Aldarion and Erendis

The Mariner’s Wife

from Unfinished Tales

by J. R. R. Tolkien

I’ll admit up front I’ve never been very enamoured or interested in Númenoreans; I don’t dislike the Númenoreans, I’m just not very compelled by Númenorean culture or history.

That said, this tale, though unfinished, was interesting. I suppose that comes down more to my interest in mariners or sailors and their wives and the women left on land. (I’m looking at you, One Piece). So the set up of Aldarion’s drive toward the sea and Erendis’ fear and dislike of the sea… It fits in that broader narrative type.

What was unique about “Aldarion and Erendis,” which surprised me, was how…unhappy it was.

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Writing Week • this and that [1/1/18-1/8/18]

Well. It was harder than previous weeks to write this post. Not because there was a lot to write about — far from it! — or because there was nothing to write about — though that may have aided the cause — but because I was so frustrated with having to write the post at all. Not about the content or purpose of the post, no, but that I didn’t really want to write it when I initially sat down because I had something else I wanted to do.

Aside from that personal revelation, if I had to describe this week (and the new year) thus far, it would be: mountains of questions and a particular peak with murky holes and crags, which ultimately turned out to be mostly imaginary.

To wit: I, once again, struggled to make sense of all the tales, contradictory, repetitive, or otherwise, that compose my NaNo 2017 story and the backstory behind it. In particular, the chronology of all the tales, etc. This struggle was re-ignited by my desire to write the tale that caused me the most trouble during November last year, and the one which I ultimately cut because it didn’t fit what the story become.

But as I struggled to make sense of the chronology, I started to suspect that this particular tale might not be ready to be written. Though seeing The Greatest Showman on Saturday may have helped in a very, very, very roundabout way. If asked to explain how…the best I could say is positivity over despair. And stars.

That said, I’m tentatively thinking of using this cut tale for NaNo this year. I shall see.

A few other writing things of interest:

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Writing Week • reminiscing [12/25/17 – 1/1/18]

I recently starting following a tumblr blog that’s goal is to share writers, and I assume, promote the writers’ writing. I browsed the first couple posts and a lot of those posts reminded me of me right before I was in high school, wanting to share my writing with a teacher. And thus began my odd trouble of never finding anyone to read or share my writing with.

I should clarify: people have read my writing, my mom, I think, being the one who read most of it (that was because she had a good eye for editing). But what I’ve never been able to maintain is a consistent reader and I’m pretty sure I’ve never had a beta reader, someone who reads me work and offers solutions or critiques on the content, plot, characters, etc.

I’ve been to workshops and classes that had an aspect of that, but when I did try to get in contact with the only person’s who contact information I had, I never heard back. This wasn’t more than a week after I got back from the workshop/trip where I met these people. Perhaps it was too long. (My advice book on networking says to contact sooner than later.) Perhaps I wasn’t involved enough for this person to remember me. I am pretty forgettable.

So finding beta readers would be a big boon. I think it would make my writing not only be better, but might help me write faster. Since I do everything on my own, it helps to take breaks between stories, to give myself time to note problems or inconsistencies. It’s a very slow progress, and I’ve suspected was part of why revision takes me so long. Oddly, writing the first draft is usually not hard. It’s revising that can take years. (Although some of that may also be or have been my lack of comprehension of how stories function.)

Which leads me to my next point: It’s strange, when I looked through various school projects from when I was in elementary school, I was surprised how many focused on stories and plot. I did fine on the assignments, but I don’t think I fully absorbed what the lessons were saying. But then, school was more about “doing the thing” than “knowing the thing,” since it was just filler time until I got home and could focus on what I wanted. Some of which included my oldest story ideas and characters.

But school and my writing or stories always had a strange tension.

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Writerly Notions: romance and choice

I re-read a story I wrote about a decade ago and hadn’t thought much, except for a few blimps of contemplative revisions, and…wow. What stood out to me was not what I was expecting.

I remembered that the plot, and thereby one of the MC’s choices and decisions, didn’t really make sense. She’s looking for someone, but decides he’s been captured by hunters specifically out to hunt demons. Later in the story, she even acknowledges that her deduction that the hunters captured him didn’t make sense. This kind of illogic, acknowledged in the text, happens a couple a times. But I remembered that. I expected that.

(Aside: after the midpoint of the story — literally and potentially plot-wise — the action and tone of the story fits a little better. Though it suffers more from a lack of explanation. Like she’s looking for a specific healing spring but ends up at the heart spring. And somehow she just…knows? It’s a little weird.)

What I didn’t expect was how much I would dislike the romance in the story. By romance I mean the attraction/getting-in-a-relationship kind. And the wildest thing about how I wrote a developing romance a decade ago is I can see why I wrote it the way I did then.

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Writing Week • NaNoWriMo retrospective (11/25/17-12/2/17)

Well.

I wrote A LOT last month. I nearly filled an entire, fat notebook.

