Saturday, October 4, 2008

writing highs and lows

I've been a bit under the weather the last couple of days. Partly that's a result of the actual weather, i.e. rain rain rain (moaning and rending of clothes--it really is the end of summer). Partly it's because of what I've been writing.

The seventh century was a brutal time, and this week I've been writing about war. To do that I had to Really Go There. And it's vile. Just ugly. (A note of reassurance for potential readers: what I took three days writing will probably only take six minutes to read, so don't worry about being overwhelmed by the chapter.)

I really hesitated about writing this stuff--but the whole of seventh century politics was built upon it. To show what it meant to live in those times meant I couldn't find a way around it; I had to take my characters through it. I pondered spinning a lovely mist-drenched fantasy with a few gleaming edges, a splash of crimson, and heroic trumpet notes but decided against it. While I loved watching 300 and reading Lord of the Rings that's not what war is. War with axes and swords and spears means brains hanging out, soldiers pissing in dead men's mouths, and hogs rooting in the bellies of the screaming wounded--and nobody cares, because no one can afford to care.

It makes the real world feel pretty grim when I'm spending so much time in the mud.

But it makes for tonal variety in fiction. Novels, like life, should be full of highs and lows. And next week I'll be happy as a lark. Next week I'll be writing about the wonder of hearing plainchant (sort of) for the first time; I'll write of the delight of seeing a long-lost friend; of the deliciousness of gold. And soon, oh very soon, Hild will be old enough to think about sex. Woo-hoo!

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