Monday, September 15, 2014

Cracking the Nutcracker

We had a semi-fallish weekend, so I spent a lot of time outdoors. There was a moderate walk on Saturday and then a rather long walk, with picnic lunch, on Sunday. I may have overdone it on Sunday, with at least four miles, since I rubbed a sore spot on the bottom of one foot. It didn't quite become a blister, but it would have with just a little more walking. I was very glad I opted to drive to the trailhead because I would have had a big blister in a bad place if I'd hoofed it from there. It's a 20-30 minute walk to get there, depending on which route I take, but a five-minute drive, and I figure that if I make that drive, I can walk more in the interesting place instead of doing half the walk just going through the neighborhood.

Then this morning I walked to the post office to mail my quarterly tax payment. Fun. But that's three days of walking in a row. I love it when the weather reaches the point where I can leave the house without bursting into flames.

But I did get home from the post office to find the final cover painting for my new fantasy book, and I'm kind of in love. I almost hate to mess it up by putting my name on it. I'll have to suggest to the artist that she sell prints of this painting. Because I want one. It did end up being almost a spoof of the traditional urban fantasy cover, with a non-tattooed chick who's not wearing black leather. But I think it transcends that.

I need a writing topic for this week, and I'm kind of drawing a blank. Any suggestions or questions?

I think the next couple of weeks are going to have to focus on research and brainstorming because there would be little point in starting to write. I have a busy weekend this week that I have to gear up for, then Fencon, which pretty much eats a week, and then got called for jury duty the Tuesday after FenCon. Maybe after that I'll be ready to start writing words.

A lot of the research will involve watching various Nutcracker productions. It seems that there are so many variations that I can probably make up just about anything. Some versions just use the corps de ballet for the snow scene, while others have a Queen of the North Wind soloist. Some just use the corps for the Waltz of the Flowers, some have a Dewdrop Fairy as soloist, and one of the Russian versions has every woman partnered, so it's like a group pas de deux (I think they're just showing off that they have that many men). My character is going to be one of the soloists because I figure that's the most logical thing for doing an emergency last-minute substitution without having to rearrange the whole cast -- grab someone who used to dance the role who'd fallen out of the scene and who has recently returned. Part of me wants to create a new holiday season ballet because I really hate the Nutcracker. Actually, I don't mind it once it gets going, but there's almost zero dancing in the entire first act. It's just people walking around miming a party. The dancing doesn't really kick in until about 40 minutes into the ballet. But it's so iconic, and hating it may be part of the fun, plus the fact that it's full of kids raises the stakes when wonky things start happening. I just haven't decided if my character should be the Queen of the North Wind or the Dewdrop Fairy. And then I get to mentally design a costume. This is taking me back to second grade, when I went through a ballet-mad phase and spent a lot of time drawing ballet costume designs. I think I was more interested in tutus than I was in actually dancing, since ballet class meant black leotard and pink tights (funny, that's what I wear by choice now), and it was mostly exercises, with no real dancing (I've since learned that I probably didn't have a very good teacher). I prefer the romantic tutu (the longer one) to the classic tutu (the short, puffy one), but they generally seem to put the corps in the long one and the soloist in the short one (I love dancing in the longer tutu. The short one interferes with my arms). I may get wild and crazy and do something like a gauzy, floaty dress instead of a traditional tutu. And yes, this is a minor detail, but I think it's going to be the mental image the entire book hangs upon. Once I get this solid in my head, the other pieces will start falling into place.

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