Every two months, I get an itchy feeling that it’s time to update my blog and it’s always around the same time – even if it’s not planned! So, what’s happened over the past few months?
- SITE STUFF: I moved this site from a self hosted wordpress to wordpress itself because it was easier/cheaper. (lol, student funds XD) I’ve just noticed now that it’s meant I’ve lost all the emails that I’d collected and now the two sites are merged, so I can’t get them back! I’ll try to add the widgets back so that anyone can resubscribe
- SWOON READS: I uploaded The Water Weaver to swoonreads.com where all you guys and some new readers from swoon have been showing it a ton of love! I really don’t know whether it will get chosen or whether it would classed as this season’s intake (I think next since I uploaded after the deadline) but in time, we will see. 😊 Fingers crossed I will one day be able to write the sequel and work with an editor to make it even better than I can do alone, but we will see.
- NEW SHINY WIP: On the day I submitted to Swoon, I started writing a new WIP. I think uploading it helped me to let go, even if temporarily and focus my work elsewhere. I’ll talk about this a bit more below because I’m so excited to talk more about it! I actually think that writing a first draft has never gone as smoothly as this one! From conception to the now approx. halfway mark, it’s been soooo painless compared to how forcing words and ideas out usually is. We will see how the ending goes, hopefully it won’t be a write off like my Summer WIP which we won’t mention….. But I have a very good feeling about this one 😊 (Note: Summer WIP was 100% necessary for this because the male lead was born from that, even though he was basically setting props in the grand scheme of things XD But without it, I definitely wouldn’t have gotten my male lead! So, no regrets!)
- MANDARIN SELF STUDY: I’ve also been trying to learn mandarin (somewhat casually) for a year this Saturday gone! I think I’m around abouts HSK 4 vocabulary range, but I really struggle with spoken/listening. Everyone always says Hanzi (Chinese writing system) is really hard, but I did a bit of a crash course early on and the more Hanzi you know, the more it’s easier to learn. It’s not an alphabet per say, but it’s easy to make educated guesses etc and similar characters can stick in your head etc. Back then, last November, I was hoping by now I could understand dramas without subtitles. *Ahem* I can somewhat pause and read the Hanzi and kind of follow, and of course anything simple is easy. But the lovely long lore explanations in period/fantasy dramas? I’m gone. And there are so many dramas out there without subtitles that I want to watch (like “Meng Fei Comes Across” urrrghhh) HOWEVER, I am at a point where I can study Tang dynasty poetry (which are so beautiful) and I did spend an entire day learning the Hanzi for Liang liang (TMOPB) so I could understand it entirely. I loved that song so much beforehand and yet now I can understand it all, I love it even more? There are some lyrics that are just too beautiful to translate into English because they end up sounding so clunky and ruin that beauty. I also managed to find the first few pages of Heavy Sweetness Ash like Frost (have read English translation&drama) and could somewhat follow a bit of that. Of course, it was incredibly challenging but maybe by next year, it will be somewhat easier 😊 A graded reader I was trying to read a while back was seemingly impossible and now it’s easy. So, clearly some form of progress is being made, even if my studies are quite on and off depending on my motivation. Also, it’s been over a year since I first watched TMOPB and have since listened to the soundtrack on repeat every day and watched it at least three times. Yes, I still love it just as much and probably always will ^__^ Hopefully one day I will be able to understand dramas and I would especially love to be able to read C Novels in Chinese (again, translations can be iffy and hard to find for ones I want to read/incomplete).
- REAL LIFE STUFF: I started teaching! (Sort of) I signed up with a cover supply agency for secondary, so it’s been fun learning curve XD It also means I’m mad busy, but somehow finding time to write isn’t all that bad.
So, that’s about all the changes in the past two months.
NEW SHINY WIP: The title (ATM) is “Before the Last Petal Falls”. Maybe it’s a little long but I do like long titles *ahem* “Three Lives, Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms” and “Heavy Sweetness, Ash-Like Frost” for example, but they actually make my title look very short in comparison XD (Well, I suppose the latter is 5 words, I always call the former TMOPB which is 5 words.) This WIP is very shiny, actually. I’m not sure about the rest, but my non-reader/writer boyfriend did comment in the early chapters that he really liked the idea (well, a plot device in particular/something relating to the protagonist). It is pretty quirky with some of the scenes and the perspective was so much fun to write from. I’ll probably go for this same approach for the ending, although I am still torn between a sad ending or a happy ending… There is one I have in mind, but it’s pretty complicated and might make the resolution part of the story far too long. It is a stand alone, though. Anyway, I’ll see where the river takes me, but we’ll see.
Another thing I’ve noticed that in places, reading some poems and studying lyrics has really inspired me for some of my own description, etc. I would probably say that with quite a few words/dialogue, I am writing with Mandarin in my head. I was having it a little with my Summer WIP but here it’s a lot more full on and I’m sure it’s getting worse. I know my dialogue is absolutely riddled with adverbs like surelys, definitelys, certainlys and reallys (more than usual, anyway). Actually, most of those, I have “yiding”s and “zhende”s. Some of the actuallys too are coming out as “qishi”s as well. Oh and of course as “dang rans”. (pinyin-ing all these because I’m typing on my computer and I only have my Chinese input on my phone). Oh and then there’s the “xiaojie” all over the place XD “hao bu hao?”, etc etc. Of course, I’m nowhere near fluent/bilingual but at the same time, I definitely am writing with Chinese in mind? Another example is that I often write my protag taking small, light steps, etc and “lianbu” comes to me which means literally “lotus steps”, a graceful way of how women used to walk. (There’s a nice lyric in another song, actually that has this). I do hope that by the time this is all finished and edited that I will have been able to read a few C Novels in Chinese and be able to make it even more authentic, but I’m doing my best to write with Mandarin in mind, anyway. Hopefully it will come across okay to native speakers!
