Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Random musings - mind's all over the place right now

And so the writing crawls on. There's a chance I might actually make the 50k, or damn near it in any case. I've found that if I just write and don't waste time himmin and hawin, I can write about a thousand words in an hour. The quality of the writing done in that hour leaves a lot to be desired, of course, but I'm forcing myself not to think about that just now.

I spent an hour the other night trying to find the right name for a bloody horse, which meant first I had to hunt down our Gaelic dictionary and flick through it for ideas. Stupid Epidii. It's not enough I have to find names for all of you, I have to find names for your precious horses, too.

Speaking of the Epidii, it's something I've been wondering about for a while. They seem to turn up in quite a few novels set in this sort of time period. They feature in Rosemary Sutcliff's Eagle of the Ninth, Jules Watson's books, and of course, my own WiP. I wonder what makes them in particular so interesting. It must have something to do with Argyll. I know I first decided on the Epidii for Gairea and Cathal's tribe because I love that part of Scotland. Not to mention the name "Tribe of the Horse" has an appealing "Riders of Rohan" vibe to it. :)

Also wondering about certain names. To accent or not to accent? In purest Gaelic form, the name of Gairea's cousin should properly be written Áedán, which I don't personally have a problem with, but to an eye unused to Gaelic spelling, it may look a bit like acute-overkill. The spelling Aedan, without the acutes, is also perfectly valid, but since I like languages, I prefer putting in accents where they should be. I just wonder which variant of the name is more appealing to a non-Gaelic speaker. Here are different variants I've seen:





Which one do you prefer?

I'm also thinking I might post up an excerpt in the next few days. A snippet I've already written and read over, of course, not something out of the rubbish I've written this month. It's been a while since I've posted one, so watch this space. :P

And it's nine days till I move out! Wow.

See you later!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yet another writing update

Well, I'm slowly inching my way forward with the writing. It's a bit of a wrench, I admit, since I've forbidden myself from looking back and editing anything. And, since I'm a terrible perfectionist and obsessive self-editor, I hate pressing forward and knowing I've left an unedited mess in my wake. >.< I expect I'll spend most of August tearing everything I've written in July to shreds and rewriting it all over again.

Things are finally beginning to heat up now that Calgacus has travelled to the Novantae capital and found that their king is just as keen as him to see the Romans ousted. Enjoy it while it lasts, mate, they won't all be as easy as that. Especially not your ex-foster-brother up in Orkney.

Truth be told, I have more trouble with the Calgacus POV than I do with anyone else's, and I think that's because I haven't got as good a grip on him yet as I do the others. I haven't found out yet what makes him tick. As I see it, MCs have two journeys: an external one, and an internal one, interconnected. The external one is the quest, the journey to save the world (or whatever). The internal one is how the external journey affects the character: what do they discover about themselves? What inner demons do they have to battle? What, in personal/spiritual terms, do they get out of it?

With regards to my four other POVs (Marcus, Gairea, Cathal and Agricola), I have both the external and internal quests established. With Calgacus, I only have the external quest. I know he wants to unite the tribes to resist Rome, out of both a genuine desire for the freedom of his people - and also that dark little part of himself that likes being the king of the strongest tribe in Caledonia and doesn't really fancy the idea of giving up his leadership to any Roman governor. That in itself provides a demon for him to grapple with: knowing that his motives maybe aren't entirely as noble as he makes out.

But what else? What does he hope to gain - personally/mentally/emotionally/etc.? What will he discover about himself? What other flaws and demons are hindering him in his endeavour? These are the questions I still need to answer.

I think it's probably harder when you've created a character who has already proven themselves, as my Calgacus has. In TAC, he's already established himself as a great warrior and statesman, king of the most powerful of the northern tribes. It's not the same situation as with, say, Gairea, whose story involves her realising her potential and proving herself. Agricola, too, although with twenty years of military and political experience behind him, is still working now towards the high point of his career. I suppose the formation of the Caledonian confederacy will be the high point of Calgacus', with a trip and a fall at the end (ie, the defeat at Mons Graupius).

In short, I still don't know how he's going to grow as a character, and until he does, his chapters feel flatter than the other characters'.

