I am glad I’m not doing this EVERY Friday. Although there’s something to be said for getting your first few nights on the street over with in relatively quick succession so you can batter your way through the Very Early Utterly Clueless stage a little faster. I will still be mostly clueless by the end of tonight, my third official night, but I won’t be UTTERLY clueless. Er. I hope. So maybe by next month, when the schedule should settle down into something more nearly resembling one night a month which is what the official commitment is supposed to be, I can maybe not spend the day before duty night hyperventilating and feeling too overwrought to eat. You’re going to be on your feet for most of six hours, you ridiculous woman. You need calories. Feh. I like eating. But not when my jaws are clamped together in anxiety. Tension level is re-ratcheted up for tonight when I meet my alternate team for the first time—Maxine’s team—this being one of the months when her free weekends don’t fit with the Street Pastors’ rota.
. . . The jaws-clamped-together thing was especially awkward today when I FINALLY got to Oisin’s for a slash and bang at singing with accompaniment for the first frelling time in several frelling months. I wouldn’t ordinarily have sought a Street Pastors duty night for this extremely threatening additional activity, but first Oisin was on holiday for several weeks—the nerve of the man—and then our diaries have been bad-tempered with each other since he’s been home again and I was anxious (there I go being anxious again) to get Oisin back in the system especially now that I have a little more voice to play with and WOULD LIKE TO MAKE ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO GET USED TO THE IDEA—INDEED THE PRACTISE—OF AN ACCOMPANIST.
And then I managed to forget to make copies of the moderately death-defying new stuff I wanted to sing. So he had the music on the piano and I sang ee—oo—aaah over his shoulder because I can’t read the lyrics from several feet away, although at least, squinting, I had some idea when the accompaniment went up or down and where my entries might be. Ugh. Need to work on those entries. . . .
But it wasn’t a disaster. I don’t think. Maybe I was just preoccupied by the evening to come.
And now I have to hurtle hellcritters and feed them what they will consider disgracefully early and then GO OFF AND LEAVE THEM FOR HOURS AND HOURS. I’m not sure they’re too with ideas of Christianity and social responsibility when there might have been a sofa instead. What about responsibility to hellcritters?
My feet are already cold. . . .
* * *
While the Bechdel Test is useful in the aggregate (and I liked Bechdel’s Fun Home, which had the honor of being challenged not at the high school level but in two different COLLEGES), I do not like to see it institutionalized. I know Sweden means well, but the ultimate effect of content ratings is often that writers/directors end up artificially altering the story in order to get a more inclusive rating. If this were applied the same way MPAA ratings are here, I guarantee we’d start seeing movies where two women talk to each other for 10 seconds just to pass the test.
And as you mentioned, the setting of whatever story is being told does not always lend itself to multiple female characters. The one that’s coming immediately to mind is 12 Angry Men. And hooboy, that film prof is right about The Help. I should say no more…
ETA: Oh yeah. Parents and other adults who are disturbed by certain things in books frequently ask why they can’t have an age rating system like movies. Well, that’s why. Even though ratings are applied to finished products, it would lead to (some) authors and publishers self-censoring before the fact. Never mind the question of who would actually apply the ratings!
All of this is true. But humans remain the list-making and test-creating animal and as long as they’re going to make lists and apply tests I want to see something like this one—even if it institutionalises something that is much better uninstitutionalised, and yes, I’m a Bechdel fan too—out there making people think about what gets left out of the standard tests. Like women. The film industry is still overwhelmingly male and male-oriented. Anything that shakes that cage is worth considering. I’m not sure but what forcing directors to insert a wholly superfluous ten seconds of two women talking to each other is better than the fact that at the moment they don’t feel they need women characters who, you know, just talk to each other because that’s what people, including women, do.
* * *
Arrgh. I’m late. Story of my life. . . .
