Friday, 7 July 2017

Sleepless nights

If you want a cure for insomnia, write a book and spend the first part of your sleep time trying to evolve a plot. When things are going well, that puts me to sleep. I've had several poor nights recently because my newest plot was in a rut! But now I'm moving on and hopeful that "The Choral Killings" will take shape and find a satisfactory end!

I must admit that the characters I met during my 25 or so years of running choruses are cropping up in this book. I'm not deliberately focussing on one or even describing them in detail, but when I look back on what I wrote the previous day, I recognize some of the "faces" and even some of my fellow students.

OK, as a chorus director, I suppose bits of me were in the first book, but I murdered 'me' for the plot of the second book and the character I had given to the fictional person was completely different. I was never a singer on cruise liners (but a fellow student was); I never used the casting couch to get on (I knew colleagues who did); I did not prostitute myself in any way; in fact I was a paragon of virtue - unfortunately?

Looking back, I regret that I did not always take the bull by the horns. In those days I thought you could get by if you were good at your job. I know better now. Rivalry and jealousy are devils with particularly sharp arrows in the opera world. I was even married to someone who used ploys to destroy me - and nearly did. I have survived because I had to, I suppose.  I lived on my wits and probably still do.

But wait a minute. This is not meant to be a confessional. It's not even fictional, which is more than I can say for the first part of my autobiography, which is episodic and not always truthful. I did not even try to write a second part. I was too devastated by the truth I would have had to face in order to write it at all. It has to remain unwritten. No mechanisms can change the past, however, though we can tell lies about it. The man I was married to for 18 years was a bell maker by profession, sold himself as an architect or was it an engineer (and I believed him) and recently he has started telling people that he studied in Berlin. He knows who I'm talking about and we both know that he was never an academic in any shape or form. I can almost laugh about it, but not quite....  So when I write fiction, I know I might be nearer the truth than I would be otherwise.

Like the chorus director I killed off in book 2 of my crime series, I was mobbed by certain (often untalented) persons, and did not realize it at the time - or even have a word for it. In retrospect I know it happened more than once - in more than one chorus, all of which I left on instinct (I had not thought it through consciously) and each successive one of which had I founded with those who did care about my work and their work with me. This last chorus has no successor. I have thankfully retired even from that rat race. Oh, and one last thought. I filed for divorce with the same lack of aforethought as when I ditched those choruses. He told me that "we can get a divorce any time" ..... so be it.

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