Wonderful Wenchly Eighth Anniversary

 Joanna here, at the Great Word Wenches Eighth Blogiversary. 

 Today we're celebrating by harking back to our favorite blog posting evah!
There'll be four blog links today.  Four on Friday.

This is my own fourth Word Wenches anniversary.  I'm still the newest Wench — the baby Wench, as it were.  So proud and happy to be here.   

When I went looking fStevens the_bath mid c19or my favorite posting, I had quite a number that called to me.  I could go back to the one about women fighting with fists and swords.  Or the 'fireworks and explosives' post.  Or the one about Regency liquor.  (I sense a certain disreputable trend in my posts that had hitherto escaped my notice.)  But on the whole, I decided we'd go with a cleaner topic.  Bathing.

So here is Georgian and Regency Bathing Customs  – here.RupertBoye


Nicola says:

It’s lovely to be celebrating the 8th anniversary of the Word Wenches blog and with it our wonderful Wench readers and a huge variety of blog posts.

It was very difficult to choose a favourite from my time as a Wench and I got completely distracted reading through old posts and thinking anew about a range of fascinating topics relating to history and writing and much more besides. In the end, like Andrea, I chose one of my first posts as a wench, One Man and his Dog.

I was so excited to be a part of the group (I still am!) and so keen to share my quirky research interests with a group of like-minded people. The blog illustrates a couple of my passions – dogs and Prince Rupert of the Rhine – and I know I am not alone in loving both of these disparate subjects! In addition, Prince Rupert is a character in my current work in progress and so there is a nice connection from one of my early Wench posts to my writing now.

So here is a link to the blog post, with thanks to my fellow wenches for being such an amazing group and to our readers for being such  fun to chat with!

Wenches sharpCara/Andrea here,

I think one of the reasons the Word Wenches have thrived for eight years in an internet landscape where sites come and go at the speed of light is because we all have wide-ranging and eclectic interests. (that’s an erudite way of saying we are quirky!) Which makes choosing a favorite from the blogs I’ve done over the years no easy task. Like a magpie, I tend to collect bright shiny tidbits of arcane information. I call it research . . . and usually the esoteric historical information I find fascinating does end up in my books. But most, I just find the stuff fun to know.

However, after going over my contributions to the blog, I’ve decided to spotlight the very first post I did for as a Word Wench. There are two reasons—firstly because I was—and still am—thrilled to be part of such an amazing group of writers. Not only do we share a passion for writing and history, but on a more personal level, we have become a close-knit, supportive group of best friends. Secondly, I’m choosing it because it Wenches gunfireillustrates the sort of offbeat historical subject that set fire to my imagination. And what makes it even more fun is that there is an audience of kindred spirits who seem to share my passion. So without further ado, here is a link to the history of gunpowder. And I’ll also add my own colorful fireworks of thanks to all you readers whose enthusiasm for our posts keeps us going!

 Sherrie drops in to say —Image001

From Sherrie Holmes and Sparky Tabasco, happy anniversary to all the Wenches for 8 wonderful years! As your  blogmistress, I've been privileged to come along for the ride from the very beginning. It's been a trip! I can remember when I was first approached by Mary Jo about researching blog venues and then becoming the blogmistress to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. Blogging had really exploded back then, and many authors were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the blogosphere. Now, blogs are a great way for authors and readers to connect, and a side benefit has been the wonderful friendships that have been formed as a result. Here’s to another glorious 8 years!

BathingmenAnd Jo:.

I was delighted to be invited to join the Word Wenches back in 2006, and then it seemed quite an achievement to reach our anniversary in May 2007. Of course we wanted to do a group blog worthy of the milestone, so what else but Getting Naked With the Wenches? The topic was "nakedness in the past — the fiction and the non-fiction."

I pulled together the first of three posts on nakedness. In this one the Wenches discussed bathing habits — naked or not?– and even the definition of nakedness, which uncovered (sorry!) this from the OED. 1761:  "The streets were…filled with naked people, some with shirts and shifts on only, and numbers without either." There are pictures.

We also discussed nakedness in sex. No pictures in the blog, but there's a link, with appropriate warnings. Enjoy!

 Stay tuned for Friday's posting when we'll hear from Anne, Pat, Susan and Mary Jo.  On Friday we'll offer a plentitudeand a half of Wench Book Swag to lucky commenters on either of these posts.  What kind of book swag?  Let me say — ARC!  Let me say — Newly released books.  Let me say — audiobook!

 So …  What's your favorite Wench post from the eight years of Wenchdom?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy … Oh, and Finish the Book

Joanna here, asking the Wenches the somewhat harrowing question —

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"Do you get angsty and anxious at any part of the writing process? And, if you do, does it make you more productive?"

