Long rambling thoughts on finishing NaNoWriMo 

I hit my goal of finishing Part 2 of , my partner Mabel's and my epic queer switchblade-and-sorcery novel that we first began drafting in 2016, for , and it feels really good.

It wasn't easy getting into the home stretch, and once I did I was dead to my body and the world for a few days. Finished it Sunday, and two days later I think I'm still recovering. 😅 And part of me's raring to go on finishing Part 3, which is already outlined and partly written, but that may mostly have to wait till after the holidays. We'll see.

Part 2 is now available to download on our Patreon at any contribution level (link below). Part 1 is free to read/download on Mabel's and my website (link also below), and chapters of Part 2 will continue to be posted there every Monday and Friday till we've finished Part 3, at which point we'll release all three parts for free on our site and in ebook format, and for print-on-demand at cost or as close as we can get it.

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement! Sharing this journey with the Fediverse has been incredibly motivating and energizing. Congrats to those of you who've hit your goals, best of luck to those of you still wrapping up, and, to those who won't make it this time around for whatever reason, there's nothing stopping you from getting there in your own perfect timing. ✨

Those Who Create and Destroy on our website: readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Our Patreon, where you can now download Part 2: patreon.com/readformandvoid

Part 2 is DONE, wow, and we sent the early-access ebook with both Parts 1&2 out to patrons. 🙌

Tiiired now... 😴

Thank you all for the ⭐ 's and words of encouragement. 💛

Gonna put Chapter 25 online for tomorrow as scheduled, chill hard the rest of tonight, and catch up on the notifications and what the rest of y'all are up to tomorrow after work. ✨

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(Just popping by to drop off a snippet of dialogue I like ✨)

“You don’t owe me anything, either.”

Rory lowered his gaze, smiled ruefully. “I can’t agree with that.”

Jules waved him off. “Agree or disagree. I just…” He was silent a moment. “I don’t want anything between us to be based on accounting.”

Taking a(nother) day or two off from the Fediverse because I (foolishly?) told Form & Void's patrons to expect the completed Part 2 of by the end of this week.

Wrote at least 3k words yesterday (more I think, didn't keep count) and am very close now, can hopefully finish the 85k draft of Part 2 today... then edits and formatting this weekend.

Looking forward to catching up with all of you and your projects upon my triumphant return! :blobcat_party:

Link to new chapter of Those Who Create and Destroy, character portrait with not-quite-eye contact 

In Chapter 24, “The World Is a Stage, but the Play Is Badly Cast,” Elisha, disguised as Caliban, crosses paths with Jules, who's also incognito, and the two combine forces as their investigations veer into dangerous territory.

Read Chapter 24 online: readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Start back at Chapter 1: readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

@dontdoitneil

The Knowing was the stars and their maker, who knew Jules as he really was, even when no one else did; it was Jules knowing himself as he was, even when no one else did.

'As above, so below,' was a precept taught to magus children on the first day of Magic Theory class: that heavenly bodies moved in lockstep with earthly ones, and invisible bonds wove together the whole of existence in a rhythmic dance.

readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Jules does self-care after a run-in with his former abuser (excerpt from Those Who Create and Destroy) 

(From Chapter 18 of . Jules, an alchemist and mystic, has his refuge in the substrate of reality, beneath and beyond the world of forms. Re: No. 22, courtesy of @wordswithnima ✨)

He stumbled over to the door; shut it; locked it; then slumped back against it and sank to the floor.

After a few more ragged breaths, he let out a sudden, sharp shriek, bunched his scarf, and scrubbed furiously at his neck.

He sagged then, closed his eyes; let his head come to rest against the door frame. Outside, the wind seemed to be picking up. Jules’s heart skipped a beat as a tree branch slapped a nearby window.

After a moment of breathless silence, his trembling left hand alighted palm-down on the rug. A calm washed through him as the bounds of his being dissolved; as webs of light bloomed before his inner eye, and arpeggios soared through his brain.

readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Long ramblin' thoughts about themes of trauma, gender, patriarchy in TWCAD 

I've mentioned before that has themes of masculinity, healthy vs. toxic, but was talking with @dontdoitneil last night and realizing how much it also exposes and seeks to process the deep trauma of being classed as female in a patriarchal world (as embodied by Jules, who is transmasculine and best represents my personal perspective).

I think healthy masculinity cherishes and protects the feminine in itself and in others as well. Seeking to carve out agency in a male-dominated world, Jules makes himself the man and the hero he would have wanted on his side in his darkest hours, but only for others, failing to realize he can also be a hero for the neglected and violated parts of himself. Reclaiming his own abandoned vulnerability is a major arc for him in this book.

