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Inaction… and apparently a bit of grossness. sorry about that.

The last months, the last year really, I’ve been missing from writing.  There is always something going on in my head, I suppose, and even the occasional jot in the notebook, but I haven’t had much more than the occasional bit of emotional energy for it.  It had been something like four months since I last made a post on Lazarus Machine and a year now since anything on John’s Gamble.  I finally did add a chapter to the former during my vacation the other week, and have, in recent weeks, had a bit more heart and inspiration about it, but the energy isn’t quite there.  And then this week, I’ve been feeling physically ill on top of struggling with the emotional bits.

 

However, even when I’m not particularly writing, I do find myself still researching.  My literary interests have still been involved with Georgian/Regency/Victorian crime, and I am in the midst of Judith Flanders’ The Victorian City, which talks about Victorian London during Dickens’ life.  It covers a broad time period from the end of the Regency to the midst of Victoria’s reign, with all the daily street life detailed.  Of course, mostly what this leaves me with is “How did anyone survive at all?” because between how disgusting water was even when it wasn’t infected with cholera (I just saw that Matt Damon used toilet water for his ice bucket challenge to raise awareness about clean water around the world, which is kind of ridiculous because US toilet water is exactly as potable as tap water and unless you get it from the bowl and haven’t flushed for days, it doesn’t even compare to many places around the world), and the general attitude of the wealthy towards the poor (workhouses were meant to be miserable so people would work harder to stay out of them) and no concept of cleanliness — blood simply ran in the streets outside slaughterhouses, along with human and animal and vegetable waste… ugh, I just shudder.  No wonder miasma was thought to be the source of some diseases, because the stench had to be incredible.  And I haven’t even gotten to the chapter about prostitution yet. 

 

Anyway, I did have some exciting research distraction the other night.  I think I was reading a blog post about the Jane Austen era… it was an article about grave robbing, as I was suddenly needing to know how much an anatomist might pay for a stolen body to dissect (they can be quite expensive, I was surprised to find) and came across a name I’d glimpsed in something before, a Mr. (Joshua) Brookes.  He was mentioned regarding an incident at his anatomy school in Mayfair, but it wasn’t regarding the same incident that I’d seen before (love Google books).  So, of course, I was suddenly sunk deep in finding out about these things, including locating online copies of The Lancet from the era which mentioned him several times.

 

One of these incidents was that he bought a body from someone other than his usual body snatchers and since they were pissed about it, they left a very ripe body outside his home in Soho and another outside his work in Mayfair to be discovered by whosoever happened to walk by.  The discovery outside his home so upset the neighbors that they had to be dissuaded from giving Brookes a beating by the local constables.  The second incident involved a coachman knocking on his door, which was answered by a servant.  The coachman asked if the doctor would be interested in a fresh body and was told that he was.  So the coachman hauled a naked body in a sack around and as the doctor and servant started to kick the body down the stairs, it flailed and hollered, “I’m alive!”  Apparently, they were more afraid of the thought of the house being robbed than by a dead body waking up, and they dragged the man to the magistrate’s, where the man confessed only to being drunk on his trip into London, and then being made drunker still by someone else until he apparently passed out and woke up being shoved down the stairs.

 

Now, writing a Sherlock piece or two, I was quite interested in this man called Brookes, as it would so nicely coincide with Richard Brook from the show, and I found that his place of business was ridiculously close to where I’d previously chosen an address to house my final showdown.  I mean, there is a Brook St in Mayfair, so I could hardly not use that, and the location I picked later housed the royal Dr. Gull who, in certain theories, might have been Jack the Ripper (ie, From Hell follows that theory though it’s not as likely as most of the other theories).  My main problem with picking the location had been that at some point, the houses along Brook St. had been renumbered and I wasn’t certain when, so I wasn’t certain which house number to use.  Then I told myself, this is just a fan fiction and you’re being crazy.  🙂

 

At any rate, I was now in this state of mind, so I watched two movies that had been on my Netflix queue for a while, I Sell the Dead and Burke and Hare.  The first was interesting, but definitely took a supernatural turn I wasn’t quite expecting/interested in.  Burke and Hare was fairly good, considering that I’m sure it took liberties with making any of the involved parties sympathetic.  It starred Simon Pegg as Burke, so it couldn’t help but be a little light and silly, and I doubt that they were caught out due to early photographs, but the bit at the end showing Burke’s skeleton displayed in the university in Edinburgh is accurate.

