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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Into the mind of the novelist...

Sunday morning after a night of wind and driving rain, chimes tingling wildly over the sound of shuddering leaves and clacking blinds. Kim had to get up in the night to shut the window in order to sleep. For me, earplugs are the solution to the ever-louder commotion of the suburban night.

I rose at 7:12 and made the coffee. Kim got up to do a short period of meditation as recommended by Ellen, her counsellor. I brought my dark-blue meditation cushion and floor-mat up to the bedroom on Friday night after her first counselling session, and reviewed the meditation technique with her yesterday.

Down here in my office I continued keying my research notes, first from chapter 7 of The Message of the Sphinx by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval. My method is to highlight text when I read the book, essentially creating a condensed version. How much I condense the book depends on how relevant and useful I find it. I open a Word document for the book, and simply type all the text that I've highlighted. I spend coffee-time in the mornings retyping books.

When I've typed a section or chapter, I copy parts of it to a folder I call Encyclopedia: a set of Word files arranged by subject. This morning, I took only 4 sentences from chapter 7, and they all went into a Word file called "Great Pyramid". If I have material from other books relating to the Great Pyramid, that too will go into this subject file.

Next: I opened a Word document created from a downloaded version of an 1885 book by the Italian archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani called Ancient Rome in the Light of Recent Discoveries. This book I'm reading on my PC, and highlighting it using the highlight function in Word. When I've finished a chapter, I delete all the nonhighlighted text and then copy and paste the remaining text to appropriate files in my Encyclopedia folder. This morning I finished the chapter on the libraries of ancient Rome. I copied the whole chapter to a new Word document called "Rome - Libraries". I love Lanciani: the passion, intelligence, and unique insights into the world of ancient Rome from the viewpoint of a Roman.

My second mug of coffee not yet finished, I moved on to a third research book, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ by Emil Schurer, second division, volume 2, published in 1890 and printed again by Hendrickson Publishers in 1994. I bought the whole 5-volume set used for US$100 online from a Christian used-book store in Michigan. I'm delighted with the set. Today: more keying from subsection 27, School and Synagogue. I didn't finish the chapter, so I didn't copy any of the material to subject files yet.

After a walk with Kimmie in the rain this afternoon, I read another chapter of The Message of the Sphinx, highlighting the material I will probably key tomorrow morning. Then, down here to the office to look into this phenomenon of blogging, which I read about in an issue of Foreign Policy that I got in my Christmas stocking. The political scientists enthused about the possibilities of blogs and their growing role in shaping journalism and what events get covered. I looked at a couple of blog sites, and was soon referred to this one. I'm setting this up as a test.

Kimmie just ran down excitedly.

"Quick, Whale!" she said (Whale is one of my nicknames--not because of my size). "Come and look at the rainbow! It's really bright!"

I ran upstairs behind her to the front door. We opened the door to our tiny porch that faces east. Sure enough, a great, brilliant double rainbow arced across the watery dark sky over the townhouses across the boulevard, which glowed in the lemon light of the setting sun. I padded onto the wet concrete walk in my moccasins for a better look. Gorgeous: a revelation.

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