Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Woke up feeling bad enough to be tempted to call in sick. Arrived at work feeling like I wanted to leave early.

Instead did a full day. And got in thirty minutes of violin practice. And an hour at the gym. And did a little painting and sanding on the next holocron in the production run.

Also listened to about three hours of articles on history, and took some notes for an upcoming chapter in the fanfic (a possible way to slip in Sir Henry Rawlingson's cliff-face gymnastics copying out the Behistun Inscription, the checkered, impostor-filled career of Darius the Great, and even a bit of Gilgamesh and the antics of George Smith in the reading room of the British Museum).

But there isn't enough time to touch on everything. Difficult enough to just get through eating properly (which involves at least some cooking at home), exercise, house cleaning and other chores (like paying bills and doing taxes), and what was that other thing? Oh, right. Sleep.

I'm having the damnedest time finding enough extra hours to produce the holocrons I've already agreed to sell. And there are still a couple tweaks I want to make to them (more programming, a better antenna arrangement, another re-design of the PCB.)

Which means I really don't want to design or work any shows for a while. Unfortunately I sort of owe people -- they were there for me when I really needed work, so I want to be there for them when they want me back for the next show. But I'm balancing the promises made to one against the promises made to another, and there's nothing left for promises made to me.

Except a little bit of violin practice. And notes and the hope of writing a little more fiction that has an increasing history bias.

Oh, yeah. There's always more to learn. I listened to a programme on the Baltic Crusades, and that gave me new understanding of the role of the Teutonic Knights and what exactly they'd been up to in Poland. Although the battle I used as background in one of my chapters takes place considerably later than the 2nd Crusade. I am tempted to go back to re-read because now I can't even remember if I correctly put Ullrich off his horse or mistakenly fingered Duke Vytasa....I'd need to look that name up, and I'm too tired to do that right now. Interesting stuff, though. I'd have been particularly tempted to name-drop Alexander Nevsky, although that too is a much earlier conflict (aka the Battle on the Ice.)

Oh, and in the last chapter I put up I did a little riff on cuniform and clay and papyrus culminating in notepaper and the indispensable "Sharpie" marker, and just as well I hadn't heard the story that paper made it into Persia (and presumably from there into Europe) via Chinese prisoners taken in the Battle of Talas (when the Abbasids, expanding East, met the Tang Dynasty, expanding West. And the Tangs lost but both sides gave up on that idea.)

It is interesting to ponder, by the by, the huge and pivotal clashes which simply aren't documented. You have the Greeks, for instance, handing down detailed stories about what happened when Xerxes faced their way, but nothing about what he was up to along the thousands of miles of frontier of the rest of his empire. And the Chinese histories have a sometimes maddening parochialism; they'll hand-wave off entire wars with a "Some kind of barbarians were at the frontier, they were defeated." Puts you in mind the saying about Herodotus; you suspect every word he writes, but boy do you miss him when 425 BCE rolls around.

For a long time there I was willing to steal from history to add color to a fantasy world. I thought writing fiction set in actual historical periods was too hard. Well, I still think it is too hard. Nigh-impossible to do right, in fact. But for whatever reason (more examples in my reading list perhaps?) now I'm willing to do it anyhow.

I'm getting so much wrong, but damned if it isn't fun to play at anyhow.

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