…and probably for a lot of writers (who don’t have children to deal with) it’s been beneficial, being forced to stay in the house all day, giving so much extra time to write.
I feel like I’m actually spending a lot less time writing since my area went into lockdown. Partially that’s due to lack of momentum on my current project, but it’s also partially because one of my chief writing times was in the morning before going to work. I always set my alarm for 6:00, but I don’t have to get ready to go until 8:30, so I have lots of time to wake my brain up, which I usually do by writing.
Only now I don’t have that time, because no way I’m getting up at 6:00 when I don’t have to. Admittedly, I’m actually one of the lucky ones whose job is considered at least partially essential, so I’m still going in to work a bit; for the first week of the lockdown, I had hours as normal, and this week I’ll be working one day, and next week as well. Dunno about after that. (The current lockdown order in my area is until April 22, but there’s no way the COVID threat will have passed by then, so I expect it will be extended. Or even if it isn’t, that work will not proceed as usual.)
Of course, I could and should spend some of that new free time writing. But I have a backlog of books to read and video games to play, and my house is in desperate need of a thorough cleaning (and when I say cleaning, I mean junk-clearing, not deep-scrubbing…though it actually needs that, too), and I just suddenly developed this new desperate desire to create a really elaborate boxed room of an artist’s loft, complete with a small walk-out balcony with a small garden box. I don’t even know why, but it’s practically a mania. (Seriously, I spent half the afternoon trying to figure the best (and most cost-effective) method of getting two fully poseable 1/12 scale dolls to be the artist and her model. Even went ahead and ordered them…though I don’t think I’ll end up using both of them for the artist and her model because I ordered two different types of dolls and they’re really, really, really incompatible. Like, one of them is super-real and the other is anime-style.) I don’t even have a place to put said box room at the moment, until I clean the house, for crying out loud!
Sorry, that’s not what I’m supposed to be talking about. Although I do hope that having ordered the dolls (and their clothes and their wigs) will have satiated the urge enough to put the rest of it on the back burner at least until I can actually, you know, clear up the space where I’d put the dang thing. Anyway, I’m hoping that my new writing project will energize me back into writing.
I know I mentioned a couple of times in past IWSG posts (which have sadly become almost the entirety of this blog at the moment) that I had written a fusion fan-fiction combining my favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine, with Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 film of Henry V, because Christian Bale was in both of them, and I was combining his roles in the fusion. (Well, more like sticking his Velvet Goldmine character into the life of his Henry V character, but…same diff, right?) Well, as I might have also mentioned (I’d check, but I spent so long on stupid online shopping for needless toys that it’s now dinner time and I promised myself I wouldn’t have dinner until I got this post written up for tomorrow morning), one of the other fusion ideas I had at the same time was to combine Velvet Goldmine with the 1996 film of Emma, because Ewan McGregor was in both of them. And, honestly, the character of Frank Churchill combines pretty well with Curt Wild…aside from the one’s extreme heterosexuality and exceptionally privileged upbringing. They even both sing. 😛
Anyway, because Emma also featured Toni Colette (who played the wife of the fellow rock star Curt Wild was having his passionate love affair with in Velvet Goldmine) as Harriet Smith, I felt I needed to read the book first to really get an understanding of the situation and characters and how to add not just one Velvet Goldmine character, but two. (The original fusion story was in response to a prompt requesting one of the Velvet Goldmine romances be transferred into another film in one of the two actors’ massive and diverse filmographies.) Because you can’t have a Jane Austen novel where one of the primary characters is left without a romance, right? Although technically I could just leave Harriet as Harriet despite her sharing Mandy’s actress, but that would be weird and no fun — but there is absolutely no way Mandy Slade would settle for Robert Martin. Mandy can only marry Brian Slade. (The fact that we don’t know Mandy’s maiden name will suit my story well; she’ll just become Amanda Smith. (I figure the Regency era would probably not be terribly keen on the nickname “Mandy.”))
