January is pretty rubbish, isn’t it. The festive season is over, taking all the treats away and replacing them with things like ‘veganuary‘ (surely more of a punishment than a lifestyle choice) and ‘not drinking’ (even though drinking in moderation is arguably healthier than abstaining before going on a binge in February) and ‘endless news stories about the weather‘. None of it really makes you feel very much like creating art, or even going outside really. Continue reading “Fake It Til You Make It”
Having not entered the Pictonaut Challenge (to write a 1000 word short story based on a picture found at The Rogue Verbumancer’s blog) for a couple of months, I thought I would get in a bit early with January’s one. Initially the picture didn’t fill me with ideas. ‘Cowboys,’ I thought, ‘and horse bums. Oh.’ Then I thought, what about the person seeing the picture – the one watching them plod away. Who is she? There was never any question in my mind over the fact it was a she.
So I wrote about her, and why the others were leaving, and thought my tale quite OK (although over the word limit a bit). Then, reading it back this week, it occurred to me it owes a lot to The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, which I read towards the end of last year. That is a lovely book, which I would certainly recommend – particularly if you like my story and want to read something in the same setting and better written…
For those expecting the actual writing to begin today I should probably mention that I am Scottish, and as such New Year’s Day is designed exclusively to help me recover from Hogmanay. However, I will be downloading I Clavdivs* at the same time as sprawling on the couch with crisps and tea and a Doctor Who (new series 5) box set.
Tomorrow, Caligula’s Blog begins in earnest.
*I mean the classic BBC series I Claudius, where they use the roman letter that looks like a ‘v’ instead of a ‘u’ in the title. But I quite like calling it Clavdivs.
I initially had a lot of trouble deciding on January’s book.
I thought it would be the ‘friends and family’ volume, and had vaguely planned to email everyone I was close to over the Christmas period to ask for ideas. However, as soon as I sat down to compose said email, I knew it wasn’t going to work. Different people were bound to want different genres, which would mean a random cacophony of characters and plot ideas more convoluted than a local authority newsletter.
What I needed was a structure – perhaps I could begin with a genre and expand it from there? This is the format I have opted to go with, as you can see from the ‘get involved’ page. However, January is immediate and looming and tangible; so close I can almost smell Snowmageddon 2: Snow Harder. And I didn’t want to nag people for their ideas over the holidays lest they had been watching too many heartwarming Richard Curtis movies and ended up insisting I write a family saga about an English Rose with a heart of gold. I’m not ready to become Joan Jonker just yet.
The solution, as it turned out, had been offered by my sister about ten seconds after I explained the project to her towards the end of November. She thought about it for a couple of minutes, then looked at me and said “Caligula’s Blog.”
I almost dismissed it out of hand because it was too perfect a pitch. It was a ready formed concept – all I’d have to do is research the life of Caligula and some Roman history, then write it. Bam. So much for the group participation stuff.
As it turns out, it’s the perfect first book for this project, because whilst I’m researching and writing it I can get this site off the ground and publicise the project so that I have something to work with for the coming months. With that in mind, I have downloaded Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire to my phone in five volumes, as well as the Caligula volume of Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus’s Lives of The Twelve Caesars which had a rather lovely comment about the legs of one of Emperor Tiberius’s generals… I am currently trying to source a copy of I, Claudius from the library and have been told to check out Plutarch’s Lives, but if you know any other useful source material, please leave a comment!