jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
A thing I forgot to mention: when my grandmother died, my dad wound up with a beat-up violin that ... o, I don't recall all the history, I believe it's been in the family for at least a century. They got it refurbished and now it sits waiting for a budding Taylor-family violinist.

That's not me, but I did take it down and try it out while I was there. It's surprisingly playable with a couple years of viola under my belt. Mostly my fingers just feel even more gigantic and squished looking for the right notes. I can't imagine trying to play higher than about third position. I did a few scales, played through a few phrases of 'Canon in D' (NOT the cello part)

... although holy cow this "Antidote for the Pachelbel rant". James Ernest says there are two kinds of juggling tricks: those that look harder than they are, and those that are harder than they look. This is a cello trick that is harder than it looks. THE GUY IS HIS OWN CELLO TRIO.

... anyway, 'Canon in D' and a couple of easy Suzuki pieces. Nice to have a skillset. I don't know that I believe Tegen when she says violin is inherently easier than viola, but I don't know that I don't believe her either. Regardless, I certainly prefer the richer viola sound.

Also, tuning a violin with normal wooden pegs and fine-tuners ... difficult at best. The pegs are stiff and far too blunt an instrument, and the fine-tuners are in an awkward place. I have been seriously spoiled by the mechanical pegs on my viola.



On Friday afternoon at the VP reunion, I read, out loud, something I've written, to a bunch of writers.

I was pretty confident that it was decent. It's a good read-aloud bit: conversational, two people sniping at each other like you do while still getting the job done, amusing, not a lot of necessary context, and short. I'd read a fragment of it, unrevised, at Rainforest last year, and people enjoyed it. And reading aloud ... is something I can do well. It's just voice, and voice is just words in performance, and that's what I do.

I mean, I was pretty confident right up until the person before me stepped up to the podium, at which point my brain went into a minor panic. I am sure whoever was reading and did a fine job with whatever it was they read. I think I even applauded.

And then I was up. "Um. Hi. I'm Tucker, from VP 15." Brain locks up. "... My cats think I'm hilarious." Scattered laughter. "And ... this is from Blood on Her Hands And a Stone at Her Throat." And I was off.

And ... people chuckled in the right places, and 'A light-fingered dame in a red red coat...' got at least one gratifying "Hmm!" of recognition. And then it was over, and under the applause I heard Steve Brust say "That was /excellent/!"

So, you know. That went well.



Of particular note among the many noteworthy things read: Suzanne Palmer's "The Cover Letter", which was almost as much fun to watch TNH's increasingly horrified reaction to as it was to hear.

After the reading (after both Steve and student Karen A-- specifically snagged me down to say "that was pretty great") I went back to my room for a bit and collapsed, and then back out to dinner. And ... what I remember from the actual Viable Paradise experience, other than being totally overwhelmed, is usually the sense of having found my people. Thing is, most of that didn't come until afterwards. When I was actually at the workshop I was tired and battered and usually lonely. The first day or two of the reunion felt like that as well, both familiar and depressing.

But somewhere between the reading and dinner something sort of clicked over and I felt like I belonged. Dinner was wonderful, and musicking afterwards a delight. As an added bonus, someone played a couple of Dar Williams songs, "Iowa" and "You're Aging Well," and I got to make some progress towards reclaiming Dar from the emotional wreckage of the 2000s.

The next morning I said what goodbyes I could, rode the ferry out with a few other folks, and thence home. And it was good.



As an added bonus, I read over the scattered fragments of Blood on Her Hands, and surprised myself with how much I like it. Hard to say definitively that there's a good story in it in this state (though I think there is) but the individual scenes are just fun to read.

And I had what may be the insight I needed to break open the recalcitrant soggy ending, that being: if you're going to model your protagonist after John Constantine, model your protagonist after John Constantine. Laine Hollister is a bastard and she had damn well better start acting like it.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 658
Total words: 658
Neat things: "Fish and fishfolk circled below her." Questionable, unstable, and possibly-explosive technology.

New project, from a scrap of an idea I wrote down years ago (thanks to Vesper for being a note-taking app that's a delight to use, even though I'm only using the barest minimum of its functionality).

