Ceiniogs and Firdlycs (or: Suo Gân, Part 4)

I meant to write this three days ago.

Basically, this is about Suo Gân – you know, my latest project with the Welsh Fae that I’ve been obsessed with for the last few months – again. I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not.

Basically, here’s what I’m thinking:

This whole story has come to me in bizarre fashion. If you’ll recall, it all started when Dwyn’s face popped into my head unbidden – I didn’t know who she was, what her story was, where she came from – I just started writing and figured it out.

Then as I’ve been writing; this has been the pantsiest writing I’ve done since the stories of my early days. And not like, “the beginning of this blog” early days. I’m talking like, “10 years old on college-ruled paper” early days.

I have been a plotter rather than a pantser for most of my life writing. I love a good plan, a good list. I’m mildly obsessive in that way.

But for this story?

I have no plot recorded anywhere.

Except for the story, naturally.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fully pantsing here; I developed a plan for this story pretty early on and I’m carrying it out. But I’m doing this absolutely bizarre (for me, anyway) thing where I’m just … letting the wind carry me.

Now let’s get to the actual writing process. (Which has stalled as my summer job has begun firing up – SO MANY trainings, guys – much to my chagrin. But I’m planning to move over to the story after I publish this post).

The writing process is both wonderful and weird. It’s the smoothest any of my projects have gone in a long time – the words seem to just come to me and then I’m 5 more pages along. It’s pretty great.

But I’m also just … doing things. And I’m not sure why. Like, I put a detail in, and in the back of my head, I think: “This will be important later on.”

BUT I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW WHY.

It’ll be important? Great! Why? What’s its significance? Go ahead and fill me in, subconscious, because we’re aren’t on the same wavelength here, buckaroo.

I think I might actually be possessed by an actual Fae. But hey, it’s like a Welsh Muse, so I’ll take it.

As I’ve been writing, some of these details – as they marinate in the ol’ gray matter – have started to piece together into some machinations.

So … I think we’re looking at a full length novel with Dwynwen & Co. at some point.

This feels like a prequel novella, to be frank with you. A fun, good (at least I hope you’ll think so) prequel novella, but a prequel novella. Just … with no novel to precede.

Yet.

So I think I’m going to finish it up and store it. For now. Leave it in the hard drive.

Because if my hunch is correct, I’m going to want to publish the yet unestablished Dwynwen & Co. novel.

And do you know when there’s a market for prequel novellas?

When there’s a novel for them to precede.

That’s all I’m sayin’.

With all that said, please enjoy the following out-of-context snippet of Suo Gân:

[Note: you will see the words “ceiniog” and “firdlyc” in this snippet. These are pieces of traditional Welsh currency. They are pronounced “cheen-ee-yog” and “feard-leek” respectively. I didn’t invent the language, I’m just writing with it.]

Cadoc swung the two baskets around his forearm as they walked. “You’re sure we don’t want to stop there?” He nodded to Master Roberts’s stall, where the crisp, golden loaves stood stacked four high.

“No,” Dwyn said. “He’s all looks and no substance. He’s got this habit of mixing sawdust in with his wheat so he can get more loaves per bushel. It bakes really nicely, but it’s foul. He’s got great prices, but I decided years ago it’s not worth saving a few more firdlycs for dusty bread.”

Cadoc laughed. “Alright. Where do we go, then?”

“Well, first we want to see the Rees’ stall. The good Matron is a trying presence, but their farm yields really good vegetables and anything you might even imagine you want pickled. Then we’ll head over to the Evans’ stall for our milk and cheese, and then the James’ for bread. The Jameses also sells really good flour that’s already ground, but I don’t think we’ll be making our own bread for the next few days, so we ought to just buy the loaves.”

“Sounds like a good plan,” Cadoc said, the baskets still swing their way up and down his arm. “Lead the way.”

On the way to the Rees’s stall, Tegan ran up to them.

“Dwyn!” she caught hold of Dwyn’s arm and swung from it.