I hv hellterror in lap that is 2 say sharing chair WHICH IS NOT BIG ENUF 4 BOTH OF US & I am so uncomfortbl I cld die
* * *
. . . I may be crippled for life. No, I think the blood is beginning to flow in the right direction(s) again. When I’ve thought ahead I’ve brought the piano stool in and set it next to my chair so she has something to spill onto and I get to keep my butt ON THE CHAIR. She’s too small and square to have useful staying-on-chair inertia: if she slides she’s gone. I am long and lanky and quite a bit of me can hang off something like a chair quite securely . . . barring the intense pain this causes. THE THINGS WE DO FOR OUR CRITTERS. I still haven’t got the lying-together-in-a-heap system right; the hellhounds think the sofa is theirs and while I CAN trap her in such a manner that she is prevented from molesting them it’s not like I can lie there enjoying my book while I’m on constant Suppression Alert not to mention crisping slightly under the burning accusatory glare from the two pairs of hellhound eyes.* Arrrrgh. Hellterror laptime at the cottage is even more death defying—for both of us. I’m usually on a stool, a, what’s more tall stool, and she has to cling to me like a young monkey grasping its treetop-swinging mum. She’s fine with this.** Me, not so much.
She is now the size she should remain and likes laps. I’d better figure something out.
I was reading your author website today, Robin, when I was supposed to be doing something else, and I loved the comment about characters in LOTR speaking “High Forsoothly.”
It’s not original I’m afraid. It’s been around quite a while; I can’t remember where I first read/heard it—I assume I already didn’t remember when I was writing that bit and so didn’t identify it there?—although it was in a Tolkien context. But I bagged it instantly and have used it ever since. Kes too. Kes was also crucially shaped by reading LOTR young but the twenty-year difference in Kes’ and my ages*** means that when she got to the end of RETURN OF THE KING she had other options than going back to page one of FELLOWSHIP.† You may have noticed she seems to have read some McKinley.
Although it strains my patience to get the chapters only once a week, I like the opportunity to talk back to the author at the end of each one. I’ve often wanted to do that.
‘Talk back’ used, perhaps, advisedly.†† Although may I just offer my forum a compliment here: thank you all for being so polite.††† Which means I get to enjoy the process too.‡ I hope it’s not just that my mods’ delete fingers are smokin’ hot. But along with merely relishing giving you a hard time—by definition, you know: it’s still all about turning pages, even when the pages are virtual and only happen once a week—I’m fascinated by what all of you pick up and what you don’t, or at least what you don’t feel is worth commenting on.
I have to wonder if Sid will be curious enough to taste the new gooey floor covering… And then how poor Kes will react to that.
Probably not. In the first place Sid is also going to be busy and in the second place . . . not all dogs find the same truly disgusting substances delightful, and sighthounds are even more bonkers than the usual run [sic] of canine peculiarity. This is an occasion where I can’t see that, in this case, Sid licking the floor is going to further the plot . . . and therefore I get to say it doesn’t happen. The Story Council grants me these small decisions now and then to keep me cheerful and writing.
Given that Kes has already seen one face she overtly recognized – I am also wondering how intertwined the current dimensional meld is with her writing. And if they are at all – which is the chicken, and which the egg? Does she think these people and places, therefore they are? Or does she write them because they already exist, and it is the knowledge of them that slips through dimensional cracks into her skull?
Remember that I say (a) there’s a crack in my skull where the stories come through (b) the stories exist, I don’t make them up, I only write them down, and never well enough and (c) . . . I am often in the position of trying to write them down by being there, wherever there is, frantically waving my notebook and pen‡‡ in the air and saying Wait! Wait for me!, and . . . that where I am (wherever it is) is very, very vivid.
Don’t forget the Hob! I’m sure his dinner counts for something!
Can’t wait for her horse to show up.
I CAN’T IMAGINE WHY I HAVE ALL THESE HORSE CRAZIES ON MY BLOG. I CAN’T IMAGINE.
Speaking of names, I’m expecting that we’ll finally find out Mr. W.Shoulder’s ????
Yes. But not next Saturday. Or even the Saturday after that. Or . . .
I’m still asking Santa-Robin for an additional episode at Christmas…I’ve been a good girl, I promise
I’ll think about it. I promise NOTHING.
*gnash gnash gnash*
Why, thank you.
WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN TO COMMENT ON THAT?!
Wherever you like.
Okay, well, at the beginning, I suppose.
Sounds like a plan.
I bet Kes is glad she doesn’t sleep in the altogether – a nightgown is bad enough in this situation, but stark raving naked would be so much worse.
In such an extremity if the Story Council didn’t allow me to throw her a dressing-gown I would have done it anyway.
. . . I love how Kes is so focused on the sheer quantity of blood, like any normal person would be, but so significantly unlike most unwitting hero/ines in 95.8% of fiction.
