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I have a lot to say about a lot of things, but here I'll just  quickly say, between tossing things for Žluta, I have been slogging through The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco forever and forever and I'm about half way through. Why am I persisting? I've tried to read it before and failed. It was one of my father's favorite books I guess is why I am determined to read it now. Also I will feel free to get rid of it once I've read it.

I finally got back to the library yesterday and I got Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, Mappa Mundi by Justina Robson, and Broken Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, as well as two cookbooks (Pkease to the table, a Russian one: and The Paprikas Weiss Hungarian cookbook). I'll have to get them back before the 22nd so I can take out enough books to last me until I've recovered enough from the next surgery to get back to the library.

Right. I'm getting my new right knee on the 23rd. Also, I had the nerve conduction test yesterday (the 9th) and Dr. Brunelli said it was an elegant study, confirming carpal tunnel syndrome with a classical (and extreme) presentation. He said the median nerve was "trashed" in the tunnel, and fine in the forearm and across the elbow. Also the ulnar nerve was fine. Best: although the nerve response was dramatically slowed, the volume of the response was normal, which is a good indication for success in treatment, which is a simple surgery where they snip the ligament that holds the wrist bones tight. This makes the  palm a little flatter but it allows the inflammation to subside and relieves the nerve. When I had it done on my right hand 37 years ago my hand was weaker for a couple of years so I didn't do it to my left hand at the time and I didn't need it till now. The right hand recovered its full strength long ago and since I am right handed I frankly don't care that my left hand might possibly be a bit weaker for some purposes for a while.

I have a lot of other things I want to talk about but some of them are very difficult. Ad an easy one is I broke down and bought quinces again yesterday, and also I have frozen tomato puree and apple slices for pie, and I'm gathering windfall apples for apple butter. Also I have a raft of rose hips so maybe rose hip jam? I've made rose hips into a magic conduit in The Drummer Boy.
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I am writing this so I will remember. I shouldn't do workshops because all the standard things that people say at workshops do not help me write better stories, they baffle me, they annoy me, and sometimes infuriate or depress me. I don't actually agree that all novels ought to have the same exact structure: nor do I believe that the reader needs to know everything the novel's going to tell them in the first ten pages. I don't believe that the first chapter ought to resolve the story's major problems or even necessarily lay out the whole problem. I don't believe that the reader necessarily has to know the whole of what the main character wants by the end of the first chapter.

And furthermore, if a person is adopting an air of authority, and projecting a wave of dislike, while using awkward set phrases to tell me to write an entirely different story from what I have in mind, I'm just not going to profit from it. The basis for the person's authority? Having attended workshops. The wave of dislike apparently deriving from not liking the subgenre in which I'm writing? Maybe?

But that's just the specifics of that workshop. I don't think I profit from any workshop anyway. I think I need to stop attending them and get feedback in other ways. It's not like it's a major activity of mine anyway. I've tended to do one every five or six years.

Yes, I do realize that my specific complaints could easily be said in those words by a person who had written a meandering, irrelevant, confusing, and unengaging first chapter, who is resistant to good advice. But whether my writing is like that or not -- and I dearly hope it is not (I'm not a reliable judge as I tend to think everything I do is crap no matter how much I also think I am on to something) -- the advice was useless. Nobody's going to improve their book by trying to jam all that in there. It would leave nothing to develop, no conflicts to resolve, no plot.

Anyway, my new writing vow: no more goddamned workshops.
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So The Drummer Boy is reaching draft status. I'm closing in on the last chapters. I took some time off to revise the earlier chapters and I've made notes for some further revisions, but I'm feeling ready to hear what other people have to say about it. It's long enough, and I'm close enough to the end, that I am pretty confident that by the time you're ready for the last chapters, they'll be written.

If you're interested, comment or message me, and I'll send you the link to the folder.

In other news, I've suspended taking simvastatin in a desperate measure to stop my legs hurting and this seems to have worked in a limited fashion, so an important task when I get back is to figure out how to get back on some other kind of statin regime (either reduced dose or a different type), because the statistics in favor of statin use are really quite conclusive. As to the limitation -- the really quite severe and puzzling muscle pains I was having since my arrival in Prague have just about disappeared -- but now I am having actual knee pain, as in obviously the arthritis. I can't catch a break. I have, however, at least according to Hana's bathroom scale, lost almost six kilos, which would please me more if it hadn't been in less than a month. I am not certain of this, naturally, as the scale weighs very heavy compared to the doctor's scale back home, in fact it just now says that I weigh a bit less than when I left. I do know I have lost some weight though as my clothes are hanging off me, which is disconcerting. anyway, the point is, or was back there before I got sidetracked about weight, that my leg pain is clearly multifactorial, and I've been identifying and dealing with one factor at a time. I identified fascitis and muscle spasm, and physical therapy dealt with that (I still do exercises and self-massage for that). I identified arthritis, and put that on hold as the muscle stuff seemed to keep the pain at bay and I lost any method of paying for surgery. Then the pain came back and I seem to have identified this other thing with the statin and also to have crossed some new threshold with the arthritis.

