Weekly Ramble Four: Embroidery and (not doing) NaNoWriMo

Late update today, but better late than never, right? Things have been a little hectic at my day job this week, so I haven't had a lot of time for book reviews. I have, however, been pretty consistent with my writing, even if my word count per day has been a little low, though I'm not sure if I should blame that on my day job or the stage I'm at with Sea Witch. I've done a lot of what I think of as embroidering this week; there were a couple of sections that I'd already written that needed a little something extra to feel done, so I allowed myself to go back and add a paragraph here, some new characters (including an enby merperson) with backstory there, just so the world that my main characters were living in would feel a little more populated. After all, the story is sort of about belonging and communities and outsiders as much as it is about lesbian revolution, so it felt necessary. That sort of work is a little slower, though, than just barging straight ahead, and while I probably could have left the embroidery until the second draft, I feel better having done it. I also feel like I'm done with it for now, and can go ahead with the barging straight ahead, thought towards what, I'm really not sure. The happy ending that I envisioned seems to retreat at nearly the same pace that I'm writing, and to be honest, I'm beginning to worry that this might be another novel. Whoops?

Anyway, stats. I added 3,215 words to Sea Witch this week, for a total wordcount of 22,632. Not bad!

Some other small business: This seems as good a place as any to announce that I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I've done it in the past, and have learned through those tries that I am a marathoner rather than a sprinter of a novelist. I don't like to take breaks of longer than a couple of days, but I also have an upper limit of how much writing I can do in a regular day without breaking down. Yes, there are those rare, beautiful, frenzied days where I get 1,500 words down on a page in one day, but most days my output is somewhere between 500 and 800, and that's just what works for me.

Best of luck to you who are sprinters, or can be sprinters at need, and are doing NaNo. I have the greatest respect for you, and will be cheering you on all the way to the finish line.

I only have one review for this week, but it's a review of a quality book that you should definitely check out.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

This is exactly the kind of epic fantasy that I was hoping it would be. It's grim, and it's bloody; it's weird as fuck and it subverts expectations in some really interesting ways. Most importantly, in my book at least, is the protagonist at it's center. Rin is a war orphan with the grit, intelligence, and willpower to ace the test that gets her into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, and then to stay there after her classmates and teachers make it abundantly clear that she is not wanted there because of how she looks, how she talks, where she comes from, and how little money she brought with her. I cannot say how much I love Rin's sheer determination in the face of everything that's stacked against her; with the political climate as it is, and seeing the long struggle on just about every front that we have ahead of us to make the world less awful than it is right now, it's... not comforting, not inspiring, but just heartening to see a character come up against immense odds, both from her peers and her nation's enemies, and just continue to fight, and never give up, never give in to despair, no matter how bad it gets, and just survive to the end, even if she didn't win, even if the changes that she made were incremental. There's a sort of power of solidarity in reading this book that I really appreciated. And yeah, the case can be made that this is a sort of 'villain origin story' with Rin as the villain--but with everything that she's come up against, I can't help but be on Rin's side, even if she doesn't always make the 'good' decision.

If you want a little solidarity in these dark times, or if you're a fan of the grim, the gritty, the bloody, and the weird, definitely read this book.