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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


When I was keying my last post four days ago, I made mention of the pneumonia I got in 1990. Even as I typed, I was starting to feel irritations in my chest, and was coughing as though I'd inhaled dust. As the evening wore on, I coughed more and more; I realized I'd become infected with something somehow.

I started on a program of echinacea and goldenseal in water. It seems that I have held it down to a mild chest-cold, whose symptoms are now mostly gone. So far, it has not gone into my head. I'm taking it easy.

Kimmie reluctantly and grouchily returned to work Monday morning, the alarm-clock again launching us from bed in the dark of 5:30. For my part, I feel ridiculous reporting that I yet again turned back to the notes for my proto-chapter 25, a large Word document that now runs to (shudder) 58 pages. What had I written in there?

I have reviewed the notes before, more than once. Indeed, I have gone through them with Word's yellow highlighter, marking up the "keepers". I read through those.

You know: my notes are good. I surprise myself with the profundities I get involved with. As I've said before, I don't want to tip my hand too much here as to the specifics of my thematic maunderings; that should wait at least until after publication--possibly until after death, or possibly until after the last trumpet-call.

In my case, research means more than background research; it entails what amounts to original research. By this I mean that I assess material from various sources, and develop connections and theories of my own, as a scholar would. This is necessary, among other reasons, because of the disparate types of material I seek to bring together. I need to find what I think is true, even if this means solving paradoxes or finding factual solutions to gaps or inconsistencies in the historical record. It's a gargantuan task.

When I reopened my notes document, I saw that I started keying regular notes in it back in June 2006. There was a gap over the summer, as my mind was straying and I lost momentum, then I picked it up again in the fall. Seeing this one document, one chapter's notes, stretch back over so much time filled me with nausea.

Yes, nausea.

Still, the notes themselves are good; they are sound.

Would I rather have rubbishy half-baked junk published and being read, or carefully crafted gems lying quietly in the dark, never seen? My actions seem to point to the latter.

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  • Everytime I look over my notes, thoughts, and journal scribblings about A Lamentation of Swans, I feel a bit like Mr. Casaubon. d:)

    By Anonymous dayya, at January 12, 2007 10:39 AM  

  • Thanks, Debra--I got a chuckle out of the Casaubon reference. The egghead's egghead. I really like the BBC production of Middlemarch, and have always had a soft spot for Casaubon.

    By Blogger paulv, at January 12, 2007 5:16 PM  

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