There is one scene in Elizabeth Moon's The Deed of Pakesnarrion (my favorite book about paladins, has a rape scene) that stuck with me for years. It was the point where Paks is talking about trying to fight on an empty stomach. It wasn't the recallation of the events that got me but the other paladin trainees who were listening to her descriptions. It reminds me of being near the end of a major release of a software project (and I'm currently now). Some people call it the Death March but it is the point where the managers push the developers to keep working "just a little longer" (months) because a deadline has to be meet. This reminds me of the "why can't they fight without food" questions in Pakesnarrion.
I'm so exhausted but I have to get things done. Some of my colleges just wave their hands and go to bed, but I have a tendency to keep working to the point I only have three or four hours of sleep. The strange part of death marches is that I'm still fairly productive because my limiter is getting things out of my head, not as much as trying to solve problems. That said, they are still terrible things because productivity, health, and a whole slew of other problems start to encroach in my life and I pay for it weeks or months after the Death March. It is like Paksenarrion's response of why they can't, how it wears down on you and leaves you stripped.
There are a few places in the last three novels where Rutejìmo portrays the Death March. His purification rituals, to walk naked for an entire day in the desert, has shown up for quite a while. Performing a ritual all night knowing he would be running for his life as first light (this chapter) is another example. It has to be done (I have to keep programming) because something something has to be done.
Death Marches have been the bane of my professional career. Every time I've burned out, it was at the tail end of a death march that could have been managed better. It was only my sense of loyalty that pushed me to work past my limits that caused me to crash. The first one was in 1994 when I hit this… wall and I couldn't program anymore. Just flat out, one day I went to turn on the computer and just couldn't. I remember crying that day as I tried to find the energy, the desire, the joy that would let me push past the exhaustion. I couldn't.
I remember trying to talk to my boss about it, but she blew me off. It wasn't until a week of stalling later that I realized I couldn't do it anymore.
A week later, I was submitting a college application to the University of Iowa. That set me down a path where I am now, including being married and having children. The very reason I was in Iowa, being with someone for over twenty years, and the happiness I have can be traced back to that day when I stood in my office and couldn't bear the thought of turning on the computer.
Rutejìmo will suffer from this night. It won't go away in a few hours. Instead, the night where he had to burn his wife's mother's body for an entire night and then run for his live will haunt him for the rest of his life. I think that is how things go, I mean I'm still haunted by every burnout that I've suffered through.
I'm working on the formatting and typesetting for Sand and Bone. I've been mostly working on Sand and Blood's version because it is already written and I have less to focus and have a working example to make sure things look right. The new formatter is working out nicely, the new version has some minor hyphenation differences and comes out ten pages longer but overall it looks nearly identical to the previous LaTeX-based version. I can see the visual differences but I don't thing most readers will care.
Once I finish that, I should have the basic framework for getting Sand and Bone typeset. It would probably take a day or so being that I've already done most of the work. Once I have that, I'll probably send for a proof from the printers next week and see if I can have something in my hands by the end of the month.
Remember, patreons can get the print version at cost. The ebook, as with the previous three novels, will be a free download on the website.
Sand and Bone v3
While I was working on some analysis on Sand and Blood, I found a typo. It is in bold below.
Rutejìmo couldn't wait until the rite of passage would let him join his brother Desòchu on the sands. There was no set time when the clan elders would allow him to take the rite. He wasn't even sure he would know in advance that it had started. He'd heard of children being plucked from their beds in the middle of the night and tossed into the desert. Rutejìmo's mother said her rite started when she was caught drinking too much fermented mare's milk, but Chimípu's father started his with pomp and ceremony.
The correction is just to shift it to another person:
Rutejìmo couldn't wait until the rite of passage would let him join his brother Desòchu on the sands. There was no set time when the clan elders would allow him to take the rite. He wasn't even sure he would know in advance that it had started. He'd heard of children being plucked from their beds in the middle of the night and tossed into the desert. Gemènyo's rite started when he was caught drinking too much fermented mare's milk, but Chimípu's father started his with pomp and ceremony.
Why is this a typo? Well, I didn't really flesh out how the desert culture dealt with the dead until the next book, Sand and Ash. They wouldn't talk about Chyojímo because no one talks about the dead until after they are gone.
This is a retcon but a relatively small one for purposes of the plot. This does mean I'll update the version to v3.0.0 because it is a "breaking change" according to Semantic Versioning. If I catch any others during this analysis, I'll include them in this version.
Sand and Bone 26: A Long Night
Knowing that he would be running as soon as the sun rose, Rutejìmo spent the entire night burning the body of his wife's mother. He didn't sleep or rest, all to make sure she would have the path she needed into the afterlife. In the silence, he realized that he was closer to a warrior than he thought. There was something that had finally pushed him to be more than the "slowest runner".
Read the chapter at https://fedran.com/sand-and-bone/chapter-26/. If you like it, please become a patron or review one of my previous books. Subscribers get access to all my novels, including the first book of my next series and my high-society romance novel.