What I’m Reading
I’m thinking I might want to reread Donald and Rosemary Crawford’s Michael and Natasha: The Life and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov Tsars. I read it a long time ago, when it was fairly new. Seeing as Grand Duke Mikhail is in my WIP, as the Regent, it might be a good idea to get personally reacquainted with him.
In real life, Grand Duke Mikhail and his secretary Brian Johnson were murdered by Bolsheviks in June 1918 in Perm. Their remains have never been found. While Mikhail was never coronated or officially accepted as Tsar, he did hold that position for one day before abdicating, and it’s just nice to think of the Romanov Dynasty as beginning and ending with a Mikhail.
What I’m Writing
I’m past the 35,000-word mark on my NaNo project, and really hoping I can finish on time in spite of a lingering bug. I’ve been writing out of order, going back and forth between chapters and leaving deliberate gaps to go back to. The 1996 and 2001 original versions have almost nothing to do with what I’m creating at this point. Only the inspiration and a few general ideas remain.
Going back and forth between widely separated sections of the story is helping me get to know my Alyosha as the character I’m creating him as, the person I’d like to think he would’ve developed into anyway had he lived. It’s already established he was very compassionate and sensitive to those who’d suffered, after all the suffering he’d gone through, but I want to translate that into who he becomes as an adult. He’s forced to cultivate more of a quiet, interior life to live as long as possible, and as he watches other people matter-of-factly leading normal, active lives, he feels like the eternal outsider looking in, someone drawn to other underdogs.
Here’s another beautiful picture of my hero, from 1911:
What Works for Me
Use the setting, geographical and/or historical/contemporary, for a reason. Don’t just write a story set in the 1980s to indulge your own nostalgia or use a Manhattan setting because you think it’s romantic, for example. Make the setting like another character, to the point where we can’t imagine this book set during any other time or place.
You never want to do the Gossip Girl in period clothes thing, where a book set in the past comes across like a fluffy soap opera essentially taking place in the modern era but for some bygone window dressing. I personally think it’s nitpicky to question why a story needs to be set, for example, in 1956 or 1930 and not a more historically interesting year, or the present day. However, once you’ve chosen the setting, make it more than superficial scenery.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
I’ve had some kind of bug since last Sunday, which has taken a lot of my energy many days. Worst of all, it’s mostly manifested as a violent, lingering cough. I’ve gotten very poor sleep, due to the cough and the fact that I can’t lie on my back. To quote the Biblical Patriarch Jakob, “These things always happen to me!”
It’s a wonder I’ve been able to keep up with a decent pace for NaNo while I’ve been inconvenienced. I’ve still managed over 1,000 words each day, sometimes much more than that. It depends on how I’m feeling overall. While I’ve been convalescing, I’ve been watching a lot of old Rap Critic episodes, which are just as funny after multiple views.
Also, my 14-year anniversary for my favouritest album, The Who’s Quadrophenia, was 18 November. Words can never express how very, very much I love this record and how very much it’s meant to me over the years.