Saturday, February 22, 2014

Innovation in Authorship

Why shouldn't reader input count?

    Early on, when I first started publishing Castles on this site, I noted that what I'm really publishing is a draft.  Once the story is finished (and there is a planned conclusion, trust me!), the whole thing will need to be revised before I submit it to any "real" publisher.
    My wife, Karen, and Ron Mock are my most consistent and patient readers.  They frequently make helpful comments.  But now Ron has offered a significantly critical comment.  Basically, he said that chapter 91 doesn't feel right. 
    Chapter 91 is told from Eadmar's point of view.  Nothing wrong with that; Eadmar is an important character and the action of chapter 91 all takes place in Prayer House, which is Eadmar's turf.  But the action of chapter 91 is a Christmas Eve service that reads far too much like a Christmas Eve service straight out of North America, circa 2013.  Ron's complaint is that the Christmas Eve service feels like an earthly paste job.  The Christmas service should be authentically "Two Moons."
    As much as it may hurt to say so, I think Ron is right.  There is something right in chapter 91.  Eadmar latches onto the socially revolutionary aspects of the Christmas story in Luke.  So that bit will stay.  Beyond that, here's the question: what kind of Christmas Eve service would EADMAR, a priest of the Old God, invent?
    If you make suggestions, I might use them!


  1. It's hard for me to make a good suggestion, considering we have so few glimpses of the liturgical practices of Old God believers.

    In linguistics they have developed a way of tracking how languages drift, deriving principles of language entropy and change over time that gives them ways to model how languages have come to be what they are today, and to make fascinating predictions of where they ight be in the future (although I would think the Internet and globalizaiton will put a lot of new uncertainty into their language "weather forecasts").

    Is it possible to predict changes in ritual, too? This would allow you to go back to when the Two Mooners were last seen in England, take a snapshot of their church rituals then, and then picture how they might morph over the intervening centuries without contact from outsiders.

    Well, except for the castle gods, of course. That would set you back a bit in making confident predictions.

    It seems to me the question you asked -- what would Eadmar do? -- is the right one. He would be one example of the many change agents who would make deliberate changes that would put some eddies into the powerful currents of natural cultural evolution. Martin himself is another eddie-maker. What might two people like them, having waded into the current of Two Moons liturgical changes, decide to pick out of those currents, and what twists could they give to them considering the cultural resources and new ideas each brings to the task.

  2. I agree with Ron. The Christmas service is too current, and it seems inserted incongruously, almost as preaching. So first, why is the name of Jesus a priestly secret? Perhaps you already know that, but here is a chance to drop a clue or two. Second, the Christmas story itself was a way to fit the life story of Jesus into the messianic expectations of the Jews of his time - virgin birth, predicted by wise men, etc. so a lot of that could get re-framed in terms of the villagers' attitudes toward Martin -- is he a savior? surely some of them suspect that. The tensions of religious interpretations of unusual events and our human tendency to magical thinking - imputing purposive agency to coincidences, should inevitably lead to villagers and even priests putting two and two together that the one who brings the new Bible is himself the newly arrived messiah - maybe Jesus himself, despite Martin's vigorous denials. How does Martin contextualize this story that is brand new to the priests and villagers as it is presented to these believers in the Old God? Also a lot of Christmas is borrowed from pre-Christian rituals associated with the end of winter - the themes of hope and relief, as the meaning of this darkest time is that the world always moves to create itself anew, to grow and re-emerge. You sort of mention that but only very lightly, there's gotta be something more there. Also, lose the darn candles, at least not a 100 of them - there's no petroleum products like paraffin to make them, and beeswax is rare and precious, maybe lighting a few simple tallow lamps will suffice for symbolism. Only rich people have lots of candles -- unless you want Martin to magically produce them and get himself into even hotter theological water by adding some Promethean qualities to his messianic charisma. What are the temptations to Martin of this time, of being the bringer of important revelations, and how does he cope with them - how does he even acknowledge them to himself? He's a recovering alcoholic, he's gotta be deeply vulnerable here -- surely he misses the One Moon Christmases this one brings to poignant memory -- is his own dark night arriving? Lots more interesting if he stops getting everything right the first time like he has so far. He might need to discover that love is better than adulation.

  3. And the vote is 2 to 0. I was persuaded by Ron, and now I'm even surer. Chapter 91 will need to be significantly amended when I rewrite.

    The plan is to finish Winter and Spring and bring the story to its end this year. Then the whole thing will need revision.

    Thank you for comments, guys.