Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why

Seneschals

Once Upon A Time On A Bad Day. . .

I wrote this a long time ago on a day when I was tired and frustrated, and I never published it because it was too bitter and too honest. Now when I read it I think of all the good seneschals of kingdoms, principalities, regions and baronies who are going through similar things, and sometimes I think of seneschals who should be going through more of them.

Here, in case any of you have ever wondered, is
What The Kingdom Seneschal Does

  • I get letters. In the past week I received five letters and three long-distance phone calls. If everyone who was supposed to have written to me had written, I would've gotten twelve letters. I like getting letters very much, but they all have to be answered. Sometimes I get one letter and it causes me to have to write two or three, like chain letters or fission.
  • I keep a log of what I do. When I get a letter I write in the log something like:
    Nov. 20 received letter from Kingdom Hospitaller (Grafin Malinda) with a copy of Ronald Evergreen's Hospitallers' Handbook.
    Replied same day, copy filed.
    Then when I answer the letter I have to make a copy (or several), file it and log that.
  • I am in charge of keeping the calendar. Periodically I re-do it, make about twenty-five copies and mail them out. (Anyone can get one-send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)
  • Sometimes I defend officers from the king, or I defend the king from the officers. I try to make everything nice (or at least make it seem to be nice).
  • Sometimes I talk to lots of people about stolen rocks and feel like a police detective or a group therapist. Sometimes they're my good friends and I have to try to be very neutral and objective.
  • Sometimes people tattle and fight and cry and I feel like a tired babysitter.
  • Sometimes the king or queen asks my opinion and I feel very privileged and needed. Sometimes people write me nice letters, and one very nice letter makes up for five of any other kind.
  • People always want copies of forms and old documents and new documents and Corpora and copies of letters and lists of people and zip codes and signatures and answers and information and sometimes when people call they're distraught or angry or misinformed.
  • I'm not trying to boast of what I do, I'm more likely trying to get people to understand why sometimes I don't have time to do something immediately and sometimes I get tired.

That was Atenveldt about mid-A.S. XIII. I quit keeping a journal after a while, and I've always been sorry I did. It took too much time, but was a wonderful record of who and when and what. The story of the stolen rock was a good one, about "The Holy Coronation Stone," but it's a long one, and enough people are actually still angry about it that I can't tell it yet. Maybe in another ten years. People who haven't been upper-level seneschals have a hard time comprehending what kinds of things the job can involve.

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Copyright by Sandra Dodd, 1991
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