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Turkey Encyclopedia

For the most part I feel very embarrassed going through my old writing, especially the writing I did by hand. My huge, round handwriting in mostly purple ink looks so gauche, and some of the things I wrote are mortifying.

I feel a stubbornness, however, about maintaining my old work. It's almost an affirmation to myself. I know the things I write now will seem stupid and inexperienced twenty years from now. How will I feel knowing forty-seven year old Amanda may carelessly toss out these journals and files on which I have poured my heart's blood? (Forty-seven year old Amanda...) I can't write with true faith in that case.

Rather than keep the embarrassing papers around, however, I am typing it all up. I type fast, so it goes quickly and gives me a chance to re-read these old notes as I go. I find once it's all typed up, it doesn't look nearly as dumb. Some of it is even clever.

Like my Turkey Encyclopedia. I was enamored with the Ottoman Empire in my adolescence and wrote and planned for a kind of trilogy-- it was and still is my way to tell a story, and then make subsequent stories about the backstory.

In this instance one story was about an Arabian princess enslaved in the American South, the close relationship she develops with her tempestuous mistress and her romance with a Native American, and the mistress Givencha's story-- then the story of all that befalls her once she is restored to her kingdom and meets her betrothed Prince Jamal.

Despite wild logistical inaccuracies in the plot, I researched the Middle Eastern setting quite thoroughly. I was in love with all things Mediterranean and even made plans at some point to study the Turkish language (We are all so ambitious at twelve). I put together an alphabetized series of notes on the Middle East which typed up looks cute and clever. It's special too now that I've seen more of the world (okay, not very much more), to have seen the art and eaten the kinds of food I described in my notes.

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