In the meantime, since today and tomorrow are my Fall Break, I figured I should put in an appearance in between paragraphs of a response paper on the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
I know some of you are more interested in this college business than others. I also realized the other day that I have never actually said why I'm going to college at all. Those of you who know my sister, Jenny, know that she opted out: my family doesn't put an overwhelming emphasis on college. College is a means to an end. If you have certain goals in mind, it is necessary to jump through the academic hoops; if you have other goals in mind, college is more of a hindrance than a help (and an expensive hindrance, at that!).
For myself, I'd like a good foundation in history and especially in historical research. I don't know at this point whether I will turn that toward nonfiction some day, but whether I do or not, the processes are things I feel I need to learn as I progress with my writing. Of course there are less enjoyable aspects of college to endure, but fortunately I tend toward an academic, nuts-and-bolts sort of mind that can, I think, crank along despite that. It's overwhelming when I stop and think that I've got four years of this, so I try not to think about it. I've got through the first part of the first semester, at any rate!
"I never let my schooling interfere with my education." Unfortunately I've got to say that it has a little: my pleasure reading has dropped off sadly. The last book I finished was The Hounds of the Morrigan, which, although a rather fat fantasy, probably oughtn't to have taken me an entire month (in a perfect world). But oh well: it was a relaxing, fairly mindless read, most remarkable for its original, often highly absurd cast. Any author who can make a troop of earwigs or a family of spiders sound cute should get points, I say.
There has been quite a range of required reading in my classes, and some particularly interesting ones in the history course. Unfortunately the dictates of time and the syllabus make it necessary to move on to the next book before finishing the last one; so, for instance, I've read four-and-a-half chapters out of six in a history of book-making technology, about five chapters in The Ottoman Age of Exploration, and most of The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. The movement is necessary, but does rather give me mental whiplash and makes my reading in general seem fractured. I don't like not finishing books. Even if I don't like the book, I like finishing the book.
For lighter reading, I've been picking out Sherlock Holmes short stories and applying myself with greatest earnestness to Knights of the Sea, an account of the battle between the HMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise (hey! that's my ship!) during the War of 1812. It is interesting, although I wish the author wouldn't define words in the footnotes. I understand some people don't know what, say, "broadside" means, but I do feel a glossary works better; it feels less as though the author is imparting some great knowledge to a less educated audience. But again, it's the "lucky little Enterprise"! I feel a certain pride when I glance through the pages and see all the fights it won, or when I see a portrait and think, "Ah ha! I know you!"
Well, not writing exactly, but literary efforts in general. I have been sending out a few queries here and there for Tempus Regina - even gotten a few rejections, hurrah hurrah. (Also got a rejection on query for The White Sail's Shaking that I submitted five months ago. Um...thanks?) As I was telling someone recently, it is a little bit difficult to convey all the disparate elements in a cohesive, if not necessarily sane, way. So often time-travel is used simply as a ploy, and somehow I have to show that no, wait, I really do know what I'm doing!
At the moment, I am working more on lowering wordcount. It helps to have several different files, each of a separate draft, so that I know whatever I take out is still there: I can, if need be, add it in again. In essence, it allows me to feel that the parts I've cut really are there in the overarching story; they just haven't been revealed to the reader. Like colleges cutting costs (I'm sorry - everything does come back to college in the end, doesn't it?), I'm trying to avoid "sticker shock" by pitching a too-large novel. Somehow agents don't seem impressed when I protest that for goodness sake, it's not as if it's War and Peace!
I want you all to know that I got that word right on only the second try. That's pretty good for me. I think to my dying day I will be unable to spell it properly the first time. That and "mischievous" (took me about three tries).
Fall is just about here, I think. We're planning on apple-picking today, which is one sure sign; and I got a pumpkin latte from Starbuck's last week, and that's another. Even on the warmer days, I break out the long sleeves in a kind of defiant protest. I will enjoy autumn weather, confound it, even if the autumn weather isn't here to enjoy!
My family and I are working slowly toward getting our passports together for a trip to Glasgow over Thanksgiving next month. Two out of three have arrived, and we are hopeful that, Lord willing, come late-November we'll be standing on Scottish soil and preparing to do some trekking (via car and train: my father raised his eyebrows in true Mr. Bennet fashion at the suggestion of cycling). I am absolutely terrified of the idea of flying, but am very excited at the idea of getting over to Scotland and maybe getting to scoot all the way down to York. Perhaps see Bosworth Field. Good nerdy stuff like that.