Words: Chapters 13 through 15 came to 11,233 words.
Basic details: Delia goes into the land of the dead for the first time, slowly learns the rules of how things work there, and spends several years building a repertoire of ways to help the dead and their surviving families. She builds a sort of solitary career on this, but also faces some pretty awful sacrifices to her own health, and after both a near-death experience and a long trend of ignoring her own needs, she decides she needs to develop some career aspirations that will have her spending at least some of her time in the world of the living.
The good: The death-world stuff is probably going to come across as very inventive and immersive for the reader, since I am unloading all the cool mythology and letting Delia broaden her horizons on a scale not yet attempted in this series. It's not based on any existing mythology about the afterlife; it's all invented for the story, and Delia's tales of discovery are in honesty pretty dang neat. I think some of the grittiness that I went into with Delia's brushes with mortality are also appropriately horrifying. (They'd better be. I grossed myself out half a dozen times while writing it.) The laws of physics in the death world are super creepy too--probably in a good way.
Delia also keeps a journal about the weirdness she's encountering in the death world and at one point I share some excerpts from it. I kinda like that she's showing how sheltered she is through her reactions but also showing how her culture has shaped her into thinking her society was the standard and of course finding out that it isn't. Like, this isn't our world obviously, but imagine if you lived in the Middle Ages in the Europe of our world and you had no idea North America existed, and then through some weird twist of fate you got to meet an American Indian. That's the kind of thing she's dealing with--meeting people from parts of the world her society isn't aware of yet, and learning about not only their customs and ways of life but trying to absorb it from several generations. It's weird, but it's really cool.
The bad: Delia does again spend a lot of these chapters narrating rather than interacting, and that always makes me worry about pacing. There are interactions with dead people that are pretty cool interspersed with these long narrative passages, so that may be enough to break it up, but I do want to portray Delia as getting a little lost during this period of her life and I have to find a good balance between truly conveying that and, you know, losing/boring the reader. Also, a lot of what I wrote is based on the stuff I already wrote in my original version of Bad Fairy, so some of it feels a little stale to me; I'm hoping that's just a consequence of what I know, not the writing itself. Her actual words get really heavy and dramatic sometimes in the absence of others to temper them, so sometimes I wonder if it's going to sound silly.
|Creepy Tarot card. ;)|
When Delia finds out that reincarnation doesn't generally allow people to take their lessons learned into their next life, and she's disappointed by that, her goddess Cerridwen says this:
One autumn is not a better autumn from the last every time it comes again.
After Delia begins regularly doing favors for the dead and has adopted the working name "Lady Kirra" for her quests:
Helping these people was immeasurably more satisfying than I’d ever imagined anything could be. I’d wanted so badly to be an adviser to the king because I’d thought I could help the most people through his influence, but this was so much better; I did not need the recognition and prestige conferred by an authority, and was in fact more comfortable working behind the scenes with unseen hands like a force of nature. Lady Kirra operated in the darkness behind the veil, and her influence could be felt throughout the world even though only the dead knew her name.
When something really bad happens because she stayed in the death world too long:
I might as well be a child for all I really understood about Summer-Winterland, too. What kind of fool was I, to traipse about in the death world pretending I was some kind of savior when my passion for my life’s work could come so close to killing me? Just because I hadn’t known when to ask an old man to stop talking?
When Delia's being gross and not taking care of herself:
In a way, it was glorious to know I’d found my life with those who’d lost theirs, but a body was meant to be occupied, and soon enough I began to pay the consequences. I felt so disconnected from my body, considering it so unimportant that I fed it minimally and failed to clean it when it needed to be cleaned, and as the hours peeled away, so did my vitality.
When Delia is starting to realize how vicarious her life has become and that her selflessness is actually literally erasing her self:
Except for magick and my underworld experiences, I did not know what I loved. I ached for productive outlets for my passions even when I loved them for their own sake, and after seeing so many lives spinning away into new beginnings, I wanted to truly make a difference with these phenomenal gifts I’d been given. And being exposed to the passions of the dead in a cursory fashion only taught me how important their reasons for living were to them; they didn’t teach me how to enjoy those activities or how to get into them myself. I needed a way to expose myself to the world beyond my walls—both the walls of my castle and the walls of my mind.
I was going to find someone to teach me.
Chapter 16 will involve introducing the "someone." I always liked this character even though she's a minor one. :D
On to more writing this weekend!