So I accidentally started reading my first NaNoWriMo novel yesterday.
A couple of clarifications here:
I’m not one of those people who has done NaNo since I was twelve,
When I say “accidentally,” I don’t mean I fell in a hole and remarkably discovered my manuscript typed and tied together with a ribbon.
With that understood–
My manuscript is only about three years old. I did not intend to spend much longer than I should have getting engrossed in this weird steampunky thing that I have barely looked at since November 30, 2018.
I know we say as writers, “I wrote it. I can’t possibly forget it,” or some kind of endearing sentimental nonsense like that and it really feels true. I still think about my 2018 project a lot and even after three years can tell you the main plot points, who I like, who I don’t, what needs fleshing out, how it (probably) fits into the growing legendarium.
I forgot a lot of stuff.
I forgot that I balked at a lot of the worldbuilding and just used “Saxon” and “Englishman” and Romani slang as insults because I am a lazy coward. It’s going to be an alternate universe now and I will reinvent what I need to.
I forgot that I wrote this snarky mechanic girl entirely. How did I forget that? I love her. She needs a bigger role. Can I give her a bigger role? Please?
I forgot that I apparently really like the name Florrie because I’ve now unwittingly used it twice, once for said snarky mechanic girl.
I forgot that I left a pile of notes about what might happen/research/drafts I couldn’t bear to delete at the end of the document and scared myself into thinking I hadn’t actually written that heart-wrenching ending that I really thought I wrote–but okay, there it is, I can breathe now.
I sort of forgot how many characters this thing has! Did I think I was building the Fellowship of the Ring? Twice?
There’s something about reading your old drafts that’s a little bit hypnotic. You come up feeling like you’ve just watched a sporting event or a chess competition, slightly dizzy, and wondering who won–the writer or the critic.
I love my hideous old draft. Someday it will be a book. A real book.
In the meantime, I made a beautiful synopsis mock-up that makes me sound like a brilliant creature and the book the greatest thing since Joel Ross’ The Lost Compass.
Writers, after all, can be pretty good liars. Especially if someday, somewhere, it just might be true.
Still reading Les Miserables, by the way. Eventually I’ll finish and review this gorgeous thing. Spoilers: I love it.
Oh, and BookmarkedOne is on Twitter now, by the way. Come visit me @bookmarkedone. I promise to talk about books…and probably not much else. Which is what happens when you get introverts to be social. Right?
To write 50,000 words in a month or not write 50,000 words in a month?
To stay up into the small hours of the morning on most weekends, typing a furious descent to madness, or to stay healthy, get a proper(ish) amount of sleep, and be psychologically well-balanced or at least without another item of excess stress?
It really isn’t a question.
I’m doing it. NaNoWriMo Round 3.
As an explanation, I am, quite certainly, when it comes to writing
…not in any particular order. And this year I really had no idea what I’d be writing. Zilch plan.
My creative-writing brain’s solution? Stay up until 2:30 a.m. creating a glorious steampunk (or is it medievalpunk–technically Renaissance-punk, but I wasn’t actually aware that was a thing) fantasy story plan that I absolutely cannot refuse.
But before that…I really couldn’t answer even to myself if I’d be doing it. And trust me, I know NaNo isn’t everyone’s thing. One of my writing buddies has been patiently nagged to do it for the last two years and just can’t with life. I get it. If I were really a level-headed person, I’d be looking at how crazy my little world already is and laugh at the whole idea.
I think NaNo is made for people like me. People who crave the challenge (and maybe a smidge of suffering). A reason to write. An adventure. A game to play you might very well lose.
Anyway, now it feels a little bit like a countdown to Christmas morning. I know, it’s a weird mixture of excitement and dread that goes into NaNo, but the truth is, as soon as I had my horribly messy plan, I couldn’t actually wait for it to start. I wanted to write it. I wanted it to be NaNo already.
