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About This Coterie

A writing Coterie for standard Writing items and for discussing the perils of writing on your lonesome. Mature Writing needs to go into the Mature Writing Pad.


  1. What's new in this coterie
  2. What's your current writing project/s? I'm working on taking a storyline I had developed for RP and shifting it into it's own complete story. Initially, this was set during the Age of Sail but for me, the story is partly about transformation in a new environment, which (for me) requires a strong sense of place. I would struggle to write that for a location I have never been to, so I've shifted the story to early pre-super strict and horrible penal colony Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania) and let me tell you, the research has been fascinating. I can't really talk strongly about what it's about (beyond historical with eldritch elements/ladies transformed by the environment) because the change in location means I need to change the plot. But that's ok! I mean, secret lesbian bushranger instead of secret lesbian pirate.
  3. I've always struggled to maintain writing by myself and in a roleplay setting. Which is to say....I've never been able to write by myself since I discovered roleplay XD I think roleplay offers instant gratification, so I think I struggle where that instant gratification isn't present. How do you manage to do both?
  4. Let me just clarify that I would never pretend that I could write anywhere near Mr. Adams' level. At the same time, I didn't entirely dislike Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing..., but it wasn't very Hitchhikery. This is my attempt at making a more Hitchhikery conclusion to the series. Obviously, it goes off the canon of the books rather than any of the other versions.   PDF: Mostly Regretful.pdf   Mostly Regretful   In the darkness of the bridge at the heart of the Vogon ship, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz sat alone. Lights flared briefly across the external vision screens that lined one wall. In the air above him the discontinuities in the blue and green watery sausage shape resolved themselves. Options collapsed, possibilities folded into each other, and the whole at last resolved itself out of existence.   A very deep darkness descended. The Vogon Captain sat immersed in it for a few seconds.   “Light,” he said.   There was no response. The bird, too, had crumpled out of all possibility.   The Vogon turned on the light himself. He picked up the piece of paper again and placed a little tick in the little box.   Well, that was done. His ship slunk off into the inky void.   *     *     * Arthur Dent awoke in the middle of a smallish room furnished in a rather convincing faux-Victorian style, and the first thing that went through his mind was Oh no, not again.   He lay in a heap on the floor for some time, staring up at the portrait of someone who was almost, but not quite, Queen Victoria. Whoever she was, Arthur very much doubted that she had been put through anything like what he had been through since the first time his planet had been demolished, and he didn’t care at all for the pompous and slightly bored way that she gazed back at him from within her absurdly well-polished wooden frame. He indicated this to her with a series of disapproving looks, until finally the way that his arm was wedged between his knee and his ear began to feel uncomfortable, and he disentangled himself. He gave the ceiling his most disgruntled look yet before pushing himself to his feet.   There was a door directly in front of him, so in the interest of getting whatever this was over with, he went through it. The next room dropped the Victorian style, and indeed any style; the only thing of any interest in it was Ford Prefect.   “Ford!” said Arthur.   “Arthur!” said Ford.   “What’s going on?” said Arthur.   “Belgium if I know,” said Ford. “Let’s have a look around. I think this is some sort of ship.”   “What makes you say that?” Arthur asked as they entered the next room, which was peppered with porthole-like windows through which space was visible. The windows were arranged with the least amount of organization possible; several jutted from the floor, giving the impression of landmines. Another door stood on the opposing wall, waiting smugly for them to open it. Ford let out a roaring laugh that Arthur considered quite unwarranted, if par for the course.   “This is amazing!” said Ford, hopping around the floor windows. “Arthur, do you have any idea how incredibly, unfathomably, miraculously, ineffably extraordinary this is?”   “You mean putting windows on the floor?”   “I mean we’re alive! Somebody saved us from the bird! That was impossible!”   “Don’t you mean infinitely improbable?”   “No! That is precisely what I don’t mean!” He laughed thunderously again as Arthur crossed the room.   “I’m going to have to sit through another of your attempts to explain the Universe and so forth, aren’t I?”   “The Universe has gone mad. That’s as much as I’ve been able to discern. Let’s see what’s through this door.”   Through the door was a room that looked exactly like the passenger compartment of an unremarkable interstellar SlumpJet. All the seats along the left side of the aisle were empty, and only one on the right side was occupied. The occupant turned to look at them.   “Fenchurch!” said Arthur.   “Arthur?” said Fenchurch.   Arthur ran down the aisle, yanked Fenchurch out of her seat, and kissed her with more passion than Ford had displayed about the Universe going mad. Her response was the non-verbal equivalent of Er, well, okay, let’s go with that. Ford awkwardly strolled up behind them, humming “Heartbreak Hotel.”   Eventually they dislodged, and Fenchurch asked, “What happened?”   “The Universe has gone mad,” Arthur answered.   Fenchurch looked at Ford questioningly.   “Barking mad,” he confirmed.   “But where did everyone go?” she inquired further.   Ford shrugged. Arthur glanced back at the door to the porthole room with a worried expression. “Well,” he said, “I think the Earth may have been destroyed again, but the important thing is that you’re back, and this time I will remain holding your hand and possibly other parts of you at all times, and we will certainly not be making any more jumps through hyperspace if I can help it--”   “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” said Fenchurch. “What do you mean, I’m back? I didn’t go anywhere. I was asking where everyone else went. You know, all the other passengers. And where did Ford come from?”   “We came from Earth at a different position on the probability axis,” said Ford lightly. “Where we are now I haven’t the foggiest. Wherever things go to be impossible, I suppose.”   “Arthur and I were just travelling to Allosimanius Syneca, and . . .” Fenchurch shrugged.   “Wait . . .” said Arthur, and then he uttered two words that he had forgotten could be paired together, “I understand!”   Had Ford been in a less jovially unhinged mood he would have given Arthur a look not unlike that which Arthur had given the not-Victorian ceiling.   “You,” said Arthur, pointing at Fenchurch with the hand that was not already clamped tightly around hers, “vanished . . . No, I guess that’s not right. I vanished from that flight. This flight. That flight. You were there, and then you vanished. But--right here, wherever we are now--this is where you vanished to!”   Fenchurch contemplated this. “I’m not sure I understand.”   Ford gestured toward the door at the end of the aisle. “We’ve just been trying the doors. They haven’t been particularly enlightening thus far, but there don’t seem to be many alternatives.” Arthur and Fenchurch proved him wrong by making out some more.   Drawn by some even more inevitable and intangible force, they proceeded through the door in due time. The next room contained a number of palm trees apparently sprouting directly from the unyielding metallic floor. As they entered, someone walked out from behind one.   “Trillian!” said Arthur.   “And Random,” said Trillian, pointing down at the base of another tree, against which Random Frequent Flyer Dent slouched, glaring angrily at nothing.   “Random!” said Arthur, and he let go of Fenchurch’s hand and ran over to Random, crouching down and brushing a strand of hair away from her eye. “Are you all right?”   She shot him an alternating series of disgusted and apologetic looks, which he took as a yes. When he stood up, she replaced the hair strand in front of her eye.   “Who are these two?” asked Fenchurch.   “My parents,” said Random.   “Er,” said Arthur, “this isn’t quite what it looks like, Fenchurch--”   Two of the trees on Arthur’s right interrupted him by moving aside to reveal a large monitor taking up most of the wall. The screen flicked on, displaying two familiar faces.   “Hey, uh--” said a voice over the intercom.   “Zaphod!” said Ford.   “Ford!” said Zaphod.   “Did you save us, then?” Ford asked.   “Uh, dunno,” said Zaphod. “I expect I did. Did I, computer?”   “I’m afraid not, guys,” came the voice of Eddie the shipboard computer. “Unless the measurement equipment is being naughty and lying to me again, the Heart of Gold was drawn to this infinitely improbable event, but didn’t cause it.”   “I thought,” said Arthur to Ford, “you said it wasn’t--”   “It isn’t!” said Ford, with an increasingly manic grin. “I mean, it shouldn’t be. Saving us was completely impossible. No amount of improbability should have been able to do it. And yet here we are.” He chuckled in a way that could usually only be brought on by that Old Janx Spirit. “The Universe has gone mad.”   “Has it?” said Zaphod. “That’s real cool.”   “Zaphod,” said Trillian, massaging her temple, “if you didn’t save us, then who--”   Two more trees parted from the far wall, and the door that they exposed opened of its own accord. A blinding light from within the next room highlighted a figure standing in the doorway. Slowly, with grandeur, the light faded and revealed the figure’s identity.   “Marvin!” said everybody but Random.   “Who?” said Random.   “Marvin the Paranoid Android,” said Ford, bounding over and slapping the robot on the back with a loud clang. “You two should get along famously, in fact.”   “But--” said Arthur, staring at Marvin. “You’re dead!”   “I rather doubt,” replied Marvin, “that the Universe would afford me such pleasure.”   “I--We saw it happen,” said Fenchurch. “We took you to see God’s Final Message to His Creation . . . You were almost falling apart. You said you were thirty-seven times older than the Universe itself--”   “Well then,” said Marvin, “that means, doesn’t it, that at any given point along the timeline, there are approximately thirty-seven of me being dragged about the Universe, each having a more miserable time than the next?”   There was a minute of silence following this.   “You’re right,” said Random finally, “I think I like him.”   Marvin made a dismissive little noise.   “But the question remains,” said Trillian, “who saved us?”   “I did,” said Marvin.   “You did?” said Arthur, Ford, and Zaphod.   “I change my mind,” said Random.   “But how in Zarquon’s name did you do it, metal man?” Ford asked.   “And, er, why?” added Arthur.   Marvin paused for effect before answering. “It all started six million years from now,” he said, and took another pause to allow Arthur to decide that it would be better not to ask. “I was under what I would, if I ever had occasion to laugh, laughingly call ‘employment’ aboard a cruise liner inaccurately christened the Paradise. I was in the middle of giving my co-worker a very in-depth explanation of just how inaccurate the name of the ship and also the ‘co-’ prefix of his title were, when he said to me, ‘Zarking fardwarks, Marvin, if you’ve really got a brain the size of a planet, and you’re really so bored doing menial labour, why don’t you do something about it? Go off and do something that you actually find intellectually challenging, for zark’s sake!’ On a spiteful whim, I suppose, I decided to take his advice. I decided to put my brain to the test and attempt to do something impossible. And, after asking around, I was wholly disheartened to realise that the most impossible thing that seemed to be available was rescuing you lot from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Mk II.”   “Marvin,” said Trillian, looking around nervously, “did you, erm--”   “It seemed kinder to let your alternate self go,” said Marvin. “One of each of you is more than enough.”   “I dunno, I think I could handle two of her,” said Zaphod, and if he had been in the same room Trillian would have slapped the grins off his faces.   “It was really quite straightforward,” Marvin continued. “The bird had unfiltered perception. Escaping its attention was absolutely impossible. So I simply waited until my next unintended trip backwards in time, got myself hired on at InfiniDim Enterprises, and became one of the bird’s designers, inserting a blind spot in its program. That blind spot is where we are now. At these specific coordinates in space, time, and probability, the bird is unable to perceive us. The blind spot also, of course, includes the coordinates at which I programmed the blind spot in, to prevent the bird from retrospectively discovering its own flaw.”   Once again, there was silence. This time it was Ford who broke it. “Marvin,” he said in awe, “you are one hoopy frood.”   “I did it,” said Marvin. “I accomplished something impossible. I saved all of your lives.”   “And how do you feel?” Arthur asked.   “Mostly regretful,” said Marvin.   “But what about Stavro Mueller Beta?” said Arthur. “I thought I couldn’t die because Agrajag hadn’t been hit by, erm, Random’s bullet yet. But he was, just now--”   Random laughed loudly and then burst into tears.   “So what?” said Marvin.   “Doesn’t--doesn’t that mean I should’ve died with the Earth?” Arthur was looking uncertainly at Random.   Marvin heaved a crackling electronic sigh. “So much for challenging my intelligence. You knew that you couldn’t die prior to that moment’s occurrence, yes? But that doesn’t mean you had to die the moment it happened. Before learning of it, you had no idea when you would die, correct? You’re back to that state now, obviously. You would call it normality.”   “But . . . well . . . oh. Erm . . . Right.”   Random dried her face on her sleeve and there was another longish pause.   “So . . .” said Fenchurch. “What do we do now?”   “You come along with me and have a good time,” said Zaphod. “Computer, zap them aboard, will you?”   “Sure thing, fellas! Initiating matter transference!”   “Wait--” Arthur was cut off by his teleportation into the Heart of Gold. Mere seconds after the unnamed ship was emptied of occupants, it was stricken by a rather large and unshapely piece of the planet Earth, and exploded unceremoniously into a puff of dust, exactly as Marvin had calculated.   