Little kids (3-4) have spot on humor. Yesterday at work this little girl was just mashing together fruit names and then hysterically laughing.
She’d say “Kiwi… Cucumber” then crack up.
“Strawberry…. Peach” and so on.. I went up to her and said “Hey claire what about Pear… Banana.” And she looked me dead in the fucking eyes and said “Noo kara. No pear banana.” And walked away.
Hey Pear, I was wondering if you had any references for recreational drug use in the middle ages?
It depends on what you mean by “recreational,” “drug,” and “Middle Ages.” You have to understand that the Middle Ages was actually a set of several time periods running from the Early Middle Ages in the 5th century through the Late Middle Ages in the 15th century. That’s literally a span of 1100 years from 400-1499 C.E. That’s a long time to talk about, not to mention where you’re referring to. “Middle Ages” often becomes colloquial for “England at ~1300 C.E.” On top of that, “drug” was only beginning to be used as a term for medicine around the end of the Middle Ages (seeing as droge meant “supply” or “barrel”), and the use of those drugs (and before that, the herbals) wasn’t really what we’d call “recreational” in modern terminology.
Now, assuming that you mean “England at ~1300″ and either compounded pharmaceuticals or natural herbal compounds used on a regular basis to induce altered states of consciousness, sure. There were a few plants that naturally have opiates in them and hallucinogenic properties, belladonna, mandrake, hemlock, and hyoscyamos for a few. Now, you say, Pear, these are poisons! Why, you’re right, my friend, they are, but in small amounts they were also used for medicinal uses, so if somebody took a dose of meds and noticed an effect, they might go out of their way to track that down. Theriac, which started off as an antidote for snake bites and later became an insanely popular cure-all, has some opiate factors to it as well, making overuse of it in some circles common, but not common enough to be “recreational” for anyone since the combination of ingredients made it outlandishly expensive and that’s not something you waste. Not to mention, of course, that the creation of concoctions such as theriac and other regular medicinal compounds was given as a job to pharmacists in the later Middle Ages and herbalists before that. There was an art to making sure that it wasn’t too potent and that the dosage wouldn’t kill a person, which of course meant that is all cost money, and you had to have money to acquire these things, and sometimes they could be quite expensive.
Good news, though, there’s something else very common around that time period that was cheap and easy to get your hands on, and very much recreational and capable of inducing altered states of consciousness: ethanol! Beer and wine had to be fermented, the resulting bacteria helping to erase much of the contaminants in the water that made it unsafe to drink. And given that those contaminants in plain water could give you the runs bad enough to kill a person, everybody drank beer and wine. And did some people drink too much at a time and too often? Certainly.
If you’re not talking about England, there were a lot more altered-states-of-consciousness-inducing plants growing in the various biomes of the world. Peyote, psilocybe mushrooms, the seeds of ololiuhqui, toad toxins, jimson weed, wild tobacco, nutmeg, some varieties of water lily, coca and alcohol, cannabis, harmal, and blue lotus just to name a few. But this drug use wasn’t what we would call “recreational” in terms of using it in everyday life as an escape route or for “fun” or whatever. It was usually religious in nature from the Eleussian Temple in Greece to peyote within Native American and Mexican Indian rituals. I wouldn’t call vision quests and prophesying recreational.
I don’t know if that helped at all, Anon, but unfortunately with the vagueness of the question and the malleability of language, that’s about the best I can do. If it was a pain killer of some kind, you can bet it was overused. Good luck! -Pear
Hey Pear, do you have any tips on his to not get too caught up in world building and burning yourself out??
It’s such a fine line–same with outlining/plotting. You can so easily get caught up in the creation of it that you feel like you’ve already lived all that can be lived within this world, so why write it? And you’ve created so much that there’s no way you’re going to be able to write and include all this cool stuff you’ve made! I get where you’re coming from. Finding that line for yourself–because it is subjective and specific to each individual writer–can be a long process of trial and error.
I tend to err on the side of “just good enough.” I world-build as I go. What this means is I set up a framework (concepts and ideas and the basics of how they function, some “mood words” for various peoples, pictures of similar areas, etc.) but it’s not filled in with all the specific nitty-gritty like what colors of clothes are most common to an area or what the exact burial rituals. Those really specific details get filled in as I write with a group, as I kind of feel them out and understand who these people are and how they live. Yeah, it means I get stuck on something sometimes and I have to take a step back for a day or two to figure out some world-building, but it also means that I don’t feel constrained heading into the story by an intense, intricate set of rules I’ve predefined to write inside.
I world-build outside the story on paper a bit like I feed world-building into the story: as necessary. What this means is I only have finite rules, regulations, and concrete details about the workings of the world as I have need of them within the story. I’ll write along and think up things as I go based on what would logically emerge from the peoples I’m writing about. It’s a bit of a nebulous process because I’m constantly building little details and rules about the world the entire time I’m writing a piece. Let’s see if I can give something a bit more concrete for you.