I have a setting, a Spunky Young Protagonist, and a general sense of brightly-colored fast-paced action. I know the next couple of scenes, and beyond that I have no idea whatsoever where this thing is going, or even how long it wants to be. To paraphrase Vincent "Apocalpyse World" Baker, Write to find out.

Eventually I'm going to need a title, but that can come with the plot.



"Weren't you writing something else?" Yep. New project is a result of stalling out on "Blood On Her Hands And A Stone At Her Throat," partly because I am unsure of the proper capitalisation for the honking long title but mostly because I can't come up with a plot climax to fit the emotional climax I want. This may be a case of being kneedeep in a story and thinking it's terrible (step 3, or possibly 4, of Marcus Romer's six steps of the creative process) but I'm pretty sure it's more than just that. It Does Not Work on a fundamental level and I just can't get it to work.

My options include "write it anyway," which I am not thrilled by, "rip the middle of the story apart again and rewrite it," which I am not thrilled by, and "set it aside for awhile and come back to it later," which I am not thrilled by but which at least doesn't make me want to tear my hair out. Hence, new project.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 429
Total words: 5,043
Neat things: A standoff that won't end the way the guy with the wand expects it will. And Everywhere the light fell I saw more forgotten sculptures and paintings, tax write-off donations from rich heirs who wanted the stuff even less than the museum did.

Been tapping away at this off and on. I think I may be at the point where there's more plot in my head than on the page. Which means I need to write the scenes that I know will be in there, and then figure out how to stitch it all together.

One of these days I will remember that this is how my process works and that when I know what a scene is I ought to go ahead and write it. Especially if I'm stuck on how the plot hangs together in the middle.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Because it's been a not-wholly-unproductive week.

Writing
Proceeds, or rather doesn't, as I seem to have hit a brick wall in plotting. I suspect that when the answer finally comes to me it will be utterly obvious and have been right all along, I just wasn't seeing it.

I can't tell if nothing I've come up with feels right because it's not right, or because it's going to take a decent amount of effort to make work. This is seriously frustrating. If I haven't cracked it by early next week I will put it aside and go back to the other piece that I have a decent start on.

Viola
Also proceeds, reasonably well I think. I'm working through the first Suzuki viola book, and am nearly to the Bach minuets. So, about two-thirds through, though it gets harder now.

Technically: I'm mostly pleased with my left-hand ability, and mostly frustrated by bowing techniques. I sound more or less in tune but not *good*, not by a long shot. I'll get there.

I strongly suspect that the music store didn't bother to actually order the viola I paid them for a month ago until I called earlier this week to bug them about it. Grr. It ought to be here sometime next week.

Sociable
For once I am doing some of this! I'm emailing people on a semiconsistent basis. I am not the greatest correspondent but I'm trying to keep up. It helps that the best way to get mail from neat people is to write to them myself, so there's sort of built-in motivation.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 838
Total words: 2709
Neat things: I looked at her hands, still dripping from where she'd torn out poor Daltrey's throat. "I hadn't expected to take the riddle quite so literally." "We're a literal people."

Ack. I know what I want to have happen and how I want the ending to come off, and it involves the main character standing around spectating instead of doing something. Which means I now have to figure out what she's going to do and why.

... I think I know what she's going to do and I sort of know why, but not quite why it's necessary. And after I figure that out (and I think that's the last "what's the plot" I have to solve) I get to see whether it makes a story.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
Words: 775
Total words: 1675
Neat things: Opening scene now has twice as many snarky characters. Unexpected plot twist is unexpected. Old arguments about ritual ingredients, arguments that are themselves practically ritualized by now.

The real triumph isn't those 700-plus words, it's having sat down and worked through why it is I've been stuck on the plot and fixed at least some of the structural problems so that I'm capable of writing those 700-plus words, and more tonight / tomorrow, and having a better than even chance that they're more or less the right words.



Three years ago Rainforest got me a couple of good friends and a finished draft of Bookwyrms. At this writing that's still the last first draft I've finished, excluding the spontaneous writing contest at Wiscon. Since then I've revised, mm, call it three things worth the submitting, and come round to the Ideomancer editor's view that Bookwyrms is a cute idea with no plot and hence not really a story.

I have no expectations that I'll meet anyone who clicks as well as Karawynn this year. But if I get unblocked or unstuck or whatever, I'll happily take that.

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jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Tucker McKinnon

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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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