Saturday, December 31, 2011

Aha. Hope.

This past week I reread the current tale from beginning to where I left off. Made a few revisions and even wrote a few new paragraphs on Friday. I would dearly love to finish the tale in 2012 and that is one of my goals.

Trigo shall not rule!

Oh, and I really do like my own stories. Well, if I don't believe them, who will?

--the BB


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lies and more lies

Actually, mes amis, the tales took a different turn. Years have gone by. The immediate sequel is the story of a civil war, carrying forward the lives of some of the characters in the first story. I was quite caught up in it. Then the threads became hard to trace (for me... alas, poor readers). I turned to other things. And for almost two years have written only about two chapters. I am gearing up to resume the tale. I know how it goes but putting it in words (and getting myself back into the parallel world) is serious work.

And THEN I can tell the rest of Ian's life. Etc.



Friday, August 17, 2007

On to the next one!

The photo is of Bamburgh Castle viewed from Lindisfarne

Having finished the first volume of the Chronicles, I have just begun the immediate sequel. The second volume actually has three very different parts, the first being the continuation of Ian's life and adventures. We begin with the Short War between the Fighshuvli and the Norrungs -- not the nicest way to begin married life, but there you have it. We pick up following Hranild's death.

The exploration continues!

UPDATE: I lied. These things keep growing on me. The sequel will be the continuation of Ian's life and adventures. That will constitute a book in itself. Then we get to the life and adventures of his children, a separate book. For now (November 2007) I have been very busy fleshing out the world, redrawing maps with much more detail and tracking the family trees and movements of peoples and the history of the early church. It is so nice to be able to imagine enlightened missionaries of an enlightened faith.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Yes, it's finished!!!! (Trumpets, please.)

On Wednesday, July 25, 2007, I wrote the last words of the book I began on April 1, 2006. Given the size of that sucker, it's pretty fast.

Our young hero, Ian, has traveled to the far west and back once more to Vorthall of the Norrungs. All in a mere (brace yourselves) 255,000 words. I do rattle on, but all my friends and acquaintances know that by now.
Holy Isle of Vios (c) 2007 by PES
The map above is of the sacred island where our adventurers accomplish a pilgrimage of sorts, stopping at several shrines to offer thanks and pay their respects. The noble lady star singer finished sorting out her questions there and finally commits to her adoring beau. The simple but nerve-wracking rites of the Dark Queen, held in a cavern, allow Ian to chat with the goddess of death through her high priestess. His relationship with the Veiled One is far too intimate for comfort.

Well, the tale is told. A few copies are made so friends can enjoy and offer critiques (I hope constructive--creative types have such frail egos, you know). I have already begun planning and plotting for the immediate sequel, one of the tales that was not part of my imaginings back in the early 70s when the whole series began.

So, if anyone has stopped by here and wondered if I was still writing or whether the novel had shipwrecked, now you know.

There are several more books in this series. Would that I were independently wealthy and could just write, tend my garden, visit friends, do church stuff, and travel. In the meantime....
--the Bear

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Neglected Saints

Sant Guilhèm dau Desèrt
(c) 2007 Paul E. Strid

It will be forty years ago this fall since I spent a semester in France, studying somewhat (I was majoring in French) and enjoying myself a great deal. I lived with the family of L'Intendant Général Jean F Urvoy, who was in charge of l'École Militaire d'Administration in Montpellier. I was blessed to travel about with the family and thus came one day to St-Guilhem-le-Desert, site of an abbey founded by one Guilhem. Over the door in my bedroom is a perfectly tacky and very inexpensive crucifix I purchased in a gift shop that day. To me it is sacred because it links me to this fascinating man.

Guilhem [I am using the Occitan spelling of his name] was the grandson of Charles Martel (yes, that one) and thus related to Charlemagne. He was Count of Toulouse and one of the noble warriors who held things together for Louis I, the Pious, a weak monarch who needed all the help he could get. Guilhem was defeated by the Saracens at the Orbieux River but it was a Pyrrhic victory and they lost their taste for conquest in France and withdrew to Spain. He later pursued and defeated them in Barcelona.

Guilhem donated land and had an abbey built in the valley of Gellone and later renounced his titles, divided his realm among his heirs, and became a monk. His exact relationship to St. Benedict of Aniane is complicated by later prestige wars between Aniane and Gellone. He was certainly acquainted with and probably inspired by Benedict, whether he was under obedience to him or not.

Thus the basics on the historical Guilhèm.

His image as a greater-than-life warrior flowered in a cycle of chansons de geste (namely, La Geste de Garin de Monglane) and he is known in this context as Guillaume d'Orange, though he had no historical link with that French city.

