Wednesday, November 3, 2010

DAY THREE - When Research Calls

I think it's Day Three -- I wouldn't know because I am still up from working on Day Two.

My word count went up which is a good thing -- but so did my blood pressure. The trouble is, you really do need to do your research before you start your daily writing or else, you'll end up like me. Tired, blotto, hungry, dirty, ditzy, dizzy, and feeling feeble when it comes to the tremendous output of my fellow Forumites, who are taking NaNo to heart and just letting her rrrip!

Well, says I, it's already bad enough when you write without a backward glance, which is what you're supposed to do...but, it's another thing entirely when you realize you can't just use [] to surround doubtful names, places and references you'll correct later. I mean, that's what I still intend to do for such instances, but today, gentle readers, I found myself forcibly thrust inside the many pages of web info fast tracking Frederic Chopin and his photos, his work, his life, because that was something I simply could not fake, and I really needed the information in order to move the narrative along.

And so, members of the jury, I put it out there for you -- a wonderful picture of Chopin and the continuation of the scene that I started November 1.

Hope someone in the universe likes this because when I read it, as tired as I am, it's all swimming together.
It's about 6:30 am, and I am off to bed.

Later, gator. <yawn>

Started November 1, 2010
THE SCARF DANCE Copyright 2010 Carol Krenz All Rights Reserved.
Part Two

          (November 2, 2010)

In the rapid heat of discussion she had entirely forgotten about ‘the man.’ He sounded ominous, like a ghostly figure springing from the pages of a Gothic horror story. She was nervous around strangers. Living inside a glass bowl as she did, removed from most of the comings and goings of everyday life, it was hard to imagine how else to exist, harder still to think she could keep her secret hidden from prying eyes. Even as she considered this, she inadvertently pulled down the lace border of her right sleeve. “Man? Who is he and why do we need him?”
The Kappelmeister sighed pleasurably. “We need him to perform a small miracle on you. He is going to be the key to your success, Anna.”
“But, you said I am to work with you on the Rhapsodies…I don’t understand.”
The Kappelmeister leaned forward in his chair, placing his large hands on his pudgy knees. “Anna…have you always listened to your father? To everything he says?”
What a question out of nowhere. She looked at him quizzically; his keen blue eyes were regarding her intently. “If you mean, Herr Kappelmeister, am I dutiful…then yes. I am as dutiful as I can be, not only to my father, but to my mother, as well.”
“But, do you agree with everything your father says?”
“No…I do not…and sometimes I say as much, which is to no purpose. I am sixteen, whereas he is older and more educated, and he always points this out to me – that he knows best. But sometimes I hear him discussing matters of genetics and other subjects of his research, and I find many of his points of view…how shall I say this…well, astonishing. Sometimes I think his views are too narrow. His opinions about races, and Jews, and all kinds of subjects…please, do not misunderstand me, as I only read what I can when Mimi provides me with books. I admit I am not as informed as I should be – I spend all day practicing – but, well…I think my father says things that cause harm – he often fights with my mother, makes her cry. I think my father has unreasonable distastes but I have yet to understand why, exactly. So, I stay quiet. And I find it hard to stay quiet, but Papa says I am terribly impertinent.”

The Kappelmeister nodded thoughtfully. “You know, Anna, your father is not unique in his views. You will meet many people like him. But, this is of no great importance right now. I gather, however, that you would not be averse to plotting a small mutiny?”
“But—Herr Kappelmeister, why on earth would I do such a thing?” Secretly, the idea excited her. Mutiny? Just who did he imagine they would set on fire?
“Come—take you seat at the piano. Now, close your eyes.”
“Really, what a game, today. The last time I remember such intrigue is when you took me to see The Magic Flute.”
She heard the sound of clicking, heard him rummaging through drawers in the tall walnut secretary at the far end of the room. Next, a shuffling of papers. Finally, the sound of something landing on the music stand.
“Open your eyes.”
“I can’t. I’m afraid.”
“Mutiny, Anna, mutiny.”
She sensed what it was even before she saw it – the face of Chopin, his gaze locking onto hers, as if reaching to her from the grave – a picture she had not seen before. His large circular eyes looked rested, curious, his nose and chin, gently rounded, his mouth curvaceous. A small cry caught in her throat and her hands flew to her neck, as if to hold it back. She could not turn away from him.
“He was twenty-five in that picture, Anna. Intelligent, intense, and not looking ravaged by illness.”
She nodded, still clutching the high collar of her blouse.
“And do you know who painted it? A young woman your age – sixteen, she was. She and he were to be married but it never happened.”
“Why?” she whispered.
“They say her family did not approve of him for many reasons. And thus, she was his first heartbreak.”
Still she did not turn to look at the Kappelmeister. “My father—”
“Yes, he made all that perfectly clear three years ago. No Chopin. Not one drop, not one note. Many High Germans profess a disdain for this young genius, true. They exalt Teutonic epics, the great German composers. We are a most peculiar people. The French are more reasonable when it comes to music—even the Italians and the Swiss. And, when I listened to your father, I noticed how uncomfortable your mother was, so I went back to the house later to speak with her alone. She told me your father had a sister who went to live with her husband in Krakow and was murdered there by Polish peasants. Our poor Chopin is therefore the vessel of all your father’s hatred and mistrust.”
A rap on the door, and Helga entered. “ He’s here, Herr Kappelmeister, and he says he’s ravenous.”
“Ah, at last the prodigal son returns. Ask him to come up, Helga, and refresh our tea.”
Anna was at this moment weeping, she didn’t know why…was it for Chopin or her father or herself? The Kappelmeister gently mopped her face with a handkerchief that smelled faintly of peppermint. “Don’t cry, Anna, you mustn’t cry. Guess who is about to join us?”
“I don’t know,” she blubbered, taking the handkerchief from him. “And, anyhow,” she blew her nose, honking like a meddlesome goose, “he shall see me and think I look like a rabbit severely allergic to clover--.”
“But, I don’t.” came a soft voice from the doorway. “I think you look just fine.”
And when she glanced up she found herself staring at Ariel Dworkin.
“Anna, I want you to say hello to—”
“I know who he is…” she said quickly, without taking her eyes off Dworkin. He was beginning to shift from one foot to the other, and she realized too late that her mouth was wide open. “Forgive me, I have no manners today.”
“That’s all right,” he grinned. “I have no manners on any day of the week.”
“Now that is entirely true, Anna,” The Kappelmeister interjected. “Dworkin, this is Fraulein Garber--”
“Oh—call me Anna, please.”
Dworkin approached the Steinway, fingered the dahlias with a curious expression and asked, “Is there anything around here to eat?”
And after he had polished off a full tea, they discussed the mutiny.
The Kappelmeister said, “The repertoire will be highly rigorous and demanding, Anna, I propose you begin with the Rhapsodies, and finish with Chopin. In this way, your father, who will be sitting on his Louis IV chair, surrounded by the cream of Berlin society – and not just Berlin, mind you – will hardly be in any position to protest. Especially not after you bring the audience to tears, are greeted with thunderous applause and hailed as the next successor to Liszt…I assure you, there will be no reprisals.”
“Herr Kappelmeister, how can you say this? I am afraid you are mistaking my abilities for Herr Dworkin’s--.”
“Call me Ariel, won’t you? Hermann’s right, you know.”
“But—but, I have heard you play. The whole world clamors for you. How can you even think it?”
“Because I know my limitations, whereas you, apparently have none. I am, what is called, a muscular pianist. And I will happily show you what I mean, shall I?”
He rose from the table, a tall, graceful figure, clean-shaven with a pale complexion and thick dark hair parted on the right which hung in loose waves about his face. He had a wide forehead, a square jaw set off by a strong chin, and there was the faintest indentation in its centre. And his brown eyes, she had noticed, were like Chopin’s – round and intense.

