Sorry, friends. I’ve got very little wit or wisdom to offer this week. Between the horrific van attack in Toronto, returning to the dayjob, and a swamp of work, it’s been a bit of a blur.
I did get out to the McMichael Gallery of Canadian Art, which is a wonderful place I visit far too infrequently. It was an absolutely lovely day—the kind that keeps you going through the slog.
Since we’re here, I’ll take this opportunity to remind the Internet that the “Six Stories, Told at Night” GoFundMe continues until Wednesday—and it’s been an incredibly humbling experience. We have well surpassed our initial goal and we both want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Let’s see how far we can get by Wednesday night. (Our Faerie Queen needs her crown, after all!)
And with that, I’m off to the ravines for some much-needed time with my trees.
What I’m Listening To This Week:
I found this totally by accident, but it makes me think SO MUCH of A Canticle of Light. More importantly, it pulls me back into that family. I’m not sure that I’m completely done with those characters yet…
This was another hard week, at least in terms of my feeling like an effective human being. And so in lieu of a real post, here’s a quick State of the KT.
Six Stories, Doing Its Best: Rewrite’s trucking along, albeit with a tough knot to untie in the middle.
Apex Magazine Podcast: Both episodes recorded and scored, awaiting intro and show notes from me.
Auditions for Six Stories, Shouted by Day: The first round happened this past weekend, callbacks are this coming weekend. That is a blog post in itself, pals.
March Break Tomfoolery: DONE.
Beer Magic Novel: Currently sitting at 81k. Expecting this draft to hit 105k. Scrambling to finish before my Smoky Writers’ retreat.
Smoky Prep: I have gathered a collection of short story ideas and plots that will be interesting to explore through the week. I really want to do shorts again because I know if I don’t write them at Smoky, I likely cannot think about them until April.
Choice of Games: Removed from my February worrying. It’ll be tight, but I have a plan.
OAC Grant Application: IN. SUBMITTED. OUT OF OUR HANDS.
Mysterious Contract: Trucking along. In all honesty, it’s been a nice palate cleanser.
Gangway! Theatre Co. Shenanigans: I feel guilty that I’ve been less present than I would like, but Blythe seems fairly blithe about it all. (It’s funny, because it’s a pun.)
And so we go. It is entirely possible that I have bitten off more than I can chew, and as I’m looking at the calendar…the Mysterious Contract wraps just after Easter. I think I shall take the week between that and dayjobbery resuming to have a real, long, actual rest.
What I’m Listening To This Week
I like Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work. He went around collecting and adapting folksongs from around the British Isles – some of his output is sacred, some secular. This is a secular piece, one of those classic “I will love you until the seas boil and the rocks melt” kind of songs. But it is very soothing and lilting and lovely.
It seemed so easy. Write a 15-minute pantomime script. I’ve done that before. Use “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon” as the base fairy tale. No problem. That’s my absolute favourite fairy tale (for those unfamiliar, it’s basically Norwegian Beauty and the Beast, with a polar bear). I know it backwards-forwards-and-inside-out, and hey, I’ve adapted it for the stage before.
As you recall from last week, this November is Crunch-Month (although the To-Do list keeps shrinking), so the idea of a dead-simple project was great. Just bang something out real fast, and then get back to the mountain of edits, writing, and seekrit projekts.
As you can probably guess, it didn’t quite go that way.
I banged something out real fast. Unusually for me, I hand-wrote the first draft, edited in transcription, and then tossed it over the wall to Blythe. She made a few suggestions; I tweaked a few things. Then I sat in on the actors’ first reading.
“It’s really funny,” they reassured me. “It rockets along.”
It was barely 12 minutes.
“Man, you were ruthless with the source material.”
Ruthless? Really? The longer I sat and listened and took notes, the more dread started sinking through my gut.
I’d made a terrible mistake.
I’d taken my favourite fairy tale, and—because I was stressed, because it was Crunch-Month, because I was arrogant—I’d banged out something really fast. It was cheap, in every sense of the word. I felt cheap, when I realized. I’d taken something incredibly important to me, and excised everything I actually love about it.
You see, there is more to writing than making sure the plot and characters and sentences all square up. The story has to sit right with its creator, ethically. Art comes from our deepest selves; if it’s going to mean anything, it cannot be cheap. It cannot be inauthentic. Love is the wellspring—and there was nothing of love in that first attempt.
Then there is the whole separate issue of respecting source material. Maybe I could’ve skated by if this was pure parody…but it wasn’t. Pantomimes, for all the laughs, have a true core, which I completely ignored in my dash to the finish line.
So what does one do?
I took a little time to be angry with myself. And then I went back to the source. In my personal library, I have two versions of “East o’ the Sun.” I read both, then looked at the Kay Nielsen illustrations, and then put on the instrumentals for the opera libretto I wrote a while back.
I began again. I kept very little from the first draft. Because this—this—is what I love about “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon.”
I love the brave girl and bear travelling north together.I love the image of northern lights playing over sheer ice. I love the brave girl accepting her mistake, and going off to save her prince. I love the four winds. I love her cleverness, her bravery, and her love. The next script had much more of that. I breathed a sigh of relief.
As the girl discovers—mistakes can be fixed. Bears and princes can be rescued. The way can be found.
In writing—and “East”—it is love that will see you through. This was a good reminder.
What I’m Listening To This Week
I’m not sure why this popped up, but here we are. “Love Changes Everything” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love. Michael Ball has an utterly adorable, buttery singing voice. This is musical cotton candy, but sometimes, that’s what one needs!