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Author's Notebook The Sardonyx Stone Off Stand the Wolves Destiny's Exile Under a Troubled Master-Eye A Warrior Be
Plague of Thought
Talking the Obsessive Monkey off the Writer’s Back
History is the hardest thing to write, to carry conceptual shapes along narrative trails cognitively marked with factual flags, begins as a thought-ordering exercise and develops into a mind-addling ordeal.
People have often asked me how I write so much, while typing so slow, and the answer most often given is that I never get fatigued or stale because I write in fiction and nonfiction in between one and two-dozen titles at a given time.
A fiction title can be let languish longer, as I did with some novels for almost a decade. The story is like cutting a road into the wilderness of the mind. One may stop, go home, even take a year off, and return to reopen the road. Journalism is even easier, just wandering the wilds and making observations. But writing history is to wrestle with perplexity, wade into murky doubt and juggle dazzling details.
This past week, having been laid in bed with vertigo and bronchitis, I found myself unable to sleep, driven by some inner shred of the ego to put final form to a now sprawling inquiry, in the form of the book series which began as A Dread Grace in 2015 and had grown into Soul of the West by 2019.
Beginning Monday, I had 18 chapters to write, to which I would add two. By Thursday I was saddled with about 350 citations and chapters, written over 5 years, consisting of about 250,000 words on over 1,150 pages.
Thursday noon, having finished the final entries, I looked at this mess and new I would scarcely sleep until the little demon in my mind was satisfied.
I began with citations and discarded about 100 pages.
I went into the essays and trashed about 50 pages.
I reassigned 350 pages to a stand-alone volume on historic combat methods.
What emerged was 648 pages of text and citations.
More importantly, the exercises of formatting the material forced another decision, to halt the aggressive inquiry into Aryan history and culture, by altering the second volume to focus on the following mythic works with nomadic themes:
-The Aeneid [tagged as Destiny's Exile]
-Beowulf [tagged as A Warrior Be]
-Argo’s Voyage [tagged as Off Stand the Wolves]
-Roland’s Song [tagged as The Sardonyx Stone]
-Moby Dick [tagged as Under a Troubled Master-Eye]
-The Dyonisica
-Heracles, Arthur and two other mythic sources I have yet to begin reading
Once these works are adapted, summarized and annotated, I will permit myself to carry on the investigation of secular sourcing:
-Xenophon on horsemanship, horses, hounds, his Anabasis and the Education of Cyrus
-Plutarch and Arian on Alexander
-Vergil on horses and hounds
-Thucydides on the Red-face-island War
-Current archeology, genetics and linguistic sources
-Sources included at the suggestion of readers
There you go, that, particularly the choice to give up active factual investigation and focus on developing a mythic context, managed to ease my mind as I spent 20 hours from Thursday into Friday barely outpacing the dark shadow of insanity.
Thanks to all who have helped out with sourcing this work.
This will eventually be rewritten as the preface to Shades of Aryas.
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