Jules is of course negotiating his femininity from the perspective of someone socialized female who has built his personal definition of masculinity from the ground up. Many of the male-socialized characters, by contrast, are approaching femininity from the angle of having had certain definitions of masculinity forced on them, including Rory, who doesn't much identify with being male, and Cyrano and Hunter, who very much do.

The defining trait of patriarchy, I think, is its punishing and exploiting of vulnerability, its defining value the dominion of the strong over the weak. Men, who are supposedly strong, over women, who are supposedly weak, is just one of many ways this manifests. As bell hooks famously put it, “The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.” TWCAD explores this violence and its consequences in its extreme manifestations via Cyrano, a male-socialized person who fails to destroy his vulnerability but can only tolerate it by subjecting it to shame and violent abuse, and Hunter, a male-socialized person who has so successfully vanquished his own vulnerability that he can only connect with it through his fetishistic obsession with exploiting the vulnerability of others.

Show thread

Jules held her closer, sighed. He wanted more than anything to just keep rambling on wherever the conversation took them. Have one of their giddy all-nighters, talk about all the stupid things they would have done together as kids in some awesome otherworld where their spheres had overlapped sooner and for wildly different reasons.

Unfortunately, he’d come here tonight with a purpose.

mention of fictional mass attack (excerpt from Those Who Create and Destroy) 

(From Chapter Twenty of . The context: After performing a magical feat that saved lives during a public tragedy, transmasc alchemist Jules Nimri has become the target of a campaign started by his former-abuser-turned-political-rival to label him a fraud and his actions staged. Re: No. 20, courtesy of @wordswithnima ✨)

Cyrano hadn’t been in the council chamber the night of May 14th. He’d heard the stories of people who had, read all about it in the papers. Kept diplomatically silent through countless circle-jerks among Silas and Teddy and the rest of their crew where they’d droned on and on about how Nimri’s part in it all had been "so obviously fake."

Needless to say, Cyrano was the only one in the bunch who’d actually bothered to find and read Nimri’s treatise on field alchemy, which had recently, quietly appeared on one of the shelves in the department library. The theory outlined in its pages was immaculate. If anything, it was the degree of skill required for execution of the proposed techniques that made what Nimri had done on the night of the attack seem impossible. Completing the tattooed arrays accurately and in the necessary sequence in the mere seconds it would take for one or more reagents to complete their journey through the tattooed channels on his arm seemed like a feat that would demand superhuman focus and dexterity—not to mention years, at minimum, of practice and memory work to master all the combinations. And mana-materia equivalency, while, in principle, it likewise held up to scrutiny, in practice seemed to stray into the realm of mysticism. In the section of his tract describing the process of mana-materia conversion, Nimri’s otherwise-spartan academic prose declined with startling suddenness into gibberish, with the Philosopher waxing baroque about arpeggios and mandalas and psychic self-immolation. Cyrano had read this portion of the paper at least five times trying to grok it, and each time it had seemed to make even less sense than the last.

Nevertheless, when presented with the perennial claim that Nimri was a fraud, Cyrano privately dismissed it as a conspiracy theory. The available evidence just didn’t support it. He’d concluded, however, that he could at least sympathize with what he assumed was the reason so many people found this baseless fabrication appealing:

It was easier to swallow, by far, than the thoroughly intimidating prospect that everything Jules Nimri had done on the night of May 14th had been exactly as it appeared.

readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Hunter, the main antagonist of , is a privileged, toxic, dangerous, bigoted bully—and every awful thing he does is fueled by a desperation to avoid his core sense of abject unworthiness.

*Mild* spoiler: He doesn't experience an unlikely redemption (at least not in this book. This story is Jules's, not his). But it feels important to me to see him for what he is instead of casting him as an inorganic cartoon bogeyman.

#5ThingsWIP for Those Who Create and Destroy 

for !

1. It's a collab with my partner @dontdoitneil that we've been working on since 2016. 💖

2. It's character-focused-yet-action-packed epic-length urban fantasy (a genre we're calling "switchblade-and-sorcery," just cus we like the sound of it 😎).

3. Big themes are healthy-vs.-toxic masculinity (as embodied by transmasc protagonist Jules vs. his former abuser, Hunter), PTSD, nihilism, redemption, and alchemy as a metaphor for self-realization (as well as a kickass magic fighting style a la FMA 🙏💥 💨 ).