Thank you. Certainly there are too many supposedly ordinary characters who are not freaked out by—er—calamitous events. Or so I as reader feel. This is what I was talking about last night: secrets to writing plausible fiction, including fantasy fiction: how would you feel if, etc. Stop and frelling THINK about it. As someone who’s been writing stories for over half a century (eeeeeep) I do this automatically—but I also sometimes STOP and try and make sure I’m paying enough attention to the ordinary-person-in-extraordinary-situation aspect.
The blood almost becomes a featured character in this little episode . . .
Not letting the reader forget about it, pulling one further into that sense of actually being there . . .
Oh good. That’s the idea.
. . . Same with the way Kes’s mind keeps jumping around to random inconsequentials (floor cleaning, security deposit, HA).
Which is often what you do when you’re freaked out by something, isn’t it? Well, it’s often what I do. HELP. I’M OUT OF CONTROL. And so you/I scrabble for little bits of things to have opinions about. ‡‡‡
. . . I can’t stand not knowing who the “we” is WS keeps mentioning. Do we get to meet them in the next ep? Do we, do we, huh? Do we, huh, huh?
NEXT ep? No way. Take a few deep breaths and make yourself some nice hot chocolate.
I’m guessing Kes’s dinner plans for the following day are shot now, huh?
Shot? Not at all. Why would they be? In the first place, tomorrow night is a long way away§ and in the second place . . . um . . . Hayley has already been surprising, hasn’t she?
* * *
* On rare occasions I do find them all three in the hellhound bed—either here or at the cottage—but she usually gets too excited at her own (nearly) unprecedented success and they roll their eyes and turf her out.^
^ Which reminds me of the New Dog Bed photo essay I keep meaning to organise. . . .
** Most dogs, in my experience, are more than happy to put their paws on your shoulders or even around your neck, probably the better to lick your face, but in whatever friendly companionable manner. I’m not used to a dog, especially something whose legs are only about three inches long, who without prompting puts her forelegs around your body and hugs you.^
^ Although she’s probably destroying the thighs of your jeans with her hind legs at the same time. This is not fear, mind you, this is, Hey! We’re having FUN! I think I told you, my first official Street Pastor night, I realised that the clean jeans I had put on just before coming out, the clean dog-hair-muddy-pawprints-and-dog-food-fleck-free jeans, were pretty tatty. I apologised to Fearless Leader and said I’d do better next time. Next time, which is to say last Friday, I discovered I HAVEN’T GOT any tough denim jeans that aren’t tatty any more. I have some lightweight ones . . . but the ones that will withstand a hard (cold) night on the town or a hellterror all look like they’ve done more hellterror-withstanding than is good for them.
*** Which is going to keep stretching alarmingly in real time. I was approaching my sixtieth birthday when I started KES and while she still is approaching her fortieth birthday I’ve turned sixty-one. Once I’ve got her settled I hope I can SKIP FORWARD a bit. I have plans for her fortieth birthday and I don’t want to die of extreme old age before she’s paid her second month’s rent on Rose Manor.
† Or THE HOBBIT, but I don’t think I’ve read that as many as half the number of times I’ve read LOTR. ^
^ That’s still quite a few.
†† YOU DID WHAT? SHE’S WHAT? IT’S WHAT? Blondviolinist covered this well.
††† . . . mostly.
‡ . . . MOSTLY.
‡‡ Or, lately, possibly iPad. Although if I’m going to go wandering multi-dimensionally I should buy a second battery in case the local power source is incompatible.
‡‡‡ Not, perhaps, wholly unlike a hellterror scrabbling to stay in a lap.
§ Especially in terms of likely number of eps. Gah.
(And now I have only about a thousand questions, some of which are from earlier but are more pressing now that someone has tried to KILL Kes & Sid in their own (brand new) home. For starters, why on earth is Kes a target?
Some of us have a gift for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And what she does for a living has perhaps a slight focusing-the-sun’s-rays-through-a-magnifying-glass effect. Since I don’t think I’d react well to dead guys in the front hall either, I’m happy to say that the influence my career has had on my life has been a trifle more subtle.*
And why NOW, when she’s moved to a new place?
She was married to a Tech Master. Tech has a dampening effect on guys with swords from other dimensions. Now she’s OUT THERE ALL BY HERSELF.**
If she’d stayed in NYC, would mysterious armed men have broken into the penthouse?
