I should probably stop calling myself a blogger, shouldn’t I? Maybe I should opt for a more truthful title: “bookworm and writer who occasionally posts updates on their blog, roughly once a month”. It’s like… once it’s been a couple of weeks, it’s hard to know what’s worth breaking your silence for, and so it just stretches on and on.
Also, it’s been busy! I’ve got a bunch of news to share with you, which I’ll do in roughly chronological order.
I left my job
In my last post I talked about giving notice, but I hadn’t actually left yet. But, I left. So far, I haven’t regretted it. I needed the time to sleep, recover, and write before diving into something new. I’m not sorry I left before I had something else lined up.
I finished (re)writing BARD
The last couple of weeks of October featured me frantically trying to get Bard finished so that I could start NaNoWriMo with a new project, and it was hectic. I did at least one 10k day, which really isn’t advisable with my hands, but I got it finished.
At almost 115k, it’s the second longest book I’ve ever written, and I hope it’s substantially less terrible than the longest (Beneath the Branches, which I wrote in 2010 and which clocked in at 127k). It’s definitely better than the first draft, even if it will probably need some work — ideally I’d be able to make it shorter.
I knew it would undergo an ideological shift, because I was changing the focus of the story, but I didn’t realise that the characters’ ideologies would also shift so much, to reflect my increasing interest in pacifism, forgiveness, and peaceful resistance. But I really like the values they ended up embodying. It was nice to write characters I could actually admire, for once.
I started writing a novel I’ve been thinking about for years
I’m not sure exactly when I first came up with the idea of To Run With The Hound, a retelling that aims to do for Táin Bó Cúailnge what The Song of Achilles did for the Iliad. But I’ve had some notes for it hanging around for at least three years, and I’ve been putting it off. It needed research. It would be too difficult. I wasn’t good enough.
Finally, I decided I was never going to be better equipped to write this novel than I am right now. After all, I did my dissertation on the Táin. I’m part of an active and enthusiastic online community of medievalists who (a) want me to write this book and (b) are happy to help me do that in whatever way they can. And finally, I’m absolutely full of Cú Chulainn feelings and have no other productive outlet for them — so why not turn them into a novel?
So, although I didn’t have time to do any planning or preparation before NaNo started… that’s what I’m doing. And so far, it’s been an extremely rewarding experience. I’ve learned more about the Táin and its various related tales than ever before — trying to figure out how the chronology works and how different characters fit into various stories requires a lot of thought, but I now have a better understanding than ever.
I’ve missed having access to an academic library, of course (I’ve ended up buying a diplomatic edition of one of the recensions on the Táin, and I’ve asked for the Book of Leinster recension for Christmas, because I needed a reference copy), but my friends in the Muddle Ages have been extremely obliging with helping me out.
Also, they helped me translate “Chariot McChariotface” into Old Irish.
I’m at 35k and I’ve written some scenes I’m genuinely extremely proud of, even though it’s only a first draft and will undoubtedly need work. Am I still terrified I’m not up to the task of finishing it? Of course. I don’t know how I’m going to handle the section of it that retells the actual Táin, because I’m still at an earlier stage in their lives right now. But by the time I get there, I’ll have figured it out.
In the meantime, I just have to keep writing. That’s the point of NaNoWriMo, after all — you can’t edit a blank page.
I got a job
I have a part-time Christmas job as a bookseller at Waterstones, and I start this Sunday. Yes, my shelves are going to suffer. Yes, everyone is getting books for Christmas.
I’m nervous about it, because I’ve never worked retail before and I’m worried about how I’ll cope with it from a fatigue and sensory perspective (though it’s a small shop, so shouldn’t be too bad on a sensory front — it’s the standing up all day that worries me most). But I’m also excited, because I’ll be surrounded by books all day, and that’s the dream.
I’m also waiting to hear back from a second part-time position (one day per week), this one in a library. Who knows if anything will come of that, but I’ve got something, and that’ll keep the wolf from the door.
So, that’s my news this November. With luck, it won’t be December before I update you again, but who knows these days!
What have you been up to since we last talked?