• WIP Wednesday,  Writing

    Stealing Laurel from the army

    A little excerpt from Petals. How baby Laurel ends up with his shifu:

    (I really do love Li Qiuyue so much.)

    Li Qiuyue, in her twenties at that point, looked down at Laurel, this small soldier who has thrown himself in the mud, clinging to her robes. She considers him with that immovable, clear gaze of hers. She doesn’t say a simple yes or no.

    Instead, she murmurs, “What is it you suppose I can teach you?”

    Laurel looks up at her, eyes shining with unshed tears. It is the closest he’s come to crying in all of his short life. He can’t even be ashamed of himself, so worked up is he with the burning desire to follow her.

    “Anything,” he says. “Whatever you see fit to teach, I will learn.”

    “You won’t have an easy life if you follow me. If I am loved in the capital, I won’t always be. Will you regret it, if one day you’re hated for following me?”

    “Never,” Laurel says vehemently, with a child’s simplicity.

    He’s a child and can’t possibly know what he’s saying. It isn’t a promise Li Qiuyue would ever think to hold him to, but nevertheless, it brings the pale ghost of a smile to the imperial granddaughter’s shapely lips.

    “Alright,” Li Qiuyue says simply. The words seem breathy and deceptively light for things that will change the both of their lives. “You may follow me.”

  • Writing

    Thoughts and character ramblings

    Thinking about Charis since I just spent three months writing about him. He was simultaneously kind of peaceful and frustrating to write because he feels like he’s on the other side of some plexiglass from his own thoughts and feelings. Nice feels like that, too, to a lesser extent, but I think Nice is so much more chaotic and prone to acting out that it doesn’t feel so muffled in there. Like you can hear an echo.

    They both end up supported by people who love them; I’m hesitant to use the word ‘found family’ because of the kind of aggressively Pure connotation it’s taken up in some parts of the internet. Plus, Nice ends up supported by family with no other qualifiers, considering he marries into it.

    But I think the tenor of that support changes, too. Charis’ found family, in the form of his members, feels much more tight-knit and a bit more careful. I think Charis is very honestly surrounded by love, care, and support by his peers. Nice’s family doesn’t love him or each other any less—they very obviously love each other so fiercely—but I think they’re just as chaotic as he is, in their own ways.

    They feel like… that big house of people scattering in different directions, and it makes sense. After all, they all have their own lives.

  • General,  Writing

    Finished a book

    Here to lie flat facedown on the floor because I finished a book, hallelujah.

    It occurs to me that when I say that, I have to specify reading or writing or else people get confused. But yesterday I finally glued my ass to the chair and finished writing Fairytale.

    I don’t know why endings are so hard for me— or well, I guess I do. I tend to second-guess myself a lot when it comes to endings. I don’t have a lot of confidence for being able to land the plane well, which leads to a lot of planes in suspended animation, just sort of hovering until they fall out of the sky.

    Which is to say, I realized I’ve developed a very bad habit of getting 40k-80k words into projects before jumping ship and abandoning them for shiny new WIPs. I’m trying to stop doing that because where at first I thought it was a manifestation of different interests, now I mostly think it’s a manifestation of fear.

    The end is usually pretty close whenever I decide to jump ship. Maybe it’s just hard to make decisions. Saying yes to one fork in the road means saying no to all the others, and the closing of possibilities can seem scary—but it doesn’t have to, right?

    This is just a stray thought that I’m marinating on, but I think I’d like to do some kind of personal challenge for the year. Maybe I can call 2024 The Year of Endings if that doesn’t sound too horrifyingly ominous. I’d like to make my peace with endings. Maybe I’ll try to finish as many things as I can. Sounds kind of uncomfortable. I better get some gold stars for this. (Literally, I’m going to buy stickers. I’ve had some galaxy-themed star stickers in my Amazon cart for ages now.)

    Because it’s not just fear of choosing the wrong ending, I think. I avoid endings even when I’m reading, even when I’m watching things. There’s just something in me that squirms away from a certain kind of emotional discomfort, and I’m really so sensitive when it comes to fiction. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but I do think I want to get a little better at holding my hand to the fire. I want to know how things end. I want to stop keeping myself away from things I love because of some inchoate fear.

    Anyway! I felt guilty for not writing today for all of a hot second, but since I just finished writing a novel yesterday, I think I actually deserve a break. On the subject of endings, I picked back up a danmei I had paused in reading, Evil as Humans, which I’m really liking and I’m about halfway through. I’ve been reading it all morning, and I have a small pot of jook simmering on the stove.

    I think I feel pretty good today. Kind of hopeful. Maybe I’ll do a little bit of sketching later.

    There are still some extras I want to write for Fairytale, but I think I will save that thought to percolate for another day.

  • General,  Writing

    Silent Night

    I have been so anxious lately. I’ve been wishing for good health. And praying—lots of that, too. I feel better and worse in a lot of ways, lately? I don’t know, I’ve been feeling very scrambled. I’m trying to keep up, and I’m trying to slow down.

    I just stopped spending time with some people who were not very good for me, and yet I still miss my friends.

    I’ve been encouraged every time I go outside lately. “Touching grass.” I feel like I’ve been getting peeks over the wall, little breaths of fresh air, those moments where you see that the world isn’t so bad, isn’t so unsafe. That there is help and comfort and friends everywhere.

    But still, sometimes I’m anxious. I’m perhaps trying to be a little more open. I’m trying to relax. Maybe we’ll see how long it lasts.

    I finished the short story I was working on last time. It’s called Silent Night, and I think it turned out kind of strange and beautiful. It’s about a painter with a single-minded devotion to his art and another painter who’s floundering his way into a new medium, manic-eyed and struggling. They get together, but I think they’re still lonely. There’s something about art school… with your dedication to your craft so big and between you, how close to another person can you really get?

    It lives here on Patreon for now. It’s roughly 7k words long, and I think I would like to revisit Heechul and Kaoru again some time in the future, but I feel good about where this story leaves them.

  • General,  WIP Wednesday,  Writing

    Not a Short Story

    So the Illness that I mentioned last week continued. Woof. Somewhere in all that fever-brained mess, I decided to write a short story. It’s… not really turning out to be a short story.

    Well, I have my hopes, but it seems to be turning into a novel, like all things tend to do. Fairytale started as ostensibly a short story, and now I’m 100k in the thick of it. It’s funny, this was supposed to be a quick smut fic, but as I started writing the characters, there was just so much more to them. I think I tend to write long because I get curious. Curious about who these people are, what happened to them, and what’s going to happen to them. You know how it goes.

    Anyway, it’s interesting because I don’t think this is a story I could have started except when I was so sick that I couldn’t possibly give a fuck about anything besides clawing onto my continued existence. Talking about art school is kind of funny that way, and it is about art school—about two painters.

    Here’s a little snippet of it. I’m thinking of putting it up on my Patreon for patrons to read, and that might be the only place it lives until I have enough short stories to put together a collection.

    Heechul wakes in the night with his heart pounding. He doesn’t know what time it is. Kaoru’s room is an unfamiliar place, and there are no clocks. He could have been sleeping for a few minutes or a few hours.
    He startles a little when he feels a warm, heavy body beside him, its heat leaching into his own.
    Of course it’s Kaoru. Who else would it be? Even so, it takes a while for Heechul’s heart to calm down.
    He doesn’t have nightmares, that he knows of. Or at least, not nightmares in the way anyone else can talk about them. Since he was little, he’s often woken feeling frightened. And how do you talk about that?