Probably not. All that tech would have confused them. They would have burst through their dimensional gateway and found themselves chasing reindeer in Lapland.
If any of you have a sudden influx of guys with swords you might want to ask Blogmom what she’d charge you to camp in her back garden for a few weeks till they’re all safely misdirected to Lapland. Those reindeer can really take care of themselves.
And who’s Bossy Voice and how did he manage to show up in the nick of time?)
Well you’ve now read the next instalment so you know who Bossy Voice is . . . sort of. Hee hee hee hee hee.
—I can’t wait to find out who the owner of the “strangely familiar voice” is! I suspect that the person has already appeared to Kes in Normal Townsperson incarnation and I’m very curious.
—OK, I had just assumed it was Mr. Watermelon Shoulders from parts 49-50?
—Watermelon Shoulders was my guess as well, but I’d like proof. Plus, him being WS doesn’t rule out him also being Caedmon or something/someone else as well, right?
Nope. It doesn’t. Hee hee hee hee, con’t.
[Forgive me, copying from the forum and pasting into Word is fraught with translation difficulties. Those descending box things for people to carry on a conversation don’t transfer AT ALL and trying to attach who said what to whom is a freller. You can always go look it up, right? I’m just giving you the context for me to hang an unhelpful, hellgoddessy comment on.]
Well, Ron Driscoll’s got to enter back into this story one way or the other… although I can’t necessarily picture him switching into ‘ye olde speake’ just because we’ve morphed realities…
::grovels and throws dust over her head:: Speaking of other dimensions, I’m afraid poor Ron has got lost in one. When I started KES I was planning on taking it less seriously than it has decided to take me*** and asked Black Bear before I ever got properly going with it if she’d play with me and do her gamesmaster thing to spur me on. And then KES ran away with me.†
I’m still hoping Ron might have a look-in during the post-immediate-climactic mop-up, so to speak, in a you-don’t-think-this-is-over-do-you louring and suggestive manner. Black Bear and I have discussed the possibility of parallel KES stories for the future which makes the best sense to me—like Peter and me finally getting at least two of our joint elemental spirits books out by the simple expedient of writing separate stories.†† But it’ll mostly depend on Black Bear’s patience. I’m not . . . a wonderful person to work with. Sigh.
BUT I WANT TO MEET RON’S DOG.
Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage. †††
Dramatic consequence of reading post:________
A. I can’t breathe!!!
B. How am I supposed to sleep tonight???
C. My heart nearly stopped!!! I’m going to need a pacemaker!!!
A. You evil woman, you!!!
B. Why do you TORTURE us like this!!!!!
C. Evil, horrible hellgoddess!!!
Delighted response to ________’s action, or sympathy for the same character’s predicament.
C. The hob
D. Mr. Watermelon Shoulders
A. Can’t you PRETTY PLEASE post another episode tomorrow?
B. Where’s my time machine???
C. How are we supposed to wait a WHOLE WEEK after that cliffhanger???
This had me so falling down laughing you’ll have to forgive me (again) for hanging it in its scintillating entirety out here on the blog. I do have an excuse, because I know that some of my friends who only read the blog to keep an eye on me never penetrate into the depths of the forum and it would be a pity if they—and any of the rest of you—missed it.
I’ll also just add here that while forum members don’t rank in the millions or anything, if I posted a birthday KES for every forum member who had a birthday . . . I WOULD BE VERY BUSY WRITING KES.‡
|Pre-emptive “create your own” comment in preparation for tomorrow’s forum outage.
‘It can be seen that with this prose the forum member ‘Blondviolinist’ has made a significant and insightful contribution to the forum reading experience, adding to the dynamic expressivity created by forum members engaged with the weekly posting of KES’
‘And causing the top of the hellgoddess’ head to disengage with the rest of her skull just long enough for her to recall in VIVID DETAIL why she bailed on the academic life the moment she escaped her undergrad college with her BA in her teeth and plunged into a sordid life of genre fiction.’
“Lady Kestrel.” Sounds suitably heroic, doesn’t it?
Yes. Poor Kes.
But will all that blood just disappear at dawn the way things just appeared after dark?
No. Next question.
. . . is anyone else tempted to pour five quarts of viscous fluid onto the floor to see how much it is?
I thought about it, then thought about how much I don’t want to clean that. Should have been a visual aid in middle school science class though. Imagine the angry notes parents could have sent!
