What happened?

I feel so strange post-nano. I’ve started hurling chunks at my writing partners. I could tinker, but why? I’ll just wait to see what they say. I could write on the romantic comedy, but … I can’t. My collaborator is totally crushed by work and we’ve put our heroine in a bathing suit in an aquarium instead of a dilbert cube at an association, and until she rewrites the first act, I will just be wasting energy writing anymore of the second act. Whoa! Maybe I’ll clean the house, go Christmas shopping, go upstairs and read in bed, talk to my husband and son, walk the dogs. All the things that have not been done for a month, or months really.
On Jen’s blog, we discussed which fictional characters are as real as any living person you’ve ever known. Great discussion. On the heels of that, Gus and I discussed A Man for All Seasons, which I both read and saw decades and decades ago, but I remember being bored by it. I do not believe Bolt managed to attain reality for Thomas More. Henry VIII on the other hand you can’t make not real. He’s larger than life, utterly believable, passionate, stubborn, as Bolt said in the preface to the version Gus had, a “big baby” who was king. And More’s moral stand was on such baffling ground. He couldn’t go along with Henry divorcing Catherine of Aragon. The pope had first given henry dispensation to marry his brother’s widow. Then Henry wanted to use the original argument to divorce her, she was his brother’s widow. More couldn’t get with that and whack, off with his head. I actually think Henry was right, because Bolt says in this process Henry had realized, “Wow, you know that guy in Rome? He’s not infallable! Who knew?” And decided to establish his own Church of England. No more bishops appointed by Rome to thwart his large will. That was henry’s motivation but I think it was part of the Englightenment. More went to his death head high to thwart this??? It would be very hard to bring this man to life.
And I think part of the success of the play was it’s timing. It was written in 1960, when the artistic angst was all about conformity, and meaninglessness. And in the preface Bolt admires More and worries about the modern lack of certainty, the fact that in the 15th century people could say Who They Were, I am a Catholic. Well, the early ’60s were kind of grim and grey, but the moral arrogances of right now are much more disturbing. I am a Democrat, a Progressive, a Evangelical Christian. That all makes me twitchy.
But as a writer, I kind of am in the camp that if you can’t create a strong narrative drive and living, breathing characters, hang up your pen and go home. Some of the most critically acclaimed writers have always left me cold, like most of Philip Roth’s latest novels, although I finished A Human Stain, most of Saul Bellow, except for Henderson the Rain King, which is one of my favorite books, John Updike. They may be too nuanced for my tiny mind but to me the characters do not live and breathe the way Tolstoy’s or Dickens’ do, or Huck and Tom, or Gus and Call in Lonesome Dove, or Coyle in The Shipping News, as we discussed on Jen’s blog.
Enough. We’re going to walk the dogs.

4 thoughts on “What happened?

  1. Hey! Took me awhile to figure out it was you on my blog that posted a response to my Dad-themed blog entry. I posted a comment plus a new entry about the latest with him. By the way, I am almost done with Mr. Touchdown and I have to tell you that this book is REALLY amazing and PERFECT for teaching about desegregation, racism, civil rights, etc. You are a brilliant writer with a lyrical quality to your prose….Anyway, just wanted to say a quick hello!

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  2. <>Henry had realized, “Wow, you know that guy in Rome? He’s not infallable! Who knew?” <>Oh I don’t think so. I think Henry had realized, “Wow, you know that chick I’m married to? She doesn’t knock out boy babies! And that OTHER chick over THERE sure is hot. And you know what else? I’m in CHARGE. I think I’ll demand that my entire country change their religion every time that religion proves inconvenient to my immediate whim, and kill anybody who disagrees with me.” I think THAT is what More went to his death, head held high, to thwart.It’s true that there was a lot of misguided royalty to Rome, and many Popes were no better than Henry. But trading a distant tyrant for an much nearer – and crazy – one was no better. It’s not a matter of whether the change was good (though the people of England could hardly have seen it as such at the time, and bear in mind the consequences many genuinely believed it held for their immortal souls), but the motivation behind it: taken on for the sake of convenience. Once a thing becomes possible, it is always possible.Henry as a character though? Totally plum. The guy was pure, crazy balls.

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  3. Yeah, you are right re: Henry wanting the boy baby and his own way in all things. But neither Gus nor I can get with the place More chose to take a stand. And in the end, Henry 8 was better than Mary the Catholic people-burner. He usually just slaughtered individuals who got in his way. Not that I’m really arguing with you. As a character 8 is great.

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