January 12th, 2016

(no subject)

I'm in thinking mode because my tomorrow's task (besides enduring the ever-increasing heat) is to write another article on Nevil Shute. I've worked out my general approach, but I need time to think it through. When I write it, I will write it very quickly and it will be with the editor early tomorrow evening, but I need to have cogitated first.

So far I've cogitated while watching The Space Children (it turns out that Paramount allows non-Americans to see some of their youtube channel, and The Space Children was precisely what I needed to help me think about Shute), while eating frozen honeycake (I found some yesterday and I found some more today - I think my freezer has hidey-holes), while sorting some administrative tasks, while avoiding doing housework, while doing (very mild) exercise, while complaining about the heat and while creeping ever-closer to endgame with my mammoth reading-for-research.

If I read one 17th century book a day for the rest of the month... I'll finish early. Fifty of the books I was supposed to be reading turned out to be essential for a later stage, so I created a folder for them, noted what they were and why I did this, and moved on. This took two days because I had to read a swag to work this out - if I had cut corners I would have ended up with a 17th century sex manual in the folder, when really, I wanted the book about manners... and the titles didn't tell me which was which. All the rest of the time was thinking and sorting and thinking some more.

My biggest thoughts for yesterday and the day before were about witchcraft. A whole bunch of the most famous books on witchcraft for the period were really interesting to read, but not central to my needs. There are so many ways of seeing magic in the 17th century. Formal witch trials sometimes used one type of seeing and sometimes another and sometimes mixed them. I know now which I need and which I totally don't need. I don't need anything that reeks of James I (who was not a nice man) nor of Kramer and Sprenger (who were just as not nice, but in a different way). This is not a book about how frameworks for persecution were established by monks and other men of power. This is a book about women.

Spending two days looking at the whole question of formal magic and about 17th century intellectual frameworks for judging magic use made a great difference to the underlying shape of the world for the novel. It also helps me understand the folklore of the places I'll be using.

Having sorted all that and suddenly finding I'd made massive strides in other areas and my list of primary sources to check before I move to a broader view and to plotting and planning was rather nice, if surprising. I then spent today examining frost fairs. I might extend my novel or do an epilogue or something, for a frost fair is something I've yearned after and I may never experience one... but my characters can. One of the best and biggest frost fairs of London in recorded history was the year after my novel is set. And it could be handy. It could be very handy. Although thinking about frost fairs when it was just under 37 degrees outside was - while Gillianish - not very wise.

What this all means is that I don't return to the 17th century until Friday. I have an article to write and an article to edit (an academic one, so it needs time and focus and possibly much frustration). From Friday I will be checking proofs and finishing an index. This is work of such a focused kind that I have trouble spending more than a few hours a day at it, which is why I get to return to the 17th century.

And I just realised. Because I've been talking about my work here and elsewhere, I have had very few people ask "Did you like your holiday?" I'm having a perfectly frabjous January (except when it gets too hot) but it has much work and really oughtn't be considered a holiday. This is the first time in years I haven't had to defend this!

In other news, I'm watching Supergirl and Jessica Jones with a friend. They're a really interesting combination. Alas, we finish with Jessica Jones on Thursday. I'll be very glad to have seen it, however. Like Fury Road, it addresses some of the issues I have with recent television and movies.