Tags: the cambridge skirt mountain.


On political agenda in sff (and other fiction)

So, over on twitter, I have a personal hashtag of #redwriter. I use it for those moments when I'm explicitly talking about my socialism, and sometimes when I realise that something in whatever I'm working on is bouncing off that. I do it, because I am of the age and type that agrees with the slogan 'Politics is life.' And it keeps me thinking, which matters to me. I want to be mindful, in my work, in my words, in my actions, in my life. I fail all the time -- I did so earlier this morning. But I try.

And I'm following the debates about politics in books, and whether they 'belong' and the calls for 'just good stories' and so on, and, well.... Politics is life. We are soaked in them, we are created by them. As with gender and race and class and ability and sexuality, our political assumptions and the political assumptions that we grew up with help to shape and form who we are, our way of being, our expectations, our interpretations. Which means that there cannot be such a thing as a politics-free book. Every decision the writer makes in their work -- who the protagonist is, what the latter wants and approves, the nature of the threat or problem they face, the types of backgrounds depicted, who is left out -- all of those are marked by the author's own expectations and experiences. We all do it. Most of the time we don't even notice. But as a result, how a book plays for different readers depends on how close those readers' experiences and expectations are to those of a writer. 'Just a good story, no politics' is not a simply a call for books to be entertaining. It's a call for books to make specific readers comfortable. But all readers are different: we all have different levels of comfort and familiarity. The easier it is for you to find a book that mirrors your experience -- a 'politics-free' book -- the chances are, the closer you are to the hegemonic centre of society.

None of this is new: people have been saying this for years, usually in response to other people complaining about politics 'spoiling' books. People who are highly privileged are most likely to complain if they meet something that's not comfortable, not because they are necessarily bad people, but because they're used to seeing themselves at the centre of everything, and they're startled. People who are less privileged, less central to social norms are used to reading about characters and ideas and foods and places that they don't recognise, because mainstream books tend to reflect mainstream expectations.

It takes work to notice this, especially if you're one of the privileged. We don't notice things that to us are 'normal' and we expect what we read to reflect that. When we write, we often write to our internalised norms without noticing it. I can see that everywhere in my own writing. I'm a feminist and a socialist, but most of the characters in my first book are rich and powerful. The plot is mainly driven by the male characters, and the three main characters are all men. I made a conscious decision that most of the characters were not white, but I did not, in my own opinion, do anything like enough work to back that up, and I failed. Thew female characters have a lot of political and social power, but at least three of them are self-sacrificing, placing duty and the welfare of others above their own needs and survival. My internalised misogyny was speaking: women cannot succeed without sacrifice, pain and loss. I worked harder of breaking out of misogyny and Euro-centrism in my second book. I made a conscious effort to depict foods and traditions, landscapes and buildings and ways of organisation that were not just versions of what I grew up with. And I still didn't succeed. I really struggled to write Aude as a person with agency: inner training steered me towards making her weaker, more dependent, more timid and diffident. I've never found a character so difficult to depict. (The twins were easy. Ferrets do what they like, regardless of gender. Writing them was hugely freeing and great fun.) But I'm sure there are many places in the book where I failed, because I am marked by my culture, I am trained and shaped by it and it infects everything I do.

We can always find excuses for defaulting to our norms. Let's take an explicitly political book that is also a good fun read -- and often marketed as a children's book -- Watership Down. I love WD; I read it when it first came out (I was 12 or 13) and it was a big part of my teens. It's an adventure with rabbit heroes. It's also an analysis of different political systems and their good and bad points. Richard Adams comes down on the side of a sort of democratic anarchy, with a charismatic leader setting the tone. He set out consciously to write a political novel.

And yet, his assumptions and training show through. The characters are nearly all male, and such female characters who are present are weaker, more anxious, less able to act with agency -- and presented as potential mates. The rabbits are monotheists. Male leadership is assumed as natural. Threats come from outside, not within. Creatures who are not like you are dangerous. Now, most of this is based on the fact that the characters are rabbits. It's natural for rabbits to fear predators, for instance, and wandering bands of young rabbits tend to be male. But at the same time, Adams -- and the scholars whose work he used -- were affected by their social training when they wrote and researched. Humans live in a society in which behaviour is heavily gendered. It feels natural. So when we look at other species, we assume they do the same. Yet more and more research is now questioning this -- researchers have broken the bonds of their social conditioning -- and finding that in fact, many species do not express gendered social behaviour in the ways humans do. I don't know explicitly what has been observed in rabbits since Adams wrote, but I suspect that the norms his sources detected were refracted by ingrained gender bias. And he was writing a fantasy, in which rabbits have a religion, tell stories, invent political systems. He could have made some of the active central characters female. He didn't. He was comfortable with his own status quo. And he had the excuse, if needed, of 'Oh, but the book I read said...' That books said stranger danger and few women; it did not say religion, but he included the latter anyway. He made an unconscious political choice, just as I did with how I depicted Yvelliane and Iareth and Firomelle in Living With Ghosts.

