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Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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@cleolinda: Extremely Crappy Draft: 173,749 words. Enter stage two: Readable Draft.

@cleolinda: Precisely! RT @particle_person: Yes! That is enough words to still have lots of book left when you toss the half that don’t work right!

@cleolinda: I guess it’s not really time for a victory lap yet. Maybe a victory… skip.

@alliancesjr: Admit it, you’re going to do a victory macarena like it’s 1992, aren’t you?

@cleolinda: More like a victory flop. I just keep sitting here going, I can’t do this. What am I doing? I can’t do this.

@cleolinda: But it’s like… doesn’t really matter if I can’t. Don’t really have a choice, do I? Have to keep going with whatever I’ve got.

@alliancesjr: Like a shark. But…on land.

@cleolinda: LAND SHARK!

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While we're here, hours after I started writing this post--the #occupywallstreet thing has blown up into a multi-city protest, but police have arrested "about 400" protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge so far. There's a livefeed, and, apparently, some kettling happened. Mark Ruffalo, of all people, seems to be tweeting from the front lines ("People in 5 different jails. They are releasing people now. 3 in NYC and 2 in Brooklyn"). BPAL, meanwhile, has put up a charity scent to help send pizza to the protesters (the pizza is already going out): "Rock the protester cliché! This is a filthy friggin’ patchouli, dark, deep, rooty, and strangely sexy, with cocoa absolute, tobacco absolute, and bourbon vanilla." More as I hear about it, assuming anyone in the media bothers to cover it in the first place (*side eye*).

ETA: Here's an article that does a fairly good job of explaining what's going on and how it came together.

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Oh, my. A post about Serious Issues that even includes a well-known actor's genuine interest and support and all I can think of is: "A TURN OF THE SCREW POST!"

I love that book so much. It hits SO MANY of my Happy Reader spots. For ten months when I was 19-20 I adapted it into a film script, before I realised it's been done a thousand times (and frankly, after The Innocents why bother*. That film is so good, on all levels. They don't come much better than that, films and adaptations alike). Le Headdesk. At least it was great training.

Tongue in cheek, of course. It's always worth the bother. It's the reason we're still doing Shakespeare centuries later.

I've always loved it that we can choose whatever reading we want ("She was nutty!"; "There were ghosts"), that no-one can say they've "got it right(er)", and that whichever reading you pick, there will always be "But that line/scene/chapter/ending" moments. So many layers, whatever the approach. And it doesn't feel half-baked or blindly drawn out of a plot points hat. It all feels so purposeful including the "WTF did I just read, and who was I even supposed to root for?" feeling at the end. And if you don't want to psychoanalyse it, it's still a very effective ghost story.

Personally, I'm not much for "pointless ambiguity", the kind where the ending stays open/unexplained (likewise for the plot) in a way that just feels like the author eventually went "Bollocks, I can't finish this, screw it, rocks might fall, people might die, I'm cashing in this advance now, cheers." The Turn of the Screw, on the other hand, feels so purposeful to me, like the readers were always supposed to be wondering about what the hell it was all about a century later, I love it.

The one thing I'd say it's safe (well...) to say about the it is that the governess, when she arrives at Bly, is already a very fragile, vulnerable soul. HJ goes to great lengths to describe her strict/private/essentially joyless upbringing. She falls for her twat of a boss at first and only sight and is sent to this stately home to wait for these two children to arrive (so she can essentially be their surrogate mum and dad, because her boss can't make it clearer that he can't be arsed. She's lonely, she's a daydreamer, her only company at the house (Mrs Grose) has a daily job to get on with as well as chat to her; one of the children, at least, might turn out to be a bit of trouble... going from there, anything works: real ghosts? Sure, Victorian gothic book. The kids are fine and she's bonkers? Why not, she was so fragile to begin with, and the ghosts are the very impersonation of that Victorian "hysteria (via sexual reppression)". Mrs Grose is gaslighting her? Goodness knows why, but yeah, sure, she only "identified" Quint's ghost after she was satisfied he couldn't possibly be a villager the governess had casually seen. All or any of it? Oh, why not, it's Henry James writing a ghost story.

Miles' consistent "dear" didn't stand out as much to me as his general behaviour, oddly enough. It's very creepy if you work from the notion that There's Something Off About These Kids (and It's Probably Possession), because everything they do looks creepy then. Conversely, if you favour Bonkers Governess, Miles could easily be just a naughty boy, sent home from school for a behaviour so innapropriate it can't be disclosed (somthing sexual probably) and feeling very grown up and like "the man of the house" at a time when you went from childhood to adulthood overnight. He could be the most rotten seed ever to exist. Or a ten-ish-year-old-boy awkwardly trying to flirt (possibly for the first time) with his governess (technically, still his employee and social inferior); or maybe he just wants to mimic what he saw Uncle Twat Boss do. Or maybe it's Quint behind it all (Miles goes for a stroll in the garden at the dead of night and the Governess loses it - maybe he's possessed; maybe he's a kid testing the Victorian boundaries with this new authority in the house).

Oh, how I love that book. And my copy is across the ocean from me. Woe. Project Gutenberg, here I come.

