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In the very nascent and unregular tradition of posting the best line of the day, I give you two, dear reader:
“All wars reduce to braggarts forced from beds
And trying to get back in them again.”
Yes, I know – nothing special. But not crap, probably. Just average. (And that’s not even considering whether the sentiment is correct or not, but as it’s a character saying it, and hence subjective, who gives a toss!)
It should be noted that I only wrote two lines today, so I didn’t have much to choose from.
A month and three days until my birthday now, and I doubt this play will be finished by then. But if I can get up to the end of the fourth act, the rest should write itself without much gnashing of my mind, hopefully. Let me fling myself over the hill and onto the falling action, please, dear muse.
I’ve noticed, in the book I’m reading, that Shakespeare is fond of writing:
i’ th’ X
where X is another word. So it’s “in the X”, but the “in the” is the soft beat, and meant as one half of the foot, even though it’s two syllables. Sometimes he doesn’t even put apostrophes in similar situations, and I only assume he’s employing the same technique because it’s the least complicated way to scan the line, by assuming that two minor/unimportant words are meant to be taken as one – said fast, that is. (Occam’s Razor and all that.)
I was wondering whether one couldn’t get a dance rhythm out of it, like:
“On-the ninth of-the third did-he jump, did-he ride, in-the woods.” (Note that the sentence doesn’t make all that much sense – I’m not concerned with that at the moment.)
If “i’ th’” is allowable as half a foot, as well as other things of Shakespeare’s (or if it’s an acceptable deviation), then is that allowable too? Not that I’d probably ever want to do that – that line I just wrote sounds horrible having to say it out, assuming one wants to keep any semblance of it only having five iambs in it.
Although saying it out loud, it does have a kind of galloping rhythm to it, too. Almost the William Tell Overture. Ha! I always knew music and playwriting where separated at birth. (This, too, is one of my rationalisations of why I go to concerts instead of sitting at home spending more time writing plays.) (“Yes, mum, I’m doing my homework, but it’s Business Studies, and I have to see businesses in action, don’t I? So I’ll be going to McDonald’s for dinner each night from now on.”)
(I should point out that I noticed “i’ th’” before this book. It’s not like it’s a new discovery. But perhaps, now that I’m obsessed with checking the meter of everything, I’m discovering the technicality it poses the poet.)
Rules for writing soap operas:
1) Proximity nearly always breeds affection, no matter the marital status of the people in proximity to one another.
2) Secrets and lies should be a regular occurrence, so as to enable the writer to, a few episodes later, reveal the secret/lie to another character.
3) Happiness cannot last longer than an episode, two episodes at the most.
4) A medical emergency must happen at least once a season.
5) The right thing should, if at all possible, happen at the wrong time.
6) If in doubt, self-dissatisfaction and ennui can be used to bring about self-destructive behaviour.
7) In relation to number 2, multiple times in an episode, a character must ask another if they can “have a minute”, which usually means that another character will have to vacate the scene. (To be perfectly honest, dear reader, I cannot remember the last time I asked someone to get out of the room because I wanted to talk to someone else in the room. So is it just me, or does that kind of thing not happen in real life?)
8) Success rarely comes without a caveat or taint (and if it doesn’t, then see number 6).
9) No doubt there’s more, but I can’t be bothered thinking of them.
One thing I hope, by studying this Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language book (I wonder how many times I will try and read through it, and if I will seriously try to commit most of it to memory), is that I will therefore increase my options, as it were, when writing, say, a speech, or a bit of dialogue. To make myself more conscious of the mechanics behind it, so I can more confidently manipulate them, and it’s not as much guesswork. Something like that.
The point being, I wonder if writing a soap-opera is a bit like that too, for a writing team. ”We can apply this tactic to this situation,” the writers might say.
Of course, it can’t all be mechanical, and lord knows one wouldn’t want it to be. Otherwise it’d be no fun. But I’ve noticed that when writing my reviews, I do – though I doubt I could spell them out for you now, dear reader – tend to have some tactics that I use, things that I know will generate words for me. And so it’s not as if every word and every sentence is a new beginning, but rather it builds up a sort of steam…
I bought The Wire today – the television show. I’ve seen the first season and loved it, so the rest should be good, hopefully.
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men…
Note to self: if your writing for the day isn’t all you wanted it to be, reading some of the great passages from Shakespeare probably isn’t going to make you feel any better.
I was wondering whether I should, perhaps, post what I think is the best line that I wrote each day on here, except I look at what I wrote today and find that I’m not particularly happy with any of it. Sigh!
Oh, yes, preordered Dan Brown’s Inferno yesterday. Also, in the shops today, I saw Raymond Feist’s Magician’s End, which is apparently the last book of the “Riftwar Cycle” – that is, the many series of books that he has been writing for the past 30 years that are set in the same world. I was really into his novels when I was younger, though I haven’t read the latest three or four or five (or six, maybe), because I haven’t really had time for fantasy. Although we have most of them in the house, anyway – except his latest trilogy, I think – because dad reads them. I can see myself reading his entire oeuvre all over again, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And exactly when will I schedule that, I wonder?