And here's another thing. Of all my characters, Iareth is the one closest to me. That drive she has to do her duty, come what may, and the problems it causes her, is mine. One of the hardest scenes for me to write in that book was the one where she agrees to stay with Valdarrien. All my instincts -- and thus hers -- were screaming at me that she must not, that it was not Good Behaviour. The first time I wrote it, she said 'No' to him despite the plot. I had to argue with myself for two days before I could rewrite it. And I still think that, had he lived, she would have left him again, in a few months or years, because of that iron sense of duty. That's my own internalised female guilt, right there. I am not supposed to put my own wishes at the centre of my life, because good girls live for others. Like Yvelliane. Like Firomelle. Not at all like Aude, who I struggle to write.

What about 'non-political' books; books in which our personal cultural comfort zone is the default? Let's take Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight, another book I read and reread, and loved as a teen. There is no over political agenda in the book: it's the story of a young woman having adventures, finding love and saving the world. At 14, it was the best book ever for me, because it was a fantasy (my favourite type of book) with a female lead who was always right. Usually female heroes are corrected by men several times in a book, but Lessa talks back all the time, does what she wants -- and the men climb down. It was wonderfully liberating. And yet.... Though the role of Weyrwoman is important, Lessa is a Unique Heroine. She is explicitly different to all the other women around her, she is special. And there can be only one of her (6 by the end of the book). Her life is very, very unusual. Everyone else important in the book is male: the other female characters are minor, unimportant and occupy gendered space: wives, servants and sluts. The political structure assumes male leadership -- and aristocratic, born-to-rule leadership at that -- and the solution to the poverty, suffering or distress of the 'common people' is not more agency in their lives, but having a better Lord (or Weyrleader). Bad lords are overthrown by good lords. Everyone is white, and the trappings of their culture reflect that. The book normalises and even romanticises sexual violence, to the point that it's almost unnoticeable. (When in the sequel F'Nor rapes Brekke, I noticed, and I was never entirely happy with their love story, but I accepted that to Brekke the rape was minor, even good, because the writer said so.) As far as I know, the only agenda McCaffrey had when she wrote Dragonflight was to put a women at the centre (just the one). But the other things are there, because they were part of her cultural norm.

All books are political. All books have agenda, conscious or not. Because we are all products of our cultures, and those cultures show.

Skirt of the day: blue cotton parachute (in non-parachute mode).

Ola Madrid

We seem to be in Madrid. The marquis, who has a cold, decided mid-week that he needed a break -- fie on all this conrunning -- and, being unable to finds late season skiing with a Sunday departure (because the laundry must be thought of), settled for swords instead -- and the largest collection of swords and armour he knows of that he hasn't yet seen is in Madrid, so...
So here we are, in the Chamberi district of Madrid (pretty) at the Hotel Orfila (very posh -- a bit alarming -- and very friendly) with a plan to see a large amount of fine Gothic armour tomorrow. This is our third attempt to do so, earlier ones having been thwarted by such things as snow and very unfriendly check-in times. I am half expecting the collection to be shut for polishing, but mainly hoping it isn't, as a marquis with a cold deserves some armour to cheer him up.
Also, we forgot the camera.
How is everyone today?

Skirt of the day: jeans. Skirts and small planes are not a good match.

On duty, censorship, fantasy and madness.

So two things I read last week have set me thinking. The first was this post on principles by Nancy Jane Moore at the Bookview Cafe website. The second was a question posed on twitter by kateelliott on twitter. Two proposals, two remarks -- 'the first thing a principle does is kill someone' 'do you self-censor and why/' -- that spoke straight to my core, to that part of me that sits back and tries to drive. To, if you like, my madness, and the ways in which I work with, through, around the world.

