Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lunge and Thrust

Being a writer is hard work. When I began to write a book several years ago, I thought the hardest part would be the typing. It wasn't until I took classes it became clear how little I knew. It isn't just plundering the page with words. It isn't just following the rules of language. It isn't just the ability to use a thesaurus. It is a craft one works to master.

There are those who can slough down a slew of scuttlebutt in seconds and have very little revision. And then there is me. It may take me four hours to heave some hearsay onto the herald and then another four hours to come up with a page of prose worth keeping.

In college I never would have thought the research could be one of the best parts.

It is so fun.

For two years I wrote a little and researched a lot. Friends and family can attest to my excitement and exhilaration during that time. Conversations began with "Did you know..." and my friends eyes would glass over.

Today I conducted more research. My critique friend, Peggy, and I had a private lesson with David Cogley in Camas. He kindly brought a French cavalry sabre and a weapon similar to a small sword which would have been used by the officers aboard a Royal Navy ship. We started out with a foil and graduated up to a fencing sabre. We lunged, we parried, we engaged, we disengaged, we thrust and parried and followed with a riposte. We advanced, we recovered. And most thrilling of all, we ran him through. And then we apologized.
It is hard to thrust a blade into someone, especially when he has velvety brown eyes and an equally silky voice. The mask helps though. One can imagine it is someone who left their blinker flashing for three miles, going 30 in a 55 and talking on their cell phone. (Not that I ever entertained the idea of jumping out of my car, hauling the culprit out of his and engaging in a duel, or anything.)


  1. TWO YEARS?!?!?!! TWO???? I know I probably should have gotten something else out of this, but omg. 2 Years....of research alone? Oh, I am in waaaaaaay over my head. So much for instant fame...

  2. Nice alliteration...but is he single?

  3. SingleDatingMommy

    I made the mistake of writing on a subject I knew nothing about. Historical fiction on the high seas. The more I read on the subject, the more exciting it was. I craved more, more, more, and each thing I learned branched off into wider research. It was a quest for knowledge like I've never experienced before. Stunning, brilliant, dynamic. I tried to stop. I really did, but the characters wouldn't let me.

    If you are writing a contemporary fiction you will end up having to do some research, but it may only be a month or two. Many writers research as they go, fitting it in when they need it.

    So, no, you are still on the right track for...well possibly for instant fame. Don't forget to invite me to appear on Oprah with you.

  4. Karen,

    I SO wanted to ask. But I was afraid he'd think I was a cougar. He would have been perfect for SingleDatingMommy. With those dark eyes, dark hair and the French Sabre, what woman could resist?

  5. Research is one of the best parts! I hope the editing is going well.

  6. Thanks Rhiannon. What an honor to have you leave a comment. So what research did you enjoy most on your young adult novel?

  7. I'm doing some now on floodplains and glassblowing right now. Book one was no research, just emotional word-vomit! I'm enjoying the research but trying to avoid info dump, though having a know-it-all arrogant jerk as on of my MCs helps!

  8. Oh that looks like wonderful fun! I would love to join you for a little zorro action.

  9. Rhiannon, I love know-it-all arrogant jerks as main characters. I plan to have one when I write my autobiography! :)

    Jar of Giggles, it would have been fun to have you there. There is something running someone through.

  10. Yeah, one thing better than research is an artfully told tale involving a fun experience of such!
    (Dale sent me over)

  11. Ah, Jill Berry, the artist. Thank you for visiting. Certainly, the best part of research is imagining how it applies to my characters. I do hope some will feel it is artfully told. :)

  12. I'm finally commenting on this post! Ugh, I've been avoiding the ciber world lately. Just not enough brain power to write or respond to anything lately.
    Anyway, I love the post and pics! It was so much fun! Wish we could do it again...
    I posted a bit about it, finally, and added a link to your post here. Hope you don't mind. (=

  13. PLA Anderson

    I'm just thankful you are writing such an exciting young adult book. If you hadn't had to write a sword-fight in your book, you might not have done this with me. Thanks for allowing me to post the pictures of you and the fencing master.

    If you want to see Peggy's side of the fencing lesson story, click on "Peggy" in the blog.


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