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Arbitrary Goals are Arbitrary

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 11:29

I set a goal to finish the first round of revisions to “The Language of Roses” during November—my variant on NaNoWriMo, as it were. And although I’ve made significant progress, I’m not going to meet that goal. Oh, there are various reasons. Several projects cropped up at work that used up a lot of creative energy. I’m finding more and more that I can’t do creative-type writing while traveling, so Thanksgiving week was spent on relatively mindless computer housekeeping projects rather than on editing. And various other projects that I wanted to front-load into my priority schedule. (I’m a firm believer in front-loading things that can be done in advance—like setting up blog and podcast content—so that I don’t find myself suddenly scrambling for things with deadlines.)

But you know? An arbitrary goal is just an arbitrary goal. It’s an incentive, a target to aim at, but nothing to beat oneself up about if not met. Meeting an arbitrary goal is like winning a game of solitaire: sure, that’s part of the challenge of playing, but nobody dies if you lose the game.

At any rate, I’m about halfway done with the first round of revisions for “The Language of Roses” and I’m really happy with what it’s turning into. The characters are coming alive and I’m smoothing out bits of the backstory that were originally just mechanics to guide the action into the right channels.

I’m realizing that I have a fondness for unlikable female characters. Ones that have opinions and take actions that you aren’t supposed to agree with, but that are real. That are fully-formed and three dimensional. It’s realistic for an aristocrat of the fairy world to feel a certain disdain for a human merchant’s daughter, even when they are in the process of forging an alliance. It’s natural for someone whose sanity and safety has depended on concealing her deepest secrets to fail to reach out the powerful stranger who might have saved her. Why seek help from a stranger when your own parents have failed you? It’s natural to read guilt and uncaring arrogance into cold silence, rather than seeing through to the terror underneath. It’s understandable that loss upon loss might be more than the heart can take, and that sometimes you cannot save anyone else from the Beast, you can only save yourself. I love them all--Grace, Alys, Peronelle, Eglantine—for all their flaws and failings and courage and despair. I even love them when they cannot find it in themselves to forgive each other. I hope you will love them too.

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