Sunday, December 31, 2006

post-Jacobean interlude

Reminder that the Viable Paradise diary is not current, just in case anyone came in partway through and is confused. The interruptions and intervals are present-day. Thank you.

Currently, The Willow Knot stands at 56k, which doesn't mean all that much but is something to tell people when they ask how it's going. I figure the story breaks roughly into three parts, probably not of equal length:
I. Leaving Midame's house, Tyl's transformation, and accepting the forest.
II. Surviving in the forest, growing up, learning what they lost, up to the arrival of Alard.
III. Surviving in the court, learning to be wife and queen, attacks on Myl and Alard, semi-happy ending.

The middle part is the one that really interests me. "For some time they were alone like this in the wilderness." When I talk about the book, people often expect me to skim over that part, to get to the court again, where things happen. But if they consider some of the difficulties--how does Myl clothe herself, what can she eat if she believes that other animals in the forest may be Christian souls enchanted into beast form, what else is in the forest that might be dangerous--usually they become interested as well.
The appeal of a Robinson Crusoe or My Side of the Mountain story is pretty sturdy. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, by Stephen King, and Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, very different stories, both use the survival of a girl in the wilderness.
Plus, I'm Canadian, so it's practically my patriotic duty (if west-coast Canadians could say that sort of thing without blushing) to write about Survival. Just ask Margaret Atwood.

Writing the middle also gives me a chance to develop the knotting / weaving / braiding / netting motif that's the unexpected bones of the story. I've just done a first draft of Myl repairing the thatch on the cottage after a winter gale has torn off much of her first, inexpert repairs, and from the writing hindbrain came a thatcher's luck-piece of braided straw, meant to keep the work strong, like the ritual marks carved on certain beams in old timber houses. I don't know whether such a thing was done (and it very likely wasn't recorded, if it was) but it fits. Myl has to fix the damaged luck-piece, and that makes her more consciously aware of her early training.
I'm not sure where this theme is going, quite, but it's a happy thing thus far. Now I think I'll go and poke through English Folk-rhymes for some potential charms.

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