Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Notebook pages from 11-3-2010

I continue transcribing pages from the notebook.

At the top of the first page, next to the cartoon, is written "Roanoake/Croatoa". This is a reference to the town whose inhabitants vanished at the dawn of organised European inhabitation of America. It has nothing to do with the Girl and her Mongoose, outside of being slightly off-kilter. More info here:

As an aside, I am slowly getting the hang of formatting dates in the US way.
Gef, Voirrey, V's Parents, Harry price, the other mystic investigator enamoured of Freud, the court case.
Characters. I realise that I need to get the name of the Freudian Investigator and find out more about him. Poltergiests were popularly linked to adolescent girls, whether they were the cause of the spooky activity or an actual spook attractor. I have to bear in mind that in that time period the lines between nature and supernature were very blurred. Science was being used to interact with the supernatural and the tension of active investigation of belief was still very much present. That there may be a pyschological reason within Voirrey for why a ghost is there, was a valid hypothesis.

Other things that cross my mind in a similar vein: witchy girls and possessed girls. That wonderful, dreadful vein of horror literature centred on girls coming of age (Carrie, Exorcist, I'm looking at you).
"Betrayal", start @ the end and head to end @ the start.
From V. dying to V meeting Gef.

Is the theme 'betrayal' or something else?
(It needs to have more to it than
"gee, isn't Voirrey's life tragic?")
I'm still hung up on that structure.
I'm quite hung up on the play moving backwards through time. Harold Pinter's play Betrayal is the touchstone. That the ending is never in doubt, but each step backwards reveals something more. The sensible thing to do is write it moving forward in time and then jiggle it around. It might be that I like it more.

The theme thing is going to be nebulous. I may think it's going to be about the character's betraying each other is varied and subtle ways, but whether that will be the case after writing the draft, I just cannot say. I really don't want people coming away only saying "gosh, that's sad".
When did the Irvines arrive on IoM?
Another one of those questions that are important to answer now, but may not be relevant in the writing.

James holds the baby V.

James: Welcome to the world Voirrey.

Margaret: She's a serious one.

James: Aye, she'll break some hearts before she's done.

Margaret: Don't be foolish. You'll curse her. She'll fall in love and be faithful forever.

James laughs

James: She is beautiful.

Margaret: I hope she likes it on the island.

James: there's plenty of mischief to be had.

Margaret: Are we doing the right thing, going home?

James: We're farmers, we're simple folk. We don't belong in the larger world.

Margaret: We could stay in the city. We could sell the farm and make a life for ourselves there. You, me and Voirrey.

James: No, Margaret.

Margaret: James, please. This place is too small for the 3 of us.
Margaret: And Voirrey will soon be too big.

James: We'll see, I don't think we'll have want for anything more.

Margaret: James, I'm scared.

James: Nothing will happen to us. Our lives will be fabulously tedious.

James: Nothing bad happens to good folk.
And a scene right at the beginning of the story, but possibly at the end of the play. If you follow. Part of me thinks it is too neat and on the nose, all it needs is some old crone blessing the baby Voirrey in some legalistic loop-holey way to really hammer the point home. That is always an option, of course, this could be a fairy tale.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Notebook pages for 10-8-2010

Another notebookpage from antiquity.

More brainstorming.

The tragedy of Voirrey & Gef

Bestest friends until circumstances tore them apart,
Trying to find a title, and a voice. Is this for kids?

Rumpelstiltskin + Other fairytales with threats

Bluebeard   }
Orpheus     }   don't look...
Lot's wife   }
All of these old stories pivot on characters looking when they were told not to. Gef makes a similar kind of threat ("If you don't treat me right, I will do you harm"), and the story that unfolds could be seen as Gef making good on the threat.

Farm is sold. Reporters.
Gef is possessive and jealous.
More events plucked out of the  research.

Gef: Who knew that death would suck a second time.
Linking Gef's second death at the hands of the new farmer to his supposed first death in India. Still playing with a voice.

[2nd Farmer + Gef = Elmer Fudd and insert character here.]
And why not? A farmer trying to rid his land of a talking, mischievious animal leads or sidesteps here. The Loony Tunes were ramping up over this period of time. I'll do a little more investigating, but it's an echo that brings a whole lot of imaginative baggage with it, for me at least.

The first fragment of scripting: Voirrey says good bye to Gef. Overleaf from previous page.

V: Gef, I have to go.


V: I really have to go.

G: So, go.

V: Gef.

G: I said, Go.


V: Gef?


V: Gef?

(silence) - (scurrying?)
                (clicker-clack of claws)
I see this as one of the tent-pole scenes of the play, where things unravel for both Voirrey and Gef. A little spare perhaps, I admit I don't like writing 'shouty' scenes. When I write I tend to imagine writing for a black stage. This scene is Voirrey standing still, in travelling clothes and with a bag. We can't see Gef. Presumably if it were a realistic set or a film, the place to set it would be in the barn. But in my head, they are two voices, one seen and one unseen.

The silences are actually people not speaking, there could be (should be?) background noise, whether farmyard or ocean or wind. Perhaps rain. One participant in the scene is about to destroy the world they both share. And I can't make up my mind who it is.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An abject warning in citing your sources.

One of the things that has been sitting in the back of my mind is copyright, or more particularly "Who owns the story?"

Since I'd be writing about actual events I wouldn't necessarily have to worry about names and places. However, the one thing I've noticed in my websearches is just how few sources there actually are. Most pages are copy-and-pasted versions of other pages, and there is very little original text. Everyone tells the story, but no-one adds much.

I suddenly realised that I may not be able to use the words that are most often attributed to Gef, the Mongoose. These wonderful phrases of threat and promise, could actually be copyrighted because the only source is most likely Harry Price's book, about which I haven't a clue.

This was also underlined as I re-located the weblinks I'd made. One of the pages I'd found back in October was to the McDowell News, which had a nifty article as part of a column: Tales of the Weird.

Well, not so nifty as it turns out:

In December, Mike Conley, the columnist, didn't cite other sources and copy and pasted them for the purposes of an article. This caused doubt to be thrown on every other article that he wrote in the series and cost him his column with the McDowell News. Sloppy journalism at best, intellectual theft at worst. Plagarism is ugly.

So, what about me and this idea? Well, I'd already been toying with using common nouns instead of proper ones. i.e. The Girl and her Mongoose. Mother, Father. The Parapsychologist. The Freudian Investigator. The Island. The Farm. The Ghost.

The other idea is to verify which sources are public domain, and use only the information from them. Proper nouns in, quotes possibly out. Especially with the more recent Voirrey interviews.

And the more I think about it the more I like not using the actual quotes.

Warren Ellis from one of his excellent Bad Signals, which is sitting in an email folder somewhere:

It's fun when things drop  out of copyright, sure.  But
it's not *important* to the process of  creation.  I could
easily cause to be created illustrations in the  styles of
penny dreadfuls and woodcuts to achieve the same
hauntological  effects.  It's just a way to instantiate
an idea.  I'm not going to  roll on the floor and curse
Western society for a cultural jailer because it  turns
out someone still has the rights to the illustration for
an old MR  James story or something..
The rest of the signal here:
(Edit: language warning on this link. Ellis is not afraid of using harsh language)

So, here's to not cursing Western Society.