The one thing I know about the pain is that I need exercise and rest, more of one or the other depending on the day.

It is enormously hot here in Prague -- like record breaking some days. Combined with the arthritis acting up I am glad I did a lot of my sightseeing and research already because I can't do so much of it right now.
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So, I've been pretty busy. I have been to many museums, parks, and shops: I have also been revising The Drummer Boy, and socialising with Frank the son and Hana the daughter-in-law, and also for a week there with my niece and nephew.

That planned-for graduation did not happen. Along with a third of his class Frank has been made to come back in the fall to take another test. I don't think it's politic to go into the details, but I also have reason to think that Frank is not the only one that is experiencing unfairness in this. The delay has lost him a chance at a residency in Malta this year but there will be other chances later.

Every outing is research for the novel. I have learned so much about central european culture, history, landscapes, and ecologies, and some of what I have learned is having small but substantial effects on the content of the book. So while a large part of revision is simple proofreading, and another large part is continuity checking (are all the names the same when they need to be, have I made sure that things happen in the right order and nobody knows things before they should and nobody fails to know what they should know after they should know it, did I clean up all the remnants of changing things when I had a better idea?), another large part is working in new knowledge where it seems appropriate and where it enhances the story. It is also a task for me to avoid working things in just for the sake of working them in. For example, having gone to the Public Transportation Museum, I know exactly what the tram cars are like that Yanek rides to the forest on the edge of the city where his ancestral lands are. But so far there hasn't been a scene that would be improved by any amount of description of that.

Oh well,I used up my time . . .we're getting ready to go for a ramble in the forest. Another time I will write about the huge disappointment that is the state of my legs. I can walk where I want,but I am slow and I suffer.

late start

Nov. 2nd, 2012 08:42 am
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Yesterday I was working on the downstairs bedroom so I don't have to live in a dump for the next year and so I will eventually be able to clean up the living room too.

So I wrote one sentence.

Today I brought the word count to 1.7K+, which is better.  I'm sort of speeding throguh drummer's training camp.  Tomorrow I'll get him chosen by hsi first unit, and the next day maybe have his first battle, and probably on one of thiose two days the conversation with the older drummer about how they're already dead, so they may as well see if they can save their comrades, and by the way, we fuck around a little too.

I was looking for more about military drummers, but there's not a lot more to be found, so I'm making up a lot of stuff whole cloth, and hoping that it makes sense.

I've been poking at Frank's old laptop but it's probably a paperweight. I have some time before the surgeries anyway: I've moved back the first one to May, so I have more time to work out the finances and strengthen my legs before hand.  There's no reason not to, I'm not in much pain at all and I really am getting stronger.  Yesterday Kevin the physical therapist decided I was ready for a new set of exercises which are as he says "efficient" -- meaning they are difficult, painful, and tiring. I should be proud, but I'm sore. I mean muscle sore, not emotion sore.

Also, that cracked tooth finally shed the cracked bit off, and now I have three teeth with chunks out of them.  At my age, my mother had three teeth, though, so that's an improvement.

Also: tomato sandwiches.
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In November I'm going to finish The Drummer Boy in its first draft.  I don't know how many words that is -- somewhere between 35 and 50 thousand, I think.

In December I'll be begging for some people to read it.

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I looked at an old novel of mine, and it was pretty sad.  The story was strong, I think, but the execution was just not there.  Then I looked at the re-writing I had started but gave up because I forget why, some form of discouragement anyway.  The rewriting looked pretty strong, but I couldn't remember what I was going to do to it next.

Oh well.

I'm just not very good at anything.  But maybe this time, with this book, I'll have written something worthwhile, after all.


Sep. 26th, 2012 09:11 pm
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Dropped the boom on Yanek. Now he just has to flop around a bit before he's marching away with the other "recruits." The chapter will end in drum training camp, which I cannot find any references for so I'm making it up whole cloth.  So glad this is a fantasy. I figure they drum and drum and drum, mostly.