The reason this movie version was so well done? Look to the screenwriter - fellow Alabamian Truman Capote....

also Jennifer Crusie = fabulous. Definitely "women's fiction" but smart fun.

Can't wait til your novel is published. I have no doubt it will be exceedingly brilliant, unique and well-written/ well-planned.
I'm reading the Persephone Parker ("Strangely Beautiful") series and I wish it were better thought out. You know?
You inspire me.

Re: "dear"

Frances Hodgson Burnett's son used to call her "Dearest" which is why when she wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy, the protagonist likewise addressed his mother that way. Maybe that's a Victorian thing.

Aw, that's true. I just reread that the other week, in fact. Somehow, it's just... not the same. I don't know. Maybe because that relationship was an actual mother-son and much more natural.

My lord, I want to read this story now.

Am confused why your country is so resolutely ignoring protesters.

Well, this is pretty much how the Tea Party started--scattered protests that coalesced into an actual political sub-party after Fox News started talking about it 24/7. There are a lot of people invested in making sure Occupy Wall Street doesn't turn into a counter-movement of similar magnitude.

I have to say, completing a draft is a huge deal and deserves a victory something. Cupcake, cup of tea, something. Sure, you've got a lot of work ahead of you, but you've also done a lot of work, and that definitely deserves taking a moment to bask in the awesome. And congrats on leveling up!

There's only one condition, and it's life.


Nice discussion on the Turn of the Screw. I agree that the story is much more than an insanity/possession dichotomy. I also agree that it's way more fun when there is no way to figure it out with 100% certainty. Good stuff.

What other HJ have you read? Just Portrait of a Lady? I like The Bostonians a lot, and The Europeans was an odd short one.

Female detective ahoy

saw this - thought of your Victoriana interests...


Oh god, The Turn of the Screw. I read it in a Freshman university English course about the supernatural. Can't remember the course name exactly. I was taking it with a bunch of science majors (Freshman writing courses were required at my university) and every book we read, people were like, "No this isn't supernatural--it's just people being crazy/psychologically disturbed and blaming it on the supernatural blah blah". I mean, I'm a scientifically minded lady myself, but when every conversation about every story we read was the same argument, I started arguing that there really were ghosts just to be contrary.

I agree that the ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw makes it a fascinating subject to analyze and write about, but I hated reading the book. I just cannot with Henry James' prose. I found it unnecessarily convoluted and florid and just...ugh. We had to write a research paper about the book and my thesis was that the ghosts were real and that the narrator was a medium, since James had written it in the heyday of the spiritualism movement. I really enjoyed writing that paper, especially doing the research into spiritualism, which is fascinating.

'she's an authority to him, and yet this very young boy is speaking to her as if he were her equal, and in a very casual, affectionate, even condescending way.'

I wonder if this has anything to do with the governesses typically conflicted status (not a servant, but not one of the family and often poorly paid young women with no prospects of marriage, so finds it hard to maintain a status that is impressive to the servants). Is Miles exploiting that, seeing how far he can push it because he's aware that a governess has little support, status and recourse?

Cleolinda, can you add the Annotated... 1Wizards book on Goodreads so we can mark it as "read"? (Or in my case, "currently reading." I just got an iPad because I am recovering from surgery and I bought your book on lulu. Enjoying it immensely. It's like you are keeping me company as I am recovering :)

This is waaaay late, but I just wanted to drop in a note about Turn of the Screw. :D It's an AWESOME story: I teach it in my children's lit classes as basically the first real example in English-language lit of the trope of The Creepy Child Who (Potentially) Knows Too Much.

When James was writing, the concept of children as "darling innocents who MUST be protected from adult concerns, which will CORRUPT them" had only been kicking around for about a century or so; the Victorians took the Romantic idea of childhood innocence and turned it up to eleven, treating "innocence" primarily in sexual terms and fetishizing the hell out of it. It wasn't until the late Victorian period that these ideas had coalesced enough in popular consciousness for James's story to *work* as horror -- all those delicate insinuations of something ~not quite right~ with the children, and the governess's own highly charged response to them has incredibly powerful erotic undertones that work, I think, even better today, because we've inherited Victorian ideas of childhood innocence along with a titillated outrage over ANYTHING having to do with sexuality and children. As many, many critics have remarked, the story turns interpreters into paranoid governesses, searching for dark horrid meaning in every word.

There's also the fact that it's not just the governess narrating; her first-person story is embedded within two others. The frame narrator is a guest at a house-party where ghopst stories are being told, and the second is another guest, who knew and loved the governess, telling her story. There are layers and layers there, and it all relates to who's reliable, and who's not, and how we hear what we want to hear and fill in the gaps we want to.

The best article on it, I think, is Ellis Hanson's "Screwing With Children in Henry James" (GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 9:3, 2003), which talks about all of this, and discusses The Innocents extensively. it's fabulous.

There's an opera of "Turn of the Screw" by Benjamin Britten, if you weren't already aware of it. I'm fairly certain that in that opera the ghosts are real as the Quint and Jessel have entirely separate scenes. Obviously I need to read the source material. Britten's music plus James' story makes for an incredibly creepy opera, if you come across it and have the interest I highly recommend it. (I may be biased, I'm working on the Governess/Miss Jessel duet right now and it it SUPER CREEPY I love it.)