Monday, April 10, 2017

Moving Along

I decided to skip Camp NaNo this month.  I already have two projects I'm deep into, and while I could use at least one of them in the Camp fun, I decided that maybe not adding to the pressure would be a good idea.  So I'm cheering everyone else on, and I hope they have a good time.

I have already written 24k for the month.  I might be up to 25k by the time this is posted (actually it is 26,249 as I get ready to post).  I've managed a steady 3k plus a day, though I'll drop down by that a few times here and there.  I do have a life, even if it doesn't interfere with writing very often.  This last weekend just happens to be one of those times. You know what?  That's good.  I don't need to spend every single moment tied to this computer.

Well, at least not if I can take my tablet with me.

You know what is taking most of my attention right now?

Yup.  Hieroglyphs.

I only have four more full classes, but this isn't something that you can watch and instantly understand.  I've been going back over the pdf file and reinforcing things like past tense and passive voice.  Negation, too.  Not to mention all the words.  My plan is to keep learning more after I'm finished with this class (this week!), and I hope to keep interest in it.  Russ surprised me and ordered the very expensive Egyptian Grammar book that the course teacher recommended, and it should be here on today, but no sign of it yet.  That's going to really help to keep going.

There are amusing bits to hieroglyphs.  For instance, there is a single sign that stands for the letters M+A.  But maybe you don't realize it has the 'a' sound, so for this word we'll write it with the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of the A letter beside it to remind you.  Oh, but this is the word for 'to see' so we have to add another 'A' to actually write out the word.  Huh.  You might not realize what that means, so let's stick the drawing of an eye between the first double letter symbol and the two 'A' letters.  There are a lot of words like this, especially ones with little drawings of things to help you remember the word, which is nice, actually.  It's like they knew someone without a clue was going to have to learn this stuff someday.

I can't seem to make the 'verb first' rule stick.  I don't know why that one is giving me trouble.  It's not that hard.

It is fun, though.  It really is, though I don't have a very steady hand for drawing the letters.  My normal handwriting is awful, but this might help since I'm learning better control.  And I've also come to realize that it doesn't matter if my letters in Ancient Egyptian are perfect or not, as long as I know what they are.  It's not as though I'm going to become a scribe and write hieroglyphs for a living.  I do enjoy the ability to read some of the ancient text, though.  I have a long ways to go before I am able to look at things and understand them (even with the help of little drawings at the ends of words), but I've been amazed at how some of it just suddenly makes sense.

I always suggest that writers spend time learning new things because it will improve your writing, even if you don't use the material directly.  This is especially important for those who write science fiction and fantasy novels.  When you aren't dealing with the reality of here, and now, you need to look for ways to make your world building.  Before I took the course on hieroglyphs, I took one on the history of Ancient Egypt. The two combined have cloned so many plot bunnies that I can't keep track of them all.  The way people write reflects on how they think, of course.  For instance, many people think that the Egyptians worshiped the sun as their god, Ra.  This wasn't true, and it is obvious when you look at the writing. They had a word for Ra, and the word for the sun was not the same.  The sun was a symbol of the god but was not the god himself.

And that makes me think of an aspect of some story where a group of people assumes something that they find is not true once they can read the language.  Something a bit more subtle that the 'To Serve Man' sort of thing, though I suspect the Damon Knight's original story probably was better than the Twilight Zone episode based on it.  Or maybe the show has just been satirized so much that I'm no longer able to see how remarkable it is any longer.

I have ideas, though.  This is what happens to me when I go explore new territory.  

And it is so much fun!

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