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The history of Restraint

On October 27, 2008 at 4:39 p.m., during a brief and evil email conversation with owzers and vampirefan, I spitballed the following reply...

For an English painter to have studied at the feet of the great Venetian master Florio is, in the eyes of the English populace, to have strayed sadly from the path of good English painting. For this same English painter to have exercised his strange foreign training in the painting of young Lady Devon in a most shocking state of undress is, in the eyes of Mayfair gallery patrons, to have put himself quite beyond the pale. The English painter thus adjudged, it will not surprise the reader to learn, suffers censure and enjoys popularity in equal degrees.

Mr. John Acklebury, for our scandalous painter is he, returned to London after four years of toil in the workshop of Maestro Florio in the Santa Maria Zobenigo parish of Venice, in the autumn of 1803. He was unfashionably brown from afternoons in the Italian sun. His hair was unfashionably short, from a desire for convenience rather than from any pretension of setting a new style. His clothes were of but indifferent cut, his neckcloth tied in a most careless manner, his only ornament a gold signet ring bearing, as one eagle-eyed member of the Harley Street gentlemen's club to which Mr. Acklebury's father's reputation gained him admittance, the mysterious initials "DW".


Two years, two months, one week and six days later--which is to say, today--at 4:24 p.m. I wrote the last word of the epic love story of John Acklebury and Tristan Jarrett.

The story spent a few weeks tentatively titled Civility, but Restraint soon replaced that, and not only stuck, but made me conscious of the story's real theme.

I don't know how many hours I spent on Google Maps, Wikipedia, Thesaurus.com, Dictionary.com, Project Gutenberg's Jane Austen section, Italian song lyric listings, artists' pigment catalogs, and various costume history sites.

I can't guess at how long I spent poring over screencaps from all the main Jane Austen and Regency movies, looking for images upon which owzers could exercise her magical manipping skills. (As to how many hours she spent examining Supernatural screencaps for just-so faces--let alone doing the delicate work of blending two images into the story's brilliant illustrations--I will never know.)

I know that very few days in the past two years have gone by when I wasn't thinking about, discussing, researching, angsting over, or actually writing Restraint. So, a lot of time.

[personal profile] kis signed on as my beta when Part I was pretty well nailed down, and her guiding hand is all over the finished work. She caught me every single time I got lazy. She spotted every visible seam and made me make it seamless. She's pointed out failures of character motivation and gaps of plot, caught every elision where I didn't quite say what I was trying to say, and has kept me on the story's true path. She's also offered uncounted brilliant suggestions for nudging me out of a blockage, and has a wonderful talent for spotting symbolism and symmetries that I didn't realize were there.

I posted the first chapters on Valentine's Day last year (yes, on purpose; because if this story isn't romantic, nothing was ever romantic), on the then-brand-new Archive of Our Own. There, vampirefan left the first comment. She's been my constant cheerleader and supporter from the very beginning.

[personal profile] pandarus, aka Fayjay, upped the wow factor by a lot when, on March 15, she offered to podfic the story. Her brilliant reading is so much a part of Restraint now that it's hard to imagine it any other way.

A large group of readers became my regular commenters, giving feedback that helped guide my writing of the rest of the story, and forming a community around John and Tristan, asking questions, commenting in period style, analyzing the characters, expressing their emotional reactions--real, wonderful, juicy feedback that has been a joy and a pleasure to me for the past year. (I quickly developed a Pavlovian "oh goody!" response to email from do-not-reply-at-archiveofourown.org.)

I'll be posting Chapter 42, Chapter 43, and the Epilogue as soon as [personal profile] kis has had time to look them over, and I've had a chance to polish 'em up.

And then I think I'll have a glass of Laphroaig and toast the boys.

And then...

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