All of this. I was just thinking about it again yesterday when I bled about a pint all over the landscape from a glancing blow with a tiny pointy wire end near the cuticle of my left forefinger. BLOOD. Really a very little lot of it is a lot lot. Also, in quantity, it pongs.‡‡ And if you’ve ever cleaned up after critter birth, I know it’s not the same stuff‡‡‡, and it’s full of smelly hormones, but it contains blood, and it’s thick and icky and slithery and . . . and that’s even in a good cause, you know? Birth.
I’m feeling really anxious about Kes’s books, too. I want to help her move them out of the way.
YES. THIS. Although this is also an example of the occasional weirdness of doing a serial in tiny chunks like this.§ This ep originally did not have Kes worrying about her books—worrying about her books originally came in the next ep. But I realised that all you book fetishists out there would be freaked out—I would be freaked out in your position: it would be the first thing I thought of—so I figured I’d better register the question immediately. As to what happens, well . . .
Well, if you’ve ever accidentally dropped an entire gallon of milk on the floor…. (Not that I would ever have done such a thing, and a gallon is one quart too few.)
I thought about that, but milk doesn’t coagulate, and I’m enough of a nerd that I would want the fluid to have that feature.
Yes. Viscous. Your word for it the first time. The meniscus, if that’s still what you call it on blood, is a lot more, um, turgid. And the thought of it—this thick wave of the stuff much taller than thin milk can achieve—spreading out and spreading out till it starts getting all crusty at the edges. . . . ewwwwwww. . . . .
Loved Watermelon Shoulders wiping his sword on the dead guy (he would, of course)
Oh good. That’s what I thought. And an awful lot of successful fiction writing (say I, dangerously giving away trade secrets) is declaring, okay, you’re an ordinary person in this situation, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING AND FEELING? And doing. And if you’re a swordsperson with a bloody sword, especially if you’re a polite swordsperson in someone’s house, you need to (a) wipe your sword (b) wipe it on something the householder won’t mind you wiping it on. But I yield to your greater knowledge of hand to hand combat. So I’m glad you think so too.
and knowing the name of Kes’s sword…though if he knows her, why wouldn’t he?
Well, you’re never sure about these cross-dimensional bozos. They often have surprising lapses in their info.
Am thinking “Would I be worrying about the blood getting on my books…or my air mattress and blankets? Because bloodstained books are one thing, but sleeping under bloodstained blankets–not that Kes is going to sleep anytime soon, I can tell (I think I can tell. Maybe)–is not going to be pleasant for her at all.
Unless the floor lists in the wrong direction—and I will put in a special petition that it doesn’t—the bedding is okay. The dead guy is in the front hall, not the kitchen, and Caedmon’s niche is off the kitchen.
But you’re right that sleep isn’t coming up in Kes’ schedule any time soon. . . .
* * *
* Mostly. So far. There’s still time for everything to go dimensionally skew-whiff. And most of my friends thought Peter had kidnapped me.
** Except for Sid.
*** There’s going to be a dead guy and a large yucky pool of blood, okay? And Kes has a sword with a name. Are you taking notes carefully? Are we making ourselves clear?
† I have a very long history of failing to collaborate. Peter could tell you about the last twenty-two years. But I can remember starting to illustrate [sic] the story a friend wrote about a mare and her foal when we were both nine, and my deciding that the story would go better like this and my friend taking exception.
I just didn’t think, to begin with, that KES was quite, um, real and therefore at such high risk of my Anti-Collaboration Gremlin.
†† Even if some of them have had the distressing habit of morphing into novels, trilogies, etc.
††† WHICH DIDN’T HAPPEN BECAUSE BLOGMOM IS A STAR. HIP, HIP, HOOOORAY. HIP, HIP, HOOOORAY. HIP, HIP, HOOOOOOOOORAY!!!!!!!!
‡ Hey. Stop that. You do want me to finish PEGS II and III, don’t you? And hellcritters would pine if we never went hurtling any more.
‡‡ Aside from other bodily functions that may occur involuntarily as a result of sudden death.
‡‡‡ Does human blood smell any better or worse than other mammalian sanguineous fluid? Discuss.
§ And no I’m NOT going to make them any longer. See previous footnote †††.
