Stephanie Burgis
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Whew! - and the definition of "clean"
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Being finished with the first draft of Kat by Starlight is wonderful, and it's also...weird. Really, truly weird. This morning I woke up and had to remind myself that no, I wouldn't be writing more of KbS after breakfast. Which was actually a really sad feeling - I'm a bit empty right now. That's the unexpected part of finishing a novel - after the sheer thrill of accomplishment, which is great, comes the sadness: wait, I don't get to keep writing it???? I have to force myself not to go back and fiddle with the ending just for the sake of being inside the novel a little longer.

Since I'm not letting myself do that, though - and I'm taking at least 2 weeks off before I even go back to re-read the novel and start my first revisions - I threw myself into short story revision this morning, did a mongo rewrite based on several really smart crits I'd received, and finally, finally finished revising my big romantic swashbuckler novelette (the one I wrote for my youngest brother this past Christmas). And it was so much fun! Hooray! I definitely have to write more swashbucklers. This is probably the story I've written that's closest in spirit to my Kat books, although it's aimed at an adult audience. I sent it out for the first time this morning - wish it luck!

And what that means is...drumroll...I am now finished with all three of my write-a-thon goals! It's a really strange feeling to actually finish early after being so worried at the beginning of the write-a-thon that I had taken on too much and wouldn't be able to finish in time. But it's a great lesson in the power of external goals and outside sponsors to motivate some really productive writing sessions!

Today it's raining hard outside, and I'm snuggled up on the futon with Maya with a cup of green tea sitting on the desk next to me. We might go out later, but in the meantime, I'm reading Katherine Ashenburg's Clean: An Unsanitised History of Washing (AKA, in America, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History), which is even more fascinating and fun than I'd hoped. It's a history of "cleanliness" as a concept, and it really makes clear how subjective the whole thing is:
Even more than in the eye or the nose, cleanliness exists in the mind of the beholder. Every culture defines it for itself, choosing what it sees as the perfect point between squalid and over-fastidious. The modern North American, the seventeenth-century Frenchman and the Roman were each convinced that cleanliness was an important marker of civility and that his way was the royal road to a properly groomed body.

It follows that hygiene has always been a convenient stick with which to beat other peoples, who never seem to get it right...

Really interesting stuff (and that last line certainly rings true to me - I remember as a kid being told very firmly by another girl that Europeans were disgustingly dirty, as a rule, because they didn't understand "proper" hygiene)...and I keep interrupting Patrick to read him fantastically weird little info-points, like the fact that, during the time of the Roman Empire, "the accumulated sweat, dirt and oil that a famous athlete or gladiator [scraped] off himself was sold to his fans in small vials. Some Roman women reportedly used it as a face cream." Wow. Of course, Patrick points out that things may not have changed as much as I assumed, based on some of the stuff that goes up for sale on eBay...

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