Archive for September 19, 2018

Dickens, Drama, and Ideas

I’ve now reached the point in the recovery from my cold in which I want to get back to normal activity but am not quite there yet and am getting frustrated by what I don’t feel up to doing. It seems like it’s been forever but, really, this is just the fifth day from the very beginning of symptoms, and I didn’t start feeling really bad until late in that first day. I’m perfectly on target — maybe even ahead of schedule — for this sort of thing.

I’ve watched enough movies and miniseries based on Dickens novels that I think I could write a decent paper analyzing themes and parallels among the major works. I’ve also developed a turning point theory about the production values in British costume dramas. There’s a definite change in the mid-1990s from a more “stagey” approach, in which most scenes are interiors with sets that look like they could have been used on a stage, to a more natural, cinematic style, like we see today, where the sets make you wonder if they are sets or if they used locations, and there are a lot more exterior location scenes. I have a feeling the big 1995 Pride and Prejudice adaptation had something to do with that. Now I wonder if anything’s been written about the topic.

But I finally maxed out on watching costume dramas yesterday, and when I couldn’t seem to stay awake enough to do anything but couldn’t fall asleep when I tried to nap, I watched Tangled for a complete change of pace. Watching a movie I just about have memorized while lying in bed in the dark almost seemed to count as a nap. And it also sort of counted as “work” because it was when I saw this movie in the theater that I had the first spark of an idea for the book I’m researching now. The actual story has very little to do with Tangled, but there was something in it that clicked with an idea fragment that had been floating around in my head, and that made me realize what I could do with that idea fragment. Now, years later, I’m finally ready to dig into that idea and start writing it.

I didn’t write it back when I came up with the idea because I was in the process of drafting Rebel Mechanics. I did have a moment or two of Shiny New Idea Syndrome, when I was tempted to drop the current project and start playing with this new idea, but I wrote down what I knew at the time (which wasn’t much, it turned out) and went back to work on what I was doing. In the years since then, I’ve had time to do research and develop this idea further, so it’s going to be a much better book now than it might have been then. Getting sick just seems to have accelerated the development process, since I haven’t been able to think clearly enough to do revisions or work on anything else. Not thinking clearly is great for brainstorming and free-associating, when you’re not yet to the point of having to come up with structure or plot logic.

But I think today I might dive back into revisions. I’m feeling better, just tiring easily, and I actually want to work, which is a positive sign. Or possibly means I’m dying.