On another front, I witnessed the most amazing tantrums today.  We think the child in question is having tooth and tummy discomfort, but all we know is he was doing the back flop and the kick and lash and screaming. The most amazing part was when I had laid him gently on the floor to keep him from launching roughly there off my lap.  He put up his hands -- like he wanted me to pull him back up, which is not unusual -- but as soon as he got th8em, he pulled himself half up and tried to launch himself as hard as he could on the floor.  I stopped him, making his descent softer, but it made him even angrier.  Later he was still doing it when we were outside (he stopped long enough to eat snack, at least) and he threw himself backwards in the sandbox: while he was ltying there, he threw sand in his own face.

Tyke is seventeen months old.  He has a lot of new words, but apparently not enough.

On another front, I can carry a box of groceries up a short flight of stairs putting one foot in front of the other like a normal person now, instead of having to step and place the right foot on the same level as the left before proceeding. Nine months of physical therapy! And also, I can squat to clean a thing on the ground, instead of getting down on my butt.  Nine months! Of physical therapy! MRI in late December, pre-op early January, first surgery late January or early February.  I have to log some paid work time between the surgeries or I have to pay a thousand dollars a month COBRA payment to keep my insurance, so the second surgery will be in mid-May.

My friend who has had a different type of knee replacement says the thing to watch out for is not going back to work too early.  Can't be helped. But at least at my job I have a boss and coworkers who will help me do whatever is the least wrong we can figure out.

On yet another front, I spent last night listening to Warren Zevon on youtube and tonight listening to the COon Creek Girls.  It's kind of hard to find much of them.  And you have to get the early stuff, and not "The New Coon Creek Girls" or videos with (TRIO) in the description.  After a while it's inevitable: you must ditch the girls and start listening to Grayson and Whittier.
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Suspense is what I am in as I am writing the last bits before the boom drops on Yanek.  Actually I kind of already dropped the boom on him in the last couple hundred words as I made it impossible for him to avoid disappointing the hyoung Duke. I feel like a bad person.

Now I am going to take a bath and take the dog somewhere before it warms up too much and she turns into a wimp. Let's see if I remain determined to force her to walk in the Pogonip, where I have not been for over a year because she refuses to go there (why? ghosts of coyotes? she used to love it there)
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So personhead [livejournal.com profile] julesjones did this and I want to also, so, simply, here it is. I adjusted some of the questions, comparing her version and Justin Bog's original.
1. What is the working title of your book? Drummer Boy.  There's no reason to change it that I could imagine. Though in my head I refer to it as not-Poland.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? Several sources.
(1) There's an unfinished story on fictionpress called "Unrelated Royalty," which has the situation of a king marrying a pregnant widow who subsequently dies, leaving her son growing up in the royal household without any actual status. I used a duke, and then because I have a realistic bent I started thinking about why the kid wouldn't have the status he should get from his father, and so on.
(2) Landscape and Memory, which is about Greater Lithuania, which greatly overlaps Greater Poland: Language Hat's running discussion of the polyglot nature of Eastern Europe, The Golden Bough, and everything by Carlo Ginzburg.
(3) All the military history discussions I'll never have anymore with the nice fellow I married, and especially certain bits I recalled from things he told me when he was alive: the Polish cavalry meeting the tanks in battle, the general perfuckedness of the World War One eastern front, the persistence of the use of drummers in battlefield communications well after the advent of telegraphy . . . the earworm phrase the law of uneven development.
(4) My own family background is four ways not-Polish, so there is a certain symmetry to me writing a book that is not-Polish.  -- Do you want to know the ways?  a. Though my father's father's family identified as German Americans, my surname is Sorbian, which is a Western Slavic language that overlaps Poland,Germany, and the Czechoslovakian region. b. My great-grandmother's mother was from the Amber Coast, which is sometimes Poland and sometimes other countries in history, but was apparently German at the time she left it to be a hurdy-gurdy girl in the California Gold Fields (she didn't get that far because of --)c. My great-grandmother's father, the ship's carpenter the mother eloped with instead of going on to the gold fields, was from Gdansk during a period when it was called Danzig, so therefore not Polish. And d.My mother's family was all Jews from Vilnius, which they pronounced Vilno and spelled Wilnow, and which was supposedly in Russia at the time they left there, but they always said it was in Poland (glances at historical atlases leave me with a headache and more questions than answers).
(5) When I figure out why I suddenly discovered that my protagonist has green markings on his skin in the shape of a willow tree, and that he is special to the trees, I will be surprised, or something.  Honestly, I don't know where that came from.  I wasn't thinking about The Lorax at all.
(6) Everything I write is influenced by Jakobowski and the Colonel, so.
(&) Friday night folkdance class, especially monthly live music night where I just stare at the drummers all night.

