Friday 29th January 2021
I spent a couple of hours doing research for a novel I’m not planning to write this year. This wasn’t planned but given that this week has been very unproductive in just about anything plus I’m very frustrated that I’m not currently taking advantage of the pandemic to set things up for the future, I just went with it. Future me will thank me.
I’d thought that I’d done this research before but I’m actually pretty organised with what notes I do take. I couldn’t find any which leads me to think that perhaps all this prior research was just me reading around the subject and discovering that there was a possible story there. I’m getting better at taking notes, especially when it comes to writing projects, but I still have areas of improvement – especially when it comes to learning.
This story is one of those novels that spans a lot of time. And in truth, that makes me fearful of it. In HEMA, I’m not just surrounded by history buffs, I’m surrounded by some of the world’s leading experts in certain aspects of history. It scares me a lot because I’m always afraid – no matter how nice they are – of saying something stupid about history. I suppose I should look at it as having a wealth of expertise to call upon, but as much as I believe in surrounding yourself with people more knowledgeable than you… I always worry I’m going to sound dumb.
I suppose my interest in it has stemmed from reading The Invisible Lives Of Addie LaRue. In terms of construction it is a similar novel (though very different in story), although I’d not given mine a thought until I woke up this morning with my head full of ideas for it.
I’m fascinated by the idea of weaving timelines; where there is a clear chronological narrative but it’s told in a non-linear way such that a chapter set in the past informs a chapter set in the present. I’m fascinated in how technically you allow these stories to unwind.
The first stage of this is to understand the chronological story. This novel has a number of key points in history that it draws upon, and what I wanted to do was really to get these all marked down. These events are going to eventually become very key in determining the direction of the novel. I do have a few ideas for characters, as well as some of their motivations, but I’m still a long, long way from any sort of plot.
But I did my research and made notes somewhere I’ll be able to find them again in the future. There’s a strong chance I might leave them for a year or more before returning to them but that’s totally fine. It’s an investment into the future and I’m sure future me will thank present me for the work I’ve done today. And I was just pleased to do anything productive in a week that’s felt like treacle.
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