Here’s something I just learned: the word doily comes from the name of one Mr. D’Oyley, a 17th-century draper in London. It was a random aside in a book called (and about) The Rituals of Dinner, which I’m finding very interesting and also thought-provoking; Mr. D’Oyley seems to have been involved in the invention, dissemination, or perhaps merely popularisation of what we would not call place mats. As an aside there’s not much more than that to go with, and I haven’t done any further research. I just like the idea that the word doily comes from someone’s name.
Anyhow, I’ve been busy writing Stargazy Pie and trying not to obsessively watch the sales reports for Till Human Voices Wake Us (I am aided in that intention by various delays in reporting, which forces me to be relatively patient). I am at 45,000 words into Stargazy Pie, which is around 2/3 of my projected length. I would be finished except that last weekend I wrote 20,000 words of something else! The first 10,000 were for a short story I’ve been mulling over for some time and which suddenly was ready to be written, and which I’m going to submit to some paying markets, and the second 10,000 were for a sequel short story to the first. (Well, it’s likely to end up as a novella or novelette, the rate it’s going. I may be able to cut out a section to use as a short story.)
I’m hoping this next weekend is as productive for Stargazy Pie. I’m at a point in the story where the main lines of the plot are converging, and about to turn into the events that will lead to the climax itself. This is the same point I got to last summer with the novel that has been languishing since — on that occasion I was travelling and lost the thread of the plot, and the stuck portion has yet to get fully unstuck. I’ve been poking at The Coming of Fitzroy for some months now, and I think I’ve figured out some of what’s wrong.
However, I don’t want to get into the same situation with Stargazy Pie — leaving a work unfinished because of a stuck point is a bad habit to get into. Since “Indigo, Frankincense, and Jade” was just a short story, I didn’t mind spending nine hours of my Saturday writing it start to finish. Actually, that was pretty cool. I’ve only had one other story that I’ve written all in one go like that, and I think it’s my best so far. That one’s rather atypical for me, a Canadian literary fiction type of story, so I’m submitting it to the Canadian literary journals to see if any of them fancy taking it up.
Since the second story (inspired by the title “The Knife-Thrower’s Apprentice,” which may or may not continue to be appropriate for the final tale) appears to be sprawling towards novella length, I think I’m going to set it aside for now and focus on Stargazy Pie again. If I have another 20,000-word weekend, I should have a full draft well before the end of the month. Which would be pleasing for several reasons, not least among them the fact that I am curious about what happens with a couple characters who weren’t in my original plot outline.