Redheaded Neanderlady

Redheaded Neanderlady
This is a photoshopped version of something I found in National Geographic about the time I started researching

Friday, November 16, 2007

The "writing" muscle(metaphorically speaking) Part I

A few days ago, I started an exercise program, mainly because, one morning, so to speak, I woke up "feeling flabby". I hadn't been getting the kind of exercise I should have been. And, for my birthday, I was entered into a local YMCA membership. Which meant I could take all the classes free of charge, and use their "workout" rooms any time I want. I am taking three different classes now, and I will be adding a fourth one the week after Thanksgiving(mostly because it won't be held the day after Thanksgiving, due to "late" opening). Be that as it may, I've learned/noticed a couple of things, after only a few days.

First of all, there are some things that "come easy" to me, even though at the moment, I'm more or less "out of shape" at the moment. I'm fairly flexible, and fairly "enduring". I was able to use a treadmill for a full 30 minutes(which I didn't think I could do), twice, and a bicycle for 20 minutes, and these activities got my heart rate up and "got me going". I also discuvered that in sopme workouts, I could use heavier dumbells and rubber tubes, than I thought I could. And I have a lot more endurance than I thought I had. Which, as the trainer I spoke to said, was a Good Thing, though not in so many words. Other things, like coordination of arms and legs, are somewhat harder, though one class(basically salsa steps and dancing) taught me that it's easier to do some of these things if you're having fun and dancing, rather than just plain exercise. Other things, I just have to "work up" to. I will probably be able to start doing more "strenuous" things in a few months, if not sooner. But I'm going to play it by ear, as they say.

Looking back at the beginning of a "writing career", it's interesting to see the parallels. There was a time, and not all that long ago, that I never thought I'd be actively reading aarchaeological journals, and papers dealilng with medieval subjects. It just never occurred to me that I might be doing this. For that matter, I never even thought I'd be trying to combine historical subjects with "prehistoric" ones, nor did I ever think I might even begin to write anything remotely resembling science fiction! Let alone writing a blog and monitoring an e-mail list. But I'm doing all of these things. And, of course, writing.

My first efforts at writing, resulted in something that tried to be like Terry Brooks' Shannara series, but after two tries at creating something, it just didn't work, although I ended up "mining" some "backstory" for what was supposed to be a "prequel" but turned out to be an independed story, set in the near future, in a former Western Washington timber town, whose existence is not unlike some former Western Washington timber towns, but is a complete product of my imagination. I felt I had to write this huge, unmanageable "epic" because of the way so many people seemed to be thinking about Neandertals --- and some people still do. I felt, based on my reading of various lines of literature, that this was a mistake, but I wasn't a scientist, so I had to "correct" it fictionally. As I said, my first effort didn't quite work, nor did my earliest version of Song of the Forest, my "near future" sci-fi piece. That's still"on the shelf" at the moment. As is my second effort Inside, Outside, also set in this imaginary timber town, and seen through the eyes of a fifteen year old(Neandertal) girl.

But each of these efforts resulted in a strengthening of my "writing muscle". And I found, now that I'm deep into the second book of my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals, that this "writing muscle" is much stronger! I have a better idea of how to write, as I keep writing. And I've also listened to my "inner voice" which pretty much demanded that this story, based on some very real historical events, must be written. In a way, this is not unlike what I found when starting my exercise class: I found that I didn't need to use 2-lb dumbells; I could just as easily use 3-lb ones without getting too "worked up". But on the other hand, it took a while to get to that realization; I'd tried another exercise class elsewhere, and gotten discouraged. Basically, in that one, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And it took me a long time to gather up the courage to start writing my Great Medieval Science Fiction Masterpiece With Neandertals! I read and read a lot of "academic" material about the period I was interested in, and learned as much as I could about the historical characters that appear in this story, but as I also subscribe to a list of medievalists, I was terribly afraid that they would be critical of my idea when it finally got published and printed, that I held myself back. At some point(don't ask me when; it just happened), I decided that the story was yelling too loudly at me to just write it, that the professional medievalists didn't matter any more(although I still hope they won't be too critical when it gets written and published; it's my "baby"). And I'm glad I did, though the process itself hasn't always been smooth. But one thing I've found out in both exercising and writing is, that persistence is important And I'm good at that.

So, I'll sign off this long post for now, and more on related material in a bit,
Anne G

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