3. What is the one-sentence synopsis for the book?
The son of a prince, sold by his foster brother the Duke's son to be a drummer in the imperial army, survives the trenches against all likelihood, to become an urban Lorax according to his true familial destiny.

4. What genre does your book fall under? Either it's a fantasy or magical realism. Is it steampunk? When you read about the mobile telegraph transmitter on a crudely self-propelled wagon, you might think so.  Despite the prevalence of dukes and princes, it is not at all a silver fork novel.

5. What other books would you compare this to (inside your genre)? Well, it's nothing like Ash or Grunts -- other fantasies with archaic warfare in them --  and it's nothing like The Lorax. It owes a little revulsion-effect "I want to write the opposite of that" to The Painted Bird.
Well, none of that is inside the genre except the Mary Gentle books.

6. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  There's a bit of a romance, though it is not central: talking animal earth dieties (a sow, a cow, and perhaps a bear! Triple Goddess!) -- a pile of scary folklore, class interactions, some upstairs-downstairs stuff, a couple battlefields, culture class, juvenile misunderstandings, plague, delayed industrial revolution, a fading empire, many different kinds of music, and of course drums and drummers. Also fiddles and the occasional bagpipe.
And also pirogies and an appalling local liqueur.

I left out questions about actors to play the characters, publishing plans, and other things that apply to finished work. I do plan to submit it through traditional channels, because I do think of it as a regular print book.
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The reasons that I haven't been posting in the last month are two: one is lovely and the other is hideous.  The lovely reason: Frank and Hana are here from Prague!  It's lovely having them in the house.  For a couple of weeks there actually I had a house of seven people.  I really liked it.  This is funny because I do not seek out the company of other people that much and I don't feel lonely when I am alone.  But when there are other people in the house I am more alive, or something.

The other reason is that I am having intractable issues with leg pain and allied difficulties.  I have been whinign all over the universe, so forgive me if I spare you most of the details - I bore myself -- but I will tell you that the physical therapist sent me back to the doctor to talk about the possibility of torn meniscuses in both knees and the doctor said "Well, I thought so all along," and promptly kicked me upstairs and now I have an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon (a conservative one, he said, who is not overly likely to cut any time soon), and I have already met with the neurologist for some of the allied symptoms and he's going on a grand fishing expedition -- he did a conductivity test (ow, hurt worse than I remember the one on my arms thirty-five years ago), and EMG (ow), and I am also having a battery of blood tests including one for syphilis (that's what it said when I looked up the little letters on the referral) as well as thyroid, b12-folate, iron, and rheumatoid factor, and also an MRI on Friday.

Sounds very heavy, doesn't it?  And it takes a lot of my time and thought to do all these things.  But in all honesty, I can't tell how heavy it is in real life.  It's a lot of pain and disability at the moment, which exercise and pain meds doesn't reliably take care of (again, no details at the moment because I keep talking about it all the time and I am tired of myself). But at other moments it seems like it's no big thing and I am being a wuss to even care about it.

I just got off my not-Poland hiatus, in other news, and I reread the first seventeen chapters and made bitsy revisions because apparently I do not have the imagination to see what's really wrong with it.  I've started actively writing again, and discovered that, once again, the goal post of this section of writing has been moved back another chapter.  But the good side of that is that some of the work that I was afraid I might have to do in "while we were out of touch, these things happened" kind of dialog, I am being able to do now, which is more organic.

My teenage Duke is behaving really immaturely and acting a complete spoiled, lovesick, entitled brat, while Yanek on the other hand is a rabbit paralyzed by fear of impending disaster.  Oh well, the disaster will impend, and then it will happen, and then Yanek will be liberated by the fact that the worst has already happened and that for many purposes, he might as well already be dead, and perhaps that is the point of the story after all. And here I thought it was just a melodrama for my savoring.

