netpositive: (bloodylane)
It takes a great deal of history to produce
a little literature.

-Henry James
    Seanan McGuire has an interesting essay on
    Know Your Territory: that one needs to be
    somewhat familiar with the genre one is writing in.

    Sadly, this applies hard to me: I am creatively stranded
    in unfamiliar territory. I read a wide variety of stuff --
    not just "speculative fiction" -- BUT I am not familiar
    at all with the subgenre of alternative history. My soul
    is firmly rooted in heroic fantasy, dammit! Nonetheless,
    somehow I got this idea that wouldn't go away....

    I agree with her in principle and I am trying to do this,
    but it has some problems. The most irritating thing about
    working on this alternate history idea has been not doing
    the historical research (or even doing the writing itself,
    though it's early yet) -- it's been doing just this kind
    of "market research" on other books "in the genre".

    It's been like adding 50% again on top of all the other
    work one is doing to unearth and ground one's writing
    PLUS having to suffer through stuff that isn't good, or
    isn't right, or simply isn't "what I want to do with it".

    [Or rarely, it's so good one despairs, at least for a few
    minutes. Then one grits and grinds and gnashes one's
    competitive teeth together and gets on with it again.]

    Specifically in my situation, where does one draw the line?
    What is "alternative history"? _Guns of the South_, sure,
    but how about _Gone With The Wind_? Gingrich-Forstchen's
    _Gettysburg_ series looks to be popular, but it's almost a
    polar opposite of the kind of fiction I want to write. If
    that's what people really want, maybe I'm doomed. [Or is it
    just a matter of getting a vaguely-related celebrity name
    on the book cover? *rolls eyes* If it was a choice of "by
    Sarah Palin and..." or not being published, WWTDCD? :P ]

    So I agree with her -- and yet.... :) Maybe I need help.

    I turn to you, dear reader, for you are reading this and
    I blithely assume you may read other things as well.

    Have you ever read anything that you consider either:

    (a) a *good* work about the Civil War era? Emphasis here
    is on fictional works, but if you have a favorite auto/bio
    or nonfiction item, go ahead and rave about it. I may read
    those too -- someday. Major bonus points for anything that
    conveyed the flavor of the time without being ponderous, and
    the characters didn't seem too anachronistic (or saintly!).

    (b) a well-done alternative history piece? Doesn't have to be
    U.S. Civil War, but it would help if its backing history is not
    *too* obscure. 14th century Ojibwa culture may be Fascinating
    enough for Mr. Spock, but I lack time to immerse myself in it.

    I am aware of David Weber and Eric Flint, and Patrick O'Brien.
    Go ahead and explain what appeals to you in them! Bonus points
    if you can convince me to read them.

    Thanks in advance just for reading this. Also if you respond.
If you want writing time in your day, you have to
take it—no one will give it to you. Often, you can
only take it from your own alternate activities;
writers' lives tend to get rather stripped-down
for that reason.

-Lois McMaster Bujold
netpositive: (bloodylane)
One of the problems of being a writer is in
identifying "time off." If the book is always
running in your head, niggling at your brain,
you're never quite altogether present to
the people you're with.

Lois McMaster Bujold
    Today's word is "gasconading": to brag, bluff, boast.

    Use in a sentence, please?

    Autobiographies of Civil War Generals are often full of

    Just sayin'. ;)

    These can be like watching a car crash in slow motion.
    You know eventually such utter self-delusion is going to
    run smack into relative historical truth, and the result
    is going to be pieces of self-image splattered all over
    the pages of countless non-fiction books arguing whether
    said general was a plaster saint, or the devil incarnate.

    As for fiction... well, that's why it's called fiction.

    *evil grin*

    Some words got written this week. Not enough, but some.
    Time got eaten by living people, rather than the dead.
    (Look, I am grateful for friends, but I'm one of those
    weird people who needs sleep on top of everything else.
    Which would you rather me have - balance, or my sanity?
    I'll settle for one. What I can't cope with is neither.)

    However, the outline got some very helpful annotations
    which I hope will lead to mo' better words down the pike.
    Plus I'm figuring out how to concentrate the research to
    lead to a kiloword or two of original writing most days.

    Now if I could accomplish that every day, for 200+ days?
    I would be a lot farther along than I am. *rolls eyes*

    But seriously, I need boundaries -- even artificial ones --
    or I get daunted. Don't ask me how it's going -- I'm all too
    likely to tell you before I stop myself from babbling on. :/
    For the time being it's all practice, yet it's becoming real;
    it's all moving along slowly, but somehow; and it's all good.
    Except where it's still bad. But even that, can get better.

    Dear Characters,
    I'm hearing some of you loud and clear. If the rest
    of you could speak up? Er, not all at once, please!
    Ow! My ears! And I can't type that fast, dammit...
    Aspiring Novelista

Writers aren't exactly people.... they're a
whole bunch of people trying to be one person.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald
netpositive: (bloodylane)
A historian who would convey the truth must lie.
Often he must enlarge the truth by diameters, otherwise
his reader would not be able to see it.

-Mark Twain
    Sigh, sob, shrug. See "To make bodily motions so as to convey
    an idea or complement speech." Maim, mangle, mutilate..

    I don't want to get involved in historical reinterpretation
    or the minutiae of scholarly arguments, dammit. I just want
    to write this crazy thing and get it out of my head already.

    This will be *fiction*. Based on history, but still fiction.
    Must keep on with the outline of main scenes. Go from there.
    Reason #23 why I don't read alternative history books... )

You have a limited amount of creative energy.
Even when it feels like a bottomless supply, it isn't.
It's finite, if only because there are only so many hours
in a day.

Value that creative energy. Because if you don't,
no one else will.

-Mark Evanier
netpositive: (bloodylane)
Books should not be falling down, sideways, upside down,
or backwards.

-from a training manual for library workers
The time to begin writing an article is when
you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that
time you begin to clearly and logically perceive
what it is you really want to say.

-Mark Twain

...[he] looked across the page to the rest of the book
left in the reader's hand. It was going to be a long epic.

-Bored of the Rings


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February 2013

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