rosefox: In 1813, a lending library clerk discusses books with a customer. (valour advances)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2015-04-08 02:29 am

"Laugh hard, it's a long way to the bank"

Shiny new userpic! The typeface is Grit Primer and the image is from an 1813 painting by James Green that was used to illustrate "The Library" in Rudolph Ackermann's Poetical Sketches of Scarborough.

That library is about five times the size of Nathaniel and Eliza's little shop, but it gives you a sense of the space, and the customers. I love this drawing so much.

On Sunday I felt frantic and overwhelmed by overdue work. I spent all of yesterday working my way through the heap and catching up. Which meant that today I could write. And I actually wrote, putting down the opening scene that's been in my head for months. I cannot begin to articulate what it's like to have the text overlaid on the more nebulous mental concept, or vice versa; there are places where it doesn't quite feel right yet, and somewhere in the back of my head (and trying to come to the front, though I won't let it) I'm already writing editorial notes to myself. But: draft first, revise later. I even caught myself starting to revise when I was about 500 words in, and I made myself stop revising and keep writing. And now the scene's done, at about 1270 actual honest-to-gosh words.

Writing at this length is so freeing! There's room for banter, for character development, for delicate lashings of exposition! I can sneak in the occasional reference to obscure historical figures! (I have helpfully footnoted them in the excerpt below.) I plan to write long, long, long, gloriously long, and cut it down later. 1270 words for just one scene--not even a full chapter! Such a luxurious change from reviewing a book in 200. :D

It's a rough draft it's a rough draft it's a rough draft. I will tattoo these words on my eyelids. But since you've all cheered me on so much, you deserve a peek at the fruits of my research, and so I will stop tweaking the damn thing and just post it. You all understand it can and will change between now and whenever I consider the book actually done, right? Right.

May 12, 1810


Nathaniel Axton looked up, startled, and carefully set down his pen. “What?”

“Mary Hawthorne.” Eliza Carroll’s voice was muffled as she bent over the account books in the back office. “The butcher’s daughter. Doesn’t she go to your church? She’d make you a lovely bride.”

Nathaniel sighed, picked up the pen, dipped it again, and went back to outlining a corner ornament of flowering vines. “I’m not in the market for a bride, lovely or otherwise,” he said. “As I keep trying to tell you.”

“Well, you need some good excuse or people will keep trying to persuade you to marry me.”

“Can’t a man be a bachelor anymore?”

“Can’t a woman be a spinster?” Eliza retorted. “They’re hounding me worse than they are you. Sarah Hodgson sent a list of nine eligible men, their lesser and greater qualities all itemized as though I were choosing a paper supplier. Of course she included her own sons, annotated like the rest. And Thom Harrison keeps giving me meaningful looks every time I walk by their shop.”

“Thom Harrison’s barely twelve years old!”

“Old enough to know he's responsible for perpetuating the Harrison printing dynasty. And wouldn’t they like to add Carroll & Co. to their holdings.”

“Are you sure it was Thom giving you those meaningful looks and not his sister?”

“Which sister, Mary Ann? Oh yes, quite sure. If she’d given me a meaningful look I’d be upstairs primping my hair, not sitting here trying desperately to make one and one sum to three.”

Nathaniel meticulously cross-hatched a leaf and then sat back to examine his handiwork. Satisfied, he blotted it and set it aside.

“Maybe I should marry you,” he said. “To save you from the lecherous twelve-year-olds of London.”

“ ‘Maybe I should marry you,’ ” Eliza mimicked. “The most romantic proposal ever received! We’ll have Karoline Webber engrave it with pretty flowers all ’round to hang on our drawing room wall. Speaking of which, how are those ornaments coming?”

“All finished,” he said. “The type’s all laid, so I’ll make blocks from them tonight and print up the invitations tomorrow. I’m no Mrs. Webber, but I think Mrs. Morrow will be pleased.”

“I don’t care whether she’s pleased so long as she pays. The butcher’s bill is due.” He heard the slap of the account book closing and the scrape of the old wooden chair on the floor. “If you’d just marry Mary Hawthorne we’d never have to pay the butcher again.”

“You’d have me wed every shop girl in the city if it meant a savings for us.”

