading for none of the travel time and not much of the hotel). But grabbing two more for during and the trip back is kind of.... forgetting the giant bag of swag, never mind the fact that i near doubled it with purchases. (More of the purchases were paperback, or used. i even got one book for 25 cents, though that was at a cafe in the neighbourhood, not a WFC vendor).

- It was decidedly odd going to a convention and realising I was almost entirely there in my capacity as artist. True enough, I went to readings as a fan and panels as an aspiring writer, sort of, though I drew through several of them. But I mostly ended up talking to artists, made most of my new acquaintances among the artists (Hardly a complaint, as this included some exceedingly nice people), talking about art, etc. I was explicitly invited to at least one convention, in Surrey, as an artist. Even though Colin and I agree that SFF cons are not the best (Or at least should not be the exclusive) places for me to sell my style of art.

- I sold ten pieces total. Not too bad. It may pay for the fees to get in. One of them was even an undecorated, non fantasy-related bowl.

- I spent considerably more than that. There is a disadvantage to not having to spend on hotel fees, even as there is an advantage. I went a little overboard on my intended budget on book-buying, but not badly, pounced on one cd in my single wander through the mall (Killing time until the awards Sunday, as I was not in the banquet). And then I bought waaay too much art (Two pieces, but the price tag of the second was about my total intended budget for frivolous purchases. Shaun Tan's art practically made me swoon.) But I was saddened, as nobody had Ink and Steel.

- I amused Minister Faust (after his fabulous, dynamic reading) and some other Edmontonians with my observation that Winnipeg is a crow city, while Edmonton (and Calgary) are magpie cities.

- Patricia McKillip is a lovely person, as far as I could tell, as well as a lovely writer, but not a terribly interesting panelist.

- Of people I've known online, I met Patrice Sarath and Lucy A. Snyder ([livejournal.com profile] las). Of people I've met at prior events, Guy Gavriel Kay seemed to have no idea who I was (But I said directly that I expected him not to.)

- One thing that irritated me that i saw in at least two panels. If people are attempting to discuss a general trend in fantasy books (or, presumably, sf books, horror books, fantasy art, sf art, etc.) which you feel you are personally an exception to? DO NOT DISMISS THE ENTIRE TREND AS THEREFORE NONEXISTANT OR A NON-ISSUE. You are not the be-all and end-all of Fantasy. No matter who you are. (And while George R.R. Martin once did this to a degree, I wouldn't have noticed as much had I not been sensitized to it by seeing it in others. The author who made the most blatant example of this was... not in that league for sales or reputation. Not a nobody, either, a decent-selling author with multiple books, but even so.)

- Not much real music: The one music related thing started off with a number of people doing Lord of the Rings filks to "Once More, with Feeling" tunes (The first "I'll never tell" variant, with Legolas and Gimli, was at least funny, and the girl Maja who sang Gollum's bit had a pretty good soprano, though she wobbled a bit without accompaniment. Then Martin Springett did a few songs, starting Lord of the Rings and wandering off into other territory. He's a truly talented guitarist, a decent singer, and a songwriter of some skill, though I have to admit, his style is not to my personal taste, so I'm not likely to buy a cd. But it broke up without ever opening up.

- I didn't practice nearly enough on the Angry Chicken, though I did get some practice time in. And I won't do much tonight, either, as I am tired and it is time to sleep. Sorry, Abacchus.
lenora_rose: (Default)
I've been e-mailing back and forth with Jeff, as my attempt to phone him was less than successful. I've asked his permission to post quotes here. Once I get it, I will, but in the meantime, he's basically okay, as is his apartment.

If you have his phone number, do call him, or try to (Mom got through fine several times, and what happened to me may have been a freak thing for that one night.) Or e-mail him. He wants to hear from people, or so I was told. (If you have neither, e-mail me.)
___________________

Schoolwork proceeds apace. My first project, yay, looks like it will involve as much or more of the finicky little detail I seem to put myself in for. Bunches of peacock feathers! Plus throwing plates etc. Plus, I suspect, an outdoor staircase in miniature.

And the professor this year wants us to put the first project up as a show in University Centre in the GOSA. In late October.