He commenced playing Chopin’s Ballade Number One, and immediately she was swept up into his world, flying, falling, rising again over grand octaves and impossibly intricate fingering that flew across the keys, faster and faster, with repeated left-handed undercurrents swelling up presto con fuoco until at last he set her down again with two complete runs up and down the keys signaling not one but two finalities that echoed romantic longing.
She could scarcely breathe. The Kappelmeister was applauding, whereas she was back to gaping, aware that tears were streaming down her cheeks. He didn’t notice them, for he was still intent on what had just transpired, listening to the fading reverberations in the air, still throbbing from his exertion.
The room fell into a thoughtful silence for some minutes until at last the Kappelmeister rose from his seat and walked over to a sideboard to fetch some brandy. They would toast their good fortune, drink to Ariel’s continued success, and then clink their delicate snifters in celebration of Anna’s debut and her forthcoming liberation. The mutiny was on.
As the Kappelmeister helped her into her melton coat, she asked about the Chopin. “What will I play?”
Ariel said, “His Nocturnes. The most romantic music in the world. Difficult, mind you, but we will work here three times a week and then even more.”
She refused his invitation to walk her home, refused a hack, as well, preferring to walk while there was still some light. At least, it was her intention to walk, but as things often happen when one is suddenly caught up in a web of desire, her feet never touched the ground.

-end snip-

Chopin at 25


  1. That's awesome that you got that little box up there all on your lonesome. Also, the Nano stuff is cool. I once did a "24 hr novel" and made it on the short list for my city! (Calgary, at the time). I think that meant it was coherent.

    Still tweeting you, at least today, but I've fell down over the last two posts. You'd like twitter, I think, but it's another internet time sink. Still, fun!

  2. Oh, Carol. Yes, you needed the research to write that scene. I'm sitting here flowing with the music and tears are starting in my eyes. As a frustrated piano student, I understand this magic.

  3. Thanks for sharing these scenes as you go Carol, I love reading them in the afternoon on the way home from work.
    Argh, research - it's so tempting to stop and look things up, evne when I'm drafting by hand. "I'll just get up and look in that book over there" I think, and before I know it I'm reading pages and pages about Mediterranean flora or Muslim prayers or creating YouTube playlists of Cistercian chants or...

  4. Previous word verification was 'coodge'. As in, I need a little coodging before I sit down to write...

  5. And, ahem, confession here... re this line "His large circular eyes looked rested, curious, his nose and chin, gently rounded, his mouth curvaceous."

    Well, transfer that description to Rochester and I know *exactly* how Anna feels (here's the man:

  6. Dear Jack,

    I miss you -- but, yes, I am trying to learn how to do things. I played around with the widget insertion and eventually got it to work.

    Wow--a 24-hour novel? I tell ya' that beef has really gotten to those Calgarians. (And, I'm jealous.)

    Thanks for tweeting -- please tweet for me, I need love. I am lonely. I have no time to tweet. I can't even whistle Dixie.

    The Day 5 entry is fairly amusing.

  7. Dear Zan Marie,

    I am so wobbly right now, I don't even know if I answered this -- but thank you so much for visiting and reading because it's such a thrill when a music lover and musician reacts to what I am trying to convey.
    See ya in the forum!

  8. Dear Deniz,

    Don't even start me on research -- I could spend my life wandering and never ever coming home again.
    I explore it all -- Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nazis, the history of the slushie -- you name it, I'm there!! LOL.

  9. Hmmm. That Rochester fellow is fine looking, but you know me, I want to see him without his ah, wig.

  10. I would too, but only my Rosa gets to see that [g] Down in the Erotic folder...