A ROMP . . . OR SLOG . . . MAYBE BOTH
Thoughts on TEARS OF THE FOOT GUARDS and what's up next
TEARS OF THE FOOT GUARDS took a long time to write. It took so long, it could not keep pace with all the new research coming out every day. The fact I write very slow doesn’t help. And though it’s loaded with history, I cannot say it’s completely accurate. It’s a story after all, not history - a pastiche, and for me, the ultimate reenactment.
Ever been to a Revolutionary War reenactment? Go to one and you might see what I mean. Reenactments, by their very nature, are steeped in up-to-date research, yet riddled with anachronisms - they can’t be helped as we play in the 21st Century, not only in our surroundings, but in our everyday activities, our diets and adaptions, in our very heads. We try the best we can in the reimagining, and do do better on some occasions over others, but the limitations are obvious. Hopefully verisimilitude can win the day.
I think of Pynchon’s MASON & DICKSON, Susana Clark’s JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL, Francis Spufford’s GOLDEN HILL . . . What lofty company I aspire to . . . and thoroughly fall on my face. And what I’ve produce is an ersatz 18th Century GONE WITH THE WIND meets FULL METAL JACKET. A melodrama.
What’s wrong with a good melodrama?
But even more, I think of writing itself and the current formulas - the genre, the word count, points of view, switching tense, third person omniscient - rules I’ve broken intentionally . . . indeed, lazily - the joy of cutting loose. I enjoyed writing this story, like an amateur baker with streaks of flour up the arms and neck. I find my writing is as much about writing as the story - a parody of our time. Good thing then that it’s not traditionally published - that it can be what it is . . .
For those who read it, what did you think? If you thought anything all . . . Any impressions coming away? We generally come to a story with expectations, none more than Rev War reenactors regarding the period they portray. As writ in the beginning in STAVE I - Non possunt placeto omnibus - I cannot please Everyone.
So, coming up in just over a month, another historical potboiler, MILES CHRISTI, and a Faulkner/Wisdom shortlist finalist as well. What FOOT GUARDS did for the Revolution, MILES CHRISTI does for the First Crusade.