Goat Notes

Journal of the Goat in the Machine

State of the Kates
three katherines of allingdale
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In Elder Days, in years of yore, I was revising this set of cuneiform tablets collectively titled Three Katherines of Allingdale, and posting the odd shard about it to this journal.  At the beginning of this year, I was comprehensively stuck, and turning to other projects until some idea or other worked loose.  My life then performed several unscheduled triple back somersaults before landing in a marvellous better place (waves to [personal profile] green_knight across table).  And now the long-awaited missing clue to the Kateverse has finally turned up, and I'm writing in it again...

Okay.  Three Katherines in its first draft presently consists of The Deed of Katy Elflocks, a fairy-tale novella with which I'm almost wholly satisfied; and Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, a chunky low-fantasy novel which brings all the chickens home to roost thirty years later, and with which I'm not satisfied at all.  I'm unsatisfied although, or more likely because, I think Killer-Kate has the elements of being the best story I've ever told.  The issue is that there turns out to be far too much backstory essential to its unfolding. 

A grand epic fantasy driven by timeless destinies and history-mastering heroes might get away with skating lightly over a generation or two, even if great matters and dreadful reversals have occurred in the interval.  This is not such a story - although it is partly about its greatest hero's lifelong struggle to keep stories like that from happening anywhere around her, for much the same reason that she works to keep  plague, famine, and other similar disasters from the door.  In the first draft, I put the history into the story as it touched it, and the resulting datadumps proved both unlovely and hard to redact.  In the abortive second, I tried to wrap the true story artfully around the tale not directly told, somewhat as Tolkien did to The Lord of the Rings and the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.  I got some myriad words in and bounced hard, either because I'm no Tolkien, or because Three Katherines and the untold 'Tale of Foxfires' are no such a pair of stories, or I don't know what else.  That left telling the Tale of Foxfires in full.  I've attempted this several times in the past, and broken every time upon the undeniable fact that it is a messy history rather than a proper story of its own.  What to do?  I was out of ideas I hadn't tried, so I let it lie fallow for a bit.  Now again, I think I've got it.

I've identified the actual stories I think need telling in the gap.  The real key was discovering that some of them have no direction to the Foxfires matter at all, and that Katy Elflocks as a character spends far too long completely out of scope.  So my new, improved, revised version of Three Katherines should end up looking something like this:

1) The Deed of Katy Elflocks - Novella; essentially complete for many years.
2) The Bridge to the End of the Night - Novella; set several years later, telling of a border-quarrel and what came of it.  Work in progress.
3) The Wain of Winter Stars - Novel; set immediately afterwards, following an exodus from slavery and war into regions dubious and uncanny.  Not yet written.
4) Crown of Foxfires - Novel; set ten years after the Deed, telling of the fall from grace of two heroes, and a contention for a kingdom.  Exists in scraps and many incompatible versions.  Will have to be completely rethought, now that the extraneous matter has been hived off into its own tales, or else placed in question.
5) Roger Rock Candy - Long novella or short novel, set about eight years later, telling of an ill-fated peasant uprising and what lay behind it.  Not yet written.
6) Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland - Long novel set twelve years later, telling the last great deeds of all three Katherines and their comrades, and how a new popular rising changed the days of the Northdales, and brought all ever-afters home.  First draft finished; in need of much revision, and probably no little shortening.

And that is where things stand at the moment.


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P-P-P-Poetry
goat
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P-P-P-Poetry

I get the poems like I get the stammers.
The words won't speak - they break - I have to sing them.

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Solidaritas
goat
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Solidaritas

Three tall words can stand
When three legion small deeds back 'em.

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Jim On The Barricades, Katy In The Woods
writing
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The challenges of redrafting Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland's Yuletide arc over the real-world Yuletide seemed about as tempting as going five rounds with Rudolph and the gang atop the roof-tree, so I didn't.  Back home today, and back to the need to make it make sense.

As a diversion I've been working on a short fast attack novel, provisionally titled The Land of Lemonade, and set in a contemporary extended London in which William Hope Hodgson was a journalist, Princess Louise's legacy is more significant than Queen Victoria's, and the No Tail Paal Pail is food*.  Current wordcount: 5,400.  This yarn shares a world with Carbonek (see previous post), and explores the hyper-liberal urban counterpart to the arch-conservative cosmic defence employed by Sabrina Cottislowe and her countryfolk in Least Britain.  I came up with Carbonek first, but Uncle Jim Harries of Lemonade is so much more dynamic a protagonist than Sabrina's friend Blogger Bill, he's carrying it away by a mile, even now while he's still stuck in pure reactive mode. 

This would be a good one to finish.  I even think I understand the plot.

*  But these are SECRETS.  You didn't hear them from me!


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Poor Billy's Almanack, Wk I
goat
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Jan 1st.  Tu.  Resolution Day.  New year, new beer.

