“Some days you battle yourself and other monsters. Some days you just make soup.”
Patricia McKillip

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

in which the avoided thing becomes the exciting thing
Wed 2014-11-12 23:37:03 (in context)
  • 2,179 words (if poetry, lines) long

So I started writing it today. And it's not a revision, it's just rank rough draft, exactly as awful and wrong as I expected. But I kept on writing it, because sometimes the process toward completion involves multiple rough drafts rather than a series of neatly and incrementally improved drafts. And because "discovery writing" leads to discovery, darn it.

So away with expectations of a more structured draft and a more disciplined outline! Let's have experimentation! New points of view! Different framing devices! Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks! If 51K in 2013 wasn't enough to figure this story out, maybe another 50K in 2014 will help.

Not that today's progress represents the rate that will get me to 50K by November 30, mind you. But to go from zero per day for eleven days to 2179 on day twelve is, I think, significant.

Something that helped a hell of a lot was a chance conversation on Saturday with someone who's been on the local roller derby scene for years. He was regaling us with tales from the bad old days of High Melodrama In Colorado Derby. "I probably shouldn't be telling you this," he said, so I'm not going to relate any of it here myself. But what made my ears really prick up was when he said that his dream is to see junior roller derby in the high schools along side football and basketball and soccer & etc. He had a concrete idea of how to do it, too, which he shared with us. And I said, "This may sound weird, but please go on and don't spare the details--I need this for my novel."

Sadly, I don't remember the details. But whatever they were, they totally inspired me.

See, my original idea was that my fictional high school, much like many real life schools in today's political climate of ill-advised austerity, loses its physical education component entirely due to budget cuts. Katie's dad, Mr. Greenbriar, who's the president of school board or the principal or something like that (why I thought I was ready to revise this novel when it's still full of "something like that" holes, I do not know), is trying desperately to keep the kids active on no budget whatsoever. One of the things he does is partner with a nearby league's junior derby program.

My thought now is that it's actually a county-wide recreational junior derby league that he's collaborated with a nearby adult league in creating. Its membership pulls from area schools, resulting in two or three teams that play each other in exhibition bouts at the different schools over the course of the school year.

So in the first scene of the novel, in which Old Mack (the puck) brings Etienne (the changeling) to a junior roller derby bout, the featured bout is an import. It's more of an exhibition bout. Like, "Here's an option we'd like our kids to have. What do you think?" Mr. Greenbriar is desperate to get local parental buy-in so that the rec league he has in mind can actually happen. So when Katie--who's been commuting out to practices with one of these out-of-town leagues for several months now, so she gets to play with them in the expo bout--when Katie gets impatient with her teammates' level of play and just hauls out and hits the opposing jammer as though this were a full-fledged adult WFTDA bout, Mr. Greenbriar benches her. He doesn't want her scaring off the community. (He's also not happy that she got an insubordination penalty on top of the hitting penalty. He wants her to take the rest of the bout to think about what she's done.)

That's another thing. In the first draft, Katie was just penalty heavy in general because she didn't give enough of a damn to be careful, to play clean, or to work with her teammates. But I didn't realize at the time that JRDA rules differ from WFTDA rules--and why the hell was that? Shame on me. Boulder County Bombers has a junior league--I could have picked the brains of any one of our dedicated junior derby instructors! In any case, the missing piece for me was knowing that, for juniors at level 1, all hitting is illegal. And at level 2, though intentional contact becomes legal, it's limited to "leaning into" opposing skaters. Accelerating into the hit or block remains illegal. There's even an added hand gesture for signaling the penalty.

So I could just see Mr. Greenbriar arguing the school board around with, "It's not violent! No more so than basketball. Skaters try to keep other skaters from getting past each other, but they don't hit each other. It's not like what the adult leagues do at all!" And he's just about got them convinced when Katie lays the opposing jammer flat.

Did I mention that Mr. Greenbriar's political goals are going to get more stage time in this draft? It's true. Just as soon as I figure out what those goals are.

Anyway, the climactic Roller Derby Bout Against a Faerie Team With Our Protagonists' Happiness and Freedom at Stake--that's going to echo this first expo bout very closely. For the regular humans who don't know the first thing about Faerie, it's the bout that they've been working toward all school year long: an away team wants to come and play our league! Excellent! They just don't know how very far away is. And, again, Katie's going to pull a totally illegal (for juniors) hit on their jammer. With consequences.

So this has been a lot of enthusiastic brain-dumping about Iron Wheels. I guess that's what happens when I finally sit down and start the rewrite. I get excited about where it'll go this time. Excited is good! Excited keeps the writer coming back to the page day after day.

Tomorrow I'll be looking for the 5K mark. 5K and change, ideally. Wish me luck!

email