FORTitude


The rumor is that last night I fell asleep in my bed sitting straight up, with all the lights on, clutching a bottle of sleeping pills. I had purchased the pills earlier that day at the store, hoping that just one or two nights of taking them would get me out of my jet-lag funk. Apparently, holding sleeping pills is as effective as taking them– I didn’t wake until after 4 AM, then fell back asleep until 5:30 AM. I seem to have turned a corner.

Yesterday I made it to page 223 of the novel– 71,780 words. The story has about another 5,000 words or so in it, I think. I’m still writing the short story within the novel, while tying up all the ends of the actual main plot. I can’t tell whether or not the short story within the big story works well as a means for the final, big discovery, but I suppose I can figure it out during the rewrite.

I’ve decided, too, that before I start rewriting the novel, I’m going to 1.) outline; and 2.) research. Many writers do those steps first, then write a first draft, but I couldn’t manage it early on. So I’m doing it backwards, instead, with the hope that my second draft, once I write it, will be in good enough form for me to start sharing with writer-friends for feedback.

*  *  *  *  *  *

The morning after we saw the Taj Mahal, we went to Agra Fort, just down the river. When the Mughal empire began ruling India in the 1500s, Agra Fort was their palace, and later became the capital. When Shah Jahan took over as emperor, he did some major redecorating and spruced the place up a bit (remember from yesterday— he would later build the Taj Mahal– so obviously he had an eye for design, even without the advantage of HGTV). But here’s the thing– Shah Jahan was later imprisoned in Agra Fort by his son, Aurungzeb. Clearly, though Shah Jahan loved his third wife, Mumtaz, enough to build her the Taj Mahal, he neglected to nurture his other familial relationships. At least Shah Jahan’s prison cell was a room with a view– it was a marble tower in Agra Fort that looked out over the Taj Mahal. But Aurengzeb must not have held a grudge against his father the Shah, because when Shah Jahan died, Aurengzeb had the decency to bury him next to his third wife, Mumtaz, in the Taj Mahal.

Kinda like a real life fairy tale, except with far more family drama, huh?

The entrance to Agra Fort. It was surrounded by a moat filled with snakes and crocodiles! And had a drawbridge! This was very, very exciting for my 7-year old because if you have a castle with a moat and a drawbridge, you MUST have had dragons!

Me and my Big Girls, trekking up Agra Fort in 100+ degree temps.

Inside the Fort

The marble tower where Shah Jahan was imprisoned. Tough punishment huh?

The Mughal Empire did not have sheer curtains. So instead, to let in some natural light, they had to carve thinner marble walls.

Me at Agra Fort

The room where the Emperor would meet with those pesky "commoners" who had "issues." In other words, this is where politicians lied to the people in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Where the ladies of the court got their spa treatments. Because, you know, you need a separate room for that.

Big and Little Sister examine the map of Agra fort. Damn, that place is as big as a palace. Oh, wait, it was.

Someone was feeling cranky after a couple of hours of walking in soaring temps.

On the long drive back from Agra to Dehli later that afternoon, my 7-year old got out her sketchpad and drew the dragons that must have lived near Agra Fort.

Another Agra Dragon of the Mughal Empire.

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6 thoughts on “FORTitude

  1. Thanks, girl. And yes, my 7-year old daughter is HUGE into dragons. She draws them every day.

  2. There was very little filial love between royals since nothing matter except who inherited the throne…
    great updates. Where is our friend Brain in all of this!!

  3. Can you share your novel with your non-writer relative? I really, really, really, want to read it!!! If not, I’m going to hijack your laptop when I see you in July. Love love.

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