Monthly Archives: October 2011

Falconry For The Modern Girl

I think I’ve worked out what I’ll write for NaNoWriMo this year, since I’ve been looking over my notes for The Falconer’s Apprentice and I really don’t think I’ll do it justice in a month.  Instead I plan to write a semi-autobiographical piece called Falconry for the Modern Girl because a lot of people ask me how I got into being a falconer in the first place.

I hate to say it, but I feel like this is a good project because it might have marketable appeal.  As much as I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, if I could get a book published it would make a huge difference in me and the Husband’s life right now.  It might mean the difference between him working the shitty hotel job he hates, which keep us from seeing each other for days at a time, and him pursuing either a PhD or teaching degree which he’d really love to do.

So this book will follow my progress from the very first cold December morning when I nearly fainted when gutting chicks for the first time, to being thrust into running the centre on my own after mere months of training, to deciding to train the Goshawk to hunt, the joy and exhiliration of when he made his first kill with me – and any other adventures which will follow in November.  There will also be random chapters thrown in about the research I’ve been doing into medieval falconry, perhaps other people’s experiences if they wish to relate them to me, and general stuff about the various birds we have at the centre for background information.

Because of its auto-biographical nature I think this will be a great train-of-thought project which I won’t become too stressed or frustrated by.  The main point is to just make myself write again in a routine so as to force myself back into a disciplined mindset again, and the secondary point is to write an interesting book about a subject not many have the insight or opportunity to write about.

To NaNo Or Not To NaNo?

I’d basically decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, but after several unproductive weeks I’m questioning that decision.  For those of you who don’t know (heathens!) NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s essentially a competition to see who can write a 50,000+ word novel in one month.  The prize is a feeling of self-worth.

I entered for the past two years, and “won” both times with The Long Road Home (2010) and Cobault (2009).  Neither were finished to my exacting standards, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to edit Cobault and failing to complete it, since it required heavy rewriting, but at least I could say I had two new novels under my belt which taught me a lot about the process.

Because I’ve been so unmotivated to write, but then guilty and upset with myself for not doing so, I think that, while I don’t believe my current project itself is fit to be written in a month, it would kickstart me back into writing regularly again.  My only decision will be what to write.

I’m nervous about trying to write my new project in this way because, as I’ve stated, I don’t think this is a story which can be rushed.  Writing a novel in a month is the very definition of rushing.  But that’s the story I currently have in my head, so the question is: should I put it aside, or just go for it anyway?

You might say, “just try it, and edit it later if its crap”, but I got stuck with Cobault in that later editing stage and got so frustrated with it that I never properly finished.  When huge chunks need rewriting completely and other chunks need to be reintegrated it makes my mind hurt trying to put them all together!  But maybe this is something I just need practice with as well?

Whatever the case, in 3 days time I will be embarking upon the hectic, frantic, repetitive-stress-injury-laden task of writing a novel once more, because my lazy mind needs some kicking up the arse.

A New Page Is Born

Alright then!  Now if you look at the top of this page, next to my Bio page, you will now see The Adventurous Time Adventures of Doctor When!  In its full and complete glory.

Enjoy my insanity.  I sure do.

Doctor When? Who’s That?? FINISHED, That’s Who.

Ok, so this will probably not make sense to those of you who haven’t partaken of my insanity for the extent of this blog’s existence.  But I have a short story, named The Adventurous Time Adventures of Doctor When which I have been releasing as a serial time drama.  It’s been some ridiculous number of months since the last portion, so it’s rather belatedly I can announce:

The Adventurous Time Adventures of Doctor When has been finished!  I just wrote the final bit of it tonight, under some duress.  (But really I enjoy duress, since it makes me get shit done!)

But here’s the thing: if I post this final chapter here and now, 90% of you (I’m, perhaps falsely, believing that I’ll get more than a single hit on this post) will have no clue what I’m taking about, or have read TATAoDW so long ago it essentially leads to the same thing – me posting all the bazillion links needed for you to catch up on the story.


I’m too snotty and blech for that nonsense.  Plus it’s late and I want to go to bed.  So what I’ll do instead is, probably tomorrow, make a new page on this blog which holds the whole ridiculous story in its entirety.  Interested parties can catch up/read it all in one place.

And it will have an ENDING – amazing.  You don’t see too many of those, with my stories!  (I think I have 5 completed works EVER – which might sound fairly respectable until you understand that I’ve began probably nearly 100 stories in my life thus far, half of which have not gone beyond a single, disappointing page.)

So tonight I shall bask in the warm feeling of a project completed.  And cough, snot and splutter myself to sleep.

Characters, Colds and Creature Comforts

Currently I’m working on characters and plots for this new project, trying to create a complex dynamic of several interweaving together.  Currently I’ve got 7 – 8 plot lines, mainly following individual characters, plus a handful more secondary characters who will inevitably be involved.  So now I’ve realised I can’t just call it The Falconer’s Apprentice anymore, because the falconer’s apprentice and his story is only one of the many plots!

Oh well, at some point I’ll invent a new working title, but I’ll stick to this one until then!

