Well, dear readers, 2021 is flying by, like a gazelle singing an aria from Salome whilst doing Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils with six veils and a cloche hat. That darn gazelle. And I am sitting here like so much fish as the first day of the year comes to an end and the second day of the year begins, listening to Catalani’s opera La Wally, which is not an opera based on the character of Wally Cleaver. This is the only famous opera of Alfredo Catalani and it was especially popular because its most famous aria was featured in the hit film, Diva. It took me a while to adjust to its style, which is a bit more old-fashioned than I care for, but I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would, and, of course, that aria is a thing of beauty. I’m listening to a version from Sony Opera with Eva Marton and Alan Titus and it’s quite a good performance, not that I have anything to judge it by. Prior to that one, I’d listened to the last of the Janacek operas, Jenufa, and while it wasn’t my favorite, it has many spectacularly wonderful passages. I think subsequent hearings may be helpful, but I feel that about most operas. It’s a brave new world for the likes of me, for the most part, and I’m enjoying the journey. I also listened to a CD entitled Peggy Lee sings Leiber and Stoller, which was a limited-edition thing that I’ve been after for some time. It’s basically a reissue of the album Mirrors, which I find one of the most surreal albums ever made. The previous cheap CD release didn’t sound very good, but this one has been completely remastered and sounds so much better. Included as bonus tracks are a few other classic Lee recordings of Leiber and Stoller songs, including Is That All There Is? I also listened to an orchestral album of music by Schwanda’s very own Jaromir Weinberger, and that was really delightful, I must say. But the big news, for me at least, was that I spent a good deal of the day writing what I hope will be my new novel. First days are always scary for me, for many reasons, which is why I write four or five pages in advance of beginning, so that when I open the document, I’ve already begun, and I just pick up where I left off. And I’m really glad I did that with this one because I’d second guessed myself and written a second way to open the book. But once I read what I’d written I knew it was the right way to go. But it’s all new territory, which is the scary part. All new characters, all new story, and just flying by the seat of my pants as other than the notes I’ve written, I don’t outline. So, I figure out the details of the story as the characters do, which always leads me to interesting places I might not ever go, and that’s already the cast with this one. I’d written five pages, so I futzed and finessed those, which took a while because I had to get a few things sorted out and I kept inventing new things for my leading character. Then, over the course of the day, I wrote fifteen additional pages, so that was a really good first day.
Yesterday was a nice day. I got six-and-a-half hours of sleep, even though I was in bed by two. My brain went to new book land and I kept thinking of fun stuff, so I’d get up and write it down because I don’t trust that I’ll remember it by the time I get up. Once up, I listened to a couple of tracks, made notes, and then Richard Allen and I finessed them and they’re sounding really fine. We have four of the ten tracks locked now and I think we’ll get through the rest by Sunday evening, which will be great. And that was basically the day. I’d write a few pages, listen to more tracks, finesse those, write some more, listen more and so it went. At some point, I went over to Gelson’s and got food for the day: a small amount of mac-and-cheese, two very small chicken tenders (their fryer was on the fritz, so these were baked, hence less calories), and a small rack of ribs, which are surprisingly calorie friendly. I also got some tap tap tapioca pudding for a treat.
I came home and ate all of it and while it wasn’t really the kind of meal I’d had in mind, it was fine. I had half the tapioca then and the rest later. Then it was back to writing, then I took another break and sat on my couch like so much fish.
Last night, I finished watching the fun Nicholas Hytner production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. The music is wonderful, the libretto is a little weird, but after that wretched Eurotrash version, this was like being at Disneyland. The singers were wonderful, and Charles Mackerras is THE Janacek opera interpreter and he conducted wonderfully, and the DVD sound was really top-notch.
After that, I gave a couple of notes for fixes to tracks, minor stuff, but necessary, and then it was back to writing and I actually finished chapter one and began chapter two and I’m now, after a single day, twenty pages into this new book o’ mine. Much later in the evening, I had to do a Ralph’s run for Diet Coke and water and some Comet for she of the Evil Eye. There was almost no one there so I was in and out very quickly. The rest you know.
Today, I’ll be up by eight-thirty, then when she of the Evil Eye arrives, I’ll go somewhere and have breakfast in the motor car, which I pray will keep starting. I’ll kill as much time as I can and then I’ll probably go to the mail place and see if the important envelopes have arrived. I suspect there’ll be a lot of Amazon return people, so I may have to wait until later in the afternoon. If that’s what I decide, then I’ll take a drive over the hill to check out some things I need to check out. Once back home, I have a Zoom thing at one, after which I’ll futz and finesse and then start writing new pages. My hope is to do at least ten a day and more if I’m really in that mode. Then, if I haven’t already, I’ll go to the mail place and hopefully pick up some packages and more importantly some important envelopes. I’m sure I’ll be listening and finessing more tracks, as well, and then at some point I’ll watch, listen, and relax.
Tomorrow will be more of the same – mostly listening and finessing tracks and writing. Then this coming week is hugely busy with writing every day, and then Tuesday through Friday we shoot the original musical, which I’m so excited about. I’ll have a full report about that whole experience, but I’m also trying to figure out how we can do a talkback after it airs – I know there are ways to do it and I just have to research it.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up by eight-thirty, have breakfast in the motor car, most likely take a little drive over the hill to do a little research, have a Zoom session, finesse tracks, futz and finesse yesterday’s writing and write new pages, hopefully pick up packages and important envelopes, eat something light for the evening snack, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite puddings? Your favorites now, your favorites as a kid, brands, flavors, all of it. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have started a new book, my twenty-first.