In one of Pynchon's books -- probably the one with the banana breakfasts -- there's a part during the Boer War, where a group of people are surrounded (in a fort? a village?) by an enemy that will most certainly kill them all before too long.  I might be remembering the rest of this description all wrong, so forgive me if that's the case: you can pretend I've made up a completely fictional composite of a thing that shows up here and there in literature instead of calling on a particular story. So they figure they are already dead and nothing matters, really, there are no rules, and they celebrate this revelation by behaving very badly and being all decadent and nasty.  But I've always thought it was the other way around: if your fate is sealed, and you're already dead, there's no reason to do other than your best because this is all you've got. If you plotz out and behave badly you aren't going to get a chance to make it up later.  And also, there's an assumption in the Pynchon bit that what we really want to do, down at the bone and in general and without restraint, is nasty things. 

Which makes little sense to me as a final pronouncement for all we are.  Of course I think that all we are is in fact all we are: every good thing, every bad thing, every beautiful thing, every nasty thing.  But I'm pretty sure that unless that (fort?) was entirely full of sociopaths, the end times there wouldn't really be nothing but nasty.

Of course, there is the Donner Party as a real-life example, but when you read the primary accounts, it's pretty clear they were at least led by sociopaths in the first place.

To come back to not-Poland, let me assure you that Yanek and the other drummers on the battlefield are not sociopaths, so though they consider themselves to be already dead, the things they do themselves are not decadent orhorrific (there will be no chains of ears in this story).
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This week I have cooked.

I made, for last weekend, agua fresca de fresas y sandia (Mexican plain fruit punch with strawberries and watermelon, but also oranges and lemons). I also made some very nice sweet potato biscuits from the sweet potato puee I froze a while back. The rest of the meal was nice but nothing to write home about.

But! I also, later in the week, made liverwurst, a project I have been wanting to do forever, and it came out pretty good and cost less than seven dollars a pound.  Maybe six? Next time, I will use ham hock instead of bacon for the porky part.  This is what I did: I had .7 pound each of chicken and beef livers and a bit over a pound of chicken thigh meat.  I put these with a head of garlic peeled but not cut (a head, not a clove) and half a twelve-ounce package of bacon into a big pasta pot strainer insert, and in the main pot I put a half a large celery root, some celery seed, an onion,and water to cover everything.  I put the insert into the pot and simmered it for about half an hur, and then I ground it in a meat grinder, fine blade, mixing in enough brother to make it slimy and also mixing in a micriscopic amount of sage (I would have put in more but I only had what i had), hot paprika creme, mustard, black pepper, salt, even a pinch of sugar.  I got it all gooshed together, adding enough liquid to make it the right texture (which is wetter than it will be when it is refrigerated), and also added the fat from the rest of the bacon. The next day it was yummy but it could have used less bacon and more sage.  I made about three pounds all told and put half of it in the freezer. The rest of it is gone now.

Today I am thinning my plum tree and I have found recipes to handle the green plums. And also an obscure reference to "Norwegian olives," meaning salted green plums.  So I am still gathering some more (the tree sets fruit like gangbusters) so I can shove them tightly in the jar.

Also, when I was weeding, I discovered that I had a whole pie worth of rhubarb stalks so I cut them and cleaned them and put them in the freezer for if one of my friends wants a rhubarb thing.  I planted it for the nice fellow: rhubarb is not my weakness, it baffles me slightly as food, though I chomp on sourgrass as much as the next little kid.  But the greater rhubarb wonder is that at some point, it sent up a mighty stalk and it must have flowered when I wasn't looking, because the stalk was covered with dock-like brown-ripe seeds, of which I have recovered many, in case somebody wants to grow rhubarb from seed.

The little yellow plum tree around the corner has begun dropping plums but they are not wonderful this year but I have plans still to go to University Terrace park and check out the plums up there.  I actually used all my plum jam last year.  I liked it better than the blackberry jam, of which I still have kind of a lot.  I also have two very large packages of tiny pineapple pieces in juice, which I froze though I think they are supposed to be the equivalent of cans.  So my freezer now contains: a large bag of pecans, a tiny bag of black walnuts, two bags of sweet potato puree, two bags of pineapple, a bag of rhubarb, a container of liverwurst, a bag of beans I cooked, and from the supermarket, a package of fajita-sliced beef and a big bag of peas.  It is a normal-sized freezer.  My refrigerator is not the very smallest one I could find, but it is the smallest one I could find with an energy star rating and glass shelves (wire ones are not cleanable).