Maybe... maybe, having already established his skills and reputation, his bid to unite the tribes will test all of them to the limit. Like, "Okay, so you're good. But are you really good?" Has he allowed himself to believe all his own hype? Perhaps his first attempt an alliance with the Novantae (which is beaten by Agricola), will lose him credibility with the other tribal leaders, and he'll be forced for the rest of the book to re-prove himself? Will he be stalked by self-doubt for the rest of the book, begin questioning his own convictions, ever contemplate surrender?

What is it, in the end, that compels him to make the disastrous decision to face Agricola in a pitched battle? Arrogance? Desperation? A need to vindicate himself?

Buggered if I know, that's all I'm saying. But we shall get to the bottom of it, yesss, preciousss, we shall...

And now it's onto the next Marcus chapter. Marcus is a strange combination of wry, self-deprecating humour, angst, and hormones, and a lot of fun to write. :)

In other news, it's a long way off, but the ending continues to look more and more solid. I think it's going to be good - when I finally get there. I'm a bit surprised at some of it, but it all makes sense, and wraps things up very nicely, while leaving the way open for the Antonine novel. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More random causes for celebration

I promise, I should be back with a proper post before too long, but in the meantime, here are some things which have been making me hyper today:

So, yeah, the Antonine Wall's now a World Heritage Site. Hurray! And, according to this, there will be an Antonine Wall Centre opening at Glasgow University next year! Woo-hoo! I knew the Hunterian Museum was revamping its Roman exhibit, but I didn't realise they were giving it its own little niche. It'll be good to see all the stuff again; all they've kept on show at the moment are the distance slabs and the altars (including, of course, those dedicated by my favourite centurion, lol).

And, after a good couple of years of hiding, I think the ending of The Ancestor Crown has finally revealed itself to me! Without giving away too much, it'll involve much blood, sweat, and tears. Mostly mine. And several of the main cast will be... er... going into the west. Yeah. Because the days of the Eldar are past and... oh, wait... that's wrong... But several of them are definitely westward-bound. And the general outcome of Marcus' story is not what I expected at all.

And, also, last week's post on prosthetics in antiquity is up on The Celtic Myth Podshow blog as a guest post. It's a site I'm quite fond of, as it's a good place to find Celtic-related links, amongst other things, and Gary, one of the owners and presenters, was dead nice in asking to borrow my post and sprucing it up nicely on his site with pictures. So, of course, I like it even more now! :) (Still can't believe that anyone but me actually pays attention to the drivel that appears on this blog, but that's another story.) My baby words, all growed up and out there on the big, bad Internet all by themselves. (wipes tear)

And my computer's all set up, so I'm finally ready to get back to typing. Last time I looked, Calgacus was stuck in a curragh on a very choppy Firth of Clyde, and feeling decidedly sea-sick. I should go and put him out of his misery.

And that's me for now! I think I'll just go and dance for glee some more. I'd offer you all some virtual Falernian wine, but it looks like the cast drank it all at that party the other night. ;)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Unesco have announced the good news: the Antonine Wall is now officially a World Heritage Site! Hurray! I've come to the conclusion that the headache I had this afternoon must have been the cast of the Antonine novel having a celebratory party. :)

Let's hope the relevant authorities now do the monument it deserves, eh? There'll be quite a bit of work to do.

And my new laptop arrived this morning! Double hurray! It's all clean and pretty and shiny... and I need to upload all my files before I can get back to my writing. Damn. Oh, well, at least I know what I'm doing tomorrow.

And the worst of the PMS is finally over, so I feel up to writing again. :)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A quick update

Just to let you all know what I've been up to since I last posted.

My writing challenge... isn't going too well. I was on a roll that first day, but then on the second and the third, I didn't get very much written at all. In fact, I haven't actually written anything since Friday. :(

Part of the reason is that my new computer hasn't arrived yet, so I have to wait till my sister's not using hers before I can type up anything.

Another part is that I suddenly had a meltdown of the "OMGWTF I SUCK" variety. It's still not quite assuaged yet. I've written angry little notes to myself, telling me that my characterisation is about as flat as two-day-old Cola, my dialogue is terrible, my world-building sucks, my descriptions suck, and the only thing I've got going for me is my plot, and that's because I got it from Tacitus. It's going to be a while before I feel even halfway competent again.