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Not all it is part of my NaNo story; some of it (a small part) is notes and some of it is rewritten scenes and some of it is plot progression I cut and did over. So, I’m pretty sure I didn’t write 50k words for my story, although I might have gotten close to writing 50k words.

This NaNo has shown me that having a strong sense of what the story is about and the order it’s going to happen in and the aim of each section (and even some backstory) is a good thing. What I’d like to do for some other NaNo is do that — but for a full story. This one that I did was really three connected stories forming a larger story. Or at least that was the idea.

And that’s another thing last month taught me: that no matter how much I might plan and (think) I know what’s happening, that won’t stop the story from shifting as I write it. The order of events, how details are revealed, or where plot points are placed.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to think of my NaNo end results, mostly because I wasn’t sure I had achieved my aim. Had I written all of what it was that had been gnawing at me for years? Well, maybe. Trying to figure it out led me to, once again, categorizing and calibrating all the tales upon tales that make up all the ~stuff~ I aimed to fill my NaNo story with.

And that’s when I realized why I started having trouble during the last two weeks: the content I was trying to write, while yes involved in the lineage of the Moon, really only connected tangentially to what my broader NaNo story was about.

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Writing Week • antagonists & outlines (11/12/17-11/19/17)

So, there’s two ideas this week. One, I was just thinking about (although my NaNo story probably helped), and the other is something I’ve learned doing NaNo.

First: I like to distinguish between “antagonist” and “villain”. The former is just what opposes the protagonist of a story. The latter is someone defined as “bad”, who may act cruelly, callously, selfishly, and manipulatively. I know villains can be nuanced, from backstory and dissecting whose POV the story comes from (a la monsters), but like… I think that’s why it’s taken me this long to start seeing the appeal of villains, rather than just antagonists.

Before, if I asked, I think I would have divided villains into: 1. transformed destructiveness which may be be resolved through commonality or compassion or understanding and 2. purposely cruel, manipulative, abusive, and possessive individual (usually male).

The first appears in Disney’s Moana, Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, and Novak’s Uprooted; these are some of my favorite and strongest influences. This is also one of my favorite types of stories. That, and the unexpected twist (all these do that, as does Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings).

The second appears in Revolutionary Girl Utena as Akio and my NaNo story.

There were a lot of villains in my childhood that didn’t fit either category, and therefore, didn’t really register. Or if I had a third category, it was: mean for the sake of being mean. (A lesser form of category 2.)

But I’ve come to see how writing about villains — and I mean actually not nice characters — can be kind of interesting. Case in point: a short story I finished right before November features essentially only villain characters, but it still has a protagonist(s) and an antagonist. Like, the characters are kind of terrible people, but it’s still about them.

The other point is that I think having an outline is really useful for me — as long as I don’t numerically break down scenes. Once I have a number value, say 10 scenes, it becomes like an equation. I have to hit the quota of scenes, say 1-5, rather than focusing on the story or how characters feel. My current solution? Outline. But use bullet points, not numbers.

How do other people outline? Does anyone have anything similar to what I’m talking about? Let me know, if you like. (As it’s NaNo, I might not respond until December, but I wanted to extend the question.)

Best wishes and writing!

Writing Week • NaNo 2017 (11/4/17-11/11/17)

The most prominent writing I did was NaNoWriMo. It’s kind of surreal writing a story that I have (and know) so much backstory about. Like whoa. There’s reasons and stories and such that probably won’t appear explicitly in it, but which have significance to the plot and characters. 

Also, since I’ve been writing a lot by hand, I haven’t posted as much as I’d planned to. The first story (Tale of the Princess) is finished, as of yesterday, and the next two stories should be relatively short. And then I can get on writing the second part. 

I’ll be the first to say that my NaNo story is, perhaps, not the most universal (I’ve never been good with understanding experiences deemed universal for humans), nor the most diverse. But it contains themes and ideas that have, apparently, been congealing inside me for over a decade. (Admittedly, I have other stories and ideas that are much older…)

Some of these include:

  • A fractured being and the consequences; having been fractured and having fractures stitched or impaled onto one’s essence or soul
  • A shining prince and/or hero who saves the world (but doesn’t) and has a sister (but doesn’t), who turns him into his shining self through her love (which she doesn’t); tales that build up blame on a woman for being wicked, as a witch or the prince’s sister or from curiosity or being selfish and vain 
  • The layered accusatory tales against monsters and demons; the difference between belief in the dichotomy of good & evil and creatures whose lifestyles and functions can be coded as “bad” or are incongruent with human life and development; also the difference between creatures that live incongruous to human welfare and controlled self-righteous possession/manipulation 
  • The woman who has suffered forever and lives in unending pain; can she be free? can she be healed? also that she deserves it for being wicked or corrupt

Will all these be equally prominent? Probably not. Do some of these (especially the monsters and demons) appear in nearly everything I write. Oh, yes!

Best wishes and writing!