December was an unusually busy month. Decembers often are, what with Advent and Christmas and New Year’s Eve and all, but this one, perhaps because it’s freshest in memory, seems more so.
This month I wrote very little, actually, though I did quite a bit of revising things in Wind Age. Last Monday I wrote the first four hundred words in the retelling of Lily’s story, about which I have mixed feelings. I like to start with the opening scene, so I know what I’m getting into, but I’m also bad at writing opening scenes well the first time through (see what happened with what I thought was the beginning of Wind Age, in my last post, for a good example of just how clueless I can be), so I know I’ll very likely have to go back and rewrite it. It’s a little easier with this particular story, as I already know what the story is and what it’s about, but there’s still plenty of room for things to grow and change before the end.
Excursus: through the whole year I wrote quite a bit, and out of curiosity I tallied it up. Wind Age was responsible for 64,000 words, which was the only thing I both started and finished this year. Other than that I wrote a few snippets of things in Rose-Tinted Arrows, probably not more than two thousand words; 6,800 in the story set just after the Conquest; 7,700 to finish off Lily’s story; 450 to start the retelling; about 3k in a story I started and haven’t yet finished, although I’d like to go back to it eventually; and then bits and pieces, probably 5k total, scattered through various documents (I should organize them. . .) in the Wedding Story and a fantasy story I started and didn’t finish. I’m not counting papers, because those don’t really count as anything except school (though I have got to say some of the papers I did this year were pretty fun as papers go). Which makes for total words written this year, rounded up slightly because I was using round numbers to make things easy, about 88,950. Which isn’t that much compared to some people I know, but I only did NaNo once, in July, and that for 30,000 words, instead of doing a double NaNo in November like some people, doing deeds of great worship that all wonder to see you (to paraphrase Le Morte D’Arthur) ;). You know who you are.
A bit over a week ago, my family raided the library, and came home with half a dozen books, some of which were actually good. The Edge on the Sword, one of them, is about AEthelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, so of course I wanted to read it. It turned out to be good, too. Earlier this month, at a friend’s recommendation, I read The King’s Shadow, set at the end of the Anglo-Saxon era, and liked it too. Then this week, when we were on our nine-hour trip to visit relatives, I started Le Morte D’Arthur for the first time. I’m about halfway through the tenth book (our of twenty-one) and enjoying it, even with the condensed style of telling, not to mention the complete lack of quotation marks sometimes making it difficult to tell who’s talking. Once in a while it does get a little repetitive, especially in the tenth book, which is supposedly about Sir Tristram, but spends most of its chapters wandering around following the adventures of seemingly unrelated people, knights meeting each other and fighting and finding out that they’re related so maybe they shouldn’t hate each other. Also Cyrano de Bergerac, which I’ve read lots of times before, but is really good. Cyrano is a writer, and says lots of good things about being a writer.
For Christmas I got a drop spindle and two balls of roving, and while in Illinois I practiced spinning. I learned to spin quite a while ago and gave up, but lately I’ve wanted to try again. This time I figured out how to split the roving in a way that keeps it from breaking before it even gets onto the spindle, and how to make yarn that’s kind of even. However, I found out I wasn’t spinning it tightly enough to keep it from breaking when I tried to ply it. I’m hoping to work on that and get the yarn to the point where I can ply it and then do something with it. I’m also wondering about embroidering the sleeves of my blue cyrtel, but so far it’s just wondering.
I discovered halfway through the month that I had a coupon that expires today, for a nine-dollar copy of Wind Age, for having won Camp NaNo in July. So for the last two weeks my sister and I have been frantically formatting documents and putting together a cover and finding that the cover isn’t right and redoing it with the deadline getting closer and closer. My sister’s done more than I have, because she’s in charge of the cover, with which we’ve had the most trouble. Also, the price of shipping for one book is more than the book itself. However, so far BookBaby is proving much nicer to work with than FastPencil (called in our house SlowBrokenPencil), and telling us about problems before they print the book, rather than letting us find out when, with mounting anticipation, we open the long-awaited box only to find that the cover looks awful. I’ll reserve final judgement until the book, whose order seems to have gone through at long last, is delivered.
And we went to Illinois, as I said, and there my sister and I had to share a bed for three nights. So she asked for a bedtime story each night (I began to feel like Scheherazade). The first night she told me to tell her one about an egg, and I gave her one about a hardboiled egg who hated romance. The second night’s story was more of an ad for Pillsbury canned food than anything. The third night she said she wanted a story about a rabbit and a cookie, and the only thing that was coming to mind was someone holding one in each hand and absentmindedly eating the rabbit and snuggling the cookie, which is not the best bedtime story, so she never got one that night. If I were Scheherazade, you wouldn’t be hearing from me.
But most of all, Christmas Day this year was on a Sunday, which is splendid; but it meant that Pastor decided that to have a Christmas Eve service on Christmas Eve would make a late night for everyone right before a really long day. Also, a third of the adult choir would be gone that night, which would make things even harder than they should be for those of us remaining. Our Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols was on the Thursday before Christmas Eve, and it went off really well — we actually had some visitors, and the adult choir had no major failures, and even the children’s choir wasn’t as awful as children’s choirs often are. But none of the pieces got recorded, so our lovely singing is lost to posterity. The title of Nine Lessons and Carols is a little misleading, because though we had the traditional nine lessons, we had at least eleven carols. My sister was in both choirs this year, singing and playing her violin — I was lucky and was only in four or five pieces. Christmas Day we had a slightly longer morning service than usual and no meal or afternoon service. My family had no guests, so it was more relaxing than anything that afternoon. Then this week we were visiting my father’s family in Illinois, and have no especial plans for New Year’s.
That turned out to be quite long. Hopefully it wasn’t too boring.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!