And so, once again, we come in the course of things to Fiction Friday, and today I have for you something which you may consider a treat, or which you may not. You will have to let me know. It has to do with what month it is, and what that means, and how that causes me to depart from my usual procedure in terms of writing.
Usually, when I write, I give careful consideration to how the words sound even on the first draft, because most of my revision process happens inside my head. The vast majority of my fanfic chapters, and even a great many parts of my originals, changed only slightly from the first time they hit the screen until they arrived in your hands, O readers. But this is NaNoWriMo, and during NaNo everything changes.
In order to get my 50,000 words done in 30 days, while still keeping up with, y'know, my life, I've had to simply scribble everything down as it comes to me. Silly, divergent, anachronistic, you name it and this year's NaNo has it. Far more than in any previous year, even, because for the first time (as far as I can remember) I'm doing NaNo strictly by the book. A brand-new project, never touched before, and my 50,000 words belong to that and only that.
As mentioned before, that project is entitled Salt of the Earth, and is based on a certain class of fairy tales. As it currently stands, it's in first person (another large departure from the norm for me) and is a rambling, quirky, stream-of-consciousness story, with quite a number of its nearly 35,000 words being a story told by the main character (and no, that's not cheating... exactly). You got to hear a bit of that story last week. Now, for the first time, you'll get to meet the person who tells it.
Will this project ever get buffed up, rewritten, published as something shiny and new that you can read? Maybe. I can't see the future any more than you can. For now, Salt is on track to win me NaNo for the ninth year in a row, and it's kept me writing during a time that could have been very depressing with the letdown from finishing the Dangerverse. That's quite a lot for one little story to do.
I may also be embarking on another little project... but that's still top secret, until I get a little bit further along than just an idea and a couple of names and scenes. Stay tuned -- the first news about it will be either at the Facebook page or here. For today, please enjoy this introduction to the main character of Salt of the Earth, and let me know if you would like to hear more from her at another time!
Hi. My name is Lacy, and I'm a cook. I'm also a princess, or I might have been, except that my grandfather didn't have a sense of humor and my mother had a little too creative of one. But that’s a long story, so...
What, we've got time? Okay, then.
So once upon a time there was a kingdom whose king had three daughters, and he wanted to find out which one should rule after him. So he called them into his court and he asked them a question: "How well, my daughters, do you love me?"
The oldest daughter, who was noted for her beautiful embroidery and paintings, said to him, "O my father, I love you as I love the light I see."
The middle daughter, who was noted for her prowess as an archer and a falconer, said to him, "O my father, I love you as I love the air I breathe."
The youngest daughter, who was noted for her skills in the kitchen and the garden, said to him, "O my father, I love you as I love the salt I eat."
The king was well pleased with his older two daughters. The youngest one... not so much. He divided the kingdom between the older two and banished the youngest one with only a big sack of salt as her dowry, and to rub salt into the wound (yeah, you see what I did there), he banished salt itself from the kingdom. All his people were forbidden to use the stuff, forbidden to trade in it, forbidden to put it in their food. They'd live longer lives like this anyway, or so the king said. Good thing he also gave his subjects a tax break for buying preservation spells for their food, or they'd have been living a lot shorter lives instead!
But that's not part of the story, not really. The story follows the youngest princess on her travels, which, given that salt is actually fairly valuable stuff, she didn't have too much trouble with. Sure, it's heavy, but she solved that problem by stopping at the first farm across the border of her father's kingdom and trading several scoops of it for an old donkey and a cart. After that, she traveled through seven kingdoms with that little cart, earning her salt (yeah, I know, again—let me get it out of my system, okay?) by her skills as a cook, until she came to a place which was so far inland, and so far away from any mines, that salt was almost unknown, so the food she could cook tasted better than any other cook's in all the land.
Oh, don't give me that look. Yes, salt's bad for you if you use gobs and gobs of the stuff, but you're not supposed to use gobs and gobs of it. It's like my grandmother (on my father's side) always told me: "Never salt until you taste the salt. Always salt until you taste the food."
But I'm getting ahead of myself again. The princess, right. The fame of the food she cooked spread throughout the land, and the king's own cook came to the inn where she was working to taste the food for himself. It reminded him of his mother's cooking (she'd come from a faraway land surrounded by that mythical thing called the sea), and he hired the princess on the spot for the palace kitchens. She taught everyone there how to use salt properly, and it made the food taste so wonderful that the king agreed to spend the money which was needed to buy more of it from the nearby kingdoms who had mines. And that opened up whole new trade routes, which brought all this prosperity to the farmers and the crafters of the kingdom, and even if the king and his lords didn't know what had caused that, the king's cook knew. So the princess's place was assured in the kitchens, whatever happened.
Well, whatever happened was that about a year later, the king's cook asked the princess to marry him. And she liked the look of him, so she said yes. They were married in the church of St. Lawrence while the king and his household were on holiday in the mountains, and the entire staff of the palace turned out to see it happen, and the party went on late into the night, but not too late, because the maids and the men had to be up at their usual time in the morning...
Oh, what, you thought she should have married a prince? Who'd want to? When they're not spoiled little fops who change their clothes five times a day and squeal at the sight of a worm in an apple, they're bluff and hearty manly men who never look where they're going and shoot things they're not intending to eat. I've got no use for them.
But then again, that's me. Lacy Bucatar, as I said. Short for Salacia, "child of the salt", because my mother, as has already been mentioned, has a far too creative sense of humor. I did mention that Princess Hirune, now Hirune Bucatar the palace cook, is my mother, didn't I? And Iancu Bucatar, head of the palace kitchens, is my father? And seven kingdoms from here lies a land ruled over by a cranky old man named King Arkaitz, who, if he ever bothered to acknowledge the fact, happens to be my grandfather?
The world is a strange and wonderful place.