Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I was asked on Monday if I'd consider writing an episode for the upcoming virtual season of Alias Smith and Jones. My m.o. has always been to assiduously avoid participating in round robins or fanfic that's set within the show's timeframe; I've enjoyed working on my prequel to the show because I can give free rein to exploring the backstory and the psychology of the characters and showcasing their unexpressed thoughts and memories. I can even develop their characters over time instead of keeping them always at a steady state of being.

But for some reason it struck me this time that it might be interesting to write something where I cannot rely on my usual strengths and strategies. Why not for once write with some constraints? I cannot create any new canon; I have to make the characters show by their words and actions what they feel and think instead of cutting back and forth between what they say and what they think and showing a tension there as I'm so fond of doing.

So I said, yes, I'd love to participate, but put me down for one of the final episodes since I don't have any ideas for one at the moment. Of course, immediately after writing that I came up with an idea that draws heavily on The Odyssey and the opening pages of Antigone (which I ought not to have read on Monday since I'd just proclaimed I already had too many books in progress) and As I Lay Dying (yay! I'll have to reread it). I'm still thinking through the actual plot, but I think the idea is doable and different enough from rest of the episodes and general fanfic for me to feel it adds to instead of just repeats what's already been done.

I read last night as background research about embalming practices during and following the Civil War and the early days of the undertaking trade (yes, I intend to spare everyone the details). This afternoon I intended to read just the part in Lonesome Dove about Gus' body being prepared for storage and its eventual trek back to Texas, but I wound up reading—and tearing up three times—Gus' deathbed scene and Call giving the Hell Bitch and his watch to Newt and Clara crying into the mule's neck when Call shows up on his foolhardy journey to deliver Gus' notes. Stupid infuriatingly rigid Call. Clara really should have shot him.

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