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Yuletide reveals!
SSar's Beast
I wrote four stories this year. Well, three and an extra one that I sent in the mail to my drink swaps recipient and have finally decided to enter into the NYR collection, because, okay, I wrote it during the Yuletide period for a Yuletide prompt, I've convinced myself that's fair.

The fandoms were Legendsong - Isobelle Carmody (an incomplete book trilogy consisting of Darkfall and Darksong); Seafort Saga - David Feintuch; Rosanella - Anne Claude de Caylus; and Dragon Prince Trilogy - Melanie Rawn.

I had giant ambitions for this year of Yuletide. Before assignments went out, I looked down the list of prompts and made myself a shortlist of 17 (to inflate to a maximum of 20 with assignments and pinch hits). In the end I contented myself with quite different achievements. And in some cases, the prompts I bookmarked were filled by other writers in ways that made me very pleased.

I started with two assignments: in the normal way, Seafort Saga for kangeiko, and in a looser way, Legendsong for Blueinkedfrost. Technically, Blueinkedfrost's requests matched no one's offers. Usually those get sent out to the pinch hit immediately, but I was helping out with other yuletide admin things this year, and I was around in real-time when the list of such recipients was discussed. So I put my hand up. Well, I went down to the bookstore and bought Darkfall. Then I put my hand up.

It was quite nice having two, because writing for the Seafort Saga scared me, and this way I could convince myself it wasn't so hard after all and procrastinate on it by telling myself that Legendsong was even harder. Perhaps that's why the word counts skewed the way they did. =/

So I got started on canon review and making notes. Two things I learned about my writing process this year: one, it is not helpful to write in tiny notebooks. They need to be at least A5 or my writing gets all cramped and I don't want to go back and check. Two: it does work to set myself a modest word count goal in longhand before I'm allowed to open my laptop for the day.

I sulked about Legendsong for a bit, because I came up with a story idea I really liked… and then immediately guessed it would clock in at around 20k. No! I didn't want to write a 20k story! (I've not yet written anything that long.) I wanted to give my assignments a decent go and then relax and write treats!

I was finding Legendsong difficult because that second book of the planned trilogy ends on so many cliffhangers. Many of the minor characters are fascinating and seem to have mysterious pasts. So writing anything set around canon times seemed to require me to figure out so much. I kept trying to basically write the third book in my head. Talk about overextending myself!

After re-reading Darkfall and Darksong over again for a second time, I came up with an idea I was sure would only be about 5k. Great, I thought, and got NightsMistress to promise to beta for me when I was done. All good.

Except I got to 6k in Unys of Vespi and I wasn't even through the wedding scene. "Next week!" I kept saying to NightsMistress.

I started to brainstorm for Seafort Saga instead, worried I was coming up against time. And I foolishly picked up a pinch hit - Rosanella, or Windows 95 Tips, for anticyclone. Well, anticyclone's prompts were on my original list of 17. And they'd even linked to the fairy tale, Rosanella, that particularly intrigued me.

Rosanella is one of those interesting stories that rests entirely on the conventions of the genre. If you start to think about the motivations of the characters involved, it completely falls out. It's about a competition - but that competition could not have ended any other way. Paridamie seems capable of doing anything she wants to; in comparison, it's not clear if her rival, Surcantine, does anything. So it was a really fun writing challenge to give Surcantine reasons for what she did, and also play with how high-handedly the fairies treat the mortals. The result was Plus ça change…. Finch kindly checked it over very close to reveals.

I was still brainstorming ideas for a story for kangeiko, and under 8k on the story for Blueinkedfrost, when kangeiko sent me a request for beta services. For Seafort Saga. Ooooooops. I think that went better than it could have? We bonded a little over how it is difficult to write for Seafort Saga, because I'd considered offering it and then chickened out in both 2011 and 2012. I tried not to be too bossy or too panicked. Or too obvious that I could quote page references for events in Midshipman's Hope… because I'd just looked them up for my own purposes. Urgh, I thought. How will it look if I write them a less than perfect fic, having just been a very opinionated beta? More urgh. Should I default? I wrote a fic anyway: The Hangman Isn't Hanging. Well, everyone knows that editing and writing are very different skills. And this will mean another fic in the fandom. And at least with Seafort Saga, there is no shortage of feelings to channel. When I gave it to Framlingem to beta, she commented, "I'd forgotten how angsty this canon is!" How? I wondered. And then I wondered just how angsty my fic was, because, steeped in canon, I could not tell.

(If you are interested in Seafort Saga, kangeiko has a great fandom primer here. It is about the angstiest space navy hero ever. His suffering calls popcorn forth. It's great.)

I was not a very responsible writer about Unys of Vespi. It got closer and closer to the deadline - and the deadline passed - and here I was still struggling towards an ending. I knew some of the things I wanted the story to do, but not quite how to get there. Man I cut that one fine. I confess this partly to shame myself into not doing it again. I wrote all December 24th. I went out to the Hutt, cooked dinner for my friends Sam and Paul and Paul's new friend, came home, had champagne with Joel and Pip, and then Joel walked Pip home and I kept writing. I had a shower at about 4am. I wrote out a list of seven final scenes provided by my shower. I kept writing. NightsMistress checked in with me as the day progressed. "JUST KEEP WRITING." I kept writing. I took a break to beta a short fic. I kept an eye on chat for deadline updates - and kept writing. The story was done maybe an hour and a half before reveals. MORBANE, YOU PERFECTIONISTIC PROCRASTINATORY NINNY, NEVER DO THAT AGAIN.

…but I like the story. And oh gosh, there weren't many typos, but I think I've caught the few that my sleep-deprived brain let through.