I can almost feel the gasps of horror from the other writers who haven’t finished stockpiling their caffeine or polishing their outlines. I think eventually they might forgive the moment of weakness. That’s the other thing about NaNo–no matter what genre, what style, what life struggles we have, this challenge brings us all together, and makes allies out of people that have never met.
It’s a beautiful moment when you get to see that.
So with six days and counting, good luck to all the Wrimos out there, and a very peaceful November to all those who aren’t involved.
May we all find stories worthy of a dragon’s hoard.
Confetti and cake time! Writers of the Future has awarded me a Silver Honorable Mention!
You might remember “Rejection Slip,” a post about my last Writers of the Future entry. A flat-out refusal of a story that I loved.
Things are looking up.
The Silver Honorable Mention isn’t an official award. I won’t be published in the anthology. But out of 181 countries, story upon story upon story, writers who know what they’re doing and have seen every plot in the business (twice), read mine and saw something they liked.
I can be satisfied with that.
Until I write them something they can’t refuse.
I still scream incoherently every time I open one of the WOTF emails with good news. I reserve that, as my singular right. You know, on the list of things we “crazy writers” do.
So now that it’s officially been announced on the WOTF website, I’ve had my victory ice cream and life is ready to move on…
I’m debating National Novel Writing Month. For the third year running.
The case is this: I want to do it. Per usual, I don’t have time to do it. I’ve learned not to be bothered by that.
I have no plan. None. And only 9 days to come up with one. Because, you know, I’ve squandered the rest of October with unavoidable responsibilities and arguing with characters about peanut butter.
Yeah. You read that right. Peanut butter. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So can I do this?
Wish me luck. Because I know myself well enough by now to guess that if I can find the slightest spark of inspiration, I’ll give it my best shot.
Well, it’s December now. All of the groggy little writers who spent a month writing 50,000 words are sleeping in and waking up to see the world hasn’t fallen to shivers while they’ve been away. Everything’s much the same.
Except, of course, for those of us who made the journey.
Victors or not in the challenge, we return laden with words. The greatest treasure a writer could ask for. We lost sleep and caught colds and gave ourselves bloodshot eyes and sent each other memes in the dark of night to tell each other keep writing, keep writing! And we came out again on the other side.
Perhaps I embellish a bit. Perhaps it’s not quite like the exploits of a tremendous explorer. Perhaps writing about dragons isn’t the same as meeting them and splashing the spray of salty waves against a ship made of ink won’t quite give you the taste of them on your lips.
But it is something, and I’ll hazard a guess that the handful of people across the world that made the attempt are a good measure more adventurous for it.
So here’s to the adventure, and to all of us who made it. The lunatics, the people who finished, the people who didn’t,
50,000 words, 30 days, a lot of caffeine, not a whole lot of sleep. The challenge ends today. We update our word count for the last time.
Am I ready for this?
On paper, yes. Word count is at over 55,000 words. Story is a mess, but I think that’s to be expected. But there’s another question that follows that one.
Am I ready to go back to ordinary life after trying to write this many words?
No. Not even a little bit.
I’m never prepared for ordinary life.
So I’m going to spend today writing about a few of my favorite parts of NaNo. Everyone talks about the stress, the writer’s block, the damage to your health. We writers like to be dramatic. But that means sometimes we ignore the excitement, the community–let’s look at the obvious–the stories. The reasons we’re crazy enough to do this.
From the top.
The excuse to get up every day and write. No shoving laundry and other unimportant things like socialization before your words this month! You have a duty to write now (cue gleeful smile).
The fact that because you need every last little word, anything goes. Anything. Hyper-dramatic origin story taking up 27 pages? Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. It’s enormously freeing. Also somewhat terrifying.
The happy little charts telling you if you’re on track or not (here’s mine!)
The forums. Okay, seriously, now. These discussions. I don’t know who does these things, but “Express your attitude toward your novel in a meme or gif?” Or “The Spork Room Thread,” where we metaphorically stab our writing struggles with sporks? Raise your tankards to the madcap heroes who thought these up.