Over the past four decades I have often invoked St. Guilhèm, asking his prayers. When it seemed time to write a new icon I wondered which saint it should be. Guilhèm popped into my head since I had no image of him. So, in late May, I began, turning to the internet to refresh my memory.

There I found information on Guilhèm and photographs of Gellone and the later abbey that still stands there and serves as a parish church. Since he was Frankish, I gave him blond hair and blue eyes, but who knows? The Cross of Languedoc in the upper corners is the same as the arms of the counts of Toulouse and has strong emotional content for me since I loved the fierce pride of the southern French. The decoration on the border is adapted from decorative motifs in the Sacramentary of Gellone, a liturgical manuscript of historical interest. The abbey is in the background and the hills are modeled on those surrounding the valley (though from a very different angle than the view of the abbey).

What I was not prepared for was rummaging through dozens of boxes in my garage for one thing (which I did not locate) and coming across two term papers I wrote on Guilhèm during my graduate studies at UCLA. One was for a course in hagiography and another was literary analysis for a class in medieval French literature. This was just two days after beginning the icon. The papers reminded me that his feast is May 28, which was the following Monday.

I rather think Guilhèm wanted his image written and I had not chosen the theme of my icon at all. Fr. Christopher McLaren blessed it at St. Michael's church picnic last Sunday, his daughter graciously wielding the rosemary sprig to sprinkle it with holy water.

Here are the prayers I composed for the occasion (along with the common for a monastic):

A mighty prince relinquishes lands and titles;
A warrior of renown lays down his arms;
The defender of an earthly empire
Turns to a heavenly Kingdom.
Guilhèm forsakes all worldly fame
And follows the Savior into the desert,
Armed only with the Holy and Life-Giving Cross.
There he serves the Ruler of creation with all humility,
Conquers demons, and establishes a garden of virtues.
Bells on earth sing his ascent to Paradise;
“Tant fist en terre qu’es ciels est coronez.”*

* He did so much on earth that in heaven he was crowned.

O God, Defender of your people and hope of the faithful,
You gave your servant Guilhèm of Toulouse
To serve an earthly monarch and defend your Church.
Despising earthly honors, he reached out to Christ
That he might serve the Eternal King
And submitted to the yoke of monastic rule
That he might win a crown eternal in heaven.

Western Collect
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Guilhèm, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Holy Guilhèm, continue to pray for me, a sinner, and for us all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Days, miles, words...

... all have passed.

It is months since I posted here. Ian and his companions have journeyed to Hlv, returned to Fimmoth, made their pilgrimage to the Holy Isle of Vios, and sailed east to the mouth of the Norrast River. They now journey upriver toward home.

There have been surprises, both good and ill. The last great barrier - in the category of plot dilemmas - has been resolved, barring nasty surprises for the author. Ian keeps growing and, I suppose, I continue to heal. The tale has always been one of a journey into darkness and back into light, the overcoming of depression. But I have come to recognize that scenes that move me to tears (whether in planning them, writing them, or talking about them) are usually about parts of my inner little boy being healed when Ian grows and is honored.

Fantasy fiction? Absolutely, but still telling my own tale in a very oblique manner over which I have only partial control.

Meanwhile, my back yard has become the home of fruit trees, then roses, then tomatoes and herbs, then annuals for color, and now peppers and a blue border along the south wall. My garden gives me joy.

I have written a new icon, about which more will come in a later post.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 01, 2007

Ian Ninefingers update

(Merry 8th Day of Christmas)

Yes, fans of Mithernesse, Ian acquired many nicknames over the course of his life. One does not become an epic hero without nicknames. He is also called Darkslayer, Ian the Star-Beloved, and He Who Comes from Beyond the World. He will simply be Inje to his future wife.

The last time I posted here, the Princess Gizli was plotting. While not everything went according to her plans, her chief goal was accomplished, in consequence of which, our brave companions are now on their way to her homeland, the Island of Hlv. Her mother was introduced in the last chapter I finished. A reunion of sorts is in the offing.

While some nasty types have perished between Gizli's plot and now, many more good men and women have set out toward the Veiled One's hall. Eagles and buzzards and even a condor have had their parts to play, in addition to a bear and the beloved wolf. The basic nature of three very different thieves has emerged.

I shall not speak here of the Chegjan.

Ian himself, a lad of only sixteen years at this point, is both more forceful and more reserved.

The women of Vorthall are harboring secrets.

And I, to my ongoing amazement, have passed 165,000 words and am still going strong.

May Hjelgi guide your steps aright in the new year.