Log in

27 December 2013 @ 04:22 pm
2013 in words  
This has been the Year of Baby, so not surprisingly, there hasn't been anywhere near as much writing as previous years. However, I'm quietly pleased with what I have managed to get done: 34,000 words of posted fic, plus about another, ahem, 17k of Yuletide stories (not sure how that happened; feel free to play Guess The Fics in comments) and an awful lot of other stuff that's not finished or posted (my Rivers of London file that I started in August has 38,000 words, which includes the fics I've posted in that fandom but doesn't include a separate WIP that's already 14k on its own).

From my point of view, this has mostly been the writing year of Rivers of London, and it's dominated my thoughts since the summer (and earlier in the year I was wholly in Babyland anyway). I hope this hasn't been too much of a disappointment to those of you who are reading here for the Vorkosigan stuff, and I promise you there's still plenty more Vorkosigan fic to be written. But now I have two fandoms instead of one.

Which is kind of weird for me, because I've always been very monofannish. I have little ventures into other fandoms, and I read in loads of different fandoms, but I only ever felt a powerful writing impulse for Vorkosigan. But now I have this equally powerful writing impulse for Rivers of London too. It's an even tinier fandom than Vorkosigan, but I don't find that off-putting; rather the reverse: it's nice to know that my fics aren't going to vanish in a huge morass of similar stories and that the people who do read in the fandom are very keen for stories. And I seem to have plenty to tell.

It still surprises me that I should hear Peter's narrative voice so clearly in my head. I don't have much in common with him: he's a mixed-race working-class Londoner, and I'm - not any of those things. Perhaps it's because it's so strong in the books, and I've always picked up voices easily (this was embarrassing when I was doing a French language exchange and started speaking English with a French accent after a few days with my exchange partner, which I swear was not because I was making fun of her). I don't think I'm quite nailing Peter's voice yet, especially the humour, but I'm getting close in places. I love Nightingale very very much, but I seem to want to write him from Peter's perspective.

This has also been a year for plot, probably because RoL seems to make me write plotty fics and casefic - I don't seem to get a lot of plot bunnies for 'two characters sit in a room and talk' kind of fics in this fandom, whereas I've written rather a lot of them in Vorkosigan. London seems to need something to happen. Which is fun, but also harder to write and takes more thinking out and planning. I think my plotting and action scenes are improving, though. Not that there isn't scope for plenty more improvement.

Not much sex this year, which again isn't surprising given that there's been a baby in the room with me when I've done a lot of my writing, and that has a tendency to keep the ratings down and the themes milder. Not much that's high-rated at all - I think Yuletide has the most high-rated of the fics I've written this year, and also the darkest.

And because I like lists:

My most popular fic
Going by AO3 hits, this one is Tour Guide, by a whisker. Aral and Duv and Ivan and Alys have varied and complicated conversations with no plot at all. I'm still working up to the long Duv/Aral fic, which is probably not going to be actually slash at all but just lots and lots of Aral and Duv talking at and past and to each other while dealing with Plot. But writing their interactions in this fic was a load of fun - and also symptomatic of the problem I have with the long fic, which is that whenever I have them in the same room they wander off onto random historical-political-personal tangents and the plot kind of disappears for a while so that they can talk. In this fic, that was the point, and great fun it was too.

By kudos it's Dendarii and Cetagandans, probably because everyone loves young Ivan and Miles and Gregor having childhood adventures, and why not. I love them too.

My favourite fic
Zombies of Wimbledon! This fic was such an idfic, but one that I think managed to come across as quite readable, and I thought the plotty parts were in the spirit of the series. But mostly this fic exists because I like upsetting Nightingale's balance in various ways and making Peter deal with it.

My best fic
I think Rule of Law, just about. Vorhalas lends himself to complex stories with no easy answers, and I think that's what I got there. I'm very pleased with how that one came out, all the undercurrents and issues about fathers and sons and doing the right thing. Second prize goes to one of my Yuletide fics.