I've talked before about rules and how they accrete in my head. I am trained to accept rules, to be mindful of them, to be, I suppose, law-abiding. I'm trained to be, as the tag sometimes notes, a Professional Good Girl. Professional Good Girls keep to the rules and remember all the things their friends and relations and acquaintances don't like, don't want, don't approve of. Professional Good Girls end up with a head full of voices telling them about all the things they are not allowed to do. Don't say X or do Y, because person P hates that. Don't think Q or wear R, because person S doesn't like them. Don't think the mean things, even in the space inside your head, because Good Girls don't. Good Girls sit still and accept the blame, the pain, the anger, because Other People matter more than they do.

It's not an easy space, being so Professionally Good. And that's just the bit about what I'm allowed to do and say and think.

Then, there's Other People. Other People have more rights than me. Other People are more important. Other People must be pandered to, served, obeyed, deferred to. It gets, frankly, tedious. Especially when all this Goodness and deferring runs up against a principle.

You see, I believe in principles. Principles matter. Principles are the flood defences, the storm shelters, the shields that hold back cruelty and injustice and unfairness. Principles stand between us and the madness of pure, unbridled self-interest. In my head, anyway. Principles matter to me, because they are at the foundation of who I am, of what I believe. I may be, as my friend M once said, the last old-fashioned socialist in captivity, but that's fine with me. I'm proud of my principles. It matters to me, to stand by them.

I don't want to bore you explaining what my particular principles are. That's another post. But the thing that caught my attention, between Nancy Jane Moore's blog post and Kate Elliott's question was this: what happens when the rules and the principles collide.

The answer is fairly simple. I get into hot water. Any time I have my throat exposed in public, any time I post one of my rants or long commentaries, you can be pretty sure that a rule and a principle have met. The last time I really got into an on-line mess? That started because I felt that a third party had been harmed, and should be defended. That's one of the principles, you see. I cannot stand by and let someone else be bullied, harmed or undermined. However much I hate conflict -- and I do -- I am not allowed to look away, because someone has to do something, and I can't be sure that anyone else would. Because Good Girls help. This particular behaviour -- which is a rule and a principle (It Is My Duty To Help, combined with Bullying shouldn't be condoned) has been getting me into trouble my whole life. But I can't unlearn it. In my head, that need -- that duty -- to stand up for others is bigger than any inconvenience or pain it may cause me, however much it may frighten me. In my head, it's never right to put my self-interest or comfort ahead of the need of others who are less privileged than me, who are being belittled or dismissed, who are being treated unjustly. I may, alas, be the stuff of which martyrs are made. It is my duty -- and my sense of duty is harsh and strong and unrelenting -- to speak out, to act, to Do Something, because somebody has to, but the only person I can be sure will is myself. It doesn't make me nice to know, sometimes. It certainly doesn't make me comfortable, to myself or others. There's a piece of me that empathises on some level with that cold, principled, unkind man Robespierre, who on a number of occasions chose what he considered the common good over his own wishes and desires. (I don't agree with his policies. But, pace Simon Schama, he wasn't a monster, only a man driven to his extremes by his harsh, unforgiving principles. Saint-Just may have been a monster.) Principles can be hard, and cold and even cruel. But they matter, because without them, the tentacles of selfishness grow too strong.

This attitude of mine is, frankly, somewhat annoying. It drove my teachers mad 'don't get involved'. It used to drive my colleagues mad, because I would insist on asking the questions that the powers that be did not want asked. It drives the marquis mad, because I get myself into messes and arguments. It drives me mad. I am harsh on myself, and, sometimes, judgemental of others. I am bound up with ideas of duty that drive me bonkers. But I can't not do it.

And yet, I self-censor. I think most people do, in one way or another. There are lots of reasons. Other people's privacy, for instance. It's not up to me to decide what to say, what to reveal, sometimes, when others are involved. Rules -- those noisy things that infest my head. There are things I don't say, because I know it will upset or annoy or distress others. There are a handful of things I don't say because I don't want to deal with the consequences. There are things I don't write about because I feel they are better expressed face-to-face. And there are lots of things about which I don't think the world really needs my opinion, where I don't know enough. None of this means I don't care about those things. But I have chosen not to join in.

And then there are the ones that make me angry. The places I self-censor because of the Rules. The places I am silent because I've been taught that I Am Not Allowed. Don't say X, Kari: Y won't like it. Here's a list of things I self-censor not out of principle, not for any of the reasons above, not even entirely out of fear, but because someone else's voice is too loud in my head.

