Axver (axver) wrote,

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Still here. Still wasting my life, sitting in front of my computer as if something's going to happen. Well, actually, that's not entirely true - I've been to Hanging Rock on a photography trip, then I spent last weekend's long weekend in Castlemaine, checking out the steam trains, Bendigo trams, and a cidery with alisaura. I have loads of photographs to sort through and upload. Will do that sometime.

But for the most part, I've sat here at my computer as if something's going to reach out, pull me in, and be all terribly exciting. Doesn't happen. I've been slogging through the last of my coursework essays for the semester, awaiting the opportunity to work on my thesis from Monday next week. Writer's block has been afflicting me something shocking this past week or two.

Writing History can be astonishingly difficult. I would venture to say it is one of the most difficult forms of writing there is. I miss having time to write fiction, because that's easy. As long as you've an idea, you're set - beyond that, it's as difficult or as easy as you choose to make it. I always make life easy on myself by using fictitious towns in regions I know; I can then take complete licence with the details. Even if you end up writing historical fiction, perhaps the genre that demands the most of an author outside of actual writing ability and technique, the research is of a more basic variety - acquainting yourself with the period so that your fictitious representation of it isn't glaringly inaccurate. You certainly have no debt to real people, real events, and real processes to represent them accurately (misrepresentation, intentional or not, can easily be justified in the name of a good story). Furthermore, you do not actually need to deeply analyse and synthesise the past, nor do you require a familiarity with the depth and breadth of relevant scholarly literature.

Of course, those things are sheer necessities for any historian who wishes to be taken seriously and who does their job responsibly. Your room to manoeuvre around obstacles and obligations is extremely minimal. In the time it would take me to write a page of fiction in my favoured genres, I'm lucky to have written a paragraph of History - or, for that matter, sufficiently read the relevant historical texts and contemporary scholarship to enable me to write anything that sounds even halfway informed. People just have no idea what goes into History, and it's disheartening the way it's just casually dismissed as "boring names and dates" by lazy and uninformed cretins who probably haven't even read a page of any academic history.
Tags: fiction, history, life, writing

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