I’m finding it slow but very important to develop my own subjective sense of how women compromised and navigated places and social situations to remain safe. It’s such a big part of women’s lives today (I do not walk through certain carparks at night, I do not travel at night alone at all unless I can walk quickly enough, I carry my keys in my hand if I must, I do not walk through clumps of lingering drunk guys and so forth) and I was even more so in the late 17th century, with the burden of civil war still upon England and France. My sorting of this is going to take a while longer, but it looks as if I’ll understand enough to compromise my women’s lives magnificently. Everything they do will be despite the world, and most of it won’t feel extraordinary to them.
The other thing I’m sorting is just how very, very wrong most novels get 17th century magic. I keep thinking about things I know and realising that knowing them isn’t the same as understanding them which isn’t the same as internalising them to the level one needs to write effectively from. I now have a thought to ground myself with, should I go astray which one of the critical tools I use personally to achieve understanding.
My memory code for magic is Salem and Boston. Not the 1692 trials. Earlier. By the time of my novel (1682) Massachusetts (especially Boston) was the place where witches operated according to English pamphlets. “We have no witches in England anymore, but Boston isn’t so fortunate,” is the kind of feeling I was reading. This led me to a whole lot of thought about a whole lot of things, several of which are critical.
The obvious thought is a jam-tomorrow thought. Jeanne Favret-Saada did a study of modern witchcraft in the pre-bocage in France. I visited the area and chatted with the locals and they all said “She’s wrong. We don’t have that kind of thing here. You want…” And I want to the next area and chatted and they told me the same thing. They added there (in the Norman bocage) at the best witches were all from the Berry region. When I read 17th century material there is a lot of talk about witches and they’re always known and they’re always somewhere emotionally close (such as Boston, Mass.) but out of reach ie they’re safe to talk about because no-one’s going to meet them. This is terribly important for my women, because when they travel, they might be travelling into jam-tomorrow in their mind, or they might not, and the actual places that witches and magic in general are counted only sometimes overlap with the popular places where there is supposed to be magic. I could do an overlay map r find one that someone else has done, but right now, jam-tomorrow is what I need for my novel. Or rather, I need “witches in Massachusetts.”
It just struck me that a modern equivalent of this is probably the deadly Australian continent in the eyes of the US. S often US documents show a greater fear of Aussie spiders than of local gun deaths.
I was going to talk about some of the other consequences of the magic side of reading, especially for women travelling, but I need a cuppa and I need to read 2 more thingies before lunchtime. I looked at my month’s schedule last night and I have some reading to catch up on.