Jun. 24th, 2013

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Project: Julia and Mary (Regency lesbians) FINAL STORY TITLE: Cherish the Ladies
Market: Storm Moon Press, An Improper Arrangement open anthology call
Deadline: June 30, 2013 MADE IT!
Required length:8-12K
Total wordcount: 17,374 (BUT S.L. SAID THAT WAS OK)

It's done.

I did the final push for it last night, when I had to stay up all night anyway, because my kid was at the school-sponsored all-night graduation party, & I didn't know if kiddo would want a ride home before it ended or stay through until 5AM.

Kid stayed through. I finished the story.

I went back today and cleared the brackets, filling in things like once-mentioned characters whose names existed because I'd mentioned them once in the novel, too, and what that road was named before it was the A5, and sorting out all the dates for the letters.

I realized, as I was coming into the home stretch, that I'd basically composed this story according to the Cool Stuff Theory of Literature.
This is a theory originally articulated by Steven Brust, whose writing I love, and who, the one time I ever met him in person, commended the works of Patrick O'Brian to my attention, so you could consider him partly responsible for all the stuff I'm doing here. (I can just hear him saying, "Hey! Don't blame me!")

Anyway, the Cool Stuff Theory of Literature goes like this:

The Cool Stuff Theory of Literature is as follows: All literature consists of whatever the writer thinks is cool. The reader will like the book to the degree that he agrees with the writer about what’s cool. And that works all the way from the external trappings to the level of metaphor, subtext, and the way one uses words. In other words, I happen not to think that full-plate armor and great big honking greatswords are cool. I don’t like ‘em. I like cloaks and rapiers. So I write stories with a lot of cloaks and rapiers in ‘em, ’cause that’s cool. Guys who like military hardware, who think advanced military hardware is cool, are not gonna jump all over my books, because they have other ideas about what’s cool.The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff.
I think I wrote Julia and Mary's story entirely according to the Cool Stuff Theory, even though I'd forgotten its existence.

In fact, I was kind of wallowing around in Cool Stuff for this one like a little kid in a ball pit. Letters! Regency fashion magazines! Interior design in Adam townhouses! Toy boats on the Serpentine and early-morning walks in Hyde Park before breakfast! Gothic novels and their fangirls! Newfies! Cameo brooches with classical motifs! Coaching journeys with THE ACTUAL INNS AT THE CHANGES! Impressive country houses that are nevertheless smaller than outrageous specimens like Blenheim and Highclere! Garden design! Ladies' accomplishments!

I freely admit that for the first half of the story, I was just putting in stuff that I liked, without knowing what it was doing besides being Illustrative Of Character.

But you know what? It turns out I was able to take a number of things from the first half and tie them in to the second half and the meat of the developing romance! The Gothic-novel fangirl adjusts to the notion that big houses aren't necessarily spooky, and that ancient churches might only contain prosaic English vicars. The other one has painting and sketching as her Accomplishment? Wow, do I get to play a lot with the idea of Gaze. Coaching journeys? Hey, if a wheel comes off between the established changes, staying at a poky place is a good way to include Enforced Bed Sharing and up the UST! And it gave me great satisfaction to pinpoint the exact spot on a map and decide that a turn off the stick-straight old Roman road that's currently the A5 onto a less defined local road would be a good place for clumsy postillions to mishandle a top-heavy, elderly coach. The cameo brooch with the Three Graces on it? I was TOTALLY able to use that!

It took a certain amount of discipline, as I was working through the second half, to refrain from just following the characters around and seeing what happened. I had to make myself stick to incidents that would MOVE THE ROMANCE ALONG.

I still got to put in new Cool Stuff. Like, oh, two of my favorite Herrick poems. *gloat* I mean, how could I resist when he writes about a JULIA?

And then once I'd taken Mary from a gradual sensual awareness of her own body to the stirrings of sexual desire to the point where she could NAME it as sexual desire and choose to act on it, I linked that up with the Pivotal First Kiss I'd already written, and then it was on to The Sex Scene.

Which ran on a bit. Because sex scenes are EASY.

And then the concluding letter and I was DONE with it, except for the mopping-up.

It's formatted to requirements, attached to the submission email, and waiting in their inbox.

I need a nap.

August 2013

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