Describing the Castle

You can tell how tired I’ve been getting, because my writing hasn’t been particularly good for the last few days. I’ll give you some examples from the post called “Meeting Gwen,” which I wrote on Wednesday.

First example:

Gwen looked at the Lady of the Lake and said, “Is it safe?”

“I don’t see any time ruptures, do you?” said the Lady of the Lake, smiling.

“All right then,” said Gwen, smiling back. She came forward and kissed me on both cheeks. “Welcome, Thea. This is like meeting my twin sister, in a way.”

Smiling back? I was tired and didn’t take the time to think about what Gwen’s actual reaction would be. Smiling back is really a placeholder, the sort of thing I would change in revision. It’s rather awful, isn’t it? I mean, not at all what Gwen would do, and it makes the entire sentence fall flat. My fault for writing while tired, but sometimes I don’t have a choice.

What happens is that my brain stops producing interesting images, and then I fall back on standard ones. (I’m writing while tired at the moment, and it’s difficult just stringing sentences together.)

How about this: “All right then,” said Gwen, still looking concerned. Is that better? After all, Gwen knows that a time rupture would have serious consequences for both her and Thea. She knows they would explode. And yes, I did put the idea of an explosion in there because I thought it was funny.

Second example:

“So, you’re me,” I said. Could I be jealous of myself from another time? It seemed like a contradiction, yet there it was. And she was dressed better than I was, too. She had on some sort of gauze shirt and a swingy brown skirt that swirled around when she moved. Even when she walked, she looked like she was dancing.

“Yes, she’s you,” said Morgan, coming through one of the doors. “Rather than repeating that again, can someone tell me what’s for lunch?” We were in a sort of hall, with hangings on the walls. It looked medieval, like almost everything else in the castle. There were iron candelabras, a round wooden table with chairs, a chest or two along the walls. Morgan looked exactly the same as the last time I’d seen her: long black hair, dark blue robe embroidered with stars. Like a younger version of Mother Night.

Gauze shirt and swingy brown skirt? I’m dressing Guinevere of Cameliard here. What was I thinking? Honestly, what I was thinking about at the time was a gauzy cream-colored blouse, of some sort of linen, like a peasant blouse. And one of those skirts that are sewn in tiers, so that they really do swing out and make you look like you’re dancing when you walk. (I have several of those.) And a belt of gold coins, with maybe some gold bangles on her wrists, some long, swinging gold necklaces. I want Gwen to move and shimmer, because she’s supposed to be magical. After all, she’s Merlin’s great love (although I’m not saying anything more because I don’t want to give the story away). And Thea, who is her but in another life, feels inferior, as though she can’t live up. After all, she’s not a princess or a sorceress, you know?

A hall with hangings, looking medieval. I really fell down here, didn’t I? But I just didn’t have the energy to describe a proper castle. I should be able to draw on personal experience, because I’ve been to a lot of proper castles. Hungary is filled with them, from all different eras.

What I imagined when I described the castle was gray stone, one of those castles that come from the medieval era and are actually quite bare. I don’t think the Lady of the Lake cares a lot about furniture or decorating. Very high ceilings everywhere, relatively small windows with gothic arches and no glass. The floors are stone as well. Sometimes I think that I would like to live in a space like that, so spare, so clean. But I should at least have imagined the hangings, right? What sorts of hangings are they? I still don’t know. Wait – could they have all the images that were on Madame Violette’s cards on them? I actually rather like that idea. (And making up Madame Violette’s deck of cards made me want to design a deck of cards, for telling fortunes with. I think tarot cards are fun, but wouldn’t it be more fun to make up a symbol system of my own?)

Anyway, I didn’t do a very good job, did I? It’s the tiredness, blame the tiredness. Which is going to continue for a few days.

I promised pictures. Here is your picture for today. I found it when checking the spelling of Guinevere in Wikipedia. (I was pretty sure that I had gotten it wrong, and I was right.)

This is Queen Guinevere’s Maying by John Collier, and it’s almost exactly the way I imagined Gwen, except that this is a picture of her when she was Queen of England, and in the Castle in the Lake she is just Gwen. She often goes around in ripped jeans and Keds without shoelaces.

And here’s what caught my attention at once. Can you see it? It’s in the cheekbones and eyes. She really does look rather a lot like Thea.

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One Response to Describing the Castle

  1. Grey Walker says:

    My best turns of phrase always come to me when I’m incredibly busy and incredibly stressed doing other else. It’s like the muse is taunting me.

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