Practice Makes Practice

I’ve been trying to draw, with this tablet that Fox used to use. It’s not going so badly, but the thing that I’m learning from the experience is that holy god tablets are cumbersome. I’m not used to spending a long time drawing – my hands get tired and ache after even a fairly small amount of work – but I’m amazed by how just ‘drawing a few outlines and then scribbling a little’ makes my arm ache.

Recently, the inestimable Katelyn Gadd showed me a short story she wrote, and that I quite enjoyed, and in that conversation, I remarked that, like programming and writing, all art is a practice. Doing art is the best way to be happy doing more art.

I know in hindsight, I’m not very happy with the existing structure of The Sixth Age of Sand. It’s a messy book, with lots of narrative wandering, digressions that try to talk about greater perspectives on the world, while hanging around focal characters too closely. I think that the most interesting ideas in the story – Holland blending into every environment, and Barbara’s warlock magic as it was expressed through her phone – were somewhat smothered by trying to draw all the elements together. I don’t know why Cards really had to be included in the end of the story, beyond that I wrote something about her, all that time ago. I honestly think Cards might be a reinterpretation of Homura.

I wasn’t too happy with the thin-ness of Immortal Engine. It’s a story that I like, and I am proud of having made it so quickly, but I feel that the story needs more fleshing out. The visit from the angelic Bursar, for example, needs to be expanded. There needs to be more travel to and around Shedrach, and Emira’s bits could almost all stand to be twice as long. I need to make it more clear that Officer Haurvjec was not all guards, but that she was an individual who had sworn herself to a concept, and after doing so, had decided to become a guard, to use those powers. I think there’s also some Dishonored-style blinking still in the story.

I am happy, at least for now with One Stone. The plot is bigger but it’s better structured. There are fewer bits that feel like I was phoning it in for a week. I think I need to fix one or two chapters – and the world needs a better introduction. I probably should suck it up and make a map, and maybe a little guide to the world style thing to go in a foreward/introduction. The actual first chapter is a little too small, the introduction a little boring.

Still – I’m glad I made two bad books before I made an okay one. If I keep this up, I might have made a good book by the time I have to go back to finding a shitty data entry job.

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