 

And finally, today, due to being ill and not really having the energy to do anything outside of lay in bed and watch videos online, I watched several episodes of City of Vice, a 5 episode British series detailing the beginnings of the Bow Street Runners.  It follows Henry and John Fielding and their surprisingly nefarious attempts to start up a police force within London.  I say surprisingly nefarious not because the series shows them setting up a Lord to be robbed in order to gain them financial favor and a sponsor in the House of Lords, but because in the earliest incarnation of the Runners, they were operating illegally. 

 

This isn’t the first depiction I’ve run across describing the rather rocky beginnings of the British police forces.  In The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale, it describes the beginnings of things like undercover police work and how unfair and nefarious it was viewed by the general public.  In 1860, when the events in the book take place, it was seen as an invasion of privacy for a detective to come into one’s home, even if it is the scene of a kidnapping/murder and poke his nose into the family’s life.  Similarly, in City of Vice, the people seemed to view police as less law and order and more infringing upon the rights of free people.  Because apparently it is a right for people to do as they please regardless of the law?  There seemed to be a lot of laws but no real way to enforce them, especially if wealthy people enjoyed the illegal activity.  (I suppose that’s not terribly different in any time period.)  Even to start off the Bow Street Runners, the Fieldings were asking for a mere six men.  For all of London.

 

The series itself has some sound issues, being that they realistically portrayed the absolute din of the streets of London at the time, but because of that, you can’t always hear the dialogue, and on hulu, where I watched it, there were no subtitles available.  Still, the absolute filth, violence and debauchery of the era seemed to be accurately portrayed and the map overviews were awesome.  While it is much earlier than the era I’ve been researching, I find it incredibly interesting.

 

Still on my TBR list are Judith Flanders’ The Invention of Murder, which I’ve been stalking a while but haven’t made the purchase yet, and The Poisoner by Stephen Bates, and Shocking Bodies by Iwan Rhys Morus, which I found while looking for the one I was really thinking of, Shocked by David Casarett.  Not sure how many I will get around to reading, because I will eventually get squicked out by all this (much like the Cesarian in the first episode of The Knick, I am freaking horrified by C-sections) and I will eventually (hopefully soon!) finish Lazarus Machine and have less excuse for all this morbid research.  🙂

 

On one last, amusing note, City of Vice reminded me of something with their episodes on molly houses, places were gay and/or transvestite men would hang out.  I mention one in John’s Gamble and when I came across the term originally, I wondered if in putting in all the are-they-gay wink-wink-nudge-nudge bits, they picked Molly Hooper’s first name as a rather obscure reference to this term.  I swear, this would be the question I would forget to ask if I ever met any of them.  I mean, it could just be a common British name for a female, a variation of Mary which has always been an incredibly common name in English-speaking and many other languages, or the fact that I looked up the meaning and the first website said “uncertain, maybe bitter” and while I think they meant that the meaning was uncertain, it made me laugh at its aptness.  If they were going strictly Doyle, he seemed to prefer the name Violet.

 

Anyway, now that I’m not feeling like either 101 degrees or about 10 degrees, I suppose I ought to be off writing more than this blog post! 🙂

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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Writings

 

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Delete

I had another one of those writing days where I print out pages, cut them apart paragraph by paragraph, and sometimes line by line, and tape it together to try to make sense of it all.  I think I ended up moderately successful (finally) and have set aside the final read-through until tomorrow.  But this brings me to a lesson today.  Delete.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “kill your darlings” and it definitely felt that way today.  I had written and rewritten chapter 74 on Lazarus Machine a dozen times.  I had paragraphs I really liked but they didn’t seem to fit together.  I had two paragraphs I liked, but they said the same thing.  I wanted to mention this and that and the other thing, when, in the end, it all just really needed to go.  I had to delete things.

I’ve been stuck on this chapter for ages (mostly not working on the story at all because I was so frustrated with it) and what really sucks is that it’s not even a particularly important chapter!  I won’t say it is a filler chapter, but it kind of is.  The last chapter I posted ended with something of an exclamation mark, and this one is where the characters move into doing their own things.  Sherlock has his investigation and John has his medical work.

