Research, lack of words, and another #WIPpet for Wednesday

Word creation has nearly come to a halt for me, for a couple of reasons. One is that Christmas is coming up, and I’ve been doing a lot of Christmas shopping. Another is that I’m kind of under the weather, and my brain doesn’t work as well when it’s fogged up. Finally, and possibly the most important, I’ve gone back to doing a lot of research for the third book of The Pendragon Chronicles. In addition to the book on the Anglo-Saxons I mentioned a couple of weeks back, I’m also reading two excellent books that support newer theories that the Anglo-Saxon “invasions” were not as invasive as previously thought, Britain AD by Francis Pryor, and The Origins of the British by Stephen Oppenheimer. Fascinating stuff. I may post more on the books and what I’m learning about the period later.

While I love research, I’m a little frustrated that I’m not getting much actual writing done. So I may return to Amber’s story a little each day, to make sure I’m also producing, and not just reading and taking notes. A Wasted Land has grown a whopping 800 words, mostly in sketches and ideas I’ve gotten from my research.

Now on to WIPpet Wednesday. My math for 12/11/13 is easy — I added up all the digits = 9. So here are nine paragraphs from A Wasted Land. Kustennin has just asked Celemon if she would consider taking the position of Master of Horse.

“I can train horses, but I do not know how to train them for battle,” Celemon protested.
“I have the greatest confidence in you that you can learn that too.”
Celemon could hardly comprehend the enormity of what he was asking of her. It was strange; on her ride just now, she’d been worrying about her age, how old she was and how few prospects she now had. Her betrothal to Aurelius had dragged on for three years, complicated by multiple deaths, wars, and the disgrace of her father. Now she was over twenty — when marriageable age for a woman was fourteen. She did not want to manage her brother’s household forever, but what else was there for her if she were unable to find a husband?
And now Kustennin was offering her an alternative.
But when she considered Kustennin’s proposal, she was struck by the opposite thought from what had been plaguing her on her ride — she was too young, or at least too young for such a position. Yes, she had grown up with horses, but what did she know of being “Master of Horse”? She didn’t even know what the duties would be, although her father had been Master of Horse for most of her life. But for Cai the Tall, Master of Horse had entailed riding with Arthur’s warriors, and Kustennin could not intend that for her.
Apparently she had been silent too long — Kustennin urged his mount forward and laid a hand on hers where it held the mare’s reins. “I know you told me recently that you would prefer if we refused to wage war,” he said. “But our lands and our people must be defended. And of course you would be a safe distance away from the battles.”
The thought crossed her mind, unless they come to us. “What would I be expected to do?” she asked.
“Run the stables of the British military forces. Decide which stallions will be bred to which mares. Buy replacement horses as needed — and as funds allow. Oversee the servants working in the stables. I’m sure you would know more about what is necessary than I.”
She wondered if Kustennin knew that he was describing a dream come true. She had always loved helping her father and Cador in the stables, had loved the discussions of what qualities to breed for in different horses, whether the dam was more important or the sire, loved to help with training the two-year-olds to take bit and saddle. At the same time, she was overwhelmed at the responsibility — and the thought that she would be raising the animals to carry Kustennin and her other friends and family members to war and perhaps even death.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂

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23 thoughts on “Research, lack of words, and another #WIPpet for Wednesday”

  1. Argh! That last line is a killer!! The dream of a lifetime . . . I think my heart just broke. I’m glad you address the age and when the normal marrying age of a woman was. I think that fact escapes a lot of readers.

    I can totally relate to what you’re saying about research which is probably why I stick to fantasy! LOL In my teens and college years I wanted to write my version of the Arthurian tales. My mother was a librarian and I spend all my free time in the library buried in research. Needless to say, I didn’t write much. What happens to me now is that one tidbit leads to another, then another, suddenly I’m researching something totally different than what I set out to do.

    1. I keep telling myself that one day I should keep track of the different subjects that I end up researching for a particular project, just to see how far down the rabbit hole I end up.

  2. Not getting much writing done seems to be a bit of a theme with the WIPpeteers this week. I think the holidays do that, not to mention getting sick. Your research sounds fascinating, though, and I love this excerpt! Such a huge decision, and what a poignant last line.

  3. Fascinating entry! I love the WIPpet. The heroine’s worries are so typical of women, aren’t they? Always doubting ourselves. In particular, the position of Master of the Horse caught my eye. One of my characters has this position in Italy, around 700 ad. There certainly isn’t much information about it, but from what I’ve been able to glean at that time and in Rome it was more of a military administrative role. Have you been able to find out anything more? I like your take on it, that it’s literally to do with horses. That does make sense!

    I’m working my way through the last book you recommended. Alas, dry history reading is quite familiar to me, lol. And it’s not all that bad, really. I do lament the lack of maps and so forth, though. I would absolutely LOVE to hear your take on this post’s books! I may even order them for myself!

    1. Yes, Xina, from what I’ve found out, Master of Horse is a primarily military position, but hey, it’s fiction! In these books I’ve been emphasizing the element of “taking care of the horses” in the position, which, to me, gives it an interesting spin.

      I’ll post about the other two books soon, I promise. 🙂

  4. I like this WIPpet! In part because the Anglo-Saxons and other ‘barbarian’ tribes of Roman Europe are of particular interest to me but also because I like the offer Kustennin makes to Celemon. Not ‘be my bride’ or ‘be my woman’ but ‘train my war horses.’ I want to know what happens next!

  5. Can I hug Kustennin? No, really… I haven’t read much of him that I didn’t like.

    And Celemon… to be offered such a dream when it could so easily turn into a nightmare–those nagging “what if I had…” that she may suffer.

    Sorry to hear about the head fuzzies. I can relate… one of those states when even researching doesn’t seem to work all that well because I keep having to double check the notes I’ve taken. Hope you feel better soon.

    As for the invasions… The saying that ‘History is written by the victor’, but legend and oral history is usually passed on my the defeated. Given how easy it is to find stories of how the government tore away the land of people for railroads etc. in our local community, and how even over just a 100 years, these tales have devolved to stories of forced acquisitions, stolen homesteads and homeless wanderers (from research at the local historical society, it seems that the government actually built new houses often on larger lots to entice people to move)…

    Well, the point is… a grudge against interlopers of any kind could easily be seen as an invasion in the right ‘mood’ of a community or society. And it’s hard to stop a bad story once it gets out.

    1. Very good point, Eden! I’d of course heard the “history is written by the victors” before, but not oral history (which pretty much amounts to legend) is passed on by the defeated. It makes a huge amount of sense where Arthurian legends are concerned! And supports my conviction that there must have been someone like Arthur in Britain after Roman rule collapsed. The exaggeration of how much damage the Saxons did makes a lot of sense then too.

      Kustennin is mostly a good guy and wants to do the right thing, but he has his dark side. It’s going to be an interesting balancing act to see if I can pull this off.

  6. It’s hard to be creative when you’re not feeling well, but good idea to write just a little to keep the words coming. Then add in all the extra stuff that comes with the holidays, it’s a wonder we get any writing done at all!

    So much conflict in just that little passage from your WIP – going to have to check out your books! Hope you feel better and have a great week!

  7. I hope you feel better soon!

    I really like this. The duality and (to our generation) irony of feeling too old for marriage and too young for a job would be very frustrating, I think. Somehow, though, I doubt she’s going to turn Kustennin down. 🙂

  8. Love that balancing of research with writing that you somehow manage to do, with each informing the other. Sometimes (most of the time?), the research stretches the story in unexpected ways. I liked this snippet and how you’ve caught the hope/fear that Celemon experiences — just before she says yes!

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