Okay, so the best line, probably, is “Sometimes I… I dream/That she is in my elbow”. Which isn’t much. (“Elbow” is meant to mean “arm”, basically, as in having your arm wrapped around a girl’s waist. I believe – though I’m most likely wrong – that that is what those in the know would call synecdoche. Not that I was thinking of that at the time.)
Saw Ashkenazy Conducts Beethoven tonight with the Sydney Symphony tonight. Enjoyable. Me likes my Pastoral Symphony, too.
But the brain is functionmaling, so this is all for nightto.
In lieu of anything better to post today, because it’s late, I’m tired, and I haven’t really got anything to talk about, some lines from today’s outputs:
I but protect him from the pernices
Of this-… What joy is there in secret love?
What smiles have come from backdoor pecks and closet hugs,
That haven’t sunk back in the skin upon
The jutter of a window spy, or slips
Amongst the passion? Then – and then comes what?
The glare of broadest revelation, news
That surfs the eyebrows of society,
With foreheads cocked at ev’ry entrance made, and
Swift summaries helped into ears yet warmed
From cauldron gossip. Then does shame disguised
Become a shame all known, then shame acknowledged.
I was quite taken with it six hours ago. Four hours ago I hated it. Now I’m feeling slightly better but there’s much tinkering I’d like to do but won’t, because I end up feeling just as bad after the tinkering as I did beforehand. ”Pernices” (pronounced like “indices”, or maybe “furnaces” – who knows) is meant to mean whatever “perniciousnesses” would mean, except without as many letters. (Okay, so I just added an ‘and’ to the ninth line. Whatever.)
Got the da Vinci biography today, plus free bookmark – one in the set that I didn’t have already, which made me quite happy considering how small a thing it is. But take the pleasures you can, right? Got the Orphan Master’s Son earlier this week, too.
Saw The Bull, the Moon, and the Coronet of Stars at Griffin tonight. Sigh. To begin with, the characters insisted on talking about themselves in the third person the entire time, narrating their own stories, which irked me somewhat. When I see a play, I want to connect to the characters, and if the characters are outside of themselves to begin with – virtually permanently – well… I dunno… Watching the play, trying to connect with the characters…
It was like trying to have sex through a curtain.
(Not that I’ve ever actually tried that.)
(But hey – dear reader – if you’ve got the blinds then I’ve got the mind… (I wanted to say ‘drapes’, but I couldn’t think of a rhyme, unfortunately.))
But even accounting for that I still found it boring. Clearly this is revenge for me, in a review last week, saying that I’d been to see four really great concerts in the past fortnight, and how wonderful it was that such good music was being played, etc, etc… And now I get 2 out of 3 theatrical experiences that are tedious in 6 days.
And then I wanted to eat the food that they put out for the opening night, but couldn’t bring myself to do it, even with it being quite a cold night, and them serving quite a hot selection. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve decided on some morals regarding my opening night behaviour; a code of conduct, if you will. There’s only one rule: if I have any of the food/drinks on offer, then I have to stay for the speeches. (Unless there’s no speeches, of course – they’re usually within half an hour if there’s going to be one.)
I’m not sure if I’m being completely ridiculous about it or not, but it’s what I’ve decided to do. Mind you, I did, last year – or maybe this year – take a pastizzi from Griffin and run out the door, but that was before I came up with my rule. I was considering, maybe next time, sticking around for the speech (I don’t even know if they have a speech at Griffin, as I’ve never stayed there afterwards, but I assume they do) and not eating anything while doing so, but as it’d be for a different production, I doubt it’d absolve my past sins. So I will just have to live with the guilt forevereverevermore.
Play started ten minutes late, too, so I got a good chunk of reading done both in the foyer and in the theatre itself. (I’ve recently found that, reading while waiting for a show to start, I don’t get anywhere near as impatient, and so I’m much more positively primed for the experience, if it starts late, than I might otherwise be.) More comfortable reading in Griffin than Belvoir Downstairs, too. It worries me somewhat, though, that, when the foyer gets packed, and I’m sitting in the corner near the door to theatre (so I can get my favourite seat, which, tonight, was ‘reserved’ yet again – sigh!), the light for reading is terrible, and yet I can still read if I need to. I don’t know if I’m ruining my eyes doing that or not. I suppose fifteen to twenty minutes every month and a half can’t be too bad. (Well, if we’re talking about exposing oneself to the core of a nuclear reactor, it might be a bit much. But Shakespeare’s probably fine.)
242/whatever in SUOTAOL.
It quoted, in one part, the following from Measure for Measure, 2.2, Angelo:
“Your brother is a forfeit of the law,
And you but waste your words.”
