I’ve had a fascination with the Ballad of Tam Lin since reading a bastardized version in a Choose Your Own Adventure story in middle school, especially some of the darker alternate versions of the ballad that I discovered years later. It’s got great drama to it, but it’s also disturbing and puzzling on a number of levels. Why would any girl declare her love for a man who took advantage of her and ruined her reputation? Why risk her life to save him after all that? And when she saves him, is she setting him free, or just seizing control of him from the queen of faeries? (Which is kind of a badass revenge against a rapist, in my book!) And what kind of curse did the queen want to put on Tam Lin at the end? There’s a lot to explore there, but I’ve never felt that modern authors delved into it in a way that satisfied me. I’ve tried different ways to approach it myself, with a computer game I wrote for a class and a thesis concept in grad school, but it just never came together.
This week, for the first time, I realized that the novel I’m close to finishing is, beat for beat, the Ballad of Tam Lin. And I think it does the ballad justice. I’m just glad I didn’t realize that earlier, because I think it would have made the writing too forced and self-conscious. But it’s nice to be aware of it now, so I can polish the second draft with those elements in mind.
When I’m out biking, I’ve gotten pretty adept at tossing my head to detangle bumblebees from my hair and tilting my face to deflect clouds of gnats from hitting my eyes. Today, though, something huge and buzzing and clacking flew down the collar of my shirt and got tangled in my bra. I yelped, braked, and started frantically plucking my clothes away from my body in an attempt to free the thing without stripping naked in the middle of the bike path. finally managed to get it off me without getting stung, but that was a little more adventure than I was hoping for today!
So, after spending a week gluten-free to fix what’s wrong with me, I got new test results that I need to do totally the opposite of that, and in fact, totally the opposite of anything I would consider healthy. So for the next two months, I can’t have nuts, seeds, fresh fruits or vegetables, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and no whole grains or seeds, either. Which has led to my buying the first loaf of white bread I have ever eaten in my life. Ever. I am in Bizarro world. And I could kill for a pluot or a nectarine right now.
I feel really good about how Nanowrimo ended this time, even though I’m still way below the target. I think Nano tends to be good for getting me off to a good start, and then I just need more time on the tail end of the novel to work out how I want things to develop and culminate. Last Nano, I wrote 29,410 words in 30 days, and the full first draft ended up being 41,109. This time, I’ve managed 32,631 words in 31 days, and I’ve still got quite a ways to go.
It feels so good to be working on novels again, and I’m pleased at how different these two are. I think I’m learning a lot, and if I can write two novels a year for the next couple of years, I think I’m going to be really happy.