So, I’ve been reading the book — and quite astonished at just how much the movie left out (no wonder they decided to make a new film adaptation of it!) — and am now almost finished with it. Scratch that, by the time you’re reading this, I will be finished with it. And I’ve made a lot of notes about where to add Arthur (Christian Bale’s character) — as the apprentice to Mr. Perry, Highbury’s apothecary — and of course Brian will become Brian, Lord Slade, famous (or infamous) for the poem “Childe Maxwell,” a decision I came to as soon as I realized I was going to add Brian to the mix, because there is no more suitable Regency equivalent for Brian Slade than Lord Byron. (In fact, Lord Byron is pretty much the perfect comparison for Brian Slade, period.) Such a poet — who can go anywhere and do whatever he pleases — is easy to insert, especially when the original story already has a flighty, wealthy young man of just the sort who might associate with a Byronic poet. (Uh, except that Frank Churchill is not really intelligent enough for the real Lord Byron to have wanted to consort with him…) I came to my decision about Arthur’s role pretty early on the course of reading the book (when I realized just how much of a fixture Mr. Perry would be at the Woodhouse home not necessarily during the action of the book, but in the day-to-day life outside the story), because it would give him good access to important events and characters without his being somewhere he would seem to be inappropriate, and also because it would make him someone so unimportant — insignificant, in fact! — that the characters from the book would pay him no heed, and go right on with their own lives whether he was there or not, because he would be to their mind barely more than a servant, and therefore invisible. I was glad to see, as the book progressed, that it was going to be a really ideal position for him throughout, with the bonus that this way I could even include the drug addiction plot thread from the movie, because as an apprentice apothecary, Arthur could get laudanum for them without it seeming the least bit suspicious, which would give him some internal conflict as he began to realize that no, they weren’t suffering from terrible headaches, but were taking the opium in order to seek pleasure.
All in all, I’m pretty excited about the project, it should be a lot of fun, and yet I also feel like a total freaking hypocrite. For two reasons, actually. The first is pretty simple; quite some time ago, I posted a “free plot idea” on this blog, suggesting an Austen-like romance where it turned out that one or more of the handsome young gallants was secretly gay, and was having to lead a double life as he tried to find a love that would make him happy without exposing himself to the harsh punishments his era would have doled out. I posted it because I felt there was no way I could write it myself, lacking both the subtlety and understanding of the human mind to write it well, and lacking the time to research it properly. I haven’t increased dramatically in human understanding (if anything I might have gotten worse), and although I now have time to do research, I’m not likely to actually do so. And actually I couldn’t really do very good research even if I wanted to, what with all the libraries in the area being closed for the duration.
The second reason I feel like a hypocrite is that sometime after I posted that plot idea, I went looking to see if there already was anything like that out there. All I found (with a search which was probably not very thorough) was a book where someone had re-written Pride and Prejudice to make it a gay romance. I didn’t even look very closely to see if they had changed the sexuality of one or more characters, or their sex. I was too outraged that someone would wreak such changes on one of my favorite books to find out the particulars of how they had done it. (Alas, if only I had known what someone was going to do to said book so soon after that! Making it gay is at least a change for a good reason, and happy same-sex romances are always nice to have.) But here I am, about to mutilate a different one of Jane Austen’s novels to make it gay. (And while it’s not my favorite, I’m sure it’s someone’s favorite.) Admittedly, I’m doing it in a weird and round-about way, and technically I’m actually trying to turn the movie gay, not the book, but I’ll be borrowing a lot of events from the book that didn’t make it into the movie, because if I stick to just what’s in the movie, I’ll be limiting myself too much; the book’s events lend themselves to my ideas better. (Though I will be watching the movie again before I start, to refresh my memory as to just which events were actually in it. Also to revisit the entirely invented first introduction of Frank Churchill, because that was a freakin’ awesome character introduction.)
Of course, even as excited as I am about the project, it may not kickstart me back into writing properly again. The weather’s getting warmer again, which means I can’t sit in my nice comfy leather chair for any length of time before the leather starts heating up and I get unbearably uncomfortable and have to sit on the floor, which is bad for my back and not particularly conducive to writing. (Last summer I eventually got to the point of sitting in a nearby wooden chair with my computer on a folding table, and that worked pretty well. But ironically it’s not warm enough for that yet, because my legs and especially my feet are as sensitive to cold as my back has become sensitive to the heat of the leather.) And I might quickly find myself overwhelmed by trying to write for the period and the setting. I don’t know. There are so many question marks and uncertainties.
But these days, there are question marks and uncertainties about pretty much everything.