Last night I wrote my prologue. Just shy of 2,000 words, and I wrote it good, in words I'm proud of.
The ache in me won’t subside. Couldn’t Racchi have been kind? To betray once, and then twice, and for it to have cost him nothing, encourages a cool voice to say that I’d been wrong about him all along. That there is no taming a thaiad, even a half-blood, and he was just a chimpanzee trussed up in evening clothes of my manufacture. He’d still screech and mess himself. Nothing but an animal.
But then, perhaps the same is true of me.I decided semi-firmly to write this one in first person. I've stayed away from first person in the last few years, for the most part. Most of my juvenilia is in first person, and I tend to get lazy when I write in it. I make my character a lot more like me than like herself (or himself), and I do a lot of asides and emotional explaining, and the whole thing gets to be a lot more like a blog post than a work of fiction. So it'll be a disciplinary exercise to write this in first person and not do all of that.
One of the ways I got around this problem in the past was by writing shifting first-person for my sci-fi novella. I had a genuine purpose to the three characters I chose to rotate - they all had very different things to contribute to the story, and they shared a particular fate that took place at the end - but when I read over it the last time, I agreed with one of my beta readers that shifting between the characters, all "I"s, was a little confusing. I think I managed to give the characters distinct voices, but when they were working on the same thing, sometimes you didn't notice the name change in the chapter break.
In any case, I think I'm going with first person for this one. I might change my mind a few chapters in, if I can't distinguish Berra's voice from my own, or if it doesn't feel right. This decision was also drawn from the urban fantasy I read - two of the series books I read were in first person.
Speaking of reading, I am finally almost done with a steampunk anthology I started about a month ago. It's a 500-page anthology, in my defense, but honestly, after this experience, I don't know if anthology reading is for me. I find it emotionally exhausting to read all these different authors and all these different stories all mashed up against each other. The same is true in miniature in books of short stories by the same author. I get immersed in the world and the characters, and then the author yanks me out of it and we go on to the next thing. Like living a hundred lives in a single day.
Finally now I have read good steampunk, thanks to this anthology. I enjoyed some of these stories immensely, and some of them I found really blah. All of the writers seem to have enthusiasm for the trappings of steampunk, but not all of them make those trappings integral parts of the stories. Some of them are just telling a story with clockwork and airships duct-taped on top. (Dear God, please let that not be true of what I'm writing now. I don't want to overdo it, and I don't think pure steampunk is really me, but there will be clockwork and there will be Victorian fashion. Later there may be Zeppelins.) I wish I hadn't felt compelled to read every story in the book for the sake of Research, because I might have enjoyed some of the stories a lot more and felt free to skip others that weren't working for me. Oh, well. Nearly done now.
In other news, this week I saw Don Giovanni in a summer encore movie-theater presentation. (No need to read the next few paragraphs if you have no interest in opera.) I feel like an uncultured jerk, but I didn't love it as much as I hoped I would. There are a lot of parts to why:
- The staging was not terribly interesting. Straight-up late-1700s costumes, a sort of multiple-balcony setup that they really took zero advantage of, and taking the words of the opera literally. (I started imagining a staging in the 1970s with Giovanni as an actual pimp, and the last scene with all the food referring to girls, instead. I kind of love this idea, and any opera-stagers reading this are free to steal it.)
- Some of the cast actually seemed incompetent to the task of the opera. There were some not-quite-hit notes and some inability to keep up with the tempo of the syllables. I know how this sounds, because they know opera better than I'll ever know opera, but I don't think I was imagining it.
- One of the sopranos (Donna Elvira) seemed to have a range wrong for the part; she was loud and soft at weird times.
- All the above bullets despite the fact that this was the Metropolitan Opera of New York. WTF?
- Mostly male voices. Male voices do a lot less for me than sopranos, in general. (Tenors fail to move me at all 90% of the time. Crazy, right?) This show was mostly baritones, and Giovanni himself had a lovely rich velvety voice, but I just didn't feel very much.
- The last scene. Although it included the biggest laugh of the production thanks to Don Ottavio (played by a very homely fellow with few acting skills, unfortunately)'s sole good acting instinct, I found it totally tacked-on and lame. The supper scene was arresting, astonishing, I felt absolutely stripped when Giovanni got dragged down to Hell, and just when I thought I'd leave in a post-opera emotional fog, the whole cast tramped in and distracted me out of it. Learning that this scene was mostly omitted until the 20th century made an awful lot of sense.
Like I said, uncultured jerk, right? Flaubert said that Don Giovanni, Hamlet, and the sea are the three finest things wrought by God. I'll agree with him on the last two - I reffed Hamlet in my writing last night, because I wrapped it up in the last two things I wrote, and why break tradition and write something new? - but Giovanni just didn't captivate me. It could have been due to the not-quite-live performance; I know that the orchestra sounded a lot flatter than it should have in the movie theater, because I didn't have the same shock-to-goosebumps that I always have at the opening notes of the overture. But I think ultimately it's just not really the opera for me.
There are three more summer encores in July, and I haven't decided whether I'll go to them or not. They're showing Lucia, which I don't plan to attend because I had such an unforgettable experience with that opera and don't want to blot it out even partially. The other two are operas I'm not familiar with, Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Der Rosenkavalier. I mean, $13 for an opera is the best deal ever. So I'll probably go.
THERE, done. Now to work...and thence to writing, this evening. I'm actually excited to get to work again, instead of feeling dread and inadequacy like I have for so many weeks. Oh, but I have a question for you. Answer the poll, pretty please?