Of course all the names are in simplified Chinese and making names is so much fun! 😊 I absolutely love picking the Hanzi for their names and looking at which Hanzi are used for my favourite stories. Like Fuyao, the character’s name has so much meaning and is actually used in a poem by Li Bai (which the male lead refers to early on in the drama and the marketing team used it quite a bit on social media too, if I remember correctly.) And the male lead’s name Wuji, means like without limit. My protag’s name is Li Lianfei (li for plum/common surname, lian for lotus and fei for fragrant – which are some of my favourite hanzi. Is it weird to have favourite hanzi? I also love the Shuang for frost too. Maybe it’s all the beautiful imagery) And then the male lead who is the White Tiger, God of War is called Fang Kaijin (square (common surname), triumph, strength). I think on my second draft, I’ll take a closer look at some secondary characters who were more hastily named and try to make their names reflect them a little better. Same with some place names. There’s one in particular that is supposed to be the demon’s homeland and it just doesn’t fit at all! Who knows what I was thinking when I chose that XD
Anyway, the idea for this one definitely didn’t come straight away! I remember I’d watched FuYao and Mirror of the Witch (one of the few k-dramas I’ve actually watched, Goblin is also good ^__^) and I was liking this idea of a cursed protagonist type of story. I did try a few ideas but they were just all SO BLAND. Everything was bland. Actually, I had such a rubbish summer of nothing. It was so long and dull and my ideas were all so rubbish. My Summer WIP became a trainwreck. So, I gave up for a while with making ideas and threw the summer WIP aside. I started going back through TWW, tried querying again to no avail. I was on holiday at the time with my boyfriend and I’m sure I sort of ruined it for him because I just felt so, so down. The fact that I was off uni for so many months with nothing to do apart from writing which wasn’t going well was clearly the cause. Again, I tried coming up with new ideas. Everything was SO BLAND. There was nothing interesting or unusual that I could think of. I got a rejection back from agent I’d been really putting a lot of hope onto and that was my breaking point XD Total melt down. And the worst is when you feel less for the fact you’re crying and can’t take it? Of course, crying is totally fine. But in the moment, it feels like you can’t cry because you’re not supposed to let rejection hurt you. At least, that’s how I felt XD Of course, letting it all out is always the best solution. Because the day after, I went back to brainstorming. And it was time to brainstorm hard. I needed something quirky but not so quirky that it would feel forced or not be what I would want to write. I decided I would write out a list of ideas. These are very, very basic without anything to make it sparkly/unique. I started writing, going from the concept I mentioned above of cursed protagonist (not dissimilar from Inna’s situation, which I knew I had already enjoyed writing about). And it was just weird. I went from that concept to Princess Agents, to Heavy Sweetness, to Fuyao, to TMOPB and to even Beauty and the Beast. And thus, shiny WIP idea was born! What I’d failed to do for months finally succeeded! This was around abouts mid September. It was a moment of total eureka. I had something that was hooky and unusual, and yet would provide me with all the beautiful imagery that made me fall in love with Ancient Chinese settings. It had all the Daoist mythology from xianxia like HSALF and TMOPB. It was like stumbling upon a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That bland idea was now very, very, very shiny and exactly what I had been writing since I first watched TMOPB and fell in love!
I named my key players, started planning bits out, uploaded TWW to swoon and on the same day, just started writing. I hadn’t planned to start, I’d only planned to write any old scene from my protagonist’s perspective. But I started in a certain place that was fairly close to my inciting incident and since that day, I’ve managed to write at a minimum of 500 words a day and am just over 50k in 2 months (I think my speed is more like 750 words, but I set 500 words as a goal. If I miss a day, it’s easy to catch up). I’m not thinking too much about it, I’m simply following my gut and planning as little as possible. I’ve never written like this before and it’s definitely far from perfect but even if it isn’t good enough in the end, it has achieved my goal even now! And that was to get back into writing and enjoy writing first drafts again 😊 I’m not reading it back until I finish and I’m excited to finish it so that I can read it fresh. I often read back over things a lot, so it will be nice this time to read with a fresher pair of eyes. I imagine I will rewrite this a bunch of times because I really want to do justice to the story. I’m in love with the idea I have, and I hope I manage to pull it off, even if the first draft isn’t quite what I wanted! (Will definitely be binging my favourite dramas and taking notes before giving my own work a read over ;>). And it will be stand alone because I can’t see it any other way.
So, now that I’ve finished rambling about nothing, I think it’s time to write my daily 500 words (or more!) Maybe next time I will share one of my favourite of Li Bai’s poems 😊 And some lyrics too and my interpretation of them!
(very much rambling. i’m sure i’m talking to myself really and would be surprised if anyone makes it to the end of this post XD)