Introducing Wind Age

The first idea for Wind Age came one evening in the late winter or early spring of Anno Domini 2016. I was going home from school after a long day indoors, sitting in the back of our van, too tired to knit, just looking out the windows.

Then we came to a drainage ditch with high banks, and at the corner of it was a pile of stones, and the wind sprang up, and I looked at the clouds hanging low, and one of them was in the shape of a horse.

“The Wild Hunt,” I thought, without willing the words or knowing where they came from, though the idea of the Wild Hunt was not strange to me.

And then I started seeing pictures in my head, as we kept driving, and the cloud moved over us and its shape went on changing, and I pulled out my notebook and began to write. For the next forty-five minutes I forgot my weariness, though when we were nearly home my left hand began to cramp, and using a fork at supper was difficult, and the side of my hand was grey with pencil lead: but what came from that cloud was the idea for Wind Age.

When I set about writing the story, I thought it would open here, but then I found I was having to pack too much backstory in, and that the backstory was worthy of taking more time over it, so the equivalent passage in the final version turned out to be the middle. It also divided itself naturally into three parts. 

A fair way into Part One, nearly to Part Two, I realized I had no idea how the story ended, which made it increasingly hard to build up to the climax. This was a great problem, because though I hardly ever outline anything, it helps to know how things end at least a reasonable time before I get there. I turned for help to my writer friend Jenny, and from our conversation (which did involve some ideas about poison getting tossed around) I began to see my way to the end. Without someone there, willing to discuss endings with a panicky writer at an odd hour of the afternoon (when I really should have been doing other things), the story probably would have fallen flat or never gotten finished at all.

 Wind Age was a strange story to write, and probably bothered my family more than they let on in the writing of it. Most of my stories I can work on with someone as close as the other end of the couch; Wind Age required that I be the only person in the room. However, people have a way of moving around, so though I might begin by being the only one in the sunroom, or living room, or somebody or other’s bedroom, sooner or later someone would show up, and I’d have to leave. By the end of it I spent most of my time on a different floor of the house from everyone else, if possible, and grumbled more than usual at being interrupted. Oddly enough, people moved around me more than I’d expected, and though I’m sure they minded, they didn’t show it too much. Or maybe I was too deep in the story to notice. Now I like my personal space anyway, but perhaps it sounds a bit strange to say I have to thank my family for giving me even more of it? Not that they were perfectly accommodating about staying away and not interrupting. They’re human too.

Wind Age was a deeper, more frightening story than I’d ever written before, and consequently I held it close. Jenny and Hope were the first ones to know I was writing it, and the first ones to get an idea of what the story was, though at that point I hadn’t a plot in the strict sense of the word. I only revealed the plot to my sister, who usually gets that sort of thing early on, three days before I finished the first draft. (She, predictably, said it wasn’t the kind of story she thought I would write — part of why I waited so long.) My family is usually the last to read anything I’ve written. People who know you tend to have certain expectations about the kinds of things you write, and often those expectations are wrong. For some reason, one of the people who know me best (or think they do. . .) said last week that a certain kind of book was similar to my writing style. I’d read the book and was surprised. It’s been a long time since my writing has been like that — not that the book was poorly written, because it was actually quite good, but the same general style or tone. It was odd to find out that way just how much my writing has changed in a few years. 

I could say quite a bit more about Wind Age, but if you want to see the cover and back-cover copy you can find it on my books page, and I’ll avoid being redundant (which is always to be avoided at all times).

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About Nolie Alcarturiel

Christian, student of Philosophy, writer, SCAdian. Crazy cat lady who likes to keep cats and birds at the same time, and who's too young to be called an old cat lady. Medievalist. Creative Writing major, Philosophy minor.
This entry was posted in Historical fiction, Wind Age, Writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Introducing Wind Age

  1. parkhurstj says:

    Discovering how one’s writing changes over time can be a fascinating process. As I’m working on another revision (the third!) of my first major novel, I’m continually amazed by the change in style, voice and narrative development. As I recently started a new opening for one of my NaNo novels (2015) the realization hit once again. What I’ve learned is to simply let it happen. You’ll learn from your past writing and continually improve from there. Writing is not a science, nor as formulaic as we’re sometimes led to believe. It must grow and mature, and we writers are merely there to guide it along the way.