Friday was my cousin's wedding, so I wasn't going to get anything written then anyway. It was a lovely day, though. She looked absolutely gorgeous, and the church service was lovely (even if I felt completely disoriented 'cause I didn't know any of the hymns, or those wee replies they give to the priest during Mass - can you tell I'm not religious?). She got some glorious sunshine for her big day, too, between two days of pouring rain. :) The only thing I can really complain about was the inept piper. I mean, bagpipes are bad at the best of times, but when played by someone who can't... (shudder)

Then disaster struck (for me, that is, not anyone else). Halfway through the afternoon, I realised my period had started, taking me completely unawares. (Yeah, sorry for the TMI, folks, but I need to moan about it to someone.) Worse than that, I didn't have any towels on me. Even worse than that, I was wearing very white trousers. >.< I ended up spending the rest of the evening with my bum anchored firmly to my seat, resisting all efforts by various relatives to get me on the dance floor.

PMS also struck bad this month. That night I cried for about an hour and a half non-stop after a horrible, horrible plunge in self-esteem. I have a lot of self-esteem issues, which I can usually handle, but tonight, for some reason, they just overwhelmed me all at once. It was probably the PMS, only I don't remember it ever affecting me quite so badly before. I felt better in the morning, but it was still horrible. Yeuch.

So... yeah. PMS also tends to wreak havoc with my ability to write, so even if my new computer does come this week, I still don't think I'll be doing much writing. Looks like an editing week for me. I can edit that crap I wrote on the first couple of days. ;) I'm dreading looking at it.

And in other moan-related news, I was very... dissatisfied with the series finale of Doctor Who. And for most of the episode, it was absolutely great. I loved it. It just sort of copped out at the end. The whole thing with Rose's happy ending just seemed a bit too nicely wrapped up in a pretty bow. I thought her story had been pretty neatly tied up at the end of the second series, anyway. It was so sad, but it was satisfying. It felt complete. I thought her ending in this episode rang a bit false, just shoved in there to placate the Rose fans. (I'm not active in the Doctor Who fandom, but I have a friend who is, and she claims the Rose fans are "batshit insane".)

That's not my biggest gripe, though. That's reserved for the send-off they gave Donna. I mean, wtf? Maybe it's just a personal thing, but I really can't abide following something - a book, or a TV programme, or whatever - getting to know a character and follow their development and growth, only for them to lose their memories at the end and render all that growth null and void. What was the point? Why bother? Why were her insecurities all laid bare in this last episode and then overcome, only for her to forget it all and regress into the person she had been before? Like I said, it's a personal peeve, but for me, the whole "protagonist loses all memory of the storyline at the end" thing ranks way down there with "...And it was all a dream."

Grrrgnash. And I'd absolutely loved this series, too. :(

And elsewhere... OMG why the hell can't the Irish sources agree on anything? Bloody Book of Invasions. Bloody Annals of the Four Masters. Bloody Book of Ballymote. Is it asking too much for a rough agreement on when Cairpre Riata might've lived? The dates I've garnered together range from AD 165, c. 200 - 220, 258 - 274. In short, no one can seem to make up their bloody minds. And was he the son of Conaire Mór of Da Derga's Hostel fame, or Conaire Coem? Can you make up your minds there? No? Oh, bloody hell.

Ach, tae hell wi' it. He's going in the Severan novel. Stupid, manipulated, politically-slanted genealogies. If you can make stuff up, so can I. Nyaaah. >:(

I shall return when the Feminax kicks in.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I challenge... er... myself.

I thought, since I'm just bursting with inspiration after my time at Vindolanda, and since I've really got nothing to do all July, I'd set myself a writing target. I've not been writing much since my exams, so I thought I'd go for something which would make up for that and kick-start The Ancestor Crown into the exciting stuff.

I've decided to aim for 50,000 words, the target count for NaNoWriMo. (Of course, in July I've got one day more than NaNo participants.) I hope to meet it by midnight, July 31. That averages out at 1613 words per day (once I've rounded up, that is).

Today's word count: 1648.

Let's hope I can keep it up. Wish me luck!