Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back to work

Russ left about noon yesterday after a wonderful 3.5 days of fun. We went places! Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge the first day, down to Lincoln and our favorite used bookstore on the second day, to Omaha on the third day -- I spent a few hours at the zoo while Russ visited with people -- and then we stopped at the De Soto Wildlife Refuge on the way home. Before he left on Tuesday, we went to the local nature center and Stone Park.

So I had a very busy few days, and yes I am having trouble even tracking what day it is and what I'm supposed to be doing. I need to get the DAZ newsletter done for this week, and I got a good start on it today. I did make certain I got writing done each day while Russ was here, and we talked about some writing as well -- something I really miss. In fact, I've had far fewer story ideas since he left, and the ones I have for novels are just sitting there, staring at me. I need to find a way to talk about them and get them moving. Otherwise, it's going to be pretty difficult when I need one!

On the other hand, the rewriting of older material was long overdue. I'm still working on Badlands, and at the midway point, I'm starting to think that maybe I need a drastic change in the story structure. I'm not sure, though, so I'm going to continue with it in this style and then look again when I'm done. I've been struck with the 'oh this would be much better!' ideas in the middle of projects before, and found that it wasn't better, only different. Quite often, I end up going back to the original plan. So I'll get this done and then see if I can work up the 'different' idea in notes and see where it goes. If I like it, I'll pull this one out again and write an outline based on it, and then do the drastic changes in characters and culture that I am considering.

In the meantime, here is a snippet of Badlands as it is now:

They had one last challenge before they were away from the area, but getting past the port tower proved easier than Carmen expected. The Altos expected an attack, so they weren't looking for a small group slipping past half a kilometer away and heading into the desert. Her group reached a strip of wild, uninhabited land barely ninety meters across where sandwood grew in knee-high tangles, a maze of prickly limbs that made uncomfortably loud noises when they broke. Tasha took the lead and found an obscure path that he must have known by heart. They never backtracked to find a way through, though they did cross occasional patches of readleaf -- a plant that was more an annoyance than an obstacle or danger. The vines clutched at sandwood, tiny suction cups holding on with a tenacity that sucked the little moisture from the larger plant, and Carmen had to stop twice to cut vines from her legs and from Marcu's.

People in the Pueblo rooted it out wherever they found it in the Pueblo itself, and out here they harvested the older vines. The fibers made a tough fabric, and the only native material from which cloth could be manufactured. They mostly made it to use rugs.

And if Carmen had just been content to stay in the shop and weave with her mother, she wouldn't have been in this trouble now. She would have, however, been far more frustrated by having no power to do anything at all. Sometimes it was good to look at both sides of the 'what if' question to remember the full side of the changes.

They finally reached the edge of Carmen's known world. She had cone come this far on a school outing and remembered how the other children stayed back, terrified by the wide expanse of white desert, lit only by the moon, and stretching far beyond the cliffs. Now she stood on the edge of the slowly deteriorating cliff and looked to the desert for salvation. She suddenly thought of all the crazy and foolish people who had lost their lives out by heading out there and trying to prove ... something.

"It's easy to get down, but harder to get back up," Marcu said softly. He knelt down on one knee, peering over the edge. "The wind blows toward us, east to west. At this point the wind deposits a slope of sand, adding to the talus of the cliff. See?"

She looked down, wondering what the hell he was talking about and why he chose now to teach her something this unimportant. She saw a slope of white sand beginning about two meters below the top of the cliff. It stretched a long ways out into La Tierra Blanca.

"We slide down the slope," Tasha said. He sat down, legs dangling over the edge while he pulled his pack around front, cradling it in his arms. "Just push off the edge here, lean back, and let gravity do the rest. You'll feel a slight jolt when you hit the sand, but you'll slide the rest of the way."

"And Angel, don't try to stop yourself at the bottom," Marcu added. "The farther you slide, the less you have to walk."

"Watch," Tasha said.

And he pushed himself off the edge of the cliff. Carmen saw her demented brother hit the sand with a slight puff of dust. He kept sliding. The dust obscured most of the movement, but she saw him arrive at the bottom. Speed and momentum carried him out into the desert. Then he stood and waved, a faint shadowy figure in the white below.

Angel carefully sat down. He gave Carmen one skeptical look -- but he slipped over the edge without a single word of protest. Carmen watched while he slid a few meters and then lost him in the dust. She glanced once at Marcu as she sat down.

Taking a deep breath, Carmen threw herself over the side of the cliff.

Why not? She'd done crazier things today.
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