(guiltily here) Getting non-writer people to leave me alone to write because they can only imagine what writing that many words is like.
There’s so much more to NaNo that I should mention…people who understand exactly what it’s like to try (and sometimes fail) to write and are willing to cheer you on even when they’ve never read a word of your story…people who urge you on when you’re daunted by starting the task…the chance to write.
If I could change one thing about how I’ve done NaNo, it would be to have started a long time ago. Everyone talks about the dreaded 50,000 like it’s impossible–but it really isn’t! Only imagine how many rambling, half-finished novels I’d have by now.
So I actually already finished my goal of 50,000 words for the month. Two days ago?
Not sure how that happened.
Not sure how I feel about it, either.
No bells and whistles and whooping went off in my head. No banshee-screams like when I’ve discovered news of favorable contest results, loud enough to frighten the peaceful community saddled with me.
I just updated my word count on the NaNo site, hit the 50,000…and kept writing.
I’m still writing, mostly because it seems a shame to quit before November is over. And partly because the project I started can’t really begin to be called finished.
This always happens to me.
It’s more like I took automatons, mermaids, dragons, magic rings, circuses, flowers, war and who knows what else and shoved them into a pile and told them to be quiet while I called it a novel.
I don’t think they’re going to be quiet very long…
More than likely, they’re going to keep me awake at night until I polish them into the little fire-jewels I know they could be.
But it’s still November now. Too early for thinking about that.
I have slowed down writing a bit, since there’s no real goal I have to hit now. Taking a few deep breaths. Trying to make sense of the things I already wrote. Reading.
I read the final book Sarah Prineas’ Magic Thief series in two days flat. Actually, in just over 24 hours.
This is what happens when you deprive yourself of books. You stay up too late turning page after page as if the little “hamster at the wheel” everyone talks about has been given 100 milligrams of caffeine and an irresistible desire to exercise regardless of the lateness of the hour.
The series is a personal favorite. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? Pickpockets, little dragons, steampunk-y magic and a character that reminds me immensely of Gandalf if he wore a black frock coat and top hat–it’s really quite delicious. And after some hard, painful reading/book trauma the last few days, I needed some cheering up.
The adventure of writing 50,000 words in 30 days is almost over for another year. As in 4,000 words/7 days close.
I don’t mean to say the “novel” I’ve been working on is finished. I’m not sure anyone looking at it would think that. But I’ve been doing what I set out to do.
Just writing. Whatever I feel like, writing.
It was supposed to be a wizard’s travelogue, filled to the brim with adventures and stories collected along the way.
Hasn’t really turned out that way. I haven’t written either of the two myths I meant to include when starting the project (silent apology to writing buddy who asked me to write one of them). And the travelogue sensation has been all but drowned out in places. Probably 10,000 words need to be cut out.
Then again, NaNo isn’t about being perfect. It’s about writing. Whatever you want. And apparently what I wanted was cyborgs, fire, and dragons instead of shadows, war, and magic flowers.
Cue helpless shrug, please.
This week has gone…differently. In some ways, I feel like I finally am starting to write this project. As if I had to wander through the better part of 40,000 words to realize I’ve been holding my map upside-down all along. And now all I want is to see where it will lead me.
So let me say one crazy thing–one month is not long enough for this madness of writing 1,667 words a day. I need more time. I need a second November to finish this adventure.
I need someone to smack me upside the head and remind me how nice it is to remember the names of people I see every week and get eight consecutive hours of sleep at night.
This week was especially exciting because in addition to nearing the end, I had a small word slump.
The cause? Book trauma.
This may be unfamiliar to some of you. Book trauma is essentially when I become too deeply involved in character’s lives I then get the sensation of a pencil being snapped in half when something goes horribly wrong. Not dying characters or unforeseen plot twists. I’m a seasoned enough reader by now not to be bothered by that. Much. It’s more that I’m so attached to the world, the characters, I can’t completely pull myself back to reality. If someone gets hurt, I can get over it. But if a character lets me down? Betrays everything they seemed to be and act like it’s nothing at all?