American exceptionalism
Gun control
The Labour plan for I.D cards in the UK
Scottish Independence
Julian Assange
Private education (in certain circumstances)
My own blasted country and its history
Why I really, really don't enjoy sunshine and heat

In a sense, none of this matters. Except... One of my principles is that I should not silence others. Silencing someone, particularly someone who has less power, or less privilege, is never good. Free speech -- if you believe in that (and I only do up to a point, because I live in the UK which has different rules on hate speech to those of the US, say) -- must be granted to all participants in a discussion, not just those with the loudest voices or the biggest sticks. Any statement that begins 'Your opinion doesn't matter because...' is a warning sign. It's an attempt to control, to dominate, to insist on a single story. Other people may well be right or they may well be wrong, but they should be listened to with respect.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to fantasy -- and to sf, for that matter. Principles are out of fashion right now. Since the 80s, at the latest, we have lived, in the west, in the realm of the Individual. It's all about Us. Heroes are mavericks, doing it Their Way. Other people have to get on board or be run over.

I'm generalising, of course I am, but a lot of current sff is about personal success, personal goals, personal achievement. Even when this is set against a background that refers to improving conditions for others, the latter is very much a sideline, an also ran. The focus is on the hero and how -- while saving The Suffering -- he or she achieves personal gratification and happiness. There are very few heroes who walk away from their own interest for the sake of others. Sacrifice is as unfashionable as principles. You have to go back a way to find examples. Galadriel rejecting the one ring, and accepting that she must dwindle. Gandalf holding back the Balrog. Michael de Sandoval of Dorsai and his companions, holding the castle against high odds. The pilot who stays on board the dying spaceship to let others escape. These days, there always seems to be a get-out, a back door via which the hero escapes at the last minute to enjoy the glory. A happy ending, yes, but it's a cheat. Principles are not easy. Duty is not easy. And when we don't show that, when we cheat, we undermine them, we reduce them to toys and poses. We undermine their value and their importance. And we reduce those acts, those choices made by the characters to just high-jinks and flash. The story becomes all about the hero. The poor who are always better off under the stable-boy king become no more than window dressing, because they don't really matter to the plot. They are just there to make the hero look good. In a sense, such fantasy is dangerous, because it makes change look easy and cheap, and it seldom questions the idea that what really matters is the individual getting what they want. This kind of narrative silences the underprivileged, the poor, because it reduces them to tokens, subordinate to the personal success of the chosen few. They have no agency. They are a voiceless mass, awaiting rescue, and nothing more. That, frankly, is a pretty patronising approach. And this story -- Wam the trainee pilot saves the galaxy and becomes admiral -- is a lie. It's never that simple. History shows us that, over and over.

In the real world, self-interest and the interests of others will conflict, probably on a daily basis. Uncontrolled, unchecked, it leads to exploitation, deprivation, huge social inequity and the Conservative Party (also the US Republican party) (Yes, my personal political prejudices are showing). Greed is not good.

There's a reason why Yvelliane makes the choices she does in Living With Ghosts. A number of readers didn't like those choices much. They wanted her to live happily ever after. In the very first draft of that book (which was hugely different to the final version) she did. And everyone got ice cream and kittens. (Or, all right, that's not the case.) It was a rotten draft and a rotten ending. I was lying to myself, offering fluff and nonsense. Power comes with responsibility, and responsibility should -- must -- be shouldered. It's a matter of that cold thing, principle.

And it matters. It should matter in our genre, because books have power. Books effect those who read them, though seldom in the ways the authors expect or intend. When we omit people or belittle their experience, we harm them. When we imply that following our own self-interest is all that matters, we contribute to a culture that grows ever more selfish and unkind and unfair. PRinciples may be out-of-fashion, but they have a lot to offer us.

And there are authors now who still speak of them, write of them, write with them. Patricia Bray, pbray, whose heroes do what they must, what is right, in the teeth of their own wishes and needs. kateelliott, who writes about the effects of war and wealth on ordinary people. Ken MacLeod. Walter Jon Williams. Aliette de Bodard, aliettedb. Lois MacMaster Bujold, sometimes. The comforting ending, the personally advantageous decision are all too often not the best. The stable-boy king or space admiral is not really a hero, if it's All About Him. Because the world is always bigger than us, bigger than the hero. And that should be remembered.
Edited to add: Ursula K LeGuin has written about principles today, much more insightfully than me: http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2012/10/08/restraint/
Skirt of the day: denim.
Living With Ghosts


