Sunday, 30 May 2010

"If That's Not Safe, Where Is?"

Thunderstorm anvil at sunset - U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - public domainYesterday I finished the last of my three exploratory chapters of Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, written to understand Fairfields and what ought to happen in the Wassail arc before its climax. This one went quickly and with painful intensity - predictably enough, since it's the first one written from Kate's point of view. If Luke is something of an enigma, an inane suit of shining armour painfully filled over a lifetime with the grit and gem-gravel and warm blood of the true world, then Kate is become like a glass overflowing with flaming aqua-vitae - clear and incalculable, illuminating and searing, fragile and lethal. Also hilariously obtuse and terrifyingly seeing at the same time, but please don't ask me to work that into one metaphor too!

This of course is how she appears to me, and perhaps my writing does not have to be all that good to accomplish that. Reworking the chapters to make her ring just as true to people who didn't invent her, and haven't previously been her... there will be the test of craft. But it is true, for all that, that inhabiting her violently high-contrast world burns me nearly as keenly as it delights me. Hence, presumably, the lack of out-and-out binge writing on this segment.

Arrival; Luke; Kate. Now for the Wassail itself, to which all this arc has been leading up. But afterwards, or during, I'm going to have to go back over all those exploratory chapters, and read and write and rearrange them so that the whole hangs together. One of the many things I discovered was this: Fairfields is not even functionally Lothlórien or Rivendell. Those are ancient strong refuges with single governing ideas. Fairfields is new, weak, untranquil, and polyphonic to its core. It absolutely needs to take a much larger slice of the story than any normal mid-story haven, and there is a lot more 'action' action in it than I'd foreseen. Indeed, I think it's now debatable whether it is much more the haven of the story than the crucible.

Also, this is a place infused with the spirit of my own politics and worldview - though certainly not much of its substance, the bulk of which would be so alien to my mediaevaloid characters as to seem perverse where not irrelevant. This has had the usual consequence of harrowing my own beliefs at a much more visceral level than simple discussion or theorizing about them: an improving but profoundly exhausting experience.

The last such harrowing that was even comparably intense is the one I went through during the eighteen months of my Great Fanfic Novel. Perhaps significantly, the protagonist there too was a passionate, intelligent, fundamentally unintellectual and conventional person, neither in accord with me nor originally conceived as heroic. I did not at all come to agree with my instantiation of Tegan Jovanka, though she was certainly a better and greater person than I - but I did something much more important: I came to disagree with myself. That project largely coincided with the shift in my self-identification from 'Green' to 'libertarian'. It did not provide the intellectual impetus or the temperamental inclination, but it may have provided much of the heart and the willingness to listen.

Kate is in many ways the exact opposite of Tegan. I wonder what she'll teach me, before the end? Mostly, so far, it's been that we have far too many of the wrong things in common!

So. Danger, terror, valour, and the plot thickening to critical. One of those folk-songs I was serenading my patient audience with through March turns out to come into it, as well. Subtle are the ways of Muses...

[MUSE fwaps AUTHOR with rolled-up website. Exeunt, squabbling.]

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