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Camp NaNoWriMo Week 4/Story-Scribbling Sunday: Shadows of the Dragonbone Chair

July 1, 2012

I’m glad I’m not Australian, despite all the confusion and jokes that Austria and Australia are really the same place.* Because if I was in Australia, and November was in spring/summer, I’d never win NaNoWriMo.

I didn’t do well at Camp NaNo this year – better than last year, but I still didn’t even get halfway to 50,000 words. Well, there is a lot of other stuff to do – catching up with cleaning and garden work (things that I simply wasn’t able to do in May, with working overtime every day), harvesting, cooking and eating my many vegetables, blogging, forest hikes and swimming… Not to mention that after a day of sweating my brains out at work, I simply couldn’t think well enough to write anything.

I haven’t made a lot of progress with “Larin and Liria“ this week. Only half a chapter, but it’s been fun. I haven’t planned any of this story out in detail, but things simply start happening while I’m writing, and getting a lot more exciting than expected. Like last week, when Liria nearly drowned. And this week, Liria and her foster sister Lunim are hiding out in the forest – naked, because they were swimming when they were surprised by two men who they assume were sent to capture them.

It’s fun – I hope things like that will continue to happen, making otherwise boring scenes more interesting.

The funniest part for me is realizing where some of the scenes come from.

I was eleven or twelve when I wrote the first version of “The Legend of Larin and Liria”, inspired by “The Dragonbone Chair” by Tad Williams. I was too young then to really understand the book, but I was still quite impressed by it and decided to write something similar, something with a made-up world and made-up names and a princess in disguise. There was supposed to be magic, too, but I felt stupid writing about something I didn’t believe in, so the story remained magic-free after all.

When I wrote the second version, I tried to eliminate the more obvious similarities to “The Dragonbone Chair” (and one or two Mickey Mouse stories that also inspired me). But now, different paralells are creeping in. Even though I haven’t read the book in a couple of years (unless you count skimming a few pages while waiting to have it signed last year), sometimes while writing or planning out a scene, I realize: This is Simon, Binabik, Miriamele and Leleth hiding from Ingen Jegger on top of a rock. Or, this is Isgrimnur questioning Simon. Or, this is Simon nearly drowing in the Aelfwent. (And then I always get distracted, because I can’t remember the Sithi name for the Aelfwent, and for some reason, this really bothers me. I know it means, “Her blood is cool,” and I know Binabik says it when they find the river, and Miriamele says something like, “I thought it was called Aelfwent. Or do trolls always say that when they find a river?” But how is the river called?!)

I’m not sure what I think about this. On the one hand, I don’t want to base my stories so closely – if unintentionally – on someone else’s writing. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s so obvious that many people would notice, and it amuses me, so I think I’ll keep these scenes. (And if I ever get that story edited enough to let people read it, and if someone notices, I hope they’re as amused as I am when I notice things in books that remind me of another book, and wonder if the author read that book.)

Only one new writing location this week, but it was a very pretty one. My aunt and uncle own a tiny (and I mean tiny) piece of land at a lake, which is where we spent most of this hellishly hot weekend, swimming, napping, and in my case, writing a bit.

It’s so pretty that it’s just ridiculous – like I stole it from a postcard or something! This is the first time I’ve ever made it there when the daylilies are blooming. It’s always a nice place, but now it looks completely unreal!

And – this has nothing to do with story-scribbling – the lake was just so nice this weekend! So wonderfully warm – but still cool enough to be refreshing… and oh, I just love having this much space to swim. So much better than crowded, chlorine-smelling public pools!

Another not-really-related-to-writing thing: “Larin and Liria” nearly cost me my camera and several other important(ish) things this Thursday. I was writing while waiting for the train, and when it arrived, I was so busy with my notebook and bike basket and brain-fried from the heat, I left my bag at the train station. And didn’t notice it until I got off the train. I hopped right onto the next train back, but when I got to the Teeny Tiny Village Train Station, the bag wasn’t there any more. Because I wasn’t entirely sure I’d left it there, I asked at work and at the grocery store as well, but no, it wasn’t there.

Well, nothing to be done about it, I told myself, but wait and call the Lost and Found on Friday, maybe somebody had found it and handed it in to the conductor on the next train. So I went home, worried and miserable and mad at myself … I don’t think I’ve been in such a temper, of the throwing-things-across-the-room variety, in years! And then, later that night, my boss called – somebody had not only found my bag, but recognized it as mine and brought it to him at the Teeny Tiny Village Nursery!

How awesome is that? Definitely a “wow, I love working in a teeny tiny village!” moment!

*By the way, that famous line, “No kangaroos in Austria”? Of course there are kangaroos in Austria. We have zoos. We even have the oldest zoo in the world.

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