It was not going to be a good day. I didn’t get enough sleep and have been behaving like it. I managed to catch the edge of the loaded breakfast kong on the edge of Pav’s crate, thus spraying the cottage kitchen with soggy kibble and wet tinned rabbit mince. And then, bolting into the mews for an urgent pee, having been out hurtling and watching hellcritters pee* I unhooked my belt buckle** and with a sudden, sleep-deprived jerk . . . threw it in the loo. Inadvertently. Of course. At least it was Monday morning and right after Peter’s cleaning person had been here: it was a shining clean loo.***
I’ve also had a bad couple of days with the ratblasted ME and the hellhounds are only eating on alternate Thursdays when the moon is full. When the moon is full, the proper sacrifices have been made, their paths have not been crossed by any black cats, hedgehogs, rabid snails or mad gypsy fortunetellers prone to throwing the wrong babies into the fire†, and they have not been put off by the unseemly delight of a hellterror disembowelling a kong.
But Nadia makes everything better.†† I won’t say I had the most brilliant voice lesson I have ever had today—I’m still too post-ME floppy—but I’m having lots more fun, now I have something more nearly resembling a voice to play with.
This is like being a real [music] student
Good golly, miss molly!! And gorblimey *@#&$(%&^ (drat is about all I really fill that in with, but asterisks look more menacing), YOU ARE A REAL STUDENT and have been for a VERY LONG TIME!!!!!
Feh. I forgot you music teachers would be all over me for that remark. It is difficult to take yourself seriously when you have no visible talent at something that there are Joyce DiDonatos out there doing at stratospheric professional level. You can tell yourself you’re doing it because you enjoy it till you’re blue-with-spots in the face and that joy is important and fabulousness is not the only measure . . . but it’s still difficult.
I’m so glad you’ve been having and noticing progress with your voice! And I’m so glad everytime I read something about Nadia’s wonderful talent and helpfulness in getting you to find and use your voice.
A friend recently sent me an article from the NEW YORKER about Joyce DiDonato and I was completely riveted by descriptions both of her teacher and herself giving master classes: so much of what is quoted is exactly what Nadia says. Speaking of a teacher taking her students seriously, whether they’re ever going to do more than torture their dogs with their singing or not. But this is clearly why I am making progress. I have a good teacher. ::Beams::
But, goodness gracious, as Blondviolinist and I have said many times, you are a perfectly wonderful student. If you lived in the States (or I in England) maybe I would badger you into wanting viola lessons . . .
Snork. As a result of this frelling blog I now have several friends who play stringed instruments, and it’s like Oisin and his organ: if I were thirteen and talented I’d be taking organ lessons—and lessons on something with strings, probably either a violin or viola. I like both the size and the tone. The bigger stuff and the stuff you mostly strum or pluck doesn’t appeal to me as much††† although I have the standard romantic crush on harps.
go on You Tube and find a couple of PROFESSIONALS I like singing it and PAY ATTENTION.
And then tell us which ones so we can hear what you’re aiming for!
It came down to a choice between DiDonato and Cecilia Bartoli—and to my own surprise Bartoli wins by a seven-league-boot stride.
Voi che sapete is such a cliché and every mezzo voice student in the known universe has to sing it—I assume because it’s not disastrously difficult technically and because the story line is fairly straightforward. Even though it’s a trouser role, still, teenage [person] in love with every other teenage [person, possibly but not necessarily exclusively of the opposite gender] is a pretty obvious emotional arc that most of us can empathise with. You don’t have to be a frelling philosopher to get into Cherubino.
But the very straightforwardness of it I think is maybe a slight trap for the unwary. Or the ungifted or the clueless—but that shouldn’t include the professionals. And it’s interesting, listening to rafts of professionals. I didn’t hear a bad one, but I heard a lot that didn’t really have the fire in the belly that I would expect a teenage boy singing about love to have. DiDonato is almost too lyrical for me: too put together. The passion is all planed and shiny smooth. Bartoli, who in other repertoire sometimes eats too much scenery for my listening pleasure, gets Voi che sapete dead right for what I’m trying for—HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA—there’s fire in her/his belly and I’m not going to call it roughness, but as if the passion is going to break out occasionally, as she sings her beautiful accurate frelling professional line.
I suppose it’s also that I’m stuck with using what I’ve got: and there are a lot of imperfect voices out there that can put stuff over. I want to put it over. I need role models that suggest a way to do this. Bartoli gives me a little crack of light in the wall of my own . . . erm . . . limited competence.