So, I'm seeing a lot of posts and items lately celebrating the appearance of fantasies that are not 'European'. Which is fair enough. Writers will and have written books inspired by all sorts of things and places, it's what writers do. It's important that books reflect a world that is wider than just Europe or 'the West'; that it reflects the experiences of all peoples, not just a privileged (pale-skinned, all too often) subset. It's important that we recognise and respect the experiences of others, although we must *not* pre-empt their right to speak for themselves, arrogate that right to ourselves, silence their voices, misrepresent or warp their experiences and cultures for our own self-seeking ends. It's important that we recognise that, even if we are related or descended from that people or culture or both, the culture and people are not identical to us, will have changed, will have different interpretations and usages that we should not 'correct' or represent as debased or damaged or wrong; and that in many ways their interpretations, experiences, and usages are the primary ones and their claims on their myths, stories, traditions, beliefs, history and culture take precedence over ours. (And yes, this applies to me as a person neither Welsh nor English. Being of mostly Welsh descent doesn't make me Welsh, and I don't own that culture.)
But here's the thing. I'm European. Most of the European fantasies I have read and loved and delighted in -- and the ones I've read and found dull, and the ones that I hated -- were not written by Europeans. And that's fine. I believe writers should explore and expand and think outside their place of origin, and examine the stories of their ancestors and so forth. I am deeply unhappy with a model that says that a writer can only write about their very own backyard (a position which, amongst other things, restricts writers like Meera Syal, say, to only writing about being British-Indian and the 'British-Indian Experience', which is, frankly, a form of ghettoising). Some of my favourite books were written by outsiders or descendants. But -- you knew there would be a big but in here, didn't you? -- there's a knot of annoyance somewhere inside me at all this jubilating over the new wave of non-Euro fantasy.
Because, you see, many -- most, indeed -- of those books do not read European to me. They are based on our cultures but they are not rooted in them. They represent us, but they do not, all, speak for us or even about us. Mel Gibson can never be William Wallace, not with that script and that set of beliefs and assumptions about who I am, who the Scots are, what our history is. (Braveheart is an easy target, because it's so historically fake and so marked with Gibson's own prejudices. But it's also a well-known one, so...)
This does not mean that these aren't good books -- some of them are. It does not mean that I think they shouldn't have been written. All it means is that they feel like outside narratives to me.
None of which matters, of course. It's easy to argue that Europe has had its day, that we are a bunch of ex-Imperialists still whinging because we lost our Empires. That we have been culturally significant for far too long and we should shut up and let others shine. There is probably a lot of merit in this view. We spent hundreds of years plundering and silencing others. That's an inescapable part of the histories of at least some of us. We are not, of course, a monolith, and there are many parts of Europe which did not have that experience of Empire, or had it in a distant past, or were on the conquered, not the conquering side. (For the interested, Ireland did, in fact, have its colonialist, dominant phase, in the period from the 2nd down to the mid-9th centuries. Scotland, culturally, is an Irish colony, whose indigenous practices and leaders were supplanted and overridden by an invasive culture which remains the major one to this day, although in a distinctive regional form.)
But part of me still watches the currently dominant culture metaphorically shaking the dust of my stories, my histories, off their feet and moving on to something fresh, while declaring my past, my myths worn-out and useless.
They're still useful to me, thank you, in my home context. I still see the footprints of that past outside my windows, travel in its traces, speak and think and explain through the lens of its stories and experiences. And I will deny to my last breath the changes that the outsider narratives have tried to impose, the re-readings that simply feel wrong. I will not relearn my past to include liberated 'Celtic' warrior princesses and tree-cuddling druids. They are not there, they did not exist, they are a fantasy and they belong in fantasy. And they are not my fantasy. When I see an outsider reading European books and complaining that those writers don't have a right to say what they said, or that they got the -- European -- stories wrong -- I see red. Because the outside narrative does not trump that of the inside. It is not 'more right'. It can't be. It can only be different, and much of the time it will remain outside. (This includes anyone telling me that their coven leader/spirit guide/avatar of the gods told them that Mists of Avalon, say, is 100% true and I have no right to question is, or am 'too English' possibly to be right. Without even getting into the large amount of French influence on the Arthur stories, and the ways in which the Welsh stories borrow from the latter, and the ways in which the early traces of the stories are nothing like the story everyone knows, the bottom line is that that book is not history and, as a Briton, I get to say that as loudly as I want. My country, my story. And, y'know, my academic specialty.)
