Monday, December 10, 2007

Getting in Character

I am now feeling thoroughly festive. Getting my decorations up on Friday helped, and then we had a weather change that also helped. It was yet another one of those fun "climate change in an hour" situations. Late Saturday afternoon, I thought it was getting kind of hot and stuffy in the house, so I opened the door from my office to the balcony and got hit by a blast of hot, humid air. Then I went downstairs and opened the door to the patio and got another blast of hot, humid air. I put a kettle on to make tea, and just before it boiled I realized I probably ought to open the bedroom window to air that room out. I went to open that window and instead of the hot air I got nicely cool air. I put the tea on to steep and started playing with a crossword puzzle, then drank my tea while finishing the puzzle. Before I finished the tea or the puzzle I had to get up and close the patio door because it was too cold. Yes, the weather changed from so hot I needed to open windows to so cool I had to close windows in the amount of time it took to make and drink a cup of tea. I knew a front was coming in, but it was about twelve hours ahead of schedule.

Sunday I baked my first batch of Christmas cookies, then went to the community Christmas program at the church. All the choirs, orchestra, handbells, etc. really got me in the mood (and there are some seriously talented kids in this town -- they did that Josh Groban song from The Polar Express, with one of the high school kids doing the solo, and for a moment I thought they were just playing a Josh Groban recording until I saw that one of the boys was singing, and I think he actually had better technique than Josh Groban).

I also have to quit dithering about getting back into choir. The woman sitting next to me in church grabbed me after the service, dragged me over to the choir director and said, "I've got one for you." Then at the program at night, the church pianist, who was the pianist for the choir I used to be in, recognized me and came over for some minor nagging about me not being in the choir. So, yeah, I'm pretty much trapped. They are letting me wait until after Christmas, which is good because I'm a bit rusty on Handel's Messiah and wouldn't want to try to sing it without rehearsal.

Meanwhile, it's been Amateur Drama Hour in my house while I work on fine-tuning this book. One of the problems I'm having is that one of my viewpoint characters is in a lot of ways so entirely unlike me that I struggle to get into her head. I can write her dialogue and actions in character, but really being inside her head and conveying her emotional responses to events is a lot more difficult. So I dragged out my textbook from the acting class I took in college (I took Acting for Non-Drama Majors my last semester because I needed one more course to be a full-time student. It turned out to be Acting for Jocks Who Need to Boost Their GPAs, and I was one of maybe two people in the class who weren't varsity athletes. The other non-jock was blind. We totally killed in a highly authentic rendition of a scene from Butterflies Are Free -- it was very interesting doing that with an actor who was actually blind. Who knew that my goof-off class would end up playing into my ultimate career?) and started working on getting into that character as I might play her as an actress. Then I started improvising her scenes, and that got me more in the right frame of mind. I've got more work to do, and it may even require costumes. I'm suspecting that this isn't a character I can write while wearing sweatpants. I need to wear a swirly skirt to capture her aura. Not that she wears a swirly skirt throughout the book, but she's the kind of person who even while wearing jeans would walk as though she's got a skirt swirling around her legs.

I have one more batch of cookies to make, and then it's work time.

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