(And I want to watch those viola lessons! ) . . . Maybe I could disguise myself as a really large stack of sheet music. Or a double bass.
:: falls down laughing :: Listen, you two, you’ve been hectoring me, in your kindly, well meant ways, for a long time now. Come to England, and we’ll meet on a blasted heath somewhere and do something . . . blogworthy‡‡‡.
Indeed, isn’t the Facing Down of Personal Demons exhausting? Reading this post was funny for me, because in my case I sing just fine (not great, by any stretch, but fine), but am lately facing similar issues – of fear about being heard, revealed, about speaking out – but mine are in re: writing. Sigh.
I so hear you. Nadia says over and over and over and over that singing is very revealing, that you have to get used to this. I am, I guess, getting used to it, which is why I’m finally beginning to make a, you know, noise.
Writing is also very, very revealing. But it’s revealing north by northwest: as I’ve said probably with even greater frequency than Nadia reminds her students that singing is revealing, my readers know a lot about me: they just don’t know what they know, because there’s no A equals B about it. Even the blog is consciously and emphatically shaped. But this is a rant for another night. . . .
* * *
* . . . every five feet because that’s the way critters are. I was hoping hellhounds were unusually bad because they’re entire boys, but Pav, an entire girl, is nearly as bad. Siiiiiiigh. I’m an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it person and I don’t whack my critters’ bits out without a reason but going for a walk/hurtle without stopping every five feet for a pee sounds pretty attractive—none of my spayed girls were ever this obsessive.
But watching some critter take yet ANOTHER pee I often think of Calvin having to get up in the night after Hobbes has been evilly whispering sweet nothings in his ear about running water. . . .
** It’s made to come apart in two pieces, and the open-and-close half to detach from the leather strap
*** I do not have a cleaning person, and the loo at the cottage is never what you would want to call shining clean.
† Il Trovatore, okay? I’ve been eyeing her aria again in my mezzo book.
†† As the mother of two small children, she would find this remark amusing.
††† Which is pretty funny, since up to two or three years ago I never really engaged with strings. And then I had a Transformative Experience listening to one of those solo violin Bach things driving somewhere in Wolfgang and was so ravished I actually had to pull over to the side of the road and listen. In hindsight I think this was a kind of practise version for the real Road to Damascus doohickey a year ago September—the Bach conversion was also pretty overwhelming and changed me. Although one of the less usefully wonderful side effects was that pretty much everything I had or have composed or had a stab at composing since then has looked like trash.^ Sigh. I’m having another go at setting a couple of lines from a favourite psalm. . . . Stay, erm, tuned.
^ This is not wholly Bach’s fault. But sitting by the side of the road consciously, attentively listening to genius seems to be where it started.
‡ And probably embarrassing.
Do you dream Middle Earth, Robin, or is that just Kes? (If you’re willing to tell, of course.)
Yes. Absolutely. I was probably ‘dreaming’ the Shire before I got to the end of chapter one and it went with me when I went to bed. I read LOTR for the first time at eleven, like Kes, and it immediately altered the entire shape and extent and bias and EVERYTHING of my mind and imagination.* It was like adding dye to your rinse water: suddenly all your white shirts are hot pink. And will never be white again.** And you become a different person, wearing pink shirts, when you used to wear white. I really can’t exaggerate the effect reading LOTR had on me. And I’m a very visual person, both awake and asleep.
Middle Earth is so irretrievably and inextricably mixed up with my mind and heart and life and memories that I can’t always be sure what is dream and what is memory—or what is dream-memory of Middle Earth. You dream something enough and you develop a kind of belief in it: I think before a year ago last September it was also my Dante and my Milton. A lot of its landscape is as familiar as anything I’ve seen when I’m awake, and it’s mostly fairly consistent. Also I’ve been dreaming it for fifty years. [Note: eeep.] By sheer accumulation it’s a lot realer than some of my so-called real-life stuff. And I’d much rather spend time there, even when there are Balrogs involved, than—oh—sitting in endlessly stalled traffic breathing exhaust and missing your appointment or discovering that your favourite dress in the universe has moth holes.
