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Monday, October 03, 2005

CLEANING HOUSE

"It never occurred to her that if the drainpipes of the house are clogged, the rain may collect in pools on the roof; and she suspected no danger until suddenly she discovered a crack in the wall."
Gustave Flaubert 1821 - 1880 "Madame Bovary" 1857 pt. ll ch.5

Although I desperately wanted to get back to my writing yesterday, I found myself instead cleaning up the clutter that has gathered this past week in my apartment. I find it difficult to concentrate when there is a lot of junk lying around. In this case it was the suitcases I keep my winter clothes in. Time to sort out the closets and chuck out the stuff I'm not using. This always creates a dilemma for me. Why do I feel inclined to hang on to those old souvenier T-shirts that I bought long ago in Greece? Or the clothes that are too small or so very old. Yet at the moment, if I throw away too many things my closets will be empty and I will be naked. I can't afford to toss everything away until I buy some new replacements. At any rate, by the time I sorted things out my room is a lot tidier and so are my drawers and closets.

Same thing somehow with my writing. Last night I took out my whole manuscript and started checking through it to see which pages and chapters my character PTOLEMY is actively participating in or at least mentioned. As he's a 'thread' thoughout the story, it's important to keep him woven into the text. Lo and behold! I discovered that though he is featured a lot in Part I and some of Part II, he is only mentioned in one place in Part III, which means I need to write in at least one scene with him actively involved in the plot. No big deal, because while thumbing through this massive piece of work, I realize there are many passages that will have to go. Just like cleaning the closet you have to go through the unnecessary scenes in a novel to tighten it up and make it sparkling and fresh. So I'm not too dismayed about writing more of Ptolemy into the story. After all, he's a major character in Alexander's life and as he begins and ends the novel (Prologue and Epilogue) he deserves a larger role in the whole picture.

At the moment I've been working on an "Epitasis" (Interlude) chapter for Part IV in which I return to Alexandria, Egypt and Ptolemy. This is why I decided to look through the manuscript to find the places where he is featured. This included a couple of scenes also set in Alexandria, so it was rather fun returning there. And I happen to be rather fond of Ptolemy as a character too, so it's nice to get reaquainted with him.

Hopefully by tomorrow, between hospital visits and writer's meetings and other things I have in my daily life, I will get back to the novel. And when I do, I'll take you there with me, on a little visit to Alexandria, as it was back in 318 BC when Ptolemy was overseeing the building of the new city, as Alexander had wanted it. See you there...soon!

"Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
We had daily cleaning..." Henry Reed 1914 -

4 comments:

Sam said...

Cleaning house is always a chore, but the results do lift the spirits. And I loved the quote from Madame Bovary - but I hated that book! (hated in, hated it, but loved it too, lol)

Wynn Bexton said...

I haven't read that book. Now I'm very curious!

House is tidy. Now to clear the clutter out of my brain!

Sam said...

It's awfully well written, but it's the characterization that steals the show. Emma Bovary is truly a modern heroine, a woman living before her time. It's worth it to read just because it's so different from any book you've ever read before...
I also read Flaubert's 'Sentimental Education', but didn't like the main hero's passiveness.
I didn't like the moralizing ending to Madame Bovary - but that's where the time period holds true and Flaubert's feelings show the most.

Job Poacher said...

Excuse the long posting, but given that the memory of Anibal is the subject, I have found convenient to copy and paste these verses he used to recite with so much grace. He loved this poem very much, a song from his native Chile.

I like wine, because wine is good
but when water comes out pure
and pristine from mother earth
then I like wine even more!

I like wine, because wine is red
and because it streams from the grape.
Because it tastes like a beautiful field
and the pretty girl that I like.

I like wine, because wine is good
because hard work gets it out of the earth
because it makes you drunk when you are serene
and because it cheers you up when you are sad

I like wine because it whips you when you are in love
and you don't want to take a chance
when it sings with the spur's rowel
or when it paints little dots on a girl's petticoat

I like wine because of that
Because it is wine and because it is in the cueca's* verse
because it is at the road's inn
and at my old-lady's table

I like wine because it made me cry, don't remember where
when I went out drinking with my friends
and I try to prove that I was a man
when my umbilical cord was not even dry

I like wine because it harmed me
when it was my turn to forget a while ago
when I drank for almost a year
and I still could not rip her out of me

I like wine because it was not a vice
it was a lesson well learned
Life demands sacrifice
and you can't throw away your life

I like wine next to the barbecue
boiled potatoes, the salad,
the hot pepper, and the spooned pebre*,
the one so delicious my mom used to make

There goes death
she waits for me
there underneath
the branches

Here is a serious advice for whoever wants it:
You have to measure and drink without overdoing it
I, for example, from my stomach to my chin
can fit six and a half liters !without container!

I like wine because I am happy.
because I put another tale in the guitar
because I could sing with feeling
of the things and people from my country