Nagasvoice says; This is rather like digging up rock layers, or doing archeology. It’s quite surprising to see where we’ve come from. I am a writer, I had two fantasy books published by Ace back in the 80’s, a series called, “The Song of Naga Teot”, and ever since I wanted to finish out the series with the characters. It looks like a post-collapse world, but not totally Apocalyptic, and leftover bits and things turn up all the time, sometimes pretty and sometimes dangerous and mostly just puzzling to people who still need to make a living. I mean, in spite of the bad guys, who have their own problems.
The translation of Naga Teot’s full name is Dance of Knives, and he grew up earning the name. Besides the weapons, he also became a recording Harper, capable of reciting witness testimony verbatim as well as entertaining a royal court with music. He’s got a few problems. Caladrunan is the Lord of Tan, a big guy who runs a big piece of really valuable land with folks at the edges who would love to take it away from them. Caladrunan would rather let people talk themselves into doing what he wants, and he isn’t much fooled when Naga is trying to dodge some question. He’s quite pleased when Naga will consent to call him by his nickname, Drin. There’s also some interesting womenfolk, but none of them stepped out in the books in quite the form that you would recognize as belonging to the opinionated Aussie Librarian gal that we know round my house as Emma. The nearest soul I can identify is a Devotee priestess who was never given a name; she was known for working with refugee children, educating them (although this is not popular with other Devotee groups). She acts as Naga’s spiritual advisor at a time he’s not listening to a whole lot of other people. Killing your wallet slowly: Some writers hunt for toys or paintings or objects that remind them of their people, that they think will help them visualize. Or dolls, as in this case. Ball-jointed dolls, cast in urethane resin and strung with strong elastic cord, are very customizable creatures available on many different size scales. Dance is my first bjd, and at one point a doll person commented that getting a DolltiD boy for your first one is rather like climbing Annapurna to earn your scout rock-climbing badge. (Dance and I are still having that debate whether this is true.) Actually, I never thought of myself as a doll person, although I do have a sense for the miniature object. But a friend did me in. joey112 over on lj started looking for bjds that look like my characters, and as she knew I would, I got totally sandbagged by Dance. (He’s good at it, too. You never hear it coming.) You see some artistic sculpt that looks just like your person X, and it’s just a slippery slope from there. The hope is that, when you’re working with them, taking pictures, seeing how they interact, you develop more story. It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes people find they’ve finished what they had to say with the creation of the tangible resin person, and that’s enough, and things quiet down. Uh huh. Mine got louder. And more contemporary. It’s called “endolling your characters”. It’s been working. In the current modern world, those two from the books decided to get themselves endolled as Dance and Drin (I suspect they just wanted to try out wearing fun modern stuff like jeans, for a change). I’m yattering long enough here that I won’t go into the mechanics, but I started commenting about two years ago when I first got Dance. He wasn’t quiet about it when he wanted his SO, his guy Drin, really bad. In greenjudy’s section here, she uses the word mudang, which, to me, means that we regard our dolls with the respectful acceptance of listening, rather than imposing some ill-fitting construct, on a doll’s persona. Yes, they talk to our imaginations just as fictional characters do to an actor or a writer. Sometimes they don’t want to do what you expected. Sometimes, when you think you’ve found the perfect resin form to breathe as your character, they don’t. They come home, they’re somebody else entirely, and you have to adjust your expectations. Dance has insisted quietly and firmly that he’s not just that guy from the books. He can play that role like an actor, but he isn’t restricted to that and nothing more. He also amuses me by insisting that he’s nowhere near in the same league on martial arts, he just doesn’t devote enough time to it. So he claims that he’s just a musician, you know, who merely happens to be first chair violin