on another front, I saw a boy at folk dancing last night -- if I was his age, I'd have had a crush on hjim for five minutes (before I saw the iron cross tattooed on his arm).  He looked a little like a much prettier Maxim Gorky, small -- he was shorter than one of the guys I often watch to figure out short men's body dynamics for the novel, and his feet looked almost as small as mine.  He has that thick, thick hair that curls upward when it's not being severely chastised, and I tried to imagine it darker and longer: yes, I think I figured out exactly what Yanek looks like.  I've had descriptors for him all along but I keep changing my mind -- I see him through different characters' eyes, and that skews things because some of them have pretty weird ideas about him.  When he is very small and the Duchess thinks he is a pet elf, more or less: when he is with his best friend, the peasant boy, who thinks Yanek is an abandoned child: when he is older, and some people think he is a rake, and others think he is a snob, and others think he is a prude (yes, well, nobody has very much data because Yanek tries to hide, mostly).  But watching that boy move, and thinking about how this other person held his drum, and all that, I think I got it.

It's not important: I'm not going to be drawing pictures of him.  But it's pleasant to know what features the people in the story are yammering at,
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EDIT: I have lost NOTHING. Dropbox has a "previous versions" function and I can restore everything.  Tomorrow.  Now I am going to sleep.

The laptop I got from Frank was annoying and Word saved the files kind of mungy.
Googledocs hiccuped on some of the files and lost a few words here and there.
The laptop died, but everything was on googledocs.
Istarted wiorking on the desktop.
This had the advantage of allowing me to work in wordperfect again.
I supposed I ought to be saving my files in a more universal format, so I changed everythign to be automatically saved in .rtf.
I heard dropbox was a mighty fine offsite backup, it saves automatically when you save your files at home. So I set up a dropbox.
and that was my backup.
Yep, one backup.
I decided it was hightime to make a master document.
I made a master document.
I opened the master document after I finished today's writing (and got to 95K words and the end of the chapter before all hell breaks loose)
and . . . everything is gone.
Every chapter in the master document has been replaced by a weird little notation, the name of the link in the master document code.

And my backup . . . saved automatically when I saved on my home computer, so my backup is destroyed too.

I still have trwelve and a bit chapters in an earlier version in googlediocs, only slightly munged,
so I guess I have only lost about four months' work (I was going slowly because I was also heavily revising all the early stuff)

I can't believe how I find new ways to be stupid and lose everything all the time.
and now it is after 1:30 in the morning and I want to start rewriting right now but I have to go to bed so I can clean the house some more in the morning.

those two quotes for the 7 lines thing still exist, in their original contexts.
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The words I wrote this morning are probably compost.  And so is the long journal post about it that I just deleted.
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So a hundred years ago little boys wore pink ("light red" -- the word "pink" usually meant a particular range of light red colors at the time) and little girls wore baby blue.  Though colors in general were less gendered, and you just did not see the monochromatic pallettes for small children you see now.

So if I put little Yanek into light blue trousers, in context, they are not exactly "girl's clothes," but they are less manly for the time than a pink baby dress (assuming he's three or under when he's wearing the baby dress and older than that when he's wearing the trousers).  But a modern reader would see a graduation from a pink baby dress into a pair of blue trousers as a strong affirmation of his little masculinity.

I think I'm leaving the blue trousers in as an easter egg, and giving them another cue.  It doesn't matter.  The very fact of never being breeched by his caregivers and having to dig up his own trousers years after he ought to have been wearing them is enough to hint that he's going to be struggling and fighting for his manhood. 

Why, yes, I too am surprised that a thread of the book is apparently about masculinity, a subject that doesn't usually interest me much.  How did that happen?  I guess just because I realised that the conditions of Yanek's life kind of lead him in that direction.  Also could have to do with some other stuff I'm suddenly feeling like being coy about, and his two childhood nicknames -- Panachek (little man) and Palachek (Tom Thumb).

Yeah, and I have done away with the little antennas on letters and replaced them wuith dumb-English style spellings because this is a fantasy world and nobody's actually speaking a real particular Western Slavic language.
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So, The Slash Pile Community is doing a little for-fun anthology with a "travel" theme, and I had this idea about a fellow passing through the city of Boem about a hundred years after the events in The Drummer Boy. It didn't go as planned. It's almost finished now, and it is way different from what I envisioned at first and it is also causing important changes in the novel. The changes in the novel I think are good: they make the world make more sense while also at the same time upping the magic ante. I understand what's going on with the green markings on Yanek and his sister -- I had thought they wdere just green blotches on their bellies that look like trees, but I now understand that they are actual chlorophyll-bearing cells, and that they do photosynthesize at a low level, and also that because of this there has to be markings in more prominent places as well, because it's not really going to help out your metabolism much if it's in an area that people like to keep covered even when it's sunny. So they have Trill-ish spots and stripes on the napes of their neck, because I think the area needs to be concealable, and down their backs some, and they also have the trees.