“I would indeed,” Eliza said, emerging from the back room. Even though Nathaniel was perched on the high stool behind the counter, he had to look up a bit to meet her gaze; he was on the tall side, but she was taller. He’d hoped their banter would bring some merriment to her eyes, but she was frowning as she tied her apron on and came around behind the counter to inspect his artwork. “I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said soberly. “Three of our most lucrative copies expire at the end of the year, and if we don’t find more writers to replace them, we’re sunk.”

Positive and supportive comments only, please; I am v. vulnerable around this and not equipped to handle even the smallest and most helpful suggestion. If you think it sucks or you want to go on a rant about people speaking with contractions in 1810 (p.s. they totally did) or you want to make sure I know about the very obscure law forbidding people named Hawthorne from becoming butchers or whatever, I'm sure you can find another place to express those feelings, secure in the knowledge that I will re-research every word of this book once I write those words.
spark: White sparkler on dark background (Default)

[personal profile] spark 2015-04-08 09:06 am (UTC)(link)
You do good banter! I especially like the annotated sons. I'm picky about writing that seems fake or clunky or overdone, but this scene is elegantly written and establishes the characters and setting with efficiency and grace. Looking forward to your book now!
amaebi: (Default)

[personal profile] amaebi 2015-04-08 11:13 am (UTC)(link)
No helpful suggestions came to mind to be suppressed in the making of this comment:

That is just delicious. Graceful, natural, and in-genre, conveying useful information very naturally. My gosh.

Also, "the very obscure law forbidding people named Hawthorne from becoming butchers or whatever"-- that is Exactly the way I've heard regency-mavens go on! :D
jinian: (chiyo)

[personal profile] jinian 2015-04-08 11:28 am (UTC)(link)
Charming! I like Eliza.
lifesnotasong: (Default)

[personal profile] lifesnotasong 2015-04-08 12:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Love it!!
sterlinglikesilver: (Default)

[personal profile] sterlinglikesilver 2015-04-08 01:02 pm (UTC)(link)
This is going to be splendid. I am definitely cheering you on.

I think your plan of writing a draft before doing any editing is terrific.

Go you!
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

[personal profile] ironed_orchid 2015-04-08 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
This is delightful. It leaves me wanting to know more about these characters, which is generally a good sign.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

[personal profile] juushika 2015-04-08 10:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I knew I loved this concept, but I didn't know how badly I'd want to read the actual book until you posted this snippet. It's so lively and engaging and all I want is more.
juliet: (Default)

[personal profile] juliet 2015-04-09 11:49 am (UTC)(link)
I very much liked this! I too finished the snippet wanting to read more.

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 12:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I can't remember my DW login, never having used it, so I'll have to comment here.

“Can’t a man be a bachelor anymore?”

“Can’t a woman be a spinster?” Eliza retorted.

My favorite! But I enjoyed all of it.

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 12:55 pm (UTC)(link)

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 01:00 pm (UTC)(link)
FWIW: I love the woman in blue and gold on the left in that image. I love those Regency turbans.

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 04:42 pm (UTC)(link)
(brain scrolls back thru Visual History II class)
(finds Regency)
(search significance of yellow in clothing/textiles/art/design)
(search results: something about ochre)
(read, analyze)
Ah-HA! Yellow ochre was frequently used for paintings in the ancient world, i.e., Egypt, Roman villas. The Regency period had a fascination with the look of the ancient world; long flowing gowns, turbans.

At least I think that's it. Can't trust my own brain sometimes.

ext_45721: Rabbit lying on a couch, reading large, antique book of Poe. (gumshoe winnar!)

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 03:02 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd read the lot.

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 04:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Very intriguing! I want to know more about everybody and everything.
phantom_wolfboy: picture of me (Default)

[personal profile] phantom_wolfboy 2015-04-08 08:54 pm (UTC)(link)
A very good beginning. I would certainly read on. And I loved the annotated sons!

[identity profile] 2015-04-08 11:55 pm (UTC)(link)
This is sprightly and fun and interesting, and it's got The Spark. That's exactly what you need for a first draft, imo. Picky crap can wait for later.

[identity profile] 2015-04-09 01:41 am (UTC)(link)
I like it and would keep reading.
ivy: (grey hand-drawn crow)

[personal profile] ivy 2015-04-10 09:36 am (UTC)(link)
I like Eliza already. [grin]

[identity profile] 2015-04-14 03:23 am (UTC)(link)
Eeeeee, so awesome! LOVE their banter! Love their camaraderie! Love their care for each other. Crisp writing. Clear characters. So good. <3