and concertmaster (no competitive streak there) and he can just be a modern guy who likes computer games and tee-shirts and doesn’t have to wear that damn armor all day. So he lives in a new story as well, intersecting more than one timeline. So where on earth did the smart girl come from? Emma originally showed up as an SDgirl model for my sister, the seamstress, to work with, and she has. Once I saw the modded head, I was clear that I needed to get her. She’s not an afterthought in this menage a trois, as I feared she might be. She’s not here to make the queer couple look het, either. Weirdly enough, Emma showed up and got herself put together months before Drin got here, and she had quite a few things to say for herself, thank you very much. She’s developed over time, in the manner that some bjd folks might describe as, “doll first, persona after.” I was groping my way into hearing her, and boy, was she loud! Probably a good thing, with a noob owner like myself. She’s calmed down considerably, but she started off very strong about her opinions, and she is quite the tigress on defending things which can’t defend themselves. What has taken time is to hear her on soft things that get crumpled easily in all the fuss. Aiding and Abetment: Writing on what I found in the dolls, learning more about my camera in the process, is where I met the other folks here. I haven’t been trying to make my doll writing over into anything else, or to make it earn a living, or anything else, I’ve been trying to listen, intently, to what it’s saying. Feedback and hot ideas and references to science and research facts all help so enormously with that process. As greenjudy and Kiyakotari do, Stella_Omega gives amazing comments that make my brain careen off in new cool directions, always insightful, funny, and encouraging. I met Stella_Omega through comments on somebody else’s lj. I commented on Stella’s writing posts, and from there she commented on some of my public posts–some of my open posts also include doll pix, which I try to be discreetly reasonable about. (Try, mind you. My resin folks may be sticky-sweet sometimes, but they are not reasonable folks.) I think somewhere about the same time that I added Stella_Omega on to my lj doll filter, I went off to Dollectable, a bjd convention in San Francisco. I’d already long since friended both greenjudy and Kiyakotari on the doll and photostory end of things, as they were doing very cool lj stoies and photoposts on their resin folks. (I still need to dig out the script for the musical based on the first wo books for Kiyakotari, too. If y’all saw the mess, you’d want to call in a demolition crew, honestly.) Truth be told, it’s been long enough that my memory is thoroughly mudddled (aka palimpsest) on how and when we first started talking on lj, I just enjoy talking to them! At Dollectable, Kiyakotari made my life both much easier and much more interesting. You’re not going to forget the first time you meet Hideo, let me tell you, and I first saw her on a chair, standing guard at the door to the dealer’s room, all business. Kiyakotari introduced me to greenjudy there, where the Big Person master slave of Eric Tseng was anchoring a major chunk of the convention and making things function smoothly. So was Kiya. Kiyakotari mods one of the more challenging doll forums out there too. As a free-speech person myself, I appreciate this. It is one of the few places where I can, if I choose, post grownup pix of my menage a trois showing how they really feel about each other in true, personal, intimate terms. I could also post pix of what really happens when a character like Dance gets medieval on somebody’s arse. (And it’s not always messy. Just… decisive.) Now, writing a character like Drin means that I appreciate leadership when I am the victim of it see it right in front of me! Yes, they talked me into staying on for the writing workshop, where I hope I was able to contribute something. This was talking about using your dolls as inspiration for your writing, and from the tough integrity of the people there, it grew into using it to draw in all aspects of your self, your beliefs, your truest soul. That workshop is where I became interested in the weekly posting of fiction about the dolls in bjd_30minfic, where one of the mods is joey112, who, besides bringing me Dance is also one of my bestest oldest fan buddies, artist, and all-round abettor. She’s also an awesome beta-reader. I found the writing exercise to be a startlingly useful mental exercise for me. That’s