As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to be doing a series of posts about my book The Art of Language Invention here on Tumblr leading up to its September 29th release. Today’s post is going to be about how I wrote the book—and by that, I don’t mean how I got the ideas for it, how I decided to structure, etc., but literally how I wrote it.
Though I started in 2013, the bulk was written from January 1st to August 1st, 2014. Though the pictures above are in order, in the last picture you can see a flatscreen iMac in the background (black screen with silver on the bottom behind my black cat Keli’s head). That iMac was my computer, essentially, and I purchased it in 2009 shortly before getting the Dothraki job on Game of Thrones, because my previous Mac, the Snowball Mac, died suddenly (it still runs—even to this day—but the screen isn’t lit, so you can’t actually see anything on it unless you hold a flashlight to it at the right angle). It was on that iMac that I created the Dothraki language, the High Valyrian language, the Defiance languages, the language for Star-Crossed, the language for Dominion, and the language for Thor: The Dark World. It served me very well. But by the end of 2013, the thing was running so slowly that if I wanted to type in a document, I’d type a sentence, wait a few seconds, and then it would appear. Needless to say, writing an entire book on that iMac proved exceedingly difficult.
This is why I moved to thisallegra‘s MacBook Pro. This was her computer, but she gave me the loan of it while she was at work and asleep. Almost all of The Art of Language Invention was written on that MacBook Pro. And though I’m sure this proved annoying to thisallegra (she’d come home and there’d be all these tabs and documents open all over her screen, blocking out her e-mail and Tumblr!), let me tell you: The cats loved it.
The first two pictures above were taken in the same spot: Me sitting on a chair with an ottoman in front, the MacBook Pro on my lap, and my cat Keli perched on or near my shoulder. Sometimes she would snuggle up between my legs on the ottoman, but she didn’t like the fact that the laptop would block her view of me, so she usually hopped up behind me.
Then in May a new little addition to our family came in the form of dear, sweet little Roman. That’s him in the third picture. He’s made of teeth, claws and fluff. He too liked it when I wrote, as he’d find a place near me that was far from Keli (she wasn’t too fond of him at first) and go to sleep while I typed. In that third picture you can see a sliver of an image that appears in the fourth chapter of The Art of Language Invention, which is what I was working on at that time. (It’s a really cool image too, by the way. It’s a sample of the ceremonial interlace alphabet Sylvia Sotomayor created for Kēlen.)
By the way, if you were concerned about the cats, as you can see in the fourth picture, they eventually learned to get along (mostly).
But that was what life was like for me for the bulk of 2014! I’d get up at 10:30 in the morning, get ready, then go downstairs and write with two cats within arm’s reach. If I’d been sitting too long, one or both of them would come up to me and meow and nudge me until I got up, so then I’d get up, get a Granola bar, and go back to work until thisallegra came home around 7:00 p.m. Then we’d spend a couple hours together, she’d go to sleep, and I’d go back to work from around 10:30 p.m. until about 3:00 a.m. (either on the book or on my other translation work for Defiance or Dominion or later in the year Game of Thrones and then The 100). Then I’d go to sleep and do it all again the next day. It was a good time—and I think it helped to little Roman to settle into his new life with us.
When August 1st came, I e-mailed my draft off, and thought to myself, “That’s it!” Had no idea just how much work I’d be putting into the text after I sent that draft off. Live and learn!
Anyway, that’s the story! If you read The Art of Language Invention, you can rest assured that every single word was written with one or more cats near at hand. (In fact, were it not for editing, there would be several words written by cats in the book. Words like asioe888 and 238fhjhjjjfj and h9up77890—whatever keys their little paws happened to land on as they scurried across the keyboard.) If you’re able, I hope you get the chance to read the book with a cat or two near at hand as well. :)
<p><b>Sparkpaw:</b> I can't believe I missed that mouse!<p/><b>Alderpaw:</b> Yeah um I guess you were kind of off your Markpaw?<p/><b>Sparkpaw:</b> Oh my Starclan.<p/><b>Alderpaw:</b> What?<p/><b>Sparkpaw:</b> YOU JUST MADE A JOKE!<p/><b>Alderpaw:</b> I make jokes all the time!<p/><b>Sparkpaw:</b> No you don't! SQUIRRELFLIGHT ALDERPAW MADE A JOKE<p/></p>