Zaphod greeted everyone as they appeared on the bridge. “Hey guys, this is great, isn’t it? Just like old times! Hey . . .”   “But Marvin,” said Ford, “how far into the future does this blind spot of yours go? Aren’t we stuck here? If we go anywhere else, the bird will see--”   “When its mission is completed, the bird will remove itself from existence,” Marvin said. “Once it no longer exists, we can go wherever and whenever we want. It should happen right . . . about . . . Now.”   Nothing visibly happened.   “I guess we’ll take your word for it,” said Ford.   “So let’s go somewhere, huh?” said Zaphod. “Let’s have adventures!”   “Now hold on,” said Arthur, wrapping his arms around Fenchurch. “I don’t want the Improbability Drive disappearing Fenchurch again!”   “She your girlfriend, Dad?” said Random, clearly delighting in the uncomfortability.   “You actually probably should explain this whole daughter thing, Arthur,” said Fenchurch, though she made no attempt to remove his arms.   “Yes, this daughter thing,” said Random.   “Ah, I hate to interrupt your family discussion, guys,” said Eddie, “but it seems the Vogon ship has spotted us, and is giving chase. It looks like they might be pretty angry.”   “Just like old times,” said Ford.   “Why I bother reassuring you I can’t fathom,” said Marvin, “but it was hyperdrive, not Improbability Drive, that tossed that girl around the continuum. In here, she should be perfectly safe.”   “Yeah, I’ve heard that line before,” said Zaphod. “But hey, where’s the fun without risks?”   “Arthur,” said Fenchurch, looking into his eyes. “It’ll be okay.”   Slowly Arthur removed his arms. He looked around at everyone--his love, his daughter, her mother, and their alien acquaintances. His planet was gone, again. The Vogons were after him, again. He didn’t know what lay ahead, but there was only one thing to do.   He activated the Infinite Improbability Drive.
  5. "So? How was your day?" I'm sitting in your office, pressing one finger to my ear to better hear your voice. The low din of the dealership threatens to drown out the soft hum coming into my other ear; I'm trying to hear you better. There isn't much for us to talk about. I'm only calling because my question is pressing, and I can't reach your supervisor. Still, I ask. I ask because there is that strange, unspoken sigh in your voice, the note of not wanting to put down the phone and fade away from a comforting voice. Or is that simple tiredness? Can I presume enough to tell the difference? "It's been alright. Had lunch with Jacob, worked on some stuff here." Jacob is the manager that's quitting, quitting because he can't have what you have. You didn't have to tell me you talked to him, so you must tell me because you know I'm an eavesdropper, a nosy hoarder of information, a person who meddles with things beyond her pay grade. You must tell me because you would like to tell me about your conversation with Jacob; you want to talk about your day, like you would talk to a friend. Only, I work for you, and we're skating on thin ice. "Busy day?" "Productive day." I have a tendency to talk and fill silences. This time, I wait for you. So you talk a little more, before you say you'll see me on Monday. Have a good night. Ω I didn't see myself here, at this job. I was thrown by your excessively informal demeanor; my interview was an hour and some minutes of questions scattered amidst conversation. I accepted the offer because -- I was curious. Your friendliness, at first, meant little to me. Sometimes you were an outright distraction from the work I'd been assigned, which I was peevishly intent on completing. 'What if you could pump all the oceans into the atmosphere and have it orbit the earth, to get all the treasure at the bottom of the sea?' You debated jean pockets with me, considering my retail background. Then again, you have that talent of making people feel special. You have an interest that feels genuine. That, I came to understand, is what people respond to in a leader. But I couldn't discount the rest of it, not over time. 'Did you ask Sasha that question?' 'What question,' you said innocently. 