Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I chose the wrong calendar this year.

I'm not hard to please - the calendar should be colorful, and different from the one last year, and have big white squares with the numbers in them (plus, ideally, the phases of the Moon and the major holidays of several religions - I can remember the Pagan ones, but movable feasts are a great nuisance). I like to alternate between scenery one year and art the next, and I have a fondness for leaving the choice up to chance.

I wanted to find a calendar in Turkey, with scenes of Istanbul or of the rest of that inexhaustibly scenic nation, but they have not got the hang of great big white boxes around their numbers there, and a calendar is not useful to me otherwise - I need to be able to write in my appointments, my opera and theater dates, and the due dates of work projects or there is hardly a point in having one at all. The only calendars I saw in Turkey were quite small, with no space in the number boxes.

So, as last year's calendar was European castles (too many Scots and Irish if you ask me; not nearly enough East European or Mediterranean), this year was set for art. I went to a bookstore sometime in December, and none of the calendars I saw there pleased me: the scenery was predictable (I prefer mountains to tenements) and the artists a bit ho-hum - does Rothko really elucidate times of year? Does Braque? So I settled on a calendar of Victorian illustrators. Each page shows three or four herbaceous borders or wallpaper samples or fabric designs by a different Victorian draughtsman. (Or -woman.) Big boxes, small numbers, phases of the moon.

The trouble (as I put up page four, April - Kwiecien if you are Polish!) is that while the colors are different, and the patterns, and the arrangements have been chosen to be different, there is far too much sameness here - one colorful pattern of gilded leaves followed by another - one set of bells or pears after another - one meandering ribbon symmetrically balanced by another - and the riot of color is too much of a muchness. After a while you can't tell them apart. The year does not pass or change; it's always the same damn thing. This is too much like life - it's not at all what I want in the metaphor for passing life that a calendar should be.

Otherwise I am in a very cheerful place after a depressed winter - all of which, I think, must be credited to creativity, the juices humming, the sparks flying, or vice versa. For a week or more, now, at least since my second performance of Tristan und Isolde - last Tuesday, March 25, Lady Day, Frodo-Destroys-the-Ring-in- Mount-Doom Day - I have been writing something like 5000 words each day of a novella, awaking each day with ideas for another point in the story that needs to be enhanced, having wild, wonderful ideas for new events and new characters, writing my very first battle scene (what a delight that was! and I've always been terrified of the prospect), jokes and sadnesses (it's very funny and very sad), and every day just - going at it - and at the slightest sign of slack, playing some version of Tristan - bless you, youtube! - and that cranks the motor again, and off I go. I have hopes of first draft completion this week (but I've told myself that before). My mantra is: Finish It. We can worry about what works or doesn't work or who the bloody hell would ever want to read it later - just Finish It.

Maybe I'll finish it.

Except I just got assigned five jobs by St. Martin's and HarperCollins and Hyperion and Palgrave, and two of them are Rush. (Who needs money? I need to WRITE.)

Today I am starting at 46,000 words and aiming for 51,000. The dentist intrudes. But I'm awake early and there's no opera tonight.

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