What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly hop/meme with four simple headings. Anyone can write a post and add the link to Jaime’s blog.
What I’m Writing
I’m past the 567,000-word mark in my WIP, Chapter 73, “Inga in America,” August 1942. Inga is the previously unknown daughter of Lyuba’s cousin Ginny, conceived when Ginny’s sweetheart Georgiya came to America for Lyuba and Ivan’s wedding in September 1923. She’s met Yuriy, her future husband, and Ginny and his parents. Yuriy comes to her rescue after she trips and skins her knee very badly.
I remember Yuriy when he was a baby and sweet little boy; it’s strange to now write him as a 23-year-old man. To his credit, he tells his grandmother (who runs a boarding house in the heavily Russian neighbourhood of Hamilton Heights) that Inga is too young for him at barely 18. They’ll be penpals while he’s deployed as a medic with the Canadian Army, but he won’t tell her how he really feels for about five more years. Yuriy has also long felt that girls don’t like redhaired men.
I loved researching Chapter 72, “Shelter in Shanghai,” almost as much as I enjoyed writing it. Now I want to visit Vladivostok and the former French Concession for firsthand research for the second draft! Given my interest in the macabre, depressing side of history, I included an elderly maid with bound feet, Qing-Shui, as a minor character. She shows Inga her grotesque trotters and lets her take five pairs of her lotus shoes to America with her, to remember her by. Seriously, once you’ve seen pictures of lotus feet and read about the footbinding process, you’ll be forever grateful for your normal-sized feet and not having been born a Han Chinese woman in the premodern era!
What I’m Reading
I mostly spent the last week doing research for the most recent chapters of my WIP.
What Inspires Me
I recently discovered and subscribed to a YouTube channel of a person who keeps mice, with a lot of really cute videos. I think mice are really cute and sweet, though I don’t know if I’d be emotionally strong enough to raise them, since they have such short lives and I’d get so attached. One of the characters in my hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees (second in my queue) is a little fancy mouse named Nessa. She’s going to have babies later on, and in the book following the characters who settle in America, one of the couples will start a mousery and rabbitry.
I’ve always felt animals have souls and feel emotions, having been created in the image of God just as much as humans, but these particular videos make that so clear. Even the smallest creatures can feel love and empathy. Obviously some animals, like snakes, won’t have as much emotional capacity or brainpower as mammals or marsupials, but they still have souls and feel basic emotions.
I also love the videos showing the mouser (sorry, not sure if it’s a man or a woman) hand-raising pinkies, babies without hair. Some of the pinkies came from the pet store and were saved from becoming snake food. It must be so humbling to hold a squirming pinky in your hand and realise you’re holding a tiny life in your hands, whose very survival depends upon you. As much as I love snakes, I love mice, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs more, so I couldn’t own a snake (as well as being too squeamish to keep dead bodies in the freezer and then see and handle them when it’s feeding time).
What Else I’m Up To
I’ve been studying the GRE math with my dad, and still keeping to my renewed habit of daily journaling. I was out of the habit for a few years, and kept lapsing after short periods of being back in the groove. During the nightmare with my special snowflake, woo-crazy ex-roommate in the fall, I turned to the journal again and haven’t stopped.
I finally gave her a name, Khanada (Ka-NAY-da). From my third journal on, I’ve always named my journals for songs. I just felt really drawn to that name in the end, far more than other names on my list, like Suzanne, Magnolia, Mary, and Marlene. For anyone who cares, “Khanada” was the B-side of “Careless Memories” and released in 1981.