That ‘but’, in my very humble opinion, is entirely superfluous. It makes the line sound much better, obviously – keeping the iambic and all that – but it’s utter filler. He could’ve written “you only waste your words”, but I suppose that’s harder for an actor to say, because it doesn’t flow on as easily from the line above – the comma would have to be a semicolon, for instance. He could’ve written “you waste your words”, and then I would’ve made the comma a hyphen (or, I suppose he would’ve made it a colon – I have a fetish for hyphens that way), but then Isabella’s next line, which shares Angelo’s – “Alas! Alas!” would’ve had to have been “Alas! Alas! Alas!”, which breaks the rule of threes, and it’s not a climactic moment like Lear’s neverending nevers.
I think what I’m trying to say is that I would’ve written it the same, probably. Gosh I hope it’s actually superfluous, and that the ‘but’ doesn’t add some meaning I’m not aware of.
Reading a bit of the first scene of Love’s Labour’s Lost the other day – I might work my way through the whole thing soon.
Saw Stories I Want to Tell You In Person at Belvoir tonight. Quite enjoyable, surprisingly, for a one-person show. For a monologue. Simon Stone was in the audience, too, and was also being talked about by the actress/playwright Lally Katz (the show being a autobiographical one), which made for an extremely interesting dynamic at times, a dynamic of real life intersecting with art and whatnot (no space). I don’t think I’ve ever seen that dynamic before. (Let me get my pin and stick another butterfly up on the wall.)
It must be said, though, Belvoir Downstairs is probably one of the worst places to read pre-show in the entire Sydney theatre/music scene. Part of the problem is the general admission – because, getting two tickets, if I end up going by myself, it’s hard to get a spare seat next to you (and to be honest, it’s sometimes hard, during a show, to keep a spare seat next to you even when you’ve been given specific seats, what with people moving up to get a better view and so on), and if I have a spare seat I can cross my legs, and stick the book on top of that – but the lack of good leg room, and the… Well, I’m not sure there’s another reason, but it feels like there should be. I was wondering on the way home, too, if there was anywhere that one could place a wheelchair in that theatre. I can’t think of any – it’s impossible to take just one seat out, considering they’re large benches, but maybe they have a way.
But speaking of reading in the theatre and public and the like, I’ve discovered that I’m displaying signs of eccentricity, and that it’s creeped up on me like moss in a camouflage suit. (I realise, just now, that it should be ‘crept’, but oh what’s this that I’m shoving in your face, it’s a poetic licence.) Watching this Da Vinci’s Demons series that I recently have been dipping into, when Da Vinci is doing his polymath ponderings and what have you, the actor has him move his fingers about, crooking them while keeping the wrist still, as if he’s calculating things. I’ve realised I do this now, too. It has to do with iambic pentameter, you see, because the way I do it in my head is that I physicalise it on my fingers of one hand. (I go twice through the fingers for each line.) da DUM da DUM, etc. So this involves tapping of the fingers, or merely moving them against a block of air. Usually I do it in the comfort of my own home, because that’s where I write, but lately I’ve been testing out lines that I read in books, for instance, and in my latest book – Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language – what with there being quite a bit of Shakespeare in it, I’ve been testing out many of his lines, too. And I was testing out some of the lines in the play tonight. Just because.
But I’m starting to move my fingers and not caring who might see. (Not that I’m exactly bursting out into powerful renditions of interpretive dance in the middle of a funeral, though.) It’s either that or I bob my head up and down to mark the meter, so probably best that I’ve chosen my fingers.
I think, out of the many lines I wrote yesterday, the best – and perhaps the only good one – was this: “These secret pomps and privy implications”. That’s about a 2% success rate, I think. (The line doesn’t make all that much sense out of context – so that sucks for you, dear reader – but I like the sound of it anyway. It’s iambic if you want it to be (da dum da dum, da dum da dum da dum da), but most people would say it as “da dum da dum da dadadadadada” (or “da dum da dum da dadadadadumda”) which is a rule of three of sorts.) (Not that I was really thinking about that when I wrote it.)
Big week this week. (It’s actually not – indeed, it’s no different from any other week – but I felt that if I say this now maybe I’ll make something more than usual of it.)
I make a game sometimes – I say game, it’s more the occasional mental flick – of thinking, “gee, that’d be a good place to write. I could really write well there.” The places are usually somewhat isolated, and they have a great view of nature. (Every now and then when I watch an episode of Grand Designs, and the house is in the country, I may think this. Every now and then when I see a fantastic photograph of nature unvarnished, I may think this.)
I was wondering today – and I feel that I would be right in saying this – that the stage of the Globe Theatre would be a great place to write. Of course, I’d have to have no one in sight, nor be able to hear anyone else, so the chances of having that happen, during the daytime, for any great period of time is quite slim, as you might imagine. But I imagine that there’d be a bit of energy to the space there, yes?
I wonder if Shakespeare’s parents ever saw a play of his, especially when in his presence. Everyone always thinks of Shakespeare as a genius; rarely do they allow that he may have been a young man trying to impress his father and mother.
(Not that I am suggesting that that was in any way his main motivating force for writing, but still, he must have longed for some sort of approval, probably.)
Managed to lose the black pen under the bed again. I’ve been having trouble relearning the flicking of it, because it’s a different size and weight to the replacement pen I grew accustomed to.