The mechanism of this -- which I do not think that Yanek's brilliant scientis sister can actually demonstrate in her time period, because of the limitations of contemporary optics and genetics theory -- is that the photosynthesizing organelles are passed from mother to child by fetal graft in the womb, rather than through the parents' chromosomes. However, there needs to be a certain array of genetic switches lined up just so, or the graft doesn't take, and furthermore, there's a certain risk to the process, and a higher rate of miscarriage. Which explains why Yanek's older brothers don't have the green stuff: they just didn't get the switches lined up. Out of eight children, two had the green stuff. That is not a Mendelian 25%, just to be clear. I don't know or care what the probabilities are in the total population. Each of the switches that work together to allow the graft to take has its own separate Mendelian genetics, and then there is the photosynthetic organism itself. I don't know or care how many of these switches are involved, or how chained they are to each other -- by that I mean, how likely it is that someone who has one of them has the others and vice versa. And who knows what's going on with the green dealies' own genetics. What makes them likely to be strong on their end? Don't know.

Meanwhile, the little story? ends up having neo-nazis in it. I don't even know how that happened.

spoiler: they live, they get together, they may have a future together.
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It only took me half an hour of fruitless reading in wikipedia and beyond to realize that the people who write about the history of clothes online have no idea what they're talking about and don't care.

It's not that I find a lot of errors in these articles. Who could? They are so vague and unhelpful that they could tell straight-up lies and be no more or less true. I'm trying to find out what a junior clerk in a government ministry would wear to work every day, and what his chief minister would wear, in Eastern Europe, at the turn of the 19th-29th centuries. I know I'm not going to get much that is Eastern Europe specific, but I can hope to get a "continental" look. But no. I get a lot of blather that doesn't distinguish among classes, doesn't distinguish among types of clothing other than "formal" and "informal." Well, in the article on tailcoats there's a lot of discussion as to what to wear when riding horses for recreation. This is not helpful. There's not even an explanation of whether businessmen wore "morning coats," and it can't be taken for granted, as the wording nearby implies that they're only talking about the most rarified members of society.

I have found some pictures of laboring men from the period, over the years, so if Yanek was a miner or a carpenter's apprentice I could dress him rather confidently. Also, I can dress Bulo, the young peasant he admires. I can dress Bulo for plowing, for chestnut gathering, for going to a party, and for getting married. Yanek I just guess at. And when he imagines himself the Chief Minister in the future, as the Duke plans for him, I am forced to try to imagine what dressing somewhat like a prince but less so would look like, because princes and presidents is all you get.

I should go to the library.
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Sometimes I wonder what the young duke Sasha even sees in Yanek, even though I made them both up. Sasha is such a shiny boy: he's always fluching and glowing and his eyes glitter from excitement or with imlied unshed tears of frustration or whatever emotion. And he's a good kid: he really tries to make Yanek's life better (though this siometimes backfires and Yanek thinks it always backfires). It's not his fault he's royalty. Probably when he is an entirely grown man he will have absorbed the whole sickness of privilege, but he's not like that now. (the way that privilege affects him is in being unaware of the great degree to which privilege shapes his life)

Meanwhile, Yanek is furtive, sullen, ungrateful, and only really warm with his sister. He generally doesn't even think of Sasha except as one of the areas in which he can make blunders and be punished for them, most of the time. He spends time with Sasha only when he feels that he has to, even though some of their time is enjoyable. For most of their childhood, whenever Sasha comes to the "old castle" (the Duke's summerhouse) where Yanek is stashed, Yanek is running off to spend as much time as possible with the much older peasant boy Bulo and Bulo's friends, under the pretext that he is needed at the harvest. Later, Yanek's excuse is that he has to attend the clerks of the Ministry of Agricultural and Natural Development, from before breakfast to after supper (which is true), and that he needs to study for the University entrance examination (which is also true). Every time Sasha lobbies behind the scenes to improve Yanek's position, Yanek fails to acknowledge or thank him.

This is the status as of Yanek being 17 and Sasha being 13. Yanek has gotten a whiff of the nature of Sasha's feelings, but he's terrified and repelled. Yanek's kind of a late bloomer in this regard: he won't really get it until he's in the army next year. I am not sure if it's related to his slower physical growth, or if it's because the only crush he's had so far he's had to deny (it was completely impossible to admit to having that kind of feelings for Bulo, for all kinds of reasons, one of them being that the person who suggested that he felt that way was Bulo's fiancee). Probably both of these things, and his outsider status.