About questions I won’t answer: when I used to talk to school groups a lot I used to tell them I’d answer almost anything but what I had for breakfast and what colour my typewriter was.*** The idea being that there are no stupid questions although there are a few irrelevant ones.† I can usually put a spin on the ones that I consider to be invading my privacy;†† people have different ideas about where the lines are, and I don’t have a tattoo on my forehead that says PRIVACY FETISHIST. A lot of mistakes are genuine: even a hellgoddess knows this.
And I’ve relatively rarely been heckled. It’s happened a few times, and very unpleasant it is—and I’ve also, a few times, had classrooms that were out to get me, but every one of those without exception I saw coming by the relationship of the kids with their teacher—but I don’t (much) write the kind of edgy, controversial, in your face stuff that attracts aggressive or splintery personalities.††† My problem more often was the warm fuzzy patroniser: the perfect stranger who would walk straight up to me (around a podium or signing table at a publisher’s booth as necessary), give me a hug, and tell me what a sweet little story BEAUTY is. ARRRRRGH.
One additional reason why I am the snarling hellgoddess you see before you today is because of all those people warping me when I was a tender young author. ‡
* * *
* This effect may have been exaggerated by the fact that it was happening in Japan. I’ve told you this before of course. My US Navy father was stationed there—this is the early sixties, less than twenty years after the end of WWII—and we lived on a ‘dependents’ base in a Tokyo suburb. You don’t get a lot more alienated from your surroundings and apparent reality than being an immediately-identifiable kid belonging to the military-occupation gang, surrounded by a people and a culture who don’t want you there—and where by the shape of your eyes and the colour of your hair don’t belong. Going native is only a limited option: you can’t just go over the wall, borrow some clothes and hang out. Japan itself looked very strange to me but—and I’ve told you this before too, but it’s also one of the major influences on my life and my storytelling so on a blog that only exists because I write books for a living it’s worth repeating—when I got back to America it looked strange and—alien. Home was no longer home.
And I missed Japan, where I didn’t belong and never learnt to speak the language. Speaking of dreaming: I’ve dreamed of Japan all my life since we left too, and I guarantee it has as much to do with reality as the Shire does to the Worcestershire of Tolkien’s childhood.^
Lots of writers and other artistic types feel like rejects, oddballs, exiles and outcasts for one reason or another, and I was a dweeby, awkward kid and would have found my dork status quickly enough even if I’d been born and grown up in the same town and graduated from high school with the same class I’d started kindergarten with. But I got to have the whole creative-doodah-stands-apart-from-society made manifest by being a Navy brat. As the saying goes, if Tolkien hadn’t existed I’d’ve had to make him up. I’m very glad I didn’t have to make him up. I wouldn’t have done nearly such a good job.^^
^ My dreams of Middle Earth are, of course, dead accurate.
^^ Although there would have been more WOMEN.+
+ How frelling convenient is it that dwarf women are never seen? And that there aren’t very many of them, and to outsiders they look just like the blokes? Why didn’t Tolkien invent cloning and get it over with? Or maybe they slam a couple of gems together and SHAZAAM!, new (male) dwarf?
** Which is a good thing. White is a nightmare to keep white.^ Although I have no idea why I would necessarily think of this image in terms of hot pink.
^ At least if you spend a lot of time in the company of garden plants and hairy hellcritters. And chocolate.
*** It’s been a very long time since I did a lot of school groups.
† I was also lucky. No one ever asked me anything like ‘Have you ever had sex with a giant tortoise?’ That one is perhaps easy^. But I also pretty much escaped any of those questions where the discernable pause before I said ‘no’ might have been suggestive.
†† Where do you live?
††† Mostly. I have referred occasionally to the fact that a few of my letters and emails are real snorters. And it’s funny not-ha-ha what some people think is edgy and controversial and in your face.
‡ This is also one of the reasons I’m a bit testy about a certain attitude toward my first novel. I know, I know, long-time blog readers have heard this all before. The people who love BEAUTY because it’s sweet and who therefore (inevitably) think all the rest of my books are less sweet like this is a failing, FRELL ME OFF. I know, I know, it’s just another demonstration of the ‘if you do something once successfully DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.’ This works pretty well with kicking footballs and making brownies. IT DOESN’T WORK WITH STORY-TELLING. NOT REAL STORY-TELLING.^
^ And please don’t remind me that some of those purveyors of the same frelling story, yea verily unto the ninety-sixth volume, are wealthy and I am not. You win some and you lose some.