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Yes; I ran. Even knowing better than to run from wolves, I leapt from the porch like an oryx and ran so that the stone streets bruised my heels.

There are times, if you're like me, when you sit down to work on something and find another thing entirely clamoring for attention, actually willing and ready to let you focus on it for a while. It's a rare varietal of the garden-variety distractions all around, and can sometimes be a very good thing to nurture.

For Week 3 of the Write-a-thon, rather than revamping Frozen Voice, I went back in time to do not one but two revisions of one of my Clarion West stories, City of Wolves. It's a story about sex and gender, gods and men, and the destructive forces of politics. Sort of. And wolves.

"Wolf-god!" I had nothing to lose. At worst he would eat me, or the true God would smite me for blasphemy. God had never looked too kindly on my life before. "Come back, and when you come, bring me my husband!"

Or his bloody bones.

I took a class on transgender issues in history, when I was an undergrad at UI. One of the topics we discussed were people who had been circumsized at birth, but their genitals were damaged, and so they were arbitrarily re-sexed and re-gendered as female, raised as female, etc. The reasoning was, if you combined the fact that they had no male genitalia and did have (albeit constructed) female genitals, and if hey never knew they were born male, they should just be girls, right?

Well, no, as it turns out. Even with hormone treatment, even being raised female, these people tended to come out with horrible dysphoria issues. Gender is complex, and doesn't always correspond to your physical or hormonal landscape.

I now that was one of the influences in the creation of the main character: the fifth son of a royal house who desperately needed daughters to offer in political marriages. Combine that with a culture which says, yes, you're allowed to convert a child to whatever you need, if you're royalty, and you can more or less see where this is going.

I wish I could remember more about what inspired the plot, location, etc.; but the first draft was two years ago, and dissecting my own stories leads me into a lot of odd juxtapositions at the most comprehensible of times.

I did not sleep. I counted how many fingers' spans the moon moved against the sky. I looked for familiar constellations and found Adhara, the maidens. Shadir, the breast. Al-dhanab al calbarai, the tail of the dog.

The two-part revision was an interesting affair. I started off with the old draft in one Word window and a blank Standard Manuscript Format document in another, side by side, and actually re-wrote the story, referencing the first document when I liked a scene or a phrase or an idea. I cut out a huge amount of stuff in the middle – aimless wandering and throat-clearing, mostly, and tightened a few lines of logic and causality. As a result? The original draft came out to roughly 6,700 words. This newest, tightened draft comes to approximately 4,500.

The second draft of the week – the fifth overall draft, if you'd like to know – was polishing and tightening on the line, rather than scene, level. Smoothing out segues, reading through with an eye toward rhythm and flow. If the first revision of the week was remodeling the house and bashing down walls, the second was painting it and artfully arranging the furniture.

And that was Week 3!

I'm not sure what I'm going to attack for Week 4, but I have a feeling I'd better work that out by tmorrow. Maybe it'll actually be Frozen Voice this time. Or another Clarion West '08 revision. Who knows?

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me, and you can still do so now, if you'd like. Otherwise, feel free to stay tuned!
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an_owomoyela: Escher's rendering of two hands drawing each other. (Default)
An Owomoyela

May 2011

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