Two reasons to hesitate to go to Regina, now:

One: I'm not sure how work will like me asking yet one more day off.

Two: See above re project full of finicky details. Feathers! And no, this time, real ones won't do, even if you could find me them.

The friend formerly known as abacchus, when he had an lj, took me on the first phase of mandolin shopping today, pointing out the pros and cons of: an actual mandolin, a straight guitar, a "guitar-shaped bouzouki" (Aka, take a guitar, do weird things to it, play it like an octave mandolin), and discussions of other variations outside either my price range or my current interest (Octave mandolin, Tenor guitar, tenor banjo, actual bouzouki, turning a twelve string into a guitar-shaped bouzouki). The theory helped: I could follow most of it (I have some background, if not enough, and while Abacchus gets technical, he does it right; uses clear language, defines special terms, and explains without making one feel dumb.)

I also signed myself up for driving lessons Friday and Sunday evenings. Eek....

Hurricane Ike had an additional bad effect: I also just gave in and set myself a Facebook profile. With the sole intent of being better able to keep track of my friends and relations. Now, does anyone know how I opt out of as many of the horrifically invasive, or nuisancical applications and nonsense as possible?

Off to do a bit of Wii Fit, then sleep.
lenora_rose: (Default)
I've been e-mailing back and forth with Jeff, as my attempt to phone him was less than successful. I've asked his permission to post quotes here. Once I get it, I will, but in the meantime, he's basically okay, as is his apartment.

If you have his phone number, do call him, or try to (Mom got through fine several times, and what happened to me may have been a freak thing for that one night.) Or e-mail him. He wants to hear from people, or so I was told. (If you have neither, e-mail me.)
___________________

Schoolwork proceeds apace. My first project, yay, looks like it will involve as much or more of the finicky little detail I seem to put myself in for. Bunches of peacock feathers! Plus throwing plates etc. Plus, I suspect, an outdoor staircase in miniature.

And the professor this year wants us to put the first project up as a show in University Centre in the GOSA. In late October.

Two reasons to hesitate to go to Regina, now:

One: I'm not sure how work will like me asking yet one more day off.

Two: See above re project full of finicky details. Feathers! And no, this time, real ones won't do, even if you could find me them.

The friend formerly known as abacchus, when he had an lj, took me on the first phase of mandolin shopping today, pointing out the pros and cons of: an actual mandolin, a straight guitar, a "guitar-shaped bouzouki" (Aka, take a guitar, do weird things to it, play it like an octave mandolin), and discussions of other variations outside either my price range or my current interest (Octave mandolin, Tenor guitar, tenor banjo, actual bouzouki, turning a twelve string into a guitar-shaped bouzouki). The theory helped: I could follow most of it (I have some background, if not enough, and while Abacchus gets technical, he does it right; uses clear language, defines special terms, and explains without making one feel dumb.)

I also signed myself up for driving lessons Friday and Sunday evenings. Eek....

Hurricane Ike had an additional bad effect: I also just gave in and set myself a Facebook profile. With the sole intent of being better able to keep track of my friends and relations. Now, does anyone know how I opt out of as many of the horrifically invasive, or nuisancical applications and nonsense as possible?

Off to do a bit of Wii Fit, then sleep.
lenora_rose: (Wheee!)
I'm In!

What happened with World Fantasy Convention is simultaneously simple and inexplicable. My regular e-mail address - which is a working e-mail address on which I have received things as recently as today - bounced. Twice. They finally reached me on the query I sent yesterday via Gmail. But they've wanted me in all along.

There are days I hate e-mail.

Anyhow, I'll be sending them the forms at minimum by tomorrow evening.

Happy Lenora.

I've also had an invite to 1000 Miles Apart, the ceramics convention that we hosted last year. This year, it's in Regina. At the start of October, as WFC is at the end. The Professor will be going (He has, by his own description a diesel/vegetable oil van that seats 14, and there are only 5 in my class), so it won't count as missed class time, which makes me moderately tempted. Although I may refuse just so I have the free studio time. (Also so I don't have a motel fee.)

However, our professor is explicit that, as the Majors class, we should send work for the show even if we don't go ourselves.

For some reason, I keep thinking about sending some of my nicer mugs, not my figure work. Is it because it's fragile? Because Comiccon is immediately after, and WFC after that? Or because I like my mugs?