It’s as if your best friend suddenly told you out of the blue that you are fat and stupid and have a witch wart on the end of your nose and that they don’t care about you at all.
Dramatic, I know. It happens when you go hiking up Mount Doom on the weekends and spend your evenings in the Eolian tavern and a month writing 50,000 words instead of going to work parties and reading light magazines.
Or whatever it is normal people do.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I could just cry it out and be done with it. But the last few times this has happened, it’s like it’s been a delayed reaction. I was still sensitive talking about short stories I’d read eight, nine months afterward. It wasn’t until 24 hours after reading the section of the novel that traumatized me this time I felt that sick pull in my stomach that comes with realizing what I’d read.
Usually when a book makes me angry, the writing is splendid. I have ideas, I have plots, I have revenge and wrath and visit justice upon the horrid author’s ideas. Book trauma this time was different.
I couldn’t write. Everything I put on the page that night seemed like a horrible, shallow idea.
It wasn’t big enough to throw off my word count or set me behind. But it was pretty awful.
Word of warning–people say you can read to inspire your writing, and it’s perfectly true. But apparently so is the opposite.
Blog will probably return to “regular programming” in a week or two after NaNo ends…so a quiet thank you for listening to me grumble about my adventures. More book reviews soon.
Happy reading, and to the NaNo writers out there, happy writing. Everything will be back to normal soon.
Ready for another flurried update on the Search for 50,000 Words (in 30 days)?
I’ve been meaning to post more, but I think you can guess why that didn’t happen. Plus I had some other adventures this month to be blogged about soon…enjoy a little clue here, if you like.
I love the little charts the National November Novel Writing site has to make us feel successful for every last word, but looking at my daily word count…
I can’t help thinking how much it looks like a heart monitor.
I do realize a heart monitor is not supposed to spike that much. My word count isn’t supposed to spike that much either.
On the other hand, I have successfully added words to my NaNo project every day for 18 days straight. Which I find…
…okay, totally weird.
I am not one of those hyper-organized people who writes every day, at the same time every day, in the same place every day, with the same pre-writing ritual of shuffling the pens to one side, drinking tea, watering plant, lighting scented candles, etc.
Not by a lot.
Feel free to use your imagination about my disorganized habits. Throw in a dragon. It can’t hurt. Eep, is my little world a mess.
So this writing-every-day thing is…highly suspicious.
I keep waiting to see what life responsibility I totally forgot about. Besides sleep, of course. Because that seems more likely. By far.
Last year I binge-wrote on the weekends (is that the proper term?), usually staying up into the wee hours of the morning listening to music (shall we say insistent enough? Cue guilty laughter, please) to keep me awake so I wouldn’t have to worry about falling behind on word count during my crazy week schedule.
I haven’t been up until two in the morning except maybe once this month.
This feels a little like cheating.
Maybe I’m dreaming.
Maybe I tripped over a rabbit hole and fell into Wonderland. Maybe I’ve been too busy typing to notice the colored mushrooms and hear the click of croquet balls over the sound of my keys.
Maybe I’m just writing and things are going smoothly, perchance?
Regardless, if you see a Jabberwock running around this way, please let me know. Will be happy to knit a story tailor made.
So we’re just over a week into the writing madness of NaNoWriMo–50,000 words in 30 days. While I probably don’t have the time/shouldn’t be stealing the time for this…well, the lure was too much.
I’m not sure if my experience should encourage or discourage someone thinking about doing it. I kind of think of NaNo the same I do writing in general. You’re going to spend a lot of time on it, probably fretting over whether it’s good enough, not getting enough sleep and (occasionally) ostracizing yourself from the rest of the world.
On the other hand, if you can’t stop writing, if the world you dream about keeps you awake at night so the only thing you can do is type, NaNo is a dream come true. With friends charging ahead right beside you.
