Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Collapse: Listing Things

One of the outstanding items as I have worked on The Collapse is that I have never really had a sense of what Seneca (The protagonist) actually owns.  Yes, I have some idea in my own head but realized that if I was going to write a credible story, I needed to actually decide what he had, because that would be all that he would start out with.

(This reflects one of my personal pet peeves:  authors who simply throw items in that have previously not been accounted for or explained.  J.R.R. Tolkien always made sure there was a link for everything in his books; Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time)  was not very good at it - to the point I stopped reading his books).

And so, I started making a list of everything Seneca had:  Personal, Cooking Utensils, Armory, Tools, Food and Supplies, Livestock, Garden, Fishing.

Some of the thing I wrote down (mostly personal) reflected things that I own (after all, he is an extension of me to some extent).  Some of the things extended from what I have described of him:  he has a wood stove, for example, so it follows that he would have certain implements (maul, ax, sledge hammer) to prepare the wood.  In some cases where a specific reference had been spelled out, I used that number.

After I initially completed the list,  I looked at it.  And was totally surprised at what I thought someone who was trying to be "grid-less" actually needed to own.  It was a lot more than I anticipated.

To some extent, that is the way of life, is it not?  We start something, then find we need three other things in order to do it - or that the one specific tool for the task would greatly increase our efficiency.  Or realize that doing it "ourselves" initially costs a lot more than we anticipated.

Even a moderate amount of self sufficiency, at least in fiction, is a lot more complex than it seems.


  1. That is very true.

    We watch a lot of "reality" shows like Mountain Men, The Last Alaskans, etc. (I will make a list of you are interested.) There are certain segments in each of them on self sufficiency. One guy goes so far as to mine and smelt his own iron for making blades.

    And probably there are many articles on the subject on the internet; if you don't already have the same in your personal library.

  2. I've been contemplating this as well; not so much from the "stuff" aspect, but from the "effort" aspect. I look at the way we live now, and what we don't have to do because some kind of machine or computer is doing the work for us, and ponder the fact that less than 100 years ago, all of this was done by hand. Our forebears, even the women, we flat-out STRONG! My concern is whether I or anyone else in the America of today could make a sudden transition from how we are to how we were. Methinks whoever's left will be stepping over a lot of bodies... perhaps even mine...

  3. I have some books, Linda.

    It was just really surprising to me how much someone would need to stay what today would be considered a relatively non-technology based non-extravagant life style.

  4. Pete, I think you are right. In the event of a catastrophic event, there would be wide spread death just because most people (probably me as well) could not contemplate how run a life without technology and labor saving devices.

    Growing a garden? Cutting a tree up for firewood? Gosh, that sounds like a lot of work!

  5. Making a list like that is an extremely useful exercise. Good writing takes all the details into account. It makes the story more believable. Quantum reality jumps in a story are distracting. At least for me. I find myself stopping to try and figure it out. If I can't make sense of it, I either stop reading or stop watching.

  6. the tools would be rare and brute strength was necessary
    read that after the invaders decimated the South hand tools would be shared among neighbors over a several mile radius
    read something important if an axe is left by the woodpile in the freezing cold the head will shatter if used unwarmed axe must be kept inside many may have had a hard time after destroying their axes from ignorance
    many little things we don't know but necessary
    how would you, a poor man in a poor place, get a new axhead?
    i am sure there are a myriad of things i don't know that would be necessary knowledge for survival

  7. Leigh, I just thought it was a personal peeve of mine. Now I know I am in good company.

  8. Deb, I had never heard that story about the reconstruction South (although I do not doubt it). And the axehead story makes perfect sense to me.

    Yes, there are all kinds of things we are destined to learn by hard knocks. Hopefully some of us will survive.


Your comment will be posted after review. Thanks for posting!