here: http://community.livejournal.com/bjd_30minfic/ I also went to photography workshops there at Dollectable, ones taught by both expert shooters doll_paparazzi and zagzagael on lj. Surprise! I got excited about trying things with my camera. People like zagzagael came up with the idea for the community of “Vita Ersatz” as a once-monthly posting of doll pix on a common prompt. Some extremely good faceup artists and photographers take part in this. These are pix posted where anybody who’s interested can get an idea of the variety and artistic skills in the community. There’s here: http://community.livejournal.com/vita_ersatz/ I was quite excited to be working on my camera skillz and trying to learn how to convey the ideas I was getting. What I ended up calling the “dollstory” unfolded as a result of those prompts pinging off my mind. A photography post with a prompt called, “Armed,” set me off on the concept that each of my people use different types of weapons. Doing that led into the idea of somebody outside taking pictures of my three people, somebody was doing surveillance on them, and then you ask why? Yeah, that’s a dangerous question. I’m a pattern-recognition person, I can’t help but read things into twirls of smoke and clouds and shapes in stains and all kinds of random elements. In one of the story bits, Dance startled all of us by saying that greenjudy’s guy Eric Tseng showed up at the symphony to check them out. Apparently Eric was concerned enough to go to quite some expensive trouble to meet, and presumably assess risks about, Dance and Emma. There was the worried comment from Eric regarding Turner as a chemtrail assassin, and then I started seeing all over the general fannish zeitgeist, everywhere I looked around, pix of various steampunk folks who looked remarkably buglike–you might guess they were embryo forms of what might eventually evolve into Geiger-like Alien monsters. After that, it was all of the resin people fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole and scrambling to stay alive. That original character name, Naga, also led me to speculate off into all sorts of intriguing imagery. That, and Kiyakotari’s posted stories about owl and stag characters in a town full of various furry-type people (and some marvelous reptilian ones!) took us to prehistoric images of the therianthropes in caves. The lab-bred hybrids in our story, we’ve started calling them zoomorphs. Some of these folks already exist in the Strangeways intersect where the worlds of greenjudy and Kiyakotari overlap, but just like mine, their characters had a history and existed in other forms before we started meeting one another here. Cryptomorphs just wanna have fun: We’ve been tracking from one interesting reference or provocation or another since then. We’ve been setting each other off. We’ve been seeing this tissue of narrative building from one spark to mesh with those from other sparks. We started off with live journal posts that kept getting more and more strings of comments. The Principle of Moments website was set up by Stella (WE ALL SAY THANK YOU STELLA!!!) as a place to post the storyline itself plus the germinating ideas, related side-trips, graphics, links, and the icy weird brainfreezes that you get from an insanely cool idea. Believe me, this has been one of the most intense story-writing head-rushes I’ve ever experienced. Y’all are awesome and smart and funny and you write people I’d love to sit and chat with. Yes, I’d even love a chat with Edward Trinley Fell, assassin with a literary bent. Okay, maybe not the bug boys. BTW, re: grafix, I’m not sure I want to look at a lot of pix of those, although they seem to be popping up *everywhere* in commercial SF & F art work. In comments, I posted some links to the Pro Artist Hugo-winner this year–bugs and monsters everywhere. I don’t think I’d chat much to most of the bug boys, although they can talk if they choose to (now there’s a story chunk for you! Talking to part of a bug that’s dying slowly…) I don’t think most of the bugs are really talkative sorts. These are our currently visible bad guys, and quite likely, pathetic victims of the *real* bad guys. But their boss, Turner, now… So, you see how this spins itself together, drawing in threads from all over.
NV: ETA to note that some of the characters mentioned here have changed their names for our world in POM. Perhaps these were their names in the alt universe from which other characters traveled via a longer, harder route called freezebox or transit box.
