Thirty-one chapters rewritten and accounted for
It took an entire year.
In not even counting the two months where I purposely did no writing at all, it took an entire year to write the second draft of my historical fiction novel-in-progress, which amounted to a complete rewrite of my first draft.
It took longer to write than the first draft itself, which I completed in 10 months back in in 2005.
Usually, it’s writing that I cheat on other activities with.
Many years ago, in a fluke of proprioception I’m largely unable to reproduce with my moods and in other activities, I mastered the skill of daydreaming with a neutral expression on my face.
This revolutionized the way I move through the world, for it enabled me to almost always be working on my writing, even when I’m not literally writing.
They’re not who you think they are
It remains to this day the most incredible piece of medieval research I’ve turned up, even if I’ve since learned it’s not completely true.
In previously Medieval Mondays posts, I’ve written at length about medieval marriage. This in turn led me to write about medieval divorce.
Divorce (technically annulment of the marriage in its strictest sense) was a matter at the sole discretion of the Church, whose preference was almost always to keep marriages together. As such, the Church generally only granted divorces for six specific reasons.
King John hunting deer
Hunting, in the medieval times, was a way of life.
This is the case in more ways than one. On the one hand, hunting was an essential task for generating food for a noble household. According to Joseph and Frances Gies, authors of Life in a Medieval Castle,
The deer and other quarry supplied a substantial share of the meat for the castle table, and the forest supplemented game with nuts, berries, mushrooms, and other edibles. It also furnished the principal construction material and fuel for all classes. (p. 134)
Fewer elements of medieval culture capture the modern imagination like the tournament.
Pictured as it often appears in period movies and shows, the medieval tournament calls to mind any number of the following images:
- Scores of knights clad in the colours of their family crests with their horses caparisoned to match
- Ladies in flowing gowns bestowing their scarves and other such fripperies upon their favourite competitors
- Numerous contests of skill, honour, and sportsmanship, like the medieval version of the Olympic Games, of which the joust is most anticipated activity of all
And most importantly, a refined air of chivalry permeating the entire event.
The historical fiction shelf you won’t find in most bookstores and libraries
The problem with historical fiction is that it’s not actually genre.
Not the way romance or mystery or thriller are genres.
There are no defining characteristics – no genre conventions – of historical fiction other than the story taking place in a non-contemporary time period in which the manners, social conditions, and other details of the era are clearly depicted.
Medieval piggyback wrestling
People knew how to have fun in the Middle Ages.
In truth, in any age of history, people sought to amuse themselves during whatever moments they could spare from their workdays, however brief these moments of respite might be.
The medieval times was actually rather unique in this regard. During the 13th century, people had more holidays and days off work than are granted in the modern western world.