Monthly Archives: October 2009

Steady Progress.

I do not think that I am quite up to the thousand words a day target that I set myself some time back, but I have made steady progress on ‘River’, as I think of it in abbreviation. I do that with my books – ‘A Song at Daybreak’ becomes simply ‘Song’, the Land of the Slow Burning Fires’ becomes ‘Land’, ‘The Heart of Fire’ becomes ‘Heart’ and so on on. As the number of books mounts, so I must catalogue them into single-word order. But  that is by the by. The story is unfolding rapidly, if perhaps a little erratically.

Chapter 1 introduced Edrun and his environment to the reader. We now know who he is, where he is, and something of the Calionali spiritual perspective on the world. Chapter 2 has clarified the nature of his loss, describing the death by drowning of his beloved Jeri only days before they were due to be married. The period of mourning is over and he has decided to explore the world, to lose himself in the vast sea of elsewhere and hopefully to find heart’s ease. He has set off for the City of Threeriversmeet and has found the amulet of the Hunter God.

Chapter 3 has brought him to Threeriversmeet safely and has given him two experiences that were unplanned in the outline; he has met the dancer in the market, which has disconcerted him far more than he realises at the time, and he has had a session with the oracle. Both these experiences have affected him deeply, and only time will tell just how and to what extent they will influence his behaviour. But now he has to collect his scattered wits and find a job. Not that he needs to, of course. I had thought that selling the boat would be the source of living money, but now I realise that his father had funded him generously and the skiff has acquired a different meaning.

On with the tale and Chapter 4.

The Rivers Run High

Last night I finished the plot outline for what I have tentatively called ‘The Rivers Run High’, another novel set in the Calion Islands. The first novel, what started off as ‘The Kidnappers of Calion’ and later became ‘A Song at Daybreak’, began in a similar way. On that occasion, a sudden thought came to me, I jotted it down longhand, expanded upon it and in ten days I had a rough plot outline. This time I have completed a very detailed plot outline of more than five thousand words and covering twenty-seven chapter headings in eight days. All I have to do now is fill in the blanks.

The plot is a simple loss-and-recovery motif. The central character, the hero of the tale, is, funnily enough, Edrun Jaranacad, who appeared in a very minor role as a Fieldmaster, a sort of Drill Sergeant, in the ranks of the Temple Guard in ‘A Song at Daybreak’. He was always, I think, much more than a literary device embedded to get Marac into a certain plot position. From the start I sensed a hidden depth in him, a complexity of character quite out of proportion to his brief appearance. He appears again in ‘The Heart of Fire’ and in the ‘The Land of the Long-Burning Fires’, but in a walk-on role. He deserves better than that.

‘The Rivers Run High’, then, is Edrun’s story and is set nearly thirty years before the events chronicled in ‘A Song at Daybreak’. It tells of his love for Jeri, a young woman who was washed away in a flood a few brief days before they were due to wed. Broken-hearted, Edrun decides to leave the little village where he and Jeri were born to seek his fortune, and forgetfulness, in the wide world. He joins a mercenary company and, against all expectations discovers not only that Jeri survived the flood but that she is also held captive by a sinister group led by one Halgar. ‘The Rivers Run High’ tells of their eventual reunion and the travails that follow.

The synopsis is written, my thoughts are in order. All that remains is to print off the notes for chapter one, compose myself, and begin. 


The last few months have been difficult. The trip to England last April together with the week in Rome left me quite confused again. The trip to Rome was particularly so. We did wonderful things -dining at a little street cafe in the shadow of the columns of the Theatre of Marcellus, standing on the Pons Aelia, sitting in the Forum Boarium – which was actually quite small – and vising Ostia Antica. It was all too much. I became experientially saturated. I simply could not cope with so much information in so short a time and it has taken me all this time to fully process all the information.

But now I am beginning to recover. Things have swirled around and around like socks in a washing machine. Now they are starting to come together in an intellectual collage that has enabled me to see patterns again. Whereas before all was a confused welter of flashes and lights, now I can see with the clearer eye of hindsight. Perspective has been restored. I am starting to think creatively again. I can think creatively  again. A couple of months ago Louise asked for any photos that we might have of Judith and the boys when they were young. That set me to rummaging through the archives and collating the data, a wonderful exercise in its own right, but all the more so in that it set me into paths of reasoned, focussed thought again.

The impetus of the archival plunge has died down and I have straightened out mentally, enough to start thinking of the Calion Islands again. As I did some years ago now, I was sitting quietly, thinking of nothing much in particular, when a thought popped into my head. No, it has nothing to do with my family history, nor even with ancient Rome. These things were not inspirational in that way. Rather they were markers on the path back to the other world where I normally live. I had been trying to find the door again, but it kept slipping away despite frequent glimpses. Now I have found it.

What was the inspiration, if any? Perhaps no more than some silly, plaintive love-song half heard one evening. Whatever it was it is working. The magic is back.

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