Even in a little thing
I have all sorts of exciting things to report from my weekend in Sydney, and how I ate all my winnings from my two-up game and then stole the penny we used for it. I want to talk about reading lots of Peter S Beagle and the whole of the second season of Eureka. About that lovely sachertorte and about the curious fate of William Bligh's daughter. And about my narrow escape from being beaten up with an umbrella in the interest of historical verisimilitude.
I had - as I said - lots of cute stories. They all fled my mind when I came back this afternoon and found 800 emails to deal with. One of them tells me that an article I wrote has phrases that are impossible to understand and need rewording, and that's what I'm working on now. I have to find new ways of saying things like "She was beside herself" and "Mix flour and almonds."
I think I shall give up on editing for the night. I got through two weeks of serious editing of novel and other articles without even a whimper and I'm stuck on a pop history article that ought to have been a toddle, a breeze, a matter of moments.
What I really want to do is more fiction. There are some aspects of worldbuilding that come very naturally to me. I did exactly the right undergraduate degree or my brain has the precise structure for it, or something. When I was building the second wave of the New Ceres environment and history (the first wave I did for my own fiction - no-one saw me building it except me), Alisa kept commenting how it built itself. It didn't. I had several weeks where my brain did what it's doing right now, where I am extrapolating and putting bits of prior knowledge together and finding the precise new stuff I need and making it work historically, geologically, topographically and in terms of the society and places people live.
It's not easy. It is, however, utter fun. I have visions of glass and metal; of hypocausts and indoor gardens. I have two cultures without parallel technological styles or levels (except for certain minimal stuff due to Empire-building) and they're on the same island and I've made entire sense of it. I can walk parts of one country in my new universe. Maybe more than one country.
I keep thinking I need to design the different housing styles of the city the novel is based in. This has nothing to reflect the non-parallel technologies and everything to do with showing how waves of occupation and changes in trade affect daily lives. I had advice from my cousin-the-mining-engineer on Saturday (he gave the best one sentence description of the geology of Sydney that I have ever heard) and I think I have my lighting and water sources all sorted.
This means that my main character can come home, be tired, and not be able to cook dinner. It also means I know who is crossing the supposedly impassable mountain range and why (and how that range can exist, and where the kero for lamps comes from, and...). And it means I have the basis of the cuisine. My characters don't have to starve to death.
This is very different to the ghost novel. It started in February and March when I found myself telling friends (those who didn't run fast enough) that the way for a remote colony to get through the collapse of an empire is through committees. I was reading Benjamin Franklin, so you can blame him for my new path. Also all the scores of committees I have been on over the years.
Anyhow, there's only one committee in the novel. It's not one of those Large Epic stories. There is, however, a pirate, a spy, two systems of magic and a bunch of stolen history. Somehow, I've written over 20,000 words.
The things one learns about oneself. Not the words I'd use in a self-description.
Actually, I don't know how I'd describe myself. Not tonight. Maybe I'll find accurate words tomorrow.