Trust Yourself: The truth is, humans have this wonderful gift called imagination. World-building external to a story is a wonderful exercise for that imagination, but it’s all devoid of life. It’s statistics on a page. When you write with it, when you form it as you’re writing, straight out of your imagination as you go, it will have more life and more potential because it’s just been breathed into being by the characters on the page. Later you can go back and flesh it out in more data-like notes, but trust yourself and your imagination to come up with things organically from your writing and the people on the page. You’ll already have a bigger investment in the world-building because there are people attached to it.
Stop With the Broad Strokes: Know how the continents are shaped, know the color of your peoples’ skin, know what their cultural values are, know some of those super broad strokes about your world, but let the spontaneity of writing give you the finer details. If you try to outline every single piece of data you might ever maybe need, you’ll overwhelm yourself. All those details become a cage that you must write within, and you don’t give your imagination the freedom to explore new ideas. You’ll feel like you have to stay within the lines, and that’s when a world starts to die a little. It goes back to trusting yourself to create the details you’ll need once you’ve given yourself the broad strokes to paint between.
Know What Burn-Out Feels Like: It’s a bit different for everybody, but pay attention to your thoughts about a story so that you can begin to recognize the earliest onset of world fatigue. Note that I said to observe your thoughts about the story not the world. There’s a reason for that distinction. When you’re so caught up in your world, you’ll stop thinking about the story you’re trying to tell. That’s no good. In fact, that’s the worst. You should always be most focused on your story, even if that means letting small things about your world slide. It’s the story that you’re building this world for, so as soon as you say, “I’ll get to the story eventually. It’ll wait for a while until I figure out this continent that the characters aren’t going to encounter in this book.” Stop, stop, stop. Go back to your story. Think about your characters. Dive back into the world of narrative. If you’ve set your characters aside, you’ve been world-building too long.
Hi Pear! I have a question I forgot to ask you on chat during Nano, so here: How do you organise your different writing projects? Do you use a spreadsheet, a regular folder with files in them, a notebook, ...? I intend to organise mine, but I realised I wasn't sure where to start and on what base. Thanks in advance :)
Honestly, if you took a look at my room, my Evernote, my computer, and my Scrivener, you would be more inclined to wonder if I’m the right person to ask about organization. This turned out really obnoxiously long and I’m sorry.
I have a box in my closet of things from middle school and high school that I keep because I’m sentimental about them, but I’ve progressed far enough that they no longer hold much inspiration for me. They’re history, a look at how far I’ve come, and they’re important. I no longer have the files for them, so there they stay, taped up, with shoes on top of the box.
There’s a pile of notebooks–I don’t mean nice, artsy notebooks, I mean ugly spiral-bounds–beside my desk full of notes about my current WIP series. While most times I write on a computer, I sometimes think things through better on paper, so I plan and worldbuild in notebooks that aren’t special in any way. These notes stay in these books until I refer to them enough times, and get frustrated enough when I’m away from them and need them, that they sometimes get transferred into the computer. If they’re notes on an existing long project, they get retyped into the project’s Scrivener. If it’s not a long project or doesn’t exist yet, they stay there. Eventually, I either recycle the notebook because I (A) have all the information in another format so it’s no longer needed, or (B) clearly am not going to do anything with it. That decision for (B) doesn’t happen for about three years. If I keep looking at an idea and getting excited, I’ll keep it past that, but I have to feel something about it. If I don’t, it’s a dead-end, unlikely to ever become a project, and not something I’ll probably ever be inspired to write. Dead ends either get recycled or stuck in the box in my closet.
A personal note about fancy, artsy, nice notebooks: I don’t use them. They’re too small for my personal liking, the bindings are always in the way for me, and I don’t keep a journal, so mostly they sit in a drawer looking pretty. Despicable. I purposefully buy boring, ol’ top-bound notebooks so I don’t feel like I’m desecrating something pretty with bad writing. Most times I keep one notebook for each project, but if I don’t think the notes about that project will take the whole notebook, I have been known to go to the back and write on the back sides of the sheets if some new something hits me and I don’t have another notebook on hand.
On my computer, I have large, novel-sized projects in Scrivener. Each book has its own Scrivener project, and within that there’s a main folder for the book’s text itself. That folder is split into more folders, one for each of the main events of my 10-point plot model, and then scenes are broken down within those. Those scene documents are movable, so I drag and drop those into the plot point folders depending on where I feel it belongs in the overall outline. Alongside the manuscript folder, there’s a folder for world-building notes for that project. These are unorganized but titled relevantly. It includes pictures, notes transferred from the notebooks, and notes-to-self files. Each novel’s project has world-building notes relevant to that book only, so the religion that’s first introduced and outlined in the text of book two will have the notes on that religion, not book one or three that doesn’t feature that religion as prominently. I don’t keep character notes, letting them grow in-text as I write rather than filling out character questionnaires.
