Marie de France, Aphra Behn, and changing horses midstream

So here we are, at the beginning of a new round of words, with new targets and new projects, and I’m finding myself having to admit I need to change my goals. After months of concentrating on ebooks and editing, I returned to Fragments of Legend with the best of intentions, especially once I looked at the numbers and realized that with only 500 words a day, I could get a complete rough draft finished in a couple of months. Then after several days when the writing was like pulling teeth, I realized that for the section I’m working on, I not only need a compelling complication, I need to do way more research.

Sometimes resistance does have meaning.

At first I was hoping I could brush up on what I needed as I worked, and I started going through my books on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine again, consulting the web for more sources and to look up references the books only mentioned in passing. And then I stumbled across Marie de France.

Since I’ve done plenty of research on Arthurian literature, I know of Marie de France, but I was unaware that the works that have come down to us are in Anglo-Norman French, and many experts place her at the court of Henry II. And since my main character, Judith, is a medieval woman who will eventually write an epic, Marie de France would be a perfect addition to my cast of characters! (I love those kinds of moments while writing.)

The problem is, I know next to nothing about Marie de France, and have only ever read one of her lays, many years ago. So it’s back to the books and the doodles for a while until I can get this section worked out in my head (or on scrap paper).

So in order to get back into the habit of writing regularly, I’m returning to my old Aphra Behn novel project, Chameleon in a Mirror. Rereading the old material a few months back, I realized that my style had changed quite a bit, and I’m going to have to start all over almost from scratch. But as compared to Fragments of Legend, in my Aprha Behn time travel, all the parts are there and all the research has been done; the words getting me from the first sentence to the last just have to be different. So here are my new research and writing goals:

– Read up on Marie de France and her contemporaries, while beefing up on Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1180s. From this research, come up with appropriate complications for Judith’s time in England.

– Write 1,000 words a day on a new version of Chameleon in a Mirror.

In other news, “Looking Through Lace” is doing much better during this promo than during the last. During the first 24 hours, I had over 2000 downloads, and it is now in the top 100 Free in the Kindle store, and #2 in Science Fiction. (Carolyn Ives Gilman is beating me out, but that is definitely something I can live with.) If you don’t have my novella yet, please download a copy!

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13 thoughts on “Marie de France, Aphra Behn, and changing horses midstream”

  1. Hi Ruth!

    I agree that resistance can sometimes be helpful instead of procrastination or what have you. I just ran into a lot of resistance with my WIP… and I realized I had the relationship plot all wrong.

    Good luck with your goals this week!

    1. Behn was one of my favorites for decades, Katherine, before I finally wrote a novel about her! 🙂 Here’s hoping i can get it out in the next half year or so.

  2. “Sometimes resistance does have meaning.” Like the others, I, too, seized on this wonderful line, Ruth, as it described my writing today but I broke through, which sounds as if you are doing the same. I, too, am fascinated by the idea of your Aphra Behn novel and look forward to that read.

    ROW80 is successful for many reasons, not the least of which is the ability to fully develop one’s writing goals, much as you are doing. It allows the writer a commitment to the work in every aspect, allowing for synchronicity such as your Marie de France. Sounds fascinating, Ruth.

    Karen

    1. I absolutely agree with you on the usefulness of ROW, Karen! It’s been wonderful for me to stop beating myself up about goals that I don’t achieve. Being realistic about goals is so important!

  3. I find myself switching horses midstream often with this challenge – especially if I target a single WIP. I’t like my brain goes all mulish at the idea of being told what it should be pondering. This time I didn’t target a specific work, but set hours goals. Progress is progress, even if it isn’t progress on the think you expected to be working on. Good luck!

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