Monday, January 24, 2011

Scribbledehobbledehoyden: The Magpie's Eye: Page 13


November 14, 2008

I've taken out an item here because it was a reminder of a favor I was to do for a friend and I don't know if it was meant to be common knowledge or not.  Nothing scandalous or untoward, though.

Later that same day, I was in the Sellarsville Theater, long before the show, hanging out backstage with Janis Ian.  The X's (meant to be drawings of sutures or staples) mark where I tore the page in half, when I told Janis my Greer Gilman story.

Oh, okay, I'll tell it to you, too.  Years ago, I showed Greer one of the notebooks I'd made while writing The Iron Dragon's Daughter.  It was full of beautiful and strange stuff . . . collages and such . . . and Greer, who is not only a fantasist but a librarian, went through it reverently.  Handing it back to me, she said, "You really should have this conserved."

"Oh," I said, being at heart an evil person, "do you mean like this?"

And I ripped one of the pages in half!

I could do that, of course.  It was my notebook.  And by layering a story onto it, I'd only made it that much more valuable.  But it was still a cruel thing to do to a very dear friend.

Below the rip, I wrote, "Proof, if proof were needed, that I am not Anais Nin"

And -- look! look! -- notes for a scene in I think Chapter Two of Dancing With Bears:

Morning:  sense of hot house simmering
"I . . . made of it a kremlin"
A. sighed/ostentatiously/rolled his eyes
Those straight up-and-down lines mean that I'm offering myself alternative wordings.  Either Arkady "sighed" or "sighed ostentatiously" or "rolled his eyes."  The purpose of this passage is to fix it in my mind.  I know a lot more about what's going on than I've written down.  But these few sentences anchor the whole thing for me.

Below it, I've written that:

-- Arkady almost blurts it (2)
-- Ivan almost blurts it (1)
Then Z. appears.
Here, I'm working out not phrasing but plot.  The numbers indicate that Ivan should go first and Arkady second, rather than in the order I first jotted the actions down.  Over to the side is a notation that the daughters skimp Arkady when doling out breakfast.  These would be the cook Olga's daughters.  But that idea didn't survive into the final draft of that scene.

I probably had the notebook open in front of me as I was working on the novel with my computer and jotted down those fragments because they occurred to me while I was still some distance from where they would be used.

Down at the bottom is the rather obvious observation, There are so many economies -- and we tend to forget there's more than one!  Which is true; a genuinely poor man would starve to death playing by the same rules I do.  But I have no idea why I thought it worth jotting down.



Gail said...

You ripped a page in a book?! No acid-free storage boxes for you, buster.

Michael Swanwick said...

Oh, I don't need acid-free storage boxes. Whenever I've got a hundred or so notebooks finished, I put them in a good old acidic cardboard box and store it down in the cellar under the rusty hot water water pipes that are supposed to burst any day now.

Markin said...

Be careful the ALA and the SAA don't issue a fatwā against you. ;)