So here’s how it’s gone for me and my life, pros and cons. You can draw your own conclusion.
I’m still alive and writing (this actually does require stating during NaNo).
I am currently awake and it is not 3 a.m.
I have had a full night of sleep (also warrants stating…especially after the last few days).
My current word count is 24,131 words.
I hate probably 7,000 of those words and want to go back and cut them out.
Other stories are shoving their way into my NaNo project that don’t belong.
The initial idea for this project is now sort of out the window.
And I am writing pretty much whatever I want (pro and con here, methinks).
I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning Nov. 1-2 writing.
Got a light cold the next morning from lack of sleep/changing weather/running myself too hard.
I stayed up too late catching up on things every night this week and have been groggy and somewhat blurry throughout my week (silent apology to everyone I creeped out with a pale, uncomprehending stare. Well, almost everyone).
A loved one who thinks I do NaNo like a substance addiction commented a few days ago about “presuming with all I’ve had going on lately [i.e. rehearsals, university responsibilities, performances, blogging volunteering, working one part time job and an erratic freelance schedule] that I wasn’t writing 50,000 words.” Wrimos out there can feel free to imagine my expression. I stayed almost straight-faced for probably 1.5 seconds before giving myself away by laughing in his face (this isn’t really a pro or con…but it kind of encapsulates the experience this week).
I started out fantasy and now sci fi has invaded. Wizards beware.
My current word count is 24,131.
My current word count is 24,131.
I am writing again.
So…yeah. That’s about the sum of it. And I should probably be catching up on things bluntly neglected while writing before I get back to my automatons and mermaids, so…
So in between working on NaNoWriMo (I’m still alive after 18,000 words in 6 days! Ha!), here is the promised blog post about Grand Bookish Adventure no. 2: Dragonfest Renaissance faire. Even though it’s been a couple weeks since it happened.
As word of explanation, I am a strolling player at the festivals–wander around, wear cool clothes, and play music (this is actually my job description. Simplified, of course. Don’t be too jealous). If you want to come to Dragonfest sometime, feel free to poke around on the website. And if you like this little adventure, I’m having another performance mid-November, so keep your eye on the blog.
Otherwise, here’s the story!
If you missed my ranting about how awesome Dragonfest and Renaissance faires are in general…Life off the Page. It sometimes happens.
Anyway, some of you may remember I was hoping in terror it wouldn’t rain. Because the violin does not get wet.
And yes, I went anyway.
Probably not the most logical of my logicless decisions in the last week and a half (please note, most of this was written before NaNo–but the point stands).
And some little droplets of water got on the violin I take to faires.
(Sound of Strolling Player internally dead. Not dying. Dead.)
(Feel free to imagine here whatever wet squelching sound, dry banshee wailings or aghast poetry you like)
Of course I wiped them off as soon as I saw them and was as careful as I could be. And for those of you holding your breath, when I scrutinized it later, the worst damage appeared to be light smudges on the high-gloss varnish. Similar smudges have appeared before because my hands typically sweat rivers when I play. So. Probably no lasting damage.
Didn’t help other musicians were quietly judging me by politely commenting how surprised they were I had come.
Can’t blame them. I’d be judging me too.
Let’s none of us tell my concertmasters/former or current teachers/professors/friends/employers/anyone remotely related to my music career who knows anything about music anything about this, okay?
Cloaks are wonderful things, do you know that? You can hide an entire violin and bow underneath it when you feel the first raindrop on your nose and run for cover.
I spent most of the day doing that and playing for people under the various tents I’d taken up residence in. No one seemed to mind. In a way, you can make more sales if everyone is forced into your booth to get out of the rain. And you suddenly have free entertainment.
Everyone was super sweet about tipping me too. I know a lot of performers station themselves in one place and put out a jar/hat/open case. Not that I blame them; faire life full time can be expensive. But it’s not my style. I like to wander, browse booths, visit the Queen, walk as I play…no copper beggar’s cup. I am a mummer, not a beggar. No offense.
