Thursday 29 November 2012

I haven’t posted a new chapter since mid-​September, and I haven’t posted here on Verso since March. I’ve commented a few times here and there, but I know some of you have been worried about me. So to start this anniversary post, I want to thank everyone for missing my story, for missing me, for your emails, and for your concern. I am still here and I am fine. I have missed you. I have presents for you.

Prologue Chapter Advent Calendar

2012 Edition

Chapter 1860“Sigefrith meets a man in love”

Chapter 1861“Githa’s dowry gets an airing”

Chapter 1862“Ethelmund’s wife returns home”

Coming December 16th

Coming December 23rd


It has been seven years since I started the story of Lothere.


In the Five Year Anniversary post, I said: “For now, I have no intention of abandoning this story”, but by the time of the Six Year Anniversary I’d already noticed my output was going down: “It looks like I only wrote 44 new chapters in the last year: less than one per week.”

This year – not counting the five “Prologue Chapters” of the last anniversary – I wrote exactly half as many: only 22 new chapters, less than two per month.


For now, I have no intention of abandoning this story. But intentions may yet arise. I don’t feel as committed any more, and a lot of the passion is gone. Beyond the fifth year or so, I’ve been getting less and less out of it as a writer, and at times I feel like I’m sticking around “for the kids” – whether that means for the characters, for the readers, or for the story itself, which isn’t “grown up” yet; which isn’t done.

Meanwhile the story has grown to such a size – such a tangled mass of ill-​conceived, unresolved storylines – that it begins to feel like a burden that I have to carry. No matter how brilliantly I write in the present and the future, I will still be dragging the past 7 years around behind me like heavy chains, all Marley-​like. I can’t edit out the parts I regret, because they “happened” – you read them. With all this dead weight I will never be able to pick up the pace, and I fear it will be 1086 forever.


So, if I am having such doubts, what I am doing, writing another little Prologue Chapter Advent Calendar? Well, I’ve had the trial separation and want to see how getting back together works out. A Second Honeymoon in 1067. It will give us all a chance to revisit some beloved characters and remind ourselves why we’re here, and maybe it will reignite that spark.

Maybe not, and after December is over, I’ll have to decide what to do.


The truth is, I have been cheating on Lothere.

Gwynn and Connie

Some of you have heard that I have been doing NaNoWriMo this year – at long last! Seven years later! I have been, though in the past week or so it became clear to me that I wouldn’t win, which is what got me thinking about Lothere again. So I quit working on that story (whereupon it immediately gripped me, after weeks of struggling to get excited about it…) and started taking some pictures of Sigefrith and Theobald.


Before I threw in the towel, I’d written about 26,000 words, and had only one scene left before the big turning point that would change the main character’s life and force her to go off and be novel-​worthy. (Thus I had written the first 15th or so of a properly structured novel.)

I will post the work-​in-​progress here on Verso, for you who are curious about my writing outside of Lothere. It’s NaNo first-​draft quality of course – there are plenty of things I would like to trim down and tighten up; I would like to retroactively apply the voice I finally found to the earlier chapters; and I would like to emphasize the elements that define the theme – but it reads like a story, and it’s historical fiction (854 A.D. in Ireland), and some of you might like it.


I also had a short-​lived but torrid affair with another story that nearly qualifies as erotic, and not by Lady Gwynn’s definition either. I only wrote two scenes of it, but although intended as a mere sketch or short story at the beginning, the characters grew and a plot began to form, as characters and plots will do. So I may revisit and add to that later; and in fact, I considered moving the time period back 500 years to the 11th century, changing “Margaret” to “Mairgread”, and making the young lady a red-​haired cousin of Aengus, so that I could pretend that I was still working on Lothere and Lothere-​related accessories… but wouldn’t that be like writing fan-​fiction about my own fictional universe?

I don’t know what to do with that story yet, but I may post it here if anyone is interested. (There is no pantry secks (yet), but there is kitchen foreplay.)

(That one, needless to say, challenged me as a writer.)


Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to come back to Lothere and write “Sigefrith meets a man in love”. I miss the characters, I miss writing in that voice, and I even miss the pictures, though writing without them is certainly liberating.

I am looking forward to writing the following four Prologue Chapters, though as I write this I only have ideas for two of them. Suggestions are welcome: After I introduce Theobald & Githa and Ethelmund & Gytha, I will be free to write two chapters about whatever I want in the early days, leading towards Sigefrith’s marriage to Maud in the harvest time.

And the seventh year was not a wasted one, though I didn’t write many new chapters. We saw Murchad become King of Dublin, Saeward become a father, and Gwynn become a diplomat; and Malcolm and Rua are only one Lotherian day or two from meeting at last.


The Future

But I can’t promise Malcolm and Rua will ever meet. While these five new-​old chapters are being written, and during my time off work at the end of December, I will be doing plenty of thinking about what I want to do with my writing.

Do I continue adding to Lothere, perhaps finding a way to make it a more challenging and more gratifying exercise to me as a writer?

Do I look for a way to extract the strongest stories out of Lothere and turn it into some sort of novel or series? How many of the wacky supernatural elements would I keep, if so, and how well would the story survive without them?

Do I finish my 9th century Irish story – a proper novel, at last?

Do I start something new? Do I write the ancient Egypt story that was my dream for so long, the paralyzing amount of research for which was the motivation to fling all historical accuracy to the winds when I dove into Lothere seven years ago?

I don’t know. I know only that I want to write.

So erotic!