'Did you ask her what she thought about having the hottest manager in the region?' No, you hadn't asked me. But you grinned over it. We are naturally interested in the people who are interested in us. You treated me like someone you wanted to know more about, so I could not help but slowly turn towards you, as flowers turn towards the sun. It is harder to remember a time when I faced away from you. Ω "So did you catch the hedgehog?" Six months later, you shift awkwardly from foot to foot. Six months later, we are not such good friends anymore. You have promised me pictures and stories, and underdelivered. Certainly you've been gone, out of state, traveling for work; certainly we have seen little of each other. But the warmth has carried on, as warm as sporadic text and email can be. The sudden absence of it is abrupt. Have I erred in some way? Have I misunderstood you? I am lost without you here. I am a stranger, an alien, an equation without a simple answer to everyone else; without you, I am oversimplified, rounded off. How far I am from my time with you, describing so vividly how I should move around the country, embrace opportunities, ascend to dazzling heights. Weakness was as visible to you as that promise of greatness. You described a person I could become, so that I might believe in becoming. Our misfortune is in there being more to the whole story, then, or the misinterpretation of such a story. The people around me tell me you're never coming back. They tell me you're going to move on to greater things. Then why is everything still in your office? Why all your stupid decorations? I slowly regret my reciprocation of your friendliness. Ironically, I regret it because I dream it has diminished yours. Ω But you do come back. You come back and you look at me in such a strange, stilted way that I fear the burden of it. I am more attractive than I was when you left. I am a stronger indictment of your implied missteps. Who picked up your phone and hated me - your fiancée, or your supervisor? The fun fact you share during our new colleague's icebreaker is that you're engaged with three children. The next day, you advise that coworker that I am a pursuer of married men. "No," I tell you, "I like my men damaged and unavailable." I suppose I can consider you sporting about that. Ω You do come back around too. You circle around to my desk and talk and talk and talk, talk for forty-five minutes straight, about where you've been, what you've been doing. You hold me up from what I'm doing, again, and you hold me in disbelief. Here we are, in January. Here we are, as I have endured your stiff appearances and radio silence since August. Here we are, two days into your return, and here we return to where we had been. The truth is that we are alike, as alike as people can be with a decade difference in age. The telling of your stories is not simply in narrating the events: you are enough a storyteller that the average listener could be reasonably entertained. The telling of it all is in telling it to someone who can see it through eyes like yours, telling it to someone who can understand what it is you mean. I have missed you. Did you miss me? Ω "Do you have a minute?" "I always have a minute for you." Your only defense is in hoping people cannot see the tree for the forest. I disguise structure behind a passion for people, you say. I don't like people to see the structure. Can they see us, then? Can they guess? When I pass by the glass doors of your office, we look up and at each other, for no reason, silently. I am different. This is different. The difference lies in the risk, because I am a woman, and your subordinate. The things you say to me require a depth of trust that your bosses wouldn't want you to chance in the workplace. But you do. I don't want to stop you, because - who else do I have to play with? I talk about moving away, and becoming a different person. I talk about deceiving all the people who won't know enough to know better. Smiling, you ask jokingly what kind of degenerate this might make me. There's a word for it, of course: a word that applies to us both. We are the foxes in the henhouse. We are the wolves leading the sheep. I tell you that my type of degenerate is successful in the workplace: I tell you, in other words, that you are right. I tell you, in other words, that it takes one to know one. Ω "How was your day?" Corporate headquarters might not be so keen on listening to you right now. Your clout has come up against a harder limit; you have advocated for me too radically. You have proposed dramatic exceptions to my position and advancement. Perhaps you have sold me a little indecently, the promises of a hedge fund manager to investors. Here we are, almost a year later. The hardest part of leaving will be leaving you. I have been so lucky to have someone who understands me. But we are dangerous people. We are destroyers. We are conquerers. We are cannibals. We are trying to get by and be happy in a world that wants us to wear velvet gloves as we crush fragile, hollow bones. It is I who may destroy you yet, the way rocks wait for a ship to sail into them. For a little while, the rocks and the ship are together. So I ask you about your day, when the day before you were again struggling to look me in the eye. I ask because I am sorry for you, for me, for the both of us. You are getting married in November. You make fun of another colleague because he doesn't have a straight answer on loving his wife. But do you? Monday will come and go. The day is coming when I will go too. Can I call you then?
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