I swear, I can see the end of this story and the moves needed to get it there, but I’m just not putting in the work it takes to get it that final few steps.

At any rate, I managed to finally slice down the pages to a flowing, comprehensible chapter and not even feel the need to post things in my outtakes bin.  Yay!

On the other hand, I have only one more day left of my vacation and I am nowhere near close to accomplishing any sort of writing goal I had for myself.  It is April, and Camp NaNoWriMo has started.  Now, I’ve never managed to do anything during Camp, no matter what month.  This year, I told myself that I would take my week off and use NaNoWriMo principles to push forward in Lazarus Machine to try to at least draft through the end.  I was going to skip over where I had difficulties and press through the next chapters.  Easier to have a sloppy draft to work with than nothing.

I didn’t make that happen.  I didn’t say to myself every day that I was going to push myself to that goal.  I admit that.  I did try making myself sit down most days and focusing on it, but some days it was only successful for ten minutes, even if I was butt-in-chair for nine hours.  I am highly distractable these days.

Nothing was helped by immediately screwing up my previously reasonable sleep schedule and sleeping from about five in the morning until noon each day.  For pete’s sake.  This means that when I work at 7am on Tuesday, I will likely get no sleep at all.  Le sigh.  My own damn fault.  I’m just not a very structured individual, am I? 🙂

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Writings

 

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Can you find my iPod, Mr. Holmes?

Yeah, I have no idea.   And surely not interesting enough a case for Sherlock Holmes.

I have two iHomes, one in the kitchen and on in the craft room and the dang thing isn’t near either one.  I even cleaned off the kitchen table to check if it got buried there.  Nope.  (There exists the possibility that I am looking right at it, I suppose.  Wouldn’t be the first time.)  I went through my nightstand twice in case I put it in one of the drawers by the earbuds and charging cords, but no.  I keep trying to bring up a memory of the last time I saw it and I can’t think of anything.  I’m pretty sure I had it when I went to Chicago in June and I feel like I remember seeing it when I unpacked at home… and wouldn’t I have used it at least once since then?  I don’t really bring it anywhere.

To make a lot more whining short, it’s driving me kind of nuts.  I don’t even really want to USE it, but it’s driving me utterly mad that I can’t find it.

Anyway, I’ve had a better couple of weeks in some ways around here.  I managed to write and post a couple of chapters of Lazarus Machine, which pleases me.  I feel like I have a lot to do before the ending yet, but it isn’t insurmountable.  I am a little frustrated with the next chapter right now because I keep writing random sentences but can’t quite figure out exactly how detailed I want to make the chapter.  I don’t want some endless babble that really has no point in the story, but I don’t want all my research to go to waste, either.

Oh, speaking of, I got stuck in research hell the other day with this chapter.  So, the chapter takes place at a warehouse in the London Docks in Wapping.  I found a map of the area, and consulted my period map to get there from St. Bart’s, then was trying to find some clue as to what the warehouses and their interior would look like, as well as what cargo would be inside.  All stuff that would take a few sentences, really, and I could totally bullshit it all and who would know or care, really?

But that wasn’t where I got sucked in.  No.  There’s a major road above the dockyards that forms a sort of border and is also a major highway out of London to the east: Ratcliff Highway.  And in December of 1811, there were two sets of fairly horrific, violent murders along this highway.  A Bow Street Magistrate was appointed to run the inquiry and Runners were assigned to figure out the culprit(s).

So, you can see, with Lazarus Machine on my mind, I can totally see Regency Sherlock investigating this piece of work, one of his early cases, or perhaps something that inspired him to work with Bow Street.  For, of course, the mystery had a rather unsatisfying ending.  A suspect was detained, with the possibility of evidence against him, but he hung himself before reaching trial.

And again, there goes my Sherlock-detector, because what happened to the suicide?  He was carted through the streets and taken to a crossroads where he was buried with a stake through his heart.  (Oh, wait, here comes the good stuff.)  In 1886, a gas company was excavating in the vicinity and unearthed a skeleton with a stake through its torso.  To quote from Wikipedia:  “The landlord of The Crown and Dolphin, a public house at the corner of Cannon Street Road, is said to have retained the skull as a souvenir. The pub has since been renovated and the whereabouts of the skull are currently unknown.”

