On Monday I had three different people take a look at my in progress SS fic and all three of them said that what I had wasn't working. It was hard news to hear, but they were right and I had to stop writing. The stress was derailing me and I was tailspinning in a direction that didn't serve the needs of the story. Part of the problem (and there have been many with this fic) is that I was trying to accomplish too many things at once: Flashbacks, tense changes, two big plot reveals, and juggling an ensemble cast. These are not things that come naturally to me. Where more functional writing would have helped the concept, I was still trying to write the fic like I would a one shot - tight POV, dense description, minutae of a moment. That doesn't suit the pacing of a longer story. I also kept falling over backstory and characterization for each of the players because this story is a far future fic. I didn't know what had happened to them, so I felt very adrift because I had no experiential history to ground them to. It's why I'm so strong at writing canon compliant fics. There's so much to reference and anchor. Without that base, it felt insubstantial.
So after crying and generally working myself into a fit because I was not meeting my own expectations, I had a long conversation with only_passenger about how I could restructure the fic to make it into something I could write. And so that's where I am at the moment. There's an outline, things have been streamlined and simplified, and I have another 2 weeks to try and make it work for the Free For All day on November 15th. I'm not giving up yet. Just altering the focus. I'll also have to work on this concurrently with my IWRY entry. I'm trying to be calm about that.
Working on this fic really highlighted to me my limitations and that I'm very much out of practice when it comes to writing. Despite the reality of my rustiness, I did want to post something, so I was strategic. What can I write on short notice? What do I do well? I write very good, tight POV, lyrical character studies. Okay then. What period do I want to work on? For some reason, crazy!Spike popped into my head or, more accurately, something he mentioned in "Beneath You" - that he dreamed of killing Buffy and cried over her "ending." Interesting. Let's interpret what all that ambiguous language means! So I did. And I wrote my ficlet in an hour, it flowed naturally, I got to write pretty words and pretty metaphors. It made me feel good. I guess this should be a lesson to myself, eh?
Last week the absence_oflight awards announced the winners of their latest round and I picked up a few surprise pretties for Severed and Sewn and Not Yours, which is an ooooold, dark, historical Angelus/William ficlet (my only m/m slash piece!). It's never received much attention, so I was kind of jazzed about that. I've always liked it. I love writing Angelus as a sadistic bastard. I really must write more evil characters. They have the best dialogue!
Dark and thick and drenched in imagery, this piece had the surreal feeling of poetry juxtaposed against the stark reality of life as a Vampire Slayer. The detail is rich and vivid, the sorrow palpable, the sex as moving as it is hot. Just a snapshot, really, but ClawofCat still manages to paint a full back story with so few words. This one sticks in your throat.
Many thanks to the judges, graphics staff, and mods for all their hard work. Many flist members also won, so I offer hearty congrats to them, as well.
I'm off to work on my buffyversetop5 recs! Halloween picture posts to come tomorrow :D