But people tipped me anyway just because they liked me playing. There’s one man who sells swords (ah, beautiful swords.) that tips me every year. A pirate asked if I knew the tune Katyusha, and after hearing Maria Lazareva’s version…well, that was a very good suggestion, indeed. He tipped with coins. I appreciated the authenticity but found them very difficult to put into my belt pouches one handed.
He wasn’t the only one to request music. Two boys early in the day wanted to try my violin, and yes, I did let them.
One reason for this– a story my mother never tires of telling. When I was a wee little girl myself going to the faires, I met a lady who played violin with a little band. Even that young, my genetic must play violin had already kicked into gear. Short attention span or not, I think I would have stayed planted in front of her all day long. Despite all the other magic of the faire.
She asked if I wanted to hold it.
Her violin. If I wanted to hold her violin.
Yes. Yes, I did.
She showed me how to hold it and play a note. And I can’t say I’ve ever completely forgotten her, or the violin that was easily three or four sizes too big for me.
So when two young lads came up and asked if they could play, I said yes.
I began to reconsider after they’d done it two or three times each during the day. Despite the happy faire memories, there is a darker, jealous side to musicians.
I have never heard it said better than Kvothe in The Name of the Wind.
Asking a musician to play his instrument is roughly the equivalent of asking a man if you can kiss his wife.
As best I can remember it. Don’t have a copy yet and can’t find the quote anywhere. Bother.
While he uses stronger terms than I would…he isn’t wrong. If I hand you my instrument, you can either conclude it isn’t my Precious, that I trust you very much, that I am watching your every move, or I am partially-brain dead or have no other options before the world goes up in smoke.
I was watching their every move.
I imagine watching them play was rather like skydiving. No, I’ve never done it. But it has that sensation of standing on the edge of a cliff with nothing under you.
From a few words and the way they clutched and crunched the bow, I soon learned they were both 2Cellos fans. Unusual, but approvable. Also explained their horrible form.
Don’t think I’m being cruel. Everyone has horrible form when they first pick it up. If they don’t…I suspect wizardry or the mythic Inherent Talent which I have yet to come across in full glory.
Eventually, I agreed to learn Thunderstruck for them by next year. Since they didn’t know how to play it themselves. And why not? I like 2Cellos. Maybe more than I should.
Between performing, I stopped by Lady Jillian’s booth and bought my very own LillaRose hair clasp, which I’d been meaning to do since the first Dragonfest. It has a dragonfly with Celtic knotwork designs. I am very satisfied. Next time I’ll buy one of the gaudy ones with trailing beads to wear to symphony performances.
There were also gentlemen who made me a bit too amused at the prospect of using the clasps to pin back their beards.
Yup, that’s still funny. I think they were pleased to have entertained me.
Also stumbled across a booth selling rings while I was there…so I bought one of stone and one of wood. I was thinking of Kvothe again, of course, with his rings of bone and fire and blood. They’re both a bit big for me, but most rings are. I have small hands. I don’t know why I picked the black stone ring. They had orange and jade-green and a brownish color…somehow I just felt like the black one.
Speaking of Kvothe, I did run into J. Christopher Wilson again, writer of Wards of Iasos. We have had a few tentative book discussions since Dragonfest Year 1.
I read Iasos. He reads George R.R. Martin. I therefore had no compunction in recommending The Name of the Wind. Well, very little anyway. If Game of Thrones is half of what I’ve heard as far as content…he’ll be fine.
My recommendation was somewhat solidified by a woman who appeared behind me while we were talking. As soon as she heard Rothfuss, she firmly seconded my opinion.
Then apologized for interrupting. A true bookworm, I presume.
Actually, as soon as she said Mr. Wilson should read the Rothfuss, her head swiveled to me and she said:
“Are you Kvothe?”
I burst out laughing. She shook her head and mumbled no, guess not.
