Writing Progress: February 2017

Hello, and welcome back to the blog. My apologies for missing my Thursday post; I was having some Internet connectivity issues, but it’s all fixed and shouldn’t be happening again.

I started this blog with several things in mind. Firstly, a lot of places on LinkedIn are asking for a “digital writing portfolio” when looking at writer jobs. The easiest way to do this is a blog: it’s fairly simple, it’s effective, and it gives potential employers a look at 1) your style of writing and 2) your personality and interests. In that regard, this blog serves a purpose other than self-expression: it’s my business card, so to speak. A place where I can direct someone and they can see who I am, a little bit.

Secondly, I really wanted to do that “The Game of the Name” series. I would say I am low-key obsessed with names but that is a big fat lie. My obsession is anything but low-key. I’ve gotten to the point where I have a list of probably a hundred or so names in each traditional gender (and maybe ten unisex) and I’ve started making combinations of names, both for future Sarah-spawn and for characters. I’ve considered the double middle name route for Sarah-spawn; if I’m writing about characters who are royalty I can give them like, five or six middle names if I want. You know, like Cinderella the musical, where the prince has about fifteen middle names and they sing them all in the one song where the royal herald advisor dude is announcing the ball.

“Christopher Rupert, Windemere Ladimere, Carl Alexander, Francois Reginald, Lancelot Herman, Gregory James…. is giving a ball!” Okay, eleven middle names. You get my point. You can do that with royalty and it’s just sort of funny. But I have an obssession, and it’s a thing I like telling people about, that I’m pretty good at telling people about. So, that was another thing I wanted to start the blog for.

And thirdly, I wanted to talk about my personal writing. I can go on about my personal writing. I mentioned the story I’d lost in the Hard Drive FUBAR of 2016, the one about the single mother and veteran— it was tentatively named “Firebird,” but I probably would have changed that. (I am not sure that titles are my strong suit.) I gave you a very, very barebones description of what that story was about. I gave you some character names and some plot and some theme. It was minimal. But I had two hundred pages of story and I could have told you so much more.

So… this is the first post of another series on this blog, simply titled “Writing Progress.” And you know, this month is obviously February 2017 so this post is “Writing Progress: February 2o17.” This post will go up on the last posting day of each month— seeing how this next Thursday is the beginning of March, today is that day.

In this series, I’ll pick something I’m working on and talk about it a little bit. I’ve got a bigger project right now, that I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve had two people read it so far: my wonderful cousin Anne, who’s been a delightful beta-reader and editor; and my mother, who is also a huge romance nerd. They know which story I’m talking about; but I’m not quite willing to talk about that one yet because I’m in hardcore editing mode for that one. It could be fairly different by the time I’m done with it. It’s the first of several stories I have in mind which are fantasy Regency romance, a genre I like to think I’m kind of inventing. Once I’m done with hardcore editing mode I’m actually going to try submitting it to a few major publishers. Because I like to dream big and all that.

So I’m not going to talk about that one, even though I could, in fact, talk about it. Instead, I’m going to talk about a story I’m also working on right now, which is still in the rough-draft stage because I haven’t finished it. It doesn’t have a working title; all of the romances that don’t have a working title are named after the love interests; that way, it’s easy for me to find them. So this project is called “Rosamond and Peregrine,” if you were to look for it in my computer.

(Yes, Peregrine. You read that correctly. I know it’s a type of falcon and I know it’s a really swotty, high-English-society kind of name; but honestly I kind of love it. I’d never use it on actual Sarah-spawn; that would be kind of cruel. But for a character? Absolutely.)

Rosamond is a young lady, nineteen years of age. She lives with her mother, Lady Amelia, and two younger sisters, Felicity and Abigail. They also have a pug named Buttons, which is a fairly unimportant detail but I like to include it. About a year and a half before I begin the story, Rose’s father, Lord Marcus, and her brother, Elliott, died of the scarlet fever. Lady Amelia also had the scarlet fever and it nearly killed her too; but she survived. Unfortunately, the scarlet fever took a lot of her mind and she’s a little bit unhinged. (I have no idea if this is realistic or not. I am not a medical professional.) She hallucinates, and sometimes gets violent when Rose tries to medicate her. Lady Amelia also won’t eat very much and she’s slowly wasting away with grief and madness.