greenjudy says; Kiyakotari and I connected through the doll world and found ourselves in an extremely fertile ongoing conversation. We started working together creatively a few years back. Although we each have our own specific universe of discourse, we choose to intersect at several key points in order to collaborate. You could say we got used to panning for gold in each other’s backyards. I met Nagasvoice through Kiyakotari. Before I ever read any of NV’s published writings, I became aware of something very powerful making itself felt through her dolls. As I got to know her through her writing, I found another kindred spirit and another wonderful intelligence to admire and learn from. Stella is thoroughly astute, alarmingly funny, and generous with her skills and energy. I am looking forward to hearing quite a bit more from her, on the creative side as well as the ops side, as the project develops. It was Stella’s idea to migrate from Livejournal to this super-shiny new format–a more open, spatialized format, which will let people see the map of associations much more clearly. Three cheers for Stella for this wonderful idea. My own approach to dolls is somewhat different than that of Nagasvoice (and Kiyakotari’s, I believe, is different again). Generally my people came at me out of the resin in a cloud of associations. I have characters in my in-progress novels I have never tried to bring to life as dolls. [ETA by NV to remove unwanted name, as requested by GJ] is perhaps the exception. He lives, uncannily, in several places at once, borrowing his surname from fanfiction I have written in the Final Fantasy VII universe about a certain not especially friendly Turk. He has an other self in my Belltower manuscripts–that would be Eric Rehm, the stubborn, awkward Compliance Auditor who becomes the narrator’s enemy, friend, and love interest. The common thread is there: a bad guy who makes stuff around him work OK, a principled guy who makes some terrible choices, then tries to make some better choices. Kiyakotari and I collaborate on the Strangeways arc, which tells the story of Eric Tseng and a pack of other people besides. (The issue of how varying points of view end up sculpting the raw material that makes up the “matter” of Strangeways, or POM for that matter, is grist for some awful essay, I think.) Her own doll-characters play pivotal roles in Strangeways, but nevertheless are native to Kiya’s own novels-in-progress, short fiction, and photostories. We developed a working method which involves considerable freedom to move in each other’s creative space. We do edit one another, but judiciously and respectfully. We always make efforts to hear the voices of the characters; therefore we read, and contemplate pictures, and study settings, with the greatest of care. When we begin to catch refrains, hear themes, we do research. As Kiya has said somewhere else around here, we treat these guys as real. We are not so much puppeteers as mudangs. We do not “invent,” or “decide,” or command. We make room. It seemed to me, as I read, that Nagasvoice had a very similar working method indeed. At first, I think, we all communed in the comments, gradually becoming entangled and ultimately deeply involved in the stories told and shown. Then Dance dropped a casual, and really quite extraordinarily personal, reference to [ETA to remove unwanted name, as erquested by GJ] into a conversation with his lovers. There were some dodgy photographs. An almost laughable attempt at blackmail. Some small strange inconsistencies. And as [ETA to remove unwanted name, as requested by GJ] moved some guys nearby to keep an eye on things. Then Turner surfaced in the datafeed, and all hell broke loose.
Kiyakotari says; I met Greenjudy years ago, through the doll hobby. In 2003, I think. While we both have our own interests, we found that those interests intersect in an amazing number of places (the dolls are only the beginning), and now I fly down to visit her a couple times a year. I even plan to move down to the SF Bay area once I finish my BA. We’ve been experimenting with collaborative narratives (using components of text, images, audio, and video) for a while now, and having a wonderful time with it. While our characters come from rather different worlds, we’ve found that there are enough similarities – enough areas of potential overlap – that allowing them to interact just…works well. I met Nagasvoice a couple years ago via eMail after I got curious about an obscure title in the inside cover of one of her novels and tracked down her website. We fell out of touch for a while, and when we picked back up again we got to talking about the interactions of different narrative mediums (an area of particular interest to me, and something I was taking a class in at the time). She mentioned that she’d recently discovered some things she thought I’d find fascinating – Asian Ball Jointed Dolls, of which she had just purchased her first. I replied that I’d been