I need to open up ALL my boxes of pottery and scan them over again, and see what all I have in there. (The figures are sitting in our living room, not in boxes, but there are a lot of plates and mugs and bowls I've half-forgotten.)


Anyhow. I must to choir.
lenora_rose: (Wheee!)
I'm In!

What happened with World Fantasy Convention is simultaneously simple and inexplicable. My regular e-mail address - which is a working e-mail address on which I have received things as recently as today - bounced. Twice. They finally reached me on the query I sent yesterday via Gmail. But they've wanted me in all along.

There are days I hate e-mail.

Anyhow, I'll be sending them the forms at minimum by tomorrow evening.

Happy Lenora.

I've also had an invite to 1000 Miles Apart, the ceramics convention that we hosted last year. This year, it's in Regina. At the start of October, as WFC is at the end. The Professor will be going (He has, by his own description a diesel/vegetable oil van that seats 14, and there are only 5 in my class), so it won't count as missed class time, which makes me moderately tempted. Although I may refuse just so I have the free studio time. (Also so I don't have a motel fee.)

However, our professor is explicit that, as the Majors class, we should send work for the show even if we don't go ourselves.

For some reason, I keep thinking about sending some of my nicer mugs, not my figure work. Is it because it's fragile? Because Comiccon is immediately after, and WFC after that? Or because I like my mugs?

I need to open up ALL my boxes of pottery and scan them over again, and see what all I have in there. (The figures are sitting in our living room, not in boxes, but there are a lot of plates and mugs and bowls I've half-forgotten.)


Anyhow. I must to choir.
lenora_rose: (Esther Falkner)
Real world first:

- I still haven't heard from World Fantasy Con, even just to say "Yes, we got it, we're considering, give us time..." and the polite query I sent was September First. E-mail wise in general, that's LONG. More, when I sent an e-mail to this address for a question before I sent the jury submission proper, I got a response in three days, which felt long but wasn't. Panic, panic....

- I just ended up switching my ceramics class around, and am taking the 9 credit-hour major instead of the 6 credit-hour advanced. The practical difference is that I have to work Mondays and Fridays, as Wednesday is now also officially class time.

- In sorting out my tools and all, I discovered three partly-finished bowls form the rush at the end of last term. Drier than ideal, but still in a condition to be worth finishing. And pretty! So I've done ceramics work.

- Totally failed to get any writing done on the Serpent Prince for the alst week and a bit. Every time I went to, I found some way to cat-vaccuum. Also, the scene that's been blocking itself out in my head is from the sequel. From fairly late in the sequel. Past where any prior draft has gone. I may knock it out just to get things shaken loose and running again,

- Colin got a Wii Fit. Some of the balance and aerobics bits are plenty of fun, actually, and the others have the merit of being exceedingly familiar. it also has another base advantage; even if you don't use it for the exercise you do that day, it acts as a reminder. We've found a few nitpicks; it's not possible to record an outside activity for a prior day, if you missed noting it down. It occasionally suggests good combos of exercises between the strength and yoga areas, but doesn't link to the uncompleted portions of the combo. Even though the Wii keeps a record separate form the disk, it can't transfer any kind of record from another game (DDR or the Sports, f'rinstance) so you have to switch disks and do it manually.

Our RPG took a not so nice turn this time. At least, not for my poor character. The following is only lightly edited.

And of course hay fever gave me a right-side focused sinus headache Sunday and MOnday.... )
lenora_rose: (Esther Falkner)
Real world first:

- I still haven't heard from World Fantasy Con, even just to say "Yes, we got it, we're considering, give us time..." and the polite query I sent was September First. E-mail wise in general, that's LONG. More, when I sent an e-mail to this address for a question before I sent the jury submission proper, I got a response in three days, which felt long but wasn't. Panic, panic....

- I just ended up switching my ceramics class around, and am taking the 9 credit-hour major instead of the 6 credit-hour advanced. The practical difference is that I have to work Mondays and Fridays, as Wednesday is now also officially class time.

- In sorting out my tools and all, I discovered three partly-finished bowls form the rush at the end of last term. Drier than ideal, but still in a condition to be worth finishing. And pretty! So I've done ceramics work.

