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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Friday, April 22, 2005


This morning: a few notes from Roman Lives, but then I fetched The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius from the shelf and started reading, highlighting, and keying from the chapter on Julius Caesar. Excellent: Suetonius seems pithier, better informed, more trenchant than Plutarch. The translation by Robert Graves also makes it good reading.

Kimmie's mood swung back from depressed to elated sometime yesterday. By the evening she was very "up"--and aware of it.

"I don't want to be this high," she said.

I thought that even though she was cheerful and energetic, she was not abnormally so. She seemed maybe just on the too-bright side of cheerful.

What must it be like to undergo such mood swings without the aid of drugs? Kimmie hates it. It's not a picnic for bystanders either. But things are much easier, more relaxed, more communicative and fun in those up periods. She was cheerfully thinking about how to get a pedicure after work as she bustled off into the morning sun.

On to the writing day. It felt short and not too profitable. I read through yesterday's entry, then keyed a dateline at the bottom of the "15 - Notes" document and started typing whatever came into my head:

The day after the fire there would have been a lot of troop activity, army control of the city and its movement. But there would also be anger and protests by the Jews over the looting and killing at the Emporium. Maybe even a would-be riot, which soldiers had to control.

Chapter 15 is not immediately succeeding action from 14, so I have to think of the intervening events. It's a heavy feeling sometimes: the feeling of starting all over. Almost as though there is no accumulated benefit from all the work done so far. So much new stuff needs to be thought of, all the time. A single chapter starts to feel like a big deal--something hard to start and hard to finish.

I didn't make it very far before my attention wandered away.


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