Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peek Inside the Mind ... Authorial Choices and Offstage Action

In contemplating (and, essentially in practice, actually) giving up on actively supporting Ax, the WIP has all along been the compensation; yet I honestly had not counted on just how much it has occupied me emotionally (a good thing). Even depending upon it – “take me away from all this, make me forget!” – its yeoman response to my need to WORK has been surprising. Perhaps I’m unaccustomed to being able to depend on anything. Perhaps I was holding back on hope and enthusiasm, either unseemly as I mourn the loss of the first work (for now), or just because the disappointment is so present it hardly seems worth getting hopes up once again.

Ah, but there it is. Hope is hard, but in me it’s harder yet to kill. I’m a cussed thing in this way.

The WIP – let’s call her Wippy, just because I want to (any title is still probably months away; right now, I don’t even know whether the end is where it ends) – is getting wonderfully energetic. Ending or no, the order of things is falling into place, and I’m in discovery mode, learning what I’ll need to learn, to flesh out the hints and tempting bits already waiting.

Today I had to choose which of two possible Germanuses was the son of Matasuentha (for the novel – as always, I make zero pretense to being an historian, and this in particular is a specifically arbitrary authorial prerogative). One of these men, early in the seventh century, had a daughter who married Theodosius, son of the emperor Maurice. This Germanus rescued Theodosius in 602, during a food riot in Constantinople, but later may have been involved in a conspiracy to set himself or Theodosius on the throne; Maurice branded him a traitor, but Germanus survived until Phocas usurped the throne and Maurice, along with all his family, were executed late in 602.

The other candidate as Germanus, son of Germanus and Matasuentha, was husband of Charito, the daughter of Maurice’s predecessor Tiberius II Constantine. Tiberius was said to be so good a man the people did not so much as deserve his rule, and he died after three years as Caesar in the East, in 582. He disappears from the record after marriage to Charito, yet there exists the possibility he and the Germanus above are one and the same; this makes for some tantalizing story possibilities, but the seventh century is off my list and male characters have so far not been at the core of Wippy, and so these possibilities must wait for some other author to deal with them, I think.

Any “choice” I make at this stage in the writing—and given Germanus’ minority and the unlikelihood I will stretch Wippy across a century (or more)—is more theoretical than a practical part of the novel, mechanically or creatively, but I want to know the child I will write about, even if I don’t write about him as a man.

And so we choose the husband of Charito, and because I am a child of a certain decade, I will inevitably view her as a tiny hoochy-coochie girl with ponytails on top of her head (… or not …). A boy who grows up to be associated with a ruler beloved for his benevolence. A boy who marries … and then disapears.


LynnRodz said...

Hi Diane, hope is what we have as we write and for each of us, it's for a different reason. Anyway, I'm glad to see the "for now" in your post. I admire anyone who writes historical novels. My WIP only goes back to the 70's, but I lived that period so it's not hard to remember what the times were like. I've lurked here a few times and always enjoy your blog. (I'm coming late from Janet's blog, but I was off traveling.)

Oh yeah, thanks for the laugh about the light bulb!

DLM said...

Hi, Lynn! Thank you so much. :) "For now" I'm just concentrating on the WIP.

The 70s being considered historical still give me the hives! Makes me feel like a relic ... but then again I earned every second of my age, so I'll just choose to be proud of my experience. (Plus, I saw all the cool concerts!)

That light bulb joke is about the only one I know/ever tell. Glad it gave you a laugh!

LynnRodz said...

Maybe I'm not as clear in my words as they are in my head - it wouldn't be the first time. LOL! I consider anything after 1900 contemporary. For me, 1970 was only yesterday. I don't know how old you are, but I'm sure you're younger than I am. (I'm probably the oldest one on Janet's blog, but we'll keep that between us.) And I couldn't agree more, I got to see all the great concerts of my generation which, of course, were the best.

DLM said...

I realized YOU weren't saying the 70s is historical (and I'm 47, so that was my childhood). :) But it actually is considered by many to be so now! The 60s has apparently been pretty universally accepted as historical, which is weird enough...