“Good morning, there, Tegan,” Dwyn replied. As Tegan swung there, she had an idea. She dug out six ceiniogs and a firdlyc and jingled them in her hand. “If you’ll run over to the Rees’s and pick me up a bundle of carrots, a bundle of turnips, and the best four ears of corn you can find, you can keep whatever’s left over.” Dwyn knew only the firdlyc would be leftover, unless the Reeses had increased their prices significantly in the last few weeks.

She and Cadoc walked down the row of stalls. Market Way was bustling with the mid-morning crowd, and the vendors were hawking their wares. Cadoc was walking slowly, looking at each stall and taking in the scene. Dwyn’s urge to speed him up was stifled by the faint smile on his face.

They could stand to walk a little slowly today.

“Dwynwen! Dwynwen, can I interest you in a new whistle? Some chimes? I have tobacco pipes, too, if your fellow fancies a puff!”

Dwyn’s head snapped over at the use of her name, and she saw Alun at his stand, full of his latest wood works. He had pipes, both to play and smoke with, spoons, forks, figurines, cutting boards – and, in the typical fashion of any work by Alun, almost every ware was carved with intricate designs. The instruments took up the largest part of the table, betraying Alun’s creative bias. Dwyn wandered over.

“Business not good, Alun? You’ve got a lot unsold,” she said.

Alun was quick with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. “I’m hoping not for long, Miss Dwynwen,” he said. “I did get you over to my stall. If I can sell you something, I can sell anyone anything.”

Dwyn smiled, and Alun’s eyes settled appraisingly on Cadoc beside her, who was picking up a tobacco pipe with a tiny, delicately carved forest on the chamber. “Beautiful work,” he said.

Alun inclined his head at the compliment. “Thank you.” He stretched out his hand. “I’ve not seen you around here before. Name’s Alun.”

Cadoc and Alun grasped each other’s forearms and gave a firm shake before letting their arms drop. “Cadoc.”

“What brings you to town?”

Cadoc hesitated in answering, so Dwyn took over. “We met while traveling. He wanted to see me home safe.”

Alun’s eyes shone when he looked to Dwynwen, and the corners of his mouth turned up with an unspoken assumption. “How kind.”

Cadoc had abandoned the tobacco pipe and picked up one made for music; it was long, tapered at the mouthpiece, with three holes near the bottom. It was beautiful, with the scene of forested mountains and a swirling river carved into its body. It all bore the glistening, warm shine of the wood it was made of, except for the water; that, Alun had painted a rich blue.

It was the most beautiful thing up for sale.

“Ah,” Alun said. “That took a fair bit of time. A tabor pipe. What do you think?”

“It’s marvelous,” breathed Cadoc. “May I?” He lifted it toward his lips.

Alun raised a hand in an affirmative. “Please.”

Cadoc raised the mouthpiece to his lips and placed his fingers over the holes. He closed his eyes, and his first note sang out and the market seemed to still at the pure, crystalline tone. Cadoc played, and it sounded like the water. Dwyn heard the cool mist of a waterfall, the calm progression of a stream, the roar of a river – when Cadoc trilled, she could imagine the rain falling on a roof. Finally, Cadoc stopped, a slow movement between two notes, and it sounded like the lapping of a glassy lake onto its banks.

Dwyn released the breath she hadn’t known she was holding, and Cadoc opened his eyes. He smiled, and went to hand the pipe back to Alun. “It’s a beautiful instrument,” he said.

Dwyn reached out to stop him, and untied her purse. “How much are you asking for it, Alun?”

“I’ll tell you the truth, Miss Dwyn, it was set at sixteen ceiniogs,” Alun replied. “But for my tabor to be played like that?” Alun thought for a moment. “I’ll let it go for eleven.”

“Ten and you’ve got it,” Dwyn fired back.

“For you only, Dwynwen Twylyth.”

Dwyn went to count out the ceiniogs.


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