Daily Archives: May 21, 2003

When Less Is Not More

Well, when I said last week that the cello section was getting smaller but better, I didn’t mean to suggest that even less was more. Tonight we only had two celli present – myself, and one other. And of course, we sight-read completely new music: Bizet, Sibelius, and that odd Overture for an Unwritten Comedy which was written by a Canadian in the 1950s, and sounds like it. (No value judgement implied; I quite like some of the Canadian compositions from the latter half of the last century. It’s just that this piece is going to contrast sharply with the others on the program.) None of us had heard it before, so we had no clue what we were aiming for.

On the other hand, the Sibelius was divine: slightly melancholy, slight macabre (even more so when Douglas gave us the story in a nutshell: a dying old woman, mistaking Death standing in the doorway for her long dead husband, rises and dances with him), and of course, in waltz time, my favourite. The Bizet was, well, Bizet. I have a love-hate relationship with Bizet. I like him sometimes; I hate him sometimes, usually when I’m playing his music. The rest of the time I’m terribly neutral about him.

A couple of people stopped by as we were packing up our instruments, and said that the celli had sounded quite good tonight. My fellow cellist looked at me after one such comment and said wryly, “Why do these compliments sound like condolences?” Okay, so we two aren’t necessarily the strongest among the section, but we were sight-reading new music, after all, and apart from losing our place for a bit here and there, we didn’t make any horrible mistakes.

In fact, I felt so good about what I did tonight that, as I did last week, I left rehearsal wanting to race home and play some more. The drive took all the wind out of my sails, though, and now I just want to soak in a bath and read, except that I’ve finished Lincoln’s Dreams and I don’t want to read the non-fiction I have on the go. I’ve recently re-read all the other Connie Willis in the house, so I suppose I’ll wander around my shelves and pull something off at random.

Before I left tonight, my husband asked to read the two bonus chapters I wrote earlier this year to tie up loose ends in my NaNoWriMo novel. As I printed them out for him, I re-read bits and pieces of it. Damn, it’s good. When I feel uninspired, I really ought to read my own work more often to get myself back in the mood. I’ve been dragging my feet about getting back to work on the Great Canadian Novel because I don’t know enough about my protagonist’s choice of action. I discovered the skeleton of a fantasy novel on my laptop last week that I’d forgotten I transcribed a year ago, so I could work on that as well. I also have a non-fiction book drafted out, so I can’t even try to dodge writing by claiming that I have nothing different to work on. A young adult novel, a romantic comedy, a fantasy, and a non-fiction book; no matter how I feel when I get up in the mornings, I ought to be able to work on at least one of my projects. My reluctance to plunge into the GCN is colouring my whole writing approach, though, I think. I don’t want to keep going until I know more, otherwise it just won’t ring true. Sending a protagonist overseas when you don’t know the city she’s headed to is dicey.

Of course, this means I have to travel to France. Just for research, you understand.


I check out Neil Gaiman’s log every couple of weeks or so, and this morning I found a dizzying off-hand reference that made my blood pressure soar (in a good way):

finished the last tidy on the pre-outline story draft for the TAM LIN film I’m doing with Brian and Wendy Froud and Sony Animation

Gah! Being (a) a Neil Gaiman fan, (b) a Froud fan, and (c) a huge fan of the Scottish tale of Tam Lin, I am quite naturally over the moon.

On Coincidence

I had the joy of spending Victoria Day outside with a few good friends at a spontaneous picnic. Simple pleasures: roast chicken, a few different kinds of fresh bread, warm strawberries, grapes, cool drinks, and total relaxation. All stresses were forgotten as we nibbled and laughed and played with my lovely goddaughter, who had more energy than the adults lazing about. Plus, I got a bit of sun, which, if you’ve seen my milky-pale skin, is a blessing. I no longer look like a creature of the night.

I happened to stop in at the secondhand bookstore around the corner and brought home quite the find: a copy of Connie Willis’ Lincoln’s Dreams. I’m a huge Connie Willis fan. I am not, however, a fan of charging $9.99 for a two hundred page book, and for some reason I never picked this one up when it was cheaper. (Actually, I know the reason: I’m not a Civil War fan.)

Well, apart from being immensely smug about scoring a Connie Willis book secondhand, I discovered that this book fits right in to my life at the moment. It’s not about the Civil War. (Well, sort of, but it’s a means to a different end.) It’s about dreams.

Now, I love how Connie Willis examines the whole what-is-real perception of reality, and time-travel, and life vs death. At this particular point in time, however, when part of my attempt to solve my sleep problems involves recording dreams, this particular book becomes even more fascinating. Especially since I’ve started noticing that every once in a while, I “dream true” – I’ll write something down in my notebook when I wake up, and a couple of days later something very much like it happens in the real world.

There’s no such thing as coincidence, I’m fond of telling my students, since everything’s connected by energy of various sorts. I’m also a Jungian, which means that I subscribe to that whole collective unconscious idea. I also think that our human concept of time is a construct to make our lives easier, sort of like democracy. So, why can’t someone start picking up the dreams of a man involved in the Civil War? What’s to stop me from having the odd dream about something that (in our childlike perception of “linear time”) hasn’t happened yet? Why does man stubbornly insist that memory only stretches backwards, because he has experienced it? We know the future exists, because today was yesterday’s future. By extension, we’re living in someone’s past.

Mankind places a lot of weight on what is verifiable by sensory proof, and yet is incredibly subjective about other concepts that require faith. Some are inviolate – of course it’s true, even though it cannot be proven – and others are flatly dismissed without even a second thought – that’s impossible. It’s absolutely fascinating to see how uneven we are, and how strongly we’ll defend certain ideas, yet obstinately push away others. Man’s a hypocrite. A loveable, frustrating, contradictory, inconsistent hypocrite.