Posted in Writing

IWSG—October odds and sods

If you’re observing Yom Kippur, may you have an easy and meaningful fast!


It’s time again for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, which meets the first Wednesday of every month to commiserate over worries, fears, doubts, and struggles.

This month’s question is:

What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

I love the rich worldbuilding of historical fiction, and all the little details helping to bring a time and place alive (clothing, food, architecture, interior design, social mores, language, transportation, car models, schools, medicine, technology, music, you name it). Good historical writers spend a lot of time researching, and often enjoy the process at least as much as the actual  writing.

The trend towards hist-fic lite, or Gossip Girl in period clothes, annoys me so much. You need to give your head a shake if you truly believe insisting on historical accuracy is gatekeeping and censorship. More like a basic key feature of the genre!

As always, much of my October writing will consist of my blog posts about classic horror films with landmark anniversaries this year. Much to my great disappointment and annoyance, the Monster template I used every year since I believe 2012 was quietly retired in late 2021, and there’s no more way for WordPress users to access our own previously-used retired themes. Since I’m only a user, not a dot org user, I also can’t install a premium Halloween theme.

At least I still have my old October header, and perhaps WordPress will introduce a new Halloween template in future.

My original plans for NaNo were to finally finish Dream Deferred and write the new chapters and scenes. However, I came to feel the writing would be a lot slower because it’s out of order and combined with moving things around.

I believe my disappointing (but never failing) performance on some prior NaNos and Camp months was partly a result of working on a rewrite instead of starting fresh or adding to a first draft already in progress. That constrains my speed.

I thought about resuming my alternative history about Dante and Beatrice, which I’m very eager to get back to, but vetoed that as well. NaNo proved to be an inopportune time to work on such a research-heavy book. There’s nothing wrong with writing slower and more carefully, but that’s just not conducive to NaNo success.

Instead, I’ll be starting my radical rewrite of Almost As an Afterthought: The First Six Months of 1941 (which doesn’t have a new title yet). It’ll be almost a complete gut renovation, with very little original material retained from the 11,000-word first draft which I wrote in fifteen days in August 1997. With any luck, I’ll finally regain my normal daily wordcounts of several thousand.

It dawned on me a few months ago that I never shared the print cover for the book formerly known as The Very Next, now called Movements in the Symphony of 1939. Since I took such a long break from proofing the final version, it kind of slipped my mind. And now I’m leaning very strongly towards new editions of How Kätchen Became Sparky and Movements in the Symphony of 1939.

To my great embarrassment, I discovered the Dante quote featured several times in each is a 20th century fake. The short paragraph I included in the front matter for Movements no longer seems like enough. Why would Cinni’s father, who’s such a passionate Dantephile, be fooled by a fake quote that rather contradicts Dante’s own vision? It’s sticking in my craw more and more.

But before I do some tweaks for these new editions, I need to find a real quote with a comparable message.

Do you plan to do NaNo? Ever discovered there was an error in a book you had to correct in a new edition?


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

3 thoughts on “IWSG—October odds and sods

  1. Historical fiction is among my favorite genres in fiction, but my preference in reading is actual history, biography, and memoir. Your reasons are not unlike mine listed for my own preference of the time travel genre.

    As always, you have an ambitious line-up in your days ahead. I wish you well with NANO.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What? There’s an ante-Inferno?

    [a place where they have to wait – like an anteroom – is that a translator’s doing?]

    That is even more Hellish than actual Hell. Would the decades or the hundreds of years temper their pain?

    Cinni’s Dad would not be best pleased about the neutrality quote.

    I liked the way that you had him admit that he was wrong, and it does suit their relationship well.

    Back in August 1997 there were many quote sites; but not many misquote sites. And the intellectual standard of the quotes there was not a great way for an intellectual researcher.

    [An example of a “Misquote Site” would be the Buddha site – which looks at Things Buddha Really Did Not Say and Would Not Have Said].

    And even the casual quoter had reason to suspect she was not getting what she paid for.

    The October question did involve reflection on different genres we have read and written in and even the ones we prefer:

    I like narrative/creative nonfiction because of the way you structure your facts and make a thesis and build a relationship with a reader.

    I enjoy travel fiction and non-fiction because of going places. Best characteristics would include immersive style; information about accommodation and food; the sense of difference and similarity.

    I love humour and satire because it gives me insight into another’s mind and what they find funny and the corrective/change aspect. The best aspects of satire [eg: Defoe and Swift] are the authorial identifications; the characters and their ways. Satire is also getting more and more feminist and more into the insides of marginalised people.

    I like genres where you can blend fiction and nonfiction and use the techniques unique to each.