Mary Jo Putney says:  Writing always makes me angsty!

I think it’s part of my creative process to have to fret and chew at the story and wonder if the current work is a career ender.  Luckily, I’ve been in this business long enough that I recognize angst as part of the process, which spares me the worst of the feeling.  But it doesn’t make the angst go away, alas.


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Creative work comes from internal fires.

Pat Rice says: I don’t handle stress well. No one in my family does, so It’s apparently genetic. As a result, we aim for a laidback attitude and careers that don’t create tension.  

In writing, stress has to come from inside the writer because no one else gives a dang what you do. I’ve set up time frames and work schedules that don’t require that I freak out on a regular basis. And if a book isn’t going well, I’ve developed methods of looking at it from a fresh perspective and beta readers who can sometimes point out problems.

The only time I angst is when someone else doesn’t step up when they’re supposed to, and I’m learning to ignore that as much as possible. I might chew a few nails and fire off a few e-mails until I annoy the devil out of the slacker, but otherwise, I try not to angst over the delay.

This is probably not a formula for fame and riches, but I’d only stress over those anyway!

Joanna: Fame and riches. Y'know, I wouldn't mind stressing over that.


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Jo Beverley, when I ask if she gets angsty at any part of the writing process, says:
About half way. My husband calls it the time of the book.

One of the aspects is a conviction that it will be too short. I always end up too long and cutting.

I don't believe any kind of stress helps me. It can be tempting to think it does so as to avoid the additional stress of guilt over feeling stressed!

Nicola Cornick says: I'm not usually anxious at the start of the book because at that point the excitement of starting something new taken together with the misguided belief that *this book* will be plain sailing usually helps me get going ok.
Hit twenty thousand words, though, and I am busy re-appraising the conflict, the characters, the plot development…

This is when paralysing angst usually starts to hit, I start to question myself, I change what I have already written, I become convinced I will never finish this book, nay never write another book again…
This phase sometimes lasts until the end of the book. If I'm lucky I come out of it before then and actually start enjoying myself again.

When I ask if writer's angst makes her more productive, she says:
No. It paralyses me. When I'm in the throes of writer's angst I find the process is like dragging words from treacle.

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Anne Gracie says: At some stage in every novel I am completely certain I can't make it work and that the novel will be a terrible failure.
My friends say, "Oh, Anne you always say that," as if I'm fussing over nothing, or making it up, but it's completely genuine and heartfelt every time.  

I suspect that by wrestling with whatever it is that's not working (because it's different in each book) the book is improved. But it's not a fun way to work.

And does writer's angst make her more productive?
It probably reduces the number of books I write in a year. It might make those I produce better — I hope so, but I have no way of testing the theory.


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Cara Elliott/Andrea Penrose
Writerly angst always seems to rear its ugly head at around three quarters of the way through a manuscript. The characters appear to become bored with my company (Moi? Who has done her best to amuse them with bon mots, gorgeous clothes, not to speak of inviting them to all the interesting places in Town?)

I, in turn, become sulky and am tempted to abandon them in the slums of Southwark and find new friends. For a time, we don’t speak to each other. . . 

I fret, I whine. I eat chocolate. The Muse gets annoyed because the chocolate is supposed to be for HER. She starts whispering in my ear that all relationships have their ups and downs and I can’t very well leave these people abandoned in a strange place The is appeal to my conscience usually works and no matter how awful the walk home feels, I try to make polite conversation until we reach the end.

Strangely enough, when we sit down for a last glass of wine together, I usually realize that they not so annoying after all and we part bosom bows.
I must be a difficult person to get along with, for this keeps repeating itself. I need to either change my personality. Or buy a lot more chocolate.

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Joanna:  My own writerly anxiety clutches at my mind till I can barely work.  Messes with my head.  Makes me miserable.

But once I get going, once I get into the story, it goes away.  The only cure for the pain of writing  is writing.  (I think I've just described addiction, maybe.)


I put out one final question.  Sometimes I see 'writer's anxiety' as a chittering monkey, clinging to my back, chattering in my ear, distracting me from writing. So I asked what animal folks think of when they think of writerly angst.

Jo Beverley says, "Preferably a bug I'd feel okay about stamping on." For Nicola Cornick, ". . . it would be a pacing tiger. It's quite fierce, it feels frustrated and it just wants to break out of the confines and roar." And Anne Gracie says it's like a "Rat on a spinning wheel, round and round and round, over and over the same thing. And only stopping to gnaw thoughtfully at the bars from time to time."

I think folks who do any sort of creative or important work under a deadline suffer from this same 'angst'. This performance anxiety.

What's your own particular anxiety for the work you do?