Very cheerful subject matter, I know. I’m a morbid person; what can I say?

Well, Rose’s family has no male heir and she’s having trouble getting hold of the money because her mother is the only person who is legally allowed to access it. Rose sort of runs the household at this point. She’s not really sure what to do, so she writes to their family lawyer, a Mr. Marlowe, to ask for advice. Marlowe advises her to marry and then, in an utterly vile breach of workplace ethics, proposes himself. Since Marlowe is the same age as Rose’s mother, Rose is like, “Ew, no.” (But you know, refined and stuff.)

Marlowe takes great offense to this and begins spreading rumors that Rose’s mother is mad. This isn’t technically a lie, but it’s not something that Rose wants going around because she feels like her family deserves some dignity after losing their father and brother. Marlowe also blackmails Rose— in their country, it’s illegal for citizens to harbor an insane person. Rose doesn’t want her mother to go to an asylum, so she’s trying to keep the insanity thing quiet. Marlowe threatens to expose them if Rose doesn’t marry him. All of this tension comes to a head one night during a party when Marlowe meets Rose alone to further threaten her, and Rose accidentally kills him with a poker from the fireplace. Yep.

Murder is obviously also illegal, so Rose has no choice but to make a run for it. She steals a friend’s sailboat and heads for a port town on another island in their country. Unfortunately, Rose gets caught in a storm and the sailboat is made unusable with the loss of the mast. She’s on the brink of starvation when she is rescued by Sophy, pirate captain of the Wicked Witch and a whole crew of pirates. I specifically note Doc Blackthorn, who is the calmest person in the world; and Thomas, Eleanor, and James Smith, siblings who work as the cook, a gunner, and cabin boy respectively. (They are loosely based on three of my siblings. One even has the same name.) Sophy’s first mate on the Wicked Witch is a gentleman named Peregrine, and it is he who the story is named after because obviously, Rose and Peregrine are going to be An Item. I did mention that I can’t not do romances, didn’t I?

I haven’t written much further, but I do know exactly what will happen, having plotted it out well beforehand. Peregrine has a Secret, and Rose eventually has to go and rescue her mother and sisters from the Clutches Of The Law. Sophy will be accidentally captured and it will be up to the entire crew of the Witch to save her and Rose’s family. There will be detailed fights with foreign pirates, entertaining but non-violent chases with the navy of their own country, and tales of pirate pranks, hijinks, and tomfoolery. There will also be angst because Peregrine is sort of prone to angst (he’s kind of a hopeless romantic and also a depressive, I WONDER where he gets it) and Rose is also a bit prone to angst because she accidentally killed a man and had to leave the only home she’s known. But all will end happily ever after because I also do not do Sad Endings.

I could take the time to tell you about different stories, but I wanted to talk about this one because it’s about things other than romance and pirates. I wanted to write about a woman who would do anything for her family— because my family means so much to me, and I’d do anything for them. I wanted to write about a man who comes to realize that women are often as imperfect as men, and learns not to take them for paragons of all virtues. I wanted to write about a girl who struggles with memories of a tragedy that isn’t her fault. I wanted to write about adventure, about wind in my hair and the smell of salt-spray. I wanted to write storms and sun. I wanted to write about love and about pirates, and about two people who have to learn to listen to one another before they can learn to love one another.

I want to write about these things because they are real. These pirates aren’t real, and magic isn’t real, and I can’t romanticize violence and bloodshed— nor do I want to. What I want to write about is people. I always want to write about people, about their struggles and triumphs, failures and victories. I claim to hate people— and as an introvert, I certainly do not prefer to spend time with a great many people at once. But I do love… well, people. I love that we are human and we live and grow and learn and teach and die, like everybody else. Like everything else.

I’ve been spending a lot of this month looking for jobs, so there hasn’t been much actual writing going on; but that’s okay. It won’t always be hours and hours of rapid-fire drafting. Sometimes the work goes slowly— and that’s okay.

If you’re looking forward to seeing this blog in the future, consider following. If you want to see Occasional Pictures of My Face and Food I Have Made, you can follow me on Instagram at hypotheticalelephants. If you want to see me being a Whiny, Immature Human, you can follow me on Twitter at sadINFJwriter.



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