November News

November News

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.

A selfie of a young person (me) wearing a dark green coat, a grey beanie, and a tightly wrapped light green snood. There is lens flare on the corner of the image, and I'm wearing a white poppy with the word 'peace' in the middle pinned to my chest.
This was also the first year I wore a white poppy. There might be a connection there…

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.

A philological explanation of how to translate "carpetface" into Old Irish.
Menna is a gift.

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.

I hope…

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.

It’s how I spend all my time anyway.

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?

2 thoughts on “November News

  1. ugh i’m trying to edit a novel this month but i’ve never done it before and i have absolutely no clue how to do it! (any tips appreciated–right now I’m turning the list of scenes into an excel spreadsheet with characters and notes so that I can figure out how to insert the plot changes) and I had exams until two days ago and then I was packing so i had good-ish excuses. but I also have other writing I want to do, like applying to a creative writing course for next year and pounding out some blogposts and maybe pitching to some ~proper outlets~ ack! let’s see, I have done many social things, experimented with alcohol, went to a literary festival, went swimming, redyed my hair, and spent way too much money. now I’m staying with my grandmother for a month and accumulating skerrets of employment (mostly copywriting which I hate but it pays fairly well and i’m sorta qualified for it) and trying to learn to drive (had a minor accident so that was 🙃). It’s so cool that you’re going to be a bookseller! hopefully the work will be okay with your disability. they’re so lucky to have someone who loves books as much as you do. and your retelling sounds AMAZING and you have reminded me that I should read The Song of Achilles.

    1. If you’re using an Excel spreadsheet, your editing is more organised than mine! I don’t even really know how I edit. I read it through and figure out what needs fixing, and/or I get a friend to read it and tell me what doesn’t work. Then I open a new document, start at the beginning, and write the whole thing again. There are usually some mind maps involved when I get stuck halfway through. And… that’s how I edit. I don’t know if it’s the best way, but it’s how I tend to do it.

      Sounds like you’re having a busy month! I’m meant to be learning to drive too but I have made zero progress towards doing that because the whole thing scares me.

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