I think if Yanek had stayed at the Palace after this instead of going back to the country and subsequently being sold into the army, he might have eventually become the sort of person who sleeps around a lot, with whoever he could find in the City of Steinbrenner (those Steinbrenners don't have a lot of imagination. It's the name of the ruling family, the city where the palace is, and the duchy). But the way his life unfolds, he's going to be serially and situationally monogamous for at least a long time.

Revision notes: I'll need to check whether I've overdone the glittering eyes and flushed cheeks for Sasha.

Also, I need to introduce a couple of things earlier: wireless radio, for one. And I need to reshuffle the events of Yanek's apprenticeship: surely he wanders out into the City beyond the Palace the first opportunity he has, and he knows his way around the city pretty well. But having no pocket money -- the traditional thing is to write a boy who cadges drinks and snacks from people, or who takes his instrument into the street and busks for spending money. But I don't think Yanek does either. I had thought that he would go busking, but every attempt to write that has resulted in "no, he wouldn't, not at that time," so I think it might just not be the thing he does. And of course, the creepy encounter with the soldier Kaspar the Youth happens earlier too, since it has to be one of his first encounters in the neighborhoods beyond the boulevards by the Palace.

Yeah, I'm not one of those writers who can't talk about a work in progress or it ruins the writing process. Apparently I'm the opposite.

On another front, my legs felt so good I forgot my exercises for a week, and guess what? Now they hurt again. Oh, well, I have the exercises to bring them back into shape.
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today's thousand words will probably be pared down to five hundred or less later since the conversation between Sasha and Yanek leads away from the conflict instead of towards it like I planned.
I don't know. I have a story conflict of my own: Sasha cares more and more for Yanek, while Yanek doesn't particularly notice Sasha. I thought I'd have Sasha, as he gets older, trying to make things better for Yanek and being frustrated because Yanek is never grateful or even all that friendly. But it's hard to have Sasha do things for Yanek without them interacting, and whenever they interact, they either have a premature meltdown that I have to go back and prune, or they have too much of a reconciliation, and I have to go back and prune that. It was easier when Sasha was still a child(he's only a young teen now, but he has more agency because he's the oldest son of an autocrat) and when the two of them spent less time together and Yanek could thoughtlessly snub Sasha more effectively.

I have reached the stage in the project where I have to stop and outline things. Jo Walton was saying that she doesn't outline, except when it's required, in which case she outlines after she writes. Other people write an outline and stick to it. Me, I usually have what looks like an abortive novella to work from, and then sometime after the halfway point everything goes wild and I have to stop and outline the last half of the book, bit by bit.

Continuity is becoming a problem too, as I have Better Ideas for the later story that demand Different Things in the earlier story. I have a great big revision note I added to the chapter before this, which changes a number of prominent things in the chapter and possibly in earlier chapters. I put it at the beginning of the file, in maroon letters, yellow highlighting, all caps, and bolded. Yeah, I was that afraid of disturbing continuity glitches arising from this chapter I'm working on now.

Anyway. I am on the way to work today: tonight I am to give a guest appearance at somebody else's parenting class for parents in drug and alcohol recovery. I'm supposed to spend a half houjr showing them stuff about music with babies. Next week it's infant massage.
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I waited until Jo Walton came to San Francisco before I bought her book Among Others. Now I have a signed copy and I stayed in bed almost all day to read it.

People are right, you should totally read it.

I gather a lot of people say "that was me!" But it wasn't me, exactly, though I had many things in common with Morwenna. But it was surely a teenager.

After her talk and booksigning at Borderlands bookstore, we repaired to a restaurant and had kind of fancy but not really expensive food, and I ended up bringing home a Santa Cruzan I hadn't known before and whose acquaintance I was glad to make,Tané who is personhead pyrzqxgl . I came home earlier than I thought I would.

Beforehand I went out to lunch with my friend Irene who I do not see enough of because we are both less mobile than we ought to be.

I am trying to be more social and a better friend.

On another front, I finally got Yanek moved out of the nursery and also had the first of the proximal altercations with Sasha, and I think I wrote that part completely wrong, but I'll probably rewrite it when I get the other confrontations figured out in more detail. Anyway I'm at the end of chapter 13, and at 70, 000 words, and the next chapter is one damn thing after another until boom! we're in the army now.

May 2017

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