RSW Seventh Update


Ready. Set. Write! is a summer-long initiative hosted by Alison MillerKaty UppermanElodie NowodazkijJaime Morrow, and Erin Funk. Each week, participants post brief updates under five headings.

  • How I did on last week’s goal(s)

To get my word count flowing thicker and faster to meet my Camp NaNo goal of 50K, I had to go back to writing out of order. I started the week below par, since I lose pretty much all of Saturday for writing this time of year, when the days are so long and Shabbos doesn’t end till really late.

I wrote 16,000 words, including the backbone of my future note on the House Laws, as part of the document Aleksey writes to liberally revise the House Laws.

  • My goal(s) for this week

Finish the 50K goal I set for Camp NaNo! As of now, the sections of this book which need the most filling-out are Part II (about halfway done) and Part IV (only a few chapters partly-written). I also need to fill in a few spots in the short Epilogue, which is based on Deuteronomy 34, the final chapter of the Torah. Every year at Simchat Torah, that finale gives me goosebumps. Longtime regular readers might remember I based the ending of Cinnimin on Deuteronomy 34.

  • A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

“I wouldn’t make you walk that distance if I didn’t think you could do it.  We never really understand what we’re capable of till we’re right there in the moment.  The bounds of a human being are something we can never really comprehend, no matter how much we’re astounded by them.”

(This is based off a line from the late great Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, “The bounds of a human being! No matter how you are astounded by them, you can never comprehend….”)

  • The biggest challenge I faced this week

Surprisingly, I had another moment of doubt in having created Arkadiya, the morganatic princess who becomes Tsaritsa and the much-improved replacement for the ridiculous, unrealistic, completely undeveloped commoner Varya. It really does seem as though Princess Ileana of Romania would’ve been the ideal empress-consort for Aleksey, since not only was she already Orthodox, but she was a woman of great strength and compassion. (Princess Ingrid of Sweden, later Queen of Denmark, would’ve been another excellent match.)

I have to remind myself of why I avoided this match. They were second-cousins twice over (sharing both Tsar Aleksandr II and Queen Victoria as great-grandparents), and this what-if match is so popular, it’s kind of cliché and too expected. I think some of it stems from how he told her he’d come back and marry her someday, as though a 9-year-old’s childish promise should’ve been taken seriously.


Aleksey, Ileana, and Prince Nicolae of Romania (from right to left) on the Shtandart yacht in 1914, one of the few pictures where Aleksey is smiling enough to show the gap between his front teeth. He was clearly enjoying the female attention!

I also had a challenge on my secondary blog, and finally decided I had to blacklist the IP and URL of someone who persistently only commented to make negative, rude remarks. Everything was either “That’s not what this name really means” (she doesn’t trust the venerable Behind the Name, and thinks Mike C. doesn’t cite his sources) or “You do realize [opinion] is ridiculous, don’t you?” I just couldn’t take it anymore after the latest rude remark which brushed off the entire post I’d taken the time and effort to intelligently, respectfully create, about my distaste with “translating” proper names. There’s constructive criticism and politely disagreeing, and then there’s just being blunt, rude, and never positive.

  • Something I love about my WIP

I love a good dark horse hero, and the chance to make a hero out of an underdog with so much going against him. I love how the eventual leading lady also is an atypical hero. An unlikely Tsar needs an unlikely Tsaritsa.


9 thoughts on “RSW Seventh Update

  1. Honestly, I find writing out of order is the only way to keep the words flowing. If I try to write in order, I bump up against a scene that I’m not necessarily in the mood for right now, and it means I just stop writing. Out of order all the way. Hope this is another productive week!


  2. I’m a big advocate of ‘out of order’ save that it can lead to issues like the one I’m dealing with now…. trying to write all those scenes I put off before.

    Telling a person who that their opinion is ridiculous is pretty rude. What caused such vitriol?


    • This is the first book I’ve written out of order, save how I wrote (most of) the final section of Cinnimin way ahead of time. I didn’t want to dread her death and afterlife scenes the closer I got, so I got them out of the way early. That final section is one of the few computer-generated bits of my handwritten magnum opus.

      It’s really odd how that person only ever commented on my names blog to disagree with me about the meaning of a name or challenge my opinions. For example, she thought it was ridiculous how I pointed out a number of the stories in The Canterbury Tales are plagiarized from The Decameron, how I said Christmas is a ridiculous name, how I said there was less of a nickname culture prior to the 20th century, and how I took issue with how Wikipedia “translates” so many personal names, even if they were never called by English names in their life. At least Wikis in other languages have the excuse of not having certain sounds or letters, like calling someone named Victoria Wiktoria, Viktorija, or Vittoria. She always missed the greater point of my posts to harp on little details, like how Christmas was a fairly common name in the Middle Ages, and what did I think of the name Tiffany deriving from Theophania?


      • My guess (and I firmly admit this is a guess) is for both the Decameron and the Canterbury Tales is that the stories were tales that had been passed along in oral history for a time and that many people knew. It is possible (unlikely, but possible) that both Boccaccio and Chaucer came up with the ideas for their tales independently or that one copied the other. It’s also possible that one was wholly meant as a translation of the other, and that the popularity of the Canterbury Tales comes form its ability to reach a larger audience.

        As for names… that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open right now. I think to suggest that nicknaming is a new thing is akin to suggesting that human nature has changed rapidly in the past 150 years. I think we’ve always had a penchant for nicknames and petnames, etc., but that we didn’t always have a means to record them or the incentive. I mean, yes, printing presses have existed for some time, and paper of various kinds have been around for eons, but… we’ve only recently achieved a global culture of majority literacy. And often the ability to read seems to have come to cultures well before the ability to write so…

        All I know is that there are Roman letters from the Vindolanda site near Hadrian’s Wall that suggest the Roman occupying force was quite fond of petnames and nicknames for their loved ones well over a millennia ago. It doesn’t mean that this is a global trend or a failed interpretation of the letters.

        I’m really a ‘fence’ person. I freely admit that I only know a bit about the subject matter in question. But I also don’t think it’s worth quibbling over unless we both are enjoying the discovery of new information.


  3. That photo – I can feel the joy in it! It’s lovely (and, since I’m a former gapper, with two still-gapped offspring, that grin feels familiar),

    May your fingers tap like gazelles, all week long, excepting Shabbos…and may all your future commenters adhere to the directive up above this box and share respectfully!


  4. I love a good underdog hero, too! And that line you chose is so great. Humans really are so resilient and capable–far more than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. Good luck hitting 50K this week! 🙂


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