January in Review
 
Lev brings you an update on How We Work, with February's Worldbuilding rewards in the links!

January we didn't work in some of our more typical ways because I (Lev) contracted a virulent mutation of H1N1 that left me feverish for about ten days and I'm still not back to 100%. We wrote about 25,000 words collectively on the untitled novel of the Peninsular Kingdoms, a chapter ("chapter") currently titled "16-A" because there are an A and a B plotline running through the book to keep track of, and we are writing out the A plotline first.

We wrote those words before the H1N1 hit, as during the fever I was often too sick to even look at a computer screen, which is VERY boring, but an average month produces about 50,000 words of writing so before I was feverishly scribbling research notes about influenza into my phone we were hitting our statistical average for wordcount. Aleksei also wrote poetry and made watercolor art during this period.

Lots of readers are interested in the nitty gritty, technical details of "how" one writes. The hows and wheres, locations and tools. We respectively use a couple different tools for writing and creating art.

Writing either happens sitting in bed on laptops (Lev likes a Chromebook, Aleksei uses an old Mac or a lightweight Chromebook depending on the day) or sitting at our desks in the living room using PCs. All fiction is composed in Google Docs for ease of switching between machines. Aleksei uses his wheelchair at his desk, and creatively and comfortwise we both prefer the desks but have to vary it up with the bedroom because of the pain caused by the Ehers-Danlos. We usually listen to different music in separate headphones and write scenes character-by-character from tight third person; each of us take on specific characters in the scene and write their diaogue (and largely their actions) from the point of view of the narrator. Most characters have a fixed writer, though some we "bounce" to avoid the dread phenomenon of "writing against yourself". This back and forth style we developed during roleplaying, and have modified for the tight third point of view we prefer. We write as a dedicated activity, and also in between activities, mainly graduate school research or Lev's freelance work.

Aleksei paints using watercolor pencils and a water brush while reclining in bed, usually while watching documentaries on youtube. This is also how and where he does his calligraphy. The art supplies he uses are primarily Colore watercolor pencils (he's hoping to upgrade, though!), Sakura micron pens, STA metallic pens, and Derwent pencils and an unlabelled waterbrush in cheap sketchbooks. We're hoping to upgrade to illustration markers and higher-quality sketchbooks with a higher paperweight in the near future. Aleksei drafts all of his first-draft poems by hand in a notebook using a fountain pen, while Lev writes poems anywhere and everywhere, but primarily in Gmail composition windows, Googe Keep on the phone, or notepad windows on the desktop because the constraint of the visual space is a type of inspiration for him. To show off his fantastic art, we've uploaded a new header of his art (full image here!) and one of a series of watercolor images he designed for each of our universes.

We plan each scene in a very general sense and then let the dialogue and actions surprise us with the specifics. We spend the time before sleeping doing this planning, discussing what the characters will be planning next or rehearsing what their conversations might be on the next writing session. We discuss bigger picture ideas of the arc of the plot, what we do and don't like, rules of the universe, etc., on car drives or while cooking. Aleksei vastly prefers that on our long drives to doctors' appointments we plot a new chunk of the story over me devolving into another critique of Hamilton that was supposed to be a car sing-along.

We don't track daily word count, but for Patreons have decided to track the general number of poems and words-on-projects as they develop month to month. January saw Aleksei write about a half-dozen poems and Lev wrote two, though Lev also put together his first 2017 submission and edited three very old poems to do so. The Peninsular Kingdoms novel is now about 450,000 words long and was the only project to receive TLC, though January also saw the reread of the Celestial Jerusalem material and the decision the story has sufficiently changed in concept from 2016 that the 15,000 words or so will largely be confined to the dustbin of flailing-around fluff material that helped us set up the story we're now creating.

While H1N1 put a real cramp in our planned writing output, the quarantine made us ready to go and get the job done with regards to storytelling, and was an opportunity for Aleksei to work on his poetry and art. The exclusive poem of the month was chosen for Valentine's Day and is now available to all Patrons, and is the collaborative work of both Lev and Aleksei, and set in the Faerie States universe. We've focused most of February on the Faerie States -- but the state of February comes with next month's update, which hopefully won't be so late. :)

Worldbuilding rewards, including exclusive watercolor calligraphy and two 10-page in-universe character interviews from the Faerie States, are here! Click and enjoy. All Patrons get to enjoy these documents at the same time since they're so late in the month (early subscribers will get next month's rewards first, cause we're going to finish them before month's end ideally). These documents were written in the style described above; Lev wrote Larisa and Hugh, Aleksei wrote Adriano and Godfrey. 

Thank you so much for your support. After the lean eating of the quarantine the funds currently going to our groceries are a huge help as we stock up on fresh vegetables, oranges, and high-quality meat to repair two flagging poets. Those of you who donated dry goods from our wishlist: thank you. I (Lev) am literally alive right now because of the many bags of lentils and rice and other thoughtful gifts that arrived during the quarantine, and we continue to eat off these staple goods with gratitude. I hope you enjoy the work we created for you as rewards for your support. Continue to tell your friends that if we get $90 more in support, the whole month of groceries is paid for! After that we're a short hop from being able to post short stories as Patreon rewards!

Thanks always,

Lev and Aleksei