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    • noliealcarturiel says:

      I’ve been noticing, as I go through church clerk’s notes from earlier this year, that my writing style has changed in the last few months. It’s quite fun to trace what has changed and remember what led to that change — whether someone pointing out an annoying habit, or realizing something in class. Writing is a lot more like gardening than biology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thegermangolux says:

        I didn’t know that church clerk’s notes allowed for creativity and unique writing. I always assumed that it was dry and set to a very particular format. Have you changed from saying, “The motion was carried” to “They carried the motion,” or what?

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      • noliealcarturiel says:

        I avoid the use of the passive voice out of principle in any kind of writing. Clerk’s notes tend to be very dry, but they don’t have to be quite as thick with jargon and passive voice as they often are. The change I most noticed was that in the notes from early in the year I used the word “had” quite a bit, but now I’ve managed to cut it out where it’s unnecessary.

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      • parkhurstj says:

        Pruning, and tending, fertilizing and watering- a wonderful analogy. It’s a process, rather than a study, I think. Or, you’re just following me down the tangled road to phonoaesthetics and philology. Here there be monsters, but they’re mostly friendly. 😀

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      • noliealcarturiel says:

        I like friendly monsters :). Philology is a lovely road to tread, albeit twisty.

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  2. Christine says:

    Isn’t it crazy how entire stories pop up from the smallest, most random places? I love it! Being a writer is so fun. (Even if I probably won’t live long enough to write alllll the plot bunnies that attack my brain…)

    I loved hearing how this one came about! And I admire you for being able to write other stories around people. I ALWAYS have to write alone, no matter what novel it is. People distract me far too much. I can’t disappear into my story if there’s a person nearby. Sooo my family is quite used to me hiding in my room for loooong periods of time. XD

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    • thegermangolux says:

      Plot bunnies. Nice.

      As a poet, I sympathize. Poems frequently start from the most random and weird things. Like butchering chickens, and watching them flop around without their head (sorry, writer weirdness alert. I thought it was poetic – still do), or torching through metal plates, sending molten sparks flying – everything is a poem and a story if you watch it closely enough.

      I don’t always have the chance to write alone, with seven siblings and a house under construction. But I have been known to stay up until the darkest hours of the night wrestling with rhymes and rhythms, and sitting on the roof on a summer afternoon is always a thought-provoking thing to do.

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      • noliealcarturiel says:

        They’re called plot bunnies because of how fast they multiply, also for how winning they are (and distracting) when you first see them.
        How exactly is a beheaded chicken poetic?
        Some of the best ideas come at night. It’s annoying how easily you forget them, and no matter how you rack your brains you can only remember that they were good. I can’t say I’ve ever sat on a roof, but it would be a very Innocent Smith thing to do.

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    • noliealcarturiel says:

      There’s usually stories about how stories came to be. Some of them are weirder than others. Then the plot bunnies come along and multiply them.
      I’d love to be able to always write entirely alone, but even with a small family and large house there’s still chores and meals to interrupt things, so I’ve learned. Solitude is still ideal.

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    • noliealcarturiel says:

      Innocent Smith is a character in Chesterton’s Manalive, who climbs trees and sits on roofs and shoots life into people and goes around generally breaking the conventions while keeping the commandments. He’s more alive than most people.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thegermangolux says:

      In Greek mythology, there are nine Muses, the goddesses of art and inspiration. I am gradually filling out my nine Muses, the people and characters I meet who inspire and inform my way of writing and living (insofar as those are two different things.) One is the Golux, and one is Innocent Smith. Innocent Smith, in Chesterton’s Manalive, is just that – a man who is alive. That’s why I name him as my Muse, because I want to live and write as though I am really alive.

      Read Manalive, anyone who sees this comment, as soon as you can. Even if you’ve read it already, read it again.

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      • noliealcarturiel says:

        I’ll second that advice!

        “In the matter of being a flamingo,” Inglewood said severely, “my client reserves his defense.”

        Now you have to read it if only to understand that quote.

        “Man found alive with two legs.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. how can we open the gate if you will keep leaning on it?” Michael Moon looked at his long lean forefinger, and seemed to consider and reconsider this argument. “Yes,” he said at last; “but how can I lean on this gate if you keep on opening it?”

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