    School stories and educational narratives – the best features include: again – camaraderie and alliance; the touches of nature and humanity; the broad interpretations of morality and didacticism; instruction and instructive ways; exemplars [like in Kazimierz Dabrowski’s THEORY OF POSITIVE DISINTEGRATION].

    I will also talk about sports writing [and not only in books: TV and radio do this well – especially this is where I learnt about the power of colour journalism and the importance of news journalism]. Sports writing is one of the genres I engaged in early and was rewarded for. It allows you to make predictions; share with a wide audience; give contentious subjects a hearing; makes you aware and alive to consequence. And it gives you a perspective on the wild and wide world. It makes orientation; complication; resolution very clear. The HERO JOURNEY is very big.

    Sports writing taught me to appreciate all kinds of sporting endeavour and achievement and commitment. Voluntarism is one of the core values; the other is participation.

    Especially Kieren Perkins and the National Press Club. He is now Chair of the Australian Sports Commission – Sports Australia.

    And then there is writing about science and art and theatre – practitioner-style work and spectator-style work. Those have their appeals.

    If I were a young person today I would answer the question on the forms that I knew – poetry; short story; all the writing we do on the Internet.

    And being held to this for five years; ten years; twenty-five years; and indeed “writing for all time”.

    At least NaNoWriMo is four weeks [excluding Camps and other commitments].


    It will be very interesting to see what you turn the 11,000 words of 25 and more years ago [11 days! That would have been at least a 1000 words working at even speed] into 2022-23 work.

    That DARKEST and HOTTEST thing.

    Darkest: Dante?
    Hottest: Fake earlier quote.

    [and this comes into the GOSSIP GIRL school/trend of historical fiction].

    Best wishes, again, in finding a powerful quote that Dante actually said and which chimes in with his whole work and his life – and the things that he evolved to learn and value and fight!

    [or if not from Dante – maybe from one of his contemporaries and the interactions between them?]


    Do you plan to do NaNo? Ever discovered there was an error in a book you had to correct in a new edition?

    No – but there are memoir-like or memoiroid texts which are evolving and cooking.

    Books are not like the Internet at all. I tended to be most error-prone in writing posts on message boards; especially under pressures of time and strain. Thus I found the Edit and Delete buttons very helpful. And of course spelling; grammar; punctuation errors – my texts can be punctiliously clean or they can be very slapdash – there was less of that Middle Way – that I would find 15 years later. [eg: 2004 v 2019 – 2004 was a particularly bad year for this type of error – I COULD take TIME in my HANDWRITTEN copies; and in an examination-type or seminar-type situation this may or may not have been helpful with the usual cognitive and physical load involved].

    [then you think about academic and quasi-academic writing and the whole Free and Open Source world].

    I used to dream that books would be like Wikipedia or like the Wiki/hypertext/hypermedia world – and I dreamed that especially hard in the late 2000s and early 2010s when I got back into the writing business [and, yes, with several NaNoWriMo efforts].

    Here in 2022 this weekend in October there are Conferences and Congresses – one in Emory University, Atlanta; the other in Kraków – I knew about the Kraków one for just under three years – but I only knew about the Emory one for less than two. And I am checking out a really great site called Humantix – tickets for humanitarian events.

    Time and Date are really helpful as a website – especially the Meeting Planner – if you wish to schedule Word Wars with other regions and do other cool NaNoWriMo things.

    And I find during my 28th writerversary there is a Hanging Rock festival called FIRST AND FOREVER.

    Most of my corrections from 1996 to 2000/2001/2002 are fairly “silent”. I had tried in late 1995 and in early 1996 not to make “bold claims” so the style is very constrained and it does not have “flair” [and I do not mean only the Reddit identities that you may make]. This lack of “bold claim” can help when writing about the reasonably immediate past or the foreseeable future [five years either end]. It tends to be less authentic in a first-person narrative and can make the character seem too omniscient and not imaginative / flexible enough.

    Always happy to be corrected – by a fan or a judicious redactor.

    IF the correction is immediate and ACTIONABLE. My stories are not dominoes or houses of cards.

    Otherwise – no conditions or riders in that aspect.

    And then the whole “I cannot know what I did not know” aspect – the late Rumsfeld and his mates when they talked about “known knowns” and “unknown unknowns” and “known unknowns” and “unknown knows” which I see as a Mendelian punnet square.

    That may remind me of an error – talking about Albright as a stateswoman BEFORE she was actual Secretary of State – and then using her in an appalling metaphor.

    May your vetting not be as extreme as what another Secretary of State would have had to do if she were promoted to POTUS – and be focused on sources rather than source-makers and taste-makers!

    Liked by 1 person

Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s