Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Slap Happy Moment

I've been hard blocked on Three Katherines of Allingdale for some months now. The middle story of the triptych is a fantastically complicated mess, of novelistic proportions in its own right, and I've tried umpty approaches and got nowhere at considerable length. Today I was turning over number umpty-one in my head - supposing I were to make the middle panel into three lapped stories, each with a different viewpoint? - when one of the scenes near the end mutated in my head. Golden Kate - the Duchess Katherine - is having a very important row with her choleric husband. In the old version, she loses, with fateful results for the kingdom.

In the new version, he slaps her across the face in public.

And as soon as I imagined that moment, not only did the scene spring to life, but also the other scene I was stuck on twenty years into her future. That is the deed that sets her on the road to her last tale. That is why - old, poor, arthritic and sick - she strikes the cruel soldier such a blow as he will never either forget or remember; and then, this other scene too being alive again, I see that she and her estranged lover do not walk away from it; and that their quest ends there instead of limping incidentally on; and that her dreadful oath is not sworn then, or in that way, at all. And that Personage they are to meet afterwards - she is involved much more purposefully in the whole affair than I thought. It is all good.

Best of all, the final destruction of Kate's earlier 'happy ending' no longer appears as a depressing piece of exposition long after the event, but as one sudden and horrid fall in the sunlight - in the story.

Reader, I wrote it. At once, without worrying about the issues of its containing narrative. I love my Golden Kate, for all that she is a really terrible person who can never reconcile herself to the fact that her world is not being written by E R Eddison - but since her doom is cast, I am glad that she has finally got to meet it onstage, as she would surely wish. I am glad I was there. And I am glad that, just maybe, I now have what I need to lead her and Luke onto the point where they can do something right at last.

At any rate this ought to be enough to take us all past their Disenchantment. Getting past Disenchantment is generally worth a load of trouble, all by itself.

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