visualising dairy buckets

Over on my Ask Nicola blog I had another question about writing. I answered it at length, but thought those who have been following my Hild-writing process might enjoy a snippet:

Sometimes I can have a good writing day yet not write much. This is happening more than usual at the moment, and it’s related to writing historical fiction. Writing mainstream fiction is easy–everyone knows what a bed is like, what people eat and wear, how things work. For the seventh century–unlike, say, Regency England (the rake, the dandy, the ball, dance cards), or WWII (the Blitz, rationing, grey skies filled with barrage balloons, weak tea)–there are no handy plug-ins. I have to invent everything, every single thing, from scratch. If Hild walks into the dairy, what does it look like? (Would there be a dairy? Cows were most likely milked in the field, sheep in a pen.) How do you make cheese when there is no stainless steel? What do you store the milk in with no glass, no refrigeration? (You don’t; you turn it into cheese and butter and whey.) How many women/girls does it take to milk how many cows and sheep? What are the buckets made of? (Sycamore, because it doesn’t leave a nasty aftertaste in the milk.) And that’s just process and artefacts. Social relationships were different, too. I’ve never written anything full of slavery before, never dealt with a heroic society without literacy. (That changes later, of course.) So a good writing day can be a good inventing/visualising day but a not-many-words-on-the-page day.

The rest can be found here. And now back to reading JLA.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s