OMG, it’s Sherlock’s skull!  The full wiki article is quite interesting and detailed.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratcliff_Highway_murders  But of course really had nothing at all to do with what I was originally researching. Even should I use any of this idea, it would be a line or two, or perhaps I’d dedicate an entire short to Sherlock relating the tale to John.  That might be nice.  But not what I’m doing now.

Speaking of unsatisfying murder mysteries, I recently finished The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale.  I got it as an audiobook from Overdrive through the library.  The book is excellent, but the mystery it relates is rather frustrating.  Even when there is a confession to the murder, you are left dying to know if the confessor was protecting someone else, why they would confess in the first place since after five years, they’d clearly gotten away with it (more or less, as the entire family was under suspicion).  The murder is gruesome and horrifyingly sad and the detective Mr. Whicher is very nearly thwarted.

I had been interested in this book for a while and had not put it on my priority list.  However, the information about detectives (in literature and real life) in the 1860s was fascinating and exactly what I was looking for in a book at the time (much like the book about Mary Shelley and Galvani I was reading when starting Lazarus Machine… just freaking kismet).  When I saw it on the library list, I snapped it right up.

Now if only I could get a detective to come here and find my iPod.  🙂

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2014 in Writings

 

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A little stool in every room…

So I’m just killing time (and I’m a prolific murder of time) and so I stopped by the ongoing Russian translation of Lazarus Machine to look at the comments.  The translation is currently on chapter 27, just around the wedding.  http://ficbook.net/readfic/693739 if you’re interested.  I view it through Chrome, which will automatically translate the page (thought it comes out mostly unintelligible).  I like to look at the comments, just as I like to look at the comments on any of my other posted sites.

At times, the comments cannot even seem to translate properly, in the case of my favorite reference to umnichka John.  Looking it up separately, it’s a term meaning clever, in an endearing way.  Makes me melt.  Today, the thing that made me laugh was the translator replying to a comment made about the line where John is too short to kiss Sherlock without Sherlock’s assistance.  She said that (cleaning up for the choppy translation) John would have to put a little stool in every room so he could more easily kiss his husband.  Awwww.  LOL.

Anyway, I’m killing time I could be spending either job hunting or writing new chapters.  I feel past the hysterical sobbing stage of my depression and have passed into the utterly lethargic stage.  I did manage to write and post a chapter of the completely episodic series Experiments in Warmth within the last couple of weeks, and have one more chapter in that series done but for a paranoid series of adjustments I can’t stop making.  I was doing that with the chapter I posted, never feeling it was done, never feeling it was as good as it could be.  Every final pass I made changed things, then again, then again, and I finally posted it so I would stop torturing it.

Right now I have a couple hours before having to get ready for work, and several years of NaNoWriMo have shown me how much I can accomplish in a mere couple of hours, but I’m still having a hard time settling down to it.  I suppose part of the problem is my weakness with plot and, while I do know in a general sense what is going to happen through to the end of the story (stories) I’m not quite sure what happens in detail.  I find indecision rather plaguing.  So until I make the decision, I avoid it.  Which is a useless circle, really, since the more I avoid it, the further I get from the story in my mind.

I don’t want to be the writer who dries up for months and months, only to abandon the work entirely.  I want to finish.  The same problem applies to John’s Gamble, which I had originally said I didn’t even want to post until it was nearly done or done, and which now languishes in the same cesspool of depression as everything else, half-finished.

I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo invigorates me, but I’m just not certain this year that it will.  I’m still not certain what I want to do, with little over a week to figure it out.  Last year I started late and did not finish because of indecision.  I hate to think the same will apply here.  I suppose, though, I need one good thing to set me on a happy mental path rather than this spiraling doom I feel when I think of current events in my life.

Before I forget, I did stumble upon a delightfully apt Sherlock crossover fic with Neil Gaiman’s Fortunately the Milk, the very existence of which made me chortle with glee.  🙂  http://archiveofourown.org/works/1015760  So I suppose the world is not all bad.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in depression, Writings

 

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