Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bismarck, the beginning

The great problem with Bismarck is allowing him to play his essential part of the story of 1870 without taking it over completely?  He was such an accomplished raconteur and prophet that, if I am not careful, he will convince me that the book should be renamed The Glorious Doings of Herr Graf von Bismarck in1870!
He has so many good stories to tell, however, that I cannot forego letting him talk.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Garibaldi and Seinfeld and Tom Wolfe

Today I finished the first draft of the Garibaldi portion of my magnum opus.  There's so much else to be said... but I need to sleep on it.
So this is how I'm doing this book.  I owe this technique to Jerry Seinfeld.  I forgt where I read this.  But apparently Jerry Seinfeld said that if you wanted to do anything big and difficult, you had to get a calendar and start.  Then every day you have to have a goal, achieve it and put a big X on that date on the calendar.  Then, and I quote, "Don't break the chain!"

Can't you just see Seinfeld saying that, with his trademark intensity?  That's how he got to be a great comic, by working on his jokes every day.  

So, I figured, if I'm ever going to be a great writer, I have to start a chain and not break it.  I got the goal from Tom Wolfe.  He became a great writer by writing ten triple-spaced pages of prose a day.  So I determined to write 2000 words, approximating ten typewritten pages, triple-spaced, a day.

I find I can do this.  I've kept the chain unbroken now for 32 days, even though I did not come up with the 2000-word quota until a couple of weeks ago. September is going to be the real test.  If I can write 2000 words a day for the 30 days of September, that will be 60,000 words, or, counting 500 words per page, 120 pages.  I plan to start the Bismarck saga as it relates to 1870 on this Sunday, September 1, 2013, so we'll just have to see if I can get 120 pages by midnight, September 30.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Well, a new blog on the Internet!  Hurray, no more of those annoying bulletin boards!

This one's about the year 1870.  Or, more precisely, from about December 1869 to May 1871.  And it's about Europe.  Yeah, sorry, those of you in Rio Linda, it's not about anywhere but Europe.  Although I do have little side trips.  It's about this project I'm getting started on.

I have become fascinated by the Franco-Prussian War.  Well, we each have our particular insidious addictions.  For some unnamed football players, it's PCP, for me it's the Franco-Prussian War!

Of course, things aren't that simple.  And maybe that's why I like the F-P War.  Its implications spread out like ripples on the pond of 19th century history.  And that means History with a capital H.  For the 19th century, in Europe, was the start of something big, and everything modern.  Maybe someday I'll do a project called just 1800s. 

From our point of view in 2013, though, several big things were going on in 1870.  I've separated my project into five parts, but that's pretty arbitrary.  I just do that for simplicity.  It's headlined by five straight white men.  Great guys all, or, at least, interesting guys.

But here are the five:

(1)The Pope (Pius IX, to be exact).  He had a lot going on, being God's representative on earth and all that.  He was in the middle of losing his temporal domains (populated territory governed by Popes for an indeterminate but very long time).  But he was shoring up his spiritual concerns.  He had called a Council of bishops and cardinals and that sort of higher cleric.  It was called The First Vatican Council.  All you amateur theologians are no doubt aware of the spiritual disaster called Vatican II.  (by the way, my personal views are included here, not just because they're inevitably right, indeed infallible, but because, hey, it's my blog.  Relax.  You'll learn something.  I guarantee it.)  Well, a Vatican II sort of requires a Vatican I.  And this was it, from about December 1869 to July 1870.  Hmm, now that I think of it, it was never formally prorogued.  So it may be still in existence.  So maybe Vatican II should really have been called Vatican I, Continued.  Or VATICAN I, THE UNDEAD.  Or something modern like that, fit for the 1960s. (more detail coming)

(2) Giuseppe Garibaldi.  He really needed to get his Italia together.  His situation in 1870 is - complex.  Maybe as complex as the Pope's.  He's got lots to worry about, on personal and political planes.  He had lived a fantastic life.  Having him in this project is pure bonus, because it allows and requires me to go back over his life.

(3) Otto von Bismarck.  Large German fellow.  Prussian, to be exact.  Six foot five;  high, squeaky voice; extremely subtle mind, wrote snappy telegrams that started wars; drank a mixture of good German stout and good French champagne for dinner.  Or at least that's how he is portrayed on the 1870 playing card set.  And board game and cable television show.  I'm looking ahead, you see.

(4) Napoleon III, AKA Louis Napoleon.  Short, mustachioed French fellow.  Knew that he wanted to be an emperor, like his uncle Bonaparte.  Looked in the want ads and saw no openings for emperors.  So he created himself a job.  Isn't that what we're all supposed to do now that unemployment is permanently over 100% (You don't really believe those govt. stats, do you?)  But Napoleon did a lot for Paris.  I like Paris, especially when it isn't raining and all the tourists have been driven away by the plague rumors I've been spreading - oops, forget you read that!

(5) Some guy who has decided to make a career out of running revolutions, especially in Paris.  I don't know what he looks like.  Maybe he's me.  But if you are addicted to starting revolutions, Paris in 1870 is not a bad place to be.  1871 is even better.  Why, you might even get Karl Marx himself to write about you.  In the past tense, most likely.

So there they are.  I'll be expanding on my ideas.  And I hope to give some information about writing style, too.  Welcome to Fact-Based Historical and Philosophical Interpretation.