Outside of Scrivener and my big novel projects, I have two folders on my computer. One is from when I was beta reading for some folks, and they were beta reading for me. It has the PDFs of my rough drafts of my novels, but nothing else. The other folder is labeled “Writing” and inside are two other folders: “Prose” and “Poetry.” Inside Prose are short stories and story starts. There’s a folder of published things within each of those, including where and when it was published. There’s a submissions folder within each of those with where and when it was submitted. Inside the submissions folder there’s a rejected folder to make sure I don’t resubmit the same version to the same place. The actual short stories and story starts that I’ve not done anything with aren’t organized in any special way. If there are a few that go together, they’ll get a folder with a “series” title, and probably eventually a Scrivener project.
I also utilize Evernote when I’m writing away from home, and that’s a mess. Because I use it for short periods of time, it has very little in it except what I’m working on at that moment (like right now it has my NaNo in it from when I’d write at work). That’s set up very much like the Scrivener set-up: A Notebook for the whole project, then documents inside that are labeled for where they go in an outline, inspiration, and notes-to-self. There’s a separate Notebook for miscellaneous stuff, but if I haven’t worked on it in a year, it either gets transferred to a document on my computer or deleted.
I’m also a firm believer in naming documents so I know what I’m looking at, which is why I don’t bother organizing much beyond just putting short stories and story starts into a folder on my computer. Something as distinctive as “Sirensong,” I’m going to remember that later and know whether I finished it or not. I used to title short stories and story starts with their completion status: “Remarian Castle (unfinished)” or “Please Forgive Me (complete)” or “Bent Feathers (v4).” I don’t do that much anymore unless I’ve sent something out to beta readers. Seeing as I haven’t had betas in several years, there’s only one version of most things.
It also depends on if I’m planning on publishing it over on silvershears (my trashy personal writing blog). If I am planning on releasing it there, it’s a complete draft or a complete installment of a serialized story, and lives in the drafts folder of tumblr.
In short, I’m a mess, but it works for me. And that’s the point. You need to find a system that works for you. Writing is an inherently messy business, so try things. I’m a mostly digital writer–if I hand-write, it gets transferred to a computer as soon as I feel like it’s complete or I no longer have the drive to write on it–so much of my systems are digital. Find what works best for you. If you write a lot from different places, consider finding online cloud-hosted systems like Evernote and Google Drive to keep your stuff available from any device anywhere. If you tend to write on paper, invest in some filing folders that you can label and keep in one place. If you mostly write in one place and digitally, find a system of folders on your hard drive that works for you. If you’re not planning on publishing, you won’t need my system of tracking that. Whatever you do, it must be tailored for you.
Here are some articles from writers talking about their own struggles with organization that may be of some assistance when thinking about it:
Emma awoke softly, her eyes fluttering as she adjusted to the sunlight peeking through the windows in the room.
A room that wasn’t hers.
She was lying on her back as she felt a warm body beside her, a chin digging into her hair, an arm resting around her bare breasts, and a leg tangled amongst her own.
She turns her head towards the man who was still soundly asleep, his face void of any frown lines or dimples. She traces his cheek, memories of last night flooding her mind of his mouth and fingers everywhere.
Emma gently lifts his arm from her where it was pressed to her breasts, and rests it down on the bed as she slips and tip toes to the bathroom. She shuts the door quietly and sits on the expensive looking, good for two bathtub.
She presses her palms to her face and hates herself for this. It’s been way too long since Emma has stayed overnight, has made love with a person she has feelings for instead of just a quick fuck where she starts dressing the second they’re done.
She’s not panicking or regretting sleeping with Killian; she wanted to since she first saw his blue eyes and heard his sexy accent in Starbucks, and then even started fantasizing about it once she first kissed him. But now it actually happened.
She stretches her neck, rotating it around to relieve some of the tension. It is, after all, a big step in their relationship.
Her insecurities and fears of being abandoned start creeping up on her and she knows she’s being completely stupid and irrational. He’s not Neal she reminds herself and stands up. She splashes water on her puffy eyes and gargles some Listerine and stares at her reflection in the mirror, “Enjoy the moment Emma Swan” she says to her reflection as she goes back to join her boyfriend in bed.
Emma can’t fall back asleep again.
The moment she laid back down, pressing her face to his chest, curling an arm around his waist, and tangling one of her legs with his, all the memories of last night come rushing back to her. The way he cupped her breasts before taking her nipples in his mouth, the way he made her come with his fingers and tongue, oh that tongue, and the way he pounded in her erratically as they both fell together.
She clamps her thighs together as she feels her clit tingle in anticipation. She brings a finger down to her folds, and smiles in wonderment as she finds herself wet and aching already.
On any other morning she would have taken care of this situation with her fingers or her collection of toys. But when she looks up at the man who so thoroughly ravished her last night with his mouth, she decides to return the favor.