In other news, I’m currently battling a cold.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m ill I get obsessed over a couple specific things.

Thing #1 – Jumpers.  Seriously.  Every store I go into when I’m feeling ill and coughing and snotty, I have this need to buy warm jumpers.  Even though I already own a good half dozen such items.  It’s as if I’m thinking that just the right jumper would mean I’ll never be cold or ill again.  This is a false premise.

Thing #2 – Tea.  Oh tea, you are amazing.  I drink so much tea in an attempt to warm up my insides, as if it could drown the evil germs.  Die, you bastards.

Thing #3 – Soup.   Soup is an amazing food, because it’s warm and liquidy like tea, only it has all the calorific and nutritional content of real food.  Amazing.  So amazing, I’ve sent the Husband out to get me some.  Maybe he can get me a new jumper while he’s out.

I’ve also found a new thing to be obsessed over, though, thanks to our new house: FIRE.  And I don’t mean in a pyromaniacal fashion, not really (wuahaha).  We have a wood burning stove here, which goes at least some ways toward making up for not having either central heating or double glazing (it’s cold in here, needless to say).  Being warm is a thing of the distant summer, so sitting next to a roaring fire is bliss.

Especially when in a jumper, sipping tea and eating soup.

In Which A Dame Is Joined By A Gentleman

I’ve found another old falconry text via internet sources, this one a 1619 Treatise on Hawkes and Hawking by Edmund Bert, gentleman, as he insists upon on the cover page.  It begins with a letter to the Right Honourable Henry, Earl of Oxenford, Viscount Bulbecke, Lord Salford and Scales, and Lord Great-Chamberlaine  of England – our Gentleman’s patron – in which many proclamations of loyalty and love inform us that this book is actually a “testamony of my love, before I die,  which shall remain as a perpetual memorial of my ever-devoted service”.

This letter in itself is interesting since it tells us why Bert chose to write this Treatise, not only why he wrote a book at all on his deathbed but why he chose the subject of falconry.  Bert apologises to his patron no few times for the “slight” subject, and that it is “not weighty (being but a treatise of Sport)”, so one could wonder why a man in his inferior position would hazard to dedicate something he considers so meager a subject to his rather imposingly titled Right Honorourable Henry, Earl, etc., etc., in the first place.

Edmund Bert has been fighting some dehabilitating sickness for three years, as it becomes clear in later portions of the text, in which time he has been unable to keep hawks or hunt with them.  So he chooses to devote himself to this subject so he can “run back into my younger years, to summon the delights of my able youth, together with the fruits of my more experienced age.”  It’s easily imagined why he would want to recall the prime of his life when so near its end and unable to devote himself physically to it.

The book that follows tells us of Bert’s particular knowledge of falconry, and he makes a point of telling us that this is all his original work, nothing copied from previous texts (perhaps a dig at our Dame Bernes, who we believe copied several sections from older French manuscripts).  Bert makes many cofindent claims in how to train hawks, including a chapter on “how to make a hawk hood well that will not abide the sight thereof, and (how disorderly so-ever she might be) it shall be effected in forty-eight hours and less than forty bates.”

The first chapters are concerned with the ageless questions of: should you get a hawk or tiercel (female or male), and at what age should it be trapped (if falconry is practiced by taking wild birds, of course, wherein in modern British practice the same question is put to whether the captive bred birds should be parent-reared or imprints).  Bert spend a long time explaining that Haggards (birds older than a year, who have been living wild and hunting for themselves) are a bad idea, being too used to being unrestrained to submit to a falconer. Then he moves on to “Rammish” hawks, about which he says “there is small difference between the Haggard and the Rammish, only the Rammish has had less time (by preying for herself than the other) to know her own strength and worth, but in manning and making her I will set down my whole practice.”  I’m not sure if this is just the current term for a Brancher – a bird that has fledged – and closest to the modern concept of a parent-reared bird.  It would make the most sense to me, so I’ll assume so!

Lastly he talks about the Eyas hawk – what we would call an imprint – about which he prefaces his chapter: “Of the Eyas hawk, upon whom I can fasten no affection, for the multitude of her faults and follies.”  He tells us “they are so foolish in their first year they will hardly be taught to take a bough well” and “I have known some of them likewise that would sooner catch a dog in the field than a patridge” and also ” and many of them will cry as loud as you, as you will speak to them.”  All basically true, yes, but modern falconry has become just as enamoured of imprints as parent-reared birds when trained right.  Bert admits that with the right training these birds “may be ranked among the best in the highest degree” and also that they “will live longer than any of the rest, she is not apt to be sick or surfeit so soon.”

Needless to say, I’ve added Edmund Bert, gentleman, to my sources on falconry in the middle ages, even is 1619 is technically a good 200 years past the time period.  Frankly, I’m just tired of struggling through Middle English!

At some point I’ll need to stop researching and just start writing (no, the vignette I posted a bit of some weeks ago doesn’t count as the actual novel – it was written well before I started this research, and it’s horrendously incorrect in several things), but I’m still wanting to find more general sources on the time periods I hope to be working within.  At least this keeps me busy – as if my life weren’t busy enough, that is!