I’m up to over 38,000 words on my third Russian novel and just starting Chapter 7, after only about 20 days of work. It’s now hard to imagine how I ever wrote for so many years on my parents’ various computers, having to wait my turn to use them and having to leave their room after a certain time. Writing on a computer goes so much faster when you’ve got your own.
Since I’m now writing a couple of chapters covering the journey of Lyuba’s stepcousin Nadezhda from Siberia into America, I went back to the first book to check a few things for her interview with the immigration official in San Francisco. (I also successfully figured out when her birth month would be.) It was pretty embarrassing to see two different versions given of when and how her uncle (Lyuba’s stepfather) was taken away in 1918.
The first version, given by her boyfriend Pavel, has her being woken up by noises and seeing her uncle being led away in early 1918. Then Nadezhda says, a few chapters later, that this happened when she’d been staying with him for a bit over a year, and that when she tried to see what the Bolsheviks were doing to her belovèd uncle, he pushed her into a closet to hide her. Those are two rather differing versions of the same event!
And if this was early 1918, she couldn’t have been staying with him for over a year. She escaped from the butchers who murdered her parents in May of 1917 and found her way to a peasant woman who took her in while she recovered. Nadezdha says she joined her uncle that summer.
I’d earlier found another embarrassing error of this sort. In Chapter 7, little Nikolay somehow manages to be two places at once in the same scene. At least I can blame this on that chapter having parts written at different times. He can’t both be downstairs eating ribbon candy with the older kids and upstairs getting sick and vomiting!
And while looking up information about the buttonhook test for trachoma, and seeing if it still might’ve been used in 1933, and outside of Ellis Island, I came across a bunch of new information about Ellis Island. I’d never come across these facts while doing my research for Chapter 22, the chapter that opens Part II of the first book. So I had to add it in, and take out some other things that didn’t work. Like, Ivan is a bit too honest in his interview, like he wants to give them a reason not to admit him to the country.
I also didn’t know immigrants got mental tests after their physical tests. They had to assemble puzzles and draw geometric figures to prove they were mentally sound. And apparently single women weren’t allowed to leave the Island alone, and unmarried couples couldn’t leave together. So Lyuba and her single friends all claim Mr. Lebedev (her future stepfather) as their uncle. And now it’s been written in that Lyuba and Ivan are lying to their tenement landlord about being married.
Little did I know I’d end up with a guy with similar issues about getting married when I wanted it. At least I was using Ivan’s insistence on saving up enough money for a fancy cathedral wedding as a plot device! And at least Ivan is a good kisser (hell, knows how to do it period) and doesn’t think closed-mouth five-second kisses are passionate and romantic.