Monday, December 13, 2004

Monday, December 13, 2004
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cold and stormy

Everything hurts. Bits of me I didn’t even know existed hurt.

That’s what I get for playing with swords.

To backtrack:

By early evening yesterday, I was in tears. I am so frustrated with the discussion board for one of my writers’ groups. I can’t post. I had someone come in to check my computer; I had my ISP checked. Everything is working, as hard as that is to believe on one of my computers.

But I can’t post on the forum.

I have no problems anywhere else.

I finally e-mailed the administrator asking him what the hell was going on? I mean, if someone has a problem with me and I’m being blocked, I would have been spoken to, wouldn’t I? I should hope so. I really hate passive aggressive bullshit. I’m no fan of confrontation, although I’ll get into it if I have to. But I hate passive aggression even more. I want to know where I stand, and if someone has a problem, I want him in my face so we can deal with it.

Anyway, while I was waiting for an answer, the guy with whom I’m working on the fight scenes called. He has someone in the studio who does medieval recreations, told him about our work, and the guy thinks it would be cool to do some work. Do I want to come over? Okay, so I haven’t hefted a blade in more years than I’d like to think, but I figure it’ll be a good way to work out some angst, and it’s certainly better than sobbing over my keyboard.

So I go over.

And this guy is big. I mean . . . BIG. Well over six feet tall, barrel-chested, keeps his hair long, looks like a biker in chain mail. Though he drives a truck when he’s transporting his weapons. Nice guy, though. Real sweet. We talked about the different projects, and I remind everyone in the room that I have no effing clue what I’m doing. (Does my insurance even cover this?) They asked not to be mentioned by name in this blog, and I will respect the request, although I have permission to discuss my work with them.

In fact, when we were looking at swords, I pick up something that’s big, and I figure it’ll be heavy. Only it’s stage weight, not replica weight, so I practically fling myself across the room with it and feel like an idiot, because I’m expecting it to be heavy and it’s not.

Actually, it was pretty funny. I felt like a moron, but it was funny. I prefer to work with replica weight. Of course, then there was the replica weight I hoisted and nearly fell over trying to learn how to swing it properly. Go figure. As they said, no matter what happens in film, you don’t just pick up a sword and achieve perfection. It’s a skill, it’s a craft and you better know a damn good blacksmith to forge your blades.

I still have a lot to learn, but quite a bit came back to me quickly. Rapier and dagger came back surprisingly fast, although I have to work on stance and footwork a bit. I’m too aggressive and have to learn when to fall back. Falling back is a strategy, not a show of weakness. I’m good with the claymore, which is surprising, considering my height and weight. And, because in my pieces, the characters aren’t worried about making it pretty, we could do some interesting work. The good thing about my limited fencing training is that I’m more realistic when it comes to fights – I mean, hey, I lived on the Deuce for 13 years, and when someone tried to kick my ass, I made sure he had serious regrets. So I wasn’t boxed in to the types of moves an elite fencing competitor would be locked in to.

They reminded me that, in an actual fight, the entire body as well as the brain is engaged. For instance, I am right handed, so a weapon of the correct heft would be in my right hand, and, hopefully, I’d be well enough trained to use it instinctively. Meanwhile, in my left hand I’d either have another weapon or a shield or just use my fist if necessary. All this time, the senses are open and I’m calculating the information received on every different level at an astonishingly fast rate in order to survive. Sound, smell, the sense of where someone is, the use of peripheral vision – all of that comes into play simultaneously without each thing being an individually recognized thought. I ran the fight scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring (yes, I finally watched the film, last human on the planet to see it) and everything they said was done in the film.

Not that I could do much of that in one session, but that’s an overview of what happens.

While I have a very long way to go as an individual fighter, I’m definitely picking up enough of it all to help the writing.

I totally suck with a cutlass, which doesn’t bode well for Charlotte. My fellow fighter says it’s because I didn’t have a rapport with that particular sword. Next time we work, he’ll bring a bunch of his own weaponry and we’ll see if there’s something along that line with which I click. He’s a big believer into naming each weapon and working with the spirit of the weapon.

And then we had a few drinks after, which was good.

But this morning? It took an hour and a half of yoga just to get basic movement back. But I slept well, and, in spite of soreness, mentally I feel much sharper and better.

You know, in those knight movies, how the fighters make it through a fight sequence and, even though they’re bloody, they continue with strenuous physical activity? Ain’t happening, man. Even if you do it a lot, fighting hurts. My cohort figures he breaks two or three bones in every re-enactment, and usually doesn’t even realize it until later. “Usually, they’re not big bones or I’d notice,” he says.

Something I’ll have to add in to the scenes. My warriors will not bounce up and act like nothing’s happened. My warriors will bear, along with the weight of their armour and their emotional burdens, the physicality of their experience.

Once I could actually move again, I was out of the house fairly early to get the paper. It smells like a storm, and there’s that eerie stillness and light. It is, after all, the season of the Cailleach, the Scottish winter storm goddess.

As I walked, I ran scenarios through my head having to do with what I learned yesterday and applying it to my work. And I realized that my own physicality had changed to match my thoughts. I was taking up more space on the sidewalk, and my gait had become wider and more rolling. It was interesting.

Had a long conversation with a friend of mine in the racing world. He understands me very well. We talked about our various goals for next year and beyond. One of my dilemmas in the move is, if I move upstate, I can have horses. If I move to Plymouth, MA, I’m not so sure. As another friend in the racing world warned me, “Always decide how many horses you want before you get the barn. If you have a barn with 18 stalls, you’ll wind up with 18 horses. Empty stalls have a way of filling up.” Realistically, I can’t handle a herd of horses. Not with the amount of traveling I need to do. And, horse racing will break your heart. In the past few years, far too many horses have died in front of me on the track and a little of me dies with each one. My place in the world is not to own active race horses. If I am to have horses at all, they’ll be retired or rescued or Premarin foals or some such – horses I can love and cherish and nurse back to health rather than losing in an instant in a track incident.

I did some more work on Ransagh last night. It’s surprising me in wonderful ways in nearly every paragraph.

Even with all the writing, the second part of yesterday was quite a busy day.

Attention this morning goes first to Charlotte and then back to The Widow’s Chamber. Now I have to take what I learned and apply it.



At 10:09 AM, Blogger Lara said...

Have you found out why you can't post? That is just plain awful. I hope it gets fixed soon!
I love that you know weaponry. That is so cool.
Now ME, I want to learn JOUSTING!!! :-)


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