Hardest to write
I think this one goes to The Family Trade, given that I've been working on that one for years. And Dendarii and Cetagandans. It's weird, when I finished them I couldn't see why it had been so hard, but both of those had sat on my hard drive unfinished for ages. Along with far too many others... every year I resolve that instead of writing new stories I will finish off some of the old ones, and every year I just add to the pile of unfinished stories. I think I may just have to embrace this as My Method and give up on trying to fix it.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/110470.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Trobadora: words christmastrobadora on December 27th, 2013 08:17 pm (UTC)
the problem I have with the long fic, which is that whenever I have them in the same room they wander off onto random historical-political-personal tangents and the plot kind of disappears for a while so that they can talk

How is that a problem? I could read that forever and ever. *g*
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on December 28th, 2013 10:16 am (UTC)
Well, yes. But while solving a mystery is not necessarily the time to sit down and discuss how to reform the Barrayaran secondary school history curriculum, with reference to the history of the Vorkosigan family and how history is taught on Komarr...
nnozomi: nodamecellonnozomi on December 28th, 2013 11:45 am (UTC)
I would be thrilled by a fic that consisted of nothing but discussions on how to reform the Barrayaran secondary school history curriculum (not even slightly kidding). Feel free.
So as not to burden you with multiple comments: if you ever feel interested in the topic, might you want to post something about your thoughts on class in Rivers of London? Your reference to Peter as working-class made me think, from my iggerant American perspective, how far that might apply--for instance, if Peter had done better on his A-levels and gone to university, would he have ended up middle-class by default? (And his father seems to be mysteriously classless.) If this does not grab you, forget it; it's just one of the many factors of character that I enjoy mulling over.
Oh, and have a very happy new year!
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on December 28th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
Oh God, class in England, now you're asking. I'm not sure I'm really the best person to answer this, since I'm an immigrant here and don't know all the fine gradations at all, and I don't think the rules in London are the same as the rules where I live anyway. But Peter's dad is unmistakeably London working-class. 'Authentic cockney geezer' is his style, and that's very much a working-class identity. Plus he's basically unemployed, a heroin addict, married to a cleaner and lives in a small flat on a dodgy council estate and the television is always on. Peter's mother is the aspirational one - all those mentions of relatives who've done well and moved to proper houses and have degrees and are married. But she's not in the same situation as, say, Mickey Adjaye's family, who have definitely joined the middle classes. I expect that's mostly because of marrying Peter's dad (and I wish we had names for these characters!).

If he'd got a good degree and a professional job would he have moved into the middle class? Yes, by some people's viewpoints, but having sat on the sidelines of ferocious debates about whether if you come from a background like Peter's and get a degree at Oxford, does that make you upper-middle class or are you still working class because of your family background, and are you betraying your family background if you claim an upper-middle-class identity - well. I'm not going to make a call on that one. Where the precise boundaries between classes are is not exactly something you can define, and how anyone defines them tells you as much about the person making the definition as anything else. It's a combination of family background on both sides, mostly your parents but also your grandparents and extended family, money, career, the exact details of where you live and how you keep your house and how big your television is, prospects, culture, who your friends are, your accent, regional issues, where you go on holiday, what car you drive, what you prioritise in life, attitudes towards education - really, there isn't anything that's not relevant to determining someone's class. And once you add race to the mixture the complications multiply exponentially and I'm REALLY not qualified to expound on it. But Lady Ty, for instance, is precariously upper-middle-class because of that, and you see that in the little mention of her not being welcome in the Oxford dining club culture (though that's an old-money upper-class thing as well).

Lesley too is working class, a bit above Peter but not by much. Nightingale's class coding is confused by his age, which gives him an 'old money' air that I think wouldn't necessarily have been true of him in 1920, but he's definitely approaching upper-class. Aaronovitch is a keen observer of all this and he pretty much nails it. And at least to an English reader, all his characters are immediately coded by class, every suspect or witness or person who opens a door has details about them which label them as belonging to a particular class and background.

