Here is a metaphor for my general level of competence at day-to-day life skills: a soggy pile of deflated wet towels.
If you’re thinking, “That makes no sense because towels don’t inflate or deflate, unless I’ve been using towels wrong this whole time,” my response is: “exactly.”
If you’re female and doing a traditionally masculine job, every time you prove your competence, you’re punching out of the box you’ve been put in.
If you’re female and doing a traditionally feminine job, every time you prove your competence, you’re proving how well you fit in the box.
Both situations come with different but complementary senses of unease. Hurt your knuckles punching out, or hurt your head trying to stand in too small a space.
If someone has one of those “Protected by such-and-such” security system signs on their lawn, but the sign uses Comic Sans, is that code for “Haha, we don’t even lock our doors?”
I’ve aimed to structure Stars Fall Out as a slow-burning story where everything explodes at the end. I’m still on the first draft, so it’s hard to say whether or not I’ve succeeded on the slow burn. But I’ve definitely reached the exploding part: in the past week alone I’ve written an arrest, an interrogation, a confrontation between two points of a love triangle, and finally, a jail break.
I caught him by the wrist a little over halfway up to the planetarium. High enough up the tower that we had cleared the buildings around us, and we stood before windows bursting with sky and lazy sunlight.
“We’re alone now,” I said. “Can you tell me what this is? Why did you break me out?”
“Break you out? That was an elegant feat of clerical sleight-of-hand.”
“Noted. Why did you do it?”
“Because you had a smart idea some weeks ago, but no way to execute it properly.” He must have noted absolute incomprehension in my expression because he continued on, “The magic test, Tyatavar. Why did you retake it?”
Organization is a different beast than cleanliness or interior design.
If a foot-high stack of magazines and mail is how you find your bills and pay them, you’re organized. If you buy a special mail-holder shaped like a duck, but constantly forget that you put your bills there or don’t use it because it’s the wrong shape, you’re not organized; you just have a duck that needs to go in a yard sale, and you might not be organized enough to handle a yard sale.
I hit 200,000 words on Stars Fall Out. A fair chunk of this is worldbuilding, brainstorming, deleted scenes, and bits that popped into my head for the next two books. Still, figuring 250 words per page, I’m somewhere between 600 and 800 pages. As my partner eloquently put it:
“Your book is fucking long. You keep fucking writing.”
When I publish this thing, that shall be my blurb. Here’s another quick excerpt, from my main character’s third experience being interrogated by an imperial oneiromancer:
“I’m sure you’ve heard rumor of my three fearsome beasts. They’re in the adjoining room. Waiting. Hungry.”
“Isn’t one of them on a mush diet?”
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking that fearsomeness and a mush diet are mutually exclusive. I could tell you things about Emperor Lirghala that would freeze your heart, and you can count his teeth at a glance.”