I couldn’t help thinking–should I be offended? Flattered? I know where she got the idea, wandering minstrel just happening to recommend that book to someone.
Should I have been offended at the comparison to a blade-tongued musician who lies freely and spends far too much time noticing the appearance of young women?
And is also very handsome with bright red hair and one of the best musicians ever penned?
Am I okay with that?
Apparently I am okay with that.
Maybe. Sort of. Not like I’d go around telling people that. More like “Oh. I guess I’m Kvothe to you now. Okay.” I guess there are worse names. Maybe. Ish.
I should have said “One family,” the way all Ruh do, but I was too surprised to think of it in time. Anyway.
Whoever you were Bookish Lady of Dragonfest–you made my day. A deep curtsy to you and your library.
Of course, that’s saying a lot. Most of the day was fantastic (minus the rain).
There was a booth full of wooden wands where the carver said to “Feel free to swish and flick.” I was tempted, but holding my violin at the moment. They were about the prettiest wands I’d seen around.
The jousts were, as usual, very good. The final joust of the day a little girl in full armor came to watch. Of course one of the knights chose her as his Lady. I love that they choose little girls so often–you know it makes their entire year. Especially this little girl getting her yellow rose.
We actually had an unhorsing. The knight stayed still so long I actually started to hold my breath, worrying he’d gotten hurt. Then he bounced up light as you please and threw his arms in the air for applause.
He got it. You have to know that hurt. He also took two more passes in the lists at least.
We have amazing knights.
New steel fighting group The Order of the Red Boar this year. They are…intense. Very intense. To the point I hope they don’t actually decapitate each other. Historical martial arts groups are graceful, one hand disengaged, foil flicking like the tail of a cat. The Red Boar, with their broadswords and fury, well, they’re more like tipsy Vikings who grabbed the sword instead of the hammer. Expect much shouting, falling, and slamming.
They also invited me as resident musician…it is a highly tempting offer. And slightly flattering.
And for the last event of the day…you are now reading the narration of a minstrel who has officially played in the Rat Puck.
Somehow I missed mentioning this game before in my description of the faires. Not sure how.
The Rat Puck is a game I’ve never actually heard of outside of the Hartville faire. One of my distinctive early faire memories involves a woman and baby (both in garb) standing on one side of the road, gentlemen rat pucking on the other.
And when they pucked it in her direction, she belted out if they would be so kind to keep their rat on their side of the road.
Never blamed her for that, but after playing it and almost being whacked and whacking others with flying rats…woo, she was right.
The rules are simple. Everyone gets a hollow bamboo pole with an end chiseled to look like the mouth of a recorder (delicate rules regarding pole width I don’t fully gather). You are also bequeathed with a color coded felt “plague rat.” And it is your duty to wedge stick under rat and fling it halfway across the faire shouting “Cheese!” and hoping to be the first to get it to its wooden circle.
It’s rather like a bizarre game of golf.
Not sure why we shout “Cheese.” Apparently affects the accuracy of rat puck. Kind of cheese does not matter. Adding other food words to cheese does.
Not going to question that.
How did I do? Badly.
But it was all in fun, and I didn’t really care. I’d wanted to play the game for years, but thought it was gentlemen only (and I wasn’t there/didn’t have the nerve to ask/was probably smaller than the poles at that time). Whenever one of the seasoned players made a bad puck, they howled “Shame, shame, you are a shame to the clan” at each other. It was…highly amusing.
Also pucked rats over the main road that bisects the faire. At that point we were pucking rats toward people, even thought the faire was almost over.
Nobody got hit (that time), but I did hear about it afterwards.
One of Queen E.’s ladies had offered to hold my violin while I played, and when I hurried back to the court area, the Queen herself was holding it very carefully, like you would delicately rest a bare sword across the palms of your hands.
So undying respect to the Queen and her court. They understand a musician’s fierce-toothed possessiveness and how to handle an instrument properly.