So. For the past month or so, I have been completely obsessed with The Jane Austen Argument. More specifically, I’ve been obsessed with Tom Dickins’s voice to the point that I have listened to that five-song EP so many times, the files ought to be corrupted. I’ve also taken to scrounging through YouTube for videos from their live shows and have managed to find a few decent recordings. I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so hard for a band or performer before. And I mean, it’s like I want to move to Australia just so I have a chance to go see them live. I’m getting over the worst of it. It’s like kicking an addiction. The first few days or so are the worst, but little by little, you calm down and get on with life.
Unless you’re me. I hope you’re not because then we’ve got some issues.
Coupled with TJAA and my adoration of Amanda Fucking Palmer, I started to think (yeah, this is where things get bad and scary. Run now.), how about cabaret, punk cabaret, as fiction? Um. As a genre/style of poetry, it’s passable. After all, we’re talking about music here, which is poetry with instruments. But as a piece of fiction? Well …
Before I go further, let me add (without details) that I’ve also been obsessing/angsting about gender identity. This is a topic in itself, not so much my personal struggle as the way I see gender in society anyway. In the midst of this line of thought and the musical crush, I tweeted one day “FUCK IT. I’m gonna run away and become a famous punk cabaret drag king poet.” The very next day, the writer’s block I’d been mired in crumbled like California in a monsoon.
I named him Eliot Montoya. He was me, I was him. He wasn’t much more than a mouth piece for whatever I was building behind him, but that was okay. The “show” would consist of poetry and narrative story-telling. I would write these things out, string along a story of … of what? That’s where things broke. I had bits of poetry. I had the voice. I had fucking set design. Yeah, I was going to record bits of this in my garage and slap them up on YouTube because why the fuck not? But, but … what the hell is it about? I needed plot. I needed ghosts or demons or something. And it wasn’t there.
Eliot and I were despondent. We sulked. We abandoned other projects. We wrote loads of poetry.
Then one day, someone said, “We shall all write stuff with the title ‘With No Announcement,’ and the bits will all run in the same issue and it will be highly amusing!” Yeah!
Except I had no ideas off the bat for that one.
Skip ahead a bit.
The cabaret thing sprung a leak again. Once upon a time, I created a character named Nikolai who refused to leave me alone long after I thought I was done with him. He popped up over and over, with different names, in different stories and settings. One of those incarnations was Wish, a beautiful and mysterious entity with wish-grating abilities who ended up the proprietor of a bar in Pale called the Lost Tree. There were, I think, two aborted stories along those lines. So I thought, well, what if the bar is a cabaret and he’s got a muse for a lover and there’s another muse, an evil muse, doing evil muse things?
I didn’t mean to write it. I wrote one section, planned on leaving it alone, thinking it was out of my system. Nope. Wrote another section and then another (which will be scrapped because it just doesn’t belong but still). And then I said FUCK IT and wrote the whole fucking thing.
I finished it Friday night/Saturday morning. I immediately relegated it to the hate-this-piece-of-shit file. But Saturday night/Sunday morning, I found myself reading over it, suggesting fixes, changes, ways to shore up the weak bits, flesh out one character’s story so it’s not so sudden, structure it the way it was intended (four characters, four POVs, alternating sections). Then I read it again, completely, from the top, and actually made notes. Is it a good story? I don’t know. Is it going to be seen by anyone anywhere ever? I don’t know. Do I need to ignore it for a bit? Yes, that I do know.
Is it punk cabaret fiction? It is if I say it is. Because what is punk cabaret, at least according to AFP? Freedom.
At the same time, though, this is what I hate about the way my brain works/doesn’t work. It makes these leaps I sometimes can’t follow or just don’t know how to follow. And that’s hard. Would I trade it for anything? Fuck no.