So, the elections happened. The results were terrible, to the point where I’m actually currently somewhat grateful for the degree of separation that currently exists between Puerto Rico and the states. I’m still processing, and in moments when I can process about the comparatively trivial, I think, well, this is going to affect the shit out of my novel.
Context: Over the past month or so, I’ve actually gone back to working on Faerie, which over the years had become something I only occasionally talked about but never get any closer to completing, but has now become some 30,000+ words long, i.e., about as long as an Animorphs book. And then Trump happened, which is making me reconsider the whole thing, again. Now, on top of not being sure if the story about two teenage Muslimahs dealing with their evolving feelings about their religion in a newly Islamophobic environment is a story I should be telling or can do justice to, I’m sort of kinda feeling like Trump and what he’s done need to be part of the story. While this works, to a degree–it fits right in with the themes and plot–it also means rethinking large swaths of what I’ve already done, including the book’s overall tone, as well as several key characters and scenes. So I have questions, and no answers yet.
In any case, until those answers come, I decided to write for today’s 1,500 words a scene where my characters actually deal with the election. Right now it exists more or less as a way to process my own thoughts and put them on paper, and to try to get something positive out of the whole thing: I’m not sure if it will actually make it into the final work, although some version probably will, if the story is still set in 2016 by the time the second draft begins.
So yesterday I got the finished version of this:
So today I found out about the existence of a book called I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim, which I instantly decided to buy, not only because it sounds fascinating, but because it’s kind of the subject of the novel I’m working on, and while I’m fairly confident in my ability to actually make my characters into individuals and not stereotypes, getting to actually know more about their variety of experiences can only help me improve on that score.
Occasionally, I find myself finding out that somebody somewhere has already used a story concept that I’d individually decided I’d like to use. This in itself is fine–it’s nigh impossible to come out with completely original concepts, so it’s not something I worry about too much. The problem lies in deciding whether I’d like to actually see the completed work using that concept: on one hand, it allows me to see just how similar the takes on the concept are, but on the other hand, it allows me to see just how similar the takes on the concept are. If I find that a particular element I intended to use is replicated in the existing work, I suddenly end up feeling much less secure about it. Plus, it makes it impossible for me not to be influenced by the earlier work, which makes my work feel like less of my work. And although the situations aren’t equivalent–unlike Faerie, I Speak For Myself is non-fiction–I fear that may hold true here as well. What to do, what to do…?
On another note:
Yesterday I bought the book Black Images in the Comics: A Visual History (note: cover includes historically offensive and racist depictions of black people), by Fredrick Strömberg. A collection of excerpts from various comic (both newspaper comics and comic books), it aims to show and contextualize the way black people have been represented across the history of the medium. While I feel it’s problematic in parts–Strömberg approaches the book from the viewpoint of a comic book historian who found an interesting angle, rather than somebody who is particularly interested in race, so it sometimes seems that his understanding of the latter isn’t quite up to the 101 level–it’s a worth taking a look like if you’re a fan of the medium.
I’ll admit it: I’m no good when it comes to identifying potential triggers–a good breakdown about what that means can be seen here— in what I write. I’m just not very good at the particular type of empathy necessary to see what can and can’t be bothersome to others. While I’m not yet sure whether I’ll include Trigger Warnings in my completed works, I would like to include them in any excerpts I post online, so given my own inability, I turn to my readers. If you see anything in my posts that you feel may require a trigger warning, let me know and I’ll add it ASAP. Thanks.
Note: there might be formatting issues–I don’t think stuff like italics and such copied and pasted properly from Open Office. In any case, this is the first draft for chapter 1 of Faerie, introducing a few of our characters.
Some context: a few months ago, I decided that I’d pool all my writing energy into a project I called “Wander”, a post-post-apocalyptic story inspired in equal parts by Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and the “The King of Fighters” videogame series. Eventually, I got around to writing chapter 5, which was a flashback to protagonist Pari Okhovat’s high school days, and would have been vastly different from the rest of the novel. However, as I wrote about characters and scenarios which I was planning never to reference again, I started thinking of the flashback story as the stronger one, or at least one where I had something in particular to say, and the one that stood the best chance of actually being completed. So, for the moment, I’ve decided to set “Wander” aside and focus on Pari’s high school days, in a project I call “Faerie”. What’s it about?
Well, there’s high school in it. It has cheerleaders and jocks and devout Christians. It also has two Muslim girls with vastly different views of their religion, Lindy Hop, and at least one reference to The Amazing Race. As in most stories, it ends with the characters in rather different places than where they started. It is my sincerest hope that it doesn’t suck.
So! I’ll be posting excerpts, drafts, and snippets here as I come up with them, as well as comments, questions, and assorted stuff regarding the creative process. I’ll also be posting most of this stuff at Wishful Writers, a forum for aspiring writers operated by (maybe? I’m not 100% sure about this) J.D. Montague and Ana Mardoll, so there’s that.