Friday, July 11, 2014

Harps

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/11/Cross_harp.JPG
I believe we should all just come
to accept that my addition of visual content
is always going to be pretty subpar. Hooray,
at least, for wikipedia and morguefile, or
you'd have no pics at all.
It turns out that in one of my many false starts (and middles and ends) for Unsightly (AKA Eye of the Beholder AKA Sight Unseen AKA Beheld AKA Oh-How-I-Hate-Titles), Isabel suddenly developed a desire to play the harp—and absolutely no aptitude for it. Really it became quite a large part of the book for a while until I suddenly found myself thinking, “There is no point to this.” Okay, it wasn’t strictly true. There was sort of a point. It was this whole way of showing that Isabel wasn’t very good at sticking to things, gave up when the going got hard, blah blah blah. But in the final analysis, it was just sort of flat.

However, tragically, I had already written a number of scenes (oh my gosh! the endless numbers of words that I cut from this story! I wrote at least 150K for my 72K novel; argh!) involving the harp.

And I liked at least one of them (originally I liked three, but time will kill delusions of grandeur, and now, a year later, I only like one). So what’s a girl to do with a scene about a harp that never made it to the finished product? Post it on her blog, of course!


 “What shall it be tonight, Isabel?” he asked one evening as we were settling into the library. “A story? Or will you finally play your harp for me?”
“I have not been practicing as I ought,” I told him. “Perhaps next week. I’m sure by then . . . ”
“Your excuses will not work on me tonight. What better time to practice than now? Come, I insist. You have put it off too long and I am nearly expiring from curiosity.”
“I suppose I cannot avoid it forever,” I told him. “But please recall that you were warned.”
I had long since moved my harp from the parlor and its cold formality to the gentle comfort of the library. Now all I had to do was rise and move to the opposite end of the room. As I rose, I attempted to sneak a glance into the shadows. The Beast, as usual, was invisible, seeming to draw even farther into the dark when I looked his way. I sighed. My recent increased efforts to see his face had returned me nothing but frustration.
For the umpteenth time I put it from my mind. Sometimes I felt that’s all I ever did—put from my mind the things I cared about most. But that was my way. So ignoring the mystery again, I sat at the harp and began to play.
I liked the idea of being able to play a harp just as much as I used to. It was such a graceful instrument. But I didn’t seem to have the coordination for it—or the desire to practice. I did not look forward to the embarrassment I was going to suffer tonight.
“Why don’t we wait one more day?” I pleaded. “You sound very tired. I’m sure you need to get to bed.”
“Oh no,” he said with a chuckle. “You are not going to get out of it so easily.”
I sighed my best long-suffering sigh and began to play. It was a beautiful instrument, I had to admit. Graceful and sweet, sound pouring out of it like the songs of birds.
If those birds had no sense of tune and were suffering under torture.
A few moments of almost-music passed and when I stopped and looked down, the Beast applauded politely. I thought I could detect, even in his clap, a hint of amusement.
I began to play again, this time with a bit more gusto. “That, in case you are wondering,” I told him as I played, “was the sound of a flight of angels taking off toward heaven.” Discordant noises floated in the air. “You should by no means mistake it for a herd of hippopotami trudging across shards of broken glass.”
The snort from across the room was loud. It really was a rather apt description. “Of course I had not imagined it anything other than a flight of angels.” Then a pause as I hit more incorrect notes. “And I believe that was the sound of the angels crashing into a tableful of goblets.” He sighed gustily. “Ah, such lovely music.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “I do have a rare talent for it.”

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