Oh yes! And the story for ryuutchi, Hold with Those Who Favour Fire, is a silly little piece of politics and banter and femslash in which Ianthe basically realises she's losing a bet and suggests a reigning threesome.

And I think I beta'd about 60k of fic, maybe more.

I love Yuletide.

And I mentioned my gifts, right? ^!^

In conclusion, my writers were lovely, my recipients were lovely, I wrote things I'm pleased with and I wrote in canons that challenged me as a writer. I just need to work on realistic goal-setting and time management.

This entry is also posted at http://morbane.dreamwidth.org/9646.html. There are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment either here or there.

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Wow, your Yuletide experience sounds epic. I greatly enjoyed reading about it! I always find prose canons super difficult to writer for, so special kudos to you for writing in several.

I'm going to write my own writeup of my 2013 Yuletide experience, partly in response to your request ages ago for discussion of my writing process, but that won't happen until the weekend at the earliest.

Hee, I think when it comes to discussing my writing process, I apply some kind of adventure-and-drama multiplier. (But I have fun doing so!)

I find prose canons the easiest by far because the rhythms of the prose are already there. And in contrast, I find it very difficult to remember where something falls in a TV canon, so canon review frustrates me - and so I admire your skill there!

I look forward to reading your writing-process-&-Yuletide entry.

Hah, well, I haven't tended to offer long TV canons for Yuletide, and the longest Yuletide canon I've actually written for had only 6 episodes.

However, it's much easier to keep TV canons straight when they have big fandoms. When I'm writing SPN fic, not only do I have tons of people on my flist who can help me remember details, but I have the wiki, which is pretty much exhaustive, and I have tons of fic that I read for fun anyway and which references a lot of those details that I might not remember from one or even two watches. So it's not as hard as it might sound. :)

and made myself a shortlist of 17

I always cut so close to the deadlines too >.< I always have trouble with endings. That's a lot of fic though! And beta-output; I didn't beta nearly as much this year.

It was a laughably unrealistic shortlist. It would be neat to manage one or two of them for NYR, though.

I somewhat foolishly put my hand up to beta one person's 40k story. It was quite a learning process for me! I did my best but I think I got a bit fatigued over it. The author didn't end up posting it - they went with their backup plan in a different canon and said they would probably try to finish the longer fic for NYR.

What kind of trouble with endings, exactly? (I feel there are lots of different problems one can have with endings.)

I have a long list of treats too. I made an entry with all the URLs since I was tired of pulling up the spreadsheet, but I only ended up doing two :P

Holy cow that is one heck of a long fic for an exchange!

Mostly I have a problem of "how do you end"? It's easier when I actually have a plot. Actually, I think the core problem of my writing is failing to do any planning whatsoever aside from "this one thing happens".

I don't really do much planning either - outlines are only when I'm desperate and on a time limit - but I guess I have a sense of an emotional arc. So I tend to write until I get to the end that I have vaguely defined, and then stop. Sometimes my endings are a little abrupt. But I guess I - somehow - design my stories to that when your "one thing happens", it happens, there's fallout, it's over.

And of course I get stuck because I think of great story ideas and then it's all "but you know nothing of modern South Korean culture and you probably need city-specific, class-specific South Korean culture for this story," or "But how do you find out enough about prisoner transport in the US to make this even remotely plausible?" Like all of us.

It is about the angstiest space navy hero ever.

I feel like this line should be on the front cover of the books.

And yay for more Seafort Saga fic! <3

I don't know, the Serious Dutiful Man in Uniform that stares heroically from the covers of most of my books is a pretty good indicator. But it would be funny.

And indeed! Yay you too! You're building up quite a tradition for yourself in that regard, aren't you?

Ah, so that was you who joined Ober.net recently! I thought it must be you, since I've never seen anyone else with your username, but I wasn't quite sure.

One day there'll be a conclusion to Legendsong. Or so we hope. Given that we've been waiting for the conclusion to Obernewtyn since 1987, though, I don't hold out any hope of its occuring soon. In the meantime: fic!

It was! I'll do a little lurking to try to figure out what's happening there, and then I'll introduce myself properly. Is there much activity still? (I guess the fact that you noticed is an encouraging sign!)

Well, at least she's been writing more of Obernewtyn. On the other hand, I would like Darkbane to be a single book.

Urk! I need to go watch your writing videos.

It's certainly not as prolific as it was a year or so ago. In fact, most of the activity seems to be centred around the writing-related boards, which is where I tend to hang out

I certainly hope the Legendsong trilogy remains a trilogy. It would be nice to have everything finished off in one last book, rather than having to endure a drawn-out conclusion.

I'm still trawling through Yuletide and so excited to read your stuff! :D :D :D

Hello! How nice to hear from you!

Uh, my stuff isn't that accessible this year outside canon, but the fairy tale story might be fun if you read the fairy tale linked above first.

How are things?

(I'm so bad about checking LJ, WOE! But I always do get around to it eventually.)

Noted! I will definitely check that one out.

THINGS ARE EXCELLENT ASIDE FROM THE INCLEMENT WEATHER. Good writing getting done, which always makes me happy. <3 Yourself?

I'm very glad to hear your writing mojo is as strong as ever. Stay warm!

I don't think one can be faulted for only intermittently checking publishing platforms that are not one's primary ones. Especially if expectations are consistent with behaviour. BUT, since you're here, I will alert you to Jukebox - http://jukebox-fest.dreamwidth.org - where I am running the song-based challenge again if you'd like to try it out this year. No pressure if you can't fit it in, but I might as well promote it, right?

I'm good. I'm just back at work today and trying to use my lack of sleep debt to start the year strong. I'm feeling a little written-out after Yuletide - I have lots of stories I'd like to work on, but absolutely no momentum. We'll see. Writing will start again when it chooses to.

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