I’m over halfway through the current round of revision of The Book of the Dead, which has been going swimmingly. Until yesterday. I was in the middle of one of my favorite scenes, about to re-introduce a character, when…bam, all of the sudden I can see an arc for him that I have never contemplated.
It literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to write down the bare bones of the idea, close my laptop, and stop working to let it incubate.
On one hand, it’s fairly late in the game to be making a big change. This was supposed to be a semi-final draft (if such a thing even exists). On the other, the new trajectory that came to me in a flash solves about three problems that I’d been worrying over: one about representation, one about reception, and one about pacing.
So today, when I was supposed to be polishing up a chapter, I am about to re-structure three. We’ll see how it turns out.
I always thought my mom was the language person in the family (in her career she has taught French, Russian, and Spanish), but it seems I’ve inherited at least some of it. I’m passable at Spanish, in love with American Sign Language, and currently brushing up on my Kichwa for my upcoming return to Ecuador.
I’ve spent a larger portion of this week that I probably should have working on creating a compiled Kichwa dictionary from a bunch of sources, for personal use. Kichwa, or Quechua, is the largest indigenous language in South America, and pretty dang fascinating,
First off, it’s only been recorded for about fifty years, meaning there’s a whole bunch of spelling variety, but it’s all correct. Secondly, there are no irregular verbs (you heard me). Thirdly, it’s an agglutinative language–so you can potentially have very long sentences in just a few huge words. Working on this dictionary has really allowed me to make sense of some morphemes, which is very helpful when learning the language. As my friend says, if you know the little chunks of a language, even if you don’t grasp everything in a sentence you can start to understand a little.
- iyai: idea, thought
- iyana: to think
- iyarina: to remember
- iyachina: to remind
- iyashalla: thoughtfully
- iyayuj: intelligent
So I might not get it all if a Kichwa speaker says something complex, but if hear ‘iya’ in there, I can at least take an educated guess. Pretty heckin’ awesome.
It’s that time again, when I depart from my mountaintop university, drive six hours, and end up back home in an existential crisis. It comes from lack of structure.
How will I attempt to abate this? Writing, of course!
I plan to knock out a final-ish draft of The Book of the Dead in the next month and a half before I leave for Ecuador so I can hit the ground querying when I get back. My goal is at least half a chapter a day, using the process I detailed in this post. I’m fighting a lot of doubt right now over just about every aspect of the story, so hopefully total immersion in it will belay that.
I found a quote on tumblr that I will be referencing when I feel this way: “when u dont like ur art take a deep breath and remember u created it from nothing, like a god” —hypeswap
I think this can apply just as well to writing. Nothing like a power trip to chase away hesitation. I’d love to hear others’ ways of coping with doubt.
Way back in January I made some New Years Writing Resolutions, and no.3 was “Submit a short story to my school’s literary magazine.” Well, folks, I submitted one, and I was accepted! The release party was last night, and you can now find my short story “Cake” right here, in the 2016-17 version of The Peel, a very cool literary magazine.
I was asked to read the story at the release party, which I did, and I didn’t throw up, mess up, or start laughing uncontrollably into the microphone. The crowd was the kind that snaps when they like a line. It was an incredible experience, and the implications haven’t quite sunk in. I’m a person who’s been published. A published person. P U B L I S H E D.
The story is about a cake (surprised?) and only a page and a half long. It was actually a writing prompt I did last year and buffed up to submit on the last night of the deadline, which goes to show–well, I’m not sure what, but it goes to show something.
And after that brief celebration, it’s back to the despair of exam week. Good luck to any fellow students out there!
Image 1: An attempt at a context-based visual pun