I’m hitting a strange wall in writing this novel now in that I have not nailed down the cosmology of the culture, therefore I can’t write the interstitial bits between the chapters explaining what the purpose of the different neighborhoods are, which all depend on the cosmology. This does not completely stop me from writing the chapters because I can work around it, come back and change, etc. But having that nailed down would really help me figure out what needs to happen in some of the pivotal parts.
When I first conceived of the city, I put it in an alternate universe of dynastic Egypt where certain stupidities did not happen. But now I’m waffling — I’m not sure if I want the timeframe to be dynastic Egypt or pre-dynastic. And I don’t know if I want my gods and goddesses to be actual deities or closer to the indigenous concept of NTRs (the word some Egyptologists translate as gods) as senses or aspects of consciousness. The reason for all this waffling is that I’m reading some books by alternative Egyptologists, some of which I’ve read before (but it’s becoming obvious to me that I’ve forgotten a fair bit of the info), and they keep presenting theories that make me want to rework the cosmology and some parts of the culture to fit them. At the same time, I feel like if I tried to incorporate all of this stuff, I’ll end up with a culture so alien and strange no one will be able to relate. And then there’s the stuff that would also totally mess up my overall plot, which I cannot have. But… it’s all so interesting!
Right now I’m resolved to finish the books, then try to sort out all the ideas and such in my head. I obviously need a cosmology and culture that feels real nd thought-out, but I am afraid of too much complexity overwhelming the story.
And the final thing I am trying to keep in mind is that I’m writing a novel and not a historical essay. I’m not even writing a historical novel, but a fantasy novel set in a fantasy world that is based on an actual historical period. And therefore I am allowed to make stuff up. I actually do need to remind myself of this when I go into Writing Egypt mode because I’ve done so much research on this stuff and I love the real history and culture and want to be true to those things I love. Still, it’s my novel, I am allowed to make shit up.