4. Every major character is queer af. (Even the ones you don't expect!) :blobcat_gay:

5. You can read it now! The full Part 1 is online and also downloadable as EPUB/PDF, and chapters of Part 2 are published every Monday and Friday (new chapter coming out tomorrow!): readformandvoid.com/the-nullwe

Max/Jules, fictional/magical life-threatening illness, mention of suicidal ideation (longer excerpt from tomorrow's chapter of Those Who Create and Destroy) 

(From Chapter 23 of , which we'll be releasing tomorrow! Girl with literal hole in her heart has met boy with need to be needed. Cue vortex. 🌪️ Re: today's "sniffles" courtesy of @tanweerdar ✨)

“I have ashtray morning mouth,” she murmured through tight lips, and turned her face aside.

“I don’t care.” Jules tipped her face back toward him, kissed her. She clung on, shivering, then made a wet, strangled sound, buried her face in his neck. “What is it?” he murmured into her hair.

“I think it grew again. Overnight.”

Jules felt the cold settle into his bones. “Are you sure?”

He knew perfectly well it was a stupid question.

“You know that one mole?” came her muffled voice. “You liked it.”

Jules expelled the word, hating the taste of it: “Gone?”

Her head nodded against him.

An especially chill gust pierced Jules’s clothes and skin; drilled deep, deeper than the marrow of his bones. For a fleeting instant, some curtain in the innermost chamber of his being blew aside, and he found himself staring into an emptiness so dark, so fathomless he knew it would swallow him. For all the years Jules had suffered alone, for all the times some voice inside had whispered he’d be better off dead, he couldn’t remember ever in his life feeling anything so bleak or crushing as his fear of losing Max.

He hugged her tighter. “I’ll move the stars before I let it take you.”

He felt her tears soaking his shirt; fantasized that they transformed his flesh, and he melted, flowed into her, filled her till no trace of void remained. *I could keep you whole. You could carry me around inside you. I’d just hang out there always, tagging along on all your adventures.*

“I wish I didn’t have to go.” He sighed, glanced through the door at the clock, as Max’s sobs finally died down to sniffles.

“Me too,” she murmured.

“Hey, remember.” Once more, Jules tilted her face toward his. “Every second I’m not with you, I’m thinking of you. Fighting for you. These little moments we make together—I carry them with me all day. Which means you’re with me, even when you can’t see me or hear my voice.”

Max got a hazy look in her eyes. She lifted her freezing fingers to his lips. “I really like how your brain is as pretty as your face.”

The wind tangled their hair together as she pulled his head down and sealed her lips over his.

Jules gives a tutorial on magic (excerpt from an old abandoned draft of Those Who Create and Destroy) 

“First, turn around so you can’t see me,” said Jules. “For a beginner, it’s best if you can eliminate all distractions from sensory input.”

Ollie scooted in a semicircle, until Jules was out of sight behind him, and all he could see was the shadowless white expanse of the practice room.

“Dude, this is tripping me out,” he said.

“Relax,” said Jules. “Get into a comfortable position. Sit up straight.”

Ollie sat up tall, stiff as a board, and sucked in his gut.

“But don’t forget to breathe.”

Ollie released his gut and took in a big gulp of air.

“In through your nose, out through your mouth.”

Ollie sucked in a whistling gale through his nostrils, pumping up his chest, then blew it out again with his cheeks puffed out like Old Man Winter’s.

“Okay, yeah…not like that. Keep it slow and easy. Just let the air in, then let it out. It shouldn’t make a sound.”

Ollie stiffened, trying to keep the air coming in through his nostrils perfectly quiet.

“…Okay, why did you stop breathing?”

Ollie slumped. “You’re, like, saying a lot of different stuff here.”

“Christ,” sighed Jules.

“Also, this room is seriously wigging me out. I liked it better when I could still see you.”

“This room is the way it is,” said Jules, “because it’s a truer representation of reality than what we normally see. All matter and energy are one, undifferentiated except in our perception. When you begin to grasp that, when you free yourself to perceive everyday reality as a blank canvas, that’s when you can start to paint it over with your will. That’s what magic is, Oliver: projecting your individual will onto the canvas of reality.”

“Dude, you’re blowing my mind right now,” said Ollie.

“Am I at least making some sense to you?”

“…Maybe?” Ollie lied.

“Look,” said Jules, “don’t…don’t *fight* the room. Stop trying to figure out where you belong in it. There is no room. There is no you. There’s only infinite potential. Light is white until you fracture it; the universe is one until you split it into forms.”

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Write Out

A small instance for writers.

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