collecting ABJD’s for years, and we exchanged LiveJournal accounts and started tracking each other’s writing. I recently met her in person at the Dollectable 2008 convention, and had a great time talking to her. I met Stella through mutual adoration of (and eventual surrender to) Nagasvoice‘s stories and dolls, especially the escalating bug-saga which spawned the Principles project. I’m impressed by her creativity, her ideas about structuring this narrative in a more coherent fashion, and especially her willingness to make that structuring happen. I’m looking forward to working with her more. As far as my interests and contributions to the project, I’m currently working on fiction snippets that slot in with the ones being written by Greenjudy and Nagasvoice. In addition, I’ve given in to the inevitable and am feeding my addiction to love of intertextual, extra-narrative elements in stories by tackling the task of creating a set of dossiers as part of the Principles project. These will be physically produced and then re-digitized (via scans and digital photographs) and posted here on the Principle of Moments site. They will be presented as a classified case file dealing with the process and findings of [ETA by NV to remove unwanted names, as requested by K] investigation of the bug events for WUNPO, and will include datasheets on the major players, medical reports from Laith’s examinations of bug specimens, transcripts of the post-operation debriefings of the WUNPO operatives involved in the case, newspaper clippings, and more, all created for (and in some ways, within) the world of the Principles project. They will be abused. There will be coffee stains, and paperclips, and folded pages and marginalia. I’ve done this kind of thing before and loved the process – I’m looking forward to doing it again, and to this greater extent. Regarding the dolls, my approach differs somewhat from those of Greenjudy and Nagasvoice, but shares, I think, some essential elements (such as the sense of serving as an avenue for their actions, rather than directing them). My dolls embody (in resin) characters in novels that I am slowly writing, so (like Nagasvoice‘s Drin and Dance) they were chosen specifically because they struck me as fitting those pre-existing characters. However, while the doll forms are based on those characters, and also influence and inspire the in-process novels, I do not limit the doll-characters to the exact events and timelines that the novel-characters experience. Thus their ability to interact with the world of the Principles project and Greenjudy‘s Strangeways arc.
Stella says; I am not sure just how nagasvoice and I met– through some lj kerfluffle, I think. JUST BECAUSE We were friendly toward each other, she assumed that I would love her dollies. Myself, I try to avoid the things, but I was powerless to resist– Emma’s sensual, dominating, personality, Dance’s seeming fragility and barely-banked fire were very apparent in the photos. And I watched Drin take form, as dolls do, and become the center for this pair. How did he do that? I’m a visual person, don’t get mr wrong. But the written word is my obsession. So when nagasvoice began writing… and when what seemed like a really stoopit prank took on dark overtones, my word-need was triggered. And when a bottle of perfume sent the threesome’s world careening out of their hands, I just totally surrendered. So far, my role is back-seat-driver, map-unfolder, suggester of practicalities, ops confabulator. I dunno if I’ll write anything or not, and we’ll worry about real editing later. And I’m the geeky fan who throws websites together. So I did.
I came to all of this by bumbling around LiveJournal one day. I had been moping online, once again mourning the loss of the roleplaying group I had started in 2000. (It always seemed to me that we were more of a writing group than an rpg.) I tried to revive it earlier this year, but the resurrection was a complete failure.
I found a LJ community called BJD_30minfic, where different authors made up stories about their ball-jointed dolls (in 30 minutes or less!) and posted them. I read Nagasvoice’s fic about Emma and Dance missing their partner Drin whilst he was away on a business trip, and loved it. It stayed with me for days. Then I read one of Kiyakotari’s about [NV, ETA to remove unwwanted names, as reqeusted by K] and a very cold bath and I was hooked. I started looking for more stuff to read! I stumbled across GreenJudy and Strangeways in that manner, and enjoyed Stella Omega’s astute comments on the whole thing. But I still hadn’t written any narrative in a very long time.
Well, Naga had read my LJ, a blog about my dolls, and told me that I really had no excuse. So I wrote something and posted it on my LJ, they liked it, and here I am!
Writing is one of the most pleasurable things I’ve ever done, and I’m glad that I’m here. The synergy of ideas is truly amazing, and the expertise of our techies is much appreciated! *happy sigh*