I really, really love the Cardinal's Blades series of books by Pierre Pevel. Part of that is, of course, because Pevel is drawing on Alexandre Dumas, who, as we know, I adore. But an equally big part of it is that, when I read them, I heard the voice of the Europe I know. They are rooted in our experiences, our interpretations. There are no high school heroes (and I am so over high school football team hero d'Artagnans) or kick-ass Buffy clones. The series reads French, not French-flavoured.
I am, of course, not French and I am myself guilty of French-flavouring and I get it wrong and I try to do better. I am not in anyway innocent of going outside my own culture and being careless, though I do try not to do it on purpose. I'm not better than anyone else, and I'm a lot worse than most. As I said at the top, I don't believe in putting writers in boxes of their own culture and not letting them out. There are reasons why I write what I do -- there's the whole write-what-you-love thing, and I love Dumas and Balzac and Sagan and Moliere and Hugo. I read academic French history for pleasure and have done so since my late teens. And then, I am, by training, a historian of early mediaeaval Britain and Ireland. The histories of the English, Gaelic and Celtic speaking peoples in the British Isles are work, to me, and I don't like to mix work of that kind with fiction writing. And -- and this is the one I rarely say -- there isn't much space for me to write fiction in my own histories and myths any more. It's pretty full, mostly with outside voices, and the Big Audience has declared it dull, over, cliched. As I write, I'm trying to think of a British writer currently writing British-set, British-inspired fantasy and I'm not coming up with many names. Stories based in the myths of the British Celts written by British Celtic writers or even mixed up mongrel writers like me is even rarer. I'm coming up with Mike Shevdon, whose books are partly rooted in English folklore, and, umnmmm... someone help me out. It's getting hard, going into bookshops, to find fantasy by British writers altogether (though they are not as rare as British sf by British women published here). We are there, but we are writing other things, or we are only published overseas. But the last major sff series inspired (partly) by British Celtic materials by a British writer I can think of is Gwyneth Jones' Bold As Love sequence, which was finished in 2006 (and is, as I said, only partially and obliquely inspired by Celtic or English myths, though it is very rooted in our recent histories).
And so, and so... I suppose what I'm saying is this: fashions change, cultures rise and fall in terms of their influence and importance, and this is how the world seems to work. It's good for old Empires to decay and face their own evils. But to people inside a culture, that culture will not feel 'over', those myths and histories are still part of them. They still need them, even if it is only within their own small space. Those stories may not be what outsiders think they are, too. (Personally, I am baffled by the 'hanging on to Empire' thing, as that has never been part of my experience as a British woman. Worried by and distressed by and guilty over, yes. And there may well be politicians who long for that kind of power, and scions of some upper class families who want to behave as though they still had their grandfathers' privileges, but they are not part of my normal experience, nor are their narratives the dominant ones I hear in our media. The problems caused by that Empire, yes: those are everywhere and we continue to struggle with them and -- I hope -- try to do much better, now.) But the bulk of may experience of the myths of my country have come to me in foreign accents, since 1980 certainly, and in some cases as long as I can recall. And now those outside voices are bored, feel -- in my head -- that they have wrung us dry and are ready to move on -- and -- and here's the kicker -- in some cases are saying that they are the ones who can say it best, far better than the peoples whose histories, stories those are first.
And that latter is not on, frankly. Certainly, step outside your home box, but do so with respect, please, and don't claim to speak for or trump the native voices. And remember that what bores you is still a living culture to someone else. And they get to go on valuing it, and telling stories within it.

Skirt of the day: heavy black cotton.


Much better day today: 2120 new words. Chiachia is having far too much fun, and Liyan is about to indulge himself.

Skirt of the day: thunderstorm cotton. (It's a mixed and rather loud print in grey, mauve, grey-yellow and white. Thunderstorm is what it makes me think of.)

Novel race metrics.

Another 2k yesterday, mainly in the form of a very barbed conversation. Aude is outraged, Jehan is cautious and the new character (who walked into the end of the first chapter in much the way Quenfrida walked into the first chapter of Living With Ghosts, fully-formed and unexpected) is enjoying himself rather too much. I suppose I should get one of those words-for-far thingies, really.
Yesterday's skirt was the black striped wrap. Today's is yet to be decided.

And I have a shiny: one of these, to be exact. My elderly kneeling chair finally collapsed and died after many years of service, and the marquis and I decided to replace it with something even more ergonomic and serious, in an attempt to reduce my shoulder pain issues. So far, I'm very pleased. It's very comfortable and easy to set up. I'm thinking of calling it Celleste.