Jan 2nd. W.  Absolution Day.  Consider the sloth, whatever.

Jan 3rd.  Th. 

When obliged to negotiate with King Kong, the most important constraint on one's freedom is not that his first name is King.

Jan 4th. F.  On this day a professional health scold shall perish from a vast excess of vinegar in their blood.

Red sky at night, call the Fire Brigade, already!

Jan 5th. Sa.  Twelfth Night.  On this day shall the Government impose an emergency ban on vinegar.

Something must be done.  This is something.  Therefore we must do this.  (Sir Humphrey Appleby.)

Jan 6th.  Su.  Epiphany/Ystwyll. 

A hunted fox or a Tesco wren/ Is no good game for maids nor men.

Jan 7th.  M.  Work is the curse of the drinking classes.  (Oscar Wilde.)

If I had a penny for every quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, people would say I was just as witty as he was.


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Students Who Summon Nyarlathotep For A Bet
goat
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Are BARRED from my dreams until with strange aeons, even Death shall die. And they shouldn't get up their hopes too much then, either.

Apparently the Crawling Chaos looks a lot like a network manager I used to know, only with charisma upgraded to Maximum Evil, and bringing the Apocalypse instead of the Inconvenience. Also he ate somebody's brains in front of them, which apparently one can do if one has the top level cheat codes, and which I am fairly sure that the Nameless NM never did in any strictly physical sense, or on purpose if it comes to that. Moreover Nyarlathotep committed many other breaches of the rules of cricket, including the one about not sending ravening mobs through the streets after me; and generally degraded the quality of my unplanned nap quite a lot.

The less arseholish student and I eventually stuffed him and the Hasturpocalypse back into their box by timey wimey wish-lawyery woo. Nyar hah!

Nonetheless, I feel no urge to revisit this or any potential spin-off scenario at any time in the foreseeable future.

Dream rating: Two poppies - the second being for technical excellence, and actually having something approximating a plot, which ended better than could have been expected. The three poppies not awarded are for all the myriad ways in which the experience was otherwise objectionable.

I sign off in haste, to read a great big sugarload about kittens and Drones Club doings before my just bedtime.

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Giving General Conversion Tables For Things Not Given
goat
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A first and merely qualitative attempt:


Degree of concern disclaimed

Acoustic Unit

Scatologic Unit

Erotic Unit
Significant Hoot Shit Fuck
Detectable Whinge Fart Stroke
Extreme Holler Sewer Orgy


Notes:

1) The use of toss for stroke is henceforth deprecated, due to its popular abuse as a synonym for the larger unit. It is probably not worth bothering with at all.

2) The levels of indifference within each magnitude category are conjectured to be approximately comparable across scales, but accurate determination of the conversion ratios awaits a fully comprehensive survey of the socio-linguistic-apathetic landscape, and:

3) Nobody gives that much of a Care Bear.

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On First Finishing Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy
goat
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On First Finishing Mira Grant's Newsflesh Trilogy

Seldom I've dabbled in the realms of red,
Or splashed my cricket bat with sanguine stains:
Who once the zombie genre sore disdains
Not lightly is amused by dudes undead.
At whiles attempts most valiant I'd read:
Bill Swears and Alden Bell took noble pains,
Yet none, meseems, did nosh upon my brains
Till Mira Grant scooped mine from out my head.
Then felt I like stout Rudyard Kipling when
Of all the well-worn ways to tribal lays,
He stumbled on that lost Threescore-and-Ten,
That closes hidebound books, and opens eyes
To all they asked - nor craves we read again,
But do, and do! - and cry, "When will we rise?"

*

Keats' original can be found here, for those unfamiliar with it. 

wswears's Zook Country* and Alden Bell's The Reapers Are The Angels are the other good books reffed above, and indeed are the only other literary zombie-fests I have so far finished.  Not even unmentionable-smashing ninja Bennet sisters have otherwise managed to carry me along with the Brainsss Brigade.  This is probably because I get my RDA of shambly zombie goodness by 5.30 most mornings, courtesy of my trusty shaving mirror - but I digress.

For those unfamiliar with Mira Grant (alias the excellent contemporary fantasist [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire), what more can I say? Go on, get some read on you!


 * ETA:
Which first persuaded me that a zombie apocalypse book could also be a right good read, and in whose absence I might never have tried out the others.

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The Personal Astronomer
goat
caper_est

The Personal Astronomer

I always think of you as William Herschel,
The fields of heaven spread before your eyes,
And you screwed tightly to your telescope
Discovering Uranus.

*

(The old ones are always the best.)

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Desktop Verse
goat
caper_est


Between the frosted moor and the forging dawn

A neat bare tree stands up like a new broom.

Between me and all those three,

A ditch cuts, shallow as mirrors or deep as the sky,

A molten iron moat for today.


 

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