Writing Every Day in August: Day 28

Practice, in Art as in all things: First you suck, then you don’t.

In the process of editing Alchemist of Middlesbrooke, I’m realising I need to flesh out Petra going forward. Right now, she’s sort of in the background while Lucia is the main POV character and Apolline is the leader of the group.

I’ve established that Petra doesn’t talk much, so as currently written, she does actually do much, either.

Also, that is point, her personality is basically the same as Falcata’s. Now, it’s not completely ridiculous that a highly-militaristic society like the Amazons would value conformity and discourage independent thought and/or standing out. Though that makes them feel more repressive than I’m going. And, honestly, sounds kind of like an excuse for ending up with samey characters…

So, here’s me giving Petra some hobbies and personality quirks.

“Hey, Petra,” Alda says, looking up — way, way up — at the towering Troll-Amazon.

“Yes, Alda?” Petra replies.

“I like your dress,” Alda says with a grin and a thumbs-up.

Petra blushes slightly. “Th-thank you,” she murmurs, caught uncharacteristically off-guard. A blushes creeps into her stony, blue features.

“I don’t often get a chance a chance to wear dresses. And I’ve never worn a dress like this.”

Her blush deepens.

“I like it,” she says quietly.

“You look marvellous, dear,” Duchess Sofia says, coming into the room. “And what is that you’re painting?”

“It’s the ruins of the First Lyceum on the shores of Lake Koron,” Petra explains. “But I’ve never actually been there, so I’m just painting what I think it looks like.”

“I think you’re painting quite well, Petra,” Duchess Sofia says. “You know, I could have a painter friend of mine, perhaps he’d be able to offer you some helpful critiques.”

The next day, Duchess Sofia has introduced Petra to the painter friend of hers, a prominent member of the Peri-Sophonian Brotherhood, an artistic movement devoted to sweeping Realmgard devoted to a return to the traditions intense colours, dramatic compositions and depictions of shapely women.

“Well,” the painter says, staring thoughtfully at Petra’s painting. “Your colour palette is simplistic and rather drab. Your horizon line is all wrong. Your perspective is inconsistent. And your shading doesn’t correspond to the location of your sun in the sky.

Petra hands her head. “Oh. Is it that bad?”

She wants to go crawl into a hole and never come out.

“My dear woman,” the painter says with a gentle smile. “You misunderstand me. It is clear to me that you lack practice. And there’s only one solution for that.”

“I-I should just give up?” Petra asks.

“Once again, my dear woman, you misunderstand,” the painter says.

“If you will allow me to borrow a rather trite and slightly vulgar colloquialism, there’s an old saying about the merits of practice: first you, ahem, suck, then you don’t.”

He turns back to Petra’s painting.

“You lack practice and no one has ever bothered to teach you the fundamentals of painting,” he muses. “But it’s clear to me that you put your heart and soul into every canvas. Everything you’re missing can simply be learned, and you’re greatest strengths are things that can’t be taught.”

Alda bounces happily beside Petra. “See, Petra! He likes it!”

The painter turns back to Petra and chuckles. “I remember one of the very first pieces I ever painted,” he muses. “Oh, they all thought it was a cow. Or a horse. A dog. Some sort of animal, anyway.”

“What was it?” Petra asks.

The painter shakes his head. “It was a landscape.” He sighs. “I wanted to go crawl into a hole and never come out.”

Petra can relate.

“Everybody has to start somewhere, my dear woman,” he says. “And the only way we go further is practice, practice, practice. Art does not necessarily reward the talented, but the persistent.”

So, I think I’m putting a little bit of Sailor Jupiter into Petra’s personality.

Whereas Falcata is both much more stereotypically Amazonian and stereotypically Greco-Roman and Kat likes cute things but doesn’t like being cute, I think I can work with Petra being both fifty-eight feet of muscle and interested in artistic and traditionally feminine pursuits — much like how Jupiter is indisputably the best simultaneously both the most and least girly of the Sailors.


And, uh, in a lot of ways, I think I actually kinda ended up venting about my own insecurities about being a novice artist and kinda went for “Man, I wish somebody would tell me something like this.”

Which is rather more introspective than I was going for…

But, seriously, though, for everyone else trying to get to the “then you don’t” stage of a skillset, keep working at it.

And what you should be practicing right at this very moment is following me:

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