- Totally failed to get any writing done on the Serpent Prince for the alst week and a bit. Every time I went to, I found some way to cat-vaccuum. Also, the scene that's been blocking itself out in my head is from the sequel. From fairly late in the sequel. Past where any prior draft has gone. I may knock it out just to get things shaken loose and running again,

- Colin got a Wii Fit. Some of the balance and aerobics bits are plenty of fun, actually, and the others have the merit of being exceedingly familiar. it also has another base advantage; even if you don't use it for the exercise you do that day, it acts as a reminder. We've found a few nitpicks; it's not possible to record an outside activity for a prior day, if you missed noting it down. It occasionally suggests good combos of exercises between the strength and yoga areas, but doesn't link to the uncompleted portions of the combo. Even though the Wii keeps a record separate form the disk, it can't transfer any kind of record from another game (DDR or the Sports, f'rinstance) so you have to switch disks and do it manually.

Our RPG took a not so nice turn this time. At least, not for my poor character. The following is only lightly edited.

And of course hay fever gave me a right-side focused sinus headache Sunday and MOnday.... )
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
As part of a critique for a friend, looking for a pithy one-word definition for one particular writing flaw, I ended up sifting through a lot of old posts by multiple people about writing theory.

One of these, papersky's "What is a chapter?" caused me to realise one thing about my own process.

I don't think in chapters. I pretty much can't.

She does, to the point where she's unconsciously absorbed a given length for a chapter to be. (About 3k). Others have talked chapter structure in strong and minute detail (And reasonable lengths seem to range from 1.5/2k up to 6k or 7 if it's a climactic chapter or a reversal).

Mostly, I think and plan my novel structure in two formats: in scenes, and in parts. Chapters come after the fact, when I decide that this cluster of scenes work together, and the break point works best *there*.

Scenes are not chapters; it may chance that this time, the two structures match, but the next time, they totally do not. But chapters feel to me, when I try to analyze them, like a solid frame, the skeleton structure of a building or, well, a skeleton. A scene is best defined as a single ongoing action that either clearly defines or clearly alters some aspect of a story, ending usually where that action is either completely defined (Until it gets altered in a later scene), or completely altered. It's not a skeleton; it has all its own muscle and sinew and veins and skin already in place. It's a movement of a part of a larger body. Nice, and put together with others, it makes a whole, but you can't get there from framework. X and Y sneak up on an enemy site, and get a bunch of assumptions shaken. Y and Z are swordfighting while A and B are talking, and we get to see B's reaction to something really incongruous in the fight that the fighters themselves missed. Scenes range from 1000 words to 10,000. Or possibly more. (I have one that's not only about 13k, it's the only scene in that *part*. It's that big and that unified. That would be about four chapters for Ms. Walton, and two or three for me.) The characters go in one side, emerge from the other newly scathed.

Parts are different. Each part encloses a long strip of action or time that is distinct from the parts before or after it by one of several means; point of view, geographic location. Time passage. But each one tends to end with a major, visible turning point in the story. A fire door, as Jim MacDonald describes them, where nobody can go back once they've stepped through; or, if they try, have to go another route, a long way around, with plenty of chances to get sidetracked or kidnapped. A major set piece of a very particular kind. Scenes can involve little set pieces; a conversation that reveals character and shows you something about the culture and setting. Parts end on the big notes. The enemy's true face is revealed. War is declared. Someone is teleported to a whole new world.

If these are short enough to be chapters, you're doing something very wrong. One would exhaust readers having those kinds of peaks often enough to call them chapters.

Usually there are three to five of these per book, at least if the book has a traditional pattern, like rising action, three act, or five act structure. (With certain kinds of series books, divided by publisher's whim or by long-range planning or artificial bloating, all bets are off). More if it's longer. The Serpent Prince had four, but is starting to look like it rather suddenly grew a fifth. (Since the third is a major centrepiece, this is probably a good thing; five parts puts the centrepiece back in the centre). Bird of Dusk I think has seven, but it's hard to count on an unfinished project. Another indicator of how scary long and complex Raising the Storm got is that it has eleven.