(ETA, if I'm not mistaken about your meaning elsewhere: no, I didn't write that fic, though you're looking in the right direction ;-)).

Edited at 2013-12-28 03:43 pm (UTC)
nnozomi: nodamecellonnozomi on December 30th, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC)
(hee hee, I have suspected you of a couple of fics now; I figure I can't lose, since either I'm right and they're yours which is always a win, or I'm wrong and there's yet another good author to be enjoyed. although I really should shut up and just wait for reveals.)
Thank you for the class discussion--fascinating. (also sorry to respond late, LJ is being uncommunicative.) Re Peter's father, my mind filed "unemployed, heroin addict" under "jazz musician" rather than "working class"--and he does seem to do music with the very middle-class Irregulars in a classless space, I think. I'd missed the other indicators, though. And you're right, I wish Peter's parents had names.
I was thinking of Nightingale as upper-class especially because of his magical-Eton background, but the way he discusses his family and the other students suggests up-and-coming merchant class more than old-money, perhaps.
It's not as if America or Japan (to name the countries of my own experience) are classless societies (Japan before the war could give England a run for its money, as it were); but the definitions are different and the lines much more fluid, I think. Totally fascinating to observe from the outside, probably considerably more stressful to live with on the inside. Anyway, thank you so much for indulging me.
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on December 30th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
The second guess is right, so feel free to provide me with a drabble prompt of some kind :-).

I've heard some people argue that you can't really count as upper-class unless you have family in the House of Lords, but that's only one opinion of many. Nightingale strikes me as lower upper class, if that makes sense, with a 'country squire' sort of background rather than a 'lord of the manor' background.

The Irregulars all have very middle-class day jobs, I can't remember them all but history lecturer and systems analyst are two of them, and Cyrus was an accountant IIRC. Peter's dad was a working-class boy who aimed for 'professional musician' and missed, sort of. I don't think 'jazz musician' is strongly class-bound as a profession (if he was a classical musician that might be different). The jazz clubs as described are mostly middle-class venues, but that's the difference between the audience and the performers.

For me class isn't particularly stressful because I'm, as Peter might put it, terminally privileged (I set 'Pest Control' in the town I grew up in and the posh private school mentioned is the school I went to), but it's always involved in everything, here, and I think its importance and meaning is more widely acknowledged here than in the US, even though it's not much less important there. Japan I have no idea at all and wouldn't even know where to start in reading class signals.
Her Hamsterness: RoL -- Nightingale's signarehamsterwoman on December 28th, 2013 02:20 am (UTC)
a separate WIP that's already 14k on its own

Ooh! :DD

"Tour Guide" quickly became one of my favorite fics of yours (and I'm looking forward to more Duv and Aral wandering off on historical-political-personal tangents any time you write that :)
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on December 28th, 2013 10:18 am (UTC)
I might try to enlist your beta-reading skills for that one at some point, if you were interested. It has a couple more bits of plot to stick in, and an ending, and then I will have a complete first draft.
Her Hamsternesshamsterwoman on December 29th, 2013 12:47 am (UTC)
I would be up for that, I think! (Barring work being too crazy for me to be able to turn it around in any sort of reasonable time :)
shimotsuki: booksshimotsuki on December 28th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
I think it's amazing that someone with a new baby can write anything. I'm in awe!

Haven't had a chance to look into Rivers of London yet, but the synopsis you wrote for me earlier certainly has me intrigued. That may be my reading adventure for next summer.
philomytha: Beam me upphilomytha on December 28th, 2013 10:20 am (UTC)
Well, I like writing a lot :-).

And Rivers of London is well worth reading! By the summer there might even be a fifth book in the series, if we're lucky, and since book 4 ended with a lot of things unresolved, that would be all to the good for you.