I'm in two Creative Writing courses this semester (a trial I'm actually enjoying). In the Advanced class we'll be spending the semester working on a novel/novella. I had a really difficult time choosing which tale to focus on and if you've glanced at my upcoming projects list you know why. In the end I decided I shouldn't begin anything new when I'm so obviously falling short on the projects I've already begun so I chose to spend my academic semester with Clocker (my unfinished 2011 NaNo)and to spend my free time (if I end up having any free time)on my unfinished 2010 NaNo Iron Shoes.
Despite my resolution in my last post to return to all my most frustrating projects, I had totally dropped Iron Shoes until recently. My university has a weekly forum/devotional where a speaker is invited to address the students. Last week New York Times Bestselling author Jason F. Wright came to speak and I had the spectacular opportunity to eat lunch with him and a group of other students who are studying in the Humanities. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that I had an incomplete 65,000 word project and he told me that once I had invested that many words in a single project I had essentially lost the choice to discard it completely. So long story shortened, I'm going to finish it.
My main focus, however, has been on making Clocker coherent enough to be work-shopped. The issue has been that the world is a conglomerate of so many genres and cultures that I worried it would distract my peers from the actual story. It's also set in a gritty, nasty city which I would equate with Tortuga in Pirates of the Caribbean--essentially not a nice place--and I've been concerned that the callous portrayal of casual violence and squalor might prove offensive to my classmates. And then I took a step back and realized that, as long as it adds to the story's atmosphere, as crass as it sounds, I don't care if it offends someone.
So I'm researching weapons and old time London and vicious mythical creatures. To be honest I'm getting really pumped up to write a little of the darker stuff. I love weapons, especially the strange ones that hardly work but look really cool anyway. My favorite recent find is the cestus, the Roman gladiator's version of brass knuckles, which I am seriously considering making into my main character's weapon of choice. I'm taken with the idea of a female character who would rather wear a leather, studded boxing glove than carry a firearm.
But, to balance out that darkness so I don't spaz out and become a violence nut (any more than I already have) my music choices have become very very light. This week's speaker at my university was Mindy Gledhill and her visit has set me on a whole other kick. Her songs make me feel hopeful, silly and a little giddy so, as you can imagine with the combination of dark geeking and happy singing, I've become a very odd person to be around.