The thing I find about both these definitions is that they're not about word count, or structure in the usual sense. They do make the shape of the story, but it's a nebulous kind of shape, a series of clouds, obviously all the same kind in the same stretch of atmosphere, blown by the same wind, but that one begins to look like a stampeding horse, and that one's an angel.

Jim MacDonald has said at least one of his series, he can draw the structure as a specific celtic knot, it's that firm. Mine could never be that straightforward; sometimes I could almost say it's a series of slide images. Other times, one's an image, the next is a song, the next is the sudden yelping sear when you stick your hand over a candle.

But everyone expects chapters, so after the fact, I go in, and I choose clusters of scenes to link together. Sometimes I'm even proud of the results. Other times it's just a mechanical exercise. Yet other times, I have orphan scenes, that sit between chapters and demand to be called interludes, or something else, to explain why they're so different. Does this scene end on enough of a mini-peak to count as a good chapter close? The next one starts with a lot less tension, and chapter breaks are good for warning people they've moved from a peak of tension to a trough.

Anyhow, I've been thinking a fair bit about what it means that I insist on using these organic, complex structures when I think about my story shapes, and can't use stiffer, stronger, more traditional formats, even though they should be familiar from a sufficiency of reading. Whether it's a positive thing I should exploit (Write chapterless books like non-YA Discworld?), a negative thing I should overcome (people seem to like geometrics and less-organic celtic knots and strong patterns) or just a thing.

Or maybe I'm using it as an excuse not to think about the scene that I just tried to write and fell flat. The writing was doing very well up until then, both new scenes and retreads, but this one, a key turning point and close to the end-point of this particular "part", won't gel.

Partly, it seems, because this draft took a sharp turn after the centrepiece. Odd; all the same things happen, if in a marginally different chronological order. But the consequences are going explosive. This is good; most of the disaster is going to be directly the fault of the protagonist, instead of the fecal matter only chancing to slap into him after it hit the rotating blades. He's practically picking it up and throwing it.

But this scene doesn't want to work to make that happen. The character with two obvious motivations doesn't seem to want to work with either of them. The structure is too repetitive, and not in the good way. Nobody seems to be remotely doing what they should be doing, or even screwing up in the right ways. (I'm getting quite fond of seeing my good guys screw up in all the right ways, with the best intentions in the world.)

Ah, well, I thought I should take other projects with me to Folk Fest on the Dana, in hopes this scene will let go if I give it a little time. I'm debating between two or three other entirely random projects. All novel length. So the question ends up; virtually universally bisexual and insane fox people, or snarky teenaged gods, or Diana Wynne Jones/Jim Henson pastiche?

Or scrap it all and try to redo the scene from scratch.

Sigh.
lenora_rose: (Labyrinth)
As part of a critique for a friend, looking for a pithy one-word definition for one particular writing flaw, I ended up sifting through a lot of old posts by multiple people about writing theory.

One of these, papersky's "What is a chapter?" caused me to realise one thing about my own process.

I don't think in chapters. I pretty much can't.

She does, to the point where she's unconsciously absorbed a given length for a chapter to be. (About 3k). Others have talked chapter structure in strong and minute detail (And reasonable lengths seem to range from 1.5/2k up to 6k or 7 if it's a climactic chapter or a reversal).

Mostly, I think and plan my novel structure in two formats: in scenes, and in parts. Chapters come after the fact, when I decide that this cluster of scenes work together, and the break point works best *there*.

Scenes are not chapters; it may chance that this time, the two structures match, but the next time, they totally do not. But chapters feel to me, when I try to analyze them, like a solid frame, the skeleton structure of a building or, well, a skeleton. A scene is best defined as a single ongoing action that either clearly defines or clearly alters some aspect of a story, ending usually where that action is either completely defined (Until it gets altered in a later scene), or completely altered. It's not a skeleton; it has all its own muscle and sinew and veins and skin already in place. It's a movement of a part of a larger body. Nice, and put together with others, it makes a whole, but you can't get there from framework. X and Y sneak up on an enemy site, and get a bunch of assumptions shaken. Y and Z are swordfighting while A and B are talking, and we get to see B's reaction to something really incongruous in the fight that the fighters themselves missed. Scenes range from 1000 words to 10,000. Or possibly more. (I have one that's not only about 13k, it's the only scene in that *part*. It's that big and that unified. That would be about four chapters for Ms. Walton, and two or three for me.) The characters go in one side, emerge from the other newly scathed.

Parts are different. Each part encloses a long strip of action or time that is distinct from the parts before or after it by one of several means; point of view, geographic location. Time passage. But each one tends to end with a major, visible turning point in the story. A fire door, as Jim MacDonald describes them, where nobody can go back once they've stepped through; or, if they try, have to go another route, a long way around, with plenty of chances to get sidetracked or kidnapped. A major set piece of a very particular kind. Scenes can involve little set pieces; a conversation that reveals character and shows you something about the culture and setting. Parts end on the big notes. The enemy's true face is revealed. War is declared. Someone is teleported to a whole new world.

If these are short enough to be chapters, you're doing something very wrong. One would exhaust readers having those kinds of peaks often enough to call them chapters.

Usually there are three to five of these per book, at least if the book has a traditional pattern, like rising action, three act, or five act structure. (With certain kinds of series books, divided by publisher's whim or by long-range planning or artificial bloating, all bets are off). More if it's longer. The Serpent Prince had four, but is starting to look like it rather suddenly grew a fifth. (Since the third is a major centrepiece, this is probably a good thing; five parts puts the centrepiece back in the centre). Bird of Dusk I think has seven, but it's hard to count on an unfinished project. Another indicator of how scary long and complex Raising the Storm got is that it has eleven.

The thing I find about both these definitions is that they're not about word count, or structure in the usual sense. They do make the shape of the story, but it's a nebulous kind of shape, a series of clouds, obviously all the same kind in the same stretch of atmosphere, blown by the same wind, but that one begins to look like a stampeding horse, and that one's an angel.

Jim MacDonald has said at least one of his series, he can draw the structure as a specific celtic knot, it's that firm. Mine could never be that straightforward; sometimes I could almost say it's a series of slide images. Other times, one's an image, the next is a song, the next is the sudden yelping sear when you stick your hand over a candle.

But everyone expects chapters, so after the fact, I go in, and I choose clusters of scenes to link together. Sometimes I'm even proud of the results. Other times it's just a mechanical exercise. Yet other times, I have orphan scenes, that sit between chapters and demand to be called interludes, or something else, to explain why they're so different. Does this scene end on enough of a mini-peak to count as a good chapter close? The next one starts with a lot less tension, and chapter breaks are good for warning people they've moved from a peak of tension to a trough.

Anyhow, I've been thinking a fair bit about what it means that I insist on using these organic, complex structures when I think about my story shapes, and can't use stiffer, stronger, more traditional formats, even though they should be familiar from a sufficiency of reading. Whether it's a positive thing I should exploit (Write chapterless books like non-YA Discworld?), a negative thing I should overcome (people seem to like geometrics and less-organic celtic knots and strong patterns) or just a thing.

Or maybe I'm using it as an excuse not to think about the scene that I just tried to write and fell flat. The writing was doing very well up until then, both new scenes and retreads, but this one, a key turning point and close to the end-point of this particular "part", won't gel.

Partly, it seems, because this draft took a sharp turn after the centrepiece. Odd; all the same things happen, if in a marginally different chronological order. But the consequences are going explosive. This is good; most of the disaster is going to be directly the fault of the protagonist, instead of the fecal matter only chancing to slap into him after it hit the rotating blades. He's practically picking it up and throwing it.

But this scene doesn't want to work to make that happen. The character with two obvious motivations doesn't seem to want to work with either of them. The structure is too repetitive, and not in the good way. Nobody seems to be remotely doing what they should be doing, or even screwing up in the right ways. (I'm getting quite fond of seeing my good guys screw up in all the right ways, with the best intentions in the world.)

Ah, well, I thought I should take other projects with me to Folk Fest on the Dana, in hopes this scene will let go if I give it a little time. I'm debating between two or three other entirely random projects. All novel length. So the question ends up; virtually universally bisexual and insane fox people, or snarky teenaged gods, or Diana Wynne